Fort Worth, Texas,
30
November
2015
|
09:30 PM
America/Chicago

Is the flu here yet? No, but it’s coming.

Influenza season arriving later than usual.

Are we there yet? “No.”

Are we there yet? “No. 5 more minutes.”

Are we there yet? “No. I will tell you when we get there!”

Did anyone hear this or something like it last week?

We’ve been asking a similar question to our favorite Cook Children’s microbiologist, Morgan Pence, Ph.D.

Is it here yet? No.

Flu season should be just around the corner, but it’s not here yet. Currently, there are only two regions showing Influenza activity across the state of Texas. Tarrant County is not one of those regions.

Flu season usually starts sometime in late October or November but occasionally we have later seasons. It appears that we are going to (knock on wood) make it till December before we see our first case at Cook Children’s this year.

There are few theories about why flu follows a seasonal pattern:

1.As weather gets colder and people are trapped indoors, the virus can more easily spread from person to person.

2.Colder temperatures lead to drier air. Dry air causes our noses to be drier which may make their defense against flu weaker.

3.Cold temperatures may allow the flu virus to live longer on surfaces.

Based on these theories, it’s possible that our warmer fall has caused a delay in the onset of flu season. With the colder temperatures last week, we may be reporting our first case soon.

Dr. Pence reports that our lab tested 74 specimens last week but none were positive for flu. She states, “Currently we are mostly seeing children with rhinovirus and RSV.” Rhinovirus causes the common cold. RSV can cause cold-like symptoms as well, but can be more severe in babies, especially those who were born premature.

What does this mean for you and your child?

1.If you haven’t yet, there’s still time to get your flu shot. (Even if the year starts late, it could still be a bad one).

2.Continue to teach your children to cover coughs and to wash hands.

3.Be aware if your child tests positive with a rapid flu screen, it may not be correct until flu activity is higher.

For now, Dr. Pence will still have to play the role of lab-mom.

Is it here yet? “No.”

Is it here yet? “No, probably 2-3 more weeks.”

Is it here yet? “No, but you’ll be the first to know!”

About the author

Justin Smith, M.D., is a Cook Children's pediatrician in Lewisville . View more from The Doc Smitty at his Facebook page.He attended University of Texas, Southwestern Medical School and did his pediatric training at Baylor College of Medicine. He joins Cook Children's after practicing in his hometown of Abilene for four years. He has a particular interest in development, behavior and care for children struggling with obesity. In his spare time, he enjoys playing with his 3 young children, exercising, reading and writing about parenting and pediatric health issues.

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