Fort Worth, Texas,
10:15 AM

Why is this year's flu season breaking records at Cook Children's?

Decade-long record broken and what it could mean for your child.

The year is wrapping up and there are a lot of questions on our minds.

What will the new year bring?

Will I be able to keep that New Year's resolution?

And where in the world is the flu?

Ok, you may not be asking yourself that last question. Out of sight out of mind right? Well, not at Cook Children's. Our lab specialists have been diligently testing cases each week for influenza. And for the first time in at least 10 years, they haven't identified a single case so far. Since 2005, the closest we've seen to a season hitting this late was back in 2012 when the first positive case popped up on Dec. 26. But here we are, just two days from 2016 and nothing!

Depending on where you look, outlooks on the impending flu season vary. One model, developed by researchers at Los Alamos National Laboratory, shows the flu season will likely peak in February. WebMD is using data from its online Symptom Checker to predict a spike in cases in early January.

Mary Suzanne Whitworth, M.D., medical director of Infectious Diseases at Cook Children’s, said the flu is unpredictable and she’s not sure why it’s “late.”

“We don’t know when it will start or peak,” Dr. Whitworth said. “We just generally go into each flu season with a wait and see attitude.”

Dr. Whitworth said how severe the flu season will be depends partly on whether or not the flu shot given is a good match to this year’s strains. Previously, in years when the flu shot strains didn’t match, doctors relied more on treatment with antiviral drugs (prescription medication) that fight against the flu in your body.

“For now, we don’t know how serious the flu will be, but for now getting a flu vaccine is still the best way to prevent what can be a potentially serious disease,” Dr. Whitworth said. “By immunizing every year, that’s how we, as a society, build up a community that protect themselves for new strains.”

About the source

Mary Suzanne Whitworth, M.D. is the medical director of Infectious Diseases at Cook Children’s, which offers care for children and teens with diseases caused by bacteria, parasites, fungi or viruses. Our team provides a broad range of services including diagnosis, inpatient and outpatient consultations, immune deficiency evaluations and treatment of recurring infections.

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