What's Going Around: flu, strep throat, breathing issues

Flu cases at Lancaster General Health Physicians Roseville Pediatrics almost doubled from the prior week, and there was a big increase in strep throat cases as well. Of the sore throat cases this week, around 50 percent were strep.

"This is pretty significant, and we even had a couple of kids with both strep and the flu," Dr. Joan Thode said. "With the flu, we still have been seeing the strains within the Influenza A family, though we also have started seeing Influenza B strains."

Breathing issues included a higher number of cases of bronchiolitis in babies but a lower number of pneumonia cases in older kids, compared to last week.

The leading diagnosis of the week is still viral colds, which is typical in the wintertime, along with resultant ear infections, sinusitis, and viral pink eye.

The stomach bug that had a surge in cases last week sharply decreased this week. Croup is also on the decline.

Thode offered the following notes on the flu:

"The flu is a virus and follows a typical time course of a virus; about five days of symptoms that then gradually resolve. The typical flu syndrome often includes a sore throat, headache, high fevers, runny nose and significant fatigue. While all viral syndromes have a combination of these symptoms, with the flu they are usually more severe. Most people recover from the flu as their immune system beats it, though it's impossible to know who will have a more severe course.

Unlike other viral colds, the flu virus can cause significant and even deadly pneumonia and become a body-wide infection that requires medical management in the hospital. Adults and children with chronic lung issues like asthma or a history of premature birth are at higher risk for the respiratory complications of the flu, as are those with decreased immune system function; the very young, the very old, chemotherapy patients, and patients requiring high-dose steroid treatments.

The flu also kills healthy kids and adults, and it's impossible to predict who will have body-wide spread and complications. The only consistent protective factor from death from the flu is having the flu shot, based on CDC data in the last few years looking at vaccination status of children who have died as a result of the flu.

For treatment, the number one thing to focus on is hydration. Tamiflu is an antiviral medication that can shorten the number of days that the flu is active in the body, but it cannot immediately cure the flu. It is most effective within the first 24 hours of symptoms, but it can be given up to 48 hours after symptoms begin. It sometimes is used to try to prevent the flu in at-risk individuals who were exposed to the flu, such as an infant sibling of a confirmed flu case or an organ transplant recipient with close contact with a confirmed flu case. Regardless of Tamiflu use, hydration is critical for body healing and should be prioritized.

The flu is a community issue, and as a community, it is critical that we think about others when we have flu symptoms and fevers. If you are flu-like, please stay home and keep the virus contained to protect others."

UPMC Pinnacle's Heritage Pediatrics reports that the flu and strep throat also remains an issue there this week.

Geisinger Holy Spirit reports the flu, sinus infections, cough and strep at its locations in Carlisle. Geisinger Holy Spirit Pediatrics, which covers both Dauphin and Cumberland counties, reports flu, strep throat, RSV and a viral stomach bug.

The pediatricians at Penn State Children's Hospital are still seeing cases of the flu and a lot of viral upper respiratory illnesses. They are also seeing cases of bronchiolitis in younger kids.

To help with the cough and congestion often seen with bronchiolitis, their pediatricians are recommending using a humidifier at night and intermittently using nasal saline and bulb suction. They are also recommending to get your flu shot and wash your hands.

This week, WellSpan Medical Group providers continue to see an increase in the number of flu cases.

The WellSpan Medical Group in Adams, Lancaster, Lebanon, and York counties is asking community members to be vigilant and to be on the lookout for family, friends, and neighbors who show signs of respiratory illness and to get them medical care if needed. Cases of the flu can rapidly worsen, with younger and older populations generally being the most vulnerable.

It is also recommended that sick individuals stay home from work or school, to prevent spreading the illness to others.

As a reminder, those seeking care for respiratory illnesses at any WellSpan care site, such as primary or urgent care locations or hospitals, are encouraged to adhere to respiratory etiquette practices. Techniques such as coughing into the inside of your elbow, frequent handwashing with antibacterial soaps for 20 to 30 seconds or using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer, such as Purell, are recommended to help prevent the spread of illness in public and at home.

It is still not too late to get a flu shot; the best defense against the flu. Anyone looking to schedule their flu vaccine may contact their primary care provider. For additional information, visit

Healthcare providers at Summit Health's urgent care clinics, walk-in clinics, and at Chambersburg Hospital and Waynesboro Hospital have seen a lot of patients with upper respiratory viruses and have seen an uptick in confirmed flu cases.

This month, so far, at Chambersburg Hospital and Waynesboro Hospital, 95 inpatient cases of flu have been treated.

Providers are urging community members that it is not too late to get a flu shot. This could save your child's life. While the vaccine does not protect against all strains of the virus, it can help reduce your child's risk.

Flu cases can become dangerous in high-risk patients; young children, the elderly, or those with other medical conditions such as asthma. If your child is having trouble breathing, feels short of breath or has a severe headache or seems confused, seek emergency medical attention immediately. Give your doctor a call if the child has a high fever, the fever lasts more than three days, wheezing develops, or symptoms don't seem to be clearing up on their own.

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