What’s Going Around: Flu and stomach bug cases surge across Midstate

UPMC Pinnacle’s Heritage Pediatrics in Camp Hill reports an increase in strep throat cases.

This is most common in school aged children and also in teenagers.  It’s spread through sharing food and drinks so never share from the same cup or utensils. 

Most kids start with a fever, sore throat and headache and sometimes a belly ache and even some vomiting can happen.  Many children don’t complain of a sore throat, but they have a big drop in their appetite.  Not all children get a fever with strep throat either. 

“Testing of strep throat is easy so don’t hesitate to bring your child in to your provider to get tested if they have any of these symptoms,” Dr. Kathleen Zimmerman said. “Treatment is with antibiotics and it is important to treat it within a week of symptoms starting or sooner if possible.”

Jessica Myers, nurse practitioner at the CVS MinuteClinic in Lancaster reported the following this week:

“We are seeing a marked increase in flu volume. Patients present with high fever, extreme body aches, headache and sore throat/cough. Most patients had not received a flu vaccine. Flu is a viral illness and can take from seven to 14 days for recovery. Anti-virals are recommended for some groups of patients. It is important to seek medical attention early to determine if you are a candidate for anti-virals. They can shorten the duration, severity and complications of flu.

We are seeing an increase of ear infections in children and adults. Most report a mild cold for a week or two preceding the rapid onset of ear pain. Treatments can include antibiotics, nasal sprays and pain/fever reducers.

We have seen some cases of pink eye in patients. Symptoms include waking with eye ‘stuck shut.’ Some patients also have common cold symptoms. Pink eye is highly contagious. Prescription eye drops can treat pink eye quickly and limit spread.”

WellSpan Pediatric Medicine Physicians are seeing a high number of bronchiolitis and influenza this week. Bronchiolitis is often caused by a virus called RSV, or respiratory syncytial virus. Both influenza, also knows as the flu, and RSV cause cough, runny nose, fevers, body aches, and difficulty breathing which can be serious especially in very young children and babies. The best way to prevent the flu is getting a yearly flu shot. All children can get the flu shot starting at six months of age and it’s not too late to get the flu shot. As always, good hand hygiene can prevent the spread of these diseases.

Penn Medicine Lancaster General Healthy Physicians Roseville Pediatrics says the flu has hit hard this week. They had over 20 cases, all testing as Type A.

Unfortunately they saw an increase in croup, as well as bronchiolitis. The stomach bug has persisted, causing five to seven days of symptoms in some cases.  Viral illnesses are the main diagnosis, and along with them a lot of ear infections and sinusitis cases.

They continue to see pneumonia in moderate amounts. Finally, strep is persisting at around 40 percent of sore throats seen.
Dr. Joan Thode offered the following advice about the flu:

“The typical flu course includes four to six days of high fevers and chills, as well as muscle aches, headache, sore throat, congestion and cough. Vomiting and diarrhea are not typically part of the flu syndrome. While the fevers generally go away after five to six days, kids often experience weakness and lower energy for about a week after, as their body recuperates from the massive infection and immune response.  

High fevers are the most common symptom of the flu. The number of the fever doesn’t matter-it’s how your child looks. A child can spike a pretty impressive fever (103 to 104 degrees) and still manage to eat and play. Their fever mechanism isn’t as tightly controlled as in adults, so the numbers tend to get pretty high. The body has a protection system to avoid getting too hot, however, so there is no specific number of degrees that warrants worry. Doctors worry a lot more about a child who is limp or hard to arouse with a temperature of 101 than a child who is walking and hydrating but at 104 degrees. The child’s activity level, muscle tone and ability to respond to you are bigger indicators for level of concern than the number of fever degrees.

Reasons to bring your child to medical evaluation include:
*Five consecutive days of fever
*Respiratory distress or labored breathing
*Fevers that come back after one or two days of no fever within the same illness
*Cough that does not improve after about two weeks
*A new rash that occurs during the illness
*New or worsening pain (anywhere) during the illness

The flu shot is well-matched to the predominant flu strains this season! Ninety percent of the cases of flu noted in the office this week were in kids who had not gotten the flu shot this year. If you haven’t already protected your child, it’s not too late!”

Geisinger Holy Spirit Primary Care in Cumberland County reports the flu, cough/congestion, fevers, body aches, pink eye, and a stomach bug.

Pediatricians at Penn State Health say they are seeing a lot of the stomach flu going around this week. Providers there remind children to be sure to wash their hands frequently. They are also seeing a lot of cases of bronchiolitis and some cases of the flu.

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