OVERLAND PARK, Kan. — Doctors at Children’s Mercy Hospitals and Clinics say they haven’t seen anything like this in a decade. They’ve had 1,400 kids test positive for flu in the last three weeks. Children’s Mercy has already confirmed more flu cases than in all of last season. The flu season typically runs through March. The good news? So far, it’s not resulting in many kids being hospitalized.
Inside Children’s Mercy’s Blue Valley Urgent Care, you see a sad face of the flu. Forty or so a day are being seen at the clinic. Ieshia Everest had coughed through the night and had a fever of 103 degrees Tuesday morning.
“It’s certainly very possible she could have the flu,” Dr. Jennifer Johnson told Ieshia’s parents.
Her mother wasn’t surprised.
“I just had a feeling. She’s in kindergarten. Kids play,” said Shannelle Everest.
Dr. Johnson described the onset of the virus in kids.
“It’s a kid who was fine yesterday and then — boom — all of a sudden, high fever, just wanted to lay around on the couch or in bed,” the pediatrician said.
With the nurse wearing a mask, Ieshia gets the rapid test which will show it is flu. She also gets a dose of ibuprofen.
“Most kids really can get through influenza the good old-fashioned way which is rest and fluids, ibuprofen and really just watching out for the warning signs of worsening,” said Dr. Johnson.
But many are getting prescriptions for antiviral medicine such as Tamiflu, which can reduce the length and severity of illness. Dr. Johnson says she’s trying to be prudent in prescribing so the drug is available for kids who really need it.
The pediatrician says few kids with flu, perhaps under three percent of those seen by Children’s Mercy, are being admitted to the hospital. That’s unlike the outbreak of Enterovirus 68 earlier this year which resulted in hundreds of kids being hospitalized because of respiratory distress.
But the sheer volume of flu cases is still something not seen by Children’s Mercy in a decade.
“I am washing my hands until my skin cracks basically. Just washing your hands really well,” said Dr. Johnson.
That can help stop an epidemic.