Flu season wreaking havoc on kids in Washington state
Flu season has started early this year, creating a perfect storm with RSV and COVID that is wreaking havoc on kids.
In Snohomish County, a quarter of flu tests came back positive at last count 10 days ago — and the county believes that figure now may be closer to half of all tests.
The impact this is having on children is evident in several areas. Tacoma Public Schools reports a 3% decrease in attendance since September, as well as anecdotal reports from teachers about widespread absences due to illness.
In Whatcom County, health authorities are seeing a five-year high in children’s hospitalizations and a record number of ER visits for respiratory illnesses.
“We may soon reach a point where there may not be enough children’s hospital beds for those who need care,” said Whatcom County Co-Health Officer Greg Thompson in a video.
He added that hospital beds are not the only resources in short supply right now; local pharmacies are also having shortages in over-the-counter pain and fever medicines for kids, such as Tylenol.
“While pharmacies work to increase the supply, they may ask customers to limit the number of bottles that they purchase,” he said.
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Most flu and RSV cases in kids are mild and can be treated at home. State and county health officials are asking parents whose children are not severely ill to treat their kids at home so that resources can be saved for the most serious cases.
A fever in a newborn, a fever that lasts more than a few days in an older child, lethargy, and dehydration are all signs that a child needs medical care.