Local doctor explains why flu bug seems to be hitting kids harder this year

Local News

Dr. James Kravec, chief clinical officer for Mercy Health, first explains the symptoms to look for in the most severe of cases

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CANFIELD, Ohio (WKBN) – The most recent report from the Centers for Disease Control indicates that the flu is in full swing, not only in Ohio and Pennsylvania but nationwide.

The report says flu-like illnesses are minimal in Ohio and high in Pennsylvania.

The flu season’s peak arrived a little earlier than usual and is hitting parts of the country especially hard this year.

Dr. James Kravec, chief clinical officer for Mercy Health, says this year’s bug is particularly nasty for children.

“This particular strain hasn’t been seen for a couple of years in the United States and children are susceptible to influenza B,” he said.

Kravec says children’s immune systems haven’t built up enough immunity to fight the influenza B strain, which makes the traditional flu symptoms tougher for kids.

“They may see worse muscle aches, worse malaise, worse fatigue, worse fever. So you may see that more in the children,” he said.

Reports of children having bad reactions to this year’s flu bug include a young girl going blind in Iowa and another dying from flu complications in Texas.

Kravec explains the symptoms to look for in the most severe cases.

“If they’re having trouble breathing, if the fever is high and won’t break, if they’re having difficulty taking down food and drink,” he said.

Kravec advises that if you’re not sure how severe your child’s flu may be, call your doctor. They may be able to do more than over-the-counter medication.

“If you do think it’s the flu, see your physician. There are antiviral medications you can take to prevent the flu from being as severe. It won’t necessarily treat it and cure it, but it will prevent it from being as severe as might be otherwise,” he said.

Kravec also says hospitalization may be needed in the worst of cases.

Being cautious might be the best way to get your child over the flu this year.

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