Fevers, Coughs, Sore Throats on the Rise

Date:

  • The US flu season has started early.
  • Thermometers across the country are peaking temperatures over 100 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Pediatric ER doctors also say the majority of their cases are viral illnesses right now.

The cold and flu season starts early this year. Doctors and parents in the US are noticing a spike in childhood fever — signs of flu, RSV and other common winter illnesses are already spreading.

“What we see most is respiratory viral disease,” Dr. Melanie Kitagawa, who heads the pediatric intensive care unit at Texas Children’s Hospital, told Insider.

But it’s not just serious, hospitalized cases that are on the rise. Smart thermometer company Kinsa collects data from 2.5 million household thermometers across the country. They’re seeing a lot of kids’ temperatures rising right now — well ahead of a more typical December/January wave of viral illnesses.

Thermometer readings rise to over 100 degrees

Kinsa has approximately 1.5 million pediatric users aged 0 to 12 years in the US. At this point, about 3% of them register “influenza-like illnesses,” meaning the child has a fever over 100 degrees Fahrenheit, plus a cough or sore throat. This is a much higher rate of illness than what Kinsa recorded at this time of year in 2021, 2020 or 2019:

chart showing rising incidence of + fever readings on US thermometers

Kinsa



Texas and DC are hot spots for flu

In southern states like Texas, where Kitagawa works, the virus-spreading trend is even more pronounced in October. The chart below shows the proportion of ILI (influenza-like diseases) that Kinsa thermometers record in 17 southern US states, including Delaware, DC, Florida, Georgia, Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia, Alabama, Kentucky, Mississippi, Tennessee, Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma and Texas.

You can see that the pediatric curve here is even steeper than the chart for the entire US:

graph showing rising incidence of + fever readings on thermometers in 17 southern states

Kinsa



Federal flu surveillance at hospitals and outpatient clinics across the country also reflects Kinsa’s tracking. The most recent tally of flu-like illnesses in the US includes “high” levels of ILI fever in Texas, Georgia, South Carolina, Tennessee and New York.

ILI is also currently “very high” in Washington, DC. In nearby Virginia, Stafford High School canceled all extracurricular activities last weekend after nearly half of the school’s students and staff called in sick, de Hill reported.

US flu heat map with many southern states in red, orange

The number of ‘influenza-like illnesses’ is high in Texas, Georgia, South Carolina, Tennessee and New York, and very high in Washington DC.

CDC



All this data on fever, cough and sore throat can’t really differentiate between who has the flu, who has RSV and who may have COVID-19, or another viral illness that’s causing the same feverish symptoms. But it’s a good indication that all those viruses are now spreading quickly from person to person.

If you’re not already sick, “do the preventative things you can, like get the flu vaccine,” Kitagawa said.

Rest, Hydration and Tamiflu Can Help

If you or your child is already sick, rest and hydration is key. Viral diseases such as flu, RSV and COVID cannot be cured by antibiotics.

Instead, while the body fights the virus, symptoms can be relieved with over-the-counter medications, including fever reducers, such as acetaminophen for children or ibuprofen for children. A damp washcloth over the forehead or a lukewarm bath can also feel good for a fever, while gargling with salt water can relieve a sore throat. Staying home from school or work will also help prevent your child from spreading his flu to others.

Finally, the antiviral drug Tamiflu works to attack the flu virus and relieve symptoms faster than your body would naturally. The medicine is available by prescription and must be taken within 48 hours of the onset of symptoms. Tamiflu can also be taken prophylactically by relatives of sick patients, meaning it can help prevent them from getting sick.

The Valley Voice
The Valley Voicehttp://thevalleyvoice.org
Christopher Brito is a social media producer and trending writer for The Valley Voice, with a focus on sports and stories related to race and culture.

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