The Flu: Stay at home or go to the hospital?

Oishei's Chief Medical Officer, Stephen Turkovich, said to trust your gut

Mike Baggerman
January 14, 2020 - 3:00 am
Flu vaccine

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BUFFALO, N.Y. (WBEN) - There has been an increase in the number of reported flu cases this season compared to recent years.

At Oishei Children's Hospital, Chief Medical Officer  Dr. Stephen Turkovich said that this flu season has been very challenging from a respiratory perspective. There were about 335 children admitted to the hospital with respiratory illnesses, 11 percent of those admitted have been because of the flu.

"Over the last few weeks, we've seen more and more patients being admitted with the flu," he said. "When we compare this year over the last few years, we've had a significantly higher number of patients being admitted with a (respiratory syncytial virus) and the flu. In the emergency room, we've had about 550 patients test positive for RSV, which is the same as the entire respiratory season last year. We've also had about 500 patients test positive for the flu in the ED thus far this year."

In Hamburg, an 11-year-old boy died on Saturday due to complications with the flu. Luca Calanni is the second child to have died from the illness this flu season. Turkovich said the hospital's hearts break for the boy's family and said it's devastating when a healthy child dies as a result of the flu.

READ MORE: Frontier community remembers 11-year-old boy who died from flu

Calanni is the first child to die from the flu in Erie County since 2017. From 2010 to 2019, the only other flu-related death among children came in 2014. The Erie County Department of Health does not track adult deaths due to the flu.

Many of you who have contracted the flu opted to stay home and recover from the illness without a visit to the hospital. Turkovich said you have to "go with your gut" to determine when it's time to go to the hospital, specifically with children.

"Parents know their children best," Turkovich said. "If your child is just not acting right or you're really worried, take them to the doctor or the hospital."

Turkovich said you definitely need to take your child to the hospital when they become lethargic and are not eating well or are dehydrated, not making urine, or have irregular breathing.

Even if the vaccine is not 100 percent effective, Turkovich said any percent of effectiveness will decrease the flu's severity and chance of you contracting it yourself.

The doctor also said one of the best options to hydrate your or your child's body after contracting the flu is Pedialyte. He said small sips of the drink along with normal over-the-counter drugs can help alleviate symptoms associated with the flu.

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