Akron Children's Hospital experiencing spike in flu cases

Pediatricians, school nurses also swamped

AKRON, Ohio - Lacey Booth never imagined her 9-month-old daughter, Kyra, would have to be hospitalized for the flu. But when the baby's temperature spiked at 103 degrees, she was admitted at Akron Children's Hospital.

Kyra had received a flu shot, but it didn't protect her from catching the nasty bug.

"I just want her to be OK. I just want it to go away. She's so cranky. Normally, she's so happy and smiling," Booth said, as she comforted Kyra in a hospital room rocking chair.

Booth, 22, of Wooster, said she came down with the flu recently and probably gave it to her baby.

"It's horrible this year. It's really bad," Booth said.

Lisa Aurilio, chief nursing officer at Children's, agreed. She said when comparing December of 2011 to December of 2012, the number of patient visits to the hospital's four emergency rooms is up by nearly 3,000.

That's largely due to the widespread flu outbreak that has affected nearly the entire country.

"We've seen an additional 4,000 patients going to their pediatricians that use Akron Children's pediatricians for this time of year compared to last year," Aurilio said.

Aurilio also said that 14 school health clinics in the Children's network have seen a 40% in the number of children going to the nurse with flu-like symptoms.

With the flu season hitting hard and much earlier than typical years, there has been some debate over whether it's too late to get a flu shot.

"The CDC (Centers for Disease Control) has said that the flu shot is the right shot for this year's strain of flu, so it's not too late and I highly encourage it," Aurilio said.

Dr. Michael Bird said the flu fluctuates from one year to the next depending on the strain. He said the typical symptoms include fever, cough, aches and respiratory problems.

He stressed the hospital staff has been very busy.

"This is not the worst one we've seen in 10 years, but it's one of the more significant ones," Bird said.

The hospital has placed restrictions because of the rise in influenza-like cases.

Some of those include: People with flu symptoms are asked to avoid visiting the hospital, and visitation by children under the age of 14 is limited to siblings only.

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