By Alex Fees
St. Louis County (KSDK) - St. Louis County health officials report more than 300 cases of influenza B since October 1.
Children between the ages of 5 and 14 make up 145 of those cases. To put this in perspective, there were fewer than 20 cases in the last four years.
Statistics from the Missouri Department of Health show for the week ending last Saturday, influenza B cases are up more than 1,500 percent in kids ages 5 to 14. Influenza B is up 1,400 in ages 2 to 4, and nearly 600 percent from birth to age 2. And in central and eastern Missouri counties, influenza B cases are up at least 1,300 percent.
Dr. Ken Haller, SLUCare physician at SSM Cardinal Glennon, reminds us hand-washing is the best way to prevent the flu, particularly if you're going to be around a lot of people over Thanksgiving.
Haller says in the month of October, Cardinal Glennon treated about 30 flu patients. That's about three times as many as usual. Haller says symptoms include feeling lousy, high fever, coughing, respiratory issues and vomiting due to the cough.
But how do you know when to go to the doctor?
"There are really a couple things you want to look for," said Haller. "If your child is having trouble breathing; if you see them pulling really hard at their lungs to breathe, obviously you want to bring them in for that. Influenza primarily affects the upper and lower respiratory tract. So if kids are coughing lot, if they're pulling when they breathe, that's a problem."
Haller said dehydration is a concern. He says the best way to measure that is not by how much a kid is drinking, but how much they are urinating. If your child goes more than 10 hours without urinating, that's a bad sign. For babies, if they go more than six to eight hours without urinating, have them seen by a doctor.