MARLTON, N.J. - Officials say the number of flu cases in our area continues to climb and it seems a different strain of the virus is now starting to circulate.
The numbers are surprising a lot of healthcare professionals. In South Jersey, one pediatrics office had to cancel well-visits to make more time to treat kids coming in with the flu.
Some kids are even getting it twice and many parents we spoke with are growing concerned as the flu continues to spread.
Doctor Stephanie Rickey, a pediatrician at Advocare Atrium in Marlton, New Jersey, says the office has been inundated with kids coming in with the flu.
"For my own experience in pediatrics, I've never seen it this bad," she said.
It may also be affecting schools. This time last year, Camden County had less than one-percent students absent. Now, the absentee rate is 6.8 percent.
"It's definitely on my radar and we've been getting emails from the schools just to be cautious about it," said mom, Amanda Duncan from Moorestown, New Jersey.
Dr. Rickey says along with other viruses, there are several different flu strains now going around.
It's not just the predominant A strain. They've seen almost as many cases of the B strain, which means you could be hit twice.
"You can definitely get the flu twice in one season because there are different strains going around or different subtypes going around," said Dr. Rickey.
That's one reason doctors are still recommending the flu shot.
Another is even if you catch the virus, the vaccine could help prevent life-threatening complications.
Throughout the nation, several kids have died from the flu. It's rare, but parents should be on the lookout for severe symptoms...
"You're going to have a cough with the flu, stuffy nose, sneezing but if they are having a hard time breathing without a doubt that's a reason to seek emergency care," warns Dr. Rickey.
Other warning signs include bluish lips, extreme fatigue, dehydration and worsening symptoms
And if you or anyone in your family gets the flu, make sure to stay home and away from others for at least 24 hours after your fever breaks - that's without Tylenol or Ibuprofen.
Also, wash you hands often, avoid touching your mouth, nose and eyes and disinfect common surfaces.
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