AUSTIN (KXAN) — Two pediatric hospitals in Austin are reporting “a greater number of patients in pediatric emergency departments,” Austin Public Health said Saturday.
Dell Children’s Medical Center, St. David’s Children’s Hospital and APH released a joint statement that said they are seeing a spike in respiratory illnesses — a trend seen in Central Texas and across the nation. Emergency departments are “inundated with children suffering from symptoms of flu-like illnesses,” they said.
The hospitals said children with symptoms of an upper respiratory illness can receive care at a doctor’s office or urgent care clinic.
“It is important that we reserve our emergency departments for patients with emergent medical conditions. We are encouraging parents to access the most appropriate site of care for their child’s medical needs. If a child has flu-like symptoms, parents should call their doctor or take their child to an urgent care clinic. If they are having trouble breathing or have some other type of related emergent condition, they should go to an emergency department.”
Austin Public Health, Dell Children’s Medical Center (Ascension Seton) and St. David’s Children’s Hospital said in a statement Saturday.
People should seek immediate medical attention if a child has trouble breathing, has bluish skin color and/or is not waking up or interacting. Adults should seek immediate attention if they have difficulty breathing, shortness of breath, sudden dizziness or confusion, is severely or persistently vomiting or improves but then gets worse, according to APH.
Austin Public Health said Travis County’s flu positivity rate was 33% on Oct. 8 and 11% the previous week. Typically, it is less than 1% at this time of year.
APH medical director Dr. Desmar Walkes told KXAN this week that the department recorded flu cases earlier than usual in August, and APH saw an increase in positive cases from 11% to 33% in one week.
People ages 6 months and older are eligible for flu vaccines, which are available at local doctor’s offices, pharmacies and APH’s Shots for Tots/Big Shots clinics. APH’s Mobile Vaccination Program will have two upcoming shot clinics next weekend:
- Wheless Lane Church of Christ’s Community Fun Day: Oct. 29 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at 2702 Wheless Lane, Austin.
- Flu A Palooza: Oct. 29 from 9 a.m. to noon. at Del Valle High School
Austin Public Health recommends these steps to prevent the flu, in addition to getting a flu shot:
- Avoid others who are sick
- Wash your hands often with soap and water, or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap is unavailable
- Cough and sneeze into your sleeve or a tissue
- Avoid touching your nose, mouth, and eyes
- Stay home if you are sick
- Clean and disinfect surfaces that may be contaminated with flu
More information on flu symptoms, treatments and vaccines can be found on Austin Public Health’s website.