Doctor: Reported flu cases jumping to 50 per day

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - The flu season has crept back into the Columbia area.

Midlands doctors are seeing confirmed cases on the rise with one doctor reporting an average of 50 confirmed flu cases a day.

It's good news for parent Julie Branham whose son Drew has asthma and is fighting a respiratory and sinus infection. "He's been tested for the flu, but so far we've been lucky," she said, "We got our flu shots early on because of his respiratory problems. So far, we've been safe."

"I asked our lab today how many cases we've seen this week," said Columbia Pediatrician Dr. Charles Castles, "We've already had 97 cases."

Dr. Castles said religious hand washing and staying out of school for at least 24 hours after a fever without medication is the key. But for some, Dr. Castles said that's the hard part. "Unfortunately parents need to go to work and an old trick is that they'll give them some Tylenol in the morning, making their child fever-free, and then it wears off at 11, 12 o'clock," said Dr. Castles, "By then, they've exposed everybody at school. And by the time the school calls to pick the child up, he's exposed everybody, and he's still sick."

Lexington School District One is helping enforce that. The district sent a letter to parents letting them know they're helping enforce the 24-hour rule. The first stop for sick students returning to school is the nurse's office. "I applaud the school district for going to these measures to try to stop what I consider to be a significant flu epidemic at this time," said Dr. Castles.

Branham said they're steps she can live with. "It could be a major problem for him," she said, "He could end up with pneumonia and we've been very close to being in the hospital before because of these kinds of things."

Dr. Castles said flu complications this year are the worst he's ever seen.

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