Doctors warn flu season picking up early across Fresno

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Many of us have picked up more than just presents this holiday season, we've picked up the flu.

Alicia Teschera, 16, is feeling under the weather.

"It was just a little bit of coughing and my head was hurting a little bit," she said.

She's not the only kid visiting their local doctor's office. Kaiser Permanente pediatrician Dr. Yvonne Juarez says the flu has presented itself early this season.

"Our season, this year, is hitting a little bit earlier than it hit last year," she explained.

Juarez says they're seeing influenza A and respiratory syncytial virus or RSV, which affects mostly the elderly and babies.

"It affects infants more harshly because their airways are a lot smaller, so you get that virus differently from the cold virus," Juarez said. "You get so much inflammation of the cells, it makes so much more mucus and it makes it really difficult to breathe."

So far, Kaiser doctors in Fresno have treated 40 cases of influenza A and 50 cases of RSV.

At Valley Children's Hospital, staff said they've seen 152 cases from November to the end of the year, with most happening after Thanksgiving Day.

Doctors say RSV can be treated by suctioning the airway and keeping hydrated. With influenza, doctors recommend you protect yourself now so you don't end up sick.

"We definitely do encourage especially the young children, the elderly, anyone that has asthma or any kind of chronic disease like diabetes," Juarez said. "It's very important that they get vaccinated to protect against that illness."

As for Alicia, it turned out she had a sinus infection. She'll be able to get medication and plans to get rest so she can enjoy the rest of her winter break.

Doctors say in order not to get sick, their best prescription is to wash your hands frequently, get plenty of rest and drink a lot of fluids to prevent the flu this season.
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