Valley Children's Hospital seeing record number of flu cases

MADERA COUNTY, Calif. (KFSN) -- The flu season is still in full swing, and it's sending a record-breaking number of young patients to Valley Children's Hospital.

For the first time in its history VCH says it's seeing an average of 400 patients a day in the emergency room.

Heather Rozario is no stranger to sick kids. Five-week-old Arya is her third child. Rozario brought her in fearing she's infected with something serious.

A lot of other parents are doing the same. "The line to just register was at least 30 minutes, holding a car seat, so that was a little rough," she said. "But once I got in I was seen immediately."

Doctors are seeing hundreds of patients a day. "We've had times in the past few days where we've had 40 patients register in a one-hour period," said Dr. Larry Satkowiak. He runs Valley Children's Hospital emergency room.

He says staff is working quickly to see and treat patients. They're not always testing for flu, but they treat flu-like symptoms as flu cases.

"It just is a bad virus year," Dr. Satkowiak said. "The flu vaccine didn't cover the flu that we're seeing. So we're seeing probably a bit more, even people who have been vaccinated, are coming down with these symptoms."

Doctors say as long as your child is behaving normally once their fever comes down they don't need to head into the ER.

"The fever is lasting about five days," Dr. Satkowiak said. "Most parents can wait out two or three days of fever. But by day three, most people get pretty worried. And that's what we're seeing a lot of the patients coming in right now on their third or fourth day of fever."

The Valley's largest school district, Fresno Unified, says it has not seen the usual spike in flu cases. But that could change if students and parents are not being careful. "If they have a fever they need to stay at home and get well and not share their illness with the other students at school," said Gail Williams, the district's School Nurse Manager.

Rozario is hoping her daughter's illness doesn't last too long. "Well she has a rash and then she had a cough," she said. "My older daughter had RSV, so that's something that we're super alert and on guard for."

Fortunately for her, it's just a cold.

Even with this overload of flu cases right now the CDC says the virus' spread appears to be slowing.

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