ER nurse: Keep an eye on kids as flu season spikes - KPTV - FOX 12

ER nurse: Keep an eye on kids as flu season spikes

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PORTLAND, OR (KPTV) -

More doctors and health experts are speaking out about the dangers of this year’s flu season after two Oregon children died from the virus.

While the flu is horrible for anyone, adults can fight it better than children. In addition, very young kids can’t communicate when something is really wrong, so parents have to monitor their symptoms closely.

Nurse Lesley Zimkas works in the children’s ER at Providence St. Vincent Medical Center and said she’s seen her share of awful flu seasons.

This one is worse than last year, and Zimkas said parents need to know the difference between a nagging virus and a potentially deadly flu.

“It’s something, you know, we encounter every year,” she told FOX12. “Really, it’s just watching your child to make sure they don’t have a persistent fever for over, let’s say, five days. That they’re eating and drinking.”

When symptoms like that appear is when Zimkas said hot soup and a cold washcloth isn’t enough and a child needs to see a doctor.

She also noted that parents with babies and toddlers need to be extra aware.

“It’s your younger children who can’t really verbalize that they’re not feeling super well,” Zimkas explained. “but you see that they have a decrease in activity, their appetite isn’t what it’s been.”

MORE: Two children die of flu in Oregon

Experts say the strains of flu spreading this season are hitting people hard, but there’s still time to get the vaccine.

While doctors realize it’s not perfect, it’s still the best defense for adults and children.

“the flu is going to be with us for a while. And getting vaccinated is the single best thing you can do to prevent flu and prevent severe illness from flu,” Dr. Richard Lehman with the Oregon Health Authority said. “If you get vaccinated, even if it doesn't completely prevent you from getting flu outright, it can make the disease less severe and it can help prevent death.”

Local emergency rooms have seen a 20 percent to 30 percent spike in patients in the last couple weeks leading to wait times between two and seven hours to see a doctor.

Flu season usually peaks in January and ends in the spring.

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