Flu concerns rise as classes resume across North Texas

Doctors’ offices and emergency rooms are already packed as North Texans continue to fight the flu.

Things may get worse as kids go back to school on Tuesday in Dallas and Fort Worth.

As more people develop symptoms and wonder if they've got the flu or a common cold, they're left to decide what to do next or if they should send their kids back to school.

Dr. Ray Tsai is with Children's Health Dallas where they've seen well over a thousand flu cases this season so far. Many of his patients have influenza strain A, which is typical this time of year.

“The best thing to do is to call your doctor first,” the doctor advised. “And they'll be able to direct you to the best place, whether it's their office the next day, whether it’s an urgent care or whether it’s the emergency room.”

Tamiflu is only a good option if you're within the first two days of onset. Dr. Tsai says your doctor can tell you over the phone if you're a high-risk patient and if means a trip to the emergency room.

“The ER is the right place if you’re are having really terrible symptoms and you are going to need an IV,” he said. “If you are having trouble breathing, the ER is really going to be the best place to take care of that.

As for children heading back to school, Dr. Tsai says to avoid putting other kids at risk and closely monitor your child's temperature. A 100.1 temp or over is a definite indicator to stay home. 

“Most schools would prefer that you keep your kids home for at least 24 hours after their last fever,” the doctor said.

Dallas ISD Health Services Director Jennifer Finley has sent notes to parents, reminding students to get good sleep, stay hydrated, eat well, wash hands and cover coughs.

"This is flu season,” she said. “Just as a reminder, these are the resources we have in the community of where you can go to get your flu shot if you haven't already gotten your flu shot."

Fort Worth ISD pushed its own message out through calls, texts, emails and social media Monday, urging "it is not too late to get a flu shot." They went on to say the district "is taking steps to make sure all campuses have adequate soap supplies" for hand washing, and suggesting people not "exchange handshakes" but instead bump elbows for greeting.

Both Dallas and Fort Worth school districts are also asking students who are sick with a fever to stay home until it breaks for 24 hours.

"The main thing is to keep them home if they're running a fever,” Finley said.

February is typically the worst month for the flu Strain B is more prevalent from February to April.

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