Reporting Mary Robb Jackson
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PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — The flu season may be peaking about now, but that’s not the only bug making the rounds this winter. In fact, there are several viruses making people sick.
“Allegheny County is actually reporting more flu cases than any other county in Pennsylvania; and unfortunately, we’re reporting more deaths,” says Dr. Mark Itskowitz, of Allegheny General Hospital.
People use the word “flu” as a catch-all for a lot of viruses, but if you catch the real deal, there’s no mistaking it.
“Usually marked by high fever, muscle aches, profound fatigue; patients have trouble getting out of bed,” said Dr. Itskowitz.
“We’re seeing a really big and early RSV season this year,” Dr. Andrew Nowalk, and infectious disease specialist, said.
Right now at Children’s Hospital, tests for RSV or Respiratory Syncytial Virus are coming back positive about 40 percent of the time. Influenza cases are far fewer.
RSV is especially worrisome for parents of kids under the age of two. It looks like a bad cold at first.
“With a lot of runny nose, but the children will develop a lot of cough, and they often develop a lot of difficulty breathing, and that’s what sends a lot of them to our emergency department,” said Dr. Nowalk.
Parainfluenza is another bad virus going around. It causes croup in kids, but adults develop coughs that won’t quit and laryngitis.
The norovirus is one of the most common causes of what’s called stomach flu,” Dr. Itskowitz said.
It’s very contagious and something you wouldn’t wish on your worst enemy.
“Patients get nausea, vomiting, diarrhea,” said Dr. Itskowitz. “The only good thing about it is it only lasts three days.”
While you can’t create an infection-free environment, you can help the spread of these illnesses by washing your hands, by coughing or sneezing into your sleeve and not going to work or school if you have a fever.
Also, it’s still not too late to get a flu shot.