Flu Outbreak Making East Texas Kids Sick - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

11/27/02 - East Texas

Flu Outbreak Making East Texas Kids Sick

   Nathan is one of 20 patients at the Mineola Family Clinic Wednesday alone who showed all the signs of the flu.

   "Your throat, headaches, your nose gets stopped up or runs, your ears start hurting," says Nathan Artesi, 14-years-old. "Everything just goes wrong with you."

   If Nathan is like the hundreds of East Texas children with upper respiratory problems, his ultimate diagnoses will likely be the Hong Kong B strain of the flu virus.

   "It's mainly just the name of where it came from," says Dr. Kurt Nielsen. "The flu it originated in Hong Kong."

   It's the strain keeping many East Texas kids homebound, forcing entire schools to close.

   "Most of the children have not received flu vaccines and I think that's one of the reasons it's mostly striking kids this year," says Dr. Nielsen.

   It's not too late to get your flu shot and doctors at the Texas Department of Health are actually suggesting you do. That's because the Hong Kong B virus is actually covered under this years vaccine. If you don't, your entire family could end up like Nathan.

   "Whenever I wake up, my throat is dry, it hurts I'm tired all the time now," says Nathan. "I can just practically sit right here and fall asleep if I want."

   Call it bad timing, but doctors don't suggest mingling really sick kids with the family this Thanksgiving, especially with the elderly or infants.

   If you do, doctors say don't be surprised to see another flu outbreak after Thanksgiving.

   Dana Dixon, reporting.

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