Mystery Illness Mimics Flu - - Jackson, MS

Medical Matters 2/1/08

Mystery Illness Mimics Flu

Stephanie Bell Flynt

The weekend for 13 year old Derek Brown of Pearl is off to a bad start. "Was your temperature high? Yes. Do you feel bad? Yes," Derek said. "He started throwing up this morning and would not stop, and his fever was high; about 101," Derek's mom, Christy Brown said. She says her son was tested and he is positive for the flu, so the whole family will start taking an antiviral.

Dr. Amos Belnap says tamiflu is both a treatment and a preventative, but it only works within the first 48 hours. "Go to the doctor when you get the bad symptoms. It won't be a mystery to you. It's not a cold. You'll know it, if it is the flu," Dr. Belnap said. 

But flu isn't the only illness drawing patients to his MEA Clinic in Pearl. There's a lot of stomach virus, and then there's the mystery bug. "There is a flu-like non-flu virus that's going around. It's fairly indistinguishable from the flu. People have fever, chills, ache and cough, which are the hallmarks of flu but they're testing negative for either (strains) A or B. There's twice as many people with flu like complaints as there are people who have flu," Dr. Belnap said, which would explain why it seems like we have tons of flu, but we don't.

If you are concerned about getting the flu, or any flu like illness, Dr. Belnap suggests staying away from crowds. As for Derek, he thinks he'll try the most sensible route. "Did you get a flu shot? No. You going to get a flu shot next year? Probably so," he said. Mom Christy says her family usually does get the flu vaccine, but letting it go this year is costing in more ways than one. "About two hundred dollars," Christy said.  Ouch! That hurts more than the shot.

Mississippi State Health Department/Flu

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