Early flu surge hitting Georgia, Southeast hard

As the early flu surge in the US intensifies, the CDC added a new color to the agency's weekly flu surveillance map, purple, to indicate an extremely high level of flu activity.

Georgia is in the middle of a solid bloc of purple, stretching from Mississippi all the way up to Virginia.

Pediatrician Dr. Jennifer Shu with Children's Medical Group in Decatur says she is seeing a lot of kids hit hard by flu.
"I've been in practice over 25 years, and this is probably the busiest I've ever been," Shu says.

A sudden fever is one of the most common flu symptoms. 
"These kids are asleep on the exam tables, when I enter the room," Shu says.  "They are achy. They are really uncomfortable. They just complain about everything: 'I don't want to look at the light. My eyes hurt, my hair hurts, my bones hurt, everything hurts.'"

This week, the CDC says 6,465 Americans were admitted to the hospital with flu, and 3 children died from complications of the virus.

Children's Healthcare of Atlanta's three emergency departments and seven urgent care centers are averaging at least a 3-hour wait time.

You can check wait times by going to https://choa.org/waittimes.

Children's says kids with flu typical experience a range of symptoms:

  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Headache
  • Runny nose
  • Nausea
  • Fatigue
  • Loss of appetite
  • Sore throat

Most children with flu do not need to see a doctor and can recover at home, Dr. Shu says.

"You're going to (want to) make sure that the child is breathing okay, and that they're comfortable," she explains.  "If they have a fever, make sure that they don't get dehydrated.

Shu says, the more a child rests, the faster he or she will recover from the flu.

"Also, push the fluids, especially if there's a fever, because your body is going to burn more liquids if you're hot," she says.  "You can give your child ibuprofen, if they're six months or older, or Tylenol for all ages. That can help with some of the discomfort as well as the fever that a child may have."

If your child's fever is not coming down with rest, hydration and fever-reducing medications, or if the child seems unusually fatigued or irritable, call your pediatrician.

Dr. Shu says your best protection is to get a flu shot.

The CDC recommends everyone six months and older get vaccinated against flu each year.

Shu says it is not too late to get vaccinated, but keep in mind it takes about two weeks for your body to build up immunity to the virus.

"That's something that can help prevent the flu," Dr. Shu says.  "And, if you still catch the flu, it can make the flu less severe and possibly shorter."

Some patients may also be eligible for antiviral medication like Tamiflu that can lessen the symptoms and reduce the amount of time your child is ill.

Children's Healthcare of Atlanta has resources to help parents and caregivers navigate a flu-like illness.

For more tips and a full list of symptoms and warning signs of complications, visit