Flu Continues to Spread

CABELL COUNTY, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- The flu has taken several lives this season including teenagers in our region.

Dr. Thomas Rushton from St. Mary's Medical Center in Cabell County, says that he has lost count of how many people are being hospitalized by the flu.

Rushton says the most important symptom to look out for is trouble with breathing, or slowing of breathing.

"If your child wants to move around a lot, if they're coughing a lot, or if they have trouble catching their breath while they're doing things that shouldn't be creating that effect, that's what I'm concerned about," says Dr. Rushton.

He says the flu strain is referred to as PH1N1. The 'P' stands for pandemic and doctors say what is happening now in 2014, is similar to what happened in 2009. That strain made it's way around the world within 24 hours and infected a lot of people.

Dr. Rushton says it doesn't matter how old you are or how strong your immune system is. In fact, if you're healthy, the flu could do even more damage to you. "This is a virus that infects the lungs. It invokes a strong immune response and we will see young people that are healthy. They are in fact so healthy that they end up doing more damage," says Rushton.

He says the key in stopping the flu is keeping it from spreading. "If we look at a tale of two cities, if we go back to 1918 in Philadelphia, they didn't keep people home and you have an entire city decimated. You look at St. Louis, they said, 'We're canceling parades, we're doing all of that.' It was an entirely different outcome."

Even though kids have been out of school a lot this winter, Dr. Rushton says you should keep them home if they're not feeling well.

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