Alarming number of flu deaths has local daycare taking precautions

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Centers for Disease Control and Prevention officials report this flu season could be the worst ever for children.

So far, 37 children have died from the flu. The alarming number is sending a strong message to parents and daycare centers.

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The team at Rainbow Child Care Center in Ballantyne walked Channel 9 reporter Stephanie Tinoco through their daily cleaning routine and mandatory classroom quarantine process anytime any sort of virus breaks out.

“Everything comes off the shelf, everything is soaked in sanitizer. They wash them in soapy water, then they sanitize them, and then they air-dry them,” said Patricia Metcalf with Rainbow Child Care Center.

The team has even made a song for children to remember to wash their hands often.

“It’s really important right now, this flu season, to take it very seriously,” Metcalf said. “We had to send home, like five or six children and that’s a very high number. There’s been huge fatalities with our young children, not here, but in the country, so we want to do what we can to keep them safe.”

Dr. Chris Branner, a pediatric urgent care physician with Carolinas Healthcare System, said it is important for children to stay hydrated while battling the flu.

“Right now, the biggest concern is getting dehydrated because that’s what lands children a lot of times in the hospital,” Branner said.

Parents told Channel 9 that the flu is something they are keeping an eye on.

“I seem to be a little over-cautious so I watch for all the fever, sniffles,” parent Katie Baker said.

Around this time last year, about 5 percent of patients were seen for influenza-like illness and numbers appeared to be in the downswing. Right now, there’s a steady climb with 8 to 9 percent of patients with influenza-like illness.

“Even though we’re still approaching the peak doesn’t mean we’ve reached maximum levels, but there’s still very high levels of flu circulating the community,” Branner said.

Even if the flu shot is not effective, Branner said the shot can help decrease the overall symptoms in some patients. He said the best defense is to get the flu shot.

“We’re going to see this flu season go on for another two to three months, so getting the flu shot now will have maximum effectiveness,” Banner said.

South Carolina Health officials released updated flu numbers. A total of 84 people have died in the state. Right now, North Carolina is reporting a total of 67 flu deaths. The state is expected to release new numbers Thursday.

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