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Staying social while the flu bug spreads

By NICOLE PITT

WKTV - There are nearly 1300 confirmed cases of the flu in Oneida County. We've talked about when you should keep your child out of school-- but what about social gatherings outside of school? Parents are questioning whether attending those parties is worth the risk.

"When he gets sick he's just miserable and when there's nothing you can do to help your children feel better you feel useless," said Stephanie Reabein, a mother.

Parents are feeling helpless. Many of them are concerned about allowing their children to attend parties, worried their child is going to bring the flu germ home.

Doctors at Pediatric and Adolescent Medical Associates in Rome say over the past few weeks they've seen an enormous increase in sick visits in their office- an average of 70 a day.

"Some of them have outright flu symptoms with the high fevers and sudden onset of chills and cold symptoms, coughing sore throats and stomach aches," said Dr. Linnea Linderman. "Then we're seeing more kids that also have more like a bad cold."

"I definitely would not try to have a party right around this time especially with how people are getting sick with the flu and just the weather change and the cold," said Reabein.

Business owners are aware of the concern and are taking steps to keep parents worry-free. "During the cold and flu season we do up the cleaning of hard surfaces," says Martha Zabek, owner of Rough and Tumble in New Hartford. "Things kids touch with their hands and that are in contact with their mouths. We do the play food three times a shift. All of the hard surfaces, the tables, that kind of thing we clean multiple times a shift by my employees during cold and flu season."

Matthew, the manager of the Kid's Fun Zone on Genesee Street, says they wipe everything down several times a day to make sure the area is safe and as clean as possible.

"We have not seen a lot of kids with symptoms here," said Zabek. "I think because parents are aware of the flu this year so much they are good about keeping kids home but we have had a lot of parents who are moving parties because they think their kids are coming down with stuff or because kids in the classroom are sick or they are moving it to the next week."

Dr. Linderman says if you have small children at home-- you might want to avoid the risk. "If it's a very small child or if there are small children in the household I'd get more concerned mainly because infants under 6 months can't get the flu shot and infants under two months are particularly prone to flu and that kind of thing and can get quite sick," said Dr. Linderman.

Whether or not you keep your child home, health officials stress-- washing your hands goes along way. "If the kids are coughing you want to make sure they are coughing into their arm and not into their hands where they can spread it from one person to the next," said Dr. Linderman. "And also be sure that your kids are getting adequate sleep and eating correctly make a huge difference."

Even if your child has already had the flu this season, Dr. Linderman recommends getting the flu shot.

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