This year's flu epidemic only continues to wreak havoc and heartache across the country. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), more than 37 children have died. Now, a mom and registered nurse from Nebraska named Brodi Willard has taken to social media to warn others to look out for a surprising symptom of the flu: hives.
Willard wrote on Facebook that her son Seb "came home from school with hives," and "every time he would scratch, more would appear." Yet, when they tried changing his clothes and giving him a bath, neither helped. "I called his pediatrician," the concerned mother shared. "They said they had two kids come into the office that day with the same symptoms and tested POSITIVE FOR INFLUENZA. I took him to the doctor this morning and he tested POSITIVE for INFLUENZA B."
As if that wasn't already completely unnerving, Willard explained that the hives were her son's "only symptom. He has had NO symptoms. No fever, no cough, and no runny nose. He only has hives."
Her advice to other parents: Look out for hives, even if your child has shown no other signs related to the flu. And if they develop the symptom, "call your pediatrician. I have never heard of this symptom but it is obviously something to be on the lookout for."
As far as the reaction to her post -- which has racked up over 213K shares since Friday -- the nurse says, "I didn't realize it was going to go as viral as it did on the web, and I even saw some comments of people saying, ‘Yes, my child had hives and they also tested positive for Influenza B.'"
Rash (along with a fever) is included in the CDC's list of flu symptoms, it's certainly not the first or even fifth sign of the flu most of us are looking for. And as some Facebook commenters noted, hives can actually be associated with all different kinds of viruses -- not just the flu. That's because they're a sign that the immune system is fighting an infection.
It's also important to note that Willard's son was diagnosed with Influenza B, which is slightly different from Influenza A, the strain responsible for most flu deaths this season, in that it doesn't mutate as quickly. But it is associated with complications like bronchitis, pneumonia, inflammation of the heart or brain, and organ failure.
Nonetheless, Willard's post will undoubtedly encourage many parents to take swift action if they notice hives or any other potentially concerning symptoms. Hopefully, that could lead to more children being diagnosed early, which would certainly be a a game-changer as so many families continue to fight this devastating flu season.