How to identify germs before they spread

How to identify germs before they spread

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - Germs are spreading like wild fire now that the kids are back in school. Doctors are seeing more cases of strep throat and gastrointestinal infections than before Christmas break, so pay attention to the symptoms before you child can spread them to others.

The first symptom for strep throat is, obviously, having a sore throat. Doctor Dennis Rhoades, with Doctors Care, said kids have also been complaining about having sinus congestion and a rash. But before you rush to the doctor's office, Rhoades said to wait a day or so. Try using something over the counter like Dimetapp to relieve the congestion first. If it's still painful after a day or two, it's time to go to the doctor.

"But if it's really not going away or if they're having extremely high fever, a fever of 102 or 103, that needs to be evaluated," said Rhoades. "But if they have a low-grade temperature of 99 or 100 and they have some sinus drainage, that would be something that you could try and treat at home before you rush to the doctor's office."

Rhoades said the gastrointestinal bug is being seen more in elementary school kids. As they're touching things, playing, and sharing, they spread germs so quickly without even realizing it. With the GI bug comes a lot of nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. For this, Rhoades recommended drinking a lot of clear liquids. The hope is that the issue will pass on its own. But after 24 or 48 hours, then you have to worry about dehydration. At that point, it's a good idea to see a doctor.

And just a week ago, doctors in the Myrtle Beach area were seeing a few cases of a skin rash cause by bacteria that is proving to be a type of staph infection. So if there is a rash starting to ooze or drain, it needs to be checked out right away.

One illness doctors are not seeing much of this winter includes the flu. Last year, Rhoades said his office was seeing seven or eight cases a day. Now, they're seeing maybe seven cases a week per doctor's office.

According to the CDC's Flu Tracker, 63 cases were confirmed in Horry County, 48 in Florence County, and 15 in Georgetown County. That's a big difference from the hundreds of cases per county last year.

Rhoades said the flu seasons tend to be cyclical. There will be terrible flu outbreaks for a few years in a row, and not be many cases at all for a year or two. Some other factors that could be bringing the flu count down this year are vaccines. The CDC might've created a very effective shot and more people might've gotten their shots early on. But there is still plenty of time for things to change, which means parents should still consider getting the flu shot for the whole family, if they haven't already.

"Flu season starts to catch up in December," said Rhoades. "But usually, January and February and March are when we see the most cases. So I don't want people to sit back and think okay we can take it easy now, we're not having a lot of flu this year. That's what usually happens that starts epidemics."

So for someone who got the shot immediately, their body would still have enough time to work in the antibodies to protect them before flu season is over. According to the CDC, there have been no confirmed deaths related to the flu in South Carolina. But Rhoades warns that if someone have the signs of the flu – dry cough, high fever, muscle aches – they need to get that checked out and start taking medicine as soon as possible.

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