Last week, a Nebraska nurse posted a PSA on her Facebook page, warning people about what she believes is an often-overlooked flu symptom: flu hives.
In Brodi Willard’s January 26th post, she said that her son came home from school one day with persistent hives. “Every time he would scratch, more would appear,” she said. We tried changing his clothes and giving him a bath, but nothing helped. I called his pediatrician. They said they had two kids come into the office that day with the same symptoms and tested positive for influenza B.”
“I took him to the doctor this morning, and he tested positive for influenza B,” she continued. “He has had no symptoms. No fever, no cough, and no runny nose. He only has hives. Please keep watch on your children so if they develop hives, please call your pediatrician. I have never heard of this symptom but it is obviously something to be on the lookout for.” Since she wrote it, her post has been shared more than 270,000 times and has more than 16,000 comments.
But not everyone believes that flu hives are an actual symptom of the flu. Although a 2015 paper published by Canadian researchers showed that people with the flu can have hives as a symptom, all the subjects also had traditional symptoms. Speaking to WFAA, Children’s Health Dallas said that hives in the absence of traditional flu symptoms (fever, cough, sore throat, etc.) are probably a “false positive.”
Most doctors asked for comment about the case believed that the hives were a coincidence, unconnected to the flu symptoms. Dr. Julie Linderman, of Inwood Village Pediatrics in Dallas, proposed a different theory in an interview with WFAA: “Hives are not classic for the flu, but the body will sometimes have an allergic-type of reaction to a virus, which sounds like what happened in this case.”
But Willard believes that her son’s hives were genuine symptoms of the flu. “He’s a normal healthy child,” she told Newsweek. “He doesn’t have skin problems or irritation or anything. I just want people to know that this is out there.”
Although at least 37 children have died during this year’s flu outbreak, Willard’s son has recovered well. “They put him on the Tamiflu, and he’s been fine,” she told WOWT-TV earlier this week. “He’s still playing and running around.”
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