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New Orleans Parents pack doctor's office with kids and flu concerns

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  • New Orleans Parents pack doctor's office with kids and flu concerns

    Parents pack doctor's office with kids and flu concerns
    Reported by: Jennifer Hale, Reporter

    Last Update: 8/25 10:39 pm

    New Orleans - Since last week, hundreds of concerned parents have called or packed into doctors offices with children who have flu like symptoms.

    Now, concerns about swine flu are running rampant, and doctors are urging parents not to panic.

    The emergency room at Children's Hospital has been even busier than usual since last week.

    Worried parents have brought in more than 500 children to be screened for Type A flu, the strain associated with swine flu.

    Vicki Branigan knows how those parents feel.

    "She had a cough. She was feeling achy. What set me off this morning was she said she had a fever," says Branigan in reference to her teenage daughter.

    Branigan's doctor agreed to see her daughter today, but warned she was just one of many potential swine flu patients.

    Branigan says her doctor told her:

    "To be prepared to wait because there were 8 other people in that 3:00 time slot. They're trying to fit everyone in."

    Dr. Rodolpho Begue of Children's Hospital says although doctors are seeing a jump in flu cases, parents shouldn't panic.

    "By all means were seeing more cases, but most of them are very mild. They go home and rest for a few days and that's the end of the story," he says.

    Begue explains swine flu is spreading because patients haven't built up any immunity to this particular strain.

    This week a federal panel predicted 30-50% of the U.S. population will catch swine flu in the coming months.

    "This would be the worst case scenario. If nothing is done - this is what we'll see. But if we prepare, and if we immunize the people, hopefully we won't see that level of numbers," says Begue.

    Doctors are encouraging people to get two flu shots this year: the one for the traditional flu, which has already been developed, and the new vaccine for swine flu, which won't be out until mid-October.

    Until then, doctors say if you're sick, stay home. Otherwise go to school and work, remember to wash your hands and don't eat or drink after other people.

    You should see a doctor if you experience "all" of these symptoms: fever, cough, aches, and headache or if you're an at-risk patient.

    Children's Hospital is taking any questions you might have about swine flu. Call at (504) 899-9511.
    "Safety and security don't just happen, they are the result of collective consensus and public investment. We owe our children, the most vulnerable citizens in our society, a life free of violence and fear."
    -Nelson Mandela