When a Nebraska mom and nurse noticed that her son had broken out in hives, she didn’t think it was that big of a deal, at most just an allergic reaction. But as Brodi Willard told WOWT News, her son’s hives didn’t go away after a bath. A trip to her son’s pediatrician offered a startling diagnosis: influenza. Most parents don’t realize that hives can be a symptom of the flu, and now Willard is sharing her story so that other parents can be on the lookout for a potential flu symptom during one of the worst flu seasons in recent memory.

This is definitely one flu symptom that’s catching parents and health care providers by surprise. Willard posted about her experience on Facebook where, since Friday, her post about her son’s hives from the flu has gone viral—horrible pun unintended. “My son came home from school with hives,” Willard wrote. After calling her pediatrician, she was told “they had two kids come into the office that day with the same symptoms and tested POSITIVE FOR INFLUENZA.” For her son Seb, the hives were the worst of his flu symptoms as she noted that her son has “No fever, no cough, and no runny nose. He only has hives.”

According to the CDC, there are four strains of influenza virus: A, B, C and D. In the late fall and early winter, influenza type A and B are most often the culprits for the widespread seasonal flu outbreaks Americans face each year. In Willard’s case, her son was diagnosed with influenza type B. While most associate hives with allergic reactions, as it turns out, hives can also occur with bacterial and viral infections—including the flu.

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Senior epidemiologist Dr. Anne O’Keefe with the Douglas County Health Department told WOWT News that the flu “always changes slightly,” adding that’s the reason “why we have to have a new [flu] vaccine every year. We watch the changes happening in other parts of the world right before it gets here.”

This flu season has been particularly dangerous this year, having closed an entire Texas school district and at least 37 pediatric deaths have been caused by the flu so far this year. The flu is not expected to peak until mid-February, according to the CDC.

While hives might not seem like the most obvious symptom of the flu, Willard hopes her viral Facebook post will help keep parents identify the flu sooner in their kids to prevent further complications. ““It’s something that everyone needs to be aware of,” she told WOWT News.

Has the flu struck your household? Have you or your kids broken out in hives from the flu? Share your stories in the comments—and stay healthy out there, folks.

—Keiko Zoll

 

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