COLUMBUS, Ga. (WRBL) – The city of Columbus has recently seen an unusual increase in pediatric influenza cases.

Rebecca Reamy, the Chief of Pediatrics at Piedmont Columbus Regional Midtown, says the hospital has seen a significant increase in pediatric flu cases topping previous years, including 2013, which had the highest flu cases among children in Columbus.

Additionally, children are not only suffering from the influenza virus in large amounts, but Piedmont Columbus Regional is also seeing more cases earlier in the year.

Although there is little research on the causation of increasing pediatric flu cases, Reamy shares what may be the culprit.                         

“What we think is that because children and adults,  for that matter, haven’t been exposed to many viruses for the last two or three years. So that now we think the viruses are all sort of catching up,” said Reamy. “Because we were so protected, when we protected ourselves from Covid, we protect ourselves from the flu, R-S-V, and everything else. That Now was sort of making up for lost time.”

Children, due to their age, usually have weaker immune systems. This is because their bodies are still developing, and this includes their immune system’s ability to fight off various illnesses. Reamy shares why children are highly subject to catching the illness.

“Well, the biggest way to prevent it is to obviously get the flu vaccine. So children are around other children, they’re also around other family members, and they had less time in their life to build immunity, but by far the most important thing is to get them vaccinated; because the flu can be a very serious illness,” said Reamy.

With the number of pediatric influenza cases rising in Columbus, Reamy says it’s essential for parents of children suffering from chronic illness to be on high alert.

“Children that are at higher risk are certainly any child with a chronic medical condition, such as asthma or congenital heart disease, or even seizures and epilepsy,” said Reamy. “Those kids we know are more susceptible to getting seriously ill from the infection.”