Swine Flu cases slowing?

Published 12:00 am Friday, November 6, 2009

Many local doctors’ offices have seen a drop in the number of swine flu patients in recent times, but that doesn’t mean the pandemic virus isn’t still taking its toll.

One local family knows that all too well.

Benton Maddox, 7, was diagnosed with swine flu late last week and is still working his way to recovery today.

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“Last Thursday morning, he woke up and had diarrhea,” said Benton’s mother Kristi Maddox. “He felt OK and wanted to go to school, but I kept him home.”

That night, thing’s took a turn for the worse, with Benton’s fever spiking up to 104 degrees, and his parents took him to Troy Regional Medical Center. There, Maddox said her son was treated with IV fluids to rehydrate and was sent home. He tested negative for the flu.

But, the next day his high fever returned.

“When we went to Charles Henderson Child Health Center in the afternoon, he tested positive for the flu,” Maddox said. “The best they could explain was it was possibly too soon.”

Benton was readmitted to TRMC into the ICU.

Despite efforts to keep fluids in Benton, he wasn’t getting better, Maddox said.

Sunday afternoon, Benton was transported in a helicopter to Children’s Hospital in Birmingham, where he was admitted to the Special Care Unit.

Wednesday Maddox was notified her son tested positive for salmonella.

“The doctor thinks he probably had the flu, which weakened his immune system and made him more susceptible to having salmonella,” Maddox said.

Maddox said Benton seems to be on the road to recovery, but she doesn’t know when they’ll get to come home.

“We’re hopeful he’ll be healing up soon,” Maddox said. “Everyday we just wake up praying he’ll be getting better.”

Benton is a second grader at Troy Elementary School.

While his flu case has been severe, local doctors said they haven’t seen many others like it.

Troy Pediatrics Chief Nurse Janet Mobley said their office has seen growth in both swine flu and Type B cases, but the one’s they’ve seen have been normal flu symptoms.

Just this week, Mobley said the office has diagnosed 43 cases of flu.

But Troy Regional Medical Center and SARHA Urgent Care center officials both said flu cases appear to be on the downturn — at least for now.

“We are just not seeing hardly any influenza-like symptoms right now,” said TRMC’s ER team leader Kim Nelson. “We saw the most in August and September. For a while, our numbers were really, really high.”

Dr. Robert Gilliam, medical director at SARHA Doctors Center said the same thing.

“The number of patients we have coming in testing positive for flu has dramatically diminished,” Gilliam said.

SARHA’s Director of Planning and Development Melissa Bradford said during August and September, there were physicians who saw about 40 patients for the flu each day. That number has now dropped to one to two.

While flu numbers have decreased in some local offices for now, Nelson said it could pick back up again.

“There may not be a resurgence of it later,” Nelson said.