FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — Between strep, COVID-19, and the flu, Dr. Bryan Abernathy at the Abernathy Clinic in Fayetteville said he’s seen the flow of positive patients spike around Christmas, and hold steady ever since.

Dr. Abernathy said the public doesn’t have to stay home for New Year’s Eve but advises against getting in the middle of large crowds. Also, if one has a fever, he said to wait at least 24 hours before going back to school or work.

Dr. Abernathy said treating strep has been tricky since there’s a shortage of amoxicillin and Augmentin, which are the primary drugs used to treat the virus. So he said he’s trying to get creative to find other antibiotics that work.

For those fighting COVID-19, Dr. Abernathy said he sees a large difference in the severity of symptoms in patients who’ve been vaccinated, and said with it being mold season as well, it’d be easy to confuse the more mild COVID-19 symptoms with bad allergies.

“Sometimes they’ll have a fever or people will be achy or tired. If it puts them in bed, it’s more apt to be COVID-19 than it is to be allergy,” said Dr. Abernathy.

To be sure it’s not COVID-19, Dr. Abernathy recommends seeing a doctor if you aren’t feeling well. He said even untreated allergies can develop into secondary infections like bronchitis or pneumonia.

As for rising flu numbers, Dr. Abernathy said that could be due to the flu shot wearing off on those who got it back in August or September. He recommends getting another dose of the flu vaccine now if you get it back then.

“The flu shot has a finite length of time that it works and I think now that flu shots are available in August and September, there are people that actually got the shot then, that are now susceptible,” said Dr. Abernathy.

We also asked Arkansas Children’s to see if they’ve seen an increase in these viruses. You can read the statement from Rick Barr, the SVP & Chief Clinical & Academic Officer, here:

While Arkansas Children’s continues to see many patients with respiratory illnesses, our experts haven’t noted any significant shifts in volume at our hospitals.

We hope families will remember that flu, RSV and strep are common right now and passed along easily, especially among families and friends who are close in small spaces. We recommend washing hands frequently and covering coughs to slow the spread of these illnesses.

It’s not too late to take a flu shot — the best way to protect ourselves, our children and our elderly family members. The flu vaccine is a great match this year and protects well against the disease. People who take the shot may still get the flu, but they’re less likely to need care in a hospital and will recover more quickly.

If children get better after having the flu and then become sick again, we encourage families to call their pediatrician or primary care doctor immediately. Arkansas Children’s is prepared to help our partners statewide as we work together to care for more illnesses during this busy season.

Rick Barr, MD, MBA
SVP & Chief Clinical & Academic Officer
Arkansas Children’s health system