The flu this year is no joke. The severity of the strain (or strains) coupled with the low efficacy of this year’s vaccine have created a deadly epidemic across the country. As many as 37 children have died of the flu so far, and it’s showing no signs of slowing down. We’ve all seen the reports of otherwise healthy adults dying of the flu, too. Getting the vaccine isn’t a guarantee that you won’t get the flu, but it can lessen the duration and severity of the illness. Parents everywhere are on high alert, and looking for signs of the flu in their kids: high fever, body aches, coughing, and a sore throat are flu symptoms we all know to be on the lookout for. But one mom is sharing her story about an uncommon symptom that a lot of parents may not know about.

Flu symptoms are usually pretty easy to spot. If your child spikes a high fever and has a cough or a sore throat and body aches, it’s possible they have the flu. But Brodi Willard is hoping to educate other parents about another potential flu symptoms: hives.

PLEASE READ AND SHARE: My son came home from school with hives. Every time he would scratch, more would appear. We tried…

Posted by Brodi Willard on Friday, January 26, 2018

If your kids are anything like mine, tons of stuff can trigger hives. Kiddos with sensitive skin are especially susceptible. I usually give them a bath and a dose of Benadryl, and that does the trick. But in some cases, hives can be indicative of a much more serious problem.

Brodi says that her son came home from school with hives, and they didn’t respond to any of the old standbys. After calling her pediatrician, she learned that hives can be a symptom of the flu, and sure enough, her son tested positive for Influenza B. He had NO other symptoms!

That is honestly pretty scary. Hives is one of those things that most parents sort of shrug off, because they can be from anything and are easily treatable. But it’s also important to remember that while this case is surprising, hives by themselves are rarely an indicator that your child has the flu. According to infectious disease specialist Dr. William Schaffner, the case of Brodi’s son is very, very odd.

Dr. Schaffner told TODAY, “We’re all scratching our heads. We’ve never heard of it before, so I think the answer is a strong maybe. It certainly is unusual. Just a rash alone without any other symptoms… I wouldn’t run right away with a diagnosis of influenza on the basis of this anecdote.”

He thinks the hives and positive flu diagnosis might have been just a coincidence. Says Dr. Schaffner, “If you go out and test a lot of children without symptoms, you will find that (some) are carrying a respiratory virus, whether it’s influenza or RSV or adenovirus or rhinovirus, but they’re not sick. Children can do that. So one of the questions would be: Is this just a coincidence? It’s certainly not in the text books.”

It’s definitely important to be aware of the usual (and unusual) flu symptoms, especially when the flu is as bad as it is this season. But if your child has hives, you shouldn’t immediately assume they have the flu. As always, if you’re concerned about an odd symptom like this, or your kid exhibits any of the other symptoms, it’s best to get them to a doctor ASAP.

(Image: iStock/Sasha_Suzi)