Strep or the flu? Here’s how to tell the difference

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TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – There’s no doubt three-year-old Bella Benson has a tough time these last few weeks. The holidays have been tough for this Tampa pre-schooler as she’s battled a big bug.

For nearly two weeks, she’s been suffering from a high fever, non-stop cough and no energy and it turns out, she’s not the only one. Her classmates in pre-school have had the same thing.

“They’re all sick, they’re all sick. You can’t tell a three-year-old, don’t touch that, don’t touch that. You can try, but it’s not going to work,” said Tara Benson, Bella’s mom.

At first, Bella’s parents thought their little girl had the flu, even though she’s had the flu shot. All the symptoms were seemingly there.

Then, they thought it was an ear infection.

The Tampa mom would soon find out, their little girl tested negative for flu, but positive for Strep Throat, which typically requires a big shot and usually garners this reaction.

Bella explained to us how she reacted. “I said, NO,” she said emphatically with a grin. “No shots because it really hurts.”

We definitely agree with the Tampa three-year-old on that one.

This shot does hurt.

It comes with a big needle and produces a big sting on the backside. But, it also gets big results.

The shot of long-acting Bicillian will usually knock out strep in no time and, that’s good news for those who do not want to deal with a 10-day dose of antibiotics.

Her parents were thrilled.

“It’s not even a question. You can’t stop them from touching things at school, keep their hands out of their mouth, you can’t be everywhere at one time, said her mom, Tara.

Bella’s pediatrician, Dr. Jorge Castellvi, was also thrilled his patient is feeling better.

Right now, he’s seeing a lot of very sick patients in his practice, from both flu and strep throat.

In fact, he says he’s seen up to three positive cases of flu – per day.

“There’s been a lot,” he told 8 on your Side. “And, it’s going to get worse. This is peak season for flu. I’m probably seeing more flu than strep, but they’re both out there.

With strep cases on the rise, Dr. Castellvi says it’s easy to mistake strep for the flu. They have similar symptoms.

But, one seems to rise above all others.

Big, bad, body aches.

“You feel like you’ve been hit by a truck. Everything hurts, your body hurts. high fever, 103, 104,” Dr. Castellvi. ” You look at those kids, and they look bad, they look like they’re sick.”

The flu shot, he says, is the best way to prevent contracting the virus.

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