Via Christi nurses see jump in upper respiratory, allergy cases

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Peyton Zerbe is one of many people across Wichita who are coughing, sneezing, and feeling downright crummy.

She said, “I’ve had the normal symptoms: sore throat, cough, congestion and achy body.”

After having a fever and symptoms lasting for several days, she visited Via Christi Immediate Care. It turns out Zerbe has what many Wichitans have: a viral upper respiratory infection. More than 60% of people visiting Via Christi have been diagnosed with it.

Via Christi Nurse Practitioner Tony Shaver said, “As we see more people gathered together we could get a higher prevalence of upper respiratory issues because of the close proximity of people.”

But it's not just a URI plaguing Wichita. It's allergies, too.

Shaver said, “You can absolutely have allergies occurring in the winter time especially when the winds shift from northerly winds to southerly winds, we are getting pollens from Texas and Oklahoma.”

These illnesses are not only affecting adults, but also students in Wichita schools. Before Thanksgiving, USD 259 schools saw an a boost in empty seats because students were sick with high fevers, colds, or URIs.

Chris Pfeifer, registered nurse for USD 259 said, “I think it's because the kids don't have as good hand-washing procedures. They don’t cover their coughs or sneezes.”

Nurses urge kids to always wash their hands. At Via Christi, employees are even recommending people wear masks to prevent spreading germs. 

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