Families concerned as flu outbreak continues to grow

MIDWOOD, Brooklyn (WABC) -- The flu crisis in the United States may be the worst in a decade, according to experts, and the flu season still has several weeks to go.

Many families are concerned as the number of cases continues to grow.

In Brooklyn, 4-year-old Serenity Martin has had a rough ten days.

"It's been just crying and aches and pain and screaming until she passes out," said her mother Diane Martin.

Serenity, her mom and her 11-year-old brother Leo were all diagnosed with the flu more than a week ago.

Everyone else but Serenity recovered after a few days. Her mother says this is the worst flu season she's experienced.

"Since she's autistic you can see that it's a challenge to be with her," said Diane. "Giving her medication she can't really take it normally. So you would have to put it in her drink or food like apple sauce and mix it up. But obviously she's aware it tastes different so she won't take the medication."

Hospitals and clinics across the country are fighting what officials are calling one of the worst flu seasons in nearly a decade.

PM Pediatrics in Midwood is no exception. Doctors at this pediatric urgent care center say they're seeing an influx of kids like Serenity coming in this season.

"We are definitely seeing an unprecedented volume of patients. Many parents are coming in concerned," said Dr. Sarah Washington.

In New York, there were nearly 8,000 confirmed cases of the flu last week. Close to 2,000 patients were hospitalized.

In New Jersey, more than 4,000 have contracted the flu this season, including 18 severe cases.

Young children and the elderly are at greatest risk from flu and its complications.

The best possible defense is free flu shots. In the U.S., annual flu shots are recommended for everyone age six months or older.

"The number one thing we still advocate as far as preventing the flu is getting vaccinated," said Dr. Washington.

The number two thing Dr. Washington says is wash your hands. And disinfect handheld devices, including phones, keyboards, and remote controls.

As for the Martin family, they all received the flu shot this year.

"Last night she was screaming for four hours," said Diane.

But it hasn't helped the four-year-old find much Serenity this flu season.

RELATED: How to tell the difference between a cold and the flu

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