The virus that looks like the flu

Take measures to protect yourself from a virus as bad as the flu. (WPEC)

So far this flu season has taken the lives of nearly 40 children, including one in Palm Beach County.

Now a different virus is in the mix. Doctors say it feels like the flu, it's contracted similar to the flu, but isn't the flu.

It's called the Adenovirus and like the flu, it attacks the intestinal tract but with one difference.

"It mimics the flu. The only difference is conjunctivitis or pinkeye," says Dr. Lauren Elliott at Good Samaritan Hospital in West Palm Beach.

Elliott says the Adenovirus is tricky to diagnose because it's so similar to the flu.

"We don't routinely test for the Adenovirus," said Elliott. "You take the patient clinical symptoms and you try to take put them with a picture of what a certain virus does. That's how you diagnose them especially if they have pinkeye."

The Centers for Disease Control says there are 52 different strains of the Adenovirus and only specialized labs can test for it. Common symptoms include pinkeye, runny nose and congestion. A vaccine exists, however, it's available only to military recruits.

Almost 40 children have been killed by the flu virus in the U.S., including 12-year-old Dylan Winnik of West Palm Beach. The CDC says that number will likely climb.

Dr. Elliott believes prevention from the flu starts with you.

"If you get sick, drink plenty of fluids and take care of yourself," said Elliott.

Other ways for people to protect themselves is to wash their hands and cover their mouths during a sneeze.

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