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Pneumonia cases on the rise in children across central Indiana

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (Oct. 1, 2015)-- Flu season is here and many parents are nursing children through another serious illness -- pneumonia.

The Indiana State Department of Health just issued a warning to local hospitals after seeing a spike in the number of children fighting the respiratory illness.

Local doctors say they're seeing more pneumonia cases every day. The illness is hitting elementary and middle school students hard. Now doctors are trying to figure out why.

It's not the common cold--it's worse.

"Pneumonia is an infectious disease and it may be that we have one or more things going around," said Dr. Christopher Belcher, director of pediatric infectious disease for Peyton Manning Children's Hospital.

Belcher says pneumonia is hitting the little ones hard because they tend to share personal space more and they're not the best at hand washing.

"It's not from going out with your head wet -- any of that stuff your grandma or great grandma said. These are infections. There's viruses and bacteria that caused it and it's just picked up, spread kid to kid," said Belcher.

Parents should be on the lookout for symptoms that go beyond the common cold.

"That big tip off to pneumonia is the increase in fever and an increase in cough. It's getting wetter it's getting worse after a few days of some mild stuff and that's what leads to it," said Belcher.

Pneumonia can develop into more severe symptoms like heavy breathing or even a color change because they're not getting enough oxygen. Now, the Indiana State Department of Health is asking doctors to test kids in hopes of getting answers.

"But with the current testing doing a nasopharyngeal swab, which is a Q-tip far back in the nose, to look and send it off to them and they will run some testing that in many kids hopefully will identify the cause or causes of their pneumonia."

If you notice any of those symptoms getting worse, take your child to a doctor immediately.