Background. Validated clinical scales, such as the Canadian Acute Respiratory Illness and Flu Scale (CARIFS), have not been used to differentiate influenza (FLU) from other respiratory viruses. Methods. Secondary analysis of a prospective cohort presenting to the emergency department (ED) with an influenza-like infection from 2008 to 2010. Subjects were children aged 0 to 19 years who had a venipuncture and respiratory virus polymerase chain reaction. Demographics and CARIFS items were assessed during the ED visit; comparisons were made between FLU and non-FLU subjects. Results. The 203 subjects had median age 30.5 months; 61.6% were male. Comorbid conditions (51.2%) were common. FLU was identified in 26.6%, and were older than non-FLU patients (69.7 vs 47.9 months, P = .02). Demographic, household factors, and mean CARIFS score did not differ between FLU (33.7), and non-FLU (32.0) (mean difference 1.6, 95% CI: -2.0 to 5.2) groups. Conclusions. CARIFS cannot discriminate between FLU and non-FLU infection in ED children with influenza-like infection.