Children’s Physicians Answer Parents’ Top Flu Questions

good afternoon everyone we’re going to
get everyone just a few seconds to continue to gather and then we’re going
to get started hello everyone out there I’m dr. dan salinas i’m the chief
medical officer at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta and today I’m here with my
colleague dr. Andy Shane dr. Shane is a pediatric infectious disease specialist
and she is our Hospital epidemiologist at Children’s and she is head of the
department of pediatric infectious disease at Emory University School of
Medicine we’re here to talk to you today about influenza there is a lot of
information that is circulating about the flu this year this has been a very
busy flu season we’ve heard from a lot of our families that many of you feel
scared and you feel helpless and what we want to do today is to empower you and
arm you with facts about influenza to help you take good care of your kids to
help you feel secure about taking good care of your kids and just to give you
the empowerment to be able to say to you you got this we know you’ve got this and
so what we’re going to do is we’re going to share some questions today that we
think are going to help you to understand influenza more and I’ll do a
question dr. Shane will do a question we think through these questions we’ll be
able to impart a lot of really good information to you to help you
understand what’s going on with the flu so with that in mind I’ll go ahead and
get started with question number one the first question that many are asking is
how does this flu season compare to past flu seasons well I will tell you this is
a very busy respiratory virus season in general here in Metro Atlanta
and in the state of Georgia and throughout the country and we are seeing
unprecedented volumes in our emergency departments and a lot of influenza so
the bottom line is we are in the middle of an influenza outbreak the numbers are
the number of cases of influenza that we’re seeing in general are higher than
than we anticipated and higher than we’ve seen in the past and the
predominant strain of flu that we’re seeing now is influenza A and this flu
it’s also called h3n2 tends to be a little bit worse of an influenza and
that is the main circulating influenza now remember a flu is it’s more serious
than the common cold but we especially don’t want you to panic because in a
normal healthy child influenza is a self-limiting disease I’m going to turn
it over to dr. Shane for our second question Thank You dr. Salinas so the
second question is stories of flu related deaths seem to be everywhere in
the news is it safe to say my child is more likely to get a more severe case of
flu this season so what we have seen even though every
case and every death is something to be concerned about that overall this is
about normal for what we see in an influenza season the challenge is that
we have seen more infections but many of the children that we have been seeing
have had mild cases of influenza and have not been required detailed care
many of these children can be at home parents know their children the
best and so concerns about some symptoms that we’ll discuss later
reasons why a child should be brought for medical care to their pediatrician I
think a really good question that’s associated with that is when should I
take my child to an emergency department so most importantly you know your child
the best and the the other person that knows your child as well as you do is
your tells pediatrician so our recommendation for most cases of
influenza in a normal otherwise healthy child is to do what you think you should
do as a parent but also seek care through your through your pediatrician
there might be times though when you would come to an emergency department
and what are some of those things that you would look for if your child has
labored difficult breathing irritability that’s inconsolable confusion or
headache that won’t go away neck stiffness dehydration severe back pain
severe joint and muscle pain that’s unrelenting weakness in the legs and
feet red during those are the things that we would say would warrant an
emergency department visit but for most cases of the influenza I want to I want
to really impress upon you most of these can be handled at home with what we call
symptomatic care if not seek your pediatrician come to one of urgent care
centers and reserve the emergency department for some of the severe
conditions that I mentioned earlier I think another related question is
does my child need to be tested for the flu and does he need antiviral
medication so during the influenza season which is currently what we’re
seeing the predominant circulating virus is influenza there are other respiratory
viruses but once again we want to help parents to understand that they should
base whether or not a child needs evaluation and that includes testing
and/or treatment on their child’s condition and so most children who have
a fever runny nose and a cough the three main symptoms of flu infection do not
need to be tested and do not need antiviral medication those who may need
evaluation by the pediatrician include children who have an underlying medical
condition such as a respiratory problem asthma or any problem with their immune
system that may predispose them to having a more severe influenza infection
thank you dr. Shane this next question that we surfaced is really really
important it is the following should I give my child aspirin to reduce
fever the answer to that is no aspirin and aspirin containing products should
really not be given to any child with suspected influenza in general for fever
reduction we recommend acetaminophen or Tylenol as it’s commonly called and
ibuprofen or Advil to reduce the fever but please avoid
aspirin and aspirin containing products in your child if you think they have
influenza okay thank you Dan so another question is how long should you stay
home after getting the flu to prevent spreading it to others and this is a
question that we’ve received quite a lot because obviously one does not want to
have the risk of transmitting the infection
others in the community and so what we recommend is that a child remain at home
until 24 hours after having a fever without the use of fever lowering
medications and also we want the child to be able to participate in activities
if they’re returning to child care or if they’re returning to school so once
again that’s 24 hours without a fever without the use of flu reducing
medications thank you that’s such an important point
a very important question here has the flu season peaked how long is this going
to last it’s hard it’s really hard to know if flu season is peaked and what’s
more in general they’re up to four different kinds of flu viruses that can
circulate in this in this given flu season while we have been seeing
predominantly influenza A we are starting to see a little bit of a
decrease in the number of positive lab specimens for influenza A but we’re
starting to see an uptick in cases of influenza B so as flu season peak the
answer is no in general flu season lasts through mid-april this
season started about two weeks early so we are hoping as I’m sure you are that
this will let up and then it’ll even end a couple of weeks early but a couple
things to remember it’s never too late to get the flu vaccine and remember if
my child had the flu can they get another flu absolutely if they didn’t
get the vaccine they get the flu they should still be vaccinated it’s still
the number one line of defense thanks Dan and I think you also covered a
little bit of the next question which was can a person
who’s had the flu get it again in the same season and so they can get a
influenza infection as you mentioned with a different strain of the flu virus
that may be circulating and I also wanted to just add to your previous
comments one of the challenges with influenza is it is completely
unpredictable and so we even though we try to predict based on other seasons
for example this season that it started a little bit earlier we saw the increase
in infection so we really do respect the flu since it is so unpredictable thank
you thank you Andy how can I best protect my family this is such an
important question it really gets to the core of empowering us as as parents of
children because we care so deeply about our kids as I’m as we both mentioned the
best way you can protect your families to make sure that all of you have had
the flu vaccine very very important but then there are some other things that
you can do you can teach your kids how to sneeze properly that is how to sneeze
them to their elbow like that as opposed to sneeze it in their hands it does
reduce the trans transmission of viruses flu and cold viruses very importantly
take care of yourselves take care of your children make sure they’re getting
the right things to eat the right amount of sleep the right amount of fluid
things like that and remember to keep non-toxic hand sanitizers and surface
surface wipes and things like that available public surface things like
telephones and pens and grocery carts and things like that please don’t
hesitate please wipe those things down wash your hands off and make sure your
children are washing their hands often these are some of the very simple things
that you all can do at home to help prevent the transmission of flu and also
once again it empowers you as parents these are the things that I can do to
keep my child well and that wraps up our session I wanted to call your attention
to a couple of things we want you to be armed with good information
so you could visit wway org for slash flu to find a host of resources for you
and your family and also thank you all for your comments and questions and you
can continue this conversation using the comments section in fact we would
greatly appreciate to understand where where your heads are if you will and
what we can do to continue to help you we are here to help you we’re here to
support you and dr. Shane thank you and this concludes our question and answer
session thank you again for joining us

1 comment

Leave a Reply

(*) Required, Your email will not be published