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Influenza update


The flu has been getting a lot of air time these days and many people are getting nervous.  Whats the deal with flu deaths this year and what can you do to keep your family safe?  Lets take a look at an article from the American Academy of Pediatrics: 

"The number of children dying from flu this season continues to rise, now reaching 53, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

“Right now, one of the biggest health threats we are facing is influenza,” CDC Acting Director Anne Schuchat, M.D ., said Friday. “Flu is incredibly complex and difficult to predict, and this season is a somber reminder of why flu is one of the world’s greatest public health challenges.”

Young children are especially vulnerable to flu complications. Sixteen pediatric deaths were reported during the week ending Jan. 27, according to new CDC data. During a regular season, pediatric flu deaths have ranged from 37 to 171 and spiked to 358 during the 2009 pandemic.

About 20% of children who died this season had been vaccinated, and roughly half did not have an underlying condition, according to the CDC. Signs of a potentially serious case include high fever, shortness of breath, rapid heartbeat, significant tiredness or confusion, and feeling better then getting worse."

(full article here)


The biggest takeaways here are that kids can get very sick from the flu EVERY year, and that the flu vaccine may not prevent influenza completely but it is having a big impact in preventing severe complications.

The treatment for the flu is an antiviral medication called Tamiflu.  Tamiflu is recommended for patients with influenza who are under age two, who have asthma or other medical problems, and those who live at home with newborns/immunocompromised people/pregnant women.  To be effective, it should be started within 48 hours of onset of symptoms.  People who do not fall into the "high risk" categories may also take Tamiflu, but some people choose not to because side effects include vomiting/diarrhea and insurance doesn't always cover it.  Come to walk ins if you think your child has the flu and needs Tamiflu.  

As with any illness, you should watch out for difficulty breathing, dehydration, or fever lasting more than a couple days.  Any child with these symptoms should be evaluated by a physician.  Kids who are drinking well and seem otherwise comfortable can weather the storm at home.  They can return to school or daycare when the fever has been gone for at least 24 hours. 

The best way to prevent the flu is with lots of hand washing, and of course, a flu vaccine.  The flu vaccine protects against 4 strains of the flu, so even if your child had the flu the season, the vaccine can protect them against getting it again.


.....only 137 days until summer

Dr. Lipkin

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