|December 19, 2003||Influenza Web site|
TIPS FOR PARENTS CONCERNED ABOUT INFLUENZA
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. -- With widespread flu activity occurring in Illinois, many parents are rightly concerned about when they should seek medical care for their ill children.
"Parents know their children best and can tell when they are not responding to an illness as expected," said Dr. Eric E. Whitaker, state public health director. "Whenever parents are concerned about their children's health, they should call their pediatrician for advice."
The most common symptoms of the flu include fever (usually 100 degrees F in adults and often higher in children), dry cough, runny or stuffy nose, headache, muscle aches and extreme fatigue.
"If children have these symptoms, parents should keep them home from school or daycare to prevent the spread of disease," Dr. Whitaker advised.
According to recommendations of the American Academy of Pediatrics, parents should take their child to a pediatrician or to an emergency department if he or she displays any of the following symptoms:
The single best way to prevent the flu is to get vaccinated. However, an unusually large demand for the flu vaccine this season has led to shortages of vaccine in some areas. It is recommended that remaining vaccine be used for individuals who are at high risk for complications from influenza, which includes children 6 months to 23 months of age and children age 2 and older who have chronic health conditions. Those chronic conditions include:
Household members of high-risk children also should be vaccinated. If you are unsure if you or your children fall into one of these groups, contact your pediatrician or primary health care provider.
Parents should talk with their pediatricians about the current vaccine supply in their area and about recommendations for their children. Vaccine is still available at many doctor's offices, so be persistent.
If vaccine is not available and flu is present in your area, anti-viral medication may be an option for children with certain conditions that place them at higher risk. Antiviral medications must be taken within two days of onset of symptoms. All of these medications are prescription drugs, and a doctor should be consulted before the drugs are used to prevent the flu.
Although supplies of injected vaccine are limited, supplies of the live vaccine, which is available as a nasal mist known as FluMist, are more plentiful. This vaccine can be given to healthy children age 5 and older and health care providers are encouraged to give it to healthy children ages 5 to 9 who need a second dose of flu vaccine. The first flu immunization ever for any child 6 months to 9 years of age requires two doses of vaccine.
Even without being vaccinated, there are steps that can be taken to reduce transmission of flu:
Those who develop flu-like symptoms should drink fluids, rest and stay home. Those who have the flu may also take over-the-counter drugs such as acetaminophen and ibuprofen, but aspirin should be avoided because taking it for some forms of flu has been associated with Reye's syndrome, a serious disease in children that can occur following a viral illness and that causes swelling of the brain.
At this point in the flu season, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has indicated it is unclear whether influenza is impacting children more severely than other years or if a heightened awareness of severe influenza disease in children has led to increased testing and reporting of pediatric cases.
of Public Health
535 West Jefferson Street
Springfield, Illinois 62761
Questions or Comments