First Wave of Flu and RSV Seen at Cook Children’s
Does your child have the sniffles, sneezing, tummy aches or worse? They aren’t alone.
Last week, eight children tested positive the flu at the medical center, according to Laboratory results from Cook Children’s. What’s interesting is that seven children tested positive for influenza B and only one for the A strain.
Morgan Pence, Ph.D., a clinical microbiologist at Cook Children’s, says this occurrence is a bit odd because the A strain usually precedes B. Pence adds that the majority of flu cases reported nationwide have been influenza B.
Since Sept. 29, 2019, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), found that 68.1% (289) of positive tests gathered from clinical laboratories nationwide were for influenza B.
The good news is Flu B is usually less severe than Flu A. The bad news is the flu season is just beginning. And while it remains to be seen what the flu season holds in store for the area, one thing is for sure: it’s time to get your flu shot.
“It’s important for people to take care of themselves and others to prevent the spread of the flu as much as possible,” said Mary Suzanne Whitworth, M.D., medical director of Infectious Diseases. “The flu vaccine continues to be recommended for everyone 6 months of age and older. Make sure to practice washing your hands and please keep your children home if they are sick.”
Speaking about the early flu season, the CDC reports:
- Nationally, flu activity is low and similar to what has been observed during recent previous seasons at the same time, but Louisiana and Puerto Rico are experiencing high levels of influenza-like-illness.
- Severe flu outcomes have been reported, including the first two pediatric deaths of the 2019-2020 season.
- Flu vaccination is always the best way to prevent flu and its potentially serious complications. Most flu vaccines protect against 4 different flu viruses. Get vaccinated now.
Other flu prevention tips include:
- Try to avoid close contact with sick people.
- While sick, limit contact with others as much as possible to keep from infecting them.
- If you are sick with flu-like illness, the CDC recommends staying home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone except to get medical care for other necessities. Your fever should be gone for 24 hours without the use of fever-reducing medicine.
- Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.
- Wash your hands with soap and water. If soap and water aren’t available, use an alcohol-based hand rub.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth. Germs spread this way.
- Clean and disinfect surfaces and objects that may be contaminated with germs like the flu.
The lab at Cook Children’s tested 194 kids from Oct. 20 to Oct. 26. Along with the positive flu cases, 29 other kids tested positive for RSV.
RSV is a virus. It’s short for respiratory syncytial virus. It causes a disease in young children (especially those less than 2 years) called bronchiolitis. The RSV season usually begins around mid-August and runs through March.
Bronchiolitis is a disease of the lower respiratory tract which causes children to wheeze. They are wheezy because their small airways have swelling and junk (mucus and cells from the lining of the airway) in them.
The smaller airways are similar to the area where a child with asthma has issues (which is why they wheeze). The difference is that children with asthma have a squeezing down of the walls of the airway (which is what a breathing treatment reverses). This is why breathing treatments in children with bronchiolitis usually don’t work.
Justin Smith, M.D., a Cook Children’s pediatrician in Trophy Club, said getting admitted for bronchiolitis is usually based on dehydration, severe difficulty breathing or low oxygen levels. He added:
Children who can’t eat because they are breathing fast and are vomiting because of all the mucous draining into their belly are at risk for dehydration. Unfortunately, the only way to fix this is to put them in the hospital for intravenous (IV) fluids until they can drink better.
A child who is having severe difficulty breathing also needs to be observed in the hospital. Unfortunately, babies with acute bronchiolitis can get tired from all the heavy breathing they are doing, and this can progress to needing ICU care. It is best to have those babies who are breathing that hard in the hospital so that they can be monitored closely by specialists.