Swine flu : Parents, please do not panic
“Swine flu” the dreaded word which sends shivers down any parents spine is an illness fraught with fear, anxiety and confusion. We will sort them out one by one.
Swine flu is an illness caused by a virus called Influenza virus
The type of influenza virus can change every year. Accordingly, the type of vaccine also changes every year
Swine flu in India peaks before and during the monsoons instead of winter as in the western countries. So, watch out for those outbreaks
Swine flu behaves like any other viral illness in most children, with symptoms of cold, cough, fever and body pain
It spreads through nasal and oral secretions i.e. by coughing, sneezing or coming in close contact with an infected person
Most of the children recover on their own with symptomatic or home based treatment
Small subset of children infected with swine flu may develop life threatening complications
Swine flu can be prevented by vaccination; ask for the latest strain of the vaccine during vaccination
High risk children should be vaccinated annually, especially before the onset of monsoons
O seltamivir is the drug of choice for treatment of swine flu; it cannot be bought without a doctor’s prescription
So, when my child is having cough, cold, fever, when should i suspect it might be swine flu?
Rapid development of symptoms
Persistent high grade fever
Fever not responding within 48 hours of starting antibiotics
Child looking very sick, even without fever
Loose motions, vomiting and evidences of dehydration like less urine output
So, what will the doctor do?
Examine child clinically and ask for a Chest XRay.
May check oxygen saturations at the clinic
Order lab tests to diagnose swine flu…the surest way to diagnose
Start treatment immediately, if clinical suspicion is high without waiting for the reports
Order isolation of the child till reports come
When do i know that my child might be developing complications?
High, continous fever not responding to medicines
Bluish tinge of lips and skin, especially while coughing
Which children are at the risk of getting infections and complications?
Any child can get infected with swine flu but some children are at higher risk for complications like,
Children <5 years age
Children with heart or lung problems
Children with diabetes
If your child has been diagnosed or suspected with swine flu, what next?
DO NOT PANIC. Most children get better without any major complications
Hydrate your child by giving plenty of fluids to drink, continue breastfeeding
Don’t change or introduce a new diet. Let your child continue to have a balanced diet
Rest, avoid excess activity
Control the fever by using paracetamol, tepid water sponging. Avoid aspirin
Symptomatic medicines for cold, aches and cough may be prescribed by the doctor
Isolate your child for atleast 7 days after fever
Antibiotics - Not required unless any pneumonia or ear infection develops
Antivirals like oseltamivir are not necessarily required as it is a self limited infection in majority. It is used for children at high risk or those with complications
Hospitalisation may be required if any evidence of complications or your doctor anticipates any complication
Preventing spread to others in the family:
Wash hands often with soap and running water
Use hand sanitisers when soap and water not accessible
Disposable tissues are better as compared to handkerchief
Throw away the tissues in the dustbin
Use of a mask to cover mouth and nose
Clean door knobs etc with disinfectant
Avoid sharing of utensils
HOW CAN I PROTECT MY CHILD FROM GETTING THE SWINE FLU?
Given to high risk children above 6 months of age
Offers some protection against prevailing swine flu virus strain
Protection from the vaccine lasts for around a year
In India, it is not a mandatory vaccine but a vaccine to be given after discussion with the parents
Given annually, usually when the new strain is released or before the onset of monsoons
Disclaimer : "The information is based on standard medical guidelines and is purely informative. Not to be used for treatment.”