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Content provided by Thomas W. Tryon, MD, MBA, FAAP; UCA Pediatric Section Chair
By now, we are all in the midst and depths of the influenza season. According to published data from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) in early January, there have been 9.7 million documented cases of influenza with 87,000 hospitalizations and 4,800 deaths from influenza-related complications, including 32 deaths reported in children. Often, people are under the impression that only the most vulnerable children succumb to influenza. Unfortunately, that is not the case.
At this time of year when we are experiencing an influenza outbreak of both Influenza A and B, the Centers for Disease Control tells providers that they are not required to test for influenza before initiating treatment. However, this decision is somewhat complicated because that decision does not only impact the patient presenting with an influenza-like illness. If a child in infected with influenza, it could also have a significant impact on family members, close contacts and daycare attendees around the patient who may be vulnerable to influenza and influenza complications and may require prophylaxis treatment to prevent contracting influenza.
The Center for Disease Control has provided resources which define high-risk or vulnerable patients. This includes:
The vulnerabilities in children apply to adults as well, with the additional high-risk patients including adults over 65 years of age and potentially over 50 years of age, women who are postpartum within two weeks of delivery or are pregnant, and nursing home patients.
If you are having a child seen for possible influenza and there are known vulnerable people around the child, please encourage your healthcare provider to test for influenza. Knowing that your child has influenza and may have exposed vulnerable people around him or her would be important for their healthcare providers to know.
Last, we are still early in the influenza season which may have multiple outbreaks between now and March of this year. If you or your loved ones have not been vaccinated for influenza, it is still recommended for you to get the vaccine. Thank you for all you do in the lives of children within your sphere of influenza. Best wishes for a safe and healthy winter.
Urgent Care Association
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Warrenville, IL 60555
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