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Kendell Sprott is Acting Chairman of Pediatrics and is the Senior Associate Dean for Clinical Affairs at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey. He teaches pediatrics in various medical university hospitals and serves on state and national boards throughout the country. Dr. Sprott has a Bachelor of Science degree from Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia, a medical degree from the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, and a law degree from Rutgers University School of Law in New Jersey.

Please note that this information is not intended to be used in place of a visit, consultation, or advice from a primary physician.

What to do when the flu is suspected

Respiratory syncitial virus is one of the leading causing for hospitalization in children younger than age 2. In most cases, the infection involves the upper respiratory tract, causing mild cold symptoms. In some cases, the infection travels into the lower airways and causes bronchiloitis (inflammation of the small airways).

Children may then start to breathe rapidly, with retractions and wheezing, similar to asthma. Cough is a significant finding. The cells lining the airway are infected and damaged, which impairs the movement of mucous up toward the throat. White blood cells, mucous and cellular debris can then only be removed by coughing. Coughing may persist beyond clearance of the virus for several weeks. Some children may go on to have asthmatic symptoms.

H1N1 continues to be widespread throughout the country. It is responsible for almost all of the influenza activity, including doctor and hospital visits, admissions and deaths. Since April, the CDC has confirmed 129 pediatric deaths due to H1N1. One concern is the impact of RSV and seasonal influenza, which will add to the number of H1N1 infections. The H1N1 vaccine distribution started out slower than expected, and some New Jersey hospitals have received smaller numbers than anticipated.

The early use of Tamiflu or Relenza is recommended when influenza infection is suspected. The treatment course is five days and requires a prescription from your doctor. The vaccine is available at some pharmacies and some providers. You might want to check around your area for its availability.

 


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