Swine Flu: A Pediatrician Discusses the Symptoms, Treatment and Why the Sudden Panic


For the Wednesday, April 29 Post, “Swine Flu: First Death in U.S. is a Toddler — Deaths Due to Influenza Happen Every Year” — Click here.

For Wednesday April 29 post, “Swine Flu: What the Pediatrician Community is Saying Today and More,” Click here.

Monday, April 27

With three boys in school and a teacher herself, Breezy Mama Maya –like many of us — is beginning to feel the panic over the sudden outbreak of the Swine Flu. We turned to Pediatrician Shakha Gillin, M.D., F.A.A.P to get the facts on the symptoms, treatment and how to avoid it.

Can you tell us about the Swine Flu? What is it? How serious is it?

The Swine Flu is an H1N1 Influenza A virus, that originated in pigs, but now has demonstrated human to human transmission.

Why is there suddenly panic seemingly spreading over this particular virus?

The panic has been spreading for several reasons.

There have been a large number of cases in Mexico (numbers still rising), and a significant mortality (deaths) in Mexico from this specific virus. Although the numbers in the US have so far been small, the US is prepared to recognize, control, and treat any possible influenza pandemics that may be starting.

Appropriate precautions are being taken to prevent a large outbreak.

Panic also is occurring because we do not know what to expect yet. Although the mortality is high in Mexico, that may not be the case in the US. Uncertainty brings panic.

What are the symptoms?

The same symptoms as the yearly “flu”. There is fever (temp > 100), cough and sore throat, as well body aches, chills, stuffy nose.

If we suspect our children have it, what should we do?

If your child has a fever over 100, and a cough or sore throat, contact your physician. This is probably just a common cold, but at this time we will likely want to examine your child. Many offices can perform some testing in the office, or obtain a test and send it to a specialized lab for further testing.

What if parents contract it? Are the symptoms the same in adults? Is it just as serious?

The symptoms are similar in parents. It is less serious in younger children, as people 8-50 years old seem to be at the greatest risk. However, until we have more information, we do not know how this virus will affect individuals (hopefully it will be similar to the yearly flu).

How is it treated if contracted for children? And for adults?

The current recommendation is to consider Tamiflu for children who probably have the Swine Flu (not for prevention), and Tamiflu or Relenza for adults (Relenza is not approved for young children).

What can we do at home to ease the discomfort for our children? And ourselves?

If your child has flu-like symptoms, you can do the same things as for a typical flu: Ibuprofen, Tylenol, lots of liquids, soup, rest. If your child has respiratory distress then they need to return to their physician for further medical care.

What if one person in a household contracts Swine Flu – how do we protect ourselves and our other children?

Tamiflu may be indicated for household contacts. Contact your physician for current recommendations.

Any other recommendations to avoid getting it?

YES. Use good hygiene and common sense. Wash hands, and do not come close to individuals who are sick.


Do you recommend washing hands with warm, soapy water or anti-bacteria soap?


What’s your feeling on using Purell or other anti-bacteria gels?
I like Purell, and other antibacterial hand sanitizers. They are often used when a sink is not available. Use after touching things, or other people. Be carefull how much you put on an infant who licks everything off their hands.

Other important comments:
We are currently in the process of understanding this specific influenza virus. Information will change, possibly on a daily basis. Although in the US the total numbers and mortality are low so far, we will need to see what happens over the next several weeks. In the meantime, use common sense. Use good hygiene, hand washing. Panic will not help you, but soap and water, and hand sanitizers will!

Please do NOT expose others if you have a fever, or flu-like symptoms. You have a social obligation to stay home from work, or keep your kids from school if you have a fever, or flu-like symptoms. You should not return to work or school until you do not have a fever for 24 hours, or are cleared by a physician (generally 7 days for the onset of the illness).

For up to date information, you can check the website for the Center for Disease Control www.cdc.gov.

 For the Wednesday, April 29 Post, “Swine Flu: First Death in U.S. is a Toddler — Deaths Due to Influenza Happen Every Year” — Click here.

photo_gillinShakha Gillin, M.D., F.A.A.P. attended UCSD for her undergraduate education and medical school (and if she looks familiar that’s because she’s the twin sister of Breezy go-to dermatoligist Dr. Vi). She practiced pediatrics in La Jolla for 5 years before joining El Camino Pediatrics. She has also worked in private practice in Newport Beach and in the Rady Children’s Hospital Emergency Department.

Dr. Shakha Gillin has a special interest in preventative care, particularly healthy and active lifestyles for children. She was recognized by San Diego Magazine as a “Top Doctor” in 2006, 2007 and 2008. She also organizes the North County Pediatric Journal Club, a bimonthly meeting where local pediatricians discuss the latest pediatric medical topics.

breezy_deal1Breezy Note: Dr. Gillin noted that information is continuously changing on Swine Flu. Breezy Mama will be checking in with her for updates for the latest information. Either check back here, or subscribe (it’s free) to be alerted via email for any new posts:

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  1. This was a great article. Thank you so much!

  2. Maya, I am with you! My N95 respirator masks are on their way from Toledo as I write this!!!


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