Dr. Gillin answered our questions on whether she’s treated patients with Swine Flu, what concerns she has been hearing from parents, the measures being taken in California and more.
Now that California Governor Schwarzenegger has declared a state of emergency, what can we expect as far as a vaccine in California? When do you guess pediatrician offices will offer them?
It takes time to develop a vaccine to any virus. It will take some time to develop and manufacture and test a vaccine. Although the U.S. is prepared to develop a vaccine as soon as possible, I would predict that it will take months (in time for the next influenza season- fall 2009).
Is it still ages 8-50 that are the biggest concern or are we seeing more cases for younger and older ages?
This is still the highest risk so far.
Can you give us any insight as to what the pediatrician community is saying at this point?
It is interesting. We are seeing children with flu-like illnesses, however are not seeing severe illness yet. We are cautious as we need to give it some time to see what will unfold.
Schwarzenegger said in a news conference yesterday, “We are taking strong and swift action to limit the spread of the virus and to minimize its effects.” What measures are being taken?
There is a large effort being placed at encouraging good hygiene, and encouraging sick people to stay home.
School nurses are quickly triaging and sending home sick children. School districts are calling families and informing them to keep sick children home.
Has your office seen an onslaught of false alarms?
Absolutely. But it is understandable. Watching the news can make you crazy. So far, I have not seen severe illness in my office. The national data, so far is reassuring. To date, there have been 64 cases reported, 47 reported to the CDC. Of those, there have been only 5 hospitalizations, [but unfortunately 1 death]. Of course, we are still very cautious as we need to give it more time to fully understand this illness.
What are the biggest concerns from patients you’ve seen or concerned parents calling your office? And how do you respond?
Most people just want to know what is going on. Does their child with a 100 fever have the swine flu? What are we seeing?
We are evaluating patients, discussing their symptoms. For the most part, most patients still have common illnesses such as the common cold.
Have you treated anyone with Swine Flu?
Not that I know of. I have had children with mild flu-like illnesses, but it will take some time to know if they are positive for the swine flu.
Are there currently other strains of flu going around?
Yes. We are seeing children with the typical flu- positive for influenza B.
I read that the CDC authorized more than 1 million Tamiflu treatments in California. What is Tamiflu? An antibiotic? How often is it taken?
Tamiflu is an anti-influenza medication. It is not an anti-bacterial (influenza is a virus, not a bacteria). It is taken twice per day for 5 days, starting at the onset of flu-like symptoms.
Anything else you’d like to share?
Yes- Testing for the swine flu: We do have rapid tests for influenza. This may or may not be able to detect the Swine flu (it can detect influenza A, but at this time do not know its accuracy). The testing which is specific for the swine flu needs to be done at a special lab, and is not rapid (takes days). The current recommendation is to NOT test most individuals. We are treating patients based on clinical findings, not on the basis of lab tests.
So, if you do not have a fever and flu-like symptoms, you will likely not need to be treated for the swine flu. (Do not ask for tamiflu if you stubbed your toe).
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.
Shakha 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 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: