Yes, it’s true; we were able to celebrate summer with my son coming down with the Swine Flu. This past July, Kieran woke up one morning with a runny nose. It was clear, so I didn’t think much about it and we went to our scheduled playdate. At it, he was acting tired, and would rather sit in my lap than play with his friends. When he opted to not have cake I knew something was up. That night, I put him to bed early figuring he just needed a good night’s sleep. The next day we headed up to Santa Barbara to see some family—it was a big trip, I hadn’t seen them in years so I didn’t think about canceling. Besides, Kieran seemed fine—he did just need a good night’s sleep.
After running around on the beach all day, Kieran started to have a cough. That night, he didn’t want to play with his cousins and he asked if he could go to bed. Ummm, excuse me?? So, to bed he went but the poor guy didn’t get much sleep–he was up most of the night with the most horrendous, croupy cough. I took him into the doctor’s on Monday, and the nurse practitioner confirmed it was croup and recommended running a humidifier in his room 24/7. So we did.
From that Monday to Friday our schedule went like this: Kieran seemed to get better, we’d leave the house, and then he would get sick again. By sick, I mean a fever, coughing, and runny nose. That weekend (so it’s been a full eight days now) Kieran was kept inside, and on Monday we went back to the doctor. My biggest concern was that it had been a week and a half and he was not getting any better. The doctor agreed that this was odd, and did a nose swab. Fifteen minutes later we got the results—Influenza A, better known as the Swine Flu.
The doctor repeatedly told me to “not freak out”. Luckily, it takes a lot to freak me out, so it was easy to follow his advice. For the next seven days, Kieran was kept indoors, took it easy, and was on Motrin 24 hours. I don’t think the kid minded it one bit—he was able to watch as much television and play as many computer games as he wanted. During that week, Kieran had typical flu symptoms: he threw up a couple of times, had a cough, runny nose, and a slight fever.
Finally, finally, finally, after the 14th day it broke, and we were able to enter the outside world again. The most amazing thing? No one else—not his baby sister, not the neighbor who he shared a Popsicle with—caught it. –Alex
Advice from a Pediatrician:
Chelsea contacted Breezy Mama advisor and Pediatrican Dr. Gillin for an update on the Swine Flu. Here’s what she had to say:
After Alex’s son had Swine Flu recently, she was told Swine Flu is different than regular flu because it occurs in warm months and the regular flu only hits in winter. Do you agree? Does this mean Swine Flu isn’t a concern this winter?
Swine Flu will likely continue through the winter. This is not a summertime only virus. We will see what happens this winter–if it gets stronger or not.
What is the latest–Is Swine Flu similar to any other flu virus or should we be more concerned?
We are waiting to see what happens. Right now, it is acting like the seasonal flu in some ways–mild in strength, but it seems to be easier to spread, and affecting different age groups differently.
When will the vaccine be ready?
It should be ready fairly soon. We do not have any [in our office] yet.
Do you recommend we have our children get the vaccine?
Probably, but I want to see the specific data before I recommend it. It is similar to the seasonal flu vaccine, so it should be safe and effective, but I will reserve my recommendations for after I have seen the data, when the vaccine is available.
UPDATE: Dr. Gillin has updated her answer as of 10/21/09: “I absolutely recommend it- the data was good, it is recommended by the AAP, CDC, and local authorities, and there have already been so many given out without any problems!”
Alex was told the only way to help treat it is if your child gets diagnosed within 24 hours. What signs can we look for to be able to get this treatment?
The signs are fever, and flu like symptoms: cough, sore throat, body aches. At this point, otherwise healthy children over the age of one do not need treatment unless they have other medical problems, or are hospitalized. (Breezy Mama note: when Alex got this advice, the pediatrician was really talking about her baby–he wanted her to come in right away if the baby showed any flu signs whatsoever.) Really what you are looking for there is pneumonia–difficulty breathing in the chest–I am not talking about a stuffy nose, but labored breathing in the chest.
Is this consistent with what you are telling your patients? How do you advise them to treat it?
1. Home flu remedies–rest, fever reducers if needed for comfort, and lots of liquids.
2. Look for signs of respiratory distress–again, labored breathing, not a stuffy nose. If your child has medical problems or is less than 1 year old, then you should get evaluated.
As a mother, what do you want other parents to know?
Right now, it is mild. But I do want to emphasize how important it is to protect ourselves–one day we knew nothing about Swine Flu, the next day our world was in panic. Protect your children by immunizing (hey, no one is going to come and knock on your door to tell you that a disease has arrived in our country), and use control measures to prevent the spread of infection.
So, for immunizing, I recommend getting the seasonal flu vaccine now, and be ready for the Swine Flu vaccine when it becomes available, and when your pediatrician recommends it. But also make sure your child is vaccinated against other infections (Prevnar protects against meningitis, but also pneumonia!).
Control measures–wash your hands, AND STAY HOME IF YOU ARE SICK! That means no fever for 24 hours! Did I mention 24 HOURS?!!? If your child had a fever last night, and in the morning they feel okay, do not send them to school–that is not 24 hours! Children should be taught to wash their hands after touching things, and before eating.
Are there any other new viruses we should be concerned about now that school is back in for some and starting soon for others?
So far so good!
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, 2008 and 2009. She also organizes the North County Pediatric Journal Club, an every other month meeting where local pediatricians discuss the latest pediatric medical topics.
Breezy Tip: Want to know the best products for conquering Swine Flu? Click here.
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