Protect Your Child From Pneumonia

Pneumonia, an inflammation or infection of the lungs, is a serious condition that can be prevented, a CHOC infectious disease specialist says.

“Pneumonia is a serious condition and can often be prevented by getting vaccinated for illnesses that can lead to pneumonia,” says Dr. Antonio Arrieta, CHOC’s director of infectious disease and director of infectious disease research.

Several vaccines recommended for infants and young children can help prevent bacterial or viral infections that can lead to pneumonia, says Dr. Arrieta, who encourages parents to seek these vaccines for their children as recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and many other medical associations.

Vaccines for the following illnesses can help prevent people from getting pneumonia:

  • Influenza (flu): The flu vaccine is given annually at the beginning of flu season.
  • Measles: The MMR vaccine protects against measles, as well as mumps and rubella.
  • Pertussis: A vaccine called DTaP protects against whooping cough, a contagious infection that prompts a violent cough.
  • Pneumococcal: A vaccine for this condition is recommended for children younger than 5, and decreases the risk of acquiring bacterial pneumonia by about 70 percent, Dr. Arrieta says.
  • Chickenpox: The CDC recommends two doses of the vaccine against this condition for children, adolescents and adults.

The streptococcus pneumonia is the most common bacterium to cause bacterial pneumonia, Dr. Arrieta says.

Other bacteria that may lead to bacterial pneumonia include Group B streptococcus, which is most common in newborns; Staphylococcus aureus; and Group A streptococcus, which is most common in children older than 5, Dr. Arrieta says.

Unlike bacterial pneumonia, viral pneumonia is caused by viruses such as the respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), which is most common in babies and children younger than 2, and the influenza virus, or the flu, says Dr. Arrieta.

Though the flu typically lasts for no more than five days, pneumonia can linger for longer. Thus, prevention is key, Dr. Arrieta says.

Talk to your pediatrician for information about vaccines and the recommended vaccination schedule, as well as other ways to prevent your child from getting pneumonia.

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Childhood Vaccinations

To ensure maximum protection against diseases, children should receive vaccinations at the correct, recommended age, a CHOC infectious disease specialist tells Research 360,° a podcast highlighting research at the hospital.

In this segment, Dr. Antonio Arrieta discusses proper timing of vaccinations, dispels myths surrounding vaccinations, and details his current research at CHOC. Listen in to hear more about childhood vaccinations.

Hosted by Executive Director of Research Brent Dethlefs, Research 360° features interviews with scientists, physicians, educators, scientific news-and policy-makers to provide the listening audience with context, and scientific and social commentary intended to engage and inform.

Learn more about CHOC’s Research Institute.

Clinical Trials in Pediatrics

“A clinical trial is a research project that involves patients,” says Dr. Antonio Arrieta, a CHOC Children’s Pediatric Infectious Disease Specialist. “All drugs, vaccines and medical devices have to go through phases of research before they are approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. If researchers and physicians don’t  conduct these trials, we don’t know how good the drugs are or how we are supposed to use them. The expectation is that these new drugs will be better or improve the established standard of care. The standard of care oftentimes has a lot of room for improvement. We think we can do better. We want to make sure new drugs are safe and that we get the best results. Some trials we have done have  introduced new agents that have greatly improved mortality rates and the survival of patients.”

Physicians and researchers conducting clinical trials talk to other physicians at CHOC to identify potential patients to participate. “We make sure they meet the criteria and then talk to the parents to get informed consent,” says Dr. Arrieta. “We discuss the pros and cons of the study and why we are doing it. It’s voluntary and there are no consequences to not participating. We monitor patients closely to make sure the child is responding to treatment or gets better. No procedures are done on children that will increase their pain or discomfort and we can stop a trial with a patient any time the parent wishes.”


  • Average number of peer-reviewed research papers published annually from CHOC’s Infectious Disease Division: 6-7
  • Approximate number of clinical trials underway at CHOC at any given time: 300
  • Approximate number of newborns exposed to HIV in-untero referred to CHOC’s Pediatric HIV Clinic each year: 10

View the full feature on Kids and Clinical Trials

Dr. Antonio Arrieta
Dr. Antonio Arrieta
CHOC Pediatric Infectious
Disease Specialist


Dr. Arrieta is the Director of Pediatric Infectious Diseases and the Director of Infectious Disease Clinical Research at CHOC Children’s. He specializes in infectious diseases, including pediatric HIV. A native of Peru, Dr. Arrieta completed his fellowship at UCI Memorial/Miller Children’s Hospital in Long Beach and his residency at Southern Illinois University in Springfield. He joined the CHOC staff in 1991.

Dr. Arrieta’s philosophy of care: “My philosophy of care is one that is shared by everyone at CHOC, and that is one of service. We are here to serve the children of Orange County regardless of their backgrounds. We help people stay healthy or we help them return to health.”

Universidad Peruana Cayetano Heredia in Lima, Peru

Pediatric Infectious Disease

More about Dr. Arrieta

This article was featured in the Orange County Register on May 19, 2014, and was written by Amy Bentley.

Infectious Disease Clinical Trials at CHOC

Infectious_Disease_Research_CHOCClinical trials involving real patients help doctors and researchers learn the effectiveness of a new drug or medical device, and lead to advancements with potential to improve thousands of lives.

At any time, CHOC Children’s staff doctors, nurses and others are involved in about 300 clinical trials in many specialties, says Dr. Antonio Arrieta, director of infectious diseases and the director of infectious disease clinical research at CHOC.

These trials examine the safety and effectiveness of new medications, vaccines and medical devices as CHOC research physicians and their staffs seek to answer medical questions and develop new or improved drugs that can help children worldwide.

“CHOC is one of the best hospitals in the country and in the world when it comes to providing clinical care,” says Dr. Arrieta. “We also are seeking to make CHOC equally a leader in the discovery and development of new medications and medical devices for children.”

Dr. Arrieta and his team in are assessing the impact of a new and improved vaccine that would reduce invasive Pneumococcal disease, which can cause serious illnesses like pneumonia, meningitis and others.

Dr. Arrieta recently presented data from this research to the international community at a conference in Dublin hosted by the European Society for Pediatric Infectious Diseases and attended by more than 3,000 clinicians, researchers, residents and students.

“We want to share this with the international community,” Dr. Arrieta said. “This infection is of greater severity and more common in third-world countries that don’t have this vaccine.”

Orange County has seen a decline in cases of children with invasive Pneumococcal disease since the first vaccine was released in 2010. It is given to babies at the ages of 2, 4, 6 and 18 months.

Another area of research Dr. Arrieta’s team is working on involves an effort to treat a severe form of fungal infection in infants called candida, which can be fatal for premature babies.

“The current standard of care of is quite toxic so we are involved in an international trial involving a new agent that we think is going to improve the overall outcome of these babies,” he says.

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Kids and the Flu

How do you distinguish a common cold from the flu (influenza)?When late fall rolls around, the flu usually rolls in with it.

“The first few days  with a cough, fever and sore throat are early signs of influenza,” says Dr. Antonio Arrieta, an infectious disease specialist at CHOC. “Fever is very common. Probably 90 percent of children  who have influenza will have a high fever.”

What else should you look out for to identify this seasonal respiratory infection?

  • Body aches
  • Chills
  • Headache
  • Runny or stuffy nose

It’s possible for your child to be on the winning team this flu season.

“The best way to fight influenza is not to get it. All children older than 6 months and adults should receive the flu vaccine. It is safe and highly effective,” Dr. Arrieta says.

What else can you do? Suggestions from Dr. Arrieta include washing one’s hands very carefully before and after taking care of young children, and avoiding close contact for long periods of time with people who have influenza or a respiratory illness.

The flu shot is safe and up to 70 percent protective. Also safe and effective is the intranasal form of the vaccine, which shouldn’t be given to children less than two years of age and with asthma or a history of wheezing, says Dr. Arrieta.

“The only effective treatment that will shorten the course of the illness is anti-viral agents,” Dr. Arrieta says.

The most familiar one is Tamiflu. It’s safe for children ages 1 and older, if necessary.

Alternatively, parents can administer over-the-counter remedies like acetaminophen for fever or discomfort, Dr. Arrieta says.

Dr. Arrieta does not recommend decongestants for flu treatment.

“They can make children drowsy and limit the parent’s ability to evaluate them if they’re not feeling well,” he says.


  • Number of days severe flu symptoms may last: 7 days
  • Number of colds Americans suffer yearly: 1 billion
  • Age recommended to begin getting yearly flu shots: 6 months

View the full feature on Kids and the Flu

Dr. Antonio Arrieta
Dr. Antonio Arrieta
CHOC Infectious Disease Specialist


Dr. Arrieta has served patients at CHOC Children’s since 1991. He is the director of pediatric infectious diseases and director of infectious disease clinical research, and specializes in the treatment of serious community acquired and nosocomial infections. Dr. Arrieta completed his fellowship at UCI Memorial/Miller Children’s Hospital in Long Beach and his pediatrics residency at Southern Illinois University.

Dr. Arrieta’s philosophy of care: “My most important message for the community is prevention mainly through timely immunization, and also by observing healthy habits and handwashing.”

Universidad Peruana Cayetano Heredia in Lima, Peru

Pediatric Infectious Diseases

More about Dr. Arrieta

This article was featured in the Orange County Register on December 3, 2013 and was written by Shaleek Wilson.