Ring in the New Year with these Flu Prevention Tips

Flu activity peaks between December and February and can last as late as May. To ensure the start of a healthy new year, remind your friends and family of these flu prevention tips to stop the spread of germs:

  • Wash your hands often and use respiratory etiquette during flu season. There are many other respiratory viruses out there besides the seasonal flu, and the flu vaccine cannot protect against all of them.
  • Use hand sanitizer.
  • Postpone play dates with sick kids.
  • Wear appropriate outdoor clothing.
  • If you are sick with the flu, stay home from work or school to prevent spreading influenza to others.

If you haven’t already, get a flu shot. CHOC Children’s and the American Academy of Pediatrics urge that all children ages 6 months or older be immunized against influenza. It is especially important for people who are at high risk of complications from flu to get a flu vaccine, including:

  • Pregnant women
  • People 50 years of age and older
  • People of any age with chronic medical conditions
  • People who are immunosuppressed
  • People who live in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities
  • Health care workers

For more health tips from the experts at CHOC, visit www.choc.org/health.     

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OC Reports First West Nile Virus Case – What You Need to Know

An Orange County man tested positive recently for West Nile virus (WNV) infection, becoming the county’s first human WNV infection in 2015. The man has CHOC Children's Infectious Diseasenow recovered.

As of August 12, there are 36 human cases of WNV reported in California. Last year, there were 280 reported human infections of WNV and nine WNV related deaths in Orange County. The disease is recurring every year during the summer months and into the fall, according to county health officials.

For answers on how to protect your family from this virus, check out the following Q&A with Dr. Jasjit Singh, pediatric infectious disease specialist at CHOC Children’s.

Q: What is West Nile virus and who is at risk for infection?

A: West Nile virus is transmitted by the bite of an infected mosquito. Serious illness can occur in people of any age. However, most cases of human infection occur in the elderly and in those with impaired immune systems.

Q: What are the symptoms?

A: The vast majority of WNV infections (~80%) are asymptomatic. Most symptomatic patients will have fever, sometimes accompanied by other nonspecific signs such as headache, nausea, vomiting or rash. Less than 1% of infected individuals will develop a neurologic disease, such as meningitis, encephalitis (inflammation of the brain) or acute flaccid paralysis.

Q: What is the treatment?

A: No vaccine or specific antiviral treatments for West Nile virus infection are available. Over-the-counter pain relievers can be used to reduce fever and relieve some symptoms, however. In severe cases, particularly those with neurologic involvement, patients often need to be hospitalized.

Q: How can families protect themselves from this virus?

A:

  • Eliminate standing water on your property, which can serve as a breeding area for mosquitoes.
  • Install door and window screens, to prevent mosquitoes from entering the home.
  • When possible, avoid being outdoors between dusk and dawn when mosquitoes are most active.
  • When outdoors, if possible, wear long pants and long sleeves and use an insect repellent during the summer and fall. Look for repellents containing DEET, picardin or oil of lemon eucalyptus, which often provide longer-lasting protection.

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Eye Infections in Kids

Pink eye isn’t the only eye problem found in babies and children that parents should be aware of, a CHOC Children’s infectious disease specialist says. eye infections

Here are some other eye issues that Dr. Negar Ashouri recommends parents keep on their radars:

  • A stye (or sty): This is a small, painful lump, usually found on the inside or outside of the eyelid. It’s an occlusion of the glands around the eye and can become infected but does not affect vision. Applying a warm compress to the eye a few times daily will help it drain and heal. Eye drops can help if it’s infected.
  • Blocked tear duct: Infants’ tear ducts can sometimes get blocked, making the inner eye close to the nasal bridge appear swollen. This typically can happen in the first few weeks of life and does not affect vision. A parent or caregiver can massage the area to help open the duct, and often it will open on its own. If not, eye drops will help.
  • Herpes infections in or around the eye: Children can get a herpes viral infection of the eye. This occurs after close contact with someone who has a cold sore (i.e. kisses) or from autoinoculation from HSV in the mouth. After the primary infection, it can also reactivate at a later time.

If parents notice small red bumps or blisters on the skin around the child’s eye and also redness in the eye, call a medical professional.

“You do need to seek medical care for this because the child can be put on anti-viral medication,” Dr. Ashouri says. “This is a dangerous problem because it can lead to blindness.”

Dr. Ashouri says it’s important to call the doctor or seek medical help for any of these problems or an eye infection if these symptoms are accompanied by visual changes or the eye becomes very red.

Learn more about infectious disease services at CHOC.

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    The Ugly Facts About Measles

    The United States is experiencing a record number of measles cases, with California leading the states inDoctor vaccinating small redhead girl. the number of individuals confirmed to have had the disease. While some community members don’t perceive measles as serious, health care providers and agencies encourage everyone to consider the ugly facts about the disease — and vaccinate.

    Measles is Highly Contagious

    Measles is a highly contagious virus that lives in the nose and throat mucus of an infected person. It’s easily spread through coughing and sneezing. The virus can live up to two hours on a surface or in an airspace where an infected person coughed or sneezed. In other words, even after an infected person leaves a room, an unvaccinated individual could get measles as a result of breathing the contaminated air or touching the infected surface.   In fact, 90 percent of unvaccinated individuals in close proximity to a person with measles will become infected.

    Measles is Not Simply a Rash

    Measles do carry complications, from mild to severe. The most common complications are diarrhea and ear infections, which can result in permanent hearing loss. Severe complications include pneumonia, the most common cause of death from measles in young children, and encephalitis (swelling of the brain) that can lead to convulsions and leave a child with hearing loss and cognitive delays.

    There is no treatment for measles. Vaccination is the best protection against the disease. Please talk to your health care provider about the importance of vaccinations for you, your child, and your community.

     

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    Protect Your Family From Measles

    Measles has now been confirmed in ten Orange County residents, in conjunction with the recent outbreak affecting California and more than 20 other states. The Orange County Health Care Agency reminds the public that the best way to prevent measles is by getting vaccinated.

    Measles is an acute infection caused by the measles (rubeola) virus. The disease spreads very easily by air and by direct contact with an infected person. The illness usually begins about 8 to 12 days (but up to 21 days) after exposure with fever, cough, runny nose and red eyes. Complications of measles include pneumonia and, less commonly, encephalitis (inflammation of the brain).

    Anyone suspecting they have measles should call their health care provider immediately, and before going to the medical office to avoid exposing others to the virus. The Orange County Health Care Agency recommends the following guidelines to help protect you and your family from measles:

    • Children should receive their first MMR (measles, mumps, and rubella) vaccine at 12-15 months of age. The second dose of MMR is given at 4 to 6 years of age before going to school.
    • Vaccinating children, adolescents and adults is the best way to protect infants who are too young to receive the MMR vaccine.
    • Vaccinations are very safe. The benefits far outweigh any risks. Side effects are usually mild, such as soreness where the shot was given.
    • Measles is found in many parts of the world, including Europe, Asia, Africa, and the Middle East. Vaccination before traveling is recommended.

    Most people in the U.S. are considered immune to measles from previous measles infection or vaccination. Please contact your health care provider to review your measles vaccination history.

    Read this related CHOC article to learn more.

    Or, visit the Orange County Health Care Agency or Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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