Health officials say most people who get the H1N1 virus this season will have a mild case of flu that runs its course in a few days. But some people have a greater risk for severe illness and complications. Children are among them, and that has parents on high alert.
Health officials say most people who get the H1N1 virus this season will have a mild case of flu that runs its course in a few days. But some people have a greater risk for severe illness and complications. Children are among them, and that has parents on high alert. WHYY spoke with an influenza expert from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Dr. Carolyn Bridges says children younger than two may be more susceptible to the so-called swine flu.
Bridges: And then kids with certain underlying conditions like heart disease or severe neuromuscular disease and cardiac conditions, asthma. Those kids are at increased risk of complication and we recommend that they talk to their physician.
Bridges says it’s also important to know when to seek medical care for a healthy child. Officials say parents should call a doctor if a child with flu-like illness is dehydrated or has persistent vomiting, chest pain, trouble breathing or a bluish skin color.
The fall outbreak of H1N1 is just beginning and slightly more than 76 children across the country have died from the virus in 2009. The CDC says in a typical year, the regular, seasonal flu kills between 44 and 88 children.
The CDC says there’s been little genetic change in the H1N1 virus since the spring outbreak. Bridges expects the new vaccine to be very effective.
Bridges: The virus has not changed very much at all. The viruses in the vaccine should be an excellent match for the viruses that are currently circulating and making people sick, right now.
Bridges says so far there are no signs that the so-called swine flu has become deadlier or will cause more severe illness this winter. She says it’s common for viruses to change over time and expects the H1N1 strain to morph in coming years as more people are exposed and successfully fight off the virus.
Each year health officials try to predict what flu viruses will circulate in the coming winter and then vaccine makers try to create a good match. The CDC recommends parents have their children vaccinated against the H1N1 virus.