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What Parents Should Know About Influenza and COVID-19



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Determining if a child is infected with the flu or COVID-19 can be difficult. Getty Images
  • Researchers are learning how the early symptoms of COVID-19 and seasonal flu can be distinguished in children.
  • The flu season is expected to begin in October, so parents may be trying to quickly determine if a sick child has the flu or COVID-19, requiring quarantine or a doctor’s visit. May become.
  • Experts emphasize that getting a flu shot during a pandemic is more important than ever.

The flu season is approaching — in the midst of a COVID-19 pandemic.

I have both illnesses Similar symptomsThat is, it can be difficult to distinguish one from the other.

Researchers are learning how the early symptoms of COVID-19 and seasonal flu can be distinguished in children.

New research published in JAMA Network Open According to a team at Children’s National Hospital, there were no significant differences in hospitalization rates, intensive care unit (ICU) admissions, or ventilator use in children with influenza or COVID-19.

Researchers were surprised to learn that more people reported fever, cough, diarrhea, vomiting, headache, body pain, or chest pain when COVID-19 was diagnosed than flu.

The flu season is expected to begin in October, so if a sick child has signs of seasonal flu or COVID-19, a quarantine or hospital trip may be required.

Here are some things to keep in mind when trying to determine if your child has the flu or COVID-19.

of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Recently released guidance on the difference between influenza and COVID-19.

“COVID-19 and the flu virus are thought to spread in a similar way, but the organization states that COVID-19 is more susceptible to transmission to certain populations and age groups than influenza.

The report found that the time from exposure to infection and the time the virus spreads differ between influenza and SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.

“COVID-19 has been found to be more prevalent than influenza, which means that the virus that causes COVID-19 spreads quickly and easily to many people, and over time, among people. It means that it can spread constantly.

“As pediatricians, we are concerned that the actual effects of COVID in children are not yet defined,” he said. Dr. Flor M. Munoz-Rivas, Associate Professor of Pediatrics, Baylor College of Medicine.

Experts should not minimize the impact of COVID-19 on children or be based on data when children are protected at home, do not go to school and are not exposed to other people or viruses. I emphasize it.

“This winter season provides us with the opportunity to assess such impacts, which is the general population, despite the remaining measures of social distance and COVID control. This is because they are returning to more “normal” activities and control measures are not being applied consistently.

Munozribasu added that he does not know what would happen if both influenza and COVID-19 spread this fall and winter.

As part of the study, researchers examined 315 hospital patients diagnosed with COVID-19 between March 25, 2020 and May 15, 2020.

They compared that information with 1,402 children diagnosed with influenza between October 1, 2019 and June 6, 2020. Children who were asymptomatic but positive for COVID-19 were not included in the cohort.

Of the COVID-19 cohort, 17.1% were hospitalized, 5.7% were in the ICU, and 3.2% were on ventilator. Of the children with influenza, 21.2% were hospitalized, 7% were hospitalized in the ICU, and 1.9% were on a ventilator.

The median age of patients admitted with COVID-19 was 9.7, while the median age of influenza patients was 4.2 years.

Fever was the most frequently reported symptom, followed by coughing. Children with COVID-19 have more fever and cough than children with the flu.

A greater proportion of patients with COVID-19 reported symptoms such as:

  • diarrhea
  • vomiting
  • headache
  • Body aches
  • Chest pain

There were no statistically significant differences in children reporting congestion, sore throat, or shortness of breath.

School closures during March reduced the number of cases of influenza in hospitals Dr. Xiaoyan SongI would like to investigate the impact of school closures on the spread of COVID-19, Principal Research Author and Director of Infection Control / Epidemiology at the National Children’s Hospital.

“We will close the school so that we can determine when the cost of closing the school and staying at home outweighs the benefits of reducing the burden of COVID-19 transmission and the healthcare system. I want to assess the quantitative effects of this, “she said.

Another problem for parents is the fact that COVID-19 and the flu can occur at the same time, the CDC said.

“The symptoms of COVID-19 and influenza are very similar, and as this study shows, there is little difference in symptoms.” Dr. Nathaniel Beer, President of the HSC Health Care System and a pediatrician at the National Center for Pediatrics, unrelated to this study.

“If a child has fever, cough, vomiting, diarrhea, or sore throat, parents should contact a pediatrician to determine if a COVID-19 test is needed and if a flu test is also needed. Should be done, “he said.

Parents should not consider COVID-19 to be the only culprit, as children may have fever due to many other causes, Munoz-Rivas said.

“If your child has a fever, cough, sore throat, or any kind of problem with breathing, eating, or sleeping, contact your doctor,” Munozribasu said. “Physicians should test symptomatic patients for both influenza and COVID if they are in an area where COVID is still prevalent and follow the monitoring information for the area of ​​influenza.”

Emphasize that both influenza and COVID-19 can cause serious illness in children Dr. Sonia Rasmussen, Professor of Pediatrics and Epidemiology, University of Florida (UFHealth).

“I’ve heard that COVID-19 is lighter in children than in adults, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t cause serious illness in some children,” she said, saying she died. I added.

It is important for parents to do what they can to avoid these illnesses.

In the case of influenza, it is Influenza vaccination.. Rasmussen added that he would wear a mask, wash his hands and practice socially distant until the COVID-19 vaccine was available.

But even after being vaccinated, parents should keep in mind that their children can get the flu again this winter.

“Influenza vaccination reduces the chances of getting the flu, reduces complications, and reduces the course if you have the flu, but it is not 100% effective in preventing the flu. Therefore, pediatricians You probably need to inspect both [diseases] Even those who have been vaccinated against the flu, “Ber said.

of American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) It also reminds parents that flu vaccination may be important this year.

“Make sure your child is vaccinated against the flu. Ideally at the end of October or earlier. This is the flu season so far due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s even more important than that, “says the website.

The website also states that children with COVID-19 who have not been previously vaccinated against the flu can be vaccinated against the flu even if the symptoms of COVID-19 disappear.

Shortly before the study was published, AAP Report He noted a 16 percent increase in child cases over a two-week span between the end of August and the beginning of September.

Since the beginning of the pandemic in the United States, there have been at least 549,000 pediatric cases of COVID-19.

“Just as we continue to see communities with very high numbers of COVID-19, we continue to see cases of children,” Beer explained.

“The good news is that our testing abilities have increased in many areas so that children can actually be tested and learn more about the burden of their illness and the spread between them and others. You can do it, “added Beer.


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