Flu in Children (cont.)
Steven Fine, MD, PhD
Mary Nettleman, MD, MS, MACP
Mary Nettleman, MD, MS, MACP
Mary D. Nettleman, MD, MS, MACP is the Chair of the Department of Medicine at Michigan State University. She is a graduate of Vanderbilt Medical School, and completed her residency in Internal Medicine and a fellowship in Infectious Diseases at Indiana University.
IN THIS ARTICLE
Flu in Children Medications
Four influenza antiviral drugs are currently licensed in the United States. If given within the first 48 hours, antiviral agents decrease the severity and duration of symptoms, but their ability to prevent complications of influenza A has not been established. The primary drawback of these types of medications is that resistant viruses can make them ineffective.
Variant H3N2 influenza
Since July 2012, there have been sporadic outbreaks of variant H3N2 flu (H3N2v). This is a different type of influenza A. These cases appear to be mainly spread from pigs to humans and have been seen where close contact between humans and pigs occurred, such as at fairs. Like seasonal flu, however, serious illness, resulting in hospitalization and death is possible from H3N2v. People at high risk of serious complications from H3N2v include children younger than 5, people with certain chronic conditions like asthma, diabetes, heart disease, weakened immune systems, pregnant women, and people 65 years and older. These people were urged by the CDC to avoid pigs and pig arenas at fairs this season.
Swine flu is a respiratory disease of pigs that is also an influenza virus type A. Sometimes these viruses also infect humans and are called variant viruses.
Avian flu (bird flu) is a disease caused by influenza type A virus. This is mainly found in wild birds but can infect domestic poultry as well. Rarely it can be transmitted to humans and can cause human disease. Three types of avian influenza that are known to cause disease in birds and humans are H5, H7, and H9. Contact with infected birds is a risk factor for human infection. One concern is that an avian influenza virus may mutate to allow easier spread from person to person and thus cause an epidemic or pandemic.
Recent reports from China have focused on a new bird flu, H7N9, which is associated with contact with infected poultry. At the time of this article, there have been over 80 cases of confirmed human infection there, but none have been associated with ongoing human-to-human transmission and none have occurred outside of China.
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