Children and adults with chronic conditions at risk for serious illness
VISALIA – Multiple respiratory viruses, mostly characterized as common colds, are causing some uncommonly high increases in potentially serious illness in young children and adults with chronic conditions.
Late last month, Tulare County Public Health Branch issued a message strongly encouraging community members take measures to prevent respiratory infections such as rhinovirus, coronavirus, Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), and human metapneumovirus or chest cold before they spread to those who are at risk.
The viruses exhibit symptoms most closely resembling the common cold. Similarly, they can be prevented by things to protect yourself from a cold, such as:
- Wash your hands often with soap and water
- Use a tissue to cover your mouth when coughing or sneezing; avoid using your hands, but if you do, immediately wash or use antibacterial cleanser to help prevent germs from spreading.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
- Avoid contact with sick individuals
- If you experience illness, stay home 24-48 hours after symptoms resolve, unless you are seeking medical care
- Use all medications, prescribed and over-the-counter, as instructed
- Seek emergency medical care when you see signs of serious illness, such as:
- Shortness of breath, difficulty breathing, abdominal pain, dizziness, confusion, vomiting, and dehydration
- Hyperventilation or difficulty breathing, vomiting, dehydration, lethargy, irritability, restlessness, or bluish skin color, especially in children
- Infants may experience a decreased appetite and dehydration, bluish color, fast or irregular breathing, irritability, or excessive sleepiness.
- Any infant under three months of age with a temperature over 100.4 should be evaluated by a physician immediately
- Symptoms that seem to resolve, but return with fever or worse cough
With serious illness from respiratory infection, supportive care with fluids and oxygen may be important; however, respiratory infections do not respond to influenza antiviral medication. Symptoms of other respiratory viruses may be quite similar to influenza. Laboratory testing can often identify whether the infection is from influenza or another respiratory virus. Flu symptoms include fever, cough, muscle aches, sore throat, chills, and headache. There are no vaccines for these respiratory viruses; however, the influenza vaccine is still available.
Influenza A and B virus infections continue to affect community members in Tulare County. Individuals with influenza, particularly those with risk factors such as pregnancy, diabetes, heart disease, asthma, kidney disease, and children age five and younger, should talk to their health care providers about antiviral medication.