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Not All Viruses Are Swine Flu

by Sue Hubbard, M.D.

With continued concern about swine flu it seems appropriate to discuss other viral infections that are prevalent right now. We continue to screen for those with symptoms of swine flu, including fever, sore throat, headache, myalgias and cough, but in our practice in Dallas, we have not had a case of swine flu (H1N1 influenza). There continue to be reported cases, but we still have not had a probable case within our practice of 11 pediatricians.

What we have been seeing is a lot of adenovirus, another viral respiratory tract disease seen throughout the year, which often peaks in spring and summer. The most classic presentation in young children is an infection of the respiratory tract that also appears with flu like symptoms including a sore throat, runny nose, cough and swollen lymph nodes. In some cases school aged children present with the constellation of red eyes (conjunctivitis), a severe sore throat, and low-grade fever with runny nose and swollen lymph nodes. These infections are also spread via respiratory secretions (like influenza) and are prevented by good hand washing and cough hygiene. Adenovirus can also cause diarrhea and vomiting, with fever and abdominal cramps. In other words, adenovirus can cause symptoms head to toe, but when you see a child with bright red conjunctiva, sore throat, runny nose and general feeling bad, you are probably dealing with an adenoviral infection.

It is hard to know if any one virus causes one illness or are we seeing multiple different viruses all presenting in a similar manner. Regardless, viral illnesses are always present and the most important thing to remember is that prevention is always the best cure. So keep up that hand washing, cover your mouth if you cough and keep all children with fever and other symptoms home from school. It does seem that this awareness with hygiene is helping to keep the H1N1 virus from rampant spreading, but other viral infections are also still there.

That’s your daily dose, we’ll chat again tomorrow.

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