Flu Season How can the flu shot help? The only way that we know to resist viruses artificially is through vaccination. It actually allows one’s immune system to cope with exposure to infection. What else can help? Practicing overall good hygiene, including hand hygiene, and that’s extremely important. Washing one’s hands using soap and water. But also make use of hand cleansing agents such as the alcohol-based agents that are recommended for use. Why is hand hygiene so important? Viruses, including influenza virus, can easily be transmitted on various objects, including hands, simply because the virus does indeed survive for several hours on hard surfaces. And so it’s contact between one’s hands and the environment, it doesn’t necessarily have to be contact with a living being. It could be inanimate objects including doorknobs, stethoscopes, utensils and surfaces, desks, and if it’s picked up on their hands, and they then have contact with their face or their mouth or their eyes, then we can certainly have transmission that way. What can guard against transmission? Social distancing, in essence, staying away from others when you’re ill. Avoid putting ourselves in situations where we pose a risk of transmitting influenza virus to others around us, as well as we ourselves acquiring influenza virus. So being around crowded situations, often when we’re ill, or others around us are ill… Even going to work when we’re ill. There’s a spectrum of conditions, or behaviors rather, that would fall under the category of social distancing. What do I do if my child becomes ill? Rather than showing up at emergency departments that are meant to see the children who are more severely ill… If a child at home has respiratory symptoms like low-grade temperature, runny nose, bit of a cough, but is still running around and playing, and is well, and does not have an underlying chronic illness, it is quite likely that that child could be managed at home. with the usual measures that are taken to control fever. Good intake of fluids, resting. When does my child need emergency help? Children who are not feeding, children who are vomiting, having excess diarrhea… Children who are having shortness of breath, looking rather blue around the lips, those are some of the danger signs, that suggest that a child ought to be seen. It might well be a physician’s office, or it might be a special centre, or an emergency department. With thanks to Dr. Upton Allen,
Chief, Division of Infectious Diseases. AboutKidsHealth, your trusted source for child health information.