Hello, everyone! Welcome to this month's Parents Talk Back chat.
November and December are wonderful months, but along with the holiday spirit, there are plenty of viruses in the air. We are going to ask Dr. B to answer some of the most common questions about the colds, flu and other sicknesses to avoid.
Halloween is when the boogies start!
Let's start with strep throat. Is it possible for a child to get this over and over again?
Yes! Sadly, you can get strep many times, even twice in the same year.
My nephew, who just started day care, caught strep throat, and as soon as he finished antibiotics, he tested positive for it again. Is it possible to have strep without symptoms?
The good news is that strep is easily treated with common antibiotics. Although strep is well known as "strep throat," the strep infection can run through the entire GI tract from the throat through the anus. Strep infection, thus, often causes abdominal pain and/or a rash around the anus.
Yes, you can be a carrier for strep and have no symptoms. Often one member of a family or one child in a classroom will be an asymptomatic carrier and keep spreading the virus. If this is persistent, the entire family may need to be tested for strep to identify the carrier.
So, are antibiotics required to get rid of it?
Strep is a bacterial infection, not a viral infection. It is easily treated with antibiotics. If you don't treat with antibiotics, most people will still recover, but it can take about 10 or more days to get better and there is risk of complications.
What sort of complications?
Complications of strep can be serious, especially in children, and include kidney problems, post-infectious arthritis, and rheumatic heart disease.
So, when we've gone to the pediatrician with a child with a sore throat and fever, they do a strep test in the office. Once this came back negative, but the culture was later positive. How does this happen?
About one time in 50 the rapid strep test that is done in the office will be a false negative. For this reason we always do a back up culture test, where the throat culture is grown on agar in a petri dish. This test is almost 100% accurate, but it takes about 2 days to run. This is how we catch those few false negatives on the rapid test.
How contagious is strep, relative to other illnesses and if someone in your child's class gets it, what are the odds of avoiding it?
Strep is very contagious. It's an airborne pathogen, but the good news is that it can be easily treated. Once a patient has been on antibiotics for 24 hours they are considered not contagious.
Mr12: this is perhaps the most contentious issue in pediatrics and a huge area of research. Fever itself is not usually dangerous, but as pediatricians we worry about WHY the patient has a fever. What are we missing? How much testing we do depends on a child age, the duration of the fever, and how high the fever is.
In general we do not worry about fever that has been present for less than 12 hours, unless it is in an infant 3 months or younger, or unless it is a very high fever (usually over 104).
Mr12: I'm very sorry that I'm not permitted to give advice on specific patients that I have not seen and examined, but I'm happy to answer any questions in general. In general, I would not be concerned about a 5 year old that is acting normally with a fever for less than 12 hours that is less than or equal to 100.4 (measured under the arm with a digital thermometer).
Onto the flu...How bad is it going to be this year?
If only I could predict the flu, I would be a wealthy woman!
Ha! When do the first cases generally show up?
Usually we see the first cases this time of year, but I have not seen any yet!
Does it still make sense to get a Flu shot?
Thanksgiving is the big influenza spread time. We often see a big flu peak right around the holidays.
Yes! This is a great time to get a flu shot!