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July is upon us and with it comes two viruses that every parent should be wary of; Influenza and Rotavirus. School-going children are susceptible to both during the cold season because they spend more time indoors and germs spread more easily.
From information obtained from The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention(CDC), here’s what you need to know:
Rotavirus disease is most common in infants and young children. However, older children and adults also can get sick from rotavirus. Once a person has been exposed to rotavirus, it takes about 2 days for the symptoms to appear.
NB- Children, even those that are vaccinated, may get sick from rotavirus more than once. That is because neither natural infection with rotavirus nor rotavirus vaccination provides full protection from future infections.
Usually a person’s first time getting rotavirus causes the most severe symptoms. However, vaccinated children are much less likely to get sick from rotavirus, and if they do get sick, their symptoms are usually less severe than unvaccinated children.
How it is Spread:
The virus spreads by the fecal-oral route; this means the virus is shed by an infected person and then enters a susceptible person’s mouth to cause infection. Rotavirus can be spread by contaminated:
• Objects (toys, surfaces)
There is no specific medicine to treat rotavirus infection, but your doctor may recommend medicines to treat symptoms. There is no antiviral drug to treat it, and antibiotic drugs will not help because antibiotics fight bacteria not viruses.
The best way to protect against dehydration is to drink plenty of liquids.
Oral rehydration solutions that you can get over the counter in chemists are most helpful for mild dehydration. Severe dehydration may require hospitalisation for treatment with intravenous (IV) fluids, which are given to patients directly through their veins.
About 1 out of 70 children with rotavirus disease will require hospitalisation for intravenous fluids.
If you or someone you are caring for is severely dehydrated, contact your doctor.
Influenza also called the Flu
Kenya is no stranger to the flu. It is present all year-round, however it gets worse in the colder months. Any parent with a school going child will attest that they get colds at least five times a year.
The flu is like a grown-up cold. It is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses that infect the nose, throat, and lungs. It can cause mild to severe illness, and at times can lead to death.
Period of Contagiousness
You may be able to pass on the flu to someone else before you know you are sick, as well as while you are sick. Most healthy adults may be able to infect others beginning 1 day before symptoms develop and up to 5 to 7 days after becoming sick.
Some people, especially young children and people with weakened immune systems, might be able to infect others for an even longer time.
Complications of flu can include bacterial pneumonia, ear infections, sinus infections, dehydration, and worsening of chronic medical conditions, such as congestive heart failure, asthma, or diabetes.
Who is at risk?
Anyone can get the flu (even healthy people), and serious problems related to the flu can happen at any age, but some people are at high risk of developing serious flu-related complications if they get sick. This includes people 65 years and older, people of any age with certain chronic medical conditions (such as asthma, diabetes, or heart disease), pregnant women, and young children.