Contact: Jerry Carey
At UMDNJ-School of Osteopathic Medicine
Physician Says Early Diagnosis, Treatment Helps in Beating
The outbreak of a new influenza strain, reported childhood deaths
and a shortage of vaccine have caused increasing concern among
parents about whether to have their children immunized against
"A flu shot is the first line of defense," said Dr. Gintare
Gecys, of the Department of Family Medicine at the University
of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey (UMDNJ)-School of Osteopathic
Medicine, "but if your child becomes infected, you have treatments
available to help ease his or her discomfort."
Dr. Gecys said symptoms of the flu include a fever higher than
100.4 degrees, fatigue, generalized muscle pain and mild upper
respiratory symptoms such as a cough or slight sore throat.
If a child in your home has the flu, you can also take steps
to keep it from spreading to siblings or other family members.
Limit close contact between sick and well children, encourage
frequent hand washing and teach your children to sneeze differently.
"The flu virus spreads through contact with respiratory droplets,
which are often spread when a child touches something after sneezing
into his or her hands," Dr. Gecys said. "Teach young children
to sneeze into their elbows or shoulders so there's less chance
of them leaving the virus behind through touching.
"Use over-the-counter medications to control the fever and give
plenty of fluids to avoid dehydration," she said. "Dehydration
is a particular concern with children. Because of their smaller
body mass, they can become dehydrated more quickly."
Although influenza can be fatal, it's often secondary infections
such as pneumonia that can be life-threatening.
"A fever that stays high despite medications, a severe cough
or severe sore throat all may point to a more serious illness,"
Dr. Gecys said, "Contact your physician immediately if you are
unable to control a child's fever or if the child exhibits unusual
symptoms such as lethergy. Prescription medications are available
that can help cure the flu by decreasing the virus's ability to
replicate in your body."
To arrange and interview with Dr. Gecys, contact Jerry Carey
at the UMDNJ News Service at (856) 566-6171 or at (973) 972-3000.