What’s Going Around: Viral upper-respiratory infections surge

PinnacleHealth’s Heritage Pediatrics in Camp Hill reports seeing a lot of viral upper respiratory infections. With school starting and students in close quarters indoors, respiratory illnesses spread in the air very easily, they said.

This virus is starting with a sore throat and fever or chills for one to two days, then develops into a mucous cough and nasal congestion. The cough will last for one to two weeks. If a cough is more than two weeks, you should see your doctor.

Also, you should see your doctor if the fever lasts more than three days or the cough is associated with shortness of breath or chest pain, they said.

“Always cough into your elbow or into a tissue,” Dr. Kathleen Zimmerman said. “If you cough on your hands, wash them. If your child is coughing a lot or had a fever in the past 24 hours they should not go to school.”

The physicians of Penn State Children’s Hospital are still seeing a fair number of upper respiratory infections, with culprit viruses including the rhinovirus and adenovirus.

They’re also seeing several cases of gastroenteritis, which they report seems to be going through some local daycare centers. Gastroenteritis is a highly contagious intestinal infection marked by diarrhea, cramps, nausea, vomiting, and fever. In terms of treatment, physicians recommend lots of fluids and rest.

Lancaster General Health Physicians Roseville Pediatrics has also seen the typical “back-to-school” bump in viral illnesses, most involving congestion with a runny nose, sore throat, and dry cough, with or without fevers.

They also report the toddler and preschool population continues to suffer from hand, foot and mouth disease.
There is also have seen an increase in strep throat this week, compared to recent weeks.

There have also been several rashes this week, including molluscum and impetigo.

Dr. Joan Thode offered the following advice about molluscum:

“Molluscum is a viral rash in the pox family. Unlike chicken pox, this particular pox virus does not cause body-wide symptoms, such as fever and flu-like illness.

Molluscum appears as domed, flesh-colored, round bumps, typically not with redness, and frequently with a little dimple in the top.

The bumps can be spread, particularly by the fingernails of kids who scratch them, then introduce the virus elsewhere on the body. Bath towels and constrictive clothing that can cause friction over the bumps also can spread the virus to kids who share those items.

These bumps are typically not itchy and frequently are not noticed by the child. The virus creates the little igloo-like domes from the body’s own skin cells and thereby “hides” from the immune system. Since the immune system remains unaware of their presence, the bumps tend to last for weeks or even months.

Signs that the bumps are starting to go away include scabbing and redness. Picking, popping or freezing these lesions often results in scarring and can increase the risk of infection from skin bacteria.

The best thing to do is leave them alone, though if redness or drainage occurs, the child should be evaluated by a physician.”

This week, WellSpan Medical Group providers are seeing colds and sinus infections slowing in York, Adams and Lancaster counties. In addition, WellSpan Medical Group providers are also seeing a decrease in the number of viral stomach illness in York, Adams, and Lancaster counties.

They would still like to stress prevention and are continuing to recommend frequent hand washing and, if in a home with someone affected, disinfecting surfaces such as counters and door knobs.

Providers would also like to stress the importance of annual flu vaccinations; the best defense against the flu. Anyone looking to schedule their flu vaccine may contact their primary care provider. For additional information, visit www.WellSpan.org.

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