What’s Going Around: strep throat, seasonal allergies and Fifth disease

State health officials say flu cases have continued to decrease across the commonwealth.

This week at Lancaster General Health Physicians Roseville Pediatrics, they finally saw a drop in the number of flu cases.

“We have certainly continued seeing the flu, but we saw about a 40 percent drop in the number of cases,” Dr. Joan Thode said.

Strep cases held steady, making up about 40 percent of the sore throats seen.

Colds have been seen a bit less, although they have been seeing a lot of ear infections in the last couple of weeks.

Seasonal allergies are on the rise with these recent bursts of warmer weather. Along with allergies, they have seen associated asthma exacerbations rise.

Thode offered the following advice on seasonal allergies:

“If your child has had allergies in the past, it’s important to be proactive with antihistamine medications at the earliest signs of allergy symptoms or a prediction of warmer weather. Antihistamine medications (trade names can include Zyrtec, Claritin and Allegra) are most effective when used daily, as they are designed to maintain a consistent level of effect in the bloodstream. Nasal sprays can be very helpful in decreasing runny nose and congestion, though these are typically not enough to control moderate to severe allergy symptoms on their own.

Itchy, watery eyes that appear red can be part of allergies, though it’s always important to remember that any pain with light or eye movement, changes in vision, or filmy appearance on the eyes does warrant an evaluation by a doctor.

Parents of asthmatic children, please make sure that your child’s asthma medication is refilled and ready. It’s always a good idea at the start of allergy season to make sure that your child’s school or caregiver has an updated asthma action plan to react quickly to any asthma symptoms that arise.

With daylight savings time coming up this weekend, don’t forget to check those smoke detector batteries as you spring ahead with your clocks!”

UPMC Pinnacle’s Heritage Pediatrics continues to see a lot of upper respiratory viruses that cause fever, sore throat, cough and a lot of nasal congestion and mucous. The cough starts out hoarse and barky and then becomes more wet and productive.

Dr. Kathleen Zimmerman offered the following advice:

“Run a humidifier, either cool or warm mist. If you don’t have a humidifier, getting in a steamy bathroom can help.

Keep mucous clear from the nose. If your child is too young to blow their nose then a suction device can be very helpful. Most children don’t enjoy this but it makes it easier for them to breathe and to eat.

Keep fluid intake high, especially clear fluids like water and Pedialyte.

If your child is having difficulty breathing or has a fever for more than two to three days, call your doctor.”

Pediatricians at Penn State Children’s Hospital are seeing influenza diagnoses starting to fall. Though the flu is still going around, cases of influenza A and B are both down from last week. There were also fewer cases of upper respiratory illnesses.

At Penn State Medical Group sites in Camp Hill and Elizabethtown, pediatricians and nurses report less influenza-like illnesses and more cases of common colds, as well as upper respiratory infections.

Pediatricians recommend to families to keep kids hydrated, use nasal saline, and give them honey, if the kids are older than one.

Geisinger Holy Spirit reports the following illnesses this week:

Geisinger Holy Spirit Primary Care, Dauphin, Perry and York counties: Coughs, sinus congestion, vomiting
Geisinger Holy Spirit Urgent Care and Primary Care, Cumberland County: flu, strep/sore throats, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea
Geisinger Holy Spirit Pediatrics, Cumberland and Dauphin counties: strep throat, vomiting/diarrhea illnesses, some flu and Fifth disease

To learn more about Fifth disease, click here.

This week, WellSpan Medical Group providers are seeing a decrease in flu cases, but a rise in cases of strep throat.

Although not specific to children, there has been an uptick in the number of patients seeking care with stroke symptoms a day or two after a stroke has occurred.

The increase has been observed at WellSpan York Hospital, which is a Comprehensive Stroke Center. WellSpan Medical Group providers would like to issue a reminder that “time is brain,” and warn that the longer a stroke patient waits to be treated, the more damage is done to the brain. They urge everyone to recognize and respond to the sudden warning signs of stroke by remembering the acronym, FAST:

“F” stands for face drooping
“A” stands for arm weakness
“S” stands for speech difficulty
“T” stands for time to call 911

If you think someone is having a stroke, call 911 immediately. Also, check the time to know when the first stroke symptoms appeared.

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