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Virtual Pediatric Hospital: ElectricAirway: Upper Airway Problems in Children: Discussion of Influenza Virus ElectricAirway: Upper Airway Problems in Children

Discussion of Influenza Virus

Donna M. Santer, M.D., Michael P. D'Alessandro, M.D.
Peer Review Status: Externally Peer Reviewed by Lauren D Holinger, MD, Robert J. Winter, MD and the AMA
Influenza viruses are RNA-containing orthomyxoviruses that have three antigenic types designated A-C. Epidemics are caused by types A and B. Influenza is spread by droplet transmission with the highest attack rate being in school-age children with secondary spread to household contacts. It is highly contagious with an incubation period of 1-3 days. Patients can shed the virus for 7 days afterwards. Complications include bronchitis, pneumonia, Reye's syndrome, myositis, and central nervous system manifestations. Patients at risk are neonates and those with sickle cell anemia, bronchopulmonary dysplasia, asthma, cystic fibrosis, diabetes, chronic renal disease, or malignancies.

Diagnosis is by culture and serologic testing. Amantadine can be used to decrease the severity of influenza A disease. Vaccine is also available for high-risk populations. (Report of the Committee on Infectious Diseases, American Academy of Pediatrics, Elk Grove Village, IL., 22nd Edit., 1991, p. 274-281.)

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