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

Discussion of Parainfluenza 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
Parainfluenza viral infections are the major cause of croup and also other respiratory tract infections such as pneumonia and bronchiolitis. These viruses are large, enveloped RNA viruses classified as paramyxoviruses. Four types are seen named 1-4. Type 1 causes the majority of viral croup infections and is seen predominantly in the fall. Type 3 generally occurs in the spring and summer.

The infection is spread by droplets and has an incubation period of 2-6 days. Type 1 is generally shed for 4-7 days, but it can be shed for 14 days. Reinfection can occur at any age but symptoms are milder. Isolation is from nasopharyngeal secretions via culture, immunofluorescent, and ELISA methods. Treatment is supportive. (Report of the Committee on Infectious Diseases, American Academy of Pediatrics, Elk Grove Village, IL., 22nd Edit., 1991, pp. 343-344.)

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