Flu is an infectious disease caused by Influenza virus. It spreads rapidly by direct and indirect contact with the affected person’ nasal secretions: coughing, sneezing and soiled clothes/ kerchiefs.
The symptoms vary according to age of the child:
Breath holding spell
Infants, toddlers and preschool children
Fever, cough and cold
Preschool and school-age children (2-9 years of age)
Fever, cough and running nose
Laryngotracheobronchitis: Difficulty in breathing with increased rate of breathing, harsh cough and fever.
Gastrointestinal symptoms: Nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.
Tween and teenagers (9 years of age to adults)
Malaise, anorexia and dry cough
An abrupt onset of fever and chills
Muscle pain, also known as myalgia.
Complications attributable to an episode of Flu
Acute middle ear infection / otitis media (AOM)
Myocarditis: Like the effects on the other muscles that lead to symptom of myalgia / muscle pain, the heart muscle can also be affected and heart functions can get compromised.
Gravity of problem
Most frequently flu is known to occur among young school going children, commonly during winter months. However, some cases are documented from September till May in different geographical areas of the world and in all age groups, especially in individuals with chronic diseases and compromised immune status.
Children are most affected due to their close interaction with other children and adults in their environment. Moreover, once infected, they continue to shed the virulent form of the virus for a longer period and in high dose as compared to adults.
The disease turns rapidly virulent in children below 5 years of age often demanding hospitalisation. The incidence of hospitalisation and complications attributable to Flu are noted to be significantly high in children below 2 years of age.
Prevention is the only answer
Flu shots are required to be administered every year to all children between 6 months and 9 years of age all over the world.
It is a trivalent vaccine that contains 3 types of influenza viruses; A, H1N1 (seasonal) and H3N2 vaccine and is available in two forms:
Inactivated virus vaccine TIV comes in form of injection.
Immunologic priming is important for optimal response to TIV.
Single dose of vaccine is ineffective in inducing immunity in children lacking previous experience with the matching type or subtype of the virus.
Vaccination of pregnant women with TIV provides protection to their infants, presumably through passive transfer of specific antibodies against the virus.