Influenza and Children

From the Boston Globe comes this disturbing report of the massive underdiagnosis of influenza in children:

Doctors fail to diagnose the flu in the vast majority of young children, depriving them of medicines that could shorten their illness and keep them from spreading it to others, a study suggests.
Flu infections were missed in four out of five preschoolers who were treated for flu symptoms at a doctor’s office or emergency room and in about three-quarters of those who were hospitalized, researchers report.
“Many of the children did not have a test performed and few of the children were sent home with a specific diagnosis of influenza,” said Dr. Katherine A. Poehling, of Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tenn., who led the government-funded study.
If more doctors used a rapid flu test, more cases of flu could be detected and steps taken to prevent its spread, the researchers suggested. About a third of the children would have been candidates for medicines like Tamiflu, which work better to ease symptoms when given early, they said.

First, we’re needlessly exposing at-risk populations to influenza carriers: grandparents, don’t visit the grandkids when they have influenza. Second, this emphasizes why we should shift our vaccination strategy towards young children who are the primary disease vectors of influenza. Such a shift could cut influenza deaths by 80%: that’s 29,000 deaths per year.
You would think that 29,000 lives are more important than flag burning or gay marriage.

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1 Response to Influenza and Children

  1. blue says:

    This is exactly the kind of narrative/reframing that we should be discussing. Don’t reinforce their assertions by debating the validity of said topic directly. Instead, counter the claim by pointing out tangible, real world issues that can affect everyone from NASCAR dad, to soccer and security mom, and then offer solutions. i.e. The flu.

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