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Health Team

Wait-and-see approach is best for children's summer bug

Posted June 29, 2011 5:25 p.m. EDT
Updated June 29, 2011 6:38 p.m. EDT

— A viral infection common in children, especially in summertime months, was a popular topic for the "Doctors on Call" event Tuesday, when a panel of local pediatricians took calls from about 400 WRAL-TV viewers in two hours.

Many callers were inquiring about the enterovirus because their children are currently sick and need relief.

"The kids are all swimming and sharing these germs," said Dr. Jerry Bernstein, of Raleigh Pediatric Associates, on why the infection is so common in summer.

The virus affects different children in different ways, said Dr. David Ingram, of WakeMed Faculty Physicians. 

"One kid can have a fever and the next kid can have an ear infection and the next kid can have pneumonia and the next one has meningitis, the next one diarrhea," Ingram said. 

Pediatricians told concerned parents that the best thing to do is treat the symptoms, rather than insist on an antibiotics prescription. Treating the fever with acetaminophen and keeping children hydrated with water, Pedialyte or juice is the best way to deal with infections.

"As long as (we) have a normal immune system, we're equipped to be able to fight fevers on our own," said Dr. Loren Robinson, of North Carolina Children's Hospital. "I usually recommend that parents take at least 48 hours to see how their children are doing with Tylenol and see if they start to turn the corner."

Overusing antibiotics can create "super bugs," or resistant bacteria strains that are difficult to treat, pediatricians said. Some children can experience dangerous allergic reactions to antibiotics as well.