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Influenza and parainfluenza 

Influenza and parainfluenza
Chapter:
Influenza and parainfluenza
DOI:
10.1093/med/9780198729228.003.0080
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date: 19 November 2019

Annual influenza epidemics place a great burden on children and society in general, and the threat of a new influenza pandemic exists all the time. The severity of influenza outbreaks varies between different seasons, but the attack rates of influenza are always highest in young children. The clinical presentation of influenza ranges widely from an asymptomatic infection to a severe lethal illness. Most children with symptomatic influenza have high fever, and the most frequent complications include acute otitis media and pneumonia. When started early after illness onset, neuraminidase inhibitors are effective in shortening the duration of illness and reducing the rates of complications. Influenza vaccination is the cornerstone of influenza prevention, and both inactivated and live attenuated vaccines are available for children. Influenza vaccine is currently recommended for young children by many health authorities (e.g. World Health Organization), and several countries have already included influenza vaccination in their routine immunization programmes for children. Parainfluenza viruses are also known to cause a great burden of illness on children. The main clinical manifestations of parainfluenza virus infections are laryngitis, croup, bronchiolitis, and pneumonia, with acute otitis media and pneumonia as the commonest complications. Currently, no antiviral treatments of vaccines are available against parainfluenza virus infections, but vaccines against parainfluenza type 3 viruses are being developed.

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