What’s Going Around: Viruses causing high fever, pink eye, ear infections


UPMC Pinnacle in Camp Hill is seeing viruses causing sore throat and high fevers. Some of these are the hand, foot and mouth virus.

This virus can start with a fever, sometimes up to 105 degrees, for three to five days. Tiny blisters then start to show up, typically around the mouth, on the hands and feet and often in the diaper area. Blisters also develop on the back of the mouth or throat and sometimes on the tongue. This causes a sore throat. Many children drool and refuse to drink or eat.

Hand, foot and mouth virus is very contagious. If you see a rash like this on your child or if they are not drinking well or saying they have a sore throat, you should call your medical provider.

There is no treatment for hand, foot and mouth. It will resolve on its own after about seven days. However, your child should not go to school while they have the fever or rash. It is important to make sure your child is drinking enough fluids to stay hydrated. If you feel they are not, call your doctor’s office for guidance on pain control and signs of dehydration.

Geisinger Holy Spirit Primary Care in Dauphin and Perry counties report cough, congestion and sore throats.

Geisinger Holy Spirit Primary Care in Cumberland County reports sore throat, strep throat, an upper respiratory virus, pink eye, and a stomach virus causing diarrhea, vomiting and nausea.

Penn Medicine Lancaster General Health Physicians Roseville Pediatrics saw an increase in sore throats. About 30 percent were strep throat.

They saw a lot of colds in all age groups, and along with these, the typical increase in ear infections and sinusitis.

Croup continues to increase, particularly in younger toddlers. They saw an increase in bronchiolitis in infants. Pneumonia decreased a bit but is still being seen, especially in the teen population.

They continue to see pink eye in pretty high numbers.

Dr. Joan Thode offered the following advice on breathing sounds that should cause concern:

“Wheezing is a high-pitched, whistle-like sound, either with inhale or exhale, that is related to inflammation in the lungs. This inflammation can be due to a virus, asthma or more specific conditions like bronchiolitis, and the result can be partial or complete closure of the small airways in the lungs. Any case of wheezing should be evaluated by a physician because wheezing-regardless of the source-indicates inhibited airflow through the lungs. Many, but not all, cases of wheezing can be helped with nebulizer or inhaler treatments, though sometimes other interventions are needed.

Barky cough, often compared to a seal cough, is heard with croup, an inflammatory condition resulting from one of a few viruses, that affects the vocal cords. This barkiness in itself is not dangerous, and croup does not always need to be treated. If the child can remain calm and keep their breathing under control, observation and supportive care during viral symptoms are all that is needed. But a sound called “stridor” is concerning. Severe croup can create the sense of not being able to “get the air in.” This sensation will often cause the child to pull the air faster through the small space, thus vibrating the vocal cords, creating a voice-like sound called stridor when inhaling.

A wet-sounding cough is most commonly due to a cough bursting through postnasal drainage in the lower throat. A wet cough is concerning if it is prolonged or worsening longer than 10 days, or if you notice sustained fast breathing, using the belly to breathe, an exaggerated expansion of the ribcage with every breath, called retractions, inability to eat or drink due to the fast breathing, and/or any purple or blue color around the mouth or lips. For any of these symptoms, regardless of the sound of the cough, call your child’s doctor right away.”

The CVS MinuteClinic in York saw a number of patients with ear pain. Many report a history of a pre-existing cold that improve with ear pain starting after. Others have seasonal allergies. Treatments can include a wait and see approach in anyone over age two as many are viral. If under age two, bilateral or with severe pain and fever, can consider antibiotic therapy. Over-the-counter pain and fever reducers are appropriate while monitoring for 24 to 48 hours. Many will resolve on their own without antibiotic therapy.

This week at Penn State Children’s Hospital, pediatricians are still seeing a lot of common colds and upper respiratory viruses.

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