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What's Going Around: Strep, allergies and hand, foot and mouth

HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) -

Penn Medicine Lancaster General Health Physicians Roseville Pediatrics reports they continued to see a high numbers of viral illnesses, ear infections and sore throats. Strep continues to be a big player at around 50 percent of sore throat cases. This has remained high throughout the winter season.

With viral colds, as well as increasing allergy symptoms, they have also seen many cases of coughing.

They had only six cases of influenza this week. That is a sharp decrease from last month but indicates that the flu is still "going around" in the community.

They report they have continued to see an increase in wheezing, within the context of both viral infections and asthma exacerbations.

They also saw an increase in conjunctivitis, or pink eye, with a pretty even split between bacterial, viral and allergy-related pink eye.

There was a decrease in the number of stomach bug cases.

Dr. Joan Thode offered the following advice about coughing:

"With winter colds and spring allergies, nasal congestion and cough become persistent issues for many families. But it can be hard to know how long is 'too long' to be dealing with our children's symptoms.

Regardless of whether your child's nasal mucous is from a cold or allergies, it drains pretty slowly, clearing the nasal system either out the front of the nose or down the back of the throat. The path of least resistance for nasal mucous is into the throat. This 'post-nasal drainage' is what causes babies, toddlers and kids to cough. And cough. And cough…

In the context of a viral cold, the post-nasal drainage and cough can slowly taper over seven to 10 days after other cold symptoms resolve. This is known as a 'protracted cough.' As long as the initial active, heavy nasal drainage improves after four to seven days and the protracted cough continues to slowly improve without causing fevers or increased work of breathing, it's OK to watch it for a week or two."

Reasons to bring your child for a medical evaluation:

-Five consecutive days of fever
-Respiratory distress or increased work of breathing
-Fevers that come back before cold symptoms have fully improved
-Cough that does not improve after about two weeks
-Nasal drainage that returns after getting almost all better

UPMC Pinnacle's Heritage Pediatrics in Camp Hill says they are seeing a lot of upper respiratory viruses that are starting with high fever for the first three days. There is associated nasal congestion and cough. The cough starts dry and then becomes more productive. Most viral coughs last 10-14 days, but they should improve after the first seven days.

If your child's fever lasts more than three days, if their cough is worsening, or if they appear to have trouble breathing, they should be seen by a medical provider.

"It may help to run a cool must humidifier in their bedroom, use saline nasal drops to help clear nasal secretions," Dr. Kathleen Zimmerman said. "Fever reducers can also be used in children older than two months if the fever is making them uncomfortable."

Geisinger Holy Spirit reported the following:
Primary Care, Perry, Dauphin and York counties: sinus issues, colds
Geisinger Holy Spirit Primary Care, Cumberland County: cough/cold viruses, skin rashes, sore throats, fever, back/shoulder pain from shoveling
Geisinger Holy Spirit Pediatrics, Dauphin and Cumberland counties: Strep A, hand, foot and mouth

It's spring, but this week WellSpan Medical Group providers are still seeing cases of the flu. The cold weather forcing many to stay confined indoors may not be helping. However, providers are seeing a decrease in the number of cases of strep throat.

As a reminder, those seeking care for respiratory illnesses at any WellSpan care site, such as primary or urgent care locations or hospitals, are encouraged to adhere to respiratory etiquette practices. Techniques such as coughing into the inside of your elbow, frequent handwashing with antibacterial soaps for 20 to 30 seconds or using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer, such as Purell, are recommended to help prevent the spread of illness in public and at home.

WellSpan Medical Group providers urge sick individuals to seek treatment. Early diagnosis may lessen the severity and duration of the illness.

For strep prevention, WellSpan Medical Group providers also recommend frequent handwashing, as the bacteria can live for a short time on doorknobs, water faucets and other objects. They also recommend not drinking from the same glass or using the same eating utensils as an infected individual.

Pediatricians at Penn State Children's Hospital have seen a much smaller number of flu cases in the past week. They are seeing some upper resipiratory viruses and the common cold.

Pediatricians and nurses at Penn State Medical Group clinical sites in Cumberland and Lancaster counties say they are seeing strep throat and upper respiratory infections. They also say that some asthmatics are starting to see an increase in symptoms, which is typical of this time of year.


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