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IDSA/PIDS announce guidelines for treating pneumonia in children
Date:8/31/2011

Because viral infections such as influenza can develop into bacterial pneumonia, it's important that children 6 months and older receive a yearly influenza vaccine, according to the guidelines. It is also important that infants and children are up to date on their other scheduled vaccines, several of which prevent bacterial pneumonia. The successful U.S. vaccination program has significantly reduced bacterial pneumonia, and therefore has prevented deaths from the infection, notes Dr. Bradley.

While the guidelines stress the importance of diagnosing pneumonia appropriately, they also warn that over-treatment is a critical concern. For instance, most pneumonia in preschool-aged children is viral, meaning it will run its course and will not develop into life-threatening bacterial pneumonia. In these cases, there is no need to perform unnecessary medical interventions such as using x-rays (which expose the child to radiation needlessly) or prescribing antibiotics (which kill bacteria, not viruses, and may foster drug-resistant bacteria).

"A child with chest congestion, a cough, runny nose and low-grade fever likely has viral pneumonia, and Mother Nature treats those herself," said Dr. Bradley. "If the child has a fever of 104, is barely able to keep fluids down, just wants to lie in bed and is breathing fast, it may be bacterial pneumonia and require antibiotics and hospitalization."

The guidelines suggest when doctors can feel comfortable not prescribing a higher level of care and when they need to be cautious, and do so. By design, the guidelines lead off with recommendations regarding hospitalization. "Most of these kids will have their first encounter when they have fever and difficulty breathing and see their primary care physician, or the emergency room doctor," said Dr. Bradley. "The first major decision that needs to be made is, is this child well enough to go home, or does he or she need a higher level of care?"

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Contact: Ashley Mattys
amattys@pcipr.com
312-558-1770
Infectious Diseases Society of America
Source:Eurekalert

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