January 17, 2013
The influenza virus is still quite active in the community. SickKids continues to see higher than usual winter-time volumes, and a significant percentage (10 to 15 per cent) of patients in our emergency department continue to show influenza-like illness. Due to higher volumes, emergency department wait times are higher than during non-flu season.
For more information about influenza and how to protect you and your family, please visit AboutKidsHealth.ca.
As influenza is still active, it is very important that parents and children who have not been vaccinated against the influenza virus strongly consider getting vaccinated. It’s not too late for this important prevention strategy to help. Paediatric and Public Health leaders across Canada recommend that children over the age of six months receive the influenza vaccine. To find out about vaccinations, please contact your family doctor or your local public health unit. If you are in Toronto, you can call 311 or visit www.toronto.ca/health.
Please note that SickKids is not vaccinating children through its Emergency Department.
Handwashing, “coughing into your elbow,” and other strategies to reduce direct risk of infection are important. Children and adults who are sick with fever, cough and cold should stay home from work or school to reduce the chance of infecting others.
If your child is sick…
There are many ways to access health care for your child. If your child has symptoms of influenza infection, you can contact your family doctor, a walk-in clinic, Telehealth Ontario, or your local emergency department.
When to come to the emergency department…
Infants, children with chronic illnesses and the elderly are most at risk of becoming seriously ill from influenza.
If your child has the following symptoms, you should go to the hospital right away:
- High fever over 40 C in an infant
- Fast breathing or trouble breathing
- Bluish skin color
- Dehydrated: not drinking enough fluids and not urinating regularly
- Not waking up or not interacting
- Very irritable; the child does not want to be touched or held
- Fever with a rash
These symptoms are particularly important to take note of in babies under one year of age as they cannot communicate how they are feeling and are completely dependent on their parents and/or caregivers for feeding and care.