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Swine Flu and Children

In any given flu season health experts warn ... those most at risk are children and the elderly.

The swine flu is no different ... with a toddler dead and a probable child infected here in Chicago ... Medical Reporter Dina Bair has more on protecting kids and possibly treating them for swine flu.

Tamiflu is the drug of choice for fending off viral infections like the swine flu. But there have been serious complications and deaths associated with its use in children. Pediatricians say they are doing everything in their power to protect kids without causing panic.

New Mom: "Should I not allow anyone near the baby?"

At Town and Country Pediatrics ... a new mom comes in worried. Her baby boy is 4 days old and swine flu is reported in the state.

Dr Kenneth Polin: "Don't let him contact people who you don't know what they've got going on."

Itamir Zuckerman plans to keep her infant at home and when they have to go out ...

Itamir Zuckerman: "We do carry around our GermX."

It's what her pediatrician Dr. Kenneth Polin recommends.

Dr. Kenneth Polin, Town & Country Pediatrics: "Clip an alcohol-based gel container to their carrier to their stroller so if people do need to do things with their children they are able to clean their hands no matter where they are."

And watch them for symptoms. A quick onset ... fever and cough before a runny nose.

Dr. Polin: "High fever, dry cough, often no nasal symptoms initially and there are often aches throughout the body including throat and muscle aches."

Dr. Polin: "If it's a routine low or no fever, runny nose, drippy nose that precedes a cough, no major aches, alert, feeling good ... treat it like a cold.

Aidan's school nurse called home and told his mother he was sick. She didn't panic but she did bring him to the doctor.

Kathy Adler, Aidan's Mom: "I'm not an alarmist and he actually gets strep throat quite often so I thought it was strep throat."

Still in this climate doctors did the quick flu test. It came out negative. If it were positive ... even before the confirmation of swine flu, doctors would have offered Tamiflu. An anti-viral therapy.

Dr. Kenneth Polin: "Regardless of the specific strain we treat the specific patient. So if the patient has symptoms, is within the window of treatment, which is usually 48 hours from symptoms onset, we can offer Tamiflu or Relenza."

Doctors are aware of the Tamiflu reactions. The FDA received reports of hallucinations, altered behavior, convulsions and even deaths. Most occurred in Japan where the drug is more widely prescribed.

Dr. Kenneth Polin: "The job of the physician is to weigh the risks relative to the benefits and to discuss them with the family to let them know what options may exist."

In addition to limiting the duration of flu, Tamiflu may also prevent family members from getting the virus. There has been a great deal of concern today as we have seen cases spread ... consider this: 20,000 children are hospitalized for regular flu each year and 86 died last year. Most of those have other medical issues. Doctors say even if your child gets swine flu, it is likely they will recover like they do from seasonal influenza ... with time and fluids and rest.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun