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COVID, Flu and Lyme, oh my!

April 28, 2022

Hello NAP families,

We hope you have all been enjoying the beautiful spring weather, celebrating holidays with loved ones, taking long postponed trips during April vacation, and romping through the amazing Valley wilderness! We wanted to give a few quick reminders about some of the less welcome guests that could be attending these activities, however . . .

First, the good news – COVID cases continue to remain low in our area. You may have heard of the BA.2 variant now circulating which is more contagious than the “original” BA.1 Omicron variant. BA.2 is otherwise very similar to Omicron and vaccines as well as natural immunity from a previous infection are still proving to be quite protective against getting serious illness from this newer strain. We are hopeful this will mean we won’t see another major surge in the near future. That said, please continue to monitor for any symptoms of COVID, test at home or in our office if you think you may have COVID, and follow the CDC guidelines for isolation and quarantine as indicated. Here is the link we previously shared that can help in determining what you need to do after an exposure or diagnosis with COVID infection: COVID Information . You can also report positive home COVID tests online so that case rates may continue to be tracked accurately: Report Home Tests
If you or your child is diagnosed with COVID, and are 12 years of age or older, there are some very effective treatment options that may be available to you. One of these is the oral antiviral medication called Paxlovid, similar to the medication Tamiflu we often use to treat influenza. You need to have a qualifying high risk condition to be prescribed Paxlovid. Please consult with our office if you would like to discuss whether Paxlovid is an option for your child.

Another virus that is making the rounds again this year is the flu. That’s right, even with the warmer temperatures outside, we are still in the thick of flu season and have seen many cases in our office and throughout the state. Influenza symptoms typically include high fever/chills, body aches, cough, congestion, runny nose, and headaches. If detected early, it may be possible to use Tamiflu as an oral treatment to help decrease the length and severity of symptoms. We can test for the flu with a nasal swab run in our office, similar to our COVID test. Please call the office if you need an appointment for this or any other significant illness concern.

Finally, our old friend Lyme disease has come out of hibernation. We have been getting many calls about tick bites already and anticipate many more to come! In general, the best defense against tick-borne diseases is preventing tick bites (light weight long sleeves and pants, hats, and deet-containing insect repellant when out in wooded or grassy areas) and daily tick checks to remove embedded ticks as quickly as possible. Remember, the longer a tick is embedded, the more likely it is to transmit diseases. Deer ticks are the main culprits in our area, fortunately dog ticks do not carry the same risk.

If your child has an embedded deer tick that is engorged, or likely to have been on them for > 36 hours, it is recommended that they take a single dose of doxycycline to help prevent possible Lyme disease. We do not routinely recommend sending ticks in for testing of diseases as the result of these tests will not change how we manage your child. Other symptoms of Lyme to watch for are the classic “bulls eye rash” that develops and expands days to weeks after a bite, typically near the area of the bite. (This is different than the area of redness from the bite itself, up to the size of a nickel, that can last 1-2 weeks and is not a sign of Lyme disease.) Children with Lyme may also develop flu like symptoms with prolonged fevers, headache, and body aches. Please call the office to schedule an appointment if you are concerned about potential Lyme symptoms. Remember, we are unable to diagnose and treat illnesses through the patient portal so scheduling an appointment will be the quickest way to have your concerns addressed.

Happy spring, everyone!

Northampton Area Pediatrics