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Prevention remains key with seasonal illnesses

For Ohio parents, another health worry has crept its way into the state, though officials suggest it may not warrant the alarm bells some are sounding. With 145 children between the ages of 3 and 14 having been diagnosed with pneumonia since August, Warren County has made the Buckeye State the first in the nation to report an outbreak of pediatric pneumonia.

Though numbers so high make it tempting for some to add a label to the trend and even begin to invent new conspiracy theories, health officials say no novel / new respiratory diseases are being found to have caused the increase in cases. In fact, Ohio’s Department of Health says the pathogens found in the cases in Warren County, which is in southeastern Ohio near Cincinnati, are relatively common.

“There has been zero evidence of this outbreak being connected to other outbreaks, either statewide, nationally or internationally,” the department said.

Pneumonia happens when the immune system attacks an infection that has embedded itself in a patient’s lungs, meaning the lungs then swell and leak fluid. Most of the time it can be treated with antibiotics, though no one wants to see kids enduring such an illness.

That brings us back to the health officials’ assertion that what they are seeing is an increase in the usual viruses and bacteria that commonly circulate at this time of year.

“While these viruses may not kill children and infants, they do leave these kids more vulnerable to both viral pneumonia as well as bacteria pneumonia and that can be prevented through the vaccination or through the RSV shots,” Dr. Celine Gounder, an infectious disease specialist, told CBS News.

Vaccinate; reinforce healthy habits such as keeping hands away from eyes, nose and mouth; encourage frequent hand-washing and sanitizing; remind kids to try to keep their distance; and keep them home (and test them) when they are ill.

Prevention is still the key, novel virus or not. Teach your kids to do their best to prevent the spread of germs. And, remember, the best way to do that is to set a good example.

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