Killer Cold Virus: Questions, Answers
Despite New Ad14 Bug's Fatal Potential, Most Get Mild Illness
With Ad14 possibly circulating this winter, is there anything people should do when they come down with a cold or flu-like illness?
Anderson: "Do what you usually do. Ad14 really should not change the way you look at respiratory illness this season at all. If you think about relative risk, flu regularly causes more than 30,000 deaths. RSV is a much greater risk in the young child. And rhinoviruses are likely to cause a lot more disease than Ad14. That's because this is an uncommon infection, and the more common infections will be much more of a problem.
"Now here's what you can do. Get your flu vaccination. Get your pneumococcal vaccination. And observe good hygiene -- this means frequent hand washing, and covering your mouth whenever you cough or sneeze."
Let's say my spouse or my child gets cold or flu symptoms. When is it time to call a doctor?
Anderson: "The things to watch out for are persistent fever, a fever that keeps getting higher, or any trouble breathing. It is a matter of symptoms getting more severe -- and when you reach the point of needing medical attention depends on the age and underlying physical condition of the person who is ill."
The earliest victim of this new virus was a baby. What's the message to parents in terms of watching a child with a runny nose or a cold?
Anderson: "Small children always have a runny nose. And there is a whole host of things that can become more severe in the infant; Ad14 is just one of those. Particularly in a young infant, the criteria that you use to decide whether to check with a doctor are different in different situations. For example, in this New York child that died, lethargy and poor feeding were an indication of a more severe illness.
"Really, it is hard to tell. But a mother knows when her child is sick. If you think your child is sick, consult a doctor. It does no harm for a new mother who is not experienced just to call a doctor when she's not sure, just to check in."