Monday, October 03, 2005

Study: Sick kids may signal start of flu season

Preschoolers may signal the arrival of flu season: Thirty days after hacking 3 and 4 year olds start showing up in doctors' offices and emergency rooms, flu ridden adults follow.
It's a provocative discovery sure to bolster growing calls to vaccinate more healthy children against influenza to help keep the misery from spreading.
Moreover, researchers using a system that almost instantly tracks Boston area health care found that a spike in respiratory illness among youngsters under 5 predicts that about five weeks later, influenza-related deaths among the elderly will peak.The study doesn't prove preschoolers actually drive each winter's flu epidemic, just that they're harbingers for waves of illness."What we think is most likely is that 3 and 4 year olds are early spreaders of influenza because of the preschool setting," said John Brownstein, an epidemiologist at Children's Hospital of Boston and co author of the new study....


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