Tag Archives: viral infections

March 2015 published

March 2015: the first post of the new ENT feature this month – glue ear, more help with viral exanthems, important safeguarding information on the UK government’s Prevent Strategy, breastfeeding for mums and research in the paediatric ED. 

February 2015 (just)

Have just uploaded February 2015 newsletter – with 4.5 hours of February to go….

NICE on gastro-oesophageal reflux disease, how to recognise speech delay, more viral exanthems, resus cards and information on forthcoming allergy courses.  Do leave comments below:

January 2015, late but useful!

January 2015 newsletter is being published late with apologies.  The newsletter is circulated prior to publication to be checked by my 8 paediatric consultant colleagues and any guest authors.  I neglected to attach the newsletter to my initial email, a fact pointed out to me on the 31st January…..  Now checked and ready to go.

Andrew Lock has put together a really helpful guide to viral exanthems with trustworthy links to proper images, Vicky Agunloye is back this month with an invaluable guide to the healthcare professional’s assessment of a crying baby (and his/her mother).  Tom Waterfield has looked at the usefulness of saline nebs in bronchiolitis, there are some more “do not do” recommendations from NICE and a link to Suffolk’s guideline on managing anaphylaxis and its follow up from primary care.  Do leave comments below:

December 2014 – in time for Christmas

December 2014 : ‘flu vaccination for children, calprotectin, paintballing bruises, eczema and some useful links to atopy downloads.   Do leave comments:

November 2014 newsletter published

WAIT study, faecal calprotectin, foreign body removal, guideline for managing cow’s milk protein allergy in primary care and some useful apps.  Do leave comments….

WAIT study

Dr Tom Waterfield: Wheeze And Intermittent Treatment (WAIT) trial

With winter fast approaching paediatricians, GPs and ED doctors will be bracing themselves for the inevitable surge in children presenting with wheeze. Any approach that could reduce attendances would be gratefully received and the WAIT study set out to determine if Montelukast could be used intermittently by parents to reduce unscheduled attendances with wheeze. This study published in October’s Lancet recruited 1358 children aged between 10months and 5 years over a 3 year period across 62 sites in the UK. All of the children had physician diagnosed wheeze on at least two occasions. The study set out to determine if giving Montelukast to children at the onset of cold or wheeze symptoms over a 12 month period could reduce unscheduled attendances to hospital. This double blinded, multicentre randomised control study found that intermittent Monteleukast usage did not reduce hospital attendance. The authors also performed a meta-analysis of existing studies investigating the intermittent usage of Montelukast for wheeze and again found no evidence of a benefit.

Interestingly however, the group also performed subgroup analysis based on genotyping for the arachidonate 5-lipoxygenase (ALOX5) gene promoter and found that a subgroup of childrenin the WAIT study did demonstrate a statistically significant reduction in unscheduled medical attendances for wheezing episodes.

So where does this leave us?

For this winter this study doesn’t offer any additional hope for the use of Montelukast in preventing hospital attendances but there is hope for the future. Further work to better understand how genotyping could be used to identify Montelukast responsive children could result in targeted therapy.


Dr Chin Nwokoro’s reply:

Effective treatment for preschool wheezing children remains elusive. Oral steroids do not reduce hospital admissions or length of stay (1, 2) and may cause harm. Preschool wheezers are predominantly well between attacks and chronic inhaled steroids are not justified in the absence of very frequent or clinically severe episodes. Montelukast shows promise as the only leukotriene receptor antagonist licensed in children, especially given previous work showing an increase in leukotriene axis activation during acute wheezing episodes(3). This study did not show evidence of global benefit in this age group, and the genetic subgroup effect did not in truth meet significance when the p-value for interaction is considered. The data hint at rather than firmly identify a responsive subgroup, and furthermore no link is shown between baseline leukotriene status and montelukast response(4). The success of ivacaftorin CF patients with a gating mutation is evidence that genotype-guided therapy can be transformative(5), unfortunately that evidence is lacking here. The ERS taskforce(6) suggests a role for prophylactic therapy in preschool viral wheezers with severe or frequent attacks and it is here, in the absence of steroid-modifiable pathology, where ‘preloading’ with regular (but not on this evidence intermittent) montelukast may prove of benefit.


  1. Oommen A, Lambert PC, Grigg J. Efficacy of a short course of parent-initiated oral prednisolone for viral wheeze in children aged 1-5 years: randomised controlled trial. Lancet. 2003;362(9394):1433-8.
  2. Panickar J, Lakhanpaul M, Lambert PC, Kenia P, Stephenson T, Smyth A, et al. Oral prednisolone for preschool children with acute virus-induced wheezing. N Engl J Med. 2009;360(4):329-38.
  3. Oommen A, Grigg J. Urinary leukotriene E4 in preschool children with acute clinical viral wheeze. Eur Respir J. 2003;21(1):149-54.
  4. Nwokoro C, Pandya H, Turner S, Eldridge S, Griffiths CJ, Vulliamy T, et al. Intermittent montelukast in children aged 10 months to 5 years with wheeze (WAIT trial): a multicentre, randomised, placebo-controlled trial. Lancet Respir Med. 2014;2(10):796-803.
  5. Ramsey BW, Davies J, McElvaney NG, Tullis E, Bell SC, Dřevínek P, et al. A CFTR potentiator in patients with cystic fibrosis and the G551D mutation. N Engl J Med. 2011;365(18):1663-72.
  6. Brand PL, Caudri D, Eber E, Gaillard EA, Garcia-Marcos L, Hedlin G, et al. Classification and pharmacological treatment of preschool wheezing: changes since 2008. Eur Respir J. 2014;43(4):1172-7.


October 2014 published

October 2014 holds quite a few topics: scalp ringworm, sleep and behaviour, support for victims of sexual abuse, immunotherapy for peanut allergy, link to parental asthma booklet and what to do with babies with chicken pox.  Do leave comments below…

How to manage a 3 week old baby with chicken pox

With thanks to Dr Vicky Agunloye, paediatric registrar and new Waltham Forest mum, for kicking off her parental FAQ series with a question that many GPs ring and ask me – and I always have to look it up…


Chicken pox , Varicella-Zoster Virus (VZV), is a common infection spread by droplet inhalation of the VZV from contacts with either chicken pox or shingles.


Most children have a mild disease course; however those that are immuno-compromised are at a significant risk of severe or fatal disease and need human Varicella Zoster Immunogloblin (VZIG) as soon as possible. Some neonates (<=7 days old) come into this category.


Who needs VZIG? :

  1. Infants whose mothers develop chickenpox (but not herpes zoster) in the period 7 days before to 7 days after delivery. VZIG can be given without antibody testing in these infants.
  2. An infant who has had significant contact  with a case of varicella when < 7 days of age and whose contact of VZV was not the mother and mother has no positive history of VZV herself.  In these cases, the VZIG should not be given past 7 days after the initial contact.

(Confirm patient has had significant contact, Box 1 in: https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/327762/Chickenpox_immunoglobulin_Oct_2008.pdf )


Who does not need VZIG?

  1. Term infants > 7 days old, even if they have had significant contact
  2. An infant that has not had significant contact, see above.
  3. A term infant who is < 7 days old, whose mother has a positive protective history of VZV.
  4. Infants who have been exposed >10 days ago.


Whose VZV anti-bodies need checking before you can decide if VZIG is needed?

  1. Infants <7 days whose mothers are unsure of their VZV status (you can check mothers or infants). However do not delay more than 7 days waiting for results.


Inform mothers that up to 50% of neonates exposed to maternal VZV who get VZIG still go on to get chickenpox, most are mild cases.

If infant becomes symptomatic despite VZIG, IV acyclovir is needed.


Other useful links:

  1. http://cks.nice.org.uk/chickenpox#!scenariorecommendation:9
  2. Page 434-435: http://www.clinicalguidelines.scot.nhs.uk/Renal%20Unit%20Guidelines/Nephrotic%20syndrome%20Guideline/Varicella%20doc.pdf


Bell’s palsy – time for a rethink re steroids for children?

Steroids vs Steroids & Antivirals for Bell ’s Palsy

by Dr Tom Waterfield

Bell’s palsy is an idiopathic facial nerve palsy first described by Sir Charles Bell in 1830. It typically presents with a sudden onset of unilateral facial palsy. It presents as a unilateral lower motor neurone weakness ie. the forehead is also involved (if the forehead is not involved, this is an upper motor neurone weakness with a different aetiology and needs prompt referral for further investigation). The prognosis in true Bell’s is typically good with up to 90% of children recovering by 3 months of age1. The mainstay of management in children is supportive (artificial tears/patching). The convention – at least in adults – is for the early (within 72 hours of onset) use of oral prednisolone at a dose of 2mg/kg (max 60-80mg) for 5 days followed by a 5 day tapering dose2. The evidence base for this comes from large randomised controlled studies in adults3,4.

Evidence for the use of steroids alone

Two large double blind randomised control studies looking at over 1300 patients demonstrated that early use of Prednisolone orally significantly improved symptoms at 3 months (p<0.001) with a NNT of around 53,4. There are no similar studies in children and it is worth considering that children typically have a better prognosis than adults. Whilst prednisolone orally would be appropriate and safe for most children there may be instances where the risks of oral steroids could be considered too great to justify their use i.e. in a poorly controlled diabetic patient (which is a group in whom Bell’s palsy is more prevalent).

Evidence for the use of combined steroids and antivirals

In the last decade there has been an ongoing debate around the use of oral antiviral agents such as Aciclovir in the management of Bell’s Palsy. It is widely believed that Bell’s Palsy is due to an underlying Herpes Simplex infection and PCR studies have demonstrated concurrent HSV infection at the facial nerve in adult patients with Bell’s Palsy5. Despite this, good quality, large scale studies looking at the efficacy of oral antiviral agents have failed to demonstrate a benefit3,4.


The current evidence base for the medical management of Bell’s palsy comes predominantly from adult data3,4. Children typically have a milder illness with a quicker recovery than adults irrespective of the treatment chosen1. UpToDate would have us believe that the mainstay of medical management is the use of oral steroids at a dose of 2mg/kg(max 60-80mg) for 5 days followed by a 5 day taper. Additional antiviral treatment appears to be unnecessary with large-scale, high quality studies not showing a benefit. Smaller, lower quality studies have suggested additional antivirals may be useful and these could be considered on a case by case basis6,7. For example in a severe case (complete paralysis) with clinical evidence of concurrent Herpes Simplex infection it may be worth considering additional antiviral medication such as oral Aciclovir.



  1. Peitersen E. Bell’s palsy: the spontaneous course of 2,500 peripheral facial nerve palsies of different etiologies. ActaOtolaryngol Suppl. 2002.
  2. https://www.aan.com/Guidelines/Home/GetGuidelineContent/574 (Last accessed 19/08/2014 at 12:03)
  3. Sullivan FM, Swan IR, Donnan PT et al. Early treatment with prednisolone or acyclovir in Bell’s palsy. N Engl J Med. 2007;357(16):1598.
  4. Yeo SG, Lee YC, Park DC, Cha CI. Acyclovir and steroid versus steroid alone in the treatment of Bell’s palsy. Am J. Otolaryngol 2008;29:163–168.
  5. Schirm J, Mulkens PS. Bell’s palsy and herpes simplex virus. APMIS. 1997;105(11):815.
  6. Minnerop M, Herbst M, Fimmers R, Kaabar P et al. Bell’s palsy: combined treatment of famciclovir and prednisone is superior to prednisone alone. Neurol. 2008 Nov;255(11):1726-30.
  7. Lee HY, Byun JY, Park MS, Yeo SG.Steroid-antiviral treatment improves the recovery rate in patients with severe Bell’s palsy.Am J Med. 2013 Apr;126(4):336-41.

October 2013 newsletter

Lots of writing on this month’s PDF digest, much of it thanks to our registrars.  Rotavirus oral vaccination, wheezing in the under 2s, bradycardia, conduct disorder, Kawasaki disease and force feeding.  Do leave comments below.