The human parainfluenza viruses can cause various respiratory infections. They are also responsible for causing some lower respiratory tract diseases including bronchiolitis and pneumonia.
The parainfluenza viruses have an incubation period of 2-6 days. The viruses spread from one individual to another via direct exposure or contact with contaminated secretions from the throat or nose. In most cases, children are exposed to most forms of parainfluenza by 5 years of age.
What are the indications?
The usual symptoms that arise in various forms of parainfluenza infections tend to vary from one child to another or from one kind of infection to another:
- Rapid, noisy or labored breathing
- Rough, bark-like cough
- Hoarseness and wheezing
- Runny nose
- Eye redness
- Diminished appetite
The management of viral ailments including those triggered by the parainfluenza viruses must not involve any antibiotics. Most cases of infections do not require a specific treatment aside from alleviating the symptoms and ensuring that the child is comfortable until he/she feels better. Remember that the illness eventually settles on its own. Antibiotics are only used if a secondary bacterial infection develops.
A doctor should be consulted if a child with fever must be given acetaminophen to lower the body temperature. In addition, make sure that the child is given enough fluids to drink. The supportive therapies are specific to the infection present.
During the initial few periods of life, infants are given protection against some types of parainfluenza due to the antibodies from the mother.
Children must not be exposed to others who have viral infections especially in the initial and highly infectious stages. Regular hand washing is vital in lowering the chances of spreading most viral infections.
A vaccine from parainfluenza viruses is not yet available, but vaccines against the viral types are currently under development.