“We now know that if these kids get the flu, the risks are very high that emergency treatment for an asthma attack will fail,” said study co-author and pediatrician Dr Francine Ducharme.
“Instead of having an 18% risk of treatment failure, with flu their risk rises to 40%,” said Ducharme, a professor at the University of Montreal.
Preschoolers with asthma, in particular, may end up in hospital if they get the flu, Ducharme and her colleagues warned. “These kids should get their flu shot and they should get it systematically it’s worth it,” Ducharme said.
The researchers examined roughly 1000 children treated for moderate or severe asthma attacks in emergency rooms at five Canadian hospitals. They also analysed nose swabs taken from the kids to determine if they also had the flu or another respiratory virus.
Nearly two-thirds tested positive for a viral infection. But when given the standard treatments for an asthma attack, including oral corticosteroids and inhaled bronchodilators - 19% didn’t respond to the medications. Those with influenza or para-influenza turned out to have a 37% higher chance of not responding to treatment, compared to 13% for children without the virus.
The authors said the flu shot was a simple way people with asthma could protect against dangerous flu-related complications. - New York Times