Here at Perth Children’s Hospital Foundation, our mission is to transform the health care of sick children and young people…
Winter is an extremely busy time at Princess Margaret Hospital with a marked increase in the number of children exposed to illnesses such as cold and flu. From May through to the end of the October school holidays, there is a significant increase in the number of visits to the hospital’s Emergency Department. Viral infections, acute upper respiratory tract infections, breathing abnormalities and acute bronchiolitis are the four issues children most frequently present with.
Last winter, the Emergency Department at Princess Margaret Hospital dealt with 18,199 presentations compared to 9,475 during the summer months. This is a 92% increase! As a result, the hospital also experiences a significant increase in the number of children who are admitted overnight or longer.
PMH Foundation McCusker Chair of Respiratory Medicine at Princess Margaret Hospital, Professor Mark Everard, explains that winter can be particularly difficult for children with re-existing conditions.
“Once we are through the summer months we know that the respiratory viruses are coming. These are the bad guys that cause significant problems for many patients with ongoing respiratory problems such as asthma, persistent bacterial bronchitis, chronic lung disease of prematurity, and cystic fibrosis.”
“They also lead to hundreds of otherwise healthy infants and pre-school children presenting, and often being admitted, to hospital with conditions such as acute bronchiolitis and wheezy bronchitis. Such illnesses are very distressing for the child and their family and the surge in admissions places great strains on the availability of hospital beds, which impacts on a wide range of services including intensive care and surgery,” explains Professor Everard.
Researchers at Princess Margaret Hospital are at the forefront of international efforts trying to understand how viruses such as the common respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) manage to be so successful and what it is about the viruses that trigger such severe illnesses. Professor Everard explains.
“The aim of this research is to develop effective therapies and preventative measures. To date we don’t have any specific treatments or vaccines that act on any of the important viruses other than influenza. Only when we know what the virus does in order to trick the host’s immune system, can we start to make significant progress.
“For those with asthma we know that the best defence against a bad attack triggered by a virus is to take the preventer therapy regularly and effectively. Anything less than 11 or 12 out of 14 doses a week is ineffective and trying to achieve this when life is busy is often a challenge,” said Professor Everard.
The desire to find new ways of treating respiratory conditions in order to make life easier and more comfortable for children and their families is what drives Professor Everard and his team.
You can help Professor Everard and rest of the team at Princess Margaret Hospital to support children by making a donation to our Winter Appeal online today.