Standard treatment aimed at treating the fever and preventing the most common complications.
Added to this standard treatment is the treatment of complications found on clinical examination (Appendix 13).
− Antipyretic: paracetamol PO (IV only if oral route impossible)
|Treatment for pulmonary and ENT complications
– Pneumonia with no severity criteria or acute otitis media:
Treatment for ocular complications
– Purulent conjunctivitis (no corneal lesions):
– Corneal involvement (corneal opacification or ulcer):
|Treatment for gastrointestinal complications
– Watery diarrhoea:
– Oral candidiasis:
|Follow the protocol for managing malnutrition (RUTF).|
|Treatment for other complications
See Appendix 13 for doses according to weight or age.
5.4.1 Standard treatment
Paracetamol should be given orally, if possible. The IV route is used only in case of high fever in a child who is vomiting repeatedly or whose consciousness is impaired (lethargy or coma). IV paracetamol is no more effective than oral paracetamol, and is more complicated to administer (infusion every 6 hours).
Five-day antibiotherapy (amoxicillin PO, except if resistance is known in the area) is given to children under 5 years, to prevent potential complications. If a child under 5 years has nonsevere pneumonia or acute otitis media, there is no change in therapy since the first-line treatment for these infections is the same as the standard antibiotic therapy already routinely administered. For severe pneumonia, replace amoxicillin with the ceftriaxone + cloxacillin combination.
Clearing the upper airways: blow the child’s nose to prevent congestion and secondary respiratory infection and improve the child’s comfort (especially during breastfeeding) and sleep. Nasal lavages with 0.9% sodium chloride solution may be used in the event of significant nasal discharge (Appendix 15).
Patients without ocular involvement should receive one dose of vitamin A on 2 consecutive days except pregnant women (ask the patient).
If the patient has corneal involvement or Bitot’s spots, give 3 doses of vitamin A, rather than 2 (the third dose is administered some time after the first two doses, on D8).
When appropriate to the situation, give children under 3 or 5 years who are not malnourished ready-to-use food (500 kcal daily) during their hospitalisation and for 2 weeks after discharge.
5.4.2 Management of complications
See also the: Pocket book of hospital care for children: guidelines for the management of common illnesses with limited resources. World Health Organization, 2005.
– In all cases:
• check to make sure that the upper airway is clear;
• respect the position the patient chooses for breathing – usually sitting or half-sitting. Do not lay him down while he is having trouble breathing;
• set up a pulse oximeter, if available.
– In the event of cyanosis, laboured breathing (e.g., nasal flaring), or SpO2 < 90%: oxygen mask with sufficient flow to bring the SpO2 back above 90%.
– In the event of audible wheezing (with or without a stethoscope): aerosol bronchodilator (salbutamol).
– In the event of severe pneumonia: immediately start parenteral antibiotics.
– In the event of benign or moderate croup:
• monitor the child for signs of worsening (regular assessment of respiratory rate, indrawing?, stridor?);
• agitation and crying exacerbate the symptoms: keep the child calm, reassure him, place him in his parent’s arms or in a seated position to help him breath;
• the symptomatic treatment is standard: hydration, antipyretic, decongestion, etc.
– In the event of severe croup:
• the child is placed under intensive monitoring until symptoms resolve;
• administer one dose of dexamethasone IM. The anti-inflammatory effect begins in 30 minutes to 2 hours, and lasts about 24 hours. Give only a single dose;
• nebulised epinephrine (adrenaline) is used to relieve symptoms while waiting for the steroids to take effect. It rapidly improves symptoms (in 10 to 30 minutes), but effect does not last long (about 2 hours). Symptoms may recur (rebound effect). Nebulisation can be repeated once, on medical prescription only. See Appendix 16 for administration and monitoring;
• standard symptomatic treatment: hydration, antipyretic, decongestion, etc.;
• keep the child calm, in his parent’s arms, to reassure him and help him breath.
Acute otitis media
If there is discharge from the ear, keep the ear clean by wiping the external auditory canal with dry cotton wool.
Stomatitis that prevents eating
Gastric tube feeding (F-100 milk) is needed as long as the child cannot eat. Check daily to see if the tube is still necessary; remove it as soon as possible.
– If the patient is having a generalised seizure, take the usual measures (protect him from injury, lay him on his side). Use intrarectal diazepam if the seizures do not resolve spontaneously.
– Look for the cause of possible the seizures (e.g. hyperthermia, hypoglycaemia, severe malaria in endemic areas [perform a rapid test]) and assess the risk of recurrence.
See Appendix 13 for doses according to weight or age.
5.4.3 Patients transferred to a hospital
Depending on the distance, the time needed for the transfer, and the complications identified at the examination:
– Administer the first dose of amoxicillin PO c Citation c. If the patient has severe pneumonia and ceftriaxone and cloxacillin are available peripherally, administer the first dose before transferring the patient. .
– Administer the first dose of paracetamol PO, especially if the fever is high, or if the child had a seizure.
– If the patient is dehydrated, he should be able to drink ORS while being transferred.
– If the patient is severely dehydrated, place a IV line and transfer the patient when stable.
– If the patient has a corneal lesion: protect the eye with a dry dressing.
Always send the patient with a transfer form indicating the reason for the referral and treatments administered.
5.4.4 Advice for parents on hospital discharge
1) Ask parents to:
− make the child drink, and give smaller, more frequent meals or breastfeed more frequently;
− keep his eyes clean, blow his nose frequently.
2) Instruct parents on how to use the medications and nutritional supplements. Make sure that they understand the instructions. Provide the drugs, supplies (cotton), supplements needed to do the rest of the treatment at home.
3) Ask them to bring the child back in if his condition worsens; for example, if he cannot drink or nurse, or is vomiting, if his consciousness is impaired (he is difficult to awaken), if he has respiratory problems, or if the diarrhoea recurs.
4) Explain that after measles, complications can still occur and that they should bring the child back in right away if he does not recover completely.
- (a)If nystatin is not available, gentian violet 0.25% may be applied 2 times daily for maximum of 5 days.
- (b)See also the: Pocket book of hospital care for children: guidelines for the management of common illnesses with limited resources. World Health Organization, 2005.
- (c)If the patient has severe pneumonia and ceftriaxone and cloxacillin are available peripherally, administer the first dose before transferring the patient.