Pediatrician Q&A with Dr. Zeke (Ezekiel Melquist, MD)

Q: As back-to-school time approaches, many parents dread the first month or so, as many kids get sick in those first few weeks. Why does that happen?

A: Each child has an ecosystem of bacteria that differs slightly from other kids. They also have unique antibodies to all the bacteria and viruses that they have encountered throughout their lifetime. So, as they all come together, kids are exposed to new bacteria and viruses that they may or may not have antibodies and immunity to. Most of these illnesses are not life-threatening, and resolve with rest and time. Certain infections can be very dangerous, so it’s often helpful to use a symptom checker, such as on to determine what can be done at home, versus when to bring your child in to the pediatrician.

Q: What can (safely) be done to boost their immune systems prior to the new school year beginning?

A: The safest and most effective way to avoid dangerous infections is to receive all the scheduled immunizations that are available, as these have been extensively studied. These make the body produce antibodies to many infections without exposure to any harmful microbes. Most of these infections can be life or limb-threatening, and vaccines have eliminated or reduced the risk of getting these. There are vitamins and supplements which claim to boost the immune system, but there are no clinical trials to support those claims. There is also little regulation of how these products are manufactured, so they may introduce bacteria, fungi or contaminants to the child’s system. To avoid the many self-limited viral and bacterial infections which kids get, I would recommend a well-rounded diet, frequent handwashing, cleaning of toys and eating fully cooked foods.

Q: What are the most easily avoidable mistakes that parents make regarding the health of their young children? 

A: I believe there are a variety of parenting styles, and that none of them are wrong. Children need different approaches, even within the same family unit. If there are problem areas, I’m happy to help the parent find different techniques. I try to encourage parents to provide a loving, supportive environment for their children and to help keep them safe and healthy. Beyond being abusive, there is room for everyone’s parenting style. Mistakes are inevitable, and are part of what keeps us human and humble. Unless they jeopardize the child’s well-being, most so-called mistakes are just part of life.

Q: What made you choose pediatrics?

A: Pediatrics chose me, really. When I started medical school, I wanted to be a forensic pathologist, and do CSI-style medicine. But when I was in the clinic and hospital with sick kids, I received positive feedback from mentors and parents, and also realized that I enjoyed working with kids and families. I appreciate their sense of humor, their enthusiasm for life, and that they most often recover from illnesses. I also found it rewarding to help instill healthy lifestyles at an earlier age.  I realized that it is a privilege to be trusted with a child’s healthcare.  I like to goof around and make a lot of jokes, which the kids appreciate.  I have toys which help with the examination, and most families like the lighthearted approach I take.  However, I take my responsibility as their doctor very seriously.

About Dr. Zeke

Dr. ‘Zeke’ Melquist has recently joined the Pediatric team at Fairchild Medical Clinic in Yreka. Dr. Zeke was born in London, then grew up in Tacoma, WA.  He returned to London for medical school, after a career in the performing arts.  He completed a residency and chief residency in Brooklyn, NY.  He aims to deliver true family-centered service to the rural health care community. Contact Dr. Zeke at 530.841.4980.

Michael Orr
About Michael Orr

Michael Orr is a Father, writer, reader, science geek and musician who lives, works & plays in Paradise, California

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