If a child has a fever:

Dr. Cornelia Davis, a pediatrician and epidemiologist at the Center for Disease Control in Atlanta, says:

"Just because a child has a fever doesn't mean you have to treat it, and moreover, what a parent thinks of as a fever may differ from a physician's idea. For example, a temperature of 100 degrees is not what we in the medical profession think of as fever."

For temperatures under about 102 degrees (except in infants, where a doctor should be consulted right away) a child's fever and discomfort may respond to fluids -- juices, clear soups, even water -- and sponge baths with tepid water, Dr. Davis says.

If it does not, a physician should be consulted before any medicine is administered.

"People think aspirin is like water," she said. "It's not. People must think of it as a medicine."

Think about Reye's syndrome if:

Your child has had a cold or some virus and a day or so later begins to vomit relentlessly.

There is lethargy, sleepiness, disorientation.

There is agressiveness or combativeness or any unusual bechavior.

If your child has any of these symptoms: Don't panic -- Reye's is, after all, relatively uncommon. But DO call your doctor AT ONCE: Tell him you suspect Reye's syndrome. Demand a liver enxyme test (SGOT, SGPT) with result available the same day.

If the test results show the enzymes are elevated, see to it that your child is taken immediately to a hospital with a Reye's intensive care team.

Your child's life may depend on it.

In the Washington area, Children's Hospital and Georgetown University Hospital have sophisticated Reye's syndrome facilities and personnel.