Posts Tagged ‘infection’

Ferrets, reptiles and fish — Oh, my! Risks for children under the age of 5

Tuesday, October 7th, 2008

When we were small, my sisters and I loved playing with Cuddles, our affectionate border collie. She was part of the family, almost another sister. Pets can bring so much into a chid’s life: fun, companionship, responsibility. But sometimes they can put a child’s health at risk.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP)  has issued a report cautioning parents about the health risks of “nontraditional pets.” Such pets can spread disease and infection, cause injury, and trigger allergies. AAP encourages parents to take care, especially for children under the age of 5.

AAP’s list of “non-traditional” animals includes some that are fairly common in people’s homes. Examples from the list are aquarium fish, frogs, salamanders, ferrets, rabbits, mice, hamsters, guinea pigs, hedgehogs, turtles, monkeys, snakes, iguanas and alligators.

These animals can spread infections such as ringworm and illnesses that cause diarrhea and fever (like salmonella). Sometimes very serious illnesses are linked to “non-traditional” pets. Examples are plague, inflammation of the brain, and Guillain-Barre syndrome (a nerve disorder).

Talk to your child’s health care povider about the pets you own or are thinking about getting. Learn what you can do to reduce the risk. AAP recognizes that pets provide many benefits for children, but it’s a good idea to take care. Then go back to enjoying your pets and your children.

Ear infections

Friday, July 18th, 2008

A co-worker of mine was talking at lunch the other day about her son’s repeat ear infections.  It reminded me of the many infections my own son had many years ago.

Did you know that about two out of every three children have at least one ear infection before their second birthday?  That is because their immune systems are still developing, and the tiny eustachian tube in each ear has not yet grown enough in position or size to drain fluid that can build up behind the eardrum.  Fluid that sits in one spot can become a breeding ground for bacteria.  Did you know that standing fluid can create hearing loss?

When my son had an ear infection, he would spike a fever and cry all the time.  But my friend’s son has a different symptom – no fever, no crying, he just keeps tugging at his ear.  Since he has had a couple ear infections, his mom now recognizes the ear tugging signs and takes him to his doc for a check.

If you suspect your baby might have an ear infection, give his health care provider a call. Providers can diagnose an ear infection by looking deep inside a child’s ear canal with a special device. Some ear infections clear up without treatment within a few days. Others require antibiotics and your child’s provider will be able to judge what is best for each situation.

Some children are prone to repeated ear infections. In some tougher cases, a provider may recommend inserting tiny tubes in the eardrums to help drain the middle ear. The tubes may help prevent speech and language problems that may result from hearing loss from repeated or long-lasting ear infection.  This, ultimately, is what my son had done and it made a big difference.  But, luckily, it seems like my friend’s son will outgrow his ear trouble without the need for tubes.

Read our article on ear infection for more information.

FDA warning on fresh tomatoes

Monday, June 9th, 2008

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has warned consumers to avoid certain types of fresh tomatoes because of an outbreak of Salmonella infection. Tomatoes that may be risky include roma, round and plum. Tomatoes that are considered safe to eat are cherry, grape and any that have the vine attached to them.

Salmonella is a bacteria that can cause fever, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting and pain in the belly. If you have eaten fresh tomatoes recently and have any of these symptoms, contact your health care provider. Salmonella Infection can be serious in young children, frail or elderly people, or people with weak immune systems.

If you are pregnant and want more information on food-borne illness, read the March of Dimes fact sheet.

Eat safely, everyone!



Protecting your family from MRSA, a serious skin infection

Wednesday, April 2nd, 2008

Your local TV station or newspaper may have run a scary story about MRSA (pronounced “mer-sa”). This skin infection is hard to treat and can even be deadly. But you and your family can take a few simple steps to protect yourselves from MRSA.

About 9 out of 10 MRSA infections happen when a person is in a hospital. But others occur as people go about their daily lives. For example, a towel infected with MRSA touches a scrape on a person’s arm.

MRSA infections often occur where there is a cut or scrape. They may also appear on a part of the body that is covered by hair, such as the back of the neck. Crowded conditions can help spread MRSA. Examples: Day care centers, locker rooms.

MRSA can sometimes cause serious problems. Examples: Pneumonia, infections of the bloodstream.

What Can My Children and I Do to Reduce the Risk of MRSA?
Wash your hands often with soap and water. Or use a hand sanitizer that contains alcohol.

Keep cuts and scrapes clean.

Cover cuts and scrapes with clean, dry bandages until they heal.

If you have a cut, always put dirty bandages in the trash. Wash your hands after handling dirty bandages.

Don’t touch the cuts or skin infections of other people. Also, don’t touch their bandages.

Don’t share personal items that come into contact with skin. Examples: Towels, razors.

When Should I Be Concerned About a Skin Infection?
Most skin infections are minor and easily treated. The skin may be red, swollen, painful, or have pus or oozing. The infection may look like a pimple, a boil or a bite.

Important: If a skin infection doesn’t get better, call your health care provider. The infection may be MRSA. Special treatment is needed.