Posts Tagged ‘respiratory illness’

What you need to know about enterovirus D68

Tuesday, September 9th, 2014

child with coldRecently children in a number of states have become very sick with a severe respiratory illness. The cause of these infections, in many cases, has been found to be enterovirus D68. Enteroviruses are actually quite common. They are typically seen in the summer and fall and usually peak in mid-September, right as kids are heading back to school.

Most of the time people who are infected with enteroviruses do not even get sick. Or they may have mild symptoms, similar to the common cold. However the strain of enterovirus that is currently making the rounds seems to be causing more severe respiratory illness. Children are being admitted to hospitals and some are even ending up in intensive care units (ICUs).

Anyone can become infected with enterovirus D68. However, infants, children, and teenagers are most often at-risk because they have not been exposed to the virus before and have not built up immunity yet. Also children with asthma or a history of wheezing can be very vulnerable.

There is no specific treatment for enterovirus D68. Doctors treat and manage the symptoms. Since this is a virus, antibiotics are not effective. There are also no vaccines available that can prevent the infection. The best thing to do is to protect yourself and others from getting the virus in the first place. There are three things that you can do to protect yourself and your family from enterovirus D68:

• Make sure you are washing your hands often with soap and water, especially after using the bathroom or changing diapers. Monitor young children while they are washing their hands.

• Avoid close contact with people who are sick. This includes kissing, hugging, and sharing utensils.

• Clean and disinfect frequently used surfaces that may be contaminated.

Colds and viruses are very common at this time of year. However, if your child has a cold and has difficulty breathing, begins wheezing, or her condition changes in any way, it is important to contact her health care provider right away. This is especially true for children with asthma and/or allergies.

The CDC will continue to monitor the situation closely and help those states with affected children. You can find updated information on their website.

MERS and travel to the Middle East

Thursday, July 11th, 2013

There’s a new virus that health organizations around the world are keeping a close watch. Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) is a respiratory illness caused by a virus and first reported in Saudia Arabia last year. Most people who get the infection develop severe acute respiratory illness. Symptoms include fever, cough, and shortness of breath. What’s concerning is that about half of these people died. The virus is spread by being in close contact with someone who has it.

So far, there haven’t been any reported cases of MERS in the United States. But the reality is that a virus like MERS is just a plane ride away. If you’ve recently been to the Middle East or have been in contact with someone who has traveled there and you develop fever and other symptoms, see your health care provider and tell her about the recent travel.

Visit the Center’s for Disease Control and Prevention’s website for more information about MERS. Read our article on safe travel.

Air quality index issues

Thursday, June 30th, 2011

smogThe air quality index (AQI) tells you how healthy the air is to breathe each day. It tells you how clean your air is or how polluted it is with solid particles and gases. The AQI focuses on health effects you may experience within a few hours or days after breathing polluted air.

Harmful ozone forms when pollutants react to heat and sunlight. This is why we see more smog in the spring and summer. You probably have noticed your local weather report now includes a number or color for each day’s AQI. It’s important to pay attention to this. Here’s a link to a chart that explains the air quality index.

For their size, children take in more air (and pollution) than adults when they breathe. Their young lungs are continually growing and their airways are more likely to narrow in reaction to pollutants. When running around, which is most of the time in our house, children breathe faster and more deeply than adults. This can bring the pollutants in the air further into their lungs.

Children with respiratory ailments, asthma or other breathing difficulties should be kept indoors when the AQI rises. Keep an eye on your local AQI and adapt your planned activities for the day if necessary. It’s important to follow their doctor’s instructions for asthma treatments and to have assistive devices (like inhalers) nearby when the AQI is high.