Posts Tagged ‘virus’

The lowdown on insect repellants

Wednesday, July 13th, 2016

Zika - bug sprayProtecting yourself from mosquito bites is key in avoiding exposure to the Zika virus. Here’s what you need to know:

  • Use an insect repellant (bug spray or lotion) that is EPA registered.
  • Products containing DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus, para-menthane-diol and IR3535, are safe to use during pregnancy and breastfeeding.
  • If you use a product containing DEET, make sure it has at least 20% DEET, and always follow the instructions on the product label.
  • Most bug sprays and lotions are safe to use on babies 2 months and older. However, DO NOT USE PRODUCTS THAT CONTAIN OIL OF LEMON EUCALPTUS OR PARA-MENTHANE-DIOL ON CHILDREN YOUNGER THAN 3 YEARS OF AGE.
  • Do not put bug spray or lotion on under clothing.
  • If you are using sunscreen, too, put it on first, before you use bug spray or lotion.

If you have recently traveled to a Zika-affected area, use bug spray or lotion for 3 weeks after you get back. This way, if you are bitten by a mosquito, it will not become infected with the Zika virus and spread it to other people.

Learn ways to #ZAPzika in our article: how to stay safe, how it can affect a baby during pregnancy, and what to do if you think you may have been exposed.

Have questions?  Send them to our health education specialists at AskUs@marchofdimes.org.

 

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.

Croup, the barking cough

Thursday, October 25th, 2012

croup1A common childhood illness, croup often starts with mild cold-like symptoms. As the airway swells, the child develops noisy breathing and a cough that sounds like the barking of a seal. Often a child’s symptoms get worse or come on suddenly at night and they can be scary. The symptoms tend to repeat over the next two to three nights, which can be exhausting for everyone.

Croup is an illness that affects the voice box (larynx) and windpipe (trachea). Children between 3 months and 3 years of age are most likely to get croup. Their airways are small, and any swelling can make it difficult to breathe. The good news is that most cases of croup, though they need to be monitored closely, are mild and last less than a week.

Croup is caused by viruses that are contagious. The viruses can spread through the air or by touching a contaminated surface, something toddlers do all day long. Less frequently, allergies may cause croup. Your baby can get croup at any time of year, but it is most common between October and March, so it’s time to keep your eyes and ears open for it.

If your little one gets sick, do not give over-the-counter cough and cold products to her if she is younger than 2 years of age. According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, these medications can have serious and even life-threating side effects.

Steam often helps children with mild cases of croup to breathe easier. I remember those nights when I steamed up the bathroom with hot shower water and sat there with my son or daughter for 15 to 20 minutes. It did seem to help, but if this doesn’t help you, try taking your child outside to breathe cool night air. The cool air helps reduce airway swelling. A cool-water humidifier (vaporizer) in your baby’s room also may help. While your baby has the croup, check on her frequently during the night to make sure the symptoms don’t get worse.

Antibiotics won’t help croup, but call your baby’s health care provider right away if your child develops a barking cough or noisy breathing. Providers sometimes prescribe medications called corticosteroids that reduce swelling in the airways and make breathing easier. Rarely, a child with serious breathing problems may need to be treated with oxygen and medications in the hospital.

Call for emergency medical assistance if your baby:
• Appears to be struggling to get a breath
• Looks blue around the mouth
• Drools and has a lot of trouble swallowing
• Makes louder and louder noises as she inhales (called stridor), especially when resting.

Stop CMV

Tuesday, June 1st, 2010

stopcmv

June is National Congenital CMV Awareness Month.  The “Hands to Stop CMV” Awareness Campaign is aiming to collect photos of people with “Stop CMV” written on their hand to be posted online for public viewing and voting during the month of June.  The photo receiving the most votes will be featured in a public service announcement for Stop CMV.

Cytomegalovirus (CMV), is a common viral infection, a member of the herpes virus family, and is most common in young children.

About half of pregnant women have had CMV in the past and most of these women do not need to be concerned about it during pregnancy. However, an infected woman can pass the virus on to her baby during pregnancy and breastfeeding. Most infected babies have no serious problems from the virus, but some infected newborns develop serious illness or lasting disabilities, or even die.  Women need to know this.

CMV is the most common congenital (present at birth) infection in the United States. Each year about 1 in 150 babies is born with congenital CMV infection. About 8,000 children each year develop lasting disabilities caused by congenital CMV infection.

A woman who contracts CMV for the first time during pregnancy has about a 1-in-3 chance of passing the virus on to her fetus. She can pass CMV on to her baby at any stage of pregnancy. However, studies suggest that babies are more likely to develop serious complications when their mother is infected in the first 20 weeks of pregnancy. Pregnant women should be aware of the basic prevention measures to guard against CMV infection:  frequent hand washing after contact with urine, nasal secretions and saliva of young children, including after changing diapers wiping noses and drool, or picking up toys ; not kissing young children on the mouth; not sharing food, towels, or utensils with them.

For more information read our fact sheet on CMV in pregnancy.   We’ll be posting on this important topic again later this month.

Temporary suspension: Rotarix vaccine

Monday, March 22nd, 2010

lab-glassYoung children are routinely vaccinated against rotavirus disease to help prevent severe diarrhea and dehydration. Before the vaccine, tens of thousands of children in the United States were hospitalized ever year with rotavirus disease; some of them died.

The trade names for the rotavirus vaccine are Rotarix and RotaTeq. These two forms of the vaccine are made by different companies.

Today the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) asked health providers to temporarily stop using Rotarix. Pieces of a virus called PCV1 have been found in Rotarix.

The FDA stressed that there is no evidence that these virus fragments pose a safety risk. But the agency wants to be cautious and do additional research to be sure.

If your child has received Rotarix, don’t be alarmed. He or she doesn’t need any special follow-up medical care. But if you have questions, call your child’s health care provider.

Reseachers have not found any traces of virus in  RotaTeq, the second form of vaccine against rotavirus disease. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that babies be vaccinated against rotavirus. So for now, RotaTeq is the vaccine to be used.

Vaccine for the swine flu? Not yet

Wednesday, April 29th, 2009

Right now there is no vaccine for the swine flu that has been spreading in the United States and around the world. Because this is a new strain of the swine flu, there is currently no vaccine to prevent the disease.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is determining whether a vaccine can be produced in time to address the current disease.

A sad note: A young child in Texas has died from swine flu. All of us feel sympathy for the family. It is a tragic loss.

This child’s death reminds us that all types of flu can be very serious and even deadly. So please once again: Go go the CDC Web site and learn how you and your family can help prevent the spread of this disease.

Antibiotics – when to use and when to avoid them

Friday, October 3rd, 2008

October 6-10 is the first Get Smart About Antibiotics Week. It is designed to help all of us learn when it is appropriate and safe to take an antibiotic or give one to our children.

Often parents see a child with a cold (sore throat, sneezing, runny or stuffy nose, flu symptoms) and they want the doctor to prescribe an antibiotic, “the magic medicine,” to make it go away.  There usually is no such medicine, but sometimes a doctor will comply with the request to please the troubled parent.  The fact is that most colds and flu, even most cases of bronchitis, are caused by viruses and antibiotics do not work on viruses – they fight bacteria.

Taking an antibiotic for a virus can cause more harm than good.  It won’t cure the problem or make you feel better (time will likely do that), but it may encourage your body to begin building up a resistance to the antibiotic.  If resistance occurs and you end up requiring the antibiotic for a bacterial infection in the future, it may not work for you.  That’s why it is important to take antibiotics only when they are appropriate and not to ask for them “just to be safe.”  The CDC has some very good information about when to use antibiotics.

And while we’re on the subject of medications, remember not to give over-the-counter cough and cold products to infants and children younger than 2 years of age. According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, these medications can have serious and life-threatening side effects.  Read more about over-the-counter medications.