Posts Tagged ‘virus’

Do you know what CMV is?

Tuesday, June 5th, 2018

June is National Congenital Cytomegalovirus (CMV) Awareness Month. If you are pregnant or planning to become pregnant, it’s important to know about CMV. Here’s why:

CMV is a common viral infection that most of us get at some point in our lives, frequently during childhood. It is usually harmless and rarely causes any signs or symptoms. But if you are pregnant and get CMV for the first time, your baby can get the infection. This can lead to serious illness and lasting disabilities in some babies.

About half of all pregnant women have had CMV in the past. If you’ve already had it, you don’t need to worry about getting it again. Once you’ve been infected, CMV stays in your body for life. Although you can still pass it to your baby, this is rare and usually doesn’t cause any harm to your baby.

What do you need to know?

Most of the time CMV doesn’t cause any symptoms, which means you may not know for sure if you had it or not. Before you try to get pregnant, find out if you’ve ever been infected with CMV. Ask your health care provider for a blood test to know your CMV status. A CMV blood test detects antibodies for this infection. Your body will produce antibodies as a response from this virus. An antibody is a protein your body makes to help protect you from a foreign substance, like a virus.

The test may show:

  • Normal results: This means the test didn’t detect CMV antibodies. You will need to follow precautions to avoid getting infected with CMV.
  • Abnormal results: This means the test has detected CMV antibodies. Ask your provider if the infection happened recently or if it’s an infection that happened a long time ago. If you had a recent infection this can be dangerous when pregnant. Your provider will test your baby for CMV. If you are not pregnant yet, ask your provider how long you need to wait until it’s safe to get pregnant.

How can you get CMV?

You can get CMV by having contact with bodily fluid from a person who carries the virus. You may be more likely than other people to get CMV if you have young children at home, work with young children, or work in health care.

These precautions may protect you from getting CMV:

  • Don’t share food, glasses, straws, forks, or other utensils.
  • Don’t put a baby’s pacifier in your mouth.
  • Avoid kissing young children on the mouth.
  • Do not share personal items that may have saliva, like toothbrushes.
  • Wash your hands frequently, especially after changing diapers or being in contact with children’s body fluids.

For more information visit marchofdimes.org and National CMV Foundation.

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.