Zika Virus And Your Baby

26 01 2016

In 1947, a caged rhesus monkey in the Zika Forest of Uganda became feverish with what is now called the Zika virus.

Scientists researching yellow fever had stumbled upon something new.

Nearly 70 years later, this virus is making headlines. We first heard of the Zika virus when the media began reporting stories about infected newborns in Brazil.

microcephaly-comparison-500px

Women were giving birth to thousands of babies with microcephaly, a condition where the newborn’s head is unusually small compared to the rest of the body. When microcephaly occurs, the brain is usually underdeveloped, which can cause severe developmental delays and, possibly, death.

In 2014, there were 150 babies in Brazil born with microcephaly. In 2015, there were 4000+ babies born with microcephaly.

Just as mosquitoes carry malaria, yellow fever, and other diseases, so too do they carry the Zika virus. Mosquitoes are vectors, which means they’re living organisms or critters that can carry disease from animals to humans or humans to humans. They accomplish this by sucking infected blood from an animal or human, and then injecting it into the next human on whom they decide to feed.

The typical symptoms of an infection with the Zika virus are, overall, fairly mild. They can include a rash, reddening of the eyes, fever, muscle or joint pain, and headache. These symptoms stick around for about a week, give or take a few days.

The disease does not normally require hospitalization, and death from this infection is rare.

At this time, there’s no way to prevent or even treat an infection with the Zika virus. Perhaps the only thing one could do would be to prevent mosquito bites, but getting through a year without at least a few bites is nearly impossible.

In areas where the Zika virus is common, some pregnant women are becoming infected and then passing that infection to the fetus during pregnancy, or possibly around the time of birth, according to the CDC.

The outbreak is so alarming that the CDC is advising pregnant women to postpone travel to many Latin American and Caribbean countries where reports of significant numbers of Zika infections are coming in.

This virus is a traveler. The World Health Organization expects the Zika virus to spread to every country in the Americas, except for Chile and Canada.

Some researchers are saying that the soonest a vaccine could be developed would be three years, possibly five. Prevention, for the time being, is in the hands of the individual. Mosquito nets and repellents are useful, as is ensuring there is no still water in the area. Community spraying could be beneficial.

It’s important to note that so far there has been no actual link found between the Zika virus and microcephaly. But clues are definitely pointing in that direction.

For more information, visit www.cdc.gov/zika.

 

 

By Trish Parnell
Image courtesy of CDC





EV-D68 Infographic

10 09 2014

We put this together with the hope that it will simplify communications about this virus. Use it, share it, as you like.

 

EV-D68





Is Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Infectious?

16 09 2010

A couple of studies written up over the past year suggest that chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), may be an infectious disease.

Hold your horses, said CDC this summer.  They did their own study and found no such result.   The retroviruses, or virus gene sequences, other researchers have found to be common in a significant number of CFS+ study participants were not found by CDC in their study.

Talk about “conflicted findings!”  Which study is accurate?

If CFS in an infectious disease, then how do we treat and prevent it?

Until we know what causes CFS, prevention is nearly impossible.  Treatment options are all over the board and will likely remain so until causative agents are identified, and in most cases, physicians are managing rather than treating the illness.  CDC recommends the following options for CFS patients:

  • Professional Counseling
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
  • Graded Exercise Therapy (GET)
  • Symptomatic Treatment
  • Alternative Therapies
  • Support Groups
  • Pharmacologic Therapy
  • Sleep Hygiene
  • Pain Therapy
  • Orthostatic Instability Treatment
  • Antidepressants

Another thing to consider: If CFS may be an infectious disease, what about our blood supply?  CFS is hard to diagnose, so how many potential blood donors rolling up their sleeves can be accurately identified and stopped from giving blood?  Or should they be stopped?  If CFS isn’t infectious, then probably not, but if it is, then probably so!

Dr. Harvey Alter at the NIH is the scientist to watch on this.  He’s a superstar in the world of viral hepatitis, and it looks like CFS might be his next big thing.

There’s too much conflicting information right now as to the cause of CFS, but to be affected by (or infected with) CFS is not easy.  The millions of people living with it deserve our attention.  We need to tip the scale so that we have more answers than questions.





Monkeypox

2 07 2010

This blog is a long time coming. We heard about monkeypox a few years ago and wanted to write it up just so we could use the word “monkeypox.”

Turns out, monkeypox the disease isn’t as funny as the word. When infected, one gets a blistery rash similar to smallpox. In areas of Africa where the virus is endemic, one to 10 percent of human cases end in death.

Although the virus was first detected in monkeys, other animals can become infected, including humans

The first outbreak of monkeypox detected in the U.S. was in 1993 and probably started with animals imported from Africa infecting pet prairie dogs, who then infected humans.

Monkeypox can be transmitted in unusual ways, including through the consumption of bushmeat—legal (or illegal) wild animal meat imported to cities in Europe and the U.S.

There’s no specific treatment for monkeypox and prevention methods are the usual: handwashing, avoid sick animals, and practice standard, contact, and airborne precautions.

Turns out monkeypox just isn’t funny.