Check out K2TV’s Infection Connection. Dr. Dowell talks West Nile Virus — what it is, how to treat it, and how to avoid it!
Archives for September 2014
The start of the school year means more activities for children and more opportunities for the spreading of germs. Recent outbreaks of respiratory illness in 12 states have parents and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention concerned about the outbreak spreading through the United States.
Five states — Wyoming, Colorado, Illinois, Missouri, and Iowa — have confirmed cases of Enterovirus D68, also known as EV-D68. Enteroviruses are common in the summer and fall, reaching their peak in September. In the United States, 10 to 15 million people are infected each year.
Symptoms for EV-D68 start similar to the common cold — runny nose, sneezing, and coughing — and may escalate to difficulty breathing and respiratory distress. The recent outbreak of EV-D68 has raised concerns because of the number of children requiring hospitalization.
“Parents should have their child evaluated if they are very short of breath. This presentation is much more impressive than parents are used to seeing with common bronchitis,” Dr. Mark Dowell of Rocky Mountain Infectious Diseases said. “Any child is at risk, but there appears to be a risk of major illness in kids with chronic lung conditions such as asthma.”
According to the CDC, EV-D68 was identified in 1962 in California, since then cases have been rarely reported. Few studies have been done on this strain of enterovirus because of its rarity, and no antiviral medications are available for treatment.
“Parents must use common sense and not panic. Frequent hand washing, use of hand gel, and covering the mouth when coughing or sneezing will slow the spread,” Dr. Dowell said. “If your child is quite ill, he should stay home. Again, we are talking about an illness that is much more aggressive than the usual colds and bronchitis.”
- Wash hands with soap and water
- Avoiding close contact with people who are sick
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces.
The Ebola Hemorrhagic Fever outbreak in West Africa continues to make headlines around the world as organizations, including the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), mobilize to help combat the outbreak.
Ebola is spread through direct contact with bodily fluids or infected animals. It is not transmitted through air or water. According to the CDC, the disease incubates for 2-21 days and symptoms include fever, weakness, diarrhea and vomiting. A non-symptomatic person is not contagious.
No cases have been reported in the United States outside of four American healthcare workers who contracted the disease in Africa and were then treated in the U.S. The virus does not pose a significant threat to the United States.
“Ebola has been isolated to a small area of West Africa and is not in the ecoenvironment of the US,” Dr. Mark Dowell of Rocky Mountain Infectious Diseases said. “The main threat would be an infected traveler from a high risk area.”
No vaccine or anti-viral medication has been proven effective against Ebola. ZMapp is an experimental treatment for those infected with Ebola. It’s being developed by Mapp Biopharmaceutical Inc. According to the CDC, a clinical study on humans for safety and effectiveness has not been held and very little of the drug has been manufactured. It’s not available for purchase or general use.
“Vaccine development is a complex process that requires identification of the part of the virus that might help stimulate protection. Next, the concentration of this part of the virus must be determined and lastly, we must prove that it is safe,” Dr. Dowell said. “The fact that Ebola cases have been relatively rare until this outbreak made the research development force vaccine not as big a priority as other vaccine projects. This has now changed.”
The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases have an Ebola vaccine in development and is preparing for the start of a clinical trial. There are several other companies researching a vaccine and working on therapeutic medication. Currently, treatment for Ebola revolves around treating symptoms resulting from the virus.