Slapped Cheek Syndrome

Slapped Cheek is a viral infection caused by the parvovirus B19. It mostly affects children, although anyone can get it. It is sometimes also known as the fifth disease.

The disease is thought to be very common. Most people do not realise that they have contracted the virus because it often causes very mild symptoms that are similar to a cold, or in fact no symptoms at all.

An approximate 50-80 % of adults have been infected by the parvovirus 19, according to estimations. And once you are infected, your body will develop life-long immunity against further infection.

Parvovirus B19

In children, slapped cheek syndrome is most commons between the ages of 3 and 15, affecting boy and girls equally. Most cases develop during the late winter months or early spring. Cases of the condition usually follow a cyclical pattern with an upsurge in cases occurring every 4-7 years.

What are the causes?

Parvovirus B19 is spread like a cold. When an infected person coughs, sneezes, or laughs, they release tiny droplets of contaminated saliva, which can be breathed in by another person.

It can also be passed on through hand-to-hand contact. For example, if an infected person coughs or sneezes on their hand and then touches someone else’s hand, that person may then catch the virus if they then touch their mouth or nose.

Slapped Cheek Syndrome is also known as Fifth Disease

This is why contamination is most likely to occur in schools and nurseries, where children often come in close contact with each other.

What are the symptoms?

Most of the symptoms of a parvovirus B19 infection are not caused by the virus itself but by the immune system releasing antibodies to kill the virus. These symptoms usually develop 13 to 18 days after the infection and consist of three distinct stages:

First stage – this is characterised by the common cold symptoms such as a rising temperature, sore throat, headache, upset stomach and fatigue, but is also sometimes accompanied by itchy skin. At this stage, the child is most contagious.

Second stage – 3 to 7 days after the initial symptoms appear, the child begins to develop a red rash on both cheeks. This may be most visible in the sunlight.

Third stage – a couple of days after the appearance of the rash, it begins to spread to the child’s chest, arms, thighs and stomach and feel itchy and uncomfortable. By this is stage he or she is no longer contagious.

How is it treated?

There is no vaccination against slapped cheek syndrome, but the illness is usually mild and passes without any need for treatment. Home remedies such as painkillers, moisturiser for the skin and drinking plenty of water can ease the discomfort of the symptoms.

Complications may develop if the sufferer has a pre-existing condition, such as a blood disorder or weakened immune system or is pregnant. In these cases, it is advisable to seek professional medical advice.

Images: Wikipedia and Fifthdisease.org

What is Q fever?

The ‘Q’ in Q fever stands for ‘query’. This is because when this bacterial infection was first indentified, its cause was unknown. The cause is now understood but the name has remained the same. Q fever is spread to humans through animals – usually goats, sheep and cattle. In rare cases it can be spread from human to human, usually through sexual intercourse. It is caused by the coxiella burnetii bacteria and is most common in Australia and the south of France. Those who are most at risk of contracting the disease are farmers, meat packers, stablehands, vets and abattoire workers.

What causes it?

Q fever is caused by the coxiella burnetii bacteria. This is usually spread to animals through infected ticks and most commonly affect farm animals and household pets. The animals themselves often do not experience any symptoms, so it can be hard to identify whether or not they are infected, although it can increase the likelihood of miscarriage in cows and sheep.

Drinking unpasteurised milk can give you Q fever

The bacteria can be released by an infected animal through its:

  • urine
  • milk
  • faeces
  • birth by-products, such as the placenta, which is sometimes known as the afterbirth.

It can be spread both by direct and indirect contact. Infection through direct contact, which is most common, happens when a person breathes in the bacteria, which can also survive up to 10 months and people can become infected through the spread of contaminated soil, dust or hay. It is thought to be very unlikely to catch the fever from a person who has it, unless it is through sexual intercourse or a pregnant woman passing it on to her unborn child.

What are the symptoms?

There are two types of Q fever. Acute is the most common and least serious. Some people develop chronic Q fever, which is more serious. It is not known exactly why some people develop it and not others, but affected infividuals usually have a pre-existing health condition, which makes them vulnerable to infection.

You won't think these sheep are so cute if they're infected with Q fever

Acute Q fever symptoms include:

  • high temperature (fever) of 394°C (104°F) or above
  • severe headache
  • muscle and joint pain
  • sweating
  • sensitivity to light
  • weight loss
  • a skin rash (less common)

In a few cases the condition can also lead to mild pneumonia and hepatitis. Endocarditis (inflammation of the inner lining of the heart) is the most common symptom of chronic Q fever.

How is it treated?

The symptoms of acute Q fever usually get better within 2 weeks of developing. A course of antibiotics is often recommended to shorten the time of infection. Chronic Q fever can be more difficult to treat as the particular bacteria which causes the condition can sometimes be resistant to antibiotics. So, a course of a combination of pills over an 18-month period is recommended.

Click here to read more about Croup and Impetigo, which can also be accompanied by a fever.

Images: Wikipedia

Stay healthy this flu season with yoga

A recent story on NPR sheds some light on evidence that may help keep you from one thing that everyone dreads – catching a cold or flu this season.

The British Journal of Sports Medicine study cited found that people who exercised 5 days a week got sick for 40% fewer days than those who did so one day or less. While the exact reason why this is the case is still only speculation in the scientific community, there seems to be a clear correlation here. A similar study by the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle found results that mirror these findings as well.

Dr. David Neiman of Appalachian State University adds another layer to this, saying that after 90 minutes of high exertion – like long distance running – our defenses instead go down, opening us up to sickness for up to 24 hours following exercising. So the key here is not to wear yourself out and inhibit your body’s defenses.

Yoga is a great option for reaping these benefits, since each person practices to his or her own ability so as not to be hard on the body. The meditative aspect of practice serves as a one-two punch by helping to manage stress, which we know only impedes the immune system further. In addition to lowering stress levels, yoga has been lauded for centuries for improving strength, posture, flexibility, concentration, heart and lung health, and so much more.

The implications of the study are that one is exercising for at least 20 minutes on each of those 5 days, so whether you can attend an hour class or practice at home for only a half hour, most of us can certainly find the time. Even 15 minutes at the beginning and end of a busy day is great. Alternating days of yoga and cardio is also a great option to vary your routine, and in return, your fitness benefits.

Where else besides yoga class can you go to stay in shape, centered and flu-free? There’s nowhere better.

Written on behalf of Gym Source, America’s #1 provider of treadmills, home gyms and all of your fitness needs.

Learn more about some of the different types of yoga: Bikram, Iyengar, Vinyasa, Kundalini and Hatha.

Click here to find out why celebrities love yoga.

Images: tiarescott and Ron Sombilon on Flikr


Margaret Thatcher admitted to hospital

Lady Margaret Thatcher has been admitted to Cromwell Hospital in London following an infection thought to be caused by an earlier bout of flu.

The 85-year-old Conservative was forced to cancel her birthday party at 10 Downing Street last week after falling ill with suspected flu. She sent a message to David Cameron saying “on this particular occasion I have had to accept that the Lady is not for returning. Please, please enjoy yourselves,” the Telegraph reports. The current PM had arranged the party, with 150 people on the guest list, in Thatcher’s honour.

A spokesperson said Thatcher’s condition is not serious and she is expected to leave hospital within a few days. The Baroness was reportedly admitted for “routine” tests and treatment, which were better carried out under supervision than at home.

The BBC points out that in 2005, Thatcher was advised by doctors not to make any more public appearances due to some minor strokes. In March 2008, she was taken to hospital after falling ill during a dinner at Westminster. She spent one night there before being discharged.

The former leader, who served as PM between the years of 1979 and 1990, was also admitted last June when she broke her arm following a fall at her London home.

Other celebrities who have recently been hospitalised include socialite Zsa Zsa Gabor and musicians John Otto and Wyclef Jean.

Images: Wikimedia Commons

Annual flu shot can reduce risk of heart attack

Protection against winter flu, say scientists, makes it less likely that one will develop chest infections, which can trigger heart attacks. Research indicates that paying the doctor an annual visit for a flu vaccination can slash the risk of a heart attack by twenty-five percent.

The study was conducted on some 80,000 people aged 40 and over in England and Wales. As reported on the Daily Mail, Dr Niroshan Siriwardena, who led the University of Lincoln study, said: “We know that there is a link between flu, respiratory infections and heart attacks.

“Several previous studies have shown that people who have influenza and respiratory infections suffer heart attacks several weeks later.

“We believe that this could be because flu inflames the lining of the blood vessels which can then trigger a heart attack.

“This could be why when there is a peak in winter flu there is a peak in heart attacks.

“Our research shows that people who are recommended the flu vaccine – the elderly and other vulnerable groups – should really go and get it.

“Not only are they protecting themselves against flu, they are also potentially reducing the risk of heart attacks.”

The flu virus mutates quickly with different strains appearing every year which is why it is important to have the shot – the vaccine will have been modified accordingly – every year at the beginning of the season.

Read here about how stress may increase the risk of dying due to cardiovascular disease.

Images: http://www.sxc.hu/photo/913793, http://www.sxc.hu/browse.phtml?f=download&id=818437

The flu (influenza)

What causes it?

Influenza (also known as the flu) is a common illness most prevalent in the winter months. It is a virus, passed on from person to person through contact.

One of the main symptoms of the condition is sneezing, which releases tiny droplets of infected saliva into the air and onto surfaces. These droplets can survive for up to 24 hours, the NHS states, and can be absorbed by another individual either by touching the infected surface or breathing in the air.

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Those with a weakened immune system are typically more likely to get influenza, although everyone is at risk.

What are the symptoms?

Flu is usually quite easy to recognise due to its characteristic symptoms. Net Doctor provides a summary:

  • Headache
  • Fever (38 to 40 degrees Celcius)
  • Aching muscles and joints
  • Chest pains
  • Lack of appetite
  • Fatigue and weakness
  • A runny nose and sore throat
  • Sore throat
  • Dry cough
  • Restless sleep
  • Chills and shivering
  • Indigestion
  • Vomiting or diarrhea

The symptoms typically peak after two to three days and begin to wear off after five to eight. However, general tiredness and a persistent cough often remain for up to another two to three weeks, according to the NHS.

When should I see my doctor?

Most people who become ill with influenza get better on their own and do not need to see a doctor. However, professional advice should be sought when:

  • Symptoms have lasted for longer than one week
  • Symptoms have become much worse or the patient has developed other symptoms, uncommon to the flu, such as a rash
  • The patient is elderly or has an existing condition which might make recovery more difficult (such as cancer or HIV)

How is it treated?

Influenza is usually treated at home and with the help of over-the-counter medication.

Having a fever causes the body to lose a lot of liquid, so it is very important that anyone who contracts influenza drinks plenty of fluids. Because of this, it is best to avoid alcohol. Getting plenty of rest, preferably sleep, is also vital, as it gives the body a chance to regenerate.

Cough symptoms can be eased with the help of cough remedies available from any pharmacy and painkillers such as paracetamol, ibuprofen and aspirin can be used to combat aches and pains.

Anti-viral medication is advisable for those whose immune systems may be weaker, such as elderly people, small children and those who have an ongoing serious condition. These drugs do not cure influenza, but diminish the duration of the symptoms and their severity as well as reducing the risk of potential complications.

Vaccination for influenza is also available. Seek the advice of your doctor if you think you fall into the high-risk category.

How can I prevent getting ill?

The flu is easily spread and, especially in the winter, it is often difficult to avoid situations where you come within close proximity of other people. However, simple hygiene can go a long way in helping to stop the disease from spreading, such as:

  • Always sneezing into a tissue, disposing of it and washing your hands
  • Wiping down surfaces with disinfectant
  • Washing your hands regularly

Images: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Sneeze.JPG, http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Scallopcrochet.jpg

Influenza

What causes it?

Influenza (also known as the flu) is a common illness most prevalent in the winter months. It is a virus, passed on from person to person through contact.

One of the main symptoms of the condition is sneezing, which releases tiny droplets of infected saliva into the air and onto surfaces. These droplets can survive for up to 24 hours, the NHS states, and can be absorbed by another individual either by touching the infected surface or breathing in the air.

Those with a weakened immune system are typically more likely to get influenza, although everyone is at risk.

What are the symptoms?

Flu is usually quite easy to recognise due to its characteristic symptoms. Net Doctor provides a summary:

  • Headache.
  • Fever (38o to 40oC).
  • Aching muscles and joints.
  • Chest pains.
  • Lack of appetite.
  • Fatigue and weakness.
  • A runny nose and sore throat.
  • Dry cough.
  • Restless sleep.
  • Chills and shivering.
  • Indigestion
  • Vomiting or diarrhoea

The symptoms typically peak after two to three days and begin to wear off after five to eight. However, general tiredness and a persistent cough often remain for up to another two to three weeks, according to the NHS.

When should I see my doctor?

Most people who become ill with influenza get better on their own and do not need to see a doctor. However, professional advice should be sought when:

  • Symptoms have lasted for longer than one week
  • Symptoms have become much worse or the patient has developed other symptoms, uncommon to the flu, such as a rash
  • The patient is elderly or has an existing condition which might make recovery more difficult (such as cancer or HIV)

How is it treated?

Influenza is usually treated at home and with the help of over-the-counter medication.

Having a fever causes the body to lose a lot of liquid, so it is very important that anyone who contracts influenza drinks plenty of fluids. Because of this, it is best to avoid alcohol. Getting plenty of rest, preferably sleep, is also vital, as it gives the body a chance to regenerate.

Cough symptoms can be eased with the help of cough remedies available from any pharmacy and painkillers such as paracetamol, ibuprofen and aspirin can be used to combat aches and pains.

Anti-viral medication is advisable for those whose immune systems may be weaker, such as elderly people, small children and those who have an ongoing serious condition. These drugs do not cure influenza, but diminish the duration of the symptoms and their severity as well as reducing the risk of potential complications.

Vaccination for influenza is also available. Seek the advice of your doctor if you think you fall into the high-risk category.

How can I prevent getting ill?

The flu is easily spread and, especially in the winter, it is often difficult to avoid situations where you come within close proximity of other people. However, simple hygiene can go a long way in helping to stop the disease from spreading, such as:

  • Always sneezing into a tissue, disposing of it and washing your hands
  • Wiping down surfaces with disinfectant
  • Washing your hands regularly

Images: Wikimedia Commons, USACE on Flikr

Flu shots in children can protect adults

Vaccinating children against flu has always been considered as a vital thing. A recent study revealed that giving flu shots to children can help protect the adults in the community against diseases.

According to the study conducted by various Canadian Universities in collaboration with St. Jude’s Children Research Hospital, vaccinating school children with seasonal flu vaccines can actually save the community from various kinds of disease. Dr. Carolyn B. Bridges, an influenza expert at the Centers for Diseases Control and Prevention said, “This is quite a definitive study, and it took a Herculean effort. My hat’s off to them.”

The survey was carried out on 49 Hutterite farming colonies of Western Canada. This project got great support from Dr. Anthony S. Fauci and talking about the significance of this study, he said, “a really nice study. Not only was that clearly needed to protect the kids, but they probably wound up protecting the older people, too.”

Children and the teens must be targeted for flu vaccines so as to cut down the community transmission, the research suggests. According to CBC Canada, Dr. Anthony of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious diseases was quoted as saying, “Vaccinate the people that you want to protect and particularly vaccinate the people that are the best spreaders, but you can get away from all of that hair splitting by vaccinating everybody.”

Image: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Syringe2.jpg

Marilyn Manson and the swine flu

Marilyn Manson announced he had the H1N1 virus on September 21st 2009 via his MySpace celebrity blog, according to online news provider Chart Attack.

The goth metal rocker wrote: “So I have officially been diagnosed, by a real doctor, with THE SWINE FLU.“

As ever, the excerpt was riddled with much-loved Manson witticisms, such as: “I know everyone will suggest that f***ing a pig is how this disease was obtained. However, the doctor said, my past choices in women have in no way contributed to me acquiring this mysterious sickness.“

He added: “Unfortunately, I am going to survive.“

And survive he did. More so, the controversial musician is now said to have officially got engaged to his on-off girlfriend of 4 years, 22-year-old Evan Rachel Woods. OK Magazine reported that Manson, 41, proposed on-stage during a performance in Paris last week.

Marilyn Manson has previously been married to burlesque dancer and model Dita Von Teese, a marriage which only lasted one year, while Woods has been linked to actors Edward Norton and Mickey Rourke.

In the meantime, other celebrities have also been battling with the swine flu. Harry Potter star Rupert Grint was one of the first to contract the disease earlier last year. Since then, sufferers have included Melissa Auf Der Maur and indie-pop band Kasabian, Chart Attack reported.