Infectious Diseases Archives - Nemours Blog

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Infectious Diseases

RSV on the Rise: What Parents Need to Know

RSV on the Rise: What Parents Need to Know

As the coronavirus pandemic continues to surge, doctors are warning about another well-known respiratory illness, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), spreading among infants and young children. There has been an unusual summertime uptick in RSV cases. And it’s happening at the same time as the Delta variant of coronavirus is infecting young children and teens. Cases of RSV in kids and older adults usually occur in fall through early spring. But due to a reduced spread of RSV during the winter months of 2020-2021 — because of quarantine and masking guidelines — the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) warns that many cases are now surfacing earlier this year. Most children get an RSV infection by the age of two. As some areas lift mask mandates and other restrictions, there is a reappearance of the virus occurring. That means older infants and young children who would have gotten it last […]

Protect Your Family From the Flu

Protect Your Family From the Flu

This year, it’s more important than ever to get the flu vaccine. There has been so much focus on COVID-19 this year that many people may not even realize that flu season has already begun. For many people, the flu is more than a seasonal annoyance, it can be dangerous. And as COVID-19 continues to spread during this 2020-2021 flu season, it’s extra important to get a flu vaccine for all family members as soon as possible. The flu virus spreads easily from person to person. It gets into our lungs and airways and can turn into serious illnesses like pneumonia. The flu is especially dangerous for babies. It can also be serious for kids and adults with health problems like asthma or diabetes. Why Does My Family Need a Flu Vaccine This Year? Getting the flu vaccine not only protects you from the flu, it also helps protect the […]

7 Flu Myths, Debunked

7 Common Flu Myths, Debunked

When flu season hits, what usually follows is a barrage of flu myths and misinformation. The flu, which is often accompanied by a fever, a cough, a sore throat and congestion, is a severe illness that kills between 20,000 and 30,000 Americans each year — including children. “Some people feel that it’s not a big deal and they can tough it out, but some kids are hospitalized due to pneumonia because of the flu, and others die every year because of it,” said Dr. Jonathan Miller, general pediatrician and Medical Director of Value-Based Care at Nemours Children’s Health System. “It’s a very serious disease.” The flu can lead to pneumonia, inflammation of the heart or brain, organ failure, or sepsis, all of which can result in death. That’s why it’s so important to take proper precautions against catching or spreading the flu, including getting the influenza vaccine and staying home […]

Measles: What You Need to Know, Powered by Nemours Children's Health System

Measles: What You Need to Know

You’ve probably heard the news lately about measles outbreaks in the U.S. Although the disease was declared eliminated here in 2000, there have been scattered outbreaks across the country in recent years. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have already reported more than 120 cases this year in New York, Texas, and Washington State. It’s important that parents understand the disease and what they need to do to prevent and spot it. Vaccinations: The Best Way to Prevent Measles Measles is caused by a virus, but it is not just a rash and a fever. It can cause serious health complications, especially in children younger than 5. About 1 in 4 people in the U.S. who get measles need to be hospitalized. 1 in 1,000 people with measles develop brain swelling, which can cause brain damage. 1 or 2 in 1,000 people with measles die, even […]

The Flu–When to Go From R&R to the ER

There are steps you can take to avoid the flu coming into your house. While there’s no guaranteed way — including being vaccinated — to have 100% protection from the flu, there are things you and your family can do to make spreading the flu less likely: Wash your hands well and often with soap, especially after using the bathroom, after coughing or sneezing, and before eating or preparing food. Never pick up used tissues. Don’t share cups and eating utensils. Stay home from work or school when you’re sick with the flu. Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze, then put it in the trash. If a tissue isn’t available, cough or sneeze into your upper arm, not into your hands. But what if your child does catch the flu? When should you switch from R&R to the ER? Nemours pediatric pulmonologist Dr. Chris Makris, […]

Cold & Flu Season – Does Your Child Need Antibiotics? , Powered by Nemours Children's Health System

Cold & Flu Season – Does Your Child Need Antibiotics?

It’s that time of year – your kids come home from school or their extra-curricular activities and show signs or complain of a sore throat, cough, and/or a runny nose. Are antibiotics in order? The answer may surprise you! Viruses vs. Bacterial Infections To best understand whether your child needs antibiotics, it’s helpful to know the difference between viruses and bacteria, which are the two major types of germs that cause sickness. Although certain bacteria and viruses cause diseases with similar symptoms, the ways these two organisms multiply and spread illness are different. Antibiotics fight bacteria, not viruses. Bacteria are living organisms that exist as single cells. They can live in all types of environments, from extreme cold to extreme heat. They’re everywhere and most don’t cause any harm. In some cases they may actually be helpful, like when they live in your intestines and help digest food. The bacteria that are […]

What is Powassan virus? | Karen Ravin, MD, Division Chief of Infectious Diseases, Nemours/AIDHC | Promise, powered by Nemours Children's Health

What is Powassan virus?

An unfamiliar tick-borne virus is making headlines this spring. What is Powassan virus and how worried should we be? Powassan virus is an extremely rare infection transmitted by a tick bite. Powassan can cause fever and vomiting, disorientation, seizures and brain inflammation and swelling. How common is Powassan? To say it is rare is an understatement. Since 2006, only 75 cases have been reported in the U.S., mostly in the Great Lakes region and New York State. One case was reported in Pennsylvania, three in New Jersey and none in Delaware or Maryland. The chances of contracting Powassan virus are about one in 50 million. Is it new? Powassan isn’t new. It was first reported in Canada in 1958. Recently, a toddler in Connecticut became ill with Powassan virus (the first case identified in that state). Reports were featured prominently in national media, raising awareness (and fear) of Powassan. In […]

6 Common Pneumonia Questions Answered, by Kate Cronan, MD, Powered by Nemours Children's Health System

6 Common Pneumonia Questions Answered

Pneumonia is a very common illness in kids. In fact, an estimated 156 million cases of pneumonia are diagnosed worldwide each year — and that’s just in children younger than 5 years old, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). So here’s what you need to know about this infection that’s all too common around this time of year. 1. What is pneumonia, anyway? Simply put, pneumonia is an infection of the lungs. It causes fever, coughing and sometimes trouble breathing. The good news is that most kids with pneumonia can be treated at home, and they usually get better in 1 to 2 weeks. However, in some cases, babies and children with certain other medical problems can get sicker and may need to be admitted to a hospital while they get better. 2. Is there a pneumonia “season?” Your child may be more likely to get pneumonia after having a […]

Grape Juice to Treat Stomach Flu? by Jordan Smallwood, MD. Promise: Powered by Nemours Children's Health System

Grape Juice to Treat Stomach Flu? Not So Fast.

For generations, parents and families have relied on home cures for everything from colds to tummy aches and sleepless nights. Chicken soup, popsicles and warm milk have proven themselves over decades of use, and now they have company — grape juice. At least, that’s what the internet says. In recent months, tales of grape juice curing stomach flu have cropped up on parenting blogs all over the web. Here’s the idea: If you find yourself (or one of your family members) exposed to the stomach flu, but haven’t experienced symptoms yet, downing three glasses of grape juice will ward off the illness. Multiple sites claim that the grape juice can change the pH in the stomach, making it uninhabitable to stomach viruses. They also claim that the skins of the grapes have anti-viral properties. Is it true? Can grape juice really stop puke in its tracks? Is this the fix […]

Teens, Young Adults Account for Half of New STD Cases, by Robyn Miller, MD, Powered by Nemours Children's Health System

Teens, Young Adults Account for Half of New STD Cases

It’s enough to send parents running to lock their teens in their bedrooms: About 10 million 15- to 24-year-olds have a sexually transmitted disease (STD) — that’s half of the new STD cases reported each year. And in 2015, there were more STDs reported than ever. The top three most commonly reported STDs — chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis — were all at an all-time high, according to the annual STD surveillance report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). STDs are now more commonly referred to by the medical community as “sexually transmitted infections” or “STIs.” The Repercussions of Sex Before teens and young adults make that very adult decision to become sexually active, they need to understand that it can come with many very adult consequences, too. Pregnancy is often the biggest concern for sex-curious teens. Even though U.S. teen birth rates are at an historic low, […]

Whooping Cough (Pertussis): 10 Things You Need to Know, by Kate Cronan, MD, Promise, Powered by Nemours Children's Health System

Whooping Cough (Pertussis): 10 Things You Need to Know

Around this time of year, there’s coughing practically around every corner. Kids are hacking away at the table next to you in restaurants. Fellow shoppers are barking down the grocery aisles. Most coughs are short-lived and more of a nuisance than anything. Others linger much longer and can be downright exhausting. One type of cough that can be especially concerning for parents is caused by pertussis (also called “whooping cough”). You probably already know that pertussis is a highly contagious bacterial infection of the airways. It spreads like other upper respiratory infections when an infected person coughs or sneezes. But here are 10 important pertussis tidbits you may not know that just might help you and your loved ones be better protected this season. 1. Whooping cough has been making a dangerous comeback in the past decade. In the United States, pertussis used to kill about 9,000 people each year, […]

Girl receiving vaccines

Give Vaccines a Well-Deserved Shot: Immunization FAQs

Vaccines don’t just protect your kids from illnesses — they protect them from passing the germs on to high-risk populations, like the elderly, babies who are too young to get immunized, kids still in need of their booster shots, children whose immune systems aren’t working well (like those with cancer). As a parent, vaccinating your kids is the safest option for them, your family, and your community. How do vaccines work? Getting vaccinated is a way of creating immunity to certain diseases by using small amounts of killed or weakened bacteria (such as pneumococcus) or viruses (like measles) that cause the particular disease. Vaccines cause the immune system to react as if there were a real infection — it fends off the “infection” and remembers the organism so that it can fight it quickly should it enter the body later. What is community immunity? Community immunity, or “herd immunity,” is when […]

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