Health Center

What's Going Around: Virus spreading locally has implications for unborn babies

UPMC Pinnacle's Heritage Pediatrics is starting to see a common warm-weather virus that causes Fifth disease. Despite the name, this is actually a very mild illness. Many children don't feel ill, but develop a classic rash with very red "slapped cheeks" and a flat, lacy looking red rash on the arms, trunk, and sometimes legs. The rash can come and go for weeks, often it flares up in the heat.

Fifth disease is caused by a parvovirus. Once the rash develops the child is no longer contagious. However, if your child was in close contact with a pregnant woman before the rash broke out, she should be made aware to contact her provider in case testing needs to be done. Parvovirus can have harmful effects on the baby before it's born.

This week, pediatricians at Penn State Children's Hospital are still seeing quite a few cases of the flu; mostly influenza A with a few cases of influenza B. They are also seeing respiratory infections and lots of common colds.

WellSpan Pediatric Medicine Physicians are seeing continued cases of influenza, bronchiolitis in infants, gastroenteritis and a few cases of strep throat.
 
Penn Medicine Lancaster General Health Physicians Roseville Pediatrics has continued to see an increase in pneumonia, as well as seasonal allergies.

Viral upper respiratory infections have persisted, and along with them, sinusitis and ear infections.  They also saw a small increase in the stomach bug.

Conjunctivitis, or pink eye, also increased with a combination of bacterial, viral and allergic causes.
They finally saw a decrease in the flu, as well as strep throat.
 
Dr. Joan Thode offered the following advice about pink eye:

"Conjunctivitis is the general term for inflammation ("itis") of the outer clear layer of the surface of the eye (conjunctiva). It typically appears as a "pink eye," but there are multiple possible causes.
Bacterial conjunctivitis is caused by a bacteria infecting the surface of the eye. It is frequently in only one eye and typically has thicker eye discharge. It can be painful or cause a scratchy sensation when blinking. In babies, bacterial pink eye can frequently affect both eyes at the same time and should be evaluated for possible tear duct blockage. Bacterial pink eye is treated with eye drops by your child's primary physician. Until treated, it is very contagious.

Viral conjunctivitis is caused by a virus infecting the surface of the eye and frequently seen in both eyes symmetrically. The discharge tends to be a bit thinner and waterier, though kids will frequently have crusting on their lashes after a period of sleep. Viral conjunctivitis is often seen in the second half of a virus and caused by the child rubbing their nose, then their eye, thus transferring the virus to the surface of the eye. The immune system will kill off viral conjunctivitis at the same time it beats the virus elsewhere in the body. Antibiotic eye drops will not do anything to speed that process, because they do not affect viruses. Unfortunately, viral conjunctivitis is also contagious by touch.

Allergic conjunctivitis is a reaction to pollen or other allergens in the air or that has been brought into contact with the surface of the eye from a child rubbing his or her eye with an irritant on their hands. This causes the immune cells to release histamine, which makes the eyes red, itchy and watery. Itchy eyes are most likely allergic conjunctivitis. There is rarely thick eye drainage, though it is common for the eyes to tear a lot. Appropriate eye drops are antihistamine rather than antibiotic drops, which can be prescribed by your child's primary physician."
 
Reasons to see the doctor:
·         Thick drainage from the eye
·         Pain with eye movement
·         Eyelid swelling
·         Pain with light/light sensitivity
·         Symptoms that worsen over two to three days
·         Eye redness with any recent eye trauma or suspected foreign body in the eye
·         Changes in vision
 


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