All About Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease

 

Summer gives us a break from the flu and many other viruses prevalent during the winter months, but there is one contagious virus that your child is at risk of contracting during the summer.

Hand, foot and mouth disease (HFMD) is a common illness in the summer months, predominantly found in infants and children under the age of 10, but one that can also affect teens and adults. It is caused by a family of viruses known as the Coxsackie virus. There are multiple types of Coxsackie virus, but the A16 strain causes HFMD.

HFMD can produce a wide variety of symptoms, including mild flu-like symptoms such as fever, head and muscle aches, sore throat, fatigue, and poor appetite. The fever usually lasts anywhere from 24 hours to 2-3 days. One or two days after the fever begins, small red spots begin to appear in the mouth, throat, palms of the hands, and soles of the feet. These spots develop into blisters and eventually into painful ulcers, which resolve within a few days without any scarring.

These blisters give the illness its name, but it should not be confused with the similarly named foot (or hoof) and mouth disease, which is found in cattle.

HFMD is spread between children either hand to hand or through tiny air droplets that are released when they sneeze, cough, or blow their nose.  The illness can also be spread when a person is exposed to an infected child’s stool or the fluid from their blisters.

HFMD is contagious and tends to spread most easily in settings where many young children are together, such as day care centers.  In tropical parts of the world, HFMD is present throughout the year, but in cooler climates, such as New York, outbreaks take place only in the summer or fall. Some people incorrectly believe that the illness is spread in swimming pools, but a properly chlorinated pool should kill the virus.

Proper hand washing is considered the best protection against the virus, especially after using the bathroom, changing diapers, and before eating or preparing food. The virus can live on contaminated surfaces for several days. Therefore, parents should clean shared toys and all surfaces potentially contaminated with disinfectant cleaners to protect against the spread of HFMD.

There are lab tests to confirm HFMD, but doctors usually can diagnose the virus based on a physical examination. There is no specific treatment for HFMD. Doctors often recommend over-the-counter pain and fever reducing medications to make your child feel more comfortable. Salt water rinses might also provide relief.

If you think your child has hand, foot and mouth disease, you should see a pediatrician or call Flushing Hospital’s Ambulatory Care Center at 718-670-5486 to make an appointment.

 

 

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.

Flushing Hospital Offers Tips to Avoid Mosquito Bites This Summer

The summer is here and that means longer days and evenings spent outdoors. It also means an increased risk of getting bitten by mosquitos.

Mosquito bites occur when a female mosquito feeds on your blood. Mosquitoes select their victims by evaluating scent, exhaled carbon dioxide and the chemicals in a person’s sweat. When bitten, the proteins in the mosquito’s saliva trigger a mild immune system reaction. That reaction appears as a white, itchy bump on our skin.

The bump usually clears up on its own in a few days, but occasionally a mosquito bite can cause a large area of swelling, soreness and redness. This type of reaction is most common in children or adults not previously exposed to the type of mosquito that bit them, and people with immune system disorders. In these people, mosquito bites can also trigger a low-grade fever, hives, or swollen lymph nodes.

If mosquito bites lead to more serious symptoms — such as fever, headache, body aches and signs of infection — contact your doctor.

Mosquitos are also carriers of many diseases, including West Nile virus, malaria, yellow fever and dengue fever. While most of the diseases carried by mosquitos are found in other parts of the world, West Nile virus is now transmissible in the United States. In fact, doctors from Flushing Hospital were the first to identify the initial outbreak in 1999 and worked with health authorities to limit the exposure to the community.

Now Flushing Hospital wants to offer our community the following tips on how they can protect themselves from mosquito bites:

  • Wear protective clothing such as long pants and long sleeved shirts, particularly between dusk and dawn when mosquitos are most active
  • Avoid shaded, bushy areas where mosquitos like to rest
  • Remove any places where standing water can collect on your property, such as tires, cans, plastic containers fire pits, or pots
  • Make sure your roof gutters drain properly. Clean clogged gutters in the spring and the fall
  • Clean and chlorinate your swimming pools, outdoor saunas or hot tubs and drain water from pool covers
  • Change the water in your bird baths at least every three to four days
  • If you have severe reactions to mosquito bites, consider taking a non-drowsy, nonprescription antihistamine when you know you’ll be exposed to mosquitoes
  • Apply insect repellents that contain DEET as they are considered most effective

When applying insect repellent, it is important to follow a few safety measures including making sure you spray it on outdoors and away from food. If you’re using sunscreen, put it on about 20 minutes before applying the repellent and don’t apply repellent over sunburns, cuts, wounds or rashes.  When you go indoors, wash with soap and water to remove any remaining repellent.

Insect repellent with DEET is generally safe for children and adults, with a few exceptions. It is important to read the label carefully as infants and those with immunity complications should not use it. If you have any questions, you should consult your doctor.

By taking these precautions, Flushing Hospital hopes to help you limit your chances of becoming bit by a mosquito this summer.

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.

How Can Wearing Gloves Get You Sick?

We wear gloves during this time of year to protect ourselves from the cold, wintery elements. These accessories are meant to serve as a layer of defense, but could they actually contribute to getting us sick during cold and flu season?

While outer garments like gloves serve a very important function in keeping us warm, they can also be the potential transmitter of harmful germs if they are not washed regularly. When you think about it, we use our gloves when we open doors, hold escalator rails, and ride the train, all of which are breeding grounds for viruses. After touching these things, we might use our glove covered hands to scratch our noses and cover our mouths. In a pinch, we might even use our gloves to wipe our nose when a tissue isn’t available.  These actions can take place every day for the duration of the winter, but ask yourself when was the last time you washed your gloves? The fact is gloves pick up everything bare hands do and very few people wash their gloves frequently enough.

It is estimated that certain viruses such as the flu can live on your gloves for two to three days, while stomach viruses, such as the rotavirus and norovirus can remain active for up to a month.

To avoid getting sick from your gloves, follow these simple tips:

  • Wash them at least once a week. Cotton products are easiest to clean by using a washing machine while wool products need to be hand washed. Leather gloves will require dry cleaning
  • Never use your mouth to pull off your gloves. The best way to remove your gloves is from back to front, similar to healthcare workers
  • If you are wearing your gloves in snowy or wet conditions, allow them to air dry rather than shoving them into your pockets or into the sleeve of your coat.
  • Avoid touching ATMs, elevator buttons, railings, or shopping carts with a gloved hand. It is much easier to sanitize your bare hand than it is to clean your gloves
  • Always wash your hands after removing your gloves to avoid contamination

Following these steps can reduce the chances of getting sick this winter.

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.

Remembering 1999 and the West Nile Virus

Just before Labor Day in 1999, Northern Queens became the epicenter of a very serious, and in rare cases, deadly disease – the West Nile Virus.

The West Niles Virus is primarily spread through the bite of a mosquito. While the overwhelming majority of those infected with the virus suffer either no or very minor symptoms, people over age 60, or those with a comprised immune system may be at risk of developing serious symptoms. In rare cases (less than 1%), individuals may develop headache, fever, stiff neck, nausea, vomiting, confusion, muscle weakness, or swelling of the brain (encephalitis) or paralysis.  West Nile can even cause permanent neurological damage and death.

The disease was found only in Africa, the Middle East and parts of Asia.  It had never seen in the United States, however, in the summer of 1999, Flushing Hospital doctors noticed a cluster of patients experiencing very mysterious symptoms that could not be explained. The medical staff immediately reached out to their partners at the local health authorities to report their findings. Together, the team identified the virus and alerted the public. The City’s response was immediate as they instituted an aerial assault days before the Labor Day weekend to eradicate the source…the mosquitos. Thanks to the efforts of Flushing Hospital, many New Yorkers who might have otherwise been exposed while enjoying time outdoors were spared from becoming infected.

As we near the anniversary of this event, Flushing Hospital wants to continue to educate the public on how to stay safe and avoid becoming infected by West Nile or any other mosquito-borne diseases by following these tips to reduce your chances of exposure:

  • Wear protective clothing such as long pants and long sleeved shirts, particularly between dusk and dawn when mosquitos are most active
  • Avoid shaded, bushy areas where mosquitos like to rest
  • Remove any places where standing water can collect on your property, such as tires, cans, plastic containers or pots,
  • Make sure your roof gutters drain properly. Clean clogged gutters in the spring and the fall.
  • Clean and chlorinate your swimming pools, outdoor saunas or hot tubs and drain water from pool covers
  • Change the water in your bird baths at least every three to four days.

Flushing Hospital urges everyone to take proper precautions and enjoy the remainder of your summer.

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.

Is It A Cold Or Is It Allergies?

The transition from winter to spring can be challenging to your health. The change in seasons often results in an overlap of symptoms that could be either the remnants of a winter cold or the first signs of spring allergies.

Woman coughing and blowing her nose in autumn

While many of the symptoms of colds and allergies are similar, the causes of each are very different.

Colds are contagious and they are contracted when a person is exposed to an individual infected with a cold virus.  Our body’s immune system will launch a counter attack against the virus. This response usually brings on the classic symptoms, such as a runny nose or cough.

An allergic reaction is caused by an overactive immune system that mistakes harmless things, such as pollen, and attacks them. To combat what it thinks are germs, your body releases chemicals called histamines as a defense. The release of these histamines can cause a swelling of the nasal passages and result in coughing and sneezing. Allergies are not contagious.

While many of the symptoms are similar, the easiest way to determine if you have a cold or are suffering from allergies is the duration of your condition. While most colds last from three to 14 days, allergies can last for months as long as the person is in contact with the allergen. Other differences are:

  • An allergic reaction will begin immediately after exposure to an allergen while cold symptoms usually take approximately three days to appear after exposure
  • Colds can sometimes cause fever and body aches while allergies never do
  • An allergic reaction can often result in itchy, watery eyes, which a cold rarely produces this type of reaction

Once a determination between cold or allergy is made, the appropriate treatment can be applied.

There is no cure for a cold, but there are medications that can help alleviate the symptoms. Cough syrups, pain relievers, decongestant sprays, or multi-symptom cold relief medicines can all be used to help, but should only be taken after consulting your doctor, especially if you are taking other medications or if you have other underlying health conditions. Drinking plenty of liquids also speeds up the recovery process.

To treat allergies, your doctor may recommend an over-the-counter antihistamine to block the reaction to the allergens. There are many forms of antihistamines and some may cause drowsiness so be sure to look for the non-drowsy formula or only take them at night. Decongestants may also be suggested to relieve nasal congestion and avoid an infection.

If you are not sure if you have a cold or allergies, please speak with your doctor. If you do not have a doctor, Flushing Hospital’s Ambulatory Care Center can help. To make an appointment, please call 718-670-8939.

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.

What Is Hepatitis B?

Hepatitis B, a virus that can cause severe illness, liver damage, and even death, affects over one million Americans; many of these people display no symptoms and are unaware that they are carriers, which can lead to them unknowingly spreading the virus.

While there are measures many can follow to prevent the spread of Hepatitis B, there is one group that requires others to keep them safe – newborns.

There are a variety of ways Hepatitis B can be spread. They include: having unprotected sex, sharing needles, body piercing & tattoos, or using a carrier’s toothbrush or razor, but one of the most common ways to spread the virus is from mother to baby at birth.

Through proper pre-natal care, babies can be protected from getting infected.   During their initial prenatal visit, mothers should receive a series of routine blood tests, including tests to check for Hepatitis B. If you test positive, your doctor can take special precautions at the time of delivery to treat your baby immediately after birth, which would most likely prevent infection.

Within 12 hours after you give birth, your doctor will give your baby a shot of Hepatitis B antibodies and an initial shot of the Hepatitis B vaccine. That should be adequate short-term protection from hepatitis B. Together, the antibodies and the vaccine are about 85 to 95 percent effective at preventing hepatitis B infection in babies. The second and third vaccines doses should be administered at regular well-baby check-ups. All three doses are necessary for life-long protection against Hepatitis B.

If you are pregnancy, make sure your doctor tests you for Hepatitis B. If you do not have a doctor, Flushing Hospital’s Women’s Health Center has expert doctors who can guide you through your entire pregnancy. To schedule an appointment, please call 718-670-8993.

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.

HPV Fast Facts

Human papillomavirus is the most common sexually transmitted infection in the United States. Every year there are 14 million new HPV infections. HPV also known as human papillomavirus is a virus that can cause certain cancers and diseases in both men and women. Unfortunately, because HPV often has no signs or symptoms, many people who have the virus are unaware.

HPV is transmitted through vaginal, anal or oral sex with someone who has the virus. It is most commonly spread during vaginal or anal sex. Anyone who is sexually active can get HPV, even if you have had sex with only one person.

In most cases, HPV goes away on its own and does not cause any health problems. However HPV does not go away, it can cause health problems such as genital warts and cancer.

  • Genital warts- usually appear as a small bump or groups of bumps in the genital area. They can be small or large, raised or flat, or shaped like a cauliflower. A healthcare provider can usually diagnose warts by looking at the genital area.
  • Cervical cancer- usually does not have symptoms until it is quite advanced, very serious and hard to treat.

Some health effects caused by HPV can be prevented with vaccines. The HPV vaccine is recommended for preteen boys and girls at age 11 or 12 so they are protected before ever being exposed to the virus. Catch-up vaccines are recommended for males through age 21 and for females through age 26, if they did not get vaccinated when they were younger.

If your teen hasn’t gotten the vaccine yet, talk to their doctor or nurse about getting it for them as soon as possible. For more information about preventing and treating HPV please visit: http://www.hpv.com/what-is-hpv/

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.

Flushing Hospital Shares Facts About Meningitis

This Sunday, April 24 in World Meningitis Awareness Day and Flushing Hospital Medical Center wants to share the following facts about meningitis.

Word Meningitis on a book and pills.

Meningitis is an inflammation of the fluid that covers the brain and spinal cord. It is an extremely serious condition that can result in death. Although anyone can develop meningitis, those most at risk are children under five and adolescents between 15-19 years old.
There are two main kinds of meningitis:

Bacterial meningitis is the more severe form of the disease and requires treatment in a hospital setting. Viral meningitis is more common, and most people with this form of the illness get better in a couple of weeks. With mild cases, you may only need home treatment, including taking medicine for fever and pain and drinking enough fluids to stay hydrated.

Meningitis isn’t as contagious as viruses, such as those that cause the common cold, but it can spread from person to person via coughing, sneezing, kissing, sexual contact, or contact with infected blood or stool. A mother can also pass the germs that cause meningitis to her baby during birth.

Meningitis can be hard to diagnose because many of the early symptoms match those of the flu. The most common symptoms are fever, vomiting, headaches, stiff neck, sensitivity to light, drowsiness, and muscle pain. Babies may also develop a rash, have a lack of appetite and seem more irritable.

The best way to protect your child from meningitis is to make sure he or she gets all the standard immunizations for children, including shots for measles, chickenpox, and pneumococcal infection. When children reach adolescence, it is recommended that they receive two doses of a meningococcal vaccine to prevent bacterial meningitis.

Flushing Hospital encourages everyone to know the symptoms of meningitis and speak to their doctor about the meningitis vaccine.

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.