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Viruses

Quick Facts about AIDS

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One of the world’s most significant health problems today is HIV and AIDS. The epidemic is worse in low and middle-income countries, however, it is a problem all over the world. In 2017, there were an estimated 20.9 million people in the United States who were receiving treatment for the HIV virus. Over the last decade or so, progress has been made in preventing AIDS. People who are diagnosed with the HIV virus can start taking anti-retroviral medications that can slow down the progress of the AIDS virus. There are plenty of facts and data about this disease that everyone should know to prevent it and treat it.

#1 The Virus Was Not Always Called AIDS

In the late 70’s and early 80’s, doctors didn’t know what the AIDS virus was or what caused it. It was originally thought that only homosexual men could contract the virus. Because of this, it was called Gay Related Immune Deficiency (GRID). It wasn’t until heterosexual people were coming down with the disease that they realized that everyone was susceptible to the virus.

#2 HIV Infects The Immune System

The disease causes the immune system to deteriorate. This can make it difficult for the body to fend off infections and diseases. AIDS is the most advanced stage of HIV and there are over 20 infections and cancers that can occur during this stage.

#3 It Can Be Transmitted in a Variety of Ways

There are a few ways that this disease can be transmitted.

  • Unprotected sex with an infected partner (oral, anal, or vaginal)
  • Sharing needles with an infected person
  • Transfusion of contaminated blood
  • Between mother and baby during pregnancy
  • Use of contaminated surgical equipment

#4 HIV/AIDS Can Be Prevented

There are several ways that you can keep from contracting the HIV virus. These methods include:

  • Have protected sex by always using a condom. This includes when having oral sex.
  • IV drug users should only use clean, fresh needles and they should never share with others.
  • When getting a tattoo or a piercing, make sure the artist is always using fresh needles.
  • Ensure that any blood products you are given have been tested.

#5 Early Detection Can Save Your Life

It is important that people are tested for the HIV/AIDS virus regularly. If the virus is caught in the early stages, anti-retroviral drugs can be taken to prevent the HIV virus from progressing to AIDS. When the virus progresses this far, the prognosis is much worse. Expectant mothers should also be tested. If they do have HIV, they can take medication to keep from spreading it to their unborn child during delivery.

#6 There Is a Link Between HIV/AIDS and TB

According to a study performed by the World Health Organization (WHO), there is a link between HIV/AIDS and TB. In 2015, 10.4 million people developed TB. Of that number, 1.2 million or 11 percent of them were also HIV positive. That same year, 390,000 of the people who died of TB were also living with HIV. Of these deaths, 75 percent of them were people living in the African region.

The HIV/AIDS epidemic is very serious. Knowledge and education are two of the best defenses that people have against contracting this virus. The more people understand about how the disease is transmitted and the more they know about how to avoid contracting it, the safer they will be. While there is currently no vaccination against the virus, scientists and researchers are working every day to develop one so that one day, HIV/AIDS will no longer exist.

 

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Antiviral Drugs vs. Antibiotics

There is a wide difference between antiviral drugs and antibiotics, and you should know the effects of these two drug classifications on your body. The range of antiviral medications is narrow while the range of antibiotics is quite full.

Antiviral Drugs

The doctor may prescribe an antiviral medication for you if you suspect you recently were around someone displaying a viral illness such as flu symptoms. If you have good reason to believe you contacted a viral disease, but you are not yet showing signs and symptoms an antiviral medication may prevent you from coming down with that illness, or at least minimize the effect of that disease before it occurs.

An antiviral drug is effective, but only when administered at the first signs of contact or symptoms. An antiviral diminishes the development of the illness.

A few virus includes,

  • Standard coughs
  • Sore throats except for strep throat
  • HIV
  • Hepatitis B and C
  • Flu

There are a few drugs in the antiviral category. These drugs used short-term, are not profitable for pharmaceutical companies to research or keep to a high supply.

The antiviral drugs used in the treatment of HIV are in high supply and demand, because of the many people using them and the fact that this particular antiviral drug takes the HIV infection and turns it into a chronic, not terminal condition you can manage.

HIV is not necessarily a life sentence since these antivirals came onto the drug market. Pharmaceutical companies need to put more research into a larger variety of medications to fight other viruses.

If you develop a secondary infection from a virus such as you have the flu, now you develop pneumonia is the flu many times does, you need an antibiotic to fight pneumonia.

Powerful Antibiotics

If you contact a bacterial infection on the outside or inside of the body, the doctor may prescribe for you an antibiotic. There is a broad range of antibiotics on the marketplace today, each offering different targets of healing. Antibiotics kill the bacteria in your body that is making you ill. Antibiotics also stop these bacteria from multiplying and growing.

Doctors today are taught to use extreme caution in ordering patients antibiotics because research is finding more and more people becoming resistive to the usefulness of appropriate antibiotics because people are taking too much of a particular antibiotic and building up a resistance, thus, the antibiotic becomes useless in fighting off bacterial infections for you.

You may go to the doctors when you have a bad case of the flu, and you feel you need an antibiotic. However, the doctor will not prescribe an antibiotic for you because it will not help you get over the flu and in the end, the antibiotic makes your body more harm.

There is an extensive list of reasons why your doctor may prescribe an antibiotic such as but not limited to,

  • Ear infections
  • Strep throat
  • Sinus infections
  • Urinary tract infections
  • Wound infections
  • Diverticulitis
  • Colitis
  • Bronchitis
  • Pneumonia

Antibiotics also put up an invisible protective barrier between you and others around you once you have taken the antibiotic 24-48 hours.

Resistance to Antibiotics

  • Do not demand any antibiotics from your doctor if he or she feels you do not need them.
  • Never take antibiotics for viral infections.
  • Never demand an antibiotic every time you get the sniffles or a cough.

Antibiotics are powerful drugs and when used for the right reasons save lives. Take your antibiotic, according to your doctor’s orders. Never skip doses or incomplete an antibiotic because you feel better and think you are over the infection.

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Everything You Need to Know about AIDS

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AIDS is caused by a virus called human immunodeficiency virus, also known as HIV. When a person contracts HIV through unprotected sex with an infected partner or by sharing needles with an infected person, it weakens their ability to fight off infections. Although HIV is the virus that initially attacks the body’s immune system (the T cells in particular), it eventually destroys so many cells that the body is no longer able to protect itself. HIV eventually progresses to AIDS within a short span of only a few years. Fortunately, there are medications available today that can suppress the effect of HIV on the body and help to delay the onset of AIDS.

Symptoms of HIV

Many people who have HIV don’t know it. This is why it is so important that you are tested regularly, especially if you have unprotected sex or share needles. No two people will have the same symptoms if they contract HIV. This is because everyone’s body is different. Within the first month of being infected, some people will suffer symptoms as a result of their body reacting to the disease and their body is working hard to fight it off. The symptoms are often flu-like symptoms and include:

  • Fever
  • Muscle aches
  • Headache
  • Swollen glands
  • Sore throat
  • Upset stomach
  • Body rash

When most people experience these symptoms, they just assume that they have the flu. The symptoms last usually for a week or two and then the person will start to feel better. This does not mean that the virus is gone. It can take years for the symptoms of AIDS to show up. During this time, the virus (HIV) is active and it is attacking all of the new cells created by the body.

Symptoms of AIDS

After 10 years or so, the HIV virus can cause AIDS. This occurs when the body is no longer able to fight off infections that are caused by fungi, bacteria, or viruses. There are certain symptoms that a person will experience that is a sign that their infection has gone from HIV to AIDS.

  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Frequent Diarrhea
  • High Fever
  • A persistent cough
  • Night sweats
  • Skin issues such as rashes and boils
  • Lesions in the mouth
  • Frequent infections
  • Development of serious illnesses and diseases
  • Development of pneumocystis pneumonia

Most people won’t experience all of the symptoms at once. These can also be signs of another disease or illness. Before a person assumes that they have AIDS, they should see a doctor to be tested.

Prognosis

Thanks to medical advances, the prognosis for someone living with HIV is very good. There are anti-retroviral drugs that can be taken that can greatly slow the process of the HIV virus. Most people can live a long, full life. Also, it is possible for women with HIV to have children without passing the disease on to them. This is not something that was possible 20 or 30 years ago. Back then, HIV/AIDS was considered a death sentence. When the virus develops into AIDS, the prognosis is worse. When the HIV virus causes AIDS, the person’s immune system is greatly weakened. This makes it impossible for the body to fight off illnesses and diseases that will eventually be fatal.

Preventing HIV/AIDS

Your best defense against HIV/AIDS is to know how to keep from getting it. There are a few ways to ensure your health.

  • Use a condom every time you have sex.
  • If you are an IV drug user, don’t share needles.
  • If you work in the medical field, follow proper protocol regarding needle disposal and working with infected patients.
  • Get tested every year for the HIV/AIDS virus.

Today, it is possible to live with the HIV virus. If you develop the virus and you catch it early, the medications available can keep you from developing AIDS for decades. Prevention and early diagnosis are the keys to good health.

 

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What attracts mosquitoes to humans?

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Blood Connoisseurs
Some people just have all the charisma with vampire bugs. Mosquitoes prefer certain bloods. Approximately 10% of people are highly attractive to them. Is it how they wear their hair? Are mosquitoes like frat guys who have a particular “type”?

Well, the frat thing probably isn’t the case; the mosquitoes that bite you are female. This is because laying eggs requires blood–but not just your blood; she’ll settle for animals, too. It’s just, if she could have steak or a Slim Jim, she’s going with the steak every time. Wouldn’t you?

Unfortunately, if you’re attractive to mosquitoes, you can’t just “hide” from them. It’s in your genes, at some level. According to WebMD, only 15% of factors influencing mosquito susceptibility are in our control.

The 15% You Can Control
You can do a few things to ensure that only one out of the ten in your group bears the brunt of the mosquito assault. Things which attract mosquitoes and are controllable include:

  • High levels of cholesterol remaining on the skin’s surface after it’s been processed
  • Steroids
  • Excess amounts of uric acid
  • Large emissions of carbon dioxide

Mosquitoes can “smell” you from up to fifty meters. If you’re sweating profusely and exhaling profusely, you’re easier to smell. You’ll be putting off more carbon dioxide. The larger you are, the easier you are to smell, because you are putting off more carbon dioxide. When moving, your body may also begin to heat up. This likely also will produce higher quantities of uric acid through your sweat. And if you’ve used steroids to help you work out, it doesn’t matter how low your cholesterol is; the bugs will be after you. Additionally, the thing about cholesterol which attracts mosquitoes isn’t the aspect which may clog arteries in the wrong quantities. It’s rather how cholesterol is processed by your body, and the residue left on your skin after the fact. Since pregnant women are liable to produce more carbon dioxide than normal, mosquitoes love them, and will come in for a bite extremely often. This doesn’t bode well in areas where the Zika virus has been detected.

Repelling The Blighters If You Are In The 10%
Mosquito repellent with DEET will keep the bugs off you about five hours, but DEET is a chemical repellent which, though statistically minimally, has been known to cause medical issues in some. What’s becoming en vogue today are mosquito traps, which can knock mosquito populations down and help everybody; not just the guy with the tasty blood. There’s also permethrin-laced clothing, which puts the repellent chemicals on the garments rather than the body. Another means of cutting down on mosquito populations includes reducing areas of standing water. Water is where they breed–you’ve seen the little larvae jerking spasmodically around in puddles before. It does not take them long, either; and they’ll keep breeding where the water is. If they find water that isn’t in a pond, it’s to their benefit–there’s a decreased likelihood frogs will eat them.

It’s Not Just Zika
West Nile Virus, Malaria, Dengue Fever, and Zika are all diseases that result from mosquito bites. While most of those have only been seen in America among statistically minimal segments of the population, why put yourself at risk? It doesn’t matter whether or not you’re in the 10% of people more attractive to mosquitoes. The listed diseases affect all 100% of the humans who have been bitten. Granted, some will be affected worse than others, but prevention is still the best option. Eliminate standing water, dress accordingly, and use repellent. (There are organic repellent options.)

 

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The Difference Between Antiviral Drugs and Antibiotics

There is a wide difference between antiviral drugs and antibiotics, and you should know the effects of these two drug classifications on your body. The range of antiviral medications is narrow while the range of antibiotics is quite full.

Antiviral Drugs

The doctor may prescribe an antiviral medication for you if you suspect you recently were around someone displaying a viral illness such as flu symptoms. If you have good reason to believe you contacted a viral disease, but you are not yet showing signs and symptoms an antiviral medication may prevent you from coming down with that illness, or at least minimize the effect of that disease before it occurs.

An antiviral drug is effective, but only when administered at the first signs of contact or symptoms. An antiviral diminishes the development of the illness.

A few virus includes,

  • Standard coughs
  • Sore throats except for strep throat
  • HIV
  • Hepatitis B and C
  • Flu

There are a few drugs in the antiviral category. These drugs used short-term, are not profitable for pharmaceutical companies to research or keep to a high supply.

The antiviral drugs used in the treatment of HIV are in high supply and demand, because of the many people using them and the fact that this particular antiviral drug takes the HIV infection and turns it into a chronic, not terminal condition you can manage.

HIV is not necessarily a life sentence since these antivirals came onto the drug market. Pharmaceutical companies need to put more research into a larger variety of medications to fight other viruses.

If you develop a secondary infection from a virus such as you have the flu, now you develop pneumonia is the flu many times does, you need an antibiotic to fight pneumonia.

Powerful Antibiotics

If you contact a bacterial infection on the outside or inside of the body, the doctor may prescribe for you an antibiotic. There is a broad range of antibiotics on the marketplace today, each offering different targets of healing. Antibiotics kill the bacteria in your body that is making you ill. Antibiotics also stop these bacteria from multiplying and growing.

Doctors today are taught to use extreme caution in ordering patients antibiotics because research is finding more and more people becoming resistive to the usefulness of appropriate antibiotics because people are taking too much of a particular antibiotic and building up a resistance, thus, the antibiotic becomes useless in fighting off bacterial infections for you.

You may go to the doctors when you have a bad case of the flu, and you feel you need an antibiotic. However, the doctor will not prescribe an antibiotic for you because it will not help you get over the flu and in the end, the antibiotic makes your body more harm.

There is an extensive list of reasons why your doctor may prescribe an antibiotic such as but not limited to,

  • Ear infections
  • Strep throat
  • Sinus infections
  • Urinary tract infections
  • Wound infections
  • Diverticulitis
  • Colitis
  • Bronchitis
  • Pneumonia

Antibiotics also put up an invisible protective barrier between you and others around you once you have taken the antibiotic 24-48 hours.

Resistance to Antibiotics

  • Do not demand any antibiotics from your doctor if he or she feels you do not need them.
  • Never take antibiotics for viral infections.
  • Never demand an antibiotic every time you get the sniffles or a cough.

Antibiotics are powerful drugs and when used for the right reasons save lives. Take your antibiotic, according to your doctor’s orders. Never skip doses or incomplete an antibiotic because you feel better and think you are over the infection.

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How to Avoid Getting a RVBP Infection

There really is no time of year when illnesses of some sort are not prevalent but when the weather turns cold, germs seem to be everywhere you go. Luckily, there are some tried and true ways of keeping yourself healthy throughout the year so you can avoid getting an RVBP (Respiratory Virus and Bacteria Panel) infection. Aside from staying away from people you know are sick, you can practically keep germs to a minimum in your household. During years like this one, when the flu is on the rise and it seems like everyone is getting sick, you can reduce your risks by getting vaccinated, washing hands properly and living a healthy lifestyle. New viruses are constantly evolving and appearing which is why even if you have been sick lately, you will want to make sure you continue to prevent other infections. This is especially true if you have small children at home or have elderly family members that could be at risk if they become sick.

Washing Your Hands

It may seem so simple that there’s no way it could be effective but washing your hands frequently throughout the day can actually go a long way towards staying healthy. It is recommended that you wash your hands after using the bathroom, after changing a diaper, after handling raw meat, eggs, fish, etc., after handling dirty laundry or cleaning areas of your home like bathrooms or kitchens. The process is simple but you need to make sure you are doing it right in order to properly kill any germs that could be living on your hands. Warm water, soap, and vigorously scrubbing the fronts and backs of your hands for at least thirty seconds is effective. Make sure to dry your hand on a paper towel that you will dispose of. Reusing a towel or sharing a towel will still promote illness.

Don’t Share Personal Items

You love the people that you live with but there are certain items in a home that should not be shared as they can spread bacteria and viruses from one person to the next in a very short period of time. Make sure to never share things like toothbrushes, make up, utensils, cups and towels. It is a good idea to keep these items in a short rotation period. Wash drinking glasses frequently, get rid of toothbrushes after you have been sick and run a good thorough wash cycle on your dishwasher frequently with all of your commonly used kitchen items.

Cover Your Mouth

If more people would properly cover their mouth when they are at home and out in public, we would greatly reduce the incidence of illness being spread around. Many people cover their mouth using a closed fist or their hand. This actually doesn’t completely prevent the spray of saliva and germs. Your best bet is to cough into the interior of your elbow as this properly covers your mouth.

In addition to all of these great tips that you can utilize to help avoid getting an RVBP infection, you can also speak with a trusted medical professional about vaccinations. You may or may not be up to date on your current vaccinations and each year you have the option for getting a number of shots that can potentially prevent illness such as pneumonia or the flu, or at least keep symptoms to a minimum if you do get sick. Also, be sure to get enough sleep each night so your body is not run down and eating healthy goes a long way towards maintaining a healthy and well-functioning immune system.

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Why Is It Important to Get the Human Papillomavirus (HPV) Vaccine?

The CDC (Centers for Disease Control) reports that nearly one out of four people in the United States are infected with the HPV virus (Human Papillomavirus). In many cases, the HPV virus goes unnoticed because the person does not display any types of symptoms. In fact, studies suggest that close to 90 percent of the time, the HPV virus goes away on its own within two years and the person may not even know they had it.

The Dangers of HPV

Unfortunately, one in ten people are not so lucky. In these cases, the HPV virus does not go away on its own, but rather remains in the body of the infected person. This, in turn, can lead to serious health conditions, including genital warts are several types of cancers, including cancer of the cervical, vulvar, vaginal, penile, anal, and throat. In fact, nearly all cases of cervical cancer are caused by the HPV virus.

Many people fighting these types of cancers and/or genital warts, did not even know that they had the HPV virus until the cancer was found. With virtually no symptoms, the only way to fight the HPV virus is to take preventative measures.

Benefits of the HPV Vaccine

The good news is that the HPV vaccine can significantly reduce the risk of getting HPV in the first place. There are more than 150 known strains of HPV, and the HPV vaccine is designed to protect against those strains that are known to cause either cancer or genital warts. By reducing the risk of getting the HPV virus, the vaccine also will reduce the risk of getting genital warts or cancer caused by HPV.

Is the HPV Vaccine Safe?

To date, more than 80 million doses of the HPV vaccine have been administered. In most cases, the person does not have any side effect. Some patients, however, experience mild side effects, such as redness, pain, swelling, nausea, and dizziness, for a short period of time after getting the HPV vaccine. In rare cases, some people have experienced an allergic reaction to the HPV vaccine. This is most common among those who also have latex or yeast allergies.

Who Should Get the HPV Vaccine?

The American Cancer Society recommends that all teenagers, both male and female, have the HPV vaccine. Children between the ages of 11 and 12-years old will be required to have only two doses of the HPV virus. Children 13-years old or older, on the other hand, require three separate doses, spaced 6 to 12 months apart.

Women who do not receive the HPV vaccine as a teenager, but are 26-years old or younger, also should have the HPV vaccine. In addition, young man, who did not get the vaccine as a teenager and are under the age of 21-years old should have the vaccine. It also is recommended that members of the LGBT community who did not get the vaccine as a teenager and are 26-years or younger get the HPV vaccine.

It is estimated that more than 4,000 women will die from cervical cancer this year. You don’t have to be one of them. The HPV vaccine is easy to administer with minimal side effects, yet it provides a lifetime of protection against a potentially deadly virus. Don’t wait until it’s too late. Get your HPV vaccine today.

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What Are the Different Types of Parainfluenza Viruses?

strep-throat

Each year it is reported when illnesses are on the rise and ‘sick season’ has officially begun. Statistics begin to come out regarding what percentage of the population is getting ill, how many deaths are taking place from related complications and what the severity of symptoms is. What many people don’t realize that there are a number of different strains of illnesses and these strains can vary and mutate from year to year. This is why a new flu shot needs to be made each year; in order to provide protection against the new virus. There are four major different types of viruses that contribute to parainfluenza viruses and each one comes with its own set of symptoms and risks, however, each of the viruses will affect the respiratory system in some form.

Symptoms

Many of the parainfluenza viruses have symptoms that are similar to the common cold and if a person contracts a mild case, it is common to be misdiagnosed. Without treatment, symptoms will go away though they do sometimes take a bit longer than your average cold. Fatigue can persist for a couple of weeks after the initial symptoms have subsided. People who have weakened immune systems or are susceptible to complications from illnesses can develop a number of complications from any of these viruses, including pneumonia which can result in death. Symptoms of any of these parainfluenza viruses can include:

-Fever

-Runny nose

-Sore throat

-Headache

-Cough

-Wheezing

-Shortness of breath

-Fatigue

Different Types

The four main types of HPIV included HPIV-1, HPIV-2. HPIV-3 and HPIV-4. Each of these viruses can affect any person regardless of how healthy they are. Some of these viruses are far more likely to affect children as many adults already have immunities to the virus or are not easily affected. Let’s take a closer look at each of these viruses:

HPIV-1

This virus is what causes the croup in young children. Croup is very similar to a cold and can often be diagnosed as one. The difference is usually the characteristic cough that occurs along with other symptoms and it is caused by inflammation and swelling of the vocal chords. The croup is most common in the fall months of the year and cases of the croup ebb and flow with the change of seasons.

HPIV-2

This virus is very similar to HPIV-1 as it also causes the croup but far less commonly. It also occurs most often in the autumn and the virus can live on a surface for up to ten hours.

HPIV-3

This infection causes infections in the lungs such as bronchitis and pneumonia. Often a secondary infection, it is very contagious during the time that symptoms are present (Usually within days three to ten of being symptomatic).

HPIV-4

There is a lot more information on the other forms of parainfluenza and this form of the virus is very rare. It doesn’t follow any typical seasonal pattern like many other viruses. You are contagious through close contact with an infected person.

If your doctor suspects that you are ill with one of these strains of parainfluenza, you will likely go through a thorough physical examination and be asked to detail what your symptoms are and how long you have been sick. Your doctor may determine that further testing can ensure that you are receiving proper medical care. An x-ray can ensure you don’t have a dangerous buildup of infected fluid in your lungs. CT scans can also give a detailed look at the state of your lungs.

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What is Human Metapneumovirus?

There are always several viruses to worry about during flu season, not the least of which is influenza. However, that’s not the only nasty bug of which you need to be aware. Another virus to watch out for is the human metapneumovirus, or HMPV. This virus is one of several that can cause respiratory infections across a wide range of ages. It’s especially virulent among the very young, the elderly, and populations with weakened immune responses. Since its discovery in 2001, it’s been increasingly recognized as a major cause of infections in both the upper and lower respiratory tracts.

Recognizing the Symptoms of HMPV

As with many viruses that crop up during flu season, HMPV symptoms include coughing, fever, sinus congestion, and difficulty breathing (feeling “short of breath”). These symptoms may become more complex if the virus spawns other illnesses, such as pneumonia or bronchitis. HMPV is very similar to most other viruses that cause respiratory problems. You’ll likely begin to notice symptoms a few days to a week following your exposure to the virus, and the illness can be brief or may persist for a week or more.

‘Tis the Season for Sniffles and Coughs

HMPV can start popping up in the early part of winter, but it’s most common during the later winter months, as well as in the early spring. The virus can be transmitted easily from one person to another through sneezes and coughs, casual contact like shaking hands, or through touching an infected object (think door knobs and keyboards) and then touching your mouth, nose, or eyes. Along with exposure to other common viral infections like influenza and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), the winter and spring months can be nearly impossible to navigate without catching something.

Preventing Viral Infections

Viruses are different from bacteria and they don’t respond to antibiotic treatments. This makes prevention extremely important, because there aren’t any effective treatments for HMPV, RSV, or the flu. The only thing that can be done is to try to minimize the symptoms and wait for the virus to run its course. You can protect yourself from most viral infections if you:

  • Perform proper, frequent hand-washing (at least 20 seconds of lathering with soap, then a thorough rinse in warm water).
  • Refrain from sharing food, drinks, and utensils with anyone else.
  • Avoid anyone who is obviously ill, especially those who are coughing or sneezing, or exhibiting other symptoms of illness like paleness, chills, gastric upset, or malaise.
  • Avoid close personal contact like kissing as much as possible.

Regular cleaning of communal surfaces is also an effective way to stop the spread of viruses. Wipe down commonly-touched surfaces like door knobs, countertops, computer peripherals, and similar areas with disinfecting wipes or another appropriate cleaning product.

Being Prepared for Illness

Should you find yourself ill with a respiratory infection, it’s important to have symptom-relief medication on hand; there’s no treatment, but you can minimize most or all of the symptoms with the correct medication. If you visit your doctor, make sure they test for HMPV before accepting antibiotics to help combat the illness. Overuse of antibiotics can be extremely dangerous, both for your personal health and the health of society at large.

Antibiotics won’t help your body fight off a virus, and can actually make you more susceptible to antibiotic-resistant infections in the future. HMPV is relatively new, and some doctors may not yet have it in their sights as a potential cause for your respiratory illness. Being aware of potential health issues like HMPV is an important part of staying healthy (or getting well) during flu season.

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What is Coronavirus?

Coronavirus yields its name from its crown-like structure of spikes, first identified in the 1960’s. Most forms of coronavirus yield mild to moderate cold-like symptoms, primarily affecting the upper respiratory system. These mild forms affect most people at some point during their lifetime with no long-term effects.

Forms of Coronavirus

There are also more serious forms of coronavirus which can cause much more severe symptoms. To understand the coronavirus better the CDC explains there are four main subgroups of the virus: alpha, beta, gamma, and delta. Alpha and beta are the most common, with the following four types being responsible for many colds worldwide:

  1. 229E (alpha coronavirus)
  2. NL63 (alpha coronavirus)
  3. OC43 (beta coronavirus)
  4. HKU1 (beta coronavirus)

There identified coronavirus that can create more severe symptoms have more common names we may know, including:

  1. MERS-CoV (beta coronavirus that causes MERS)
  2. SARS-CoV (beta coronavirus that causes SARS)

While not all coronavirus will mutate and lead to more serious infections like SARS, it is helpful to understand the symptoms and prognosis of each of these viral infections.

Common Coronavirus

The four most common forms of coronavirus lead to symptoms often referred to as the common cold. Mostly affecting the upper respiratory system, these symptoms last for a short period of time and include:

  • runny nose
  • headache
  • cough
  • sore throat
  • fever
  • a general feeling of being unwell

Some infections may also involve the lower respiratory system causing illness like bronchitis or pneumonia. There is no specific treatment, but most people will recover on their own. Symptoms can be eased with fever reducers like acetomenaphin, humidifiers, rest, and consuming extra fluids.

Severe Coronavirus

The terms SARS and MERS can be alarming. SARS, or Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, represented a global epidemic scare that spread across more than a dozen countries in Europe, North America, and Asia in 2003. While considered a serious threat to public health, there is no current need to worry. The SARS outbreak has been considered contained, and there has not been a reported case anywhere in the world since 2004. Even the CDC web page has been archived.

MERS represents a more recent threat to public health. An acronym describing a Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome, MERS has spread to many other countries (including the United States) since discovery in 2012. MERS is marked by acute respiratory symptoms including fever, cough, and shortness of breath. Different from other types of coronavirus, MERS is also characterized by a high mortality rate — 3 or 4 of every ten cases.

The good news is that all non-middle eastern diagnoses of MERS have been linked to travel from the Arabian Peninsula. There is not currently a high risk associated with this virus domestically or with other foreign travel.

Prevention of Coronavirus

While there is no known vaccine to prevent a coronavirus infection, there are many steps you can take to help prevent yourself from catching colds this year. Coronavirus is typically transmitted through a cough or a sneeze and by close personal contact. Touching an infected object or encountering infected fecal matter and then touching your face can also transmit infection.

Avoid contagion with regular hand washing. Wash your hands regularly with soap and water, and always wash your hands before you touch your eyes, nose, and mouth. Avoid contact with people who are sick.

If you think you may have the coronavirus, try to avoid infecting others. Stay home if possible when you are sick. If travel is unavoidable, use tissues or a mask when sneezing or coughing and dispose of soiled material in trashcans. Use sanitizing disinfectants to wipe down surfaces.

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