Infections & Vaccinations

Zika virus and pregnancy

I have been getting more questions about Zika Virus, as it becomes more of a global zika-virusconcern.

What is the concern with Zika virus?

The main concern with Zika virus has to do with birth defects. Zika infections in pregnant women have been shown to cause birth defects especially microcephaly - a severe birth defect in which the head and brain are undersized. The risk of microcephaly occurs in 0.88% to 13.2% of the babies of pregnant women infected in the first trimester of pregnancy 1.

There can other birth defects also. The considered incidence of all Zika caused birth defects in the babies of women infected is about 29%2. Recent studies have revealed associations between symptomatic Zika infection during all trimesters and adverse pregnancy outcomes and potential peak risk during gestational weeks 14 to 17 weeks pregnancy 1.

Zika infection has also been linked in adults to a rare neurological syndrome known as Guillain-Barre, as well as other neurological disorders.

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Whooping Cough and Pregnancy

Whooping Cough and Pregnancy

Pertussis (whooping cough) is caused by the bacterium Bordetella pertussis.boostrix

There is no evidence that if you develop whooping cough in pregnancy your baby will be harmed while it is inside you.

The risk to your baby has to do with once your baby is born. The disease is highly infectious and most serious in babies under the age of 12 months.

In young babies less than six months of age, the symptoms can be severe or life threatening. Some of the complications of whooping cough in young babies include haemorrhage (bleeding), apnoea (stopping breathing for periods of time), pneumonia, Inflammation of the brain, convulsions and coma, permanent brain damage and even death.

What can be done about it?

If you have whooping cough. The antibiotic Erythromycin is recommended for treating whooping cough. But while antibiotics are effective in

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Thrush and Pregnancy

I keep on getting thrush now that I am pregnant!

Vaginal thrush (also called Candida or Monilia) is a common infection due to an overgrowth of Candida albicans yeast. This yeast lives naturally in the bowel and in some women in the vagina.

Some women have thrush in their vagina and have no symptoms and so no awareness. It is mostly harmless, but symptoms can develop if yeast numbers increase. About 75 per cent of women will have vaginal thrush in their lifetime. Thrush only needs to be treated if you are symptomatic.

Thrush can also occur in other parts of the body, such as the mouth and on the nipples.

Symptoms include:

  • Vaginal discomfort described as itching or burning
  • A thick, white discharge with a ‘cottage cheese’ appearance and yeasty smell
  • Redness or swelling of the vagina or vulva
  • Stinging or burning while urinating or during sex
  • Splits in the genital skin.

The diagnosis can be confirmed by me or you local doctor with a vaginal examination. This will usually include a swab taken for microbiology studies

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Slapped cheek infection

I have come in contact with a child with slapped cheek infection. Should I be worried?

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Erythema infectiosum is also known as 'slapped cheek disease' or 'fifth disease' and is a common childhood viral infection caused by human parvovirus B19.

Fifty to sixty percent of women are immune to the virus by the time they reach childbearing age. Occasionally, an unborn baby of a non-immune mother can develop problems if infected before the 20th week of pregnancy.

What are the symptoms?

Most cases experience no symptoms at all. Children can have a mild illness with little or no fever but a striking redness of the cheeks (hence 'slapped cheek disease'). Sometime the rash will extend over the bridge of the nose or around the mouth and occasionally to the rest of the body, with the upper arms and legs being the most common locations. The rash usually lasts a couple of days and may itch.

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Listeriosis in Pregnancy

Listeriosis in Pregnancy

Listeriosis is a rare disease that causes mild or listeriano maternal illness, but can be devastating to the foetus in some cases leading to severe disease or even foetal death.

The bacteria organism that causes Listeria is a common and can be easily isolated from soil, dust, water, processed foods, raw meat, and the faeces of animals and humans. Faecal carriage of Listeria occurs in up to 15% of people. The incidence of women carrying Listeria in the vagina is lower.

Incidence

The incidence of the infection (not just carriage) Listeriosis in pregnancy is estimated to be 12 per 100,000, compared with a rate of 0.7 per 100,000 in the general population. Pregnant women account for 27% of all Listerial infections in the population. Although pregnant women with other health compromising conditions such as diabetes, steroid use, or HIV are at higher risk of Listerial infection, most cases of Listeria infection occur in healthy pregnant women.

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Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease

What is hand, foot and mouth disease?

Hand, foot and mouth disease is generally a mild illness caused by the coxsackievirus. It is not a serious illness. It mainly occurs in children under 10 years of age but can also occur in older children and adults.

What are the symptoms?

Can vary from no symptoms at all or only very mild symptoms. HFM - Copy_thumbPossible symptoms include blisters that start as small red dots which later become ulcers. Blisters appear inside the cheeks, gums, and on the sides of the tongue, around the mouth and as well as on the hands and feet. In infants, sometimes blisters can be seen in the nappy area. Children can sometimes have a low fever, sore throat, tiredness, feel off colour and may be off their food for a day or two. Very rarely, is there an affect on the heart, brain, lining of the brain (meningitis), lungs, or eyes.

How is it spread?

Hand, foot and mouth disease is usually spread by person-to-person contact. The virus is spread from the faeces of an

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Group B Strep

What is the concern with Group B Strep?

 

Group B streptococcus (GBS) is a bacteria that commonly colonises a woman's vagina.germ_clip_art_23412

Studies of pregnant women have identified GBS in vaginal swabs of 15 to 25% of pregnant women. These women do not have any symptoms - no related discharge concerns, no odour and no irritation. Without a swab test they won't be aware they have GBS in their vagina. So we classified them as having a vagina  'colonised' by GBS and not 'infected' by GBS. A small number will have symptoms suggesting a possible infection with GBS.

Furthermore if these GBS women positive are left untreated one in two of their babies (about 10% of newborn) will have GBS on their skin at birth and be completely well (again called 'colonised' rather than 'infected') . About one in 200 of infants with GBS on their skin will be 'infected' and develop neonatal sepsis. This sepsis can make the baby extremely unwell including resulting in neonatal death.

If a pregnant woman is a carrier of GBS at the time of her

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Flu vaccine and pregnancy

What are the risks of the flu (influenza) infection if I’m pregnant?

Pregnancy can increase your risk of having more serious complications from the flu because your immune system is suppressed in pregnancy.

Complications of the flu infection in pregnant women are the same for the rest of the population but in severe cases the flu can increase your risk of miscarriage or premature labour.

Is the vaccine safe if I'm pregnant?

The Australian Government advises the vaccine is safeflu vaccine to have in all stages of pregnancy.

The possible side effects of the flu vaccine are the same as for the rest of the population.

The flu vaccine cannot give you or your unborn baby the flu because it contains no active virus.

Am I eligible for a free vaccination?

Yes. All pregnant women (in any trimester) are eligible to receive the free seasonal flu vaccine. Please note, your doctor may charge a consultation

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Coughs and Colds in Pregnancy

I have a cold!

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Coughs and colds are more likely in pregnancy if you are run down, over stressed, doing too much and in some professions.

What can be done?

Minimise risk factors. Avoid contact with people who are infected.

If you do get a cold, you can take paracetamol, throat lozenges, increase your fluids and rest.

You can take "over the counter" medications in moderation to relieve your symptoms, except if they contain herbs. Increasing your Vitamin C intake to 2gms per day while you have the cold can help.

If there is increasing chest congestion or you have coloured mucous then antibiotic treatment may be necessary. Consult your general practitioner and take the full course of prescribed medication. Please also let me know.

Prolonged high temperature is potentially dangerous for your baby. Avoid this by taking paracetamol and have frequent showers

It is considered, by the Australian Governement, safe to have the Read More...

Posted by Dr Gary Sykes on -

Chickenpox and pregnancy

What are chickenpox and shingles?

Chickenpox and shingles are infections which are caused by varicella-zoster virus.

Chickenpox begins with a feeling of being generally unwell. You develop a mild fever, malaise and itchy rash that turns into small blisters (hence the name ‘pox’) which crust over. These blisters appear over a period of three to four days and may be in various stages of development during the illness

How do I get infected?

Varicella-zoster (chickenpox) virus is very infectious and spreads in the air from person to person. Someone who is infected spreads it by talking, coughing, etc. If you are in the same room as someone with chickenpox for more than 15 minutes and you don’t have antibodies then there is a good chance you will become infected.

Chickenpox is infectious from two days before the rash first appears until all the spots have crusted over (commonly about five days after the onset of the rash). So, for example, if you talked to someone yesterday who developed the chickenpox rash today, you are at risk of developing chickenpox if you are not immune.

Shingles is reactivation of the dormant

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