June 7, 2011
Pesky Viruses Still Present During Summer
Don't let the warm weather fool you "“ viruses are still frequent in the summer, according to an expert at Baylor College of Medicine.
"It's important for people to continue to practice good hand hygiene and cough etiquette during the summer, because there are many viruses still present," said Dr. Gail Demmler Harrison, professor of pediatrics-infectious disease at BCM and Texas Children's Hospital.
Rhinovirus, enterovirus out there
Viruses present in warm weather include the summer cold virus, or rhinovirus, as well as enterovirus, which is related to the cold virus.
Enteroviruses can cause symptoms that are more complicated than the common cold, such as sore throat and diarrhea, and can even lead to viral meningitis and inflammation of the heart and liver, said Demmler Harrison.
Parents of babies and young children should also look out for hand, foot and mouth disease, caused by a type of enterovirus, and characterized by ulcers in the back of the throat and a rash on hands and feet.
"There's no way to treat hand, foot and mouth disease. Just be sure to give your child enough fluids," said Demmler Harrison.
Another year-round virus that can be present in the summer is adenovirus, which can cause respiratory problems. Parainfluenza is a virus that can cause croup, a loud cough; bronchiolitis, swelling and mucus in the small air passages in the lungs; and even bronchitis, inflammation of the main air passages to the lungs.
Each of these viruses is spread from person to person and can be dangerous in some cases, said Demmler Harrison.
These viruses cannot be treated with antibiotics, but it's important to get enough fluid and rest if you have any of these viruses. Someone with a weak immune system should consult their physician if they have symptoms of any of these viruses.
Seek immediate care
If you have any of these viruses, there are symptoms that indicate you should seek care immediately. These include having a high fever for more than three days, vomiting for over 24 hours, diarrhea, severe headaches or chest pain.
"Most of these viruses are more inconvenient than serious, but it's important to be aware of them and get plenty of fluid and rest if you get them," said Demmler Harrison.
Those who are traveling in the summer should also be aware that the flu season is geographically dependent, so be sure to check the status of the influenza virus at your destination.
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