Practice News


ZIKA Virus

What is Zika?

Zika virus disease is caused by the Zika virus, which is spread to people primarily through the bite of an infected mosquito (Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus). The illness is usually mild with symptoms lasting up to a week, and many people do not have symptoms or will have only mild symptoms. However, Zika virus infection during pregnancy can cause a serious birth defect called microcephaly and other severe brain defects.

Frequently Asked Questions From CDC

ZIKA Virus In The News


Zika Virus In The News

There has been a lot of news about the Zika virus lately. Texas Health Care physicians want you to have the most up-to-date and accurate information about Zika, and have put together this Q&A based on research and recommendations from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC):

Q: What is Zika virus?

Zika virus is spread primarily through mosquito bites. It usually causes mild symptoms, if any; many people who are infected will experience no symptoms at all. However, Zika can cause serious birth defects, so women who are pregnant or may become pregnant must take special care to protect themselves from Zika.

Q: What are the symptoms of Zika virus?

Zika can cause mild symptoms, including fever, rash, joint pain, muscle pain, conjunctivitis and headache. These symptoms can last for up to one week. However, many people will never experience any symptoms at all.

Q: What is the risk to pregnant women?

Zika virus can cause serious problems for pregnant women and women who may become pregnant. The virus is associated with a birth defect known as microcephaly, in which the baby’s head is smaller than it should be and the brain may be underdeveloped. Zika can cause other birth defects, including other brain abnormalities, eye problems, hearing loss and impaired growth. A Zika infection does not automatically mean these things will happen, but it does increase the risk. As a precaution, all pregnant women should be evaluated for possible Zika exposure at every pre-natal care visit.

Q: How does someone get Zika virus?

Zika is usually transmitted through the bite of an Aedes species mosquito, known for aggressive biting during daytime hours, although it can also bite at night. Zika can also be transmitted through sex.

Q: Is there a cure or vaccine for Zika virus?

Not at this time.

Q: Where is the Zika virus in the United States?

As of August 29, 2016, the only confirmed cases of an original transmission – that is, a Zika infection through a mosquito bite – in the continental Unites States have been in two areas of Miami-Dade County, Florida.

The only Texas cases that have been reported to date involve people who recently traveled to an area in which Zika is present or have had sex with someone who was infected.

Q: How do I protect myself from mosquitos carrying Zika virus?

If you are pregnant, do not travel to an area in which Zika transmissions have been reported. Check the CDC website for countries, territories and cities affected by Zika before planning travel.

When outdoors, you should use an insect repellant registered with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) which contains one of these ingredients:

  • DEET
  • Picaridin
  • Oil of lemon eucalyptus (OLE)/para-menthane-diol (PMD) IR3535.

NOTE: Do not use insect repellants on babies under two months old and do not use repellants containing OLE or PMD on children under three years of age.

Keep in mind, even though Zika transmissions from mosquitos have not been reported in Texas, it’s always a good idea to use insect repellant – it will help protect you from West Nile Virus, also.

If you’re spending time outdoors, treat clothes and gear with permethrin. You can also purchase items pre-treated with permethrin.

Eliminate opportunities for mosquitos to breed near your house by turning over any pots or containers that hold standing water and filling in low spots.

Q: How do I protect myself from Zika during sex?

Zika can be transmitted through sex, and people who have traveled to an area with Zika, or who are partners with someone who has, need to take extra precautions. Even if the person who has traveled has not been diagnosed with Zika and is not experiencing symptoms, the CDC advises:

If your partner is pregnant, use a condom during all types of sex (including vaginal, oral and anal sex) for the entire duration of the pregnancy or abstain from sex throughout the pregnancy.

If you and your partner are planning a pregnancy: visit with your physician first.

If you or your partner are not pregnant and not planning a pregnancy, precautions are still advisable. For those who have symptoms or have been diagnosed, the CDC suggests men use condoms or abstain from sex for six months after symptoms began. Women should consider using condoms or abstaining for eight weeks after symptoms began.

For men and women who have traveled to a Zika area but have not been diagnosed or shown any symptoms, the CDC suggests using condoms or abstaining for eight weeks after travel.

Texas Health Care physicians are here to answer your questions about Zika virus and hope you have found this information to be helpful. For the latest information on Zika, including travel advisories, be sure to also check the CDC Zika website, as well.


Immunizations Article 2016

August is here, which means while there are a few more weeks of summer to enjoy, it’s also time to start thinking about the new school year. That means school supplies, new clothes, haircuts and making sure vaccinations are up to date.

Texas law requires that school children (in public, charter and private schools) be up to date on a number of vaccines. In addition to these mandatory immunizations, there are a few more that are strongly recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and medical professionals, including Texas Health Care physicians.

In addition to ensuring your children’s vaccines are up to date this month, it’s a good opportunity for adults to assess their own immunization history and get caught up on their own vaccines, if needed.

“Vaccines help build up our body’s immunity to disease,” explains Dr. Lynne Tilkin, a primary care physician. “Because some vaccines are so effective and have been near-universally administered, we have eradicated some terrible diseases, such as small pox, and virtually eliminated others, such as polio. It’s easy to take that for granted today, but before the 1950’s, polio was a parent’s worst nightmare because there was nothing you could do if your child contracted it.”

As any parent knows, children begin receiving immunizations shortly after birth and continue throughout childhood. However, immunizations are not just for babies and young children. People of all ages need periodic immunizations to protect against various diseases. Here is a look at the most commonly-administered immunizations, the diseases they help prevent and standard guidelines on who should get them and how often.
Please note that these are standard guidelines developed and issued by the CDC, the American Academy of Family Physicians and the American Academy of Pediatrics. If you have an underlying health condition, your physician may recommend forgoing a vaccine or receiving additional vaccines. It is very important to consult with your physician on immunizations.

Printable, color-coded charts showing recommended vaccinations by age can be found on the CDC’s website:

  • Children 0-6
  • Children 7-18
  • Adults

Diphtheria, Tetanus and Pertussis (DTaP)

Diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis are serious diseases caused by bacteria. Diphtheria causes a thick covering in the throat and can lead to cardiovascular and breathing problems, paralysis and death. Tetanus, commonly called “lockjaw,” causes tightening of muscles throughout the body. In the event the jaw locks, a person may be unable to swallow. Pertussis is commonly referred to as whooping cough. This disease causes intense coughing fits for infants and young children, leaving them unable to eat or drink.

Whooping cough has been in the news periodically over the last few years, as there have been isolated cases of people (mainly children) contracting whooping cough. This has occurred as some parents are opting their children out of vaccinations, citing various objections.

“Whooping cough underscores why vaccines are so important,” says Dr. William Maxwell, Jr., an Obstetrician and Gynecologist. “Pertussis was virtually eliminated just a few years ago, but now we are seeing it reemerge as some people forgo vaccines. And it should not be mistaken for simply a bad cough; it’s a terrible – and sometimes deadly – illness and when children are not vaccinated, they are defenseless against it.”

People at any age are vulnerable to a tetanus infection, which is why it is necessary to get a booster shot every ten years. Additionally, due to the high risk of pertussis infection to infants, pregnant women and adults who will be around infants should have their Tdap vaccine current.

Who Needs It:

  • Children at 2 months, 4 months, 6 months, 15-18 months, 4-6 years, 11-12 years
  • Adults should get a Td booster (tetanus and diphtheria) every 10 years
  • Pregnant women should get a Tdap each time they are pregnant, between the 27th and 36th week of pregnancy.
  • Adults who will be around infants under 1 year of age should be up to date on their Tdap.

Polio (IPV)

Polio is an infectious disease that can cause paralysis and sometimes death in those who contract it. In the first half of the 20th century, polio was widespread in the United States, and parents were terrified that their children could contract it in a public pool or park.

The world changed in 1955, when Dr. Jonas Salk announced he had developed a proven and safe vaccine that would protect people from polio. Through an effective immunization program, polio was eradicated in the United States; the last occurrence of polio in this country was in 1979. However, polio still occurs in the planet’s population, and numerous cases are reported in less developed nations, primarily in Africa and Southeast Asia. Until the disease is completely eradicated, as smallpox was, immunizations are still absolutely necessary.

Who Needs It:

  • Children at 2 months, 4 months, 6-18 months and 4-6 years

Measles, Mumps and Rubella (MMR)

A highly-contagious respiratory virus, measles used to be quite common; in fact, virtually all children used to contract the disease by the age of 15. Measles vaccinations began in the mid-1950’s and served to largely eliminate the disease as a common occurrence. As with pertussis, however, there have been reports of measles occurrences in non-immunized children. In 2014, 150 people contracted measles in an outbreak that began in an amusement park.

A mumps outbreak in Iowa in 2006 demonstrated that when individuals are not vaccinated, they can contract the illness and also spread it into the vaccinated population. The MMR vaccine is considered 95 percent effective – it provides very good odds, but if exposed to measles or mumps, a vaccinated person remains slightly vulnerable to contracting it. This simply underscores that for vaccinations to truly be effective, everyone must be vaccinated.

Who Needs It:

  • Children at 12-15 months and 4-6 years

Hepatitis A/Hepatitis B (HepA/HepB)

Hepatitis A and Hepatitis B are viruses that attack the liver. Hepatitis A generally spreads through accidental ingestion of microscopic amounts of fecal matter. Hepatitis B is spread through the blood and other bodily fluids.

Who Needs It:

  • HepB: Children at birth, 1-2 months, 6-18 months
  • HepA: Children at 12-18 months

Hib Disease (Hib)

Hib disease is a bacterial disease that can lead to meningitis, pneumonia and death. Before the Hib vaccine, Hib disease was the leading cause of bacterial meningitis infections in children under the age of five.

Who Needs It:

  • Children at 2 months, 4 months, 6 months, 12-15 months

Chickenpox (Varicella)

First cleared for use in the United States in 1995, the chickenpox vaccine is relatively new. Chickenpox used to be very common, usually affecting children ages ten and younger. Before the vaccine, up to four million people contracted the disease each year in the United States. Chickenpox is highly contagious, and causes a severe rash, fever and fatigue. The virus that causes chickenpox can also cause shingles in adults.

Who Needs It:

  • Children at 12-15 months
  • Anyone who has never had the vaccine or the chickenpox

Meningococcal Disease (MenACWY or MPSV4 and MenB)

There are several different forms of meningococcal disease, some of which can be prevented through vaccinations. In general, this illness attacks the central nervous system by infecting membranes on the brain and spinal cord.

Meningitis can commonly be transmitted among teenagers and college students through sharing drinks, kissing and living in close quarters, such as a dorm. Meningitis is a highly-contagious, dangerous illness that can cause death. Vaccinations remain the best way to prevent contracting it.

Who Needs It:

  • MenACWY/MPSV4: Children at 16 years of age
  • MenB: Children 16-18 who wish to receive the vaccine, after consultation with a physician

Flu (Influenza)

An annual flu vaccine is important for children ages six months and older and adults. The flu causes serious symptoms such as fever, muscle pain, extreme fatigue and headache. Young children and older adults are especially susceptible to complications, such as pneumonia and even death. See our October, 2015 article on the flu and the importance of the flu vaccine.

NOTE: Flu vaccines are generally available beginning in September each year.

Who Needs It:

  • Everyone six months or older, once a year. Flu season begins in October and runs through May. It is especially important that anyone who is younger than five or older than 65, pregnant or living in a nursing home or long-term facility get the vaccine.

Pneumonia (Pneumococcal)

The very young and older people are especially vulnerable to pneumonia. Every year in the United States, about one million people seek treatment in a hospital for pneumonia and 50,000 die from the disease.

Who Needs It:

  • Children under age 5
  • Adults 65 and older

Human Papillomavirus (HPV)

HPV is the primary cause of cervical cancer. HPV is a common virus transmitted through sexual contact. The CDC reports that at least half of the sexually active population has HPV, and many who have it will never realize it.

In most cases, HPV will prove to be harmless, but in some instances it can alter cells in the cervix and cause cancer. Parents should ask their child’s doctor about the HPV vaccine, as it can protect the child from HPV later in life. The HPV vaccine dramatically reduces a girl’s odds of ever developing cervical cancer, as well as vaginal and vulvar cancers.

Who Needs It:

  • Vaccines are recommended for boys and girls aged 11 - 12. However, girls and young women ages 13 through 26 can also receive the vaccines if they did not get a full course when they were younger, according to the CDC. Young men can receive the vaccine through age 21.

Shingles

Shingles is a painful skin rash caused by the same virus that causes chickenpox. If you have had the chickenpox – or the chickenpox vaccine – you are at risk for shingles.

Who Needs It:

  • Adults age 60 and older, if they have had chickenpox or the vaccine.

The Dangers of Vaccine Myths

In recent years, various urban legends and internet rumors have cropped up around the subject of vaccines. A widely-circulated myth, one that has been completely discredited by the medical and scientific community, is that vaccines can increase the likelihood of autism in children.

“These types of rumors and crazy myths are completely false – and they are dangerous,” says Dr. Maxwell. “Vaccines save lives, period. Any small risk associated with a child being vaccinated is far outweighed by the considerable risk that an unvaccinated child will contract a serious and potentially deadly disease, such as pertussis or measles.”

Although the number of Texas parents seeking an exemption for their child is relatively small – less than one percent – it is increasing. And as the number of parents opting out of vaccines has crept up, so has the incidence of measles and pertussis outbreaks. In 2014, there were 667 confirmed measles cases in the U.S., the highest number since 2000, the year in which the disease was declared to have been eradicated.

“That’s why vaccines matter so much – if enough people stop getting immunized, we’ll be back to where we started with these serious diseases threatening people’s health and lives,” says Dr. Tilkin. “If you have questions about a vaccine, please do speak with your doctor – he or she will answer your questions. Just please don’t believe the myths that are out there.”

This article contains information sourced from: The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention The Texas Tribune

Awards

An advocate for her patients who is compassionate about their care, Dr. English received the Patients Choice Award for excellence for 7 years running. She has also been named a “Top Doctor” by Fort Worth, Texas Magazine 6 years running from 2010-2016 and named Texas Monthly Super Doctor-Rising Star for 2015 and 2016. Board Certified by the American Board of Obstetrics & Gynecology.

 

ObGyn Website Design | Medical Website Design | Medical Web Design by Vital Element, Inc.