Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Mosquito bites itch may be more than just an annoyance

Everyone tuned in to news media already knows about Zika spread by mosquitoes and the risk of fetal complications among pregnant women infected. 

Unfortunately, much more severe diseases such as Chikungunya and Dengue fever are also spread by mosquitoes.

New animal research suggests that itching and swelling at the site of mosquito bite allow the virus to replicate faster, than when no itching and swelling are present. This means that in addition to mosquito repellents, using anti-inflammatory creams and sprays post-exposure may help reduce the risk of acquiring a mosquito-borne viral infection. This finding has not been confirmed in human studies, but when used sparingly, anti-inflammatory creams and sprays have no serious side effects. It may be a good extra measure to start applying them at the sites of bites right away, rather than waiting for swelling and itching to set in.

Sergei Shushunov, MD

Friday, January 22, 2016

Wheezing and antibiotics. Is it connected?

Children of preschool age who develop wheezing during viral respiratory illness are often diagnosed with Reactive Airway Disease and receive treatment with medications, usually inhaled to reduce inflammation and decrease the narrowing of the airways. Some parents demand antibiotics to treat viral illnesses of their children, thinking that it may shorten the duration of the illness or prevent complications and pediatricians sometimes comply, usually prescribing amoxicillin or something similar, just to keep parents happy.

It has been suggested several years ago that wheezing in some young children may, in fact, be associated with a specific bacteria. However, it was not clear what pediatricians should do about it.  Now pediatricians may have some clues. A small study published in December 2015 demonstrated a dramatic decrease in the duration of wheezing episodes in small children treated with antibiotic azithromycin.  

It is important to keep in mind that while both, azithromycin and amoxicillin are antibiotics, their chemical structure and effect on bacteria and the human body are very different, meaning that using any antibiotic to treat wheeze may do more harm than help.