Infectious diseases

4 things everyone needs to know about measles

Claire McCarthy, MD

Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publishing

The number of measles cases in the US in 2018 more than tripled over those in 2017, and early numbers for this year suggest a continued surge. It’s important for everyone, but especially parents, to know about the virus, its potential complications, and the facts about the vaccine.

What to do if you think your child has the flu

Claire McCarthy, MD

Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publishing

We are in the midst of an active flu season, so if you think your child may have the flu, following this advice will help you and your family get through it a little more easily.

Giving babies and toddlers antibiotics can increase the risk of obesity

Claire McCarthy, MD

Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publishing

Antibiotics are crucial tools in fighting illnesses, but over-reliance on them can have serious consequences. A new study found that babies who were given antibiotics in their first two years were significantly more likely to become obese.

Is hand sanitizer better at preventing the flu than soap and water?

John Ross, MD, FIDSA

Contributing Editor

In an eight-month study of toddlers in day care, researchers compared handwashing with soap and water to frequent and rigorous use of hand sanitizer. While the results were better for the hand sanitizer group, the study conditions may not reflect real-world hand hygiene.

Meningitis vaccines: What parents need to know

Claire McCarthy, MD

Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publishing

Most people who get viral meningitis get better without treatment, but bacterial meningitis is much more serious, and can be fatal. Meningitis vaccines can help protect against the most common bacteria responsible; two are given in infancy, and the third should be given before adolescence.

Lyme disease: Resolving the “Lyme wars”

Most people who get Lyme disease recover after a course of antibiotics, but some patients continue to experience symptoms for months or even years. There is much controversy around post-treatment Lyme disease, particularly in how long patients should continue taking antibiotics.

Ticked off: America’s quiet epidemic of tickborne diseases

John Ross, MD, FIDSA

Contributing Editor

The number of annual cases of Lyme disease in the United States nearly doubled from 2004 to 2016 (and those are just the reported cases), but several other serious illnesses can be spread by ticks and mosquitoes.

PrEP: Protection against HIV in a pill?

Meera Sunder, MBBS, MRCOG

Contributing Editor

While there is still no cure for HIV, it has become much more treatable, and now PrEP offers a way to help prevent it. PrEP involves a medication that combines two antiretroviral drugs that, if taken daily, can prevent HIV infection.

4 things to know about ticks and Lyme

Claire McCarthy, MD

Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publishing

It’s smart to be concerned about Lyme disease, but awareness of symptoms and taking some simple precautions when you or your family members spend time outdoors can help you avoid being bitten by ticks.

The bacterial horror of hot-air hand dryers

John Ross, MD, FIDSA

Contributing Editor

Researchers testing the dispersal of bacteria in public restrooms found that the hand dryers were picking up bacterial deposits, likely from aerosolized microbes caused by the flushing of uncovered toilets.