Infectious diseases

H. pylori, a true stomach “bug”: Who should doctors test and treat?

Wynne Armand, MD
Wynne Armand, MD, Contributing Editor

A stomach infection of H. pylori bacteria can cause ulcers, but not everyone with the infection shows symptoms and the treatment process can be challenging, so only people with certain conditions need to be tested for it.

The flu shot saves children’s lives

Claire McCarthy, MD
Claire McCarthy, MD, Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publications

Even though this year’s flu season is just about over, parents should be thinking about protecting their children next winter. Despite short-term reactions in some people, the flu shot is safe for nearly everyone.

Bad bug, no drugs: The real end of antibiotics?

John Ross, MD, FIDSA
John Ross, MD, FIDSA, Contributing Editor

The constant stream of antibiotics in the food we eat and in the hospitals that treat us is creating the perfect environment for antibiotic resistant bacteria. It’s not cost effective to develop new antibiotics to replace the now-useless ones, so our pipeline is drying up. And while this sounds bleak, there are things you can do as a consumer and as a patient to help. You can start by paying attention to the food you eat and by not pressing your doctor for unnecessary antibiotics.

Finding the tick in time could save you from Lyme!

Meera Sunder, MBBS, MRCOG
Meera Sunder, MBBS, MRCOG, Contributing Editor

Outdoor activities can be spoiled by getting Lyme disease from a tick bite. Know what to do to protect yourself (and your pets) from this infection and its unpleasant symptoms, as well as what to do if you have already been bitten. If you do end up with a tick “on board” it is important to remove it correctly and know when to call your doctor.

Charles Darwin, Chagas’ disease, and the killer kissing bugs of California

John Ross, MD, FIDSA
John Ross, MD, FIDSA, Contributing Editor

An insect known as the kissing bug has the ability to pass along Chagas’ disease to unsuspecting people. While it affects more people in Latin America than in this country, this parasitic disease can still be a problem in the southwestern United States. Most cases of Chagas’ disease pass without much incidence, but it can cause lasting problems. The rates of Chagas’ disease could go up with climate change, and more research is definitely needed. Charles Darwin may be one of the first “researchers” on the subject, but he’s not to be the last.

2017 update to the immunization schedule for kids

Claire McCarthy, MD
Claire McCarthy, MD, Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publications

The CDC and the AAP update their vaccine recommendations every year, and here are the latest changes. These updates show just how important it is to stay on top of research and help increase the effectiveness of each vaccine. The schedule for routine immunizations and catching up kids who get behind can be found on the CDC and AAP websites if you’d like more information.

The 4 symptoms that mean your child must stay home from school or daycare

Claire McCarthy, MD
Claire McCarthy, MD, Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publications

Children get sick, and when it happens parents have to decide whether or not to keep their kid home from school or daycare. Certain symptoms are signs that a child should definitely stay home. If you’re really not sure, your doctor can help guide your decision. To help your child recover, and prevent spreading illness to others, better safe than sorry.

When a nasty stomach virus strikes…

Monique Tello, MD, MPH
Monique Tello, MD, MPH, Contributing Editor

When one person in your household catches a stomach bug, it seems the rest of the household becomes sick almost instantly. This winter has been particularly difficult, which makes it all the more useful to know more: Why does this bug spread so quickly? And how do I prevent it?

Sexually transmitted infections on the rise

Monique Tello, MD, MPH
Monique Tello, MD, MPH, Contributing Editor

Rates of several common sexually transmitted infections have been rising during the past few years. Many people with an STI have no idea they have been infected, so testing is crucial. If someone doesn’t know that they are infected, they can’t get treated. If they don’t get treated and have unprotected sex they will pass these infections to others.

Parents: How smart are you about antibiotics?

Claire McCarthy, MD
Claire McCarthy, MD, Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publications

Antibiotics are essential medications and can save lives. But they should only be used when absolutely needed. As with any drug, antibiotics have risks as well as benefits. Side effects range from diarrhea to allergic reactions. Also, using antibiotics when they are not necessary can result in bacteria that cause infections that cannot be treated easily or effectively.