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Guest Author – How do chickenpox and shingles differ from each other? – Maria Fualo

For starters, both shingles (herpes zoster) and chickenpox (varicella) is a result of the same virus called the varicella-zoster virus, but they occur at different ages. Chickenpox can occur at any age, and shingles can occur any time after the person has had chickenpox. The two diseases bring a lot of discomforts to patients. In most cases, they irritate the skin and cause a blistering rash that scabs and may scar.

Whey They Occur and Physical Characteristics

The chickenpox is common in children below five years, while shingles infects typically people over 50 years. Shingles, however, can cause infection in anyone at any age if the chickenpox virus has already infected their body, mostly the elderly. Many cases of infection come from people above 50 years old.

Chickenpox and shingles do tend to differ in look. Chickenpox causes itchy blisters to form all over the body, sometimes internally. Shingles is very painful and often starts with localized numbness/tingling and often but not all the time, a rash. The shingles rash typically displays on one side of the body due to the fact that the follow along nerve pathways.

The blistering rash does not move all over the body like chickenpox does, but stays localized. The most common areas for the appearance of the rash would be the torso and face. It’s quite uncommon for the rash to spread elsewhere. Continue reading

You can learn about cells, Immunity, and vaccines in a new online course for FREE!

Did you know you can find an incredible number of free online classes from major universities all over the world at edX.org? If you didn’t, you need to jump on over there immediately and check out all there is to offer. Speaking of incredible classes…

Professor of Cell Research & Immunology at Tel Aviv University, Jonathan M. Gershoni, wants to welcome all of you to join his new FREE online class “Viruses & How to Beat Them: Cells, Immunity, Vaccines“.

This is a class welcome to anyone interested in basic cell biology, virology and immunology. There is no need for a well-developed understanding of science. The free online class is geared to non-science/biology majors, parents, and adults at or above the high school level.

What will you learn?

  • The makeup of cell structures (organelles) and their functions
  • What happens to our body when it is infected by viruses
  • How our immune system operates to protect us
  • The pros and cons of vaccination

The course is intended to help you make informed decisions about vaccines and better appreciate how our bodies cope with viral infections. But it’s not all about throwing information at you. The professors and speakers in the course keep it light and entertaining.  Continue reading

The Birthday Curse

My son, Stevie, is turning three in about ten days and here it is again, the birthday curse.

On his first birthday he contracted a nasty case of hand-foot-and-mouth that left him with open sores, finger and toe nails falling off, and a cancelled birthday party. And on his second birthday we were all throwing up from a stomach virus. So he’s turning three in a few days and it’s only appropriate that he come down with another case of hand-foot-and mouth.

What’s going on?! I’m convinced it’s the birthday curse. Or maybe it’s just the curse of the preschooler–they’re germy little buggers.

Hand-foot-and-mouth is a disease caused by multiple viruses and virus strains. There are at least seven strains of the coxsackievirus and at least one enterovirus that can cause the disease. So therefore, your little ones CAN get it again. Continue reading

Vaccines and pregnancy

The CDC recommends the pertussis (whooping cough) and flu vaccines during every pregnancy.

The pertussis vaccine is particularly important during pregnancy. Pertussis can be life-threatening to your newborn.

The pertussis vaccine (most commonly given in the Tdap vaccine–includes tetanus, diphtheria, and acellular pertussis) should given between 27-32 weeks gestation. The earlier the better. It will take at least two weeks for your body to make antibodies and pass them to your unborn child. Getting the vaccine around 27 weeks allows enough time for antibodies to form just in case you go into labor early.

These antibodies will normally protect the newborn until he is able to get his DTaP vaccine at 2 months (in the US).

Make sure you get this vaccine during EVERY pregnancy. The vaccine is mainly given to protect the child. You must get it every pregnancy to protect each child from pertussis. And it is safe for you to do so.

Next up…the flu shot. It is safe and recommended by the CDC to get the flu shot during pregnancy. Continue reading