Infectious Diseases

Adopt Special Needs: Special Needs - Infectious DiseasesSome children available for adoption have recurring or persistent conditions caused by infectious agents.  We provide the following information for reference purposes only and cannot attest to the accuracy of the information. We highly recommend speaking with an experienced physician for further details on each condition.

Common Infectious Diseases

Congenital Syphilis

Adopt Special Needs: Special Needs - Infectious Diseases - Congenital Syphilis
Congenital syphilis
is a condition that occurs when a baby is born to a mother infected with syphilis, a common venereal disease.  The infection is passed through the placenta to the unborn child.  Congenital syphilis can be severe, disabling and often life threatening for the infant.  Almost half of all children infected with syphilis while in the womb die at birth.  Syphilis is easily treated and curable, however, when diagnosed early. Newborns may exhibit irritability, failure to gain weight or failure to thrive, rash or blisters on the face, palms and soles of feet, absence of a nose bridge, enlarged liver, or severe pneumonia. Older children may have bone pain, bowed legs, joint swelling, vision loss, decreased hearing or abnormal teeth.

Treatment: 
Proper doses of medicine (penicillin) will cure syphilis.

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Hepatitis A


Hepatitis A is a highly contagious liver infection caused by a virus. It can affect your liver's ability to function properly.  Most children under age six will not have any outward symptoms. Symptoms usually appear two to four weeks after infection and often mimic the flu, such as extreme fatigue, loss of appetite, nausea aches and pains, low-grade fever. Several days after these symptoms appear, symptoms of liver problems will occur such as dark urine, jaundice and itchy skin. Hepatitis A is transmitted through stools of people with Hepatitis A.

Treatment: 
An IV for fluid may be needed to replace fluids lost by vomiting, fever and diarrhea. A child might need medications for fever and for itching 

Prognosis
Hepatitis A is not a long-term infection. Once you have Hepatitis A you cannot get it again.

Hepatitis B
Adopt Special Needs: Special Needs - Infectious Diseases - Hepatitis B
Hepatitis B
is an infection of the liver caused by a virus. Many people, especially children, will have no symptoms. However, even if they don't appear to be sick or have the symptoms, people can have active, chronic Hep B, and they can pass the disease to unimmunized people, generally through blood contact. When symptoms do present, they may include mild fever, fatigue, muscle aches, joint aches, abdominal pain, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, headache, dark urine, yellow eyes and skin. Some children who test Hep B+ may have cleared the disease when they had it and no longer can pass on this disease to others. Some patients go on to develop a chronic, long term, form of hepatitis B. 
 
Treatment: 
Treatment with medication is available for patients with chronic hepatitis B who meet specific medical criteria.  Treatment should be determined and closely monitored by a doctor familiar with the treatment of Hepatitis B in children.
 
Prognosis:
Children with the long term, chronic form of Hep B can usually live very productive, normal lives as adults.

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Hepatitis C


Hepatitis C is a virus which affects the liver, and 80% of people infected with Hepatitis C will develop the chronic, long term, form of hepatitis C.  Only one-fifth of those people with the chronic form will get severe liver damage called cirrhosis; this normally occurs 20 to 30 years after initial infection. Most people, especially children, will have no symptoms. When someone has symptoms they can include fatigue, loss of appetite, nausea, mild fever, vomiting, muscle aches, joint aches, headache, dark urine, yellow eyes or skin, and abdominal pain. There is no vaccine to prevent Hepatitis C.

Treatment: 
Treatment is available with medications for patients who meet certain medical criteria.   Treatment should be determined and monitored closely by a doctor. All patients with hepatitis C, who do NOT have hepatitis B, should be immunized for hepatitis B. It is important to prevent persons with hepatitis C from getting hepatitis B, because having both leads to a worse prognosis.

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HIV

Adopt Special Needs: Special Needs - Infectious Diseases - HIV
HIV
stands for human immunodeficiency virus. It is the virus that causes AIDS, Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome, a disease which attacks a person’s immune system and leaves them vulnerable to other illnesses. When a person is infected with HIV, the virus enters the body and lives and grows primarily in the white blood cells. These are immune cells that normally protect us from disease.  A person who has HIV carries the virus in certain body fluids, including blood, semen, vaginal secretions, and breast milk. The virus can be transmitted only if such HIV-infected fluids enter the bloodstream of another person. This kind of direct entry can occur (1) through the linings of the vagina, rectum, mouth, and penis; (2) through intravenous injection with a syringe; or (3) through a break in the skin, such as a cut or sore. Usually, HIV is transmitted through unprotected sexual intercourse with someone who has HIV, sharing needles or syringes with someone who is HIV infected (laboratory studies show that infectious HIV can survive in used syringes for a month or more- It is very important not to share or reuse syringes for this reason), or infection during pregnancy, childbirth, or breast-feeding (mother-to-infant transmission). HIV is NOT transmitted through food or air (for instance, by coughing or sneezing).

There has never been a case where a person was infected by a household member, relative, coworker, or friend through casual or everyday contact such as sharing eating utensils or bathroom facilities, or through casually touching each other.  HIV is not transmitted through shaking hands, hugging, or a kiss on the cheek. You cannot become infected from a toilet seat, a drinking fountain, a door knob, dishes, drinking glasses, food, or pets.  No one has ever caught HIV from hugging. Sweat, tears, vomit, feces, and urine do contain HIV, but have not been reported to transmit the disease. Mosquitoes, fleas, and other insects do not transmit HIV. The following may be warning signs of infection with HIV: rapid weight loss, dry cough,  recurring fever or profuse night sweats, profound and unexplained fatigue; swollen lymph glands in the armpits, groin, or neck; diarrhea that lasts for more than a week; white spots or unusual blemishes on the tongue, in the mouth, or in the throat; severe pneumonia; or red, brown, pink, or purplish blotches on or under the skin or inside the mouth, nose, or eyelids.

Treatment: 
There is still no cure for HIV or AIDS, but there are medicines that can help slow down the virus. Children with HIV should be closely followed by a doctor.

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Meningitis


Meningitis is an inflammation of the membranes that cover the brain and spinal cord. Meningitis can be caused by a bacterial or viral infection. Viral meningitis is usually less severe and will resolve without specific treatment. Bacterial meningitis can be quite severe and may result in brain damage, hearing loss, or learning disabilities. The symptoms of meningitis may occur several days after a child has a cold or runny nose. Symptoms of meningitis may include severe headache, stiff neck, dislike of bright lights, fever/vomiting/diarrhea, drowsiness with the child being less responsive, and rash. Not everyone gets all of the symptoms and they can occur in any order. Other symptoms in babies may include, bulging of the soft spot on their head, blotchy skin (getting paler or turning blue), refusing to feed, irritable when picked up, and a stiff body with jerky movements. Some forms of bacterial meningitis are contagious and can spread to others who have close or prolonged contact. People with a less competent immune system, like infants, are more at risk.

Treatment: 
Bacterial meningitis is treated with antibiotics.Treatment should be started early in the course of the disease.

Prognosis: 
The long-term outlook for children with meningitis depends on the age, the type of meningitis, the complications, and the treatment the child receives.

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Polio


Polio is caused by a virus. A child becomes infected by ingestion of contaminated water or food. After the virus is in the body, it begins to attack and destroy nerves that control muscles. This damage to these nerves can cause paralysis in different muscle groups. Polio virus affects mainly children, but adults with a weak immune system may also develop the disease. A mild disease usually presents with fever, headache, nausea, vomiting, and sore throat. A moderate form of the disease may include neck rigidity, severe headache, severe back pain, and meningitis. Patients with the severe form of Polio may show symptoms including localized or widespread nerve involvement, loss of muscle functions in major groups of muscles, and loss of muscle bulk. Death can be caused by the virus affecting the muscles that control breathing. 

Treatment: 
There is no treatment for polio. After the disease, rehabilitation may be needed with physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, recreational therapy, and surgical intervention to help release permanent tightening of muscles.  

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Tuberculosis


Tuberculosis, or TB, is a disease caused by bacteria.   The bacteria can attack any part of a person’s body, but usually attacks the lungs.  TB is spread through the air from one person to another. The bacteria are put into the air when a person with TB of the lungs or throat coughs or sneezes. People nearby may breathe in these bacteria and become infected. Children can become infected with tuberculosis if they are around adults with active TB. Diagnosis of TB in children is difficult as they are less likely to have obvious symptoms.  Some of the symptoms of an active TB infection include a bad cough that lasts longer than two weeks, pain in the chest, and coughing up blood or  heavy mucus from the lungs.  Other symptoms of tuberculosis disease are weakness or fatigue, weight loss, no appetite, chills, fever, and sweating at night.

Treatment: 
TB in infants and children is much more likely to spread throughout the body through the bloodstream and a serious infection called meningitis may occur.  Because of this, prompt diagnosis and treatment of TB is critical to children. The good news is that TB can almost always be cured with medicine, but the medicine must be taken EXACTLY as prescribed by the doctor.   TB bacteria die very slowly and so a child has to take medicine for many months, even if they start to feel better quickly.   If a child stops taking the medicine too quickly, it can be very dangerous.   The TB bacteria will grow again even stronger, and the child will remain sick for a longer time. The best method to prevent TB in children is to find and treat cases of active TB among the adults caring for them.

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