Pediatrician - New Port Richey
2044 Trinity Oaks Boulevard Suite 235
New Port Richey, FL 34655
(727) 375-5437

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Posts for: July, 2016

By Sheridan Hernandez MD
July 22, 2016
Category: Dr Hernandez
Tags: Viral Infection  

As a pediatrician, I hate viruses. I hate them even though they are one of the most relevant reasons my job, as a pediatrician, exists. Here's the main reason I hate viruses. If your child contracts a viral infection, in almost every circumstance, I can't cure them. Often I can I can make a specific diagnoses. Many viruses may, for example, have a specific rash or a specific test by which to confirm the infection. For example, chicken pox has a specific rash as does roseola. I can test for influenza right in the office, and Mono and RSV through the lab. So at least, in these instances, I can be specific when I tell you, as a worried parent, what is going on. But still these viruses have no cures, and so I can only treat the symptoms. I understand how frustrating it can be, to you, as a parent, when I, as the doctor, say that these symptoms are caused by a virus and it will have to run its course. I assure you guys, I am not trying to avoid treating your baby, there simply is no treatment.

What is more frustrating for both you as a parent and me as a pediatrician, are viruses that cannot typically be easily diagnosed specifically, either in the office or otherwise. For example, one thing I hate especially, is a severe vomiting and diarrhea infection. While vomiting and diarrhea can represent other more serious pathology at times, by far the most common reason is a "stomach bug", in other words a virus. And there are so many viruses that cause these symptoms. A child who has vomited multiple times worries his or her parents terribly. The child will appear miserable and the parent feels helpless. Believe me I understand, I have watched my own children suffer through such infections. Parents desperately want me, as the doctor, to do something. I really wish I could. But there really isn't any treatment for a viral "stomach bug". Anti nausea/vomiting medications are really not recommended for young children in these circumstances and antibiotics would be likely to make things worse. Antibiotics kill bacteria not viruses. If I give a child with an intestinal virus an antibiotic, and kill the good bacteria that are supposed to live in the gut, then the virus can thrive even more. What I can do, is advise you on how to keep your child hydrated and what you might feed him/her that may help. The only good thing about these viruses is that they are usually very short lived.

Another symptom that frustrates parents is the sore throat. Although, of course, sore throats can be caused by strep, that only accounts for a small percentage of sore throats. There are many, many viruses that cause a sore, red throat, swollen tonsils and even white spots and pus on tonsils. Very often it is not strep and an antibiotic will do nothing and potentially could cause harm. Actually, I would love if every sore throat was caused by strep. As a pediatrician, I love strep in a way. There is a very good, fast test to diagnose it, and most antibiotics can treat it. Usually, the patient will be feeling better in 24 hours. I wish every infection was like strep. But unfortunately as I said, most sore throats are not strep, they are viral. And so once again I may say to you, the concerned parent, it will have to run it's course. Believe me, there is nothing I would like more than to be able to give you a fast and easy treatment and If it existed I would prescribe it. And so the same goes for snotty stuffy noses caused by viruses, coughs caused by viruses and rashes caused by viruses.  None of this is to say you should not bring your child to the clinic when you are concerned. Sometimes, symptoms that might usually be caused by a viral infection are actually due to a dangerous condition that needs rapid treatment. It is my job to be aware of this, and to be astute and observant enough to recognize when there is something more serious going on, your even, just simply something that is treatable like strep. Please remember parents, when I say it is a virus and there is no treatment other than time, I am most certainly not saying it is nothing. A virus is an infection and it can make a child feel and look miserable. I know that from experience both as a doctor, and a parent. The good thing is that most viruses are not serious and your child should make a full recovery quickly.

It is my honor and privilege to care for all those beautiful children and I will continue to do the best I can to serve them as effectively as possible.

See you next time, 
Dr. Sheridan Hernandez


By Christopher Pope ARNP
July 06, 2016
Category: Zika
Tags: Zika Virus  

                                     

As of this writing there have been 263 confirmed cases of Zika virus in Florida since January. As the number of Zika cases raises so too do fears that the virus will start causing the severe birth defects that are occurring in infants throughout the Caribbean and South America.  What are the real risks for our children here in Florida?

First, the good news.  The Zika virus poses little threat to children and infants.  Only one in five infected individuals will exhibit symptoms and those that have symptoms will usually only have mild viral symptoms such fevers, aches, pains and a rash.  Secondly, all of the cases in the United States thus far have been contracted in other countries or through sexual activity with infected individuals who had recently travelled to at-risk countries.    The primary mode of transmission in countries most affected by Zika is through mosquito bites.  Thankfully no mosquitoes have been identified in the U.S. as carrying the virus.

So why is there so much fear about this virus? When pregnant women contract the virus, their unborn baby is at risk for severe birth defects that cause a small head (microcephally) which results in serious brain disorders and developmental delays.  The larger the population of infected people in our area, the more likely the virus will take hold in the mosquito population. If the virus becomes mosquito-born, then we will see a significant increase in Zika cases and likely an increase in children born with severe birth defects will follow.

What can we do to reduce our risk from the Zika virus?  The biggest risk for contracting the virus currently is by traveling to countries whose mosquitoes carry the virus.  If you are a woman who is pregnant or at risk of becoming pregnant or a man who potentially could cause his partner to become pregnant, then it would be wise to avoid traveling to countries in the Caribbean or Central and South America where the virus is wide-spread.  To find out which countries are high risk consult the CDC website at http://www.cdc.gov/zika/index.html. In addition to being selective about your travel destinations it would be wise to take measures to protect yourself from mosquitoes at home.  Mosquitoes love to breed in pools of stagnant water, so make sure you don’t leave empty buckets, flower pots etc. outside to fill up with rain water.  We might also want to do a little investigating about who is running for mosquito control in our county in the next election and elect the most qualified individual.  Finally we should all protect ourselves and children from mosquito bites through simple measures such as wearing light-weight long-sleeved clothing, mosquito netting over strollers, etc. when in mosquito infested areas, using insect repellent, and avoiding being out at dusk and dawn when mosquitoes are their most active.

CLICK HERE FOR INFORMATION ABOUT CHOOSING AN INSECT REPELLENT FOR YOUR CHILD

The Zika virus has only been recognized for a very short time, which means there is much we do not know about it.  We will watch closely for any news about Zika that may be relevant to our patient families’ health and pass it along to you.

Christopher Pope, MSN, CPNP




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2044 Trinity Oaks Boulevard, Suite 235
Trinity, FL 34655