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The Mother of All Viruses by John Kovacich

Article metrics. Advanced search. Skip to main content. Subjects Immune tolerance Influenza virus. Rent or Buy article Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube. References 1. Rights and permissions To obtain permission to re-use content from this article visit RightsLink. However, many people with hepatitis A do not experience symptoms. There is no long-term infection and it is not known to pass from the mother to her unborn baby. To prevent hepatitis A, always wash hands after using the bathroom, after changing a diaper, and before eating, and consider getting the hepatitis A vaccine.

Hepatitis B is a serious disease that attacks the liver.


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Signs and symptoms include jaundice, fatigue, abdominal pain, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, and joint pain. Long-term complications of hepatitis B can include lifelong infection, scarring of the liver, liver cancer, liver failure, and death. Hepatitis B is transmitted through sexual contact, sharing needles, and from mother to baby during childbirth. Ninety per cent of infants who are infected at birth will develop chronic hepatitis B infection.


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All pregnant women should be screened for hepatitis B and consider getting the hepatitis B vaccine. The vaccine can be given during pregnancy. Infants who are born to women with hepatitis B should be given both hepatitis B immunoglobulin and the hepatitis B vaccine within 12 hours after birth. This can help reduce the rate of transmission of the disease to the baby. There are a number of drugs that can be used to treat hepatitis B, but none of them are approved for use during pregnancy. A coxsackie infection during pregnancy is serious because it can be fatal to the unborn baby while only causing minor symptoms in the mother.

The presence of this virus may lead to hepatitis, an inflammation of the heart muscle called myocarditis, and an inflammation of the brain and spinal cord called encephalomyelitis, which can cause death of the unborn baby. Coxsackie infection itself can damage the unborn baby and lead to birth defects. Most poliovirus infections are mild.

However, pregnant women have been shown to be more susceptible to polio, with a higher chance of dying from the disease. Poliovirus affects the central nervous system, and can range from mild symptoms like headaches to severe symptoms like paralysis. Polio is rare in the developed world. However, pregnant women travelling to parts of the world with high polio rates are encouraged to get an inactive polio vaccination.

Herpes simplex virus, or herpes for short, is a sexually transmitted disease that can be passed from mother to baby during childbirth. Symptoms of herpes include sores on the genitals, itching, painful urination, vaginal discharge, and sore lumps on the groin. Other symptoms may include fever and general aches. The outbreaks come and go over time.

Some women have herpes only on their cervix, in which case there are few or no symptoms. While the mother may have relatively mild symptoms, a herpes infection can be very serious in newborn babies because of their immature immune system. Women with a history of herpes may be offered preventative drug therapy in the month before their due date to reduce the chance of transmission to the baby.

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When a woman has active herpes lesions around the time of delivery, a caesarean delivery will greatly reduce the chances of the infection passing from mother to baby. This is because the amniotic sac provides protection for the unborn baby, and if that protection is gone because the sac has ruptured, there is a higher risk of infection.


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Newborn babies born to mothers with herpes are usually isolated from other newborn babies to prevent the possible spread of infection. If an infection does occur, the newborn can be given an antiviral drug to treat the herpes simplex virus infection. AIDS is a serious disease in which the immune system breaks down and does not respond normally to infection. People with AIDS develop recurrent, severe infections such as pneumonia.

HIV is transmitted through sexual contact, blood transfusions, sharing needles, and from a mother to her unborn baby.

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A baby can get HIV from their mother during pregnancy, during childbirth, and through breastfeeding. It is now possible to offer women with HIV a high likelihood of giving birth to a healthy baby. First and foremost, though, it is crucial that the disease be identified and diagnosed. All pregnant women are encouraged to undergo screening for HIV, whether or not they are at high risk for the disease. It is important to determine your HIV status as soon as possible after you find out you are pregnant.

Viral infections in pregnancy

A strategy for pharmaceutical therapy is then determined for the patient. This involves a number of different drugs, which serve different purposes, and is referred to as highly active antiretroviral therapy HAART. It is very important to remain compliant with drug therapy. Forgetting to take the drugs as prescribed could cause the HIV virus to become drug-resistant. When putting together the strategy for drug therapy, the doctor will take into consideration the risks that each drug poses to the unborn baby.

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Some drugs are more dangerous than others. After therapy has begun, the viral load is tested once per month until the virus is no longer detectable in the blood. This should take about six months. The disease detectives investigate the persistent fear that another pandemic virus will emerge again to threaten humanity, in the way that the Spanish Flu did years ago. Basil Hood - offering a rare insight into the experiences of the brave medics who served on the frontline of the influenza pandemic.

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The disease detectives investigate the global ramifications of the Spanish flu pandemic and discover places far removed from the European theatre of war, where the Spanish flu has left its trace. If the world were haunted by another devastating pandemic, how would we cope?

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