Infectolab - lockdown

How To Safely Reopen Your Business Once Lockdown Ends

While the COVID-19 pandemic continues, cases have decreased in many parts of the world that experienced total lockdown due to the overwhelming surge of infections. In places where the curve has been successfully flattened, case numbers that could have otherwise skyrocketed if an imposed quarantine hadn’t taken place have begun to stabilize.

The virus isn’t gone, and things are still wildly different. But with many economies opening back up, safety precautions must be taken to ensure that further waves of the outbreak don’t occur.

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Infectolab - COVID-19 testing

COVID-19: How To Monitor, Test & Manage Employees Once Lockdown Ends

The COVID-19 threat isn’t gone from communities, but lockdown measures have significantly slowed the spread of the virus, meaning businesses have begun opening their doors. When employers do start to open up, though, they need to put into place new practices to ensure that both employees and customers remain safe and healthy.

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Infectolab - coxsackie virus

How Do You Test For Coxsackie Virus?

Of the many viruses found in humans, some have mild to moderate symptoms that go away on their own over time, while others require serious treatment to help rid the body of pathogens and get patients back to their optimal level of health.

Some viruses, including the coxsackie virus, can fall into both categories – one version of the illness can require treatment, while the other can often go away on its own. The virus itself is generally found in children under the age of 10, but it has been known to infect younger adults as well.

What is coxsackie virus?

The coxsackie viruses are RNA viruses. Often called enteroviruses, they are made up of only one strand of RNA (ribonucleic acid). The viruses that are part of the coxsackie family can lead to hand, foot, and mouth disease, as well as other conditions that affect the lungs, heart, and muscles.  

There are two very distinct types of coxsackie virus: type A and type B. Type A is the coxsackie virus that leads to hand, foot, and mouth disease. In the majority of cases, a Type A coxsackie virus clears up on its own in a matter of days to weeks, but the virus itself can be shed for weeks following the initial infection. A Type B coxsackie virus can lead to epidemic pleurodynia (a febrile disorder) and often resolves itself within 2–12 days of initial infection. Both types of coxsackie virus are highly contagious and can be shed through fecal matter even after the virus has cleared up in the patient.

What are the symptoms of coxsackie virus?

The virus was first recorded in the mid-1900s by scientist Gilbert Dalldorf when he was trying to discover a cure for another ailment. This led to the discovery that coxsackie was able to mimic mild cases of polio. Following this, Dalldorf learned that coxsackie viruses could cause a variety of different illnesses.

The symptoms of coxsackie virus vary depending on the type and typically appear within three to six days of the initial infection. In those with Type A coxsackie, symptoms include sores in the throat, otherwise known as herpangina. It can also lead to sores and lesions in the mouth, on the palms of the hands, and on the soles of the feet. Type B symptoms include fever, headache, and abdominal and chest spasms, although a fever is usually the first symptom to appear. In both types A and B, more serious complications can arise in those who have a subtype of the virus. These conditions include meningitis, myocarditis, and pericarditis, but it is rare for these to develop.

Infectolab - skin lesions
Image by Hans on Pixabay: A rash or skin lesions on the hands or feet is one of the main symptoms of coxsackie virus.

How do you test for coxsackie virus?

Generally speaking, diagnosis of coxsackie virus occurs by a physical exam performed by a doctor when a blister-like rash is present on the hands, feet, and mouth. This method of diagnosis saves money on tests in the long run because doctors believe that if the rashes are present, then the ailment is easy to spot. There are, however, viral tests that can be done if the infection cannot be confirmed through physical exam alone.

To get a definitive diagnosis for coxsackie virus, rectal swabs or stool samples will be taken and isolated in a cell culture. This is to ensure the virus is present in a patient who may not be exhibiting typical symptoms. Doctors will also check for specific antibodies in patients who may have recovered from the illness prior to testing. In those who develop serious complications, testing for bacterial meningitis is crucial so that the appropriate treatment can be administered.

A new ELISpot test being developed by Infectolab is changing the way coxsackie virus can be diagnosed. The test takes into account T-cell production to help doctors get a more definitive picture of whether the infection is present in the body. The new test will help to eliminate any holes in testing, which in turn will lead to more accurate diagnosis of the virus in patients.

How do you treat coxsackie virus?

Treatment for coxsackie virus is tricky because there is no specific medication designed to combat it. Because it is a viral infection, antibiotics cannot be used during a treatment course as they will have no effect on the virus itself.

It is usually recommended that parents of children with coxsackie virus (as well as young adults who become infected) focus on treating the viral symptoms such as fever, headache, sore throat, and rash. This can be done using over-the-counter anti-inflammatories as well as medications designed to bring temperature down. Because many cases of coxsackie virus are mild in nature, treatment of any kind may not be required, and the infection should clear up on its own within a couple of weeks.

In the case of serious complications, though, treatment may differ. If the coxsackie infection leads to meningitis, for example, hospitalization may be necessary, with treatment in the form of intravenous medications such as antibiotics and sometimes corticosteroids.

Infectolab - hand foot mouth disease
Image by Mohamed Hassan on Pixabay: Hand, foot, and mouth disease is caused by the coxsackie virus.

Is coxsackie the same as “hand foot mouth”?

The name “hand, foot, and mouth disease” comes from the places lesions appear on the body when someone is infected with the coxsackie virus. Hand, foot, and mouth disease is caused by the presence of the coxsackie virus in the body. 

As mentioned above, in children the disease presents as sores and lesions in the mouth, throat, feet, and hands. Adults who contract the virus may appear asymptomatic while infected. This can lead to undiagnosed cases, meaning they can also pass it on without ever realizing they have contracted the disease.

Featured image by CDC on Unsplash

Infectolab - mold

How Do You Test For Aspergillus?

Aspergillus, also known as aspergillus fumigatus, is a type of mold spore commonly found in compost piles, vegetable matter, foods, spices, and on dead leaves. The mold spores can hang around in the air or be carried indoors by shoes or clothing, and can also grow on carpeted areas, dust, and materials used in building.

The infection caused by the overexposure to aspergillus spores is called aspergillosis. It occurs when the mold spores are breathed in on a regular basis and attach themselves to tissues in the body. This infection can cause numerous health problems if inhaled in large amounts, and people with weakened immune systems or allergies are more susceptible to its negative effects.

What are the signs and symptoms of aspergillus overexposure?

Symptoms that can be caused by an overexposure to aspergillus can range depending on the type of infection. Pulmonary aspergillosis occurs mostly in people with lung disorders and mainly affects the lung system. Symptoms of pulmonary aspergillosis include a chronic cough with mucus or blood, fever, difficulty breathing or shallow breathing, wheezing, and chest pain. In people who suffer from invasive aspergillosis, symptoms are much more severe. Invasive aspergillosis occurs when the infection gets into the bloodstream and can cause kidney failure, shortness of breath, liver failure, bleeding from the lungs, and shock.

Bronchopulmonary aspergillosis is a type of infection that is most like an allergic reaction. People who suffer from chronic lung conditions such as cystic fibrosis or asthma are most at risk for this type of aspergillosis. The symptoms include coughing, wheezing, fever, asthma symptoms, and increased mucus or blood secretions.

Infectolab - cough
Image by Nastya Gepp on Pixabay: A chronic cough with mucus or blood can be a sign that you have been overexposed to aspergillus.

What’s the test for aspergillus infection?

Testing for aspergillus infection can be difficult because it can mimic other chronic conditions, especially in people who suffer from lung disorders. A doctor will ask about medical history to pin down the cause, and may perform a series of other tests to reach a diagnosis. Tests include skin and blood, imaging, and sputum culture.

For a skin test, the doctor will inject the aspergillus antigen into the body, most likely on the lower arm, to see if the body has an allergic reaction. A blood test will be done to check for antibodies that would be present in the event of an allergic reaction. Examination of the lungs may be performed to check for an aspergillus mass and sampling of the sputum will be done to check for the presence of fungus. To diagnose invasive aspergillosis, a biopsy of lung tissue may need to be performed to confirm the presence of the infection.

What is the treatment for aspergillus infection?

Depending on the type of infection, treatment options may vary. Antifungal drugs are generally the first line of defense against an aspergillosis infection to help destroy the fungus in the body. It is the most used treatment for invasive aspergillosis. Doctors may use Voriconazole because it has less side effects than others, but if the infection is resistant to other antifungals, Caspofungin may be used.

For bronchopulmonary aspergillosis, an oral corticosteroid medication will be used to treat the allergic reaction caused by the fungus. In the most severe cases, surgery may be required to remove a mass of aspergillomas that can built up in the lungs and cause excessive bleeding. Another effective treatment for aspergillomas is embolization to help inhibit blood flow to the site, but full removal is the main treatment for this type of aspergillosis.

The link between aspergillus and Lyme disease

Lyme disease can lead to a host of different health issues, some of which can last years after the infection. In people with Lyme disease, the immune system is heavily compromised, so the risk of contracting an infection caused by aspergillus can be heightened. When patients with Lyme disease do contract aspergillosis, it can be hard to both diagnose and treat, and can lead to worsened chronic symptoms and a worse case of the aspergillosis infection. This is due to the body’s inability to fight off the infection on its own.

The symptoms that can present in both patients with Lyme disease and aspergillosis include headaches; fever; problems with the overall healthy function of the body and its organs, including the liver and kidneys; and chronic fatigue or inability to perform functions such as exercise. Due to the symptoms being similar, and the susceptibility to becoming infected with aspergillus spores, people suffering from Lyme disease may be more at risk of developing aspergillosis.

Infectolab - immune system
Image by Allinone Movie on Pixabay: A weakened immune system can lead to the development of the infection caused by aspergillus in Lyme disease patients. 

The bottom line

It is hard to avoid overexposure to aspergillus mold because of how common and widespread it is. People with weakened immune systems or chronic conditions are more susceptible to the aspergillus spores causing aspergillosis, so it’s important to take good care of your immune system.

This can be done by eating a diet rich in immune-boosting foods, getting daily exercise, and supplementing any vitamin and mineral deficiencies to ensure that the body is running at its most optimal. If you do have a weakened immune system or chronic illness that could heighten the risk of developing the infection, avoiding things that could cause overexposure (such as gardening or mowing the lawn) or wearing a mask in areas where high levels of mold occur is the best way to avoid an aspergillosis infection.

Featured image by Illuvis on Pixabay

Infectolab - mite

How Do You Test For Typhus?

While Lyme might be the most prominent vector-borne disease, it’s certainly not the only dangerous one. Lyme is spread exclusively by certain species of ticks, but “vector-borne” refers not only to ticks but also lice, mites, and fleas. There are numerous disorders that can be transmitted through contact with any of these creatures. One of the major problems in diagnosing these disorders is that they all present with similar symptoms in the early stages.

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