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Treatment of Herpes Zoster - FPIN's Clinical Inquiries
Neonatal Herpes Simplex Virus Infections - Article
ABSTRACT: Neonatal herpes simplex virus infections can result in serious morbidity and mortality. Many of the infections result from asymptomatic cervical shedding of virus after a primary episode of genital HSV in the third trimester. Antibodies to HSV-2 have been detected in approximately 20 percent of pregnant women, but only 5 percent report a history of symptomatic infection. All primary episodes of HSV and secondary episodes near term or at the time of delivery should be treated with antiviral therapy. If active HSV infection is present at the time of delivery, cesarean section should be performed. Symptomatic and asymptomatic primary genital HSV infections are associated with preterm labor and low-birth-weight infants. The diagnosis of neonatal HSV can be difficult, but it should be suspected in any newborn with irritability, lethargy, fever or poor feeding at one week of age. Diagnosis is made by culturing the blood, cerebrospinal fluid, urine and fluid from eyes, nose and mucous membranes. All newborns suspected to have or who are diagnosed with HSV infection should be treated with parenteral acyclovir.
ABSTRACT: Herpes zoster ophthalmicus occurs when the varicella-zoster virus is reactivated in the ophthalmic division of the trigeminal nerve. Herpes zoster ophthalmicus represents up to one fourth of all cases of herpes zoster. Most patients with herpes zoster ophthalmicus present with a periorbital vesicular rash distributed according to the affected dermatome. A minority of patients may also develop conjunctivitis, keratitis, uveitis, and ocular cranial-nerve palsies. Permanent sequelae of ophthalmic zoster infection may include chronic ocular inflammation, loss of vision, and debilitating pain. Antiviral medications such as acyclovir, valacyclovir, and famcidovir remain the mainstay of therapy and are most effective in preventing ocular involvement when begun within 72 hours after the onset of the rash. Timely diagnosis and management of herpes zoster ophthalmicus. with referral to an ophthalmologist when ophthalmic involvement is present, are critical in limiting visual morbidity.
ABSTRACT: Family physicians should be familiar with the various drugs available for treating and preventing viral infections. Part II of this two-part article focuses on agents used to manage influenza and respiratory syncytial virus. Rimantadine and amantadine traditionally have been used to prevent and treat influenza type A infections. The neuraminidase inhibitors zanamivir and oseltamivir have a broadened spectrum of activity in the treatment and prevention of influenza types A and B. Ribavirin has been used in some high-risk infants to treat respiratory syncytial virus infections, and palivizumab can be used for prophylaxis.
Common Acute Hand Infections - Article
ABSTRACT: Hand infections can result in significant morbidity if not appropriately diagnosed and treated. Host factors, location, and circumstances of the infection are important guides to initial treatment strategies. Many hand infections improve with early splinting, elevation, appropriate antibiotics and, if an abscess is present, incision and drainage. Tetanus prophylaxis is indicated in patients who have at-risk infections. Paronychia, an infection of the epidermis bordering the nail, commonly is precipitated by localized trauma. Treatment consists of incision and drainage, warm-water soaks and, sometimes, oral antibiotics. A felon is an abscess of the distal pulp of the fingertip. An early felon may be amenable to elevation, oral antibiotics, and warm water or saline soaks. A more advanced felon requires incision and drainage. Herpetic whitlow is a painful infection caused by the herpes simplex virus. Early treatment with oral antiviral agents may hasten healing. Pyogenic flexor tenosynovitis and clenched-fist injuries are more serious infections that often require surgical intervention. Pyogenic flexor tenosynovitis is an acute synovial space infection involving a flexor tendon sheath. Treatment consists of parenteral antibiotics and sheath irrigation. A clenched-fist injury usually is the result of an altercation and often involves injury to the extensor tendon, joint capsule, and bone. Wound exploration, copious irrigation, and appropriate antibiotics can prevent undesired outcomes.
Hepatitis B - Article
ABSTRACT: Hepatitis B causes significant morbidity and mortality worldwide. More than 400 million persons, including 1.25 million Americans, have chronic hepatitis B. In the United States, chronic hepatitis B virus infection is responsible for about 5,000 annual deaths from cirrhosis and hepatocellular carcinoma. Hepatitis B virus is found in body fluids and secretions; in developed countries, the virus is most commonly transmitted sexually or via intravenous drug use. Occupational exposure and perinatal transmission do occur but are rare in the United States. Effective vaccines for hepatitis B virus have been available since 1982; infant and childhood vaccination programs introduced in the 1990s have resulted in a marked decrease in new infections. Risk factors for progression to chronic infection include age at the time of infection and impaired immunity. From 15 to 30 percent of patients with acute hepatitis B infection progress to chronic infection. Medical therapies for chronic hepatitis B include interferon alfa-2b, lamivudine, and the nucleotide analog adefovir dipivoxil.
ABSTRACT: Chronic hepatitis C virus infection is a common and serious disease. Although an estimated 2.7 million persons in the United States have this disease, most have not yet been diagnosed. Recent advances in treatment provide successful cure in 50 to 80 percent of cases. Current drug therapy consists of a combination of pegylated interferon and ribavirin. Although all patients with chronic hepatitis C virus infection are potential candidates for treatment, pharmacologic therapy has a number of contraindications. Evaluation of suitability for treatment includes a thorough search for comorbid medical and psychiatric conditions that can be contraindications. Initial testing involves anti-hepatitis C virus antibodies, but definitive diagnosis of active disease requires detection of viral RNA. Most patients require a liver biopsy to determine the amount of hepatic fibrosis and ongoing hepatocellular inflammation. Viral genotype also should be determined: type 1 requires 12 months of treatment and does not respond as well as types 2 and 3, which require only six months of treatment. Common side effects of drug therapy include anemia, anorexia, depression, fatigue, fever, headache, myalgia, nausea, and erythema at the injection site.
ABSTRACT: Hepatitis C virus is the most common chronic blood-borne infection in the United States. The advent of new treatment regimens using pegylated interferons in combination with ribavirin has led to improved sustained viral response rates for some genotypes in large multicenter trials. Advances in the management of side effects and toxicities have expanded the pool of treatable patients. A recent National Institutes of Health consensus conference recommended that all patients who have bridging hepatic fibrosis and moderate inflammation together with detectable viremia should receive treatment with pegylated interferon and ribavirin. Unfortunately, these medications are very expensive and have significant side effects. Hematologic toxicities include anemia and leukopenia. These can be managed with close monitoring, use of growth factors, or dose reductions. Depression also can be caused or exacerbated by these medicines and may require treatment with a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor, comanagement with psychiatry, or cessation of pegylated interferon and ribavirin treatment. Contraception is imperative because ribavirin is highly teratogenic. Influenza-like symptoms of fatigue, nausea, and mild fevers can be helped by quality patient education and support including frequent office visits. Data from randomized controlled trials demonstrating improvements in long-term survival as a result of treatment are not yet available, but it appears that patients who have no detectable virus six months after treatment have a good chance of remaining virus free for at least five years.
Genital Herpes: A Review - Article
ABSTRACT: Genital herpes simplex virus infection is a recurrent, lifelong disease with no cure. The strongest predictor for infection is a person's number of lifetime sex partners. The natural history includes first-episode mucocutaneous infection, establishment of latency in the dorsal root ganglion, and subsequent reactivation. Most infections are transmitted via asymptomatic viral shedding. Classic outbreaks consist of a skin prodrome and possible constitutional symptoms such as headache, fever, and inguinal lymphadenopathy. As the infection progresses, papules, vesicles on an erythematous base, and erosions appear over hours to days. These lesions usually crust, re-epithelialize, and heal without scarring. First-episode infections are more extensive: primary lesions last two to six weeks versus approximately one week for lesions in recurrent disease. Atypical manifestations are common. Infected persons experience a median of four recurrences per year after their first episode, but rates vary greatly. Genital herpes simplex virus type 2 recurs six times more frequently than type 1. Viral culture is preferred over polymerase chain reaction testing for diagnosis. Serologic testing can be useful in persons with a questionable history. Effective oral antiviral medications are available for initial, episodic, and suppressive therapy but are not a cure. There is some evidence that alternative therapies such as L-lysine, zinc, and some herbal preparations may offer some benefit. Counseling patients about the risk of transmission is crucial and helps prevent the spread of disease and neonatal complications.
Erythema Multiforme - Article
ABSTRACT: Erythema multiforme is a skin condition considered to be a hypersensitivity reaction to infections or drugs. It consists of a polymorphous eruption of macules, papules, and characteristic "target" lesions that are symmetrically distributed with a propensity for the distal extremities. There is minimal mucosal involvement. Management involves treating the existing infectious agent or discontinuing the causal drug. Mild cases resolve without sequelae and do not require treatment. Recurrent cases have been prevented with continuous acyclovir. Patients who have no response to acyclovir may have a response to valacyclovir or famcilovir, which have greater oral bioavailability and more convenient dosing. Patients with recurrent erythema multiforme despite suppressive antiviral therapy should be referred to a dermatologist for further treatment.