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Scarlet fever

Alternative Names : Scarlatina

Definition:
Scarlet fever is a disease caused by infection with the group A Streptococcus bacteria (the same bacteria that causes strep throat).Once a major cause of death, it is now effectively treated with antibiotics. The term scarlatina may be used interchangeably with scarlet fever, though it is commonly used to indicate the less acute form of scarlet fever that is often seen since the beginning of the twentieth century.
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It can affect people of any age. However, it’s most common between the ages of six and 12.

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Symptoms:

The time between becoming infected and having symptoms is short, generally 1 – 2 days. The illness typically begins with a fever and sore throat.

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The rash usually first appears on the neck and chest, then spreads over the body. It is described as “sandpapery” in feel. The texture of the rash is more important than the appearance in confirming the diagnosis. The rash can last for more than a week. As the rash fades, peeling (desquamation) may occur around the fingertips, toes, and groin area.

The common signs and symptoms that give scarlet fever are as follows:

*Red rash. The rash looks like a sunburn and feels like sandpaper. It typically begins on the face or neck and spreads to the trunk, arms and legs. If pressure is applied to the reddened skin, it will turn pale.

*Red lines. The folds of skin around the groin, armpits, elbows, knees and neck usually become a deeper red than the surrounding rash.

*Flushed face. The face may appear flushed with a pale ring around the mouth.

*Strawberry tongue. The tongue generally looks red and bumpy, and it’s often covered with a white coating early in the disease.

The rash and the redness in the face and tongue usually last about a week. After these signs and symptoms have subsided, the skin affected by the rash often peels. Other signs and symptoms associated with scarlet fever include:

*Fever of 101 F (38.3 C) or higher, often with chills

*Very sore and red throat, sometimes with white or yellowish patches

*Difficulty swallowing

*Enlarged glands in the neck (lymph nodes) that are tender to the touch

*Nausea or vomiting

*Headache

*Abdominal pain

*Bright red color in the creases of the underarm and groin (Pastia’s lines)

*Chills

*General discomfort (malaise)

*Muscle aches

*Sore throat

*Swollen, red tongue (strawberry tongue)

Causes:
Scarlet fever is caused by the same type of bacteria that cause strep throat. In scarlet fever, the bacteria release a toxin that produces the rash and red tongue.

The infection spreads from person to person via droplets expelled when an infected person coughs or sneezes. The incubation period — the time between exposure and illness — is usually two to four days.

Risk Factors:
Children 6 to 12 years of age are more likely than are other people to get scarlet fever. Scarlet fever germs spread more easily among people in close contact, such as family members or classmates.

Complications:
If scarlet fever goes untreated, the bacteria may spread to the:

*Tonsils
*Sinuses
*Skin
*Blood
*Middle ear

Rarely, scarlet fever can lead to rheumatic fever, a serious condition that can affect the:

*Heart
*Joints
*Nervous system
*Skin

Diagnosis:
Diagnosis of scarlet fever is clinical. The blood test shows marked leukocytosis with neutrophilia and conservated or increased eosinophils, high erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR) and C-reactive protein (CRP) (both indications of inflammation), and elevation of antistreptolysin O titer. Blood culture is rarely positive, but the streptococci can usually be demonstrated in throat culture. The complications of scarlet fever include septic complications due to spread of streptococcus in blood and immune-mediated complications due to an aberrant immune response. Septic complications—today rare—include ear and sinus infection, streptococcal pneumonia, empyema thoracis, meningitis and full-blown sepsis, upon which the condition may be called malignant scarlet fever.

Immune complications include acute glomerulonephritis, rheumatic fever and erythema nodosum. The secondary scarlatinous disease, or secondary malignant syndrome of scarlet fever, includes renewed fever, renewed angina, septic ear, nose, and throat complications and kidney infection or rheumatic fever and is seen around the eighteenth day of untreated scarlet fever.

The rash is the most striking sign of scarlet fever. It usually begins looking like a bad sunburn with tiny bumps, and it may itch. The rash usually appears first on the neck and face, often leaving a clear unaffected area around the mouth. It spreads to the chest and back, then to the rest of the body. In body creases, especially around the underarms and elbows, the rash forms classic red streaks (on very dark skin, the streaks may appear darker than the rest of the skin). Areas of rash usually turn white (or paler brown, with dark complected skin) when pressed on. By the sixth day of the infection, the rash usually fades, but the affected skin may begin to peel. Usually there are other symptoms that help to confirm a diagnosis of scarlet fever, including a reddened sore throat, a fever at or above 101 °F (38.3 °C), and swollen glands in the neck. Scarlet fever can also occur with a low fever. The tonsils and back of the throat may be covered with a whitish coating, or appear red, swollen, and dotted with whitish or yellowish specks of pus. Early in the infection, the tongue may have a whitish or yellowish coating. Also, an infected person may have chills, body aches, nausea, vomiting, and loss of appetite.

When scarlet fever occurs because of a throat infection, the fever typically stops within 3 to 5 days, and the sore throat passes soon afterward. The scarlet fever rash usually fades on the sixth day after sore throat symptoms started, and begins to peel (as above). The infection itself is usually cured with a 10-day course of antibiotics, but it may take a few weeks for tonsils and swollen glands to return to normal.

In rare cases, scarlet fever may develop from a streptococcal skin infection like impetigo. In these cases, the person may not get a sore throat.

Treatment:
Other than the occurrence of the diarrhea, the treatment and course of scarlet fever are no different from those of any strep throat. In case of penicillin allergy, clindamycin or erythromycin can be used with success. Patients should no longer be infectious after taking antibiotics for 24 hours. People who have been exposed to scarlet fever should be watched carefully for a full week for symptoms, especially if aged 3 to young adult. It is very important to be tested (throat culture) and if positive, seek treatment.

A drug-resistant strain of scarlet fever has emerged in Hong Kong, accounting for at least two deaths in that city – the first such in over a decade. The mutant strain of the bacterium is about 60% resistant to the antibiotics, says Professor Kwok-yung Yuen, head of Hong Kong University’s microbiology department. This is compared to a previous strain of the disease, which demonstrated a 10-30% resistance. This new strain may have spread to neighboring Macau and mainland China.

Prognosis:
With proper antibiotic treatment, the symptoms of scarlet fever should get better quickly. However, the rash can last for up to 2 – 3 weeks before it fully goes away.

Prevention :
Bacteria are spread by direct contact with infected people, or by droplets exhaled by an infected person. Avoid contact with infected people.

Children should be taught  to practice the following healthy habits:

*Wash  hands. Show your child how to wash his or her hands thoroughly with warm soapy water.

*Don’t share dining utensils or food. As a general rule, your child shouldn’t share drinking glasses or eating utensils with friends or classmates. And that rule applies to food, too.

*Cover your mouth and nose. Tell your child to cover his or her mouth and nose when coughing and sneezing to prevent the potential spread of germs.If your child has scarlet fever, wash his or her drinking glasses, utensils and, if possible, toys in hot soapy water or in a dishwasher.

Disclaimer: This information is not meant to be a substitute for professional medical advise or help. It is always best to consult with a Physician about serious health concerns. This information is in no way intended to diagnose or prescribe remedies.This is purely for educational purpose.

Resources:
http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/scarlet-fever/DS00917
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scarlet_fever
http://www.bbc.co.uk/health/physical_health/conditions/scarletfever1.shtml
http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/000974.htm
http://www.umm.edu/imagepages/19082.htm
http://www.healthofchildren.com/S/Scarlet-Fever.html
http://sigma.ontologyportal.org:4010/sigma/Browse.jsp?kb=SUMO&term=ScarletFever

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Dittany Of Crete (Origanum dictamnus )

 

Botanical Name : Origanum dictamnus
Family: Lamiaceae
Synonyms : Amaracus dictamnus – (L.)Benth.
Other Names :Origanum dictamnus , Dittany of Crete or Cretan  Dittany
Kingdom:
Plantae
Order: Lamiales
Genus: Origanum
Species:
O. dictamnus

Habitat : S. Europe – Crete.  Shady rocks in dry places in high mountains. It grows wild on the mountainsides and gorges of the Greek island of Crete, Greece.

Description:
It  is a tender perennial plant that grows 20–30 cm high. It is a healing, therapeutic and aromatic plant
It is hardy to zone 7. It is in flower from June to August. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Bees.

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Origanum dictamnus is a many branched plant with discoid to ovate grey-green leaves that are sited in pairs opposite each other. The slender arching stems and lanate leaves are covered in a velvety white down and are 13–25 mm in size.

The flowers are pale pink to purple and have a deep lilac corolla with many deep pink coloured overlapping bracts. The colourful flowers forming a cascade of elongated clusters are in bloom in the summer months. The flowers are hermaphrodite meaning they have both male and female organs and are pollinated by bees attracted to their scent and bright colour.

Said to symbolize love and to be an aphrodisiac, only the most ardent young lovers scrambled on mountainsides and the deep gorges of Crete gathering bunches of the pink blooms to present as love tokens. There are numerous deaths reported throughout the centuries by collectors of this magical herb.

Even in recent times the collection of Dittany of Crete was a very dangerous occupation for the men who risked life and limb to climb precarious rock faces where the plant grows wild in the mountains of Crete. They were named Erondades (love seekers) and were considered very passionate men to go to such dangerous lengths to collect the herb.

Dittany of Crete has always been highly prized and is gathered while in bloom in the summer months and is exported for use in pharmaceuticals, perfumery and to flavour drinks such as vermouth and absinthe.

In Ancient Greece it is believed, that Hippocrates prescribed plant cures to aid all manner of ailments and considered Dittany of Crete useful for stomach aches and complaints of the digestive system and as a poultice for healing wounds.

The Greek philosopher Aristotle in his work The History of Animals (612a4) wrote:

“Wild goats in Crete are said, when wounded by arrow, to go in search of dittany, which is supposed to have the property of ejecting arrows in the body.”

The Greek scholar and philosopher Theophrastus agreed with Aristotle about the healing properties of Dittany of Crete. In his work Enquiry into Plants he notes that Dittany was peculiar to Crete, and that it was:

“Said to be true, that, if goats eat it when they have been shot, it rids them of the arrow” (9.16.1).

Other scholars of Ancient Greece and later have made reference to Dittany but probably referred to Dictamnus albus known as False Dittany or White Dittany.

Today the wild naturally grown Dittany of Crete is classed as “rare” and is protected by European law so that it does not become extinct. The cultivation now centres on Embaros and the surrounding villages, south of Heraklion, Crete and is used to make herbal tea and for use in natural beauty products.

The plant prefers light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and requires well-drained soil. The plant prefers acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils and can grow in very alkaline soil. It cannot grow in the shade. It requires dry or moist soil.

Cultivation :
Requires a rather dry, warm, well-drained soil, but is not fussy as to soil type, thriving on chalk . Prefers slightly alkaline conditions. This species is not fully hardy in Britain according to one report  whilst another says that it is hardy to zone 7, which means that it can succeed outdoors in most parts of the country. It is, however, very susceptible to winter wet and so is more commonly grown under cover in this country. Members of this genus are rarely if ever troubled by browsing deer.

Propagation:
Seed – sow early spring in a greenhouse at 10 – 13°c and only just cover the seed. Germination usually takes place within 2 weeks. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots when they are large enough to handle and plant them out into their permanent positions in early summer. The seed can also be sown in situ in late spring. Division in March or October. Very easy, larger divisions can be planted out direct into their permanent positions. We have found that it is better to pot up the smaller divisions and grow them on in light shade in a cold frame until they are well established before planting them out in late spring or early summer. Basal cuttings of young barren shoots in June. Very easy. Harvest the shoots with plenty of underground stem when they are about 8 – 10cm above the ground. Pot them up into individual pots and keep them in light shade in a cold frame or greenhouse until they are rooting well. Plant them out in the summer.

Edible Uses:-
Edible Parts: Leaves.

Edible Uses: Condiment; Tea.

The leaves are used for flavouring salads and vermouth. A pleasant aromatic flavour, especially when mixed with parsley, thyme, garlic, salt and pepper. The flowering tops are dried and brewed into a herb tea.

Medicinal Actions & Uses:-
Antirheumatic; Oxytoxic; Stomachic; Vulnerary.

The flowering plant has been used as an antirheumatic, oxytocic, stomachic and vulnerary, though these uses appear to be obsolete in modern herbalism.

As a medicinal plant, the herb has been utilized to heal wounds, soothe pain, and ease childbirth. The root has been used in a salve to treat sciatica, and the juice was consumed in wine to cure snake bite.  In addition, it has been used as a remedy against gastric or stomach ailments and rheumatism.

Disclaimer:The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.

Resources:
http://www.pfaf.org/database/plants.php?Origanum+dictamnus
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Origanum_dictamnus
http://www.desert-tropicals.com/Plants/Lamiaceae/Origanum_dictamnus.html
http://www.arkive.org/dittany-of-crete/origanum-dictamnus/image-G18858.html

http://www.herbnet.com/Herb%20Uses_DE.htm

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Plague

Definition:
The typical sign of the most common form of human plague is a swollen and very tender lymph gland in the neck.This is known as a bubo – hence the alternative name for the disease of bubonic plague.
Plague is an infectious disease caused by a bacterium named Yersinia pestis.People usually become infected after being bitten by a flea which lives on rats and carries the bug.
Bubonic plague is often used synonymously for plague, but it does in fact refer specifically to an infection that enters through the skin and travels through the lymphatics, as is often seen in flea-borne infections. Bubonic Plague kills about 70% of patients in 4-7 days.

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Today plague is uncommon. This is largely due to better living conditions and antibiotics.

There are three forms of plague:

* Bubonic, which causes the tonsils, adenoids, spleen and thymus to become inflamed. Symptoms include fever, aches, chills and tender lymph glands
* Septicemic, in which bacteria multiply in the blood. It causes fever, chills, shock and bleeding under the skin or other organs
* Pneumonic, in which the bacteria enter the lungs and cause pneumonia. People with the infection can spread this form to others. This type could be a bioterror agent

Treatment for plague is a strong antibiotic. There is no vaccine for plague.

Plague was once deadly, but the disease is now curable provided it is caught in its early stages.

Pathology and transmission:
The Bubonic plague is an infection of the lymphatic system, usually resulting from the bite of an infected flea. The bacteria rapidly spreads to the lymph nodes and multiplies. Yersinia pestis can resist phagocytosis and even reproduce inside phagocytes and kill them. As the disease progresses, the lymph nodes can hemorrhage and become necrotic. Bubonic plague can progress to lethal septicemic plague in some cases.

Symptoms:
There are three types of plague: bubonic, septicemic and pneumonic. Signs and symptoms of plague vary depending on the type and on how you contract it. It’s possible to develop more than one type of plague.

Bubonic plague
This is the most common type of plague in humans, accounting for the majority of naturally occurring cases. Bubonic plague is caused by a bite from an infected flea and is characterized by an enlarged, infected lymph node called a bubo.

Signs and symptoms of bubonic plague generally appear within two to eight days after a plague-infected flea bites you. After you’re bitten, the bacteria travel through your lymphatic system, infecting the first lymph node they reach. The resulting bubo is usually 1 to 10 centimeters in diameter, swollen, painful and warm to the touch. It can cause so much pain that you can’t move the affected part of your body. The bubo usually develops in your groin, but may also appear in your armpit or neck, depending on where the flea bit you. More than one bubo can develop, but typically buboes affect only one area of your body.

Buboes may not be noticeable until a day or more after other symptoms appear. Other signs and symptoms of bubonic plague include:

* Sudden onset of fever and chills
* Headache
* Fatigue or malaise
* Muscle aches

Septicemic plague
Septicemic plague occurs when plague bacteria multiply in your bloodstream. You can contract this form of plague when bacteria transmitted by a fleabite enter directly into your bloodstream, or as a complication of bubonic or pneumonic plague. If septicemic plague occurs as a complication of bubonic plague, buboes may be present.

Signs and symptoms of septicemic plague include:

* Fever and chills
* Abdominal pain, diarrhea and vomiting
* Bleeding from your mouth, nose or rectum, or under your skin
* Shock
* Blackening and death of tissue (gangrene) in your extremities, most commonly your fingers, toes and nose

The gangrene associated with septicemic plague inspired the nickname Black Death for the 14th-century pandemic.

Pneumonic plague
Pneumonic plague is the least common form of plague — accounting for 12 percent of U.S. cases in the last 50 years — but the most rapidly fatal. Primary pneumonic plague can occur when you inhale infectious droplets coughed into the air by a person or animal with pneumonic plague. Early signs and symptoms, which generally occur about two days after inhaling contaminated droplets, include:

* High fever
* Weakness
* Signs of pneumonia, including chest pain, difficulty breathing and a cough with bloody sputum
* Nausea and vomiting

You can also develop pneumonic plague as a complication of bubonic or septicemic plague if the bacteria spread to your lungs. This is called secondary pneumonic plague.

Pneumonic plague progresses rapidly and may cause respiratory failure and shock within two days of infection. If antibiotic treatment isn’t initiated within a day after signs and symptoms first appear, the infection is likely to be fatal.

Plague resulting from a bioterrorist attack

It’s possible that plague bacteria could be turned into an aerosol and then might be spread over large populations as a bioterrorist weapon. An attack of this kind would cause pneumonic plague — the most deadly and most contagious type. In 1970, the World Health Organization estimated that if plague bacteria were sprayed over a city of 5 million people, up to 150,000 people could be infected and 36,000 might die.

According to a consensus statement by a group of scientists published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, the incubation period for pneumonic plague following a bioterrorist attack might last from one to six days, but more often from two to four days. Signs and symptoms would mirror those of naturally occurring pneumonic plague, but might also include nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain and diarrhea.

Other indications that a bioterrorist event or germ warfare is behind a pneumonic plague outbreak include a high incidence of pneumonic plague in humans in regions of the country that haven’t had outbreaks among animals or rodents, or when plague occurs in people without any known risk factors.

The most famous symptom of bubonic plague is swollen lymph nodes, called buboes. These are commonly found in the armpits, groin or neck. The bubonic plague was the first step of the ongoing plague. The two other forms of the plague, pneumonic and septicemic, resulted after a patient with the bubonic plague developed pneumonia or blood poisoning.

The plague causes fever and a painful swelling of the lymph glands called buboes, which is how it gets its name. The disease also causes symptoms like spots on the skin that are red at first and then turn black, heavy breathing, continuous blood vomiting, aching limbs and terrible pain. The person would not live 24 hours.

.Infection of the lungs with the plague bacterium causes the pneumonic form of plague, a severe respiratory illness.Symptoms include high fever, chills, coughing up blood, and breathing difficulty.

Causes:
Plague has afflicted humans throughout history. The first recorded plague outbreak began in Egypt in A.D. 541.The Black Death pandemic in the 14th century killed one-third of Europe’s population. Europeans living during early pandemics believed the disease was a punishment from the gods or an unlucky confluence of astrological or supernatural elements.

The most recent plague pandemic began in China in the late 1800s and, due to booming international trade and ships with high rat populations, spread quickly throughout Asia and other parts of the world. That outbreak caused more than 12 million deaths in India and China alone.

The cause of plague, the Yersinia pestis bacterium, was discovered in 1894 by Alexandre Yersin. Soon after, scientists realized that fleas transmitted the bacteria.

In World War II, the Japanese army released plague-carrying fleas over a part of China, causing outbreaks of the disease. After World War II, both the United States and the former Soviet Union pursued biological weapons programs that developed means of exposing large populations to plague bacteria. Today, plague is one of a number of feared potential agents of bioterrorism, along with anthrax, smallpox, botulism, tularemia and nerve gases.

Diagnosis:
Your doctor may suspect plague if you live in a high-risk region. With the exception of a visible bubo, signs and symptoms often mimic other, more common infectious diseases.

You’ll likely be asked to describe the type and severity of your symptoms and tell your doctor about your recent history, including whether you’ve been exposed to sick animals or traveled to areas with plague outbreak.

If your doctor suspects plague, he or she may confirm the diagnosis through microscopic examination of fluid extracted from your bubo, bronchi or trachea. Needle aspiration is used to obtain fluid from your bubo. Fluid is extracted from your airways using endoscopy. In this procedure, a thin, flexible tube is inserted through your nose or mouth and down your throat. A suction device is sent down the tube to extract a fluid sample from your airways.

Your doctor may also test blood drawn from your veins to diagnose plague. Y. pestis bacteria generally are present in your bloodstream only if you have septicemic plague.

Treatment:
In the modern era, several classes of antibiotics are effective in treating bubonic plague. These include the aminoglycosides streptomycin and gentamicin, the tetracyclines tetracycline and doxycycline and the fluoroquinolone ciprofloxacin. Patients with plague in the modern era usually recover completely with prompt treatment, although the disease is rarely seen in the industrialized world.

However, there is concern about growing levels of resistance to the drugs.People suspected of having the plague should be hospitalised and medically isolated.
It is also important to test people who have been in close contact with sufferers.

Risk Factors:
The World Health Organization reports 1,000 to 3,000 cases of plague world-wide every year.It is found across south Asia, southern Africa and Central America.

Naturally occurring plague outbreaks are most common in rural areas and in urban areas characterized by overcrowding, poor sanitation and a high rat population. Outbreaks can happen at any time of year.

In the United States, plague outbreaks occur most often between April and November. Most U.S. cases occur in Western states, including New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado and California.

Rock squirrels and ground squirrels are the most common sources of infection in the United States. Other rodents, including chipmunks and prairie dogs, may host plague-carrying fleas. Animals that may be infected and pose a transmission risk to humans include wild rabbits and domestic cats that have contact with wild rodents.

The disease usually spreads through fleabites, but you can also contract plague after being exposed to an infected animal that may have coughed infectious droplets into the air or through a break in your skin after handling an animal with plague. Groups at increased risk include veterinarians, cat owners, hunters, campers and hikers in areas with recent plague outbreaks among animals.

Prevention:
Previously, a vaccine was available for bubonic plague, but its efficacy was never well studied and the manufacturer stopped producing it in 1999. Clinical trials on a new plague vaccine are in the earliest stages.

Although no effective vaccine is available, antibiotics offer effective preventive therapy if you’re at risk or have been exposed to plague. Ask your doctor immediately about preventive antibiotics if you:

* Have had close contact with a person or animal with known or suspected pneumonic plague
* Have been bitten by a flea or unknown insect in an area known to have recent plague cases
* Are planning to spend time in a region with recent plague outbreak

Take the following precautions if you live or spend time in regions where plague outbreaks occur:

* Avoid contact with sick or dead animals. If you hunt, wear gloves when handling dead animals.
* Rodent-proof your home. Remove potential nesting areas, such as piles of brush, rock, firewood and junk. Don’t leave pet food or any other foods in areas that rodents can easily access.
* Prevent your pets from contracting fleas. Use flea-control products and don’t allow pets to wander unsupervised. Ask your veterinarian for recommended flea-control brands and guidelines.
* Take precautions when outdoors. Closely supervise your children and pets when spending time outside in areas with large rodent populations. Use insect repellent on your skin and clothing.

Know the risk factors and the symptoms of plague so that you can identify it early and contact your doctor immediately. If you know of recent plague cases in your area, report sick or dead animals to your local health department or to police.

Disclaimer: This information is not meant to be a substitute for professional medical advise or help. It is always best to consult with a Physician about serious health concerns. This information is in no way intended to diagnose or prescribe remedies.This is purely for educational purpose
Resources:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/medical_notes/n-p/1834332.stm
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bubonic_plague
http://www.mayoclinic.com/print/plague/DS00493/DSECTION=all&METHOD=print