Massage & Bodywork

September/October 2013

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Conjunctivitis Conjunctivitis, or pinkeye, is an umbrella term for any situation that causes the conjunctiva, a thin, transparent lining of the sclera and eyelids, to become inflamed. It can be caused by allergens, foreign bodies, fumes, and pollutants. This discussion will focus on viral and bacterial forms of this condition. Viral conjunctivitis can be caused by several pathogens. Many infections involve viruses associated with common cold and flu, but more serious forms might involve other types of adenoviruses, rubeola (measles), rubella (German measles), herpes, or others. It is highly contagious and can spread through environments like classrooms, day cares, or homes with great speed. Viral conjunctivitis is marked by clear secretions from the eye. It is not responsive to antibiotics, so it is treated palliatively with compresses and eye drops. Bacterial conjunctivitis is also highly contagious, but is less common among young children. In the United States, it is usually caused by Staphylococcus aureus or Streptococcus pneumoniae, but in developing countries, it is often related to Chlamydia trachomatis, a leading cause of preventable blindness. Bacterial infections of the conjunctiva create a thick, sticky, pus-filled discharge from the eye, along with crusty deposits on the eyelid. They are usually treated successfully with topical antibiotics. It is important to treat pinkeye quickly, because it can lead to scarring of the cornea. Pinkeye is spread when hands leave pathogens on surfaces. It is so contagious that students are urged to skip school and employees to stay home if they are infected. It's important to remember that people in the same household as an infected person are also at risk for having and spreading the disease. This is an issue for massage therapists and clients, of course. Other Infections Several other infections that mostly affect children may occur in adults, but they are less common. Chickenpox: This is a classic childhood infection. When it affects adults, it can be particularly severe and uncomfortable, but it usually occurs as a reblooming of the virus that has been dormant in the nervous system—an extremely painful condition called shingles. Postherpetic neuralgia is a complication involving long-term pain after the lesions have healed. (See "Comforting Clients with Postherpetic Neuralgia," Massage & Bodywork June/July 2006, page 122, for more information.) Measles: Most people born before 1957 had measles in early childhood, but a vaccination campaign that began in 1963 decreased the incidence of this disease in the United States by about 98 percent. It is still a threatening infection around the globe, and it claimed 164,000 lives in 2008.3 Measles is now rare in this country, but isolated outbreaks still occur among unvaccinated Resources populations. Young adults moving Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "Conjunctivitis Causes." Accessed August into college settings are considered 2013. especially vulnerable and are often Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "Pertussis Outbreak Trends." Accessed counseled to receive a vaccination August 2013. booster, as are people working Health Xchange. "Parents Can Catch It Too." Accessed August 2013. www.healthxchange. in medical facilities. Adults and very young children are most McIntyre, M. et al. "Notes from the Field: Severe Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease vulnerable to the complications Associated with Coxsackievirus A6—Alabama, Connecticut, California, and Nevada, of this virus, which include November 2011–February 2012." Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report 61, no. 12 encephalitis, pneumonia, and (2012): 213–14. serious problems with pregnancy. 44 massage & bodywork september/october 2013

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