What’s Going Around: Poison ivy is prevalent and the stomach bug is back

Lancaster General Health Physicians Roseville Pediatrics reports seeing a spike in the dreaded gastroenteritis, which is marked by vomiting and/or diarrhea, with or without a fever. It’s been on the rise in all age groups.

They’re also seeing pink eye and allergy symptoms in high numbers, as well as a moderate number of strep and croup cases. They’ve also seen a spike in poison ivy rashes.

When it comes to poison ivy, Dr. Joan Thode offers the following advice:

“Poison ivy has three leaves with smooth edges that come together with a stem that has a red color. It grows from a vine that typically grows on the ground or wraps on tree trunks.

The rash occurs due to the immune system reacting to the oils on the poison ivy leaves. These oils can be spread by contact (including contact with surfaces that have the oils on them, such as the fur of a dog that recently ran through a poison ivy patch). Washing any exposed areas is important to help minimize the oils on the skin.

If it’s your first exposure to poison ivy, the rash may take up to two weeks to erupt on the skin. If you’ve had the rash before, however, it usually comes out within four to 48 hours of exposure.

The rash is extremely itchy and can appear like bubbles of clear fluid on a red base. While the oil on the surface of the skin can initially spread, the fluid from the bubbles cannot spread the poison ivy rash.

It’s important to see a doctor quickly if the rash is on the face, genitals or in multiple locations on the body, as more aggressive medical treatment may be needed. For small single areas of the rash, however, typically an oral antihistamine and topical drying compound like calamine can offer a bit of relief.”

PinnacleHealth’s Heritage Pediatrics providers have seen a lot of wheezing in patients these past few weeks.

In older children, doctors are seeing a tight cough and trouble breathing from asthma triggered by allergies, since pollen levels are so high.

“In addition, there is a lot of viral bronchiolitis going around,” Dr. Kathleen Zimmerman said. “This affects younger infants and toddlers. The virus, which is often RSV virus, causes a heavy mucous in the nose, and then a few days later develops into wheezing and fast breathing and tight cough. These children need to be seen by a doctor. Sometimes they will need a breathing treatment in the office and have their oxygen level checked.”

WellSpan Medical Group providers are seeing a number of upper respiratory infections in Lancaster County. Seasonal allergies are still pervasive throughout Adams, Lancaster, Lebanon and York counties.

For allergy sufferers, providers recommend using non-drowsy antihistamines and nasal sprays. If coughing, wheezing or facial pressure and severe congestion persist, they advise you to contact your doctor, as the symptoms may require prescription medication.

For persistent or more severe symptoms, allergy testing is recommended, WellSpan providers said.

“For those allergic to pollen, it is recommended that they limit time outdoors, stay in air-conditioning, change home air filters monthly and keep windows closed both in the house and while traveling in the car,” WellSpan’s Dan Carrigan said. “Other suggestions for decreasing allergy symptoms include using a vacuum cleaner with a HEPA or double thickness filter twice a week to clean and avoiding perfumes, smoke, paint fumes and other strong odors that can irritate the nasal passages.”

Penn State Children’s Hospital said its physicians have declared an end to flu season, as they are now seeing very few cases. They are, however, continuing to see cases of the common cold and seasonal allergies. Some locations are also reporting intestinal viruses as well.

Medical experts at Summit Health urgent cares and walk-in clinics in Franklin and Cumberland counties report they are seeing much of the same illnesses going around as in previous weeks, including allergies, strep throat, poison ivy, and tick bites.

When it comes to tick bites, Summit providers offer the following advice:

“Warmer weather means yard work, camping, outdoor play, and an increased risk for tick bites,  especially in wooded or grassy areas. Protect your family by using an EPA-registered insect repellent containing DEET. If you can, help protect your child by dressing him or her in a long-sleeved shirt and pants, tucking the bottom of the pants into closed-toe shoes. Once your time outside is over, it’s important to carefully check skin for ticks. If a rash or flu-like symptoms develop, you should be seen by a provider. Remember that the rash can appear up to two or three weeks after the tick bite occurred. A small amount of redness at the site of a bite is normal, but redness or rash five to six centimeters or larger is not.”

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