DEAR DR. DONOHUE: My husband and I are confused about an infection our 2-year-old son had. The doctor said it was a herpes-6 virus infection. Is this the same virus that causes cold sores and genital sores? Neither my husband nor I have had a herpes infection. How could our child have gotten one? – T.O.

ANSWER:
Herpes-6 is a distant cousin of the herpes-1 and herpes-2 virus. Herpes-1 virus is the cold sore virus. Herpes-2 virus is the genital infection virus. Herpes-6 has nothing to do with sexual transmission and isn’t at all like the herpes-1 and herpes-2 infections.

The doctor would have served you better by calling your son’s illness roseola. It’s a common childhood infection, and I’m sure you have heard the name. It usually occurs in the first two years of life. To prove to you how prevalent it is, 90 percent of the Earth’s population has been infected with it. The virus is not passed sexually. Many experts believe that it comes from virus in the saliva of adults that somehow reaches children.

At the beginning of roseola, children spike a temperature around 103 F (39 C). They might be cranky and lose their appetite. The fever lingers for three to five days and then disappears as quickly as it came. In spite of the temperature, children don’t feel too sick, and most stay active. Within 12 to 24 hours after the fever has gone, a pink rash appears. It starts as slightly raised, pink dots on the skin of the chest and abdomen, and then spreads to the neck, face, upper arms and upper legs. During the rash phase, the child usually feels in tip-top shape and is as rambunctious as he or she ever was. The illness is usually mild, and most recover without any complications.

The herpes pamphlet doesn’t deal with roseola. It deals with the herpes-2 infection, the genital infection that is so widespread. It describes its symptoms and treatment. Readers can obtain a copy by writing to: Dr. Donohue – No. 1202, Box 536475, Orlando, FL 32853-6475. Enclose a check or money order (no cash) for $4.75 U.S./$6.75 Can. with the recipient’s printed name and address. Please allow four weeks for delivery.

DEAR DR. DONOHUE: My son, 2 months old, has only one testicle. The doctor said that he would need an operation to locate the missing testicle if it hasn’t appeared by the time the baby is 6 months old. Where is it now? What does the operation involve, and why is it necessary? Will my son be able to have children? – W.S.

ANSWER:
Your son has cryptorchidism (kript-ORE-kid-izum), an undescended testicle. It happens to about 5 percent of infant boys.

During fetal development, the testicles are in the abdomen. Toward the end of pregnancy, they begin their descent to their final destination inside the scrotum.

By 6 months, the majority of undescended testicles have finally reached their scrotum destination. If one has not, it is unlikely ever to do so.

An undescended testicle should be brought down to the normal position between the 9th and 15th month. The doctor can easily locate it in the path of normal descent. If the testicle is left undescended, there is a high risk that it will become cancerous.

Boys who have had cryptorchidism have an 85 percent chance of becoming fathers.

DEAR DR. DONOHUE: When I was a baby, I had a high fever and a seizure. I am 57 now. Ever since infancy, I have been taking seizure medicine. Do I need it? – C.W.

ANSWER:
It’s not the practice now to put an infant who has had one fever-related seizure on seizure medicine. I don’t know why you are still taking it.

Who is writing the prescription for you? Ask that doctor why it’s necessary to take this medicine. If the doctor can’t come up with a good reason, see a neurologist.

Don’t stop the medicine on your own. It’s usually necessary to gradually taper the dose of seizure medicines and not abruptly stop taking them.

DEAR DR. DONOHUE: I have been diagnosed with Klebsiella pneumoniae twice in the past few years. The first time, it was in my respiratory system. The second time, it was in my urine.

Could you please tell me something about klebsiella? Is there reason for concern? My doctor says there is no reason for concern. – C.L.

ANSWER:
Klebsiella pneumoniae is the name of a bacterium. Don’t let the “pneumoniae” lead you to think it causes only pneumonia. It causes many infections.

Where you picked up this germ is something you will probably never know. It’s in lots of places. A hospital setting is often the place where people come in contact with it.

You don’t have to be overly concerned. Having had two infections at two different sites in the past few years doesn’t mean you are carrying a lethal germ that is going to do you in or cause you more trouble. However, if you were to come down with a third klebsiella infection, then I would wonder why you’re encountering it so often. It’s not likely that this will happen.

Dr. Donohue regrets that he is unable to answer individual letters, but he will incorporate them in his column whenever possible. Readers may write him or request an order form of available health newsletters at P.O. Box 536475, Orlando, FL 32853-6475. Readers may also order health newsletters from www.rbmamall.com


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