Mycoplasma pneumonia 353

lowing list outlines what to do if a child accidentally ingests a toxic mushroom:

1. An adult should collect the mushrooms the child was eating; if possible, a few should be dug up so that even the underground parts can be saved for identification. If there are several kinds of mushrooms around the child, all of the different kinds that the child might have eaten should be collected.

2. An adult should check with the child's doctor, the local poison control center, or the hospital emergency room. If directed to go to the emergency room, the adult should bring the child and the mushrooms.

3. Therapy is aimed at decreasing the amount of toxin in the body. If the child is alert and has not vomited, the adult might be told to administer syrup of ipecac: The child is first given several glasses of water or clear juice to drink, followed by ipecac (one teaspoon to an infant, one tablespoon to children one to 12 years of age, and two tablespoons to children over 12 years of age).

4. The child should throw up everything in the stomach very soon after taking the ipecac. If nothing happens within 20 minutes, the same ipecac dose should be given again.

5. The doctor will check the child's vital signs and consult a local mushroom expert to determine whether or not the mushroom is poisonous and whether any other treatment is necessary.

Once the toxins have been removed, either by vomiting or by stomach pumping, the doctor will probably order continuous aspiration of the upper portion of the small intestine through a nasogastric tube with oral charcoal every four hours for 48 hours to prevent the toxin from being absorbed. This method works best if started within six hours of ingestion.

In the United States, early removal of mushroom poison by using dialysis and correcting any electrolyte imbalance has become part of the treatment program. An enzyme called thioctic acid and corticosteroids also appear to be helpful, as well as high doses of penicillin.

mycoplasma infection Infection with an organism that causes the contagious disease of childhood mycoplasma pneumonia. While classified as a bacterium, mycoplasma does not have a cell wall and cannot be seen on routine smears, or grown on routine culture plates. Because it lacks a cell wall, it is resistant to antibiotics such as penicillin, which works by attacking the cell walls of bacteria.

Mycoplasmas are found everywhere in nature, some living on decaying matter or occupying harmless places within other organisms. Many others are disease-causing bacteria, but only a handful infect humans. These organisms are halfway between bacteria and viruses, with characteristics of both. Much smaller than bacteria, they reproduce slowly, but unlike viruses, they can be killed by a few antibiotics.

Mycoplasma infections cannot be detected by standard bacterial cultures, and are therefore often misdiagnosed and often not treated appropriately or at all. A DNA analysis technique is required to detect the presence of the mycoplasma a in patients' blood. (See also mycoplasma pneumonia.)

mycoplasma pneumonia A contagious disease that primarily targets children and teens, caused by Mycoplasma pneumoniae. Although anyone can get the disease, it occurs most often in older children and teens. The infections occur sporadically throughout the year, but they are most common in late summer and fall; widespread community outbreaks may occur every five to eight years.

Cause

Mycoplasma pneumonia is caused by M. pneumoniae and spread through contact with droplets from the nose and throat of infected people when they cough or sneeze. Scientists believe transmission requires close contact with an infected person. The contagious period is probably less than 10 days.

Symptoms

After an incubation period of from one to 25 days, symptoms of dry cough, fever, sore throat, headache, and malaise appear. Ear infections also may occur. Symptoms may last from a few days to a month or more.

Diagnosis

The disease can be diagnosed based on the symptoms; a nonspecific blood test may help in the diagnosis.

Treatment

Antibiotics including erythromycin or tetracycline (over age 8) are effective.

Prevention

There are no vaccines to prevent the spread of mycoplasma infection, and there are no reliable methods for control. (See also mycoplasma

INFECTIONS.)

myopia See nearsightedness.

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