Friday, May 25, 2007

Immune Globulins

The risk of high fever following the DPT (combined diphtheria, pertussis, and tetanus) vaccine can be reduced by giving Paracetamol at the time of vaccination. The pertussis vaccine may in rare cases cause a mild fit, which is brief, usually associated with fever and stops without treatment. Children who have experienced such fits recover completely without neurological or developmental problems.

Immune Globulins

Antibodies, which can result from exposure to snake and insect venom as well as infectious diseases, are found in the serum of the blood (the part remaining after the red cells and clotting agents are removed). The concentrated serum of people who have survived diseases or poisonous bites is called immune globulin, and, given by injection, it creates passive immunity. Immune globulin from blood donated by a wide cross-section of donors is likely to contain antibodies to most common diseases. Specific immune globulins against rare diseases or toxins are derived from the blood of selected donors likely to have high levels of antibodies to that disease. These are called hyperimmune globulins. Some immune globulins are extracted from horse blood following repeated doses of the toxin.

Because immune globulins do not stimulate the body to produce its own antibodies, their effect is not long-lasting and diminishes progressively over three or four weeks. Continued protection requires repeated injections of immune globulins.

Adverse effects from immune globulins are uncommon. Some people are sensitive to horse globulins, and about a week after the injection they may experience a reaction known as serum sickness, with fever, a rash, joint swelling and pain.

This usually ends in a few days but should be reported to your doctor before any further immunisation.

Travel Vaccinations

These are not normally necessary for travel to Western Europe, North America, Australia, or New Zealand (although you should make sure that your tetanus and poliomyelitis boosters are up-to-date). Consult your doctor if you are visiting other destinations. Check that children travelling with you have had the full set of routine childhood vaccinations as well as any that are necessary for the areas in which you will be travelling.

If you are visiting an area where there is yellow fever, an International Certificate of Vaccination will be needed. You may also need this certificate in the future. Many countries that you might want to visit require an International Certificate of vaccination if you have already been to a country where yellow fever is present.

You are at risk of other infectious diseases in many parts of the world, and appropriate vaccinations are a wise precaution. For example, there is a zone called the "Meningitis Belt" that runs across northern India, Nepal, Bhutan, and Pakistan, and continues across Africa from the Sahara down to Kenya. Anyone intending to visit this zone should have meningococcal vaccine A and C. Visitors to Saudi Arabia at certain times of the year may also be required to have had the meningitis group A and C vaccine.

You may need extra vaccinations if you are backpacking or planning to stay for a long time. For example, hepatitis A vaccine would be sensible for anyone travelling to a developing country, but a long-stay traveller should consider having the hepatitis B vaccine and BCG(tuberculosis) as well. Anyone travelling into remote areas is recommended to have rabies vaccination.

All immunisation should be completed well before departure as the vaccinations do not give instant protection.

BCG needs 3 months, and some, for example typhoid, needs more than one dose to be effective.

Travel Immunisation

The immunisations needed before travelling depend on the part of the world you intend to visit, but some diseases can be contracted almost anywhere. Make sure that you have been immunised against tetanus and polio and have had boosters if necessary. Ask you doctor or pharmacist for the most up-to-date information on vaccination for specific areas.


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