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Adenoid Virus?

Ian A. York york at mbcrr.dfci.harvard.edu
Tue Apr 11 07:21:46 EST 1995

In article <S1122394.5.2F89E645 at cedarville.edu> S1122394 at cedarville.edu writes:
>The reason why a doctor prescribes antibiotics for a viral infection, is that 
>the virus usually weakens the immune system and allows bacteria that is 
>normally present to 'flare-up'.  In this way the patients viral infection is 
>not complicated.  Viruses are notoriously hard to get rid of, so the best 
>doctors can do in most cases is to prevent bacterial infection, and let the 
>body combat the virus.

That may be true in principle, but more probably many doctors presribe 
antibiotics because they and their patient want to do something.  In many 
cases the antibiotic prescriptions are probably useless and may well be 
actively harmful - this kind of misuse is one of the many reasons that 
antibiotic-resistant bacteria are so prevalent today.  It is an 
unfortunate truth that doctors (at least in North America; I understand 
it is less so in Europe) are interventionist by philosophy.  Even those 
who are not find that patients demand some treatment - damnit, I didn't 
come all the way to the emergency room just to be told that it's going to 
run its course, give me a pill to make me better! - and it'seasier to 
just agree with them.  The "viruses suppress the immune system" argument 
allows them to rationalize the behaviour.
	Having said that, the case in question seemed to involve a 
generalized infection - skin etc - which is very uncommon for an 
adenovirus infection.  In this case, it seems to me that there could well 
have already been secondary bacterial infection involved, or that the 
child already had some immune suppression; on the face of it (NB I didn't 
examine the case, obviously, so this speculation is dangerous) 
antibiotics seem like a reasonable approach.

Ian York   (york at mbcrr.harvard.edu)
Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, 44 Binney St., Boston MA 02115
Phone (617)-632-3921     Fax  (617)-632-2627

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