Human Papilloma viruses, also known as HPV, are nasty disease causing creatures. It seems like a year doesn’t go by without investigators finding new diseases associated with infection with these viruses. New research have convinced scientists that the human papilloma virus, like other known viruses, can pass across the placenta and infect the brains of children before the child is even born. The HP virus is capable of reeking havoc on these poor children causing seizures and severe brain malformations. The knowledge that early, fetal infection with a virus that a child acquires before birth is not a new concept, but the knowledge that HPV can be added to the list of prenatal infections is brand new knowledge. How many ways can these viruses hurt us? We now know that the HP viruses cause the most common sexually transmitted group of infections in the United States. We are also aware that many cancers have HPV as their direct cause, the most common being cervical cancers in women. Now we know that a developing fetus can be infected with HP viruses and suffer grave brain injury as a result. Many of the great miracles that medical science has been able to deliver were possible because someone noticed the mechanism of disease. Dr. Snowden, a British physician single handedly was able to stop the great cholera epidemic in London, 1848, by noticing that water from a particular well seemed to cause the disease. Closing down the infected well stopped the epidemic. Similarly, Dr. Salk was able to identify the polio viruses and effectively vaccinate children thus stopping the both the infections and the transmission of the germ via water to other children. Similarly, scientists today are increasingly finding out how dangerous the HP viruses are and ways of stopping it. In 1735, Benjamin Franklin said it all when he remarked, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”. Hopefully, prevention with the HPV vaccine will make HPV infections another bad memory for mankind. We will see. Your comments are welcome at www.docsmo.com. Until next time. Written collaboratively by John Eun and Paul Smolen M.D.
About the Doc/Our Mission:
Dr. Paul Smolen has been practicing pediatrics for 32 years as an attending physician at Carolinas Medical Center, an Adjunct Associate Professor at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine-Chapel Hill, and a private practitioner. To learn more about Dr. Smolen, click here
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