What Tests Can I Do For My Fever?
A DTAP Stay Home Series Part 3
We touched on the COVID19 situation and the active steps one can take to minimize and prevent infection risks on our past two articles.
Furthermore in our last article we also delved deeper into some of the situations one may face whilst at home, running out of needed medications or even repeated sneezing and scaring away every around.
But wait, I don’t need further medications, I don’t need to get my sneezing checked but I have this fever which I am worried about. What should I do doc?
Fever is one of the classic symptoms of one’s body responding to an infection. It is a signal that the immune system is reacting to a foreign invader. These foreign invaders can be anything from the seasonal Influenza Viruses, upper respiratory tract bacterial infections, Dengue fever, the dreaded COVID19 virus or even worse, the most feared HIV virus.
Before we get carried away, let’s explore the facts behind each of these concerns and hopefully we can provide you a handle on how to get these concerns further addressed. From the recapitulation of COVID19, to upper respiratory tract infections and last but not least prolonged fever from possible HIV.
Let’s start with a short recap of COVID 19, from the WHO-China joint COVID 19 mission, it was studied that those who are at great risk of severe disease and death include those above 60, those with underlying chronic conditions. And of course as previously discussed, the risks of COVID19 include travel to at risk countries including China, especially Wuhan and Hubei provinces, South Korea, Iran and Northern Italy as of March 2020.
Practically the same advice shared previously of personal hygiene and avoidance of crowded places and even ordering in the medications you need delivered to your home would still stand.
Upper Respiratory Tract Infections
Secondly if it were an upper respiratory tract infection caused by other viruses or bacteria, it would be good to have your doctor assess you especially if there are symptoms of fever, cough, sore throat or runny nose. In the current climate, these symptoms would warrant one to get extended rest at home with a doctor’s note (medical certificate) for at least 5 days. When we get an infection in the upper respiratory tract – nasal passages or throat, it is usually caused by either a bacteria or virus.
SYMPTOMS OF A COLD
A cold is a viral infection of our respiratory tract, and there are more than 200 types of viruses which can cause this. It is also a gradual Onset.
SYMPTOMS OF FLU
Sudden onset. Contagious after coming into contact with droplets. The FLU virus can cause a lung infection called pneumonia.
So doc, i’ve heard alot about antibiotics as well, can I just get them prescribed to me for my fever?
Antibiotics however only work against bacteria infections.
Instead of taking too many unnecessary medications, you can get tested to see if you have the flu or a bacterial infection.
Point of care testing is convenient, accurate and gives you an answer in 15mins. Furthermore for those at risk or diagnosed with Influenza (above 60 or have chronic diseases) – antivirals can be prescribed. These include XOFLUZA (a one off treatment) or TAMIFLU and lastly if it is likely a cold, vitamin C and zinc are shown to aid in recovery.
And last but not least, especially for those at risk, please do not forget your twice yearly flu vaccinations (Northern and Southern hemisphere strains respectively) and 2 different jabs for a lifetime protection against Pneumonia.
Fever from HIV
But that being said, what happens then if one’s fever is still persistent and there were concerns from a recent sexual exposure? Especially if it was a causal partner and or someone you met overseas?
The CDC page tells us that HIV is spread when anal or vaginal sex, without a condom occurs with someone who has HIV. The other way HIV is spread is through the sharing of needles or syringes, or even equipment used to prepare drugs for injection with someone who has HIV. Some studies have shown that HIV can survive in a used needle for up to 42 days depending on environmental factors. Temperature etc.
In rarer cases, HIV can be spread through oral sex.
The main transmission medium of HIV however is through fluids and these are predominantly blood, vaginal fluid, semen and even saliva. Here are some statistics from medical studies that have been done. And as you can see, needle sharing, needle use has the highest risk followed by anal intercourse.
Ultimately all these statistics mean nothing, if the concern is still there and there is an exposure, the best thing to do for an ease of mind would be to speak to your doctors and decide whether the Rapid HIV test is something necessary for you.
In summary, there are many causes of fever. In the current climate, fever persisting for more than 5 days can be worrisome. And common things being common, in the absence of a travel history, it is most likely due to an upper respiratory tract infection arising from a cold, influenza or even bacteria. The likelihood of COVID19 is low, but one must also keep a suspicion for infections such as dengue and in the rarest of events HIV. Seeing a doctor early would help you get some point of care tests done with results almost immediately to guide your clinical care and most importantly give you a peace of mind.
Take care, stay safe.
- Boily MC et al. Heterosexual risk of HIV-1 infection per sexual act: systematic review and meta-analysis of observational studies. Lancet Infect Dis 9(2): 118-129, 2009
- Vittinghoff E et al. Per-contact risk of human immunodeficiency virus transmission between male sexual partners. American Journal of Epidemiology 150: 306-311, 1999
- Del Romero J et al. Evaluating the risk of HIV transmission through unprotected orogenital sex. AIDS 16(9): 1296-1297, 2002
- Townsend C et al. Low rates of mother-to-child transmission of HIV following effective pregnancy interventions in the United Kingdom and Ireland, 2000-2006. AIDS 22: 973-981, 2008
- Baggaley RF et al. Risk of HIV-1 transmission for parenteral exposure and blood transfusion. AIDS 20: 805-812, 2006