News

31/Mar/2015

Keep you and your family safe from the measles and other infectious diseases by taking precautions before traveling. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) recommends you visit a doctor or nurse 4-6 weeks prior to travel. With an increase in measles outbreaks the CDC strongly recommends making sure everyone has a measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) shot at least 4 weeks prior to traveling.

In the US alone from January 1 to March 29, 2015- 178 people from 17 states and the District of Columbia were reported to have measles. This past January, national news outlets spread word of a measles outbreak that began at Disneyland in California. This breaking story was shocking to many, as measles had previously been declared eliminated in the U.S. in the year 2000. Each year, unvaccinated people get infected while in other countries and bring the disease into the US and spread it to others. Measles cases and outbreaks still occur in countries in Europe, Africa, Asia, and the Pacific. Worldwide, about 20 million people get measles each year; about 146,000 die.

“The measles outbreak raises concerns about vaccination rates across the country and how both children and adults should best protect themselves from getting measles,” said Vail Valley Medical Center’s President and CEO Doris Kirchner. “Our experts agree vaccinations are critical to community health.”

A quick Internet search will reveal that one of the reasons parents choose not to vaccinate their children is due to fears of immunizations causing autism. This stems from a 1998 British study by Andrew Wakefield that concluded there might be a possible link between the MMR vaccine and autism. This study was later widely discredited and Wakefield was stripped of his medical license.

Wakefield’s refuted study “really hurt society” in that it allowed for misinformation to influence the general public’s perception of immunizations, downplaying the serious risks associated with not getting vaccinated.

The FACTS about Measles provided by the CDC

How is measles spread?

Measles spread easily through the air by breathing, coughing, or sneezing. It is so contagious that anyone who is exposed to it and is not immune will probably get the disease.

What are the symptoms of measles?

  • High fever (may spike to more than 104°F)
  • Cough
  • Runny nose
  • Red, watery eyes
  • Rash breaks out 3-5 days after symptoms begin

How to protect yourself from the measles

The best way to protect yourself and your loved ones from measles is by getting vaccinated. The measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine protects against all 3 diseases. Two doses of MMR vaccine provide 97% protection against measles. People who cannot show that they were vaccinated as children and who have never had measles should be vaccinated. If you are unsure you were vaccinated as a child another dose of the MMR vaccine will not harm you.

What to keep an eye out for upon your return home

Watch your health for 3 weeks after you return from traveling, especially internationally. If you or your child gets sick with a rash and/ or fever, call your doctor. Be sure to tell your doctor that you traveled and where, and if you have received the MMR vaccine.

For more information on the measles and other infectious diseases, along with diseases that are prevenant in locations you are traveling to visit the CDCs Traveler’s Health website at http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel .

 

23/Mar/2015

Climate Change

Could a changing climate and changing environments have an impact on the spread of infectious diseases?  Several zoologists are saying yes!

Zoologist Daniel Brooks of the Harold W. Manter Laboratory of Parasitology at the Univ. of Nebraska-Lincoln states the spread of infectious diseases like the West Nile Virus and Ebola could be linked to climate change.

Changes to an environment many times causes animals to migrate to places they otherwise wouldn’t have gone before.  If those animals carry diseases, they could introduce them to a new population.

“It’s not that there’s going to be one ‘Andromeda Strain’ that will wipe everybody out on the planet,” Daniel Brooks stated in a recent news release. “There are going to be a lot of localized outbreaks putting pressure on medical and veterinary health systems. It will be the death of a thousand cuts.”

“Over the last 30 years, the places we’ve been working have been heavily impacted by climate change,” Brooks stated.  “Even though I was in the tropics, I was also working with several zoologists in the Arctic, we could see something was happening. Changes in habitat mean animals are exposed to new parasites and pathogens.”

West Nile Virus is a prime example of this phenomenon, going from an acute problem in North America and escalating into a recurring problem in multiple locations around the world.

Scholars are now urged to consider that pathogens retain genetic aspects which enable them to adopt new hosts;  a claim that goes against more than 100 years of evidence suggesting that parasites don’t quickly change hosts.  Brooks said this factor allows many infectious diseases to spread to new locations despite lacking a common host .

While some diseases can’t be transmitted from animals to humans immediately, that can change over time. “Given enough exposure and time, any disease can eventually mutate into a human to human transmittable disease. History is full of such occurrences,” Dan Hahn, emergency manager of Santa Rosa County, Fla., said.  “The Black Death of 13th century Europe was caused by rats transmitting bubonic plague, but historical data suggests deaths occurred too rapidly for this to have been a bubonic epidemic, so recent archaeological evidence through DNA sampling of corpses buried around London has confirmed that it was pneumonic plague, a much faster acting killer, that wiped out large parts of the London population.  Ebola, likewise, has had its origins traced to animals in Africa.”

Climate change also promotes the spread of other insect-borne infectious diseases such as malaria and dengue fever, according to recent studies.  In addition to animal migration and disease advancements, climate changes also cause destruction of housing and public health infrastructure through storms and floods that result in injuries and unsanitary conditions. From a global perspective, complete preparation requires strengthening the weakest links in the world where diseases can run rampant.

How to prepare

Protecting yourself from infectious diseases can sometimes be difficult, but there are precautions that can be taken to better prepare yourself.

Proper hygiene and up-to-date immunizations protect individuals from a lot of diseases. Always be aware of infectious diseases that are prevalent where you live. When traveling, always look up health threats at your destination and how to protect yourself against them. For a current list of any prevalent health concerns in any location of the world visit the Center for Disease Control and Protection website at http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/destinations/list/ .


27/Feb/2015

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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) formally reported on the discovery of a new virus, most likely transmitted through ticks. Bourbon virus belongs to a group of viruses called thogotoviruses. Viruses in this group are found all over the world.

The CDC believes this new virus contributed to the death of a previously healthy man in his 50s.“We do not yet fully know how people become infected with Bourbon virus. However, based on what we know about similar viruses, it is likely that Bourbon virus is spread through tick or other insect bites,” the CDC says.

The CDC studied the details in the progression of the main’s illness.  This case was the first time the virus has been shown to cause human illness in the United States.  “At this time, we do not know if the virus might be found in other areas of the United States,” the CDC stated.

Because there has been only one case identified thus far, scientists are still learning about possible symptoms caused by this new virus. In the one person who was diagnosed with Bourbon virus symptoms included fever, fatigue, anorexia, nausea, vomiting and a maculopapular rash. The person also had thrombocytopenia and leukopenia; low blood counts for cells that fight infection and help prevent bleeding.

“The Kansas  man had received multiple tick bites in the days before becoming ill. After test results for many infectious diseases came back negative a sample of the patient’s blood was sent to CDC for additional testing,” the CDC reported.  Using Advanced Molecular Detection (AMD), the CDC determined that they in fact discovered a new virus.

CDC is working with the Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) and other partners to help identify other potential cases of Bourbon virus.  They are investigating symptoms and ways people might be getting infected to help understand the virus and then determine ways to prevent and control the new virus.

“The discovery of Bourbon virus, as well as the recent discoveries of Heartland virus in Missouri and severe fever with thrombocytopenia syndrome viruses in China, leads CDC researchers to believe that other undiscovered viruses are likely causing people to get sick,” an official from the CDC stated.

In result of so little knowledge of the virus, there is no vaccine or drug to prevent or treat Bourbon virus.  Preventing tick or insect bites is the best way to prevent infection of tick borne illnesses.

  • Protect Yourself by Preventing Tick Bites
  • Avoid wooded and bushy areas with high grass and leaf litter.
  • Walk in the center of trails
  • Use insect repellents that contain 20 to 30% DEET on skin or clothing.  Follow product instructions.
  • Use products that contain 0.5% Permethrin on clothing, boots, pants, tents.
  • Bath or shower as soon as possible after coming indoors to wash off or more easily remove ticks.
  • Conduct a full-body tick check.  Parents should check their children.
  • Check your pets.
  • Tumble clothes in the dryer on high heat for an hour to kill remaining ticks.
  • Create a Tick-safe Zone in Your Yard
  • The CDC also recommends some simple ways to reduce tick populations in your yard.
  • Remove leaf litter.
  • Clear tall grasses and brush around homes and at the edge of lawns.
  • Place a 3-ft wide barrier of wood chips or gravel between lawns and wooded areas to restrict tick migration into recreational areas.
  • Mow the lawn frequently.
  • Stack wood neatly and in a dry area (discourages rodents).
  • Keep playground equipment, decks, and patios away from yard edges and trees.
  • Discourage unwelcome animals (such as deer, raccoons, and stray dogs) from entering your yard by constructing fences.
  • Remove old furniture, mattresses, or trash from the yard that may give ticks a place to hide.

You can find additional information on Bourbon virus, visit http://www.cdc.gov/ncezid/dvbd/bourbon/index.html. Information in this article provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

 


16/Feb/2015

At Shepard Medical we want to be your source for infectious disease education and protection and we’ve now made it easier for you to connect with us! Follow us on our social networks for up-to-date health news; from expert advice on vaccinations, to diabetes facts, to home infusion protection information and much more. We are here to serve you and answer any questions you might have. If you’re a consumer seeking safe, reliable, effective products, or if you are wholesaler, distributer, or local pharmacy we are looking forward to getting to know you! This is “Where Infection Protection Begins”!
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