Over 50? See Your Provider!

27 12 2010

Dr. Mary Beth, PKIDs’ advice nurse, tells the over 50 crowd what preventive health screening they should undergo.  Talk to your provider, see what you need!

Listen now!

Right-click here to download podcast (8min/4mb)

Don’t Wait – Vaccinate!

20 12 2010

(courtesy of CDC)

This year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is recommending flu vaccination for everyone 6 months of age and older. Even healthy adults 19 through 24 years of age should get vaccinated.

Life can get pretty hectic sometimes. Whether it’s school, work, or your social life, you probably think you have other, more important things to do than get vaccinated against the flu. Last season, the flu attacked adults 19-24 years of age much more than usual, which resulted in missed classes, missed work, and far worse–trips to the ER, hospitalization, or even death.

Fortunately, there’s a quick and easy way for you to protect yourself, and to keep from spreading the flu to friends and family. Get a flu vaccine. One shot or nasal spray will help protect you against the three strains of virus predicted to cause illness this season—including the 2009 H1N1 strain, which is still circulating.

If you think you don’t have time to get vaccinated, think again! It’s easier than ever to get a flu vaccine.  And if you ’re healthy, you can get the nasal spray if you’re afraid of needles! You usually don’t even need a doctor’s appointment. Most pharmacies, drugstores, and supermarkets offer walk-in clinics that are usually very quick and have convenient hours.  In addition, most university clinics offer free or reduced-price flu vaccination for students. But the longer you wait, the longer the lines are likely to be. Flu vaccine is now available in various locations. So don’t wait–vaccinate.

The few minutes it will take you to get a flu vaccine is much shorter than the days you might have to take off from school, work, or both if you get sick with the flu. It takes about two weeks to build immunity against flu, so it’s important to act now in order to be fully protected by the time flu outbreaks begin. By immunizing yourself against flu you’ll help protect your family, friends, classmates, and co-workers, too.

For more information, visit http://www.flu.gov/, http://www.cdc.gov/flu or call 1‐800‐CDC‐INFO (800‐232‐4636).

Pregnant? Protect Baby and You Get a Flu Shot

16 12 2010

(courtesy of CDC)

Your mood can change on a dime. Your feet are swollen, you have heartburn, you can’t sleep, and you can’t stay away from the bathroom for longer than fifteen minutes. A lot of discomforts come with the joy of pregnancy. Adding flu to that could be overwhelming, or much worse. Pregnant women who get the flu are at risk to have serious illness that could harm them or their unborn child. But one step can protect against flu: a flu vaccine.

The risk from flu is greater for pregnant women because pregnancy can reduce the ability of lungs and the immune system to work normally. This can be bad for both you and your baby.

Although pregnant women are about 1% of the U.S. population, they made up 5% of U.S. deaths from 2009 H1N1 (swine flu) reported to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) from April 14 – August 21, 2009. According to a study done during the first month of the outbreak, the rate of hospitalizations for 2009 H1N1 was four times higher in pregnant women than other groups.

While CDC is recommending that everyone get vaccinated against the flu this season, the agency has a special message for pregnant women: “Please don’t pass up this chance to protect yourself and your baby against the flu,” says Dr. Anne Schuchat, Assistant Surgeon General of the U.S. Public Health Service and CDC’s Director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases.

“Getting a flu vaccine during pregnancy can reduce the risk of getting the flu while pregnant and after,” says Dr. Schuchat. “And babies younger than six months can get very sick from flu, but are too young to get vaccinated. The best way to protect them is to have their caregivers and close contacts vaccinated.”

“Pregnant women should get flu shots, not the nasal spray vaccine,” says Dr. Schuchat. “The flu shot is given in a single dose, and is safe, effective, and cannot cause the flu.” Schuchat adds that the vaccine can be safely given in all nine months of pregnancy, and is also safe for breastfeeding mothers. Breastfeeding mothers can get either the nasal spray vaccine or flu shot.

Seasonal flu shots have been given safely to millions of pregnant women over many years. As in previous years, vaccine companies are making plenty of preservative-free flu vaccine as an option for pregnant women and small children. The flu shot (not the nasal spray) is safe for pregnant women during any trimester. Nursing mothers can receive a flu shot or the nasal spray. One shot will last all flu season, even if you get it early in the season.

Usually worse than the common cold, the flu can cause fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headache, chills, and weakness. Some people also have diarrhea and vomiting. If you think you may have the flu, it’s important to call your doctor or nurse right away.

For more information, talk to your doctor or contact CDC at 1-800-CDC-INFO or www.cdc.gov.

Got Flu?

13 12 2010

Dr. Mary Beth, PKIDs’ advice nurse, helps you get through nasty influenza.

Listen now!

Right-click here to download podcast (6mins/2.5mb)

Partying With Hand San!

9 12 2010

It’s December, and holiday merriment runs high!

Put on the cute froufrou dress or festive tie, and head out to party with family and friends. Kisses, hugs and buffet lines mean lots of opportunities to share merriment, feel the love, and (hey, we’re infectious disease people) pass the germs.

Washing our hands with soap and water is an effective way to get rid of germs—they bind to the soap and go down the drain when we rinse.

Hand sanitizer, on the other hand, provides a quick if not long-lasting method of killing germs to protect ourselves and our loved ones.

When you’re choosing hand sanitizer, make sure it contains at least 60 percent alcohol, and keep in mind that the benefits of sanitizing only last about 2 minutes, so we need to reapply often if we’re not near soap and water.

There are lots of hand sanitizer options on the market that fit in our pants pocket or into that little party purse. Here are just a few ideas:

Do you have favorite tips to keep germs at bay at your holiday parties? Are you doing the air kiss instead of hugs?

We’d love to hear your tips, so send them in!

Does Herpes Ever Sleep?

6 12 2010

A Time Magazine cover story from August 2, 1982, described herpes as “Today’s Scarlet Letter.” Back then, both treatment and diagnostic testing for herpes were cumbersome and unreliable.

In the ’70s and ’80s, herpes support groups were established, helping to bring the infection out of the closet.

With the advent of Acyclovir and other antivirals, as well as the (mostly) suppressed painful outbreaks, the lives of many herpes sufferers were transformed. Yet gaps in both the understanding of the virus as well as treatment persist.

Between 1978 and 1990, the prevalence of genital herpes grew by 32%. Currently, estimates are that 1 in 4 American adults over the age of 12 have genital herpes, though most carriers are unaware they’re infected.

Until recently, it’s been accepted that the herpes virus sets up “permanent residence in the ganglia.”

In other words, the virus is believed to be an infection characterized by periodic recurrences followed by inactivity.

A recent study challenges this assumption, finding that the infection “may occur on both sides of the midline and in more ganglia than previously thought.” If these results hold up to further validation, it will show chronic herpes infection to be continuously active, rather than cyclical. A big difference which could change the lives of those infected and inspire new prevention methods.

Currently, the best way to prevent herpes remains sexual abstinence or a long term-monogamous relationship with a partner who’s been tested and is not HSV-2+.

Fight Flu: Get the Facts

2 12 2010

(courtesy of CDC)

Fewer Than Half of Nurses and other Health Care Workers Get Vaccinated. Influenza is among the most common respiratory illnesses in the United States, infecting millions of people every flu season. Studies going back 30 years to 1976 show that seasonal flu-related deaths have ranged from about 3,000 people to more than  48,000 people. While every flu season differs, people die from flu every year. Since health care workers are on the front line to care for patients with the flu, you are more vulnerable to get sick and spread flu to your patients, colleagues, and family members.

Flu transmission from patients to health care workers, and from health care workers to their families, other patients, and staff members is well documented.1-4   Vaccination remains the single most effective preventive measure available against influenza and can prevent serious illness and death. High rates of vaccination among nurses and health care workers have been linked to improved patient outcomes5, 6, reduced absenteeism7, and influenza infection among staff.  Despite the documented benefits of flu vaccination of nurses and other health care workers, fewer than half of health care professionals receive an influenza vaccine each year. This low coverage jeopardizes the health of high-risk patients that you, as a nurse or health care worker, care for every day.  Influenza outbreaks have been documented in hospital wards, nursing home facilities, intensive care units, and bone marrow transplant units.  Protect yourself, your family, and your patients—get a flu vaccine.


FACT:  You cannot get the flu from the influenza vaccine. The flu shot does not contain live viruses, so it is impossible to get influenza from the vaccine, and the nasal spray contains virus strains that are too weakened to cause flu illness. Side effects may occur in some people who get vaccinated, such as mild soreness, redness or swelling at the injection site, headache or low-grade fever.  It can take up to two weeks from the time the vaccine is administered to provide immunity against flu. So, during the two weeks after vaccination, people can remain susceptible to influenza infection.  And, while the influenza vaccine does not prevent all influenza illnesses, the vaccine is generally 70-90% effective in adults younger than 65 years of age.

FACT:  Influenza is more than just a nuisance.  Influenza can be a serious and sometimes life-threatening disease. Influenza and its related complications can cause hospitalization and even death.

FACTThe influenza virus is unpredictable.  Flu viruses are constantly changing.  Therefore, a new flu vaccine is made every year to protect against the flu viruses that surveillance indicates will be most common. Because of this, it’s necessary to get a flu vaccination every year, even if you’ve had one or more in the past. The 2010-11 seasonal flu vaccine protects against three viruses, including the H1N1 virus that caused so much illness last season. Read the rest of this entry »