Dr. Mary Beth – HPV in Boys

30 06 2011

Listen Now!

Right-click here to download podcast (4 mins/1.5 MB)





Dr. Mary Beth Talks E. coli

27 06 2011

Listen now!

Right-click here to download podcast (4 mins/1.5 MB)





Everyone Should Get Tested For HIV

23 06 2011

June 27, 2011, is the 17th annual National HIV Testing Day. It follows on the passing of the 30th anniversary of the day the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced a deadly new syndrome, acquired immune deficiency syndrome, or AIDS. Three decades later, many things have changed about infection with HIV, including life expectancy, groups that it infects the most, and ever-evolving treatment successes.

Why get tested? Because the earlier you get treated, the better it is for you and for people at risk of acquiring infection from you. People who are under treatment are less likely to pass HIV to others than people who are going untreated. Without getting tested, you can’t know if you’re infected. Without getting treatment, you can’t keep yourself healthy or avoid endangering others.

You may be thinking that you’re someone who doesn’t need to get tested. Think again. The CDC says that everyone between the ages of 13 and 64 should be tested at least once. If you’re sexually active or engaged in recreational drugs, you need to be tested. There are, of course, groups at higher risk for infection. According to the National Association of People with AIDS, these groups include:

  • younger sexually active teens
  • poor women of color
  • men who have sex with men
  • people who inject or snort drugs with others
  • sex workers or people who barter in sex for life necessities
  • people who live in HIV “hot spots,” places where infection rates are so high that anyone who is sexually active is at risk. These hotspots can sometimes encompass only a few city blocks.

How can you get tested? Depends on how you want to do it. It’s possible to test at home, sending in blood from a finger prick to a lab for analysis. You can buy such kits at drugstores, but doing it on your own means that you won’t receive appropriate counseling if the result comes back positive. In some places, people can get tested anonymously and still receive counseling. But for National HIV Testing Day, testing events are happening all over the United States. If you’re interested in finding a testing site near you, check this interactive map.

Each of the two types of tests available—one tests for antibodies the body makes if the virus is present, the other tests for the virus itself—requires only a blood draw or even just an oral swab for antibody testing. If you think you’ve recently been exposed to HIV, the viral load testing is the test you need. You can’t rely on the antibody test results if 3 to 6 months haven’t elapsed since exposure, as it takes that long for the antibodies to register.

An HIV test doesn’t take much investment in terms of money or blood or even time. But even in this age of improved therapies and life expectancies with infection, the results can literally mean life or death, not only for you but maybe for someone you love. If you haven’t been tested, isn’t that reason enough to make June 27, 2011, your day to get it done?

By Emily Willingham





Nurse Mary Beth Talks Athlete’s Foot

20 06 2011

PKIDs’ advice nurse, Dr. Mary Beth, talks about athlete’s foot and how to prevent the nasty fungal infection.

Listen now!

Right-click here to download podcast (2 MB, 5 mins)

 





June: It’s a Guy’s Month

16 06 2011

Hey, men! It’s your week AND your month.

June is Men’s Health Month , and June 13 through 19 is Men’s Health Week.

What’s the point? Preventive medicine. Take care of yourself before you become unhealthy. Or, if you’ve already started down the path to poor health, do what you can to reverse that process.

The organizers of the Men’s Health Month and Men’s Health Week have tagged it with the line, “Awareness. Prevention. Education. Family.” Every single one of those terms applies to you, men. Here’s why:

  • Take the top 10 causes of death. Men die at higher rates from these causes than women. The top causes of death are heart disease, cancer, injuries, stroke, HIV/AIDS, and suicide. For every 162 women who die of heart disease, 249 men die of it. For every 2 or 3 women who commit suicide, about 10 men take their own lives. In keeping with that statistic, depression in men often goes undiagnosed.
  • In 1920, men and women lived about the same life spans. Now, women outlive men by an average of six years.
  • Men don’t go to doctors enough for well checks. Women are 100% more likely to go in for annual exams and preventive services than men.

How aware are you of what you need to do for preventive healthcare, not only for your own health but out of consideration for your family? Below is a short list to consider. For more information, find the complete list and other information at the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.

  • Age 18 and onward: Regular screenings throughout adulthood for depression, blood pressure, and diabetes (if blood pressure is high). High blood pressure is a silent, serious, and chronic problem that can cause stroke, heart attack, and kidney and heart failure.
  • Age 35 or older: Get screened for cholesterol levels. Do it even earlier, at age 20 and older, if you smoke or dip tobacco, are obese, have diabetes or high blood pressure, have a personal history of heart or arterial disease, or a family history of early heart attacks.
  • Age 50: Get colorectal cancer screening. It’s so easy. If you have a family history of colorectal cancer, your screening may need to be earlier than age 50. For example, I had my screening at age 38, partly because of symptoms. Because my doctor found and removed a large precancerous polyp, my first-degree relatives should all have their screening much earlier than age 50. My doctor told me that if I hadn’t had the colonoscopy done, I’d’ve been dead in five years. In other words, I wouldn’t have been alive to write this. Don’t be stupid. Get the screening.
  • Age 65-75: If you’ve ever been a smoker, look into getting screened for abdominal aortic aneurysm. The aorta is the largest artery in your body, and an aneurysm is a bulge in this artery. If it bursts, bleeding and death are a frequent outcome.

Think you can’t afford to take care of yourself? Use this search tool to find affordable or even free preventive healthcare in your area. June may be Men’s Health Awareness month, but you should be practicing awareness and prevention and educating yourself every day of your life, not only for you but also for your family. They need you around, healthy and alive, as long as possible.

By: Emily Willingham





Nodding Disease

13 06 2011

Nodding disease attacks kids, usually when they’re between the ages of five and 15.  The infection affects the brain and symptoms include seizures and a lack of physical and mental development. Many children, unable or unwilling to eat, become malnourished and die.

It’s rare—some kids get it, but most don’t. It was reported in Tanzania in the ‘60s, and then Sudan and more recently, Uganda. Because of its rarity (hundreds of cases are reported, not tens of thousands or millions), and location in very poor countries, it’s what’s called a neglected disease.

Epidemiologists aren’t certain of the cause, although they’ve found a possible association with the parasite that causes onchocerciasis (river blindness). This parasite is a filarial worm transmitted by the female blackfly.

If hundreds of kids in Miami, Atlanta and Charlotte were experiencing these symptoms, this disease wouldn’t be neglected. That’s a fact, but we don’t have to live with it. Speak up. Act up. Let’s get some noise going to help these kids.

Contact the Gates Foundation, the Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative, and the USAID’s Neglected Tropical Diseases program and encourage them to steer funding toward this disease.

Author: Trish Parnell





Cleanup!

9 06 2011

One of the most important steps in reducing the number of germs, and therefore the spread of disease, is the thorough cleaning of surfaces that you work or prepare food on, or that come into frequent contact with children, such as toys that children put in their mouths, crib rails or diaper-changing areas.

Routine cleaning with soap and water is the most useful method for removing germs from surfaces.  Good mechanical cleaning (scrubbing with soap and water) physically reduces the numbers of germs from the surface, just as handwashing reduces the numbers of germs from the hands.  Removing germs is especially important for soiled surfaces that cannot be treated with chemical disinfectants, such as some upholstery fabrics.

However, some items and surfaces should receive an additional step—disinfection—to kill germs after cleaning with soap and rinsing with clear water.  Items that can be washed in a dishwasher or hot cycle of a washing machine do not have to be disinfected because these machines use water that is hot enough for a long enough period of time to kill most germs.

The disinfection process uses chemicals that are stronger than soap and water.

Disinfection also usually requires soaking or drenching the item for several minutes to give the chemical time to kill the remaining germs.  Commercial products that meet the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) standards for “hospital grade” germicides (solutions that kill germs) may be used for this purpose.

One of the most commonly used chemicals for disinfection in childcare settings, for example, is a homemade solution of household bleach and water.

Bleach is cheap and easy to get.  The solution of bleach and water is easy to mix, safe if handled properly and kills most infectious agents.

To create the solution, all you do is add bleach to the water.  A solution of bleach and water loses its strength very quickly and easily.  It is weakened by organic material, evaporation, heat and sunlight.

Therefore, bleach solution should be mixed fresh each day to make sure it is effective. Any leftover solution should be discarded at the end of the day.

NEVER mix bleach with anything but fresh tap water!  Other chemicals may react with bleach and create and release a toxic chlorine gas.

Keep the bleach solution you mix each day in a cool place out of direct sunlight and out of the reach of children.  Please keep all chemicals away from children.

If you use a commercial disinfectant, read the label and always follow the manufacturer’s instructions exactly.

Recipe for Bleach Disinfecting Solution

(For use in bathrooms, diapering areas, etc.)

  • 1/4 cup bleach
  • 1 gallon of cool water

OR

  • 1 tablespoon bleach
  • 1 quart cool water
  • Add the household bleach (5.25% sodium hypochlorite) to the water

Recipe for Weaker Bleach Disinfecting Solution

(For use on toys, eating utensils, etc.)

  • 1 tablespoon bleach
  • 1 gallon cool water

Cleaning Up Blood and Body Fluids

Spills of body fluids, including blood, feces, nasal and eye discharges, saliva, urine, and vomit should be cleaned up immediately.

Wear gloves or protective material such as plastic sandwich baggies when cleaning up blood or body fluids.  Be careful not to get any of the fluid you are cleaning in your eyes, nose, mouth or any open sores you may have.

Clean and disinfect any surfaces, such as countertops and floors, on which body fluids have been spilled.  Discard fluid-contaminated material in a plastic bag that has been securely sealed.

Mops used to clean up body fluids should be (1) cleaned, (2) rinsed with a disinfecting solution, (3) wrung as dry as possible, and (4) hung to dry completely.  Be sure to wash your hands after cleaning up any spill.

Washing and Disinfecting Diaper Changing Areas

Diaper changing areas should:

  • Only be used for changing diapers
  • Be smooth and nonporous, such as formica ( NOT wood)
  • Have a raised edge or low “fence” around the area to prevent a child from falling off
  • Be next to a sink with running water
  • Not be used to prepare food, mix formula or rinse pacifiers
  • Be easily accessible to providers
  • Be out of reach of children

Diaper changing areas should be cleaned and disinfected after each diaper change as follows:

  • Clean the surface with soap and water and rinse with clear water
  • Dry the surface with a paper towel
  • Thoroughly wet the surface with the recommended bleach solution
  • Air dry – do not wipe

Thanks to CDC for the info! This is one in a series of excerpts from PKIDs’ Infectious Disease Workshop. We hope you find the materials useful – the instructor’s text and activities are all free downloads.





Sssstress? We Don’t Got no Stinkin Stress!

6 06 2011

With twitching eye and slightly trembling fingers, I search online for the signs and symptoms (and treatment) of stress.

What exactly is stress? Most of us use the term, but it sounds like a catchall. There is a definition: Stress is what happens when forces from the outside affect us. When we feel stress, we release neurochemicals and hormones, which allow us to act (fight or flight).  If we don’t act, those hormones and chemicals can cause harm to the body.

Is stress an infectious disease? We don’t write much about topics that aren’t related to our mission, but come on, don’t you think some people are stress versions of Typhoid Mary?  Don’t we all have a friend or co-worker who zaps our stress button, thereby infecting us with stress?

And stress does impact our health. The Mayo Clinic breaks it down for us, explaining that stress can alter our immune system response and suppress the digestive and reproductive systems, as well as make us fat and depressed. There’s actually a long list of how stress can negatively affect us, but I’m too stressed to read it.

Research suggests there’s no magic pill that can prevent us from experiencing stress, but doing whatever relaxes you is the uninspiring prescription for relief.

It’s lame, but it does help.  However, what about getting stressed in the first place? What can we worrywarts do about that? Got any ideas?

What do you do to relieve stress?





A Camping We Will Go!

2 06 2011

Headed for the woods this summer? Danger lurks ‘neath leafed canopies and waits in sparkling streams. And we’re not talking snakes, here.

Mosquitoes, however, do make the naughty list. Some will taste your blood and leave West Nile virus in exchange. Ticks may come bearing Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain spotted fever with their bites.

The sparkling, bubbling stream near your tent may be bursting with the parasite Giardia intestinalis, or any number of other nasties you don’t want to ingest. (Giardiasis is a form of diarrhea you’ll never forget.)

Taking a tumble while gamboling about the woods can leave you open to infection – possibly tetanus. If the family isn’t vaccinated, tetanus can be contracted through soil exposure to a cut.

Have you been put off the idea of camping?  Don’t leave the tent in the box – just slather on insect repellent, purify that water before drinking, and keep your hands and skin scrapes clean.

Taking a few precautions will keep your campers happy around the fire. Just save us some s’mores, won’t ya?!