All posts filed under “Skin

Mosquito-borne viral disease in the U.S.
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Mosquito-borne viral disease in the U.S.

Most people are aware of the spread of the mosquito-borne viral disease, Zika, in many countries in South and Central America.  Worldwide, the most important disease transmitted by mosquitos is malaria.  Instead of being caused by a virus, however, malaria is caused by a parasite that infects the Anopheles mosquito. The World Health Organization (WHO) reports that 214 million cases of malaria occurred in 2015 with 438,000 deaths attributed to the disease.  The disease is passed on from a malaria-infected person to the next person via the mosquito bite.

The most common mosquito-borne viral disease globally is Dengue fever.  In 2015, nearly 2.4 million cases of this viral illness were reported by the WHO.  Both of these infections occur more commonly in tropical regions of the world. In the U.S., we are fortunate that local exposure to malaria has essentially been eliminated, and with the exception of a few cases affecting U.S. citizens living in topical settings such as Hawaii and Puerto Rico, nearly all dengue cases reported in the U.S. are acquired elsewhere by travelers or immigrants.

As of July 13th of this year, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reports that there have been no locally acquired cases of Zika virus disease in the U.S. There have been, however, 1,305 travel-associated cases of this disease reported by the CDC in the U.S. since January 1, 2015. Infection with the Zika virus is usually quite mild.  A serious concern, however, is the link between a Zika virus infection in a pregnant woman and the development of microcephaly in newborns, a congenital defect of cranium and brain size resulting in profound neurological defects.

The most prevalent mosquito-borne diseases that develop from mosquito bites occurring in the U.S. include West Nile virus disease, Eastern Equine Encephalitis, Japanese encephalitis, and St. Louis encephalitis.

West Nile Virus Disease (WNVD) is primarily spread by the bite of a mosquito that has fed on an infected bird.  Over 300 species of birds have been found to be infected with the West Nile virus including common songbirds, crows, blackbirds, blue jays, doves, and pigeons.  Once a bird becomes infected, a mosquito can then transfer the virus from the bird’s blood stream to humans, setting the stage for the infection.  In a very small number of cases, WNV also has been spread through blood transfusions, organ transplants, breastfeeding and even during pregnancy from mother to baby.  After reaching a peak at 9862 cases in 2003, the CDC reports that the number of cases appears to be decreasing.   Most people infected with West Nile virus will not have any symptoms. About 1 in 5 people who are infected will develop a fever and other symptoms. Less than 1% of those infected develop a serious, sometimes fatal, neurologic illness.

Eastern equine encephalitis (EEE) Most persons infected with the eastern equine encephalitis virus have no apparent illness with an average of 8 people per year developing a severe form involving inflammation of the brain (encephalitis).  Most cases have occurred in the Atlantic and Gulf Coast states.  Symptoms of EEE begin with the sudden onset of headache, high fever, chills, and vomiting. The illness may then progress into disorientation, seizures, or coma. EEE is one of the most severe mosquito-transmitted diseases in the United States with an approximately 33% mortality rate.

La Crosse encephalitis (LACV) causes inflammation of the brain (encephaltitis) in approximately 80 to 100 people in the U.S. each year. Most LACV infections, however, are much less severe.  Most cases of this disease have been reported from upper Midwestern, mid-Atlantic and southeastern states. Like the other illnesses being discussed, the risk for developing LACV is highest for people who live, work or recreate in woodland habitats, because of greater exposure to potentially infected mosquitoes.

St. Louis encephalitis virus infection primarily affects individuals living in eastern and central U.S. As with the other viral infections discussed, most people infected with this virus have no apparent illness. Severe neurological disease (often involving encephalitis, an inflammation of the brain) occurs more commonly in older adults. In rare cases, long-term disability or death can result. There is no specific treatment for SLEV infection; care is based on symptoms.

From the descriptions of these mosquito-borne viral illnesses affecting U.S. residents, several similarities become apparent:

  • Most people have no symptoms or are only mildly symptomatic.
  • When symptoms do occur they are often similar in nature with headache, fever, chills, nausea, vomiting predominating.
  • A very small percentage of those infected will develop a more severe form of the disease, usually resulting in a brain infection (encephalitis) which is sometimes fatal.
  • There is no specific treatment available for these infections.  Severe illnesses are treated by supportive therapy which may include hospitalization, respiratory support, IV fluids, and prevention of other infections.
  • With the exception of a vaccine against the Japanese encephalitis virus (not typically given in the U.S.), immunizations are not available for these viral diseases.
  • Prevention measures for these illnesses center around avoiding mosquito bites
    • When outdoors, use an insect repellent that contains an EPA-approved active ingredient such as DEET, Picaridin, IR3535, and Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus.
    • Since mosquitoes are most active at dusk and dawn, along with using a repellent, consider wearing long sleeves and pants during these times.
    • Be sure that your window and door screens are intact.
    • Remove sources of standing water around the home that serve as mosquito breeding sites.

Sources for article:

West Nile Virus from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Eastern Equine Encephalitis from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Saint Louis Encephalitis from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

La Crosse Encephalitis from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
If you have any questions about Mosquito-borne Viral Disease , leave a comment below or log into your myModa account and send eDoc your question. We are here to help.

caption-arrow  Feature photo by Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade



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Fun in the sun

Windows down and music up, there is nothing like cruising around on a sunny day. Unfortunately, there is also nothing like the feeling of the summers first sunburn. As the sun starts to shine through don’t forget to take proper care of your skin. A sunburn is more than just a change in skin color. When viewed under a microscope, visible damage to the cells and blood vessels can be seen.  This is true whether the burn turns in to a tan or you peel.

Today, skin cancer is the most common of all cancers. Constant sun exposure without proper protection greatly increases your chances of developing skin cancer over time.

What benefits does the sun have?

Exposure to sunlight increases the body’s vitamin D production. This is important because vitamin D is not found naturally in most foods.  However, as food production methods have changed, vitamin D found in the foods you eat has increased. Many foods are now fortified with enough vitamin D to help you sustain proper levels. That being said, barbecuing with family, playing a sport or hiking in the sun, is still better for you than watching television inside. Don’t forget that you can still protect your skin while enjoying your time in the sun.

How to limit the harmful effects of sunlight

Of course, staying out of the sun is the best way to stay protected, but who doesn’t want to enjoy the sun when it makes an appearance? Try to take the following steps when exposed to sunlight to keep your skin healthy and looking its best:

  • Don’t leave the house without wearing sunscreen. Apply it every day and make sure it’s a habit, just like brushing your teeth!
  • Between the hours of 10am and 3pm be extra cautious; avoid the sun when you can, and apply sunscreen every two hours or after swimming, getting wet or sweating. (Ultraviolet rays are strongest between 10am and 3pm).
  • Long sleeves and slacks help protect from the sun, especially when in the sun for long periods of time.
  • Don’t forget your shades! Wear sunglasses that can filter UV light.

Three little letters; SPF

Everyone has seen them, but what does it really mean? SPF stands for sun protection factor. The greater the SPF number, the greater protection one will get from UVB rays (the burning rays). Choose an SPF that is 30 or higher no matter your complexion. If you have had skin cancer or precancer, it is recommended to increase the SPF to 45 or higher.

Sunscreen is important for everyone, regardless of age, sex, complexion or profession. Protection from the sun and the damage harmful rays can do to your skin makes applying sunscreen very important; whether or not you burn. Remember to check the label in order to determine the proper amount to apply.

See the full article here


caption-arrow Feature photo by  echoroo

pretty ladies
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Accepting the aging process

Ok, you’re aging.  There’s no way around it.   You turn a certain age and people say “You’re how old?  Oh you don’t look your age at all”.  It’s a sideways compliment but what if you’re one of those people who has made peace with aging and you’re not going to fight it? You’re going to embrace every wrinkle, grey hair, and every crows foot line on your face.

Ann Brenoff, a senior writer and columnist with the Huffington Post, is just such a woman.  She asks “What exactly is aging gracefully anyway?  The definition of aging gracefully seems to be someone who doesn’t look or act the age they actually are.”   But she goes on to more clearly define the act of aging gracefully as “the simple act of not aging as rapidly as some people think is typical.”

Hollywood and social media set such a high standard for beautiful aging, look at Jane Fonda, age 77,  Helen Mirran, age 70, or Anthony Hopkins, age 77 they’re all stunning.  But is that the youthful beauty that is affordable to those who are able to pay for personal trainers, chefs, and high end cosmetics?  This may not be you but unless you make your living on the big screen, it doesn’t have to be you.

Remember this….we are not our bodies.  The soul of who are you are is not always a direct reflection of your outer shell.  Give yourself permission to not defy nature and embrace the changes that will happen to your appearance.  You’re not a failure because you don’t look 25 you’re whole life.  There is beauty in aging – embrace your beauty.


caption-arrow  Feature photo by: The Arches




10 best sunscreens for kids
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How to protect your kids from sunburns the right way

We’re still in the midst of the summer sun.  By now the kids, and yourself, might have a slight “kissed from the sun” glow to your skin.  But it’s never too late to stay vigilant against the damaging UV rays that cause sunburn, premature aging or skin cancer.

With so many products on the market it may be hard to make an informed decision while the kids are waiting in the car (air conditioner running) and the cooler is packed with healthy snacks.  Everyone just wants to get to the river (lake or ocean).  You hear in your head “c’mon, let’s just go, I won’t burn, I promise.”  But you’re too smart for that.

Here is a list of the top 10 sunscreens to protect your kids.  Remember to read the directions and re-apply as often as instructed.

caption-arrow  Feature photo by  AnnCN



Watch your sun exposure
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Bad sunburn art could increase melanoma risk

Crazy trends are just that…..CRAZY!  And this one ranks right up there as one of the worst.  Instead of the previous summer quest for no tan lines some people are going in the opposite direction and are deliberately using their skin and the sun to create temporary art on their skin.    What?  Since when is melanoma art?  The American Cancer Society website has great information on skin cancer causes and prevention.   The biggest culprit is prolonged exposure to UV (ultra violet) rays.

There are other ways to have temporary art on your skin that aren’t cancer causing or permanent (tattoos).  How about Henna ink?  Seems like a safer choice. 

Let’s hope this trend fades like a tan  before you have to see the Oncologist

caption-arrow  Feature photo by Alan Light

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Sun safety and you

Cue the music….it’s sunny! Here Comes the Sun – The Beatles

Here in the Pacific Northwest, we get a little giddy when we experience quality sunshine. Hula-hooping hipsters, frisbee tossing dudes,  and  bikini-clad sunbathers emerge from organic & free trade coffee shops and flock to be outside. Who can blame them? Not only does the sun provide wonderful vitamin D, but it’s scientifically proven to boost our mood!

As summer approaches, enjoying the sweet sunshine is on the schedule – but what about sun safety?

The American Cancer Society recommends the “Slip! Slop! Slap!® and Wrap” approach to being sun safety savvy!

  • Slip on a shirt (dry shirt offers more protection from UV rays than a wet one)
  • Slop on some waterproof sunscreen (use broad spectrum sunscreen with at least SPF 15)
  • Slap on a hat (shade your face, ears, back of neck)
  • Wrap on sunglasses to protect your eyes/skin around your eyes

Ultraviolet (UV) rays from sun exposure can cause serious damage including cataracts and skin cancer. This summer be smart about your health while enjoying the sun.

Sun fun fact: it takes about 8 minutes for light from the sun to reach earth.

Source: Centers for Disease Control & Prevention & American Cancer Society

caption-arrow  Feature photo by Mario Luckow

dont let you immune system fall flat
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Don’t let your immune system fall flat

Fall is one of my favorite times of the year. The leaves are changing, I get to wear sweaters and jeans, and I get to look forward to corn mazes and pumpkin carving!

I also tend to catch a cold towards the middle of October. I think most of you can relate and know that washing your hands becomes a top priority. Making other healthy choices is important too. I created a typical workday schedule and added some healthy tips so your immune system doesn’t fall (pun intended) flat  this season .

A typical workday for me  is 8am-5pm. Feel free to  adjust this according to your schedule.

5:30am: Start your day with a healthy breakfast: Add some granola and seasonal fruits to your yogurt.

6:15am: Head to the gym, or go for a morning a run. Most people that exercise in the morning tend to stick with it. This also is a great way to manage stress.

6:45am: Hit the Shower: Wash off the the germs that can be lingering, and make sure to moisturize to keep skin smooth.

8am: Heat up some tea: Green tea has antioxidants that discourage abnormal cell growth.

10am: Stretch it out: Sitting for long periods of time puts strain on your back and other muscles.

12pm: Walk with co-worker to lunch: Exercise and socializing help keep you mentally and physically healthy to fight off colds.

3pm: Make sure your vaccinations are current: Check-in with your doctor and see when your  flu shot is available. This will help keep you protected year round.

6pm: Cozy up with a pet or loved one: This helps to relieve stress, which in turn helps you fight back germs!

7pm: Make a meal. Stir fry is a great way to get in all those essential nutrients. Try adding broccoli,  squash, mushrooms, corn, and any other veggies that you love.

8pm: Turn off the phone. Electronic use before bed can disturb your bodies sleep cycle. Being well rested helps your body fend off germs.

10pm: Lights out. Getting at least 7 hours of sleep helps your body relax and recover from the day you had. It also aids in stress management.

If this seems like too much at once try doing a few during the day and work your way up from there. Do you have any tips for helping boost your immune system?

caption-arrow  Feature photo by Erin Kohlenberg

pink facekini
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Facekinis – Would you rock this new fashion trend?

Have you spotted the latest fashion trend hitting the beaches? The Facekini is making a big splash in China, and making its way to the U.S.

Facekinis were originally designed for Chinese women to keep their skin looking fair. This is a foreign thought for Americans who chase a tan all year round.

Most Facekinis range from about 3 to 5 dollars. Here is a site I found with many different color options at Buy Facekini Online. There are also college themed Facekinis coming soon!

Would you rock this new fashion trend? Or, does it scare you a little bit? Give us your thoughts below.

And for those of you that would not wear a facekini, remember to put on the sunscreen (SPF of at least 15) not only on your body, but on your face as well. For additional tips on sun protection check out the Rights and Wrongs of Sunscreen Use.

caption-arrow  Feature photo by Buy Facekini Online

fist bump
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Why You Need to Start Fist Bumping

Please join us in welcoming our new Wellness Intern, Karey, to the Moda Health Team. We are excited to have her contribute to the My apple a day blog! 

How do you like to say hello? The traditional hand shake may be the wrong way to say hello.  A study conducted in the UK finds that shaking hands spreads 10x the amount of germs than fist bumping! This is because shaking hands spreads germs easier than the fist bump, especially if they are unwashed hands.

The new study suggests  that fist bumping may be the cleanest way to say hello. So wave goodbye to the handshake and start bumping more fists! The same study also found that fist bumping beat out high fives! Check out the link to the article for more information at

With going back to school, and the flu season arriving, this study couldn’t have come at a better time! Make sure to wash your hands, and comment below to tell us how you like to say hello!

caption-arrow  Feature photo by Brady Tulk


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1 in 5 Americans – Skin Cancer Awareness

Summer is officially here in the Pacific Northwest! We are enjoying the warm weather and many of us are planning our vacations. That being said, this also brings to mind sun safety and skin cancer awareness. Did you know that skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in the United States? Many of us think it won’t happen to me.

According to the Skin Cancer Foundation “more than 3.5 million skin cancers in over two million people are diagnosed annually. Each year there are more new cases of skin cancer than the combined incidence of cancers of the breast, prostate, lung and colon. And one in five Americans will develop skin cancer in the course of a lifetime.”

The good news is that this may be preventable! Read More