All posts filed under “public health

flu-shot-2
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Welcome to cold and flu season!

It is that time of the year again to break out the tissues and cold and flu medicine. It is the start of cold and flu season! This year, there a few new changes as well as important reminders to keep in mind as we enter into this new season. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) just came out with a new 2016-2017 recommendations to not get the nasal flu vaccination, which was a very popular method of vaccinating last year.  The flu, or influenza virus, has a tendency to change its viral structure. Some people believe that once you have had the flu you become immune from contracting the flu in the future. However, even if this was somewhat true, the viral structure or strain of the flu changes so frequently it is unlikely that anyone is immune from the flu at all. Some of this year’s flu viruses have been assessed and based off the assessments, flu shots (compared to nasal vaccination) will be more accurate and a stronger source of flu prevention this season.

There has been talk in the past about individuals with egg allergies getting the flu shot, since some flu vaccines have eggs within their ingredients. This year the CDC is saying that individuals who have had mild reactions to the flu shot (i.e. hives) should get the recommended flu shot. Individuals who have more serious reactions to the shot (i.e.  angioedema, becoming dizzy/lightheaded or the need for an epinephrine) should still receive the flu shot but they should receive it in an inpatient or outpatient (i.e. hospital, clinic, local doctor’s office) medical environment. That way if serious reactions occur, medical professionals can deal with it right then and there. However, whether or not you have mild or serious allergic reactions to eggs, it is important to notify the individual who is giving you your vaccine of your egg allergy. Have an egg allergy? Read more about this change here.

Last year (2015) the flu season started later than usual and did not peak until December. This year we have already entered the flu season and it is the second week of October. It is recommended for everyone to get a flu shot, especially children and the elderly before the end of October. If you need to know where you can get one, check out this link to find a flu vaccine near you.

Besides getting a flu shot, make sure to wash your hands regularly and stay home when you are feeling sick. The common cold is one of the biggest gateways for contracting the flu. The cold may seem like no big deal but colds can suppress your immune system greatly making it easy for other viruses, such as the flu, to enter your body. If you are a supervisor at work encourage employees to stay home when they don’t feel well. Colds can last up to two weeks without proper care. This is two weeks where a cold can spread to other individuals and weaken your immune system for longer. Don’t be afraid to call out of work for the cold, everyone will thank you for it later!

Want to learn more about preventing colds and flu? Check out these links:

CDC – Common Colds

CDC – Flu

 

caption-arrow  Feature photo by Nuclear Regulatory Commission

hiit
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Short workouts are in!

Most people do not like to work out because it does not fit into their schedule. However, what about working out for 30 minutes at a higher intensity? Thirty minute, high intensity workouts are just as intense as working out for a longer period of time. In fact, they might even be more efficient as you are likely to take more breaks or not work out at such high intensity for a longer period of time. A high intensity interval training (HIIT) routine is the perfect way to fit workout in your schedule as well as help get your fitness level up.

Studies have shown that interval training can help burn more fat and increase your fitness level. HIIT is a combination of short bursts of energy, to get your heart rate going, and periods of rest (10-30 seconds) or low intensity (30 seconds -1 minute). HIIT is perfect for all individuals. It is easy to modify any routine to fit any fitness level. The most important thing to remember when doing a HIIT is to keep moving! If you feel that you won’t last the remaining 30 seconds of your jumping jack set, that’s okay just do a modification of a jumping jack or jog in place. The point of the routine is to keep moving for 30 minutes.

Check out this great article for getting started with making your own HIIT routine.  Remember, modifications of exercises are okay! How do you find them? Write modification in front of any exercise name in google or YouTube for videos and articles on a variety of modifications. Don’t forget to change up your routine once in a while. Once you are used to adding a 30 minute HIIT into your schedule, change the routine every other day so you can really reach your full potential!

If you just can’t find 30 minutes in your day, try getting in three 10 minute workouts or walks throughout your day. This will be the perfect way to take your breaks at work as well. Walking after you eat can help your digestion and sugar levels as well as burn some calories. Try and take a walk after breakfast, after lunch and dinner. No one likes working right after they eat so a quick walk will help clear the mind, get your exercise in and help you digest. It is a win-win situation.

 

caption-arrow  Feature photo by Tony Alter

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Bring your dog to work day, week or indefinitely

Who could possibly have a bad day when a dog is sitting by your desk? Recent studies have shown that bringing your dog to work has lowered stress levels of both dog owner and non-dog owner employees. Not only does the dog’s presence in the workplace cause a sense of calm but it also increases the likelihood of employees taking their breaks. Employee breaks will tend to be more active as they will need to walk their dog allowing the employee to go outside and get some fresh air. This helps employee’s stay away from less healthy habits they might indulge in on their break such as smoking, remaining sedentary or eating even if they aren’t hungry. Not only will it increase the physical activity for dog owners but it will also increase the physical activity of non-dog owners at work. Who could resist denying an animal some attention?

Having dogs in the workplace does not only benefit the employee but it also benefits the employer. Allowing dogs in the workplace has become a huge factor and incentive when deciding to interview for a job or take a job. This service attracts a younger population which consequently,  makes the company more compelling and even more competitive . Having dogs in the workplace also creates a better sense of morale and bonding between employees and upper level management. These benefits create a more comfortable and responsive work environment which will allow employees to be more productive. Thus, the employer can show that they provide a healthy and enjoyable work environment.   Replacement LTD is an example of a company who has successfully integrated having dogs in their workplace. They have allowed dogs in the workplace for over 15 years and the majority of their employees have worked for the company for over 10 years! Did you know that Moda Health’s location in Milwaukie, OR also allows dogs in their workplace?

People might be asking what about employees with allergies? Even though that is a serious factor to consider, the service can be modified. Maybe dogs can be in the workplace on certain days of the week, once a month or quarter. This could allow employees to still be able to receive the healthy benefits from this service as well as being mindful of the other health situations.

caption-arrow  Feature photo by Mike Spasoff

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

 

 

Summer Jog
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Exercise triggers brain cell growth and improves memory

Recent studies by the National Institute on Aging (NIA) shed new light on a link between exercise and memory. By exercising regularly, you can increase your ability to retain learned and new information. Scientists examined the muscles during exercise to determine which proteins are released. The studies revealed that a protein called cathepsin B is released during aerobic exercise. The protein travels to the brain after being released. Cathepsin B triggers new brain cell growth, scientists believe this is key in the link between memory and exercise.

Researchers discovered an increase in the protein cathepsin B when examining mice who regularly ran on exercise wheels. The mice who exercised produced greater amounts of the protein than the mice that did not exercise. Further, mice that released cathepsin B displayed better results in memory tests than the mice that did not.

Dr. Henriette van Praag, a neuroscientist at the NIA states, “Overall, the message is that a consistently healthy lifestyle pays off.” In humans, the release of cathepsin B is also triggered by exercise. This means that simply increasing physical activity can aid in an individual’s ability to perform better on complex tasks and memory retention.

To read the full article click here

caption-arrow  Feature photo by  andreviebig

 

Disaster Kit
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The Great Oregon ShakeOut

When it comes to natural disasters, sometimes it feels like there is nothing you can do. So, why worry? Even though an earthquake cannot be prevented, shakeout.org has developed ways to help protect ourselves and loved ones during an earthquake. Shakeout explains that Oregon lies between two tectonic plates in a constant state of collision. The 600 mile long fault line known as the Cascadia Subduction Zone spans from California to British Columbia.  After years of pressure and slow movement the plates will rip apart causing massive earthquakes.

In order to protect ourselves during a large earthquake, shakeout.org has organized a worldwide earthquake drill. In 2015 over 43 million people participated in the shakeout.  This year on October 20th at 10:20 a.m. another worldwide drill is set to take place. At this time, over five million U.S. participants are signed up, and the numbers are growing daily! In Oregon alone, there are nearly 25,000 individuals registered for the drill. The top three participating areas are as follows,

1)      Washington County

2)      Marion County

3)      Multnomah County

How to Participate in The Great Oregon ShakeOut

Visit shakeout.org and enroll to participate with millions of others worldwide. Then, on October 20th at 10:20am follow the four recommended steps below.

1)      Drop, Cover and Hold on: Don’t waste time, Drop to the ground. Cover yourself; find shelter under a nearby desk or table. Hold on tight for one minute.

2)      Now, take a look around, imagine what would be happening around you in an actual emergency.

3)      (optional) Practice what your next steps would be following an earthquake.

4)      When you are finished, talk with coworkers, friends or family about what you learned, and your disaster plan.

Participation will be tracked through online enrollment. Individuals, as well as businesses, schools and nonprofit organizations can all take part in this amazing opportunity.

For more information regarding The Great Oregon ShakeOut and other useful disaster information click here.

 

  Feature photo by  Global X

Sprinkler
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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