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.

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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

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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

bbq
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Grilling safety tips

Memorial Day is just around the corner and it’s time to get your grill ready for summer cooking on the patio.  According to the Insurance Information Institute an average of 5,700 grill fires take place on residential property every year, causing an annual average of $37 million in damage, 100 injuries and 10 deaths

The National Fire Protection Association offers general grilling tips to keep your next BBQ safe:

  • Propane and charcoal BBQ grills should only be used outdoors.
  • The grill should be placed well away from the home, deck railings and out from under eaves and overhanging branches.
  • Keep children and pets away from the grill area.
  • Keep your grill clean by removing grease or fat buildup from the grills and in trays below the grill.
  • Never leave your grill unattended.

If you have a gas grill, be sure to check for leaks prior to use.  Watch this video showing a simple way to check for leaks.

By following a few simple safety rules for you BBQ you’ll enjoy many nights of safe grilling.

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A mother and child fast asleep.
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The connection between sleep and sickness

Sleep leading to sickness

Recent studies have confirmed what most people kind of already knew; sleep is good for you. Too little sleep can be directly related to cardiovascular, endocrine, and immune function as well as a lot of other health issues related to a lack of sleep. In a long term sleep study, over 22,000 participants reported their sleeping patterns in parallel with their health from 2005 to 2012. This study found that getting six or less hours of sleep per day had a direct correlation with experiencing sickness of flu-like symptoms and that the more sleep people got, the less they faced these negative health outcomes.

Sleep should be on the agenda

A lack of sleep isn’t just important to bodily functions, it also sets the tone for the rest of the day and many people don’t realize how much sleep may determine their plans and activities. As mentioned earlier sleep can cause a plethora of negative health issues but even more so is the lifestyle that usually comes with not sleeping enough. Turns out, short sleepers are also more likely to have negative health behaviors like not exercising and poor nutrition which in the long run can be detrimental to health. Creating good sleeping habits can translate into other positive health behaviors because of the increased energy and productivity that accompanies being well-rested.

Sleep is serious business

An interesting point Dr. Sanjay R. Patel of the Center for Sleep and Cardiovascular Outcomes at the University of Pittsburgh makes is that “society does not stigmatize the person getting in their car and driving after only four hours of sleep the way it does the person driving after drinking, even though the risk to others on the road may be the same.” Meaning that a lack of sleep can be just as detrimental to motor function and cognitive skills as drinking, but is largely overlooked and the seriousness of the matter is rarely emphasized. He goes more in depth about just how neglected the science of sleep is by mentioning how little physicians usually discuss sleep with their patients due to the lack of training and attention given to sleep in medical school.

While sleep may still be a little bit of a mystery it is clear that adequate sleep is closely related to good health. Not getting enough sleep is not only bad for the body, but also makes it harder to create and sustain other healthy habits, so get those Z’s!

For the full article, click here.

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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

 

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Hiking in nature can be very beneficial both physically and mentally.
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How hiking helps the brain

Hiking kicks out negative thoughts

Rumination is defined as the tendency to continuously think about upsetting situations, causes, and consequences that might be burdening an individuals mind. Luckily, the National Academy of Sciences recently conducted a study which found that going on nature-filled hikes can significantly curb these thoughts, encouraging not only physical well being but also mental prosperity. By measuring neural activity and levels of rumination in the two different groups, researchers found that urban environments have distinct correlations with depression and negative disposition while the natural environments show to lower levels of rumination as well as neural activity in the part of the brain that is intimately linked to mental illness.

Hiking can boost brain power, and help keep you focused

Other studies contrasting urban vs. natural environments have found that not only can hiking in nature prevent negative thoughts, it can also greatly improve cognitive performance! Researchers realized that a nice long hike away from urbanization and technology can reduce mental fatigue, boost creative thinking, improve memory, and even remarkably reduce symptoms of ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder). Along with all of these incredible benefits, it is proven that people who work out outside are much more likely to continue their routine rather than quit shortly after starting. Whether it’s for a minute or an hour, everyone should make an effort to escape the hustle and bustle of the city and enjoy the tranquility of nature whenever possible. Good for the mind, body, and soul, hiking in nature is an excellent way to stay healthy and happy.

 

For the full article, click here.

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Erase Stress
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Stress: how to cope better with life’s challenges

What causes stress

Imagine you are walking down a beautiful trail, taking in the scenery, smelling the flowers and enjoying your day. Your brain is having a positive response to the relaxing environment, serotonin is released, and you feel happy, at ease. Now imagine, around the next turn you are face to face with a brown bear. In an instant the chemicals in your brain change drastically, digestion in halted, your heart beat speeds and blood flow to your muscles increases. These chemical changes are your body’s instinct to defend itself, your fight or flight response. These changes are also called stress.

Stress can be a good thing in moderation, or when you need that boost to dive out of harm’s way. But stress can cause unhealthy physical symptoms when it goes on for too long. Stress in everyday life can negatively impact physical and mental health. Most often, there is no fight or flight response needed, yet your body prepares to run, working overtime. This can cause you to feel anxious, worried, afraid or uptight.

What changes may be stressful

Simply, any change can lead to stress. This can be good change or bad change. Although, it may not be the change itself causing stress, rather how you react to it. It is also important to remember that stress is different for everyone. Going to the grocery store might be stressful for one individual and therapeutic for another.

Can stress hurt my health

Stress can cause or complicate health problems. A few possible signs of stress can include

  • Anxiety
  • Neck and back pain/tightness
  • Head aches
  • Fatigue
  • Shortness of breath
  • Depression

How can stress be managed

Firstly, try and recognize the common signs of stress. Shoulder and neck tension, as well as clenched fists are often early warning signs of stress. The next step is to select a method to deal with your stress. Ideally, avoiding the thing that causes your stress is best, but that is not always an option. Here are some tips for dealing with stress,

  • Choose a hobby – something you love, or want to get better at
  • Try not to worry about the things out of your control
  • Take care of your little problems first – this can help you to feel more in control
  • Try to prepare for the stressful things in advance
  • View change as a positive challenge, forward momentum
  • Exercise regularly
  • Choose healthier food options

Why Exercise

Exercise is a great way to release pent up energy, as well as release your “happy” brain chemicals. For example, serotonin production is increased during exercise. Serotonin increase has been shown to improve mood and increase energy.

The silver lining

If you are feeling stressed, you get to choose your hobby, something you love. These hobbies can include music, puzzles, walking, yoga, and video games; the list is infinite, because there isn’t a correct answer.  Get lost in the things you enjoy, and remember to take a deep breath.

Contact your doctor if you want help or advice on how you can tackle stress.

Sources:

FamilyDoctor.org

For the full article, follow the link here.

  Feature photo by  Alan Cleaver

diabetes
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Type 1 and type 2 diabetes – what’s the difference?

Diabetes occurs in two forms: type 1 and type 2. Type 1 usually develops at a young age. It’s caused by a damaged pancreas that produces very little or no insulin – the hormone your body needs to carry glucose to your cells. Only about 5 percent of people with diabetes have type 1.

Type 2 diabetes is often diagnosed later in life. With this type, it becomes harder and harder for your body to use the insulin it produces. Type 2 is much more common than type 1 – at least 90 percent of people with diabetes have this form.

Prevention and treatment

Type 1 diabetes can’t be prevented or cured. Genetics most likely play a role – its onset has nothing to do with diet or lifestyle. People with type 1 diabetes need to take insulin and follow other measures to manager their blood sugar.

On the other hand, type 2 diabetes can sometimes be prevented or delayed through a healthy diet, regular exercise and maintaining a healthy weight. For some people with type 2, these practices may be enough to keep their blood sugar under control. Others may need to take medication or insulin.

Sources: American Diabetes Association

 

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Brain
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4 types of foods to help boost your memory

Do you sometimes feel forgetful? There could be a number of factors causing forgetfulness, but according to a recent study, certain food choices might improve brain function. A healthy diet may lead to a sharper brain by improving cognitive function, alertness and memory.

Strengthen your brain by adding more of these foods to your diet

More vegetables please: Vegetables, especially broccoli, cabbage and dark leafy greens can help improve your memory. If you struggle finding ideas to increase vegetable intake, these suggestions might work for you.

  • Stir fry – add onions, broccoli or any other vegetable of your choosing. Make it fun and celebrate “Stir-Fryday” with the entire family!
  • Get rid of the bun – choose to eat your favorite sandwich wrapped in collard greens, cabbage or kale.
  • Dip it – hummus and veggies can be quick, easy and delicious. Some popular choices include broccoli, cauliflower, carrots and cucumbers.

Don’t forget to be sweet: Berries contain high amounts of flavonoids and other potential brain boosters. Darker berries, like blackberries, blue berries and cherries, are high in flavonoids. Add berries to your cereal, or yogurt for a little extra.  If that doesn’t work, a handful of berries on the fly might be just what you need.

Fishing for answers: Omega-3 fatty acids may help improve memory as well. To increase your omega-3, look for seafood including salmon, bluefin tuna, herring and sardines. If you find it difficult to get seafood in the mix, try to replace a few meat dishes with a seafood alternative.  Fish tacos and tuna fish can be a good option when pressed for time.

Go nuts: Walnuts are known for making a positive impact on health. Keep a sandwich bag full at work, and enjoy an easy snack while refueling your brain. If you are looking for a little extra, add chopped walnuts to your morning oatmeal.

 

For the full article, please click Here

 

  Feature photo by NIH Image Gallery