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National Immunization Awareness Month

Monday, July 31st, 2017

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO) classify more than two dozen diseases as “vaccine preventable or potentially preventable.” Unfortunately, however, the incidence of these diseases has been rising recently, even in countries with a high standard of living and universal access to health care. WHO officials contend there is arguably no single preventive health intervention more cost-effective than immunization. Immunization averts an estimated two to three million deaths every year from diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis (whooping cough), and measles. However, an additional 1.5 million deaths could be avoided, provided global vaccination coverage improves. 

In the United States, outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases often occur due to non-immunization or under-immunization among children and adults, as well as from exposure to infections brought into the country by unvaccinated travelers who returning from high-risk or endemic regions. Each August, the National Public Health Information Coalition (NPHIC) sponsors National Immunization Awareness Month (NIAM) to highlight the importance of vaccination for people of all ages. Their goal is education, so everyone knows that:

  • Vaccines protect against serious diseases.
  • These diseases still exist and outbreaks do occur.
  • Vaccines are recommended throughout life.
  • Vaccines are safe.

Certain vaccines are recommended based on age, occupation, or health conditions (such as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, diabetes or heart disease). Vaccination needs should be assessed by doctors, pharmacists, or other health care providers. Immunizations are important because they protect the person receiving the vaccine and help prevent the spread of the illness, which is especially important to the most vulnerable, such as infants, young children, the elderly, and people with chronic conditions and weakened immune systems.  Always consult your own healthcare provider before seeking vaccinations or taking any medications.

Immunization Recommendations for Everyone

The Immunization Action Coalition suggests that adults should get vaccines to protect their health, because even healthy adults can become seriously ill and pass diseases on to others. One immunization the CDC recommends for all adults, including pregnant women, is the influenza vaccine to protect against seasonal flu. Another vaccine-must for adults is the Tdap vaccine (tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis or whooping cough) for anyone who did not get Tdap as a teen. Follow up should include Td (tetanus and diphtheria) booster vaccines every 10 years.

Immunizations for Special Groups

(The following recommendations for these groups, made by the CDC, NIAM and Vaccines.Gov, are as follows):

  • For a complete list of childhood vaccines, see the CDC’s schedule.
  • Pregnant women should receive a Tdap vaccine each time they are pregnant, preferably at 27 through 36 weeks. For communication strategies on maternal vaccination, check out NIAM’s Toolkit: Pregnant Women.
  • College students require immunizations noted on the Vaccines.gov website. Students at campuses where Allied Universal provides training can access additional information in the “Your Resources” section of their Fire Life Safety Training module.
  • Adults 60 years and older should receive the shingles vaccine.
  • Adults 65 and older should have one or more pneumococcal vaccines. (What’s more, some adults who are younger than 65 years, with certain high-risk conditions, are also recommended to receive one or more pneumococcal vaccinations.)
  • Adults may need other vaccines (such as hepatitis A, hepatitis B, and HPV) depending on age, occupation, travel, medical conditions, vaccinations they have already received, or other considerations.
  • For more information about adult vaccines, see the CDC Adult Immunization Schedules.

Remember, a convenient and affordable way to make sure you are prepared for disasters and emergencies of virtually every kind, including health crises, is to subscribe to the Allied Universal Fire Life Safety Training System, which has been designed to help improve and save lives. For more information about the best system out there, or to subscribe, click here.

Vaccines in Focus

Tuesday, August 9th, 2016

Medic holding syringe and capsule with vaccine in hand. Vaccination. InfluenzaIn the United States, children and adults receive vaccinations for a variety of preventable diseases. Many of these vaccines are recommended because they not only protect the child, but also create what is commonly known as “herd immunity,” which provides protection for the broader community. This is particularly helpful for people with weakened immune systems. While some parents worry about some of the substances found in vaccines, many such fears can be alleviated by researching information provided by the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) as well as the World Health Organization (WHO).

The basic ideas behind vaccines was first developed by Hippocrates in 400 B.C. He identified several diseases and suggested that cures could be developed. In 1798, Edward Jenner proposed a cure for smallpox might be found by inoculating healthy individuals. Known as the father of immunology, Jenner’s work later came to be called variolation, wherein healthy individuals were exposed to a disease in order to build immunity. Other medical professionals, such as Louis Pasteur and Jonas Salk, capitalized on Jenner’s seed work. These pioneers eradicated some of the world’s most dangerous and contagious diseases.Smallpox positive

Ground-breaking vaccinations currently available to children and adults throughout the world include:

  • Cholera
  • Diphtheria
  • Hepatitis A
  • Hepatitis B
  • Herpes Zoster (shingles)
  • Human papillomavirus (HPV)
  • Influenza (the flu)
  • Invasive Haemophilus Influenzae Disease
  • Invasive Meningococcal Disease
  • Invasive Pneumococcal Disease
  • Japanese Encephalitis
  • Measles
  • Mumps
  • Pertussis (whooping cough)
  • Poliomyelitis (polio)
  • Rabies
  • Rotavirus
  • Rubella (German Measles)
  • Smallpox
  • Tetanus
  • Tick-Borne Encephalitis
  • Tuberculosis (BCG Vaccine)
  • Typhoid
  • Varicella (chickenpox)
  • Yellow Fever

Diagnosis  Rabies, pills and stethoscope.Preventive immunization is crucial, as some of the aforementioned diseases still result in death. For example, in 2015, a case of the measles killed the first person in the U.S. in 12 years, which many scientists blame on falling vaccination rates. Rabies kills nearly 50,000 people annually, due to incomplete vaccination efforts and the frequent interactions between people and rabies-carrying animals.

Vaccine Success

Smallpox

Especially alarming due to its high mortality rate, Smallpox is said to have killed 300-500 million people in the 20th century. The disease is one of two to have been officially declared “eradicated.” This represents a global achievement and underscores the need for aggressive vaccine research to help combat new worldwide threats.

Polio

Polio is another disease eliminated from the U.S. due to successful vaccine programs. The disease used to cripple tens of thousands of people a year. It still remains a global threat, but is much reduced due to widespread vaccinations developed famously in the 1950s by Jonas Salk.

Vaccines on the Horizon

Developing new vaccines is tricky and requires considerable funding and forward-thinking science.Doctor hand  writing Vaccination ,vaccine-Preventable Diseases in the visual screen. on blurred of vaccine injection.

Here are some of the more pressing diseases and associated efforts to create vaccines:

Remember that safety is a daily priority. Following proper vaccination schedules can save lives and prevent the fast and furious spread of infectious diseases. A convenient and affordable way to make sure you are prepared for disasters and emergencies of virtually every kind is to subscribe to the Allied Universal Training System by Allied Universal, which has been designed to help improve and save lives. For more information about the best system out there, or to subscribe, click here.

Measles Outbreak 2015

Tuesday, January 20th, 2015

Measles 2

A measles outbreak, which reportedly began at Disneyland, in Anaheim, California between December 16 and 20, 2014, has spread to individuals in several other states and Mexico, according to health officials. The largest patient-cluster is currently located in California, with 45 confirmed cases, and at least six other infections identified in other parts of the United States and Mexico. Health officials have contacted people who may have come in contact with the virus, asking them to voluntarily stay in quarantine in their respective homes until the threat of potential infection has passed. All of the confirmed cases, to date, were contracted by individuals who were never vaccinated for the virus.

People who have the serious yet preventable ailment will experience symptoms including fever, dry cough, runny nose, watery eyes and a pervasive red rash. Spread through the air, usually via coughing, sneezing and/or other close contact, the measles could potentially rise to epidemic proportions because the illness is contagious for up to four days before the rash ever appears. So carriers can spread the virus without even being aware that they are infected. This is significant, as health officials note the outbreaks have begun to affect people beyond the original outbreak area.

CBS News reports, “Health officials report an increase in cases among people who did not visit the park, indicating that the illness is now spreading to others exposed in their communities.” This is a serious concern, as it implies the illness will be far more difficult to contain than originally thought.

Measles 3To date, here are confirmed cases, according to the CDC:  

  • California: 45 confirmed cases
  • Mexico: one case
  • Utah: two cases
  • Washington state: two cases
  • Colorado: one case

At least partially to blame for the spread of the virus is the declination in parents agreeing to have their children vaccinated. Kindergarten measles vaccination rates have been falling almost every year since 2002 in California. A Los Angeles Times analysis published last fall reported that the rise in vaccine exemptions among kindergartners because of parents’ personal beliefs was most prominent in wealthy coastal and mountain communities, such as South Orange County and the Santa Monica and Malibu areas.

Last year, in a report written for the Journal of the American Medical Association-Pediatrics, Dr. Mark Grabowsky, a health official with the United Nations, wrote: “The greatest threat to the U.S. vaccination program may now come from parents’ hesitancy to vaccinate their children. Although this so-called vaccine hesitancy has not become as widespread in the United States as it appears to have become in Europe, it is increasing. Many measles outbreaks can be traced to people refusing to be vaccinated; a recent large measles outbreak was attributable to a church advocating the refusal of measles vaccination.”

Measles 1While some hesitancy may be understandable, given alarming information available relative to potential, albeit very rare side effects of preserved booster shots, the risks must carefully be weighed against the benefits. Measles can lead to blindness and encephalitis, an infection of the brain. Also called rubeola, measles can be serious and even fatal for small children. While death rates have been falling worldwide as more children receive the measles vaccine, the disease still kills more than 100,000 people a year, most under the age of five. With their parents’ permission, children are typically immunized with a first dose of vaccine at 12 to 16 months and a second at 4- to 6-years-old.

We hope that this blog post will help you take steps to stay healthy. One convenient and affordable way to do so is to subscribe to the Allied Universal Training System by Universal Fire/Life Safety Services, which has been designed to help improve and save lives. Visit rjwestmore.com to read about the many ways proper planning can make a difference in numerous aspects of your professional and personal life.

How to #BeSafe from the Flu

Tuesday, January 13th, 2015

Flu Shot TodayAccording to reports from the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC), this year’s strain of Influenza (flu) has already hit epidemic proportions across the United States, with at least 15 associated deaths of children so far this season (most in Texas, Minnesota, Ohio, Florida and California.) The most common strain thus far, is known as Influenza A (H3N2).

A contagious respiratory illness, the flu can cause mild to severe illness, which can result in hospitalization or even death. Most at risk are the elderly, young children and other people with weaker-than-average immune systems. Most health professionals contend the best defense against catching the flu is to get vaccinated each year.

Carefully monitoring flu activity across the country, the CDC reports: “As of late December, all national key flu indicators are elevated and about half of the country is experiencing high flu activity. Flu activity is expected to continue into the coming weeks, with increases occurring especially in those states that have not yet had significant activity.

The United States experiences epidemics of seasonal flu each year, and right now all of CDC’s influenza surveillance systems are showing elevated activity. Influenza-like-illness (ILI) has been over baseline for the past several weeks, virological surveillance shows a lot of flu is circulating, and the hospitalization surveillance system shows increasing hospitalizations rates, especially in people 65 years and older. Also, the surveillance system that tracks mortality shows that the country is in the midst of this season’s flu epidemic. During influenza seasons, ILI increases first, and then hospitalizations increase, and then increases in deaths occur, so what is being observed is a typical pattern for the flu season.”

Woman Holding a Mug with a Handkerchief to Her NoseAlthough this year’s flu season started a few weeks earlier than usual, pharmacists across the country don’t expect the virus to peak until early to mid-February, which means there is still time to get vaccinated, as the shot generally takes two weeks to reach full effectiveness. As you weigh the pros and cons of vaccination, it might help you to consider the differences between symptoms of a common cold and the flu:

Common Cold

  • Often begins with a sore throat, which usually lasts for just one or two days
  • Nasal symptoms, runny nose, sneezing and congestion follow
  • A cough manifests by day four or five, typically due to sinus drainage and associated nasal congestion
  • Fever is uncommon in adults but slightly more common in children
  • Symptoms generally last for up to one week

Flu 2015 2Influenza (Flu)

  • Persistent sore throat
  • Fever (100-102 degrees, which is typically higher than for a cold)
  • Severe headache
  • Severe muscle aches
  • Fatigue, weakness
  • Extreme exhaustion
  • Congestion
  • Cough
  • Chest discomfort
  • The Swine flu is also associated with vomiting and diarrhea.

Although many symptoms overlap, people who catch colds are more likely to suffer far less and rebound much more quickly than those who succumb to the flu. Also of note, while people who vomit often think they have the flu, stomach pain and diarrhea are far more likely to be the result of food-borne illness (food poisoning) than attributable to a case of the flu.

Five Ways to Avoid Catching the Flu

  1. Wash your hands – Even if you are exposed to the flu (by touching a germ-infested counter top at a doctor’s office, for example) if you clean your hands before you touch your face, there’s little chance the germs can reach your eyes, nose, or mouth—all of which are the usual ways they enter your system and start wreaking havoc.
  2. Try not to touch your face – LiveScience.com reports that the average person touches his or her face some 3.6 times per hour. Since cold and flu germs pass from infected surfaces to orifices such as the nose and mouth, the best way to guard yourself is to keep your hands in your lap. Also, try to avoid habits like biting your nails.
  3. Keep surfaces clean – From your home to your cubby at work, the importance of cleanliness cannot be overstated. Take time to disinfect your keyboard, telephone and desk. In fact, set up a reminder to thoroughly wipe down surfaces each time you eat. You might also want to use disinfectant spray or wipes.
  4. Moisturize Your AirWomen’s Health Magazine reports that very humid air might be toxic to flu viruses. Although scientists aren’t quite sure why, one possibility is that droplets that contain the virus shrink quickly in arid environments, allowing them to float around longer. In moist air those same droplets might remain heavy and fall to the floor faster.
  5. Stay home – Although we aren’t recommending you become a hermit, you will lessen your chances of getting sick if you stay away from large crowds. Also, if you are sick, stay home from work so you won’t infect your co-workers. If you’re sick, you probably won’t be at your best, anyway. So take care of yourself and go back to work when you are back in top form.

We hope that this blog post will help you take steps to stay healthy in 2015 and beyond. One convenient and affordable way to do so is to subscribe to the Allied Universal Training System by Universal Fire/Life Safety Services, which has been designed to help improve and save lives. Visit rjwestmore.com to read about the many ways proper planning can make a difference in numerous aspects of your professional and personal life.

As Flu Concerns Ebb, Reemerging Disease Alarms Health Officials

Friday, February 28th, 2014

On the heels of a record-setting flu season (278 deaths confirmed to date), health officials warn that another infectious virus has reemerged. Officials report that, already so far this year, 15 Californians have come down with a disease that was thought to have been eradicated by vaccine— Measles.

Measles, also known as Rubeola, is a highly contagious respiratory infection that is a virus which causes a total-body skin rash and flu-like symptoms, such as a fever, cough, and runny nose. Though rare in the United States, 20 million cases occur worldwide every year.

Signs and Symptoms

While Measles is probably best known for the associated full-body rash, the first symptoms are typically a hacking cough, runny nose, high fever and red eyes. Characteristic markers of Measles are small red spots with bluish white centers that appear inside the mouth. The rash itself typically has a red or reddish brown blotchy appearance, and first usually shows up on the forehead, then spreads downward over the face, neck, and body, then down to the arms and feet.

  • Image courtesy of the CDC

    Measles is a leading cause of death among young children even though a safe and cost-effective vaccine is available.

  • In 2012, there were 122 000 measles deaths globally – about 330 deaths every day or 14 deaths every hour.
  • Measles vaccination resulted in a 78% drop in measles deaths between 2000 and 2012 worldwide.
  • In 2012, about 84% of the world’s children received one dose of measles vaccine by their first birthday through routine health services – up from 72% in 2000.
  • Since 2000, more than 1 billion children in high risk countries were vaccinated against the disease through mass vaccination campaigns ― about 145 million of them in 2012.

Unfortunately, Measles is highly contagious. In fact, 90% of people who have not been vaccinated will contract it if they live with an infected person. Measles is spread when someone comes in direct contact with infected droplets such as when someone sneezes or coughs. A person with Measles is contagious from 1 to 2 days before symptoms start until about 4 days after the rash appears.

The Los Angeles Times reports that epidemiologists say we’re off to “a bad year.” To wit, this same time last year, there had been only two Measles cases.

The California Department of Public Health reported illnesses in six counties:

  • Five in Los Angeles County
  • Three each in Orange and Riverside counties
  • Four combined in the Bay Area’s Alameda, Contra Costa and San Mateo counties.

Although none of the reported cases have been fatal, Measles can be deadly. Authorities remain concerned that more people than reported may have been exposed. In fact, fears have emerged that thousands of people might have been exposed when a Measles-infected UC Berkeley student traveled on the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) system.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Measles was eliminated in the U.S. in 2000 — meaning that it no longer circulated. Nevertheless, people here can still contract the virus while traveling to locations where Measles is common, since it is airborne.

Photo courtesy of the Measles & Rubella Initiative

The two-part Measles immunization, which is given to kids at six months and four years old, is said to provide protection 99% of the time. According to Dr. Kathleen Harriman of the Public Health Department, said, “Fewer than 3% of California schoolchildren use the exemption.”

The reason some opt out of the vaccines, by citing exemption due to ‘personal beliefs,’ is largely due to a myth that the vaccine is dangerous. No one has died of Measles in California this year, but the illness can be deadly in cases with complications, officials said. The public health department urged people who have not had Measles or received two doses of the Measles vaccine to get immunized before traveling outside of the Americas, where the disease is under control.

Since Measles is easily eliminated with the vaccines, it only makes sense to agree to them. When a disaster strikes, prior planning and clear decisive action can help save lives. The best way to prepare for the flu is to keep from catching it by having a vaccine. The Allied Universal Training System by Universal Fire/Life Safety Services is a convenient and affordable solution to all of the training needs of your building(s). Choosing our service cuts property management training-related costs by 90% and saves you over 50% compared to conventional training! More importantly, IT SAVES LIVES.

Has the Flu Come for You?

Wednesday, February 19th, 2014

With the incidences of reported flu cases across the country officially reaching epidemic proportions, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) recommends the influenza vaccine as the best means of defense. In the meantime, health officials are scrambling to cope with the outbreak. To date this year, 50 children have died from the flu, with hundreds of adult deaths reported across the country from the virus and associated complications. The illness has sickened more than 6,600, which is the number of lab-confirmed flu cases nationwide. Health officials estimate actual infection rates are much higher.

Flu Facts.com describes influenza as: “a highly contagious respiratory infection caused by influenza viruses. The virus usually enters the body through mucus membranes in the mouth, nose, or eyes. When a person with the flu coughs or sneezes, the virus then becomes airborne and can be inhaled by anyone nearby. You can also get the flu if you’ve touched a contaminated surface like a telephone or a doorknob and then touch your nose or mouth. Of course, the risk of infection is greater in highly populated areas like schools, buses, and crowded urban settings.

Here are Some More Facts about the Flu

  • Flu season typically peaks in the United States between October and March, with February historically its most active month.
  • Seasonal flu is a contagious respiratory illness caused by a number of flu viruses, including H1N1, which killed 284,000 people worldwide in 2009 and 2010.
  • A Wausau, Wisconsin man, aged 43, died just this week from H1N1, after being sent home with from his doctor’s office with instructions to drink plenty of fluids and rest.
  • Between 5 percent and 20 percent of people living in the U.S. get the flu each year.
  • Symptoms can be mild or severe and include fever, a cough, sore throat, weakness, headache and aches and pains in the joints and muscles around the eyes.
  • Serious complications include (but are not limited to) bacterial pneumonia, ear or sinus infections, dehydration or worsening of chronic health conditions.
  • To date, since October 1, 2013, the CDC has documented 1,583 laboratory-confirmed cases.
  • Although there is currently no vaccine created specifically for the current outbreak of H1N1, getting an annual flu shot remains the first line of defense against the virus.
  • The virus is widespread in Oklahoma, Arkansas, New York, Texas, Connecticut and Kansas.
  • To be considered an epidemic, influenza and pneumonia must kill above 7.3 percent.

“We’re seeing pretty substantial increases in activity, but they’re not unexpected,” Dr. Michael Jhung, a medical officer in the flu division of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “We see pockets of high activity in several states and pockets of low activity in others, but we expect every state will get hit.”

Antiviral treatment is an after-the-fact recommendation for patients with confirmed or suspected influenza, who are:

  • Hospitalized
  • Have experienced complications
  • Have a progressive illness
  • Are at higher risk for complications

The New York Times reports that scientists are reducing the uncertainty of flu outbreak prediction by using computer models. Last year, one team carried out flu forecasts in real time. Now, they are making predictions about the current outbreak. If you are curious about your geographic location, check out their predictions for yourself. Another helpful tool for finding outbreak locations is the site, FluNearYou.org.

Hospitals and public health workers could someday use flu forecasting to prepare vaccine supplies and ready hospital beds. The advanced warning would be useful not only for the regular seasonal flu, but also for pandemics (new strain sweeping across the country and causing higher-than-normal rates of disease and death).

How Flu Vaccines Work

Flu vaccines cause antibodies to develop in the body about two weeks after vaccination. These antibodies provide protection against infection with the viruses that are in the vaccine.

The seasonal flu vaccine protects against the influenza viruses that research indicates will be most common during the upcoming season. Traditional flu vaccines are made to protect against three flu viruses; an influenza A (H1N1) virus, an influenza A (H3N2) virus, and an influenza B virus. In addition, this season, there are flu vaccines made to protect against four flu viruses (called “quadrivalent” vaccines). These vaccines protect against the same viruses as the trivalent vaccine as well as an additional B virus.

When a disaster strikes, prior planning and clear decisive action can help save lives. The best way to prepare for the flu is to keep from catching it by having a vaccine. The Allied Universal Training System by Universal Fire/Life Safety Services is a convenient and affordable solution to all of the training needs of your building(s). Choosing our service cuts property management training-related costs by 90% and saves you over 50% compared to conventional training! More importantly, IT SAVES LIVES.

CDC Reports Malaria Cases in U.S. Reach a 40-Year High

Tuesday, November 5th, 2013

To prevent malaria when traveling, take recommended medicines

Malaria is a life-threatening blood disease caused by a parasite, which causes infected people to experience fever, chills, and flu-like illness. And if infected folks allow their symptoms to go untreated, they may develop severe complications and could die. Worldwide, 219 million cases of malaria are estimated to occur each year, resulting in 660,000 deaths, mostly in children under five years of age.

The most recent malaria epidemic in the United States was in 2011, when there were 1,925 cases reported, according to data released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The highest number of cases since 1971 (more than 40 years ago), this figure represents a 14% increase over the number of reported cases in 2010, when five people in the U.S. died from the disease or associated complications.

Since most of the malaria cases reported in the U.S. were acquired overseas, Americans should use the information as impetus to take recommended medications when traveling. This is especially important for people traveling to Africa, since more than two-thirds (69%) of the cases were imported in that region, with nearly two-thirds (63%) of the cases acquired in West Africa. India had the second highest number of cases, with seasonal peaks reported in January and August.

CDC Director Tom Frieden, M.D., said, “Malaria isn’t something many doctors see frequently in the United States thanks to successful malaria elimination efforts in the 1940s. The increase in malaria cases reminds us that Americans remain vulnerable and must be vigilant against diseases like malaria because our world is so interconnected by travel.”

Uncommon in temperate climates, malaria is most prevalent in tropical and subtropical countries. One of the ways world health officials are trying to reduce the incidence of malaria by distributing bed nets to help protect people from mosquito bites as they sleep. What’s more, scientists around the world are working to develop a vaccine to prevent malaria.

In most cases, Malaria is preventable and is caused by a parasite transmitted by the bite of an infected female mosquito. In 2010, there were an estimated 660,000 deaths and 219 million cases globally. The signs and symptoms of malaria illness are varied, but the overriding common denominator is fever.

Other common symptoms

  • Headache
  • Back pain
  • Chills
  • Increased sweating
  • Muscle pain
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Cough
  • Enlarged Spleen

Rare (serious) symptoms

  • Impairment of brain function
  • Impairment of spinal cord function
  • Seizures (fits)
  • Loss of consciousness

If left untreated, infections can rapidly spread, inducing coma, kidney failure, respiratory distress and death. Travelers to areas with malaria transmission can prevent the disease by using anti-malarial drugs, insect repellent, insecticide-treated bed nets and protective clothing. First- and second-generation immigrants from malaria-endemic countries returning to their “home” countries to visit friends and relatives tend to avoid using appropriate malaria prevention measures and thus are more likely to become infected with malaria than members of the general population.

To BE SAFE, consult a health-care provider for information, medications, and vaccines necessary prior to embarking on international travel. The CDC provides advice about malaria prevention recommendations If a traveler experiences symptoms of malaria (such as fever, headaches, and other flu-like symptoms—while abroad or on returning home—he or she should immediately seek diagnosis and treatment from a health-care provider.

When a disaster strikes, prior planning and clear decisive action can help save lives. The Allied Universal Training System by Universal Fire/Life Safety Services is a convenient and affordable solution to all of the training needs of your building(s). Choosing our service cuts property management training related workloads by 90% and saves you over 50% compared to conventional training! More importantly, IT SAVES LIVES.

Leading cause of severe gastroenteritis in U.S. children is Norovirus

Tuesday, March 26th, 2013

According to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC), the leading cause of acute gastroenteritis among children less than five year of age (who seek medical care) is an illness called Norovirus. The alert was announced following a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM), which showed the illness is responsible for nearly one million documented pediatric medical care visits between 2009 and 2010 in the United States. All told, the illness costs hundreds of millions of dollars in treatment each year.

Dr. Daniel Payne, an epidemiologist in the Division of Viral Diseases at the CDC said, “Infants and young children are very susceptible to Norovirus infections, which often result in a high risk of getting dehydrated from the sudden onset of intense vomiting and severe diarrhea. Our study estimates that 1 in 278 U.S. children will be hospitalized for Norovirus illness by the time they turn 5 years of age. It is also estimated that about 1 in 14 children will visit an emergency room and 1 in 6 will receive outpatient care for Norovirus infections.”

Originally called the Norwalk virus after the town of Norwalk, Ohio, the location of the first confirmed outbreak in 1972, Norovirus is defined by The Mayo Clinic as a virus which includes: nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain and cramps, watery or loose stools, weight loss, malaise and low-grade fever. The incubation period is usually 24 to 48 hours after first exposure to the virus, and signs and symptoms usually last one to three days. However, it is worth noting that some people with the infection may show no signs or symptoms but will remain contagious and may unwittingly spread the virus to others. If you suspect you may have the virus, seek medical attention if you develop diarrhea that doesn’t abate within several days or if you experience severe vomiting, bloody stools, abdominal pain or dehydration.

The NEJM study determined that Norovirus was:

  • Detected in 21 percent (278) of the 1,295 cases of acute gastroenteritis
  • Rotavirus was identified in only 12 percent (152) of the cases.
  • About 50 percent of the medical care visits due to Norovirus infections were among children aged 6 to 18 months.
  • Infants and 1-year-old children were more likely to be hospitalized than older children.
  • Overall rates of Norovirus in emergency rooms and outpatient offices were 20 to 40 times higher than hospitalization rates.
  • Nationally, the researchers estimated that in 2009 and 2010, there were 14,000 hospitalizations, 281,000 emergency room visits, and 627,000 outpatient visits due to Norovirus illness in children less than 5 years of age.
  • Together, hospital visits amounted to an estimated $273 million in treatment costs each year.

“Our study confirmed that medical visits for rotavirus illness have decreased,” said Dr. Payne. “Also, (it) reinforces the success of the U.S. rotavirus vaccination program and also emphasizes the value of specific interventions to protect against Norovirus illness.” There is currently no formal treatment protocol for Norovirus, other than bed rest and drinking plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration. Most people recover between 24 hours to 48 hours. A Norovirus vaccine is reportedly in development.

Unfortunately, Norovirus does not target children alone. Senior citizens and those with compromised immune systems are more prone to contracting the highly contagious infection, with more than 21 million people in the US succumbing each year. This week alone, more than 100 residents at nursing facilities in Nevada showed symptoms, and seven tested positive for Norovirus over a 41-day period.

Approximately 800 people have died so far from the disease. The virus spreads primarily through close contact with infected people, such as caring for someone who is ill and it also spreads through contaminated food, water and hard surfaces. The best ways to reduce the risk of Norovirus infection are through proper hand washing, safe food handling, and good hygiene. For more information about Norovirus, visit CDC website at www.cdc.gov/Norovirus.

When a disaster strikes, prior planning and clear decisive action can help save lives.  The Allied Universal Training System by Universal Fire/Life Safety Services is an interactive, building-specific e-learning training system which motivates and rewards tenants instantly! It’s a convenient and affordable solution to all of the training needs of your building(s). Choosing our service cuts property management training related workloads by 90% and saves you over 50% compared to conventional training! More importantly, IT SAVES LIVES!

2013 Flu at Epidemic Proportions

Tuesday, January 15th, 2013

Major media outlets across the country, such as ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN and Fox News, are reporting that this year’s nationwide cases of influenza have made it a full-blown epidemic. The threshold set by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) officials for any outbreak to be ranked as an epidemic is when the associated death toll reaches above 7.2 percent.

“While we can’t say for certain how severe this season will be, we can say that a lot of people are getting sick with influenza and we are getting reports of severe illness and hospitalizations,” says Dr. Joseph Bresee, Chief of the Epidemiology and Prevention Branch in the CDC Influenza Division.

As of last week, deaths attributed to the flu and pneumonia hit 7.3 percent, with nine of the 10 United States’ regions experiencing elevated flu activity. These figures confirm that seasonal flu has spread across the country—reaching high levels five weeks earlier than normal. The remaining two U.S. regions (comprised of the Southwest and California) report “normal” flu activity.

To date, higher than average flu outbreaks have been reported in at least 47 states, including the deaths of 20 children and two adults. Particularly alarming about this outbreak is that flu season generally begins more toward the end of January or beginning of February. So this year’s predominant strain of H3N2 (Influenza A) not only hit earlier but is much stronger than usual. And while vaccine shortages have been reported across the country, Influenza A is among the strains covered by this year’s vaccine.

To reduce your risk of illness and help prevent the spread of the flu in your home and place of work, follow these precautions:

According to the CDC, flu symptoms include the following: fever, cough, sore throat, nasal congestion, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue. If you contract the flu and have underlying medical problems, call your doctor immediately for possible prescription of an antiviral drug.

Antiviral treatment, started as early as possible after becoming ill, is recommended for any patients with confirmed or suspected influenza who are hospitalized, seriously ill, or ill and at high risk of serious influenza-related complications, including young children, people 65 and older, people with certain underlying medical conditions and pregnant women. Treatment should begin as soon as influenza is suspected, regardless of vaccination status or rapid test results and should not be delayed for confirmatory testing.

The CDC offers free print materials which feature flu recommendations, downloadable at http://www.cdc.gov/flu/freeresources/print.htm. When a disaster strikes, prior planning and clear decisive action can help save lives. For the latest emergency management training for facility/building managers, check out the Allied Universal Training System by Universal/Fire Life Safety Services. Our new Version 3.0 system offers the best emergency training system on the market.

All About Vaccines

Tuesday, December 27th, 2011

In light of recent anti-vaccine rhetoric, it’s important to review the very positive role vaccinations have played in maintaining public health throughout the years. The community is always better served by the prevention of diseases instead of treatment, which can overwhelm the healthcare industry—particularly in case of epidemics.

There is a very long list of vaccines for a variety of debilitating diseases such as: cervical cancer, diphtheria, influenza, Lyme disease, pertussis, rabies, tuberculosis, and yellow fever—just to name a few. Likely the biggest vaccine triumph is the eradication of smallpox, a disease which once killed one out of every seven children in Europe.

In addition to savings lives and improving well-being, vaccines also save society money, as the cost of a single dosage is many times less than the time and resources required for treatment of the associated disease.

How do vaccines work?

  • The human body is attacked by pathogens and produces antibodies every day.
  • Antibodies become a sort of “memory cell” in the body to help ward off future attacks.
  • Vaccines contain a weakened form of a disease that, when injected, does not produce the disease itself but encourages antibodies and subsequent memory cells.
  • These memory cells can remain in the system for decades.

There is a long history of distrust of vaccines in the United States. In 1879, a gentleman named William Tebb created the Anti-Vaccination Society of America. Skeptics still remain, refusing childhood vaccinations for their children due to concerns about the risk of autism, ADHD and hyperactivity.

  • Some individuals contend that vaccinations do not stop diseases at all, and that factors including better sanitation practices, reduced poverty, and better education work together to lower disease rates.
  • Any link between vaccines and autism has been thoroughly discredited.

Let’s review two notable vaccines, one developed half a century ago, and another which is currently in the news:

The poliomyelitis viral disease, commonly known as polio, afflicted hundreds of thousands of people annually before the development of a vaccine:

  • Scientist Jonas Salk created the safest and most effective polio vaccine in the 1950s, which instantly saved thousands of lives. Salk was hailed as a hero, as the country came to a standstill to celebrate the news.
  • The polio vaccine is heralded as a major scientific achievement, an example of how hard work and diligence can conquer problems.

Gardasil is the brand name of a relatively new vaccine that prevents the human papillomavirus virus, (HPV), which can lead to cervical and other genital area cancers:

  • According to the National Cancer Institute, nearly two thirds of cervical cancer deaths can be prevented through widespread adoption of the vaccine.
  • Controversy surrounds some states and school districts which call for mandatory HPV vaccinations.

Looking towards the future, advances in medicine will likely reverse the likelihood of many diseases. Research into HIV and advanced smallpox vaccines, as well as DNA-based solutions, are an example of this type of treatment, which has generated significant interest.

Despite unproven claims about vaccines, booster shots play a vital role in limiting the spread of some of the most crippling diseases in the world. For more information about preventable diseases, vaccine schedules and the importance of following all recommended guidelines, visit the CDC’s site at www.CDC.Gov.

When a disaster strikes, prior planning and clear decisive action can help save lives. For the latest emergency management training for facility/building managers, contact Allied Universal, Inc. Our new Version 2.5 e-based training system offers the best emergency training system with automated and integrated features. Visit rjwestmore.com for more information and remember to BE SAFE.