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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.

March is National Nutrition Month

Tuesday, March 10th, 2015

nutrition fitnessIn our ongoing effort to encourage subscribers and friends to be safe and healthy, we want to call attention to an important way to #BeSafe – through healthy nutrition. What better time to cover the topic than in March, which is National Nutrition Month? With the campaign slogan, “Take a bite out of a healthy lifestyle,” National Nutrition Month is a nutrition education and information program spearheaded annually by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

According to NationalNutritionMonth.org, the campaign focuses on “encouraging people to make sound eating and physical activity habits, which include consuming fewer calories, making informed food choices and getting daily exercise in order to achieve and maintain a healthy weight, reduce the risk of chronic disease and promote overall health.”

In recent years, health crises relative to lifestyles in the United States have reached epidemic proportions. Here are a handful of examples:

  • The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) report the leading cause of death in the nation is heart disease. In fact, about 610,000 people die of heart disease in the United States every year–which is one in every four deaths. Most experts agree that the majority of heart problems stem from physical inactivity and poor nutrition.
  • More than one third of adult Americans are obese. Some economists estimate that obesity related costs account for more than 20 percent of total U.S. Healthcare expenditures and lead to dozens of serious, associated health problems.
  • Cancer continues to exact a heavy toll on Americans, causing in excess of 600,000 deaths annually. Understandably, the disease ranks highly among health challenges that face the U.S. Although cancer is not entirely attributable to lifestyle choices, there is evidence to support the reduced risk of certain types of cancer with healthy lifestyle choices—such as not smoking, eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly and getting a good night’s sleep.
  • Sometimes related to obesity, but certainly not exclusively attributable to it, diabetes currently affects 25 million diagnosed Americans (and likely millions more, who have yet to be diagnosed). A group of diseases marked by high levels of blood glucose resulting from defects in insulin production, insulin action, or both, diabetes can lead to serious complications and premature death. Fortunately, people with diabetes can take steps to control the disease and lower the risk of complications through several means, including (but not limited) to lifestyle choices.

food_&_nutritionFew would argue that it’s wise to make healthy choices. But just what should those choices be? After all; there are virtually limitless opinions on the subject…many of which are contradictory. While some experts recommend whole grains and low fat dairy, others insist the answer lies in following a grain/dairy and legume-free Paleo diet or nearly the opposite – a meat-free and grain and legume-heavy Vegan diet.

And while some fitness gurus suggest running as the ticket to stay fit, others say that running is tantamount to suicide and that, instead, a mere 20 minutes of modest cardio a day will do the trick. With all of the conflicting information, no wonder so many decide to chuck it all and stay home watching TV and ordering a pizza! But just that sort of reaction is the root of our national problem.

So what is the answer? While this is not the definitive list, the following five suggestions should help get you on the right track. Little changes over time will result in big results. So use the month of March to get healthy!

  1. Stretch. Newton’s Law of Inertia still applies. Objects at rest stay at rest, while objects in motion stay in motion. So move your body.
  2. Move more. Once you have started to get your blood flowing on a regular basis, challenge yourself by introducing some basic exercise routines or lifting modest weights. If you are new to exercise, take advantage of introductory free trials at nearby gyms, which usually offer free fitness assessments. If your budget can’t handle gym fees, start by walking around your neighborhood, gradually increasing the duration and speed until you are taking 10,000 steps a day. Pedometers, which count steps, are inexpensive and readily available.
  3. Eat right. Trying to make your diet healthy overnight isn’t realistic or smart. Changing everything at once usually leads to cheating or giving up on your new eating plan. Make small steps, like adding a salad (full of several vegetables) to your diet once a day or switching from butter to olive oil when cooking. As your small changes become a habit, you can continue to add more healthy choices to your diet.
  4. Drink plenty of water. Kaiser Permanente nephrologist Steven Guest, MD, explains why: “Fluid losses occur continuously, from skin evaporation, breathing, urine and stool, and these losses must be replaced daily for good health.”

    nutrition 4

  5. Limit sugar and salt intake. While the debate rages about whether it is healthier to eat lots of animal protein or eliminate that source of food altogether, dieticians and nutritionists agree that sugar causes energy ups and downs and can add to health and weight problems. And too much salt can cause high blood pressure and lead to other health problems. So consume sugar and salt in moderation.

We hope that this blog post will help you take steps to eat right and be active in order to stay healthy. 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 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.

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 the First Human Victim of West Vile Virus

Tuesday, August 6th, 2013

An elderly resident in Glenn County near Sacramento is the first confirmed human case of West Nile virus infection this summer in California, according to Dr. Ron Chapman, the state health officer and director of the California Department of Public Health (CDPH).

The man was hospitalized, but is now recovering. The CDPH is the agency known for its Fight the Bite campaign reported last week that it has detected the first signs of West Nile virus in dead birds and mosquito samples in the Sacramento region.

“This first confirmed West Nile virus case this summer reminds us that we must take precautions to protect ourselves and our families from mosquito bites,” said Chapman.

“West Nile virus activity is greatest during the summertime.”

West Nile virus is transmitted to humans and animals by the bite of an infected mosquito. The risk of serious illness to most people is low. However, some individuals – less than 1 percent – can develop a serious neurological illness such as encephalitis or meningitis. And people 50 years of age and older have a higher chance of getting sick and are more likely to develop complications. Recent data also indicate that those with diabetes and/or hypertension are at greatest risk for serious illness.

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), West Nile virus (WNV) is the leading cause of arboviral encephalitis in the United States. Originally discovered in Africa in 1937, WNV was first detected in the western hemisphere in 1999 in New York City. Since then it has caused seasonal epidemics of West Nile virus fever and severe neurological disease. West Nile virus is transmitted to humans and animals through the bite of an infected mosquito. Mosquitoes become infected with WNV when they feed on infected birds.

To date in 2013, West Nile virus has been detected in 31 California counties. The CDPH recommends that individuals prevent exposure to mosquito bites and West Nile virus by practicing the “Three Ds”:

  1. DEET – Apply insect repellent containing DEET, picaradin, oil of lemon eucalyptus or IR3535 according to label instructions. Make sure the repellent covers all of your exposed skin. Repellents keep mosquitoes from biting you. DEET can be used safely on infants and children 2 months of age and older.
  2. DAWN AND DUSK – Mosquitoes bite in the early morning and evening so it is important to wear proper clothing and repellent if outside during these times. Make sure that your doors and windows have tight-fitting screens to keep out mosquitoes. Repair or replace screens with tears or holes.
  3. DRAIN – Mosquitoes lay eggs on standing water. Eliminate all sources of standing water on your property, including flower pots, old car tires, swings, clogged rain gutters and pet bowls. If you know of a swimming pool that is not being properly maintained, please contact your local mosquito and vector control agency. Consider using BTI briquettes (mosquito dunks) in water that can’t be drained, such as in drinking troughs.

Here are some additional tips to keep you safe from contracting West Nile Virus:

  • Wear pants and long sleeves when outside. Spray thin clothing with repellent.
  • Consistently check areas that collect water and drain them (at least weekly).
  • Get rid of tin cans, old tires, buckets, unused kid’ pools or other containers that collect and hold water.
  • Clean debris from rain gutters, remove standing water from flat roofs, and repair leaks around faucets and air conditioners.
  • Change the water in birdbaths and wading pools at least every 3-4 days.
  • Fill or drain puddles, ditches and swampy areas.
  • Clean and chlorinate swimming pools, outdoor saunas and hot tubs.
  • Check for trapped water in plastic or canvas tarps used to cover boats or pools, and arrange the tarp to drain the water.

California’s West Nile virus website includes the latest information on West Nile virus activity in the state. Californians are encouraged to report all dead birds and dead tree squirrels on the website or by calling toll-free 1-877-WNV-BIRD (968-2473). 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!

Typhus on the Rise in the US: How to Prepare

Tuesday, August 28th, 2012

There are so many infectious diseases; the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) has to organize them on their website from A-Z. And while we’ve focused on many of these over the past several years, until now, we have yet to use the Allied Universal blog platform to discuss one that is little known but quickly spreading…Typhus.

According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), Typhus is a bacterial disease spread by lice or fleas occurring mainly in the southeastern and southern United States, most often during the summer and fall. Typhus is contracted by exposure to animals such as cats, opossums, raccoons, skunks and rats that have been bitten by infected fleas or lice. Health officials say that Endemic Typhus Fever is caused by a bacterium known as Rickettsiae which is not directly spread from person to person.

KTLA News at 5 reports that four Burbank residents have recently been diagnosed with Murine Typhus over the past several weeks. All were treated at area hospitals and released after having complained of brutal symptoms such as abdominal pain, backache, diarrhea, a dull red rash, extremely high fever, a dry hacking cough, joint and muscle pain, nausea and vomiting. To ward off a potential epidemic, Orange County officials set out in May of this year to track and capture feral cats, which they suspected may be spreading the disease. There have been 46 cases of Typhus in Orange County since 2006.

The Los Angeles Times reports that 15 cases of Typhus have been confirmed so far this year, with an additional 17 still under investigation. In 2011, 38 cases were reported in LA County. The Burbank Animal Shelter is taking action by advising people to take precautions against Typhus fever amid reports the flea-borne disease had infected several people in the city and throughout the San Fernando Valley.

Symptoms of Epidemic Typhus

  • Chills
  • Cough
  • Delirium
  • High fever (104 degrees Fahrenheit)
  • Joint pain
  • Light Sensitivity
  • Low blood pressure
  • Rash that begins on the chest and spreads to the body (except the palms of the hands and soles of the feet)
  • Severe headache
  • Severe muscle pain
  • Stupor

Prevent the Further Spread of Typhus

  • Treat pets with flea- prevention medication
  • Eliminate places where wild animals could find shelter and food sources on your property.
  • Pay particular attention to where young children play, particularly if stray cats roam the area.
  • Advise children to stay away from feral cats and wild animals.
  • Wear long sleeve shirts and pants. (Admittedly, this could be difficult to do in extreme heat. But, to be safe, whenever possible, cover yourself to avoid potentially harmful insect bites.)
  • Use insect repellant to eliminate flea bites.
  • Do not feed wildlife or feral cats, as they contribute to the flea population.
  • Keep your pets on a monthly flea protocol program. The best products kill fleas on pets on contact.
  • Use flea combs to check for flea fecal matter on your pets. Bathe them regularly to eliminate this disgusting accumulation.
  • Keep pet cars indoors and register them with local Animal Control.
  • Report dead opossums or cats to Animal Care Services for removal.
  • Trim brush, pick up fallen fruit and seal off crawl spaces to discourage wildlife from establishing residence on your property.
  • Keep screens on crawl space covers and vents in good repair
  • When cleaning potential wildlife nesting areas, wear protective equipment including a mask, goggles and gloves.

Typhus Treatment

Perhaps the most famous victims of Typhus were Anne Frank and her sister Margo, both of whom purportedly died of the disease while in a concentration camp in 1945. However, experts agree that today, although painful and irritating, Typhus is not usually life-threatening, since it can be treated with antibiotics.

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 3.0 e-based training system offers the best emergency training system.

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.

Be Safe: The Threat of Whooping Cough

Monday, June 27th, 2011
Nurse preparing a vaccine

The best way to prevent Whooping Cough is to be vaccinated.

A disease that reached near extinction in the industrialized world, Pertussis, or Whooping Cough, is making a comeback in schools and other facilities in the United States. Highly infectious, Whooping Cough is resistant to antibiotics and can quickly spread through schools or office facilities that contain lots of individuals working or living in cramped quarters.

Some school districts are mandating proof of Whooping Cough vaccination before students can be admitted to attend classes. In California, a state law mandates that students going into 7th through 9th grade receive booster vaccinations before the fall semester. To explain the requirement, officials point to the 8,000 California-based cases and 10 infant deaths that were reported in 2010.

Dangers associated with Whooping Cough:

  • Most Whooping Cough deaths in the United States occur in infants. Severe Pneumonia, dehydration, and ear infections can all lead to mortality. Antibiotics can shorten the duration of the virus, but by no means cure the disease.
  • For many older children, vaccinations are mandatory, as they prevent the infection from spreading to young siblings and friends.
  • Violent coughing in kids and adults can result in cracked ribs or abdominal hernias.

Symptoms of Whooping Cough mirror those of a severe cold, making diagnosis difficult. Early symptoms include coughing, runny nose and a mild fever. After one or two weeks, symptoms usually worsen to include high fever, extreme fatigue and the telltale “whoop” noise cough.

To combat the further spread of Whooping Cough, many government agencies are aggressively pushing for vaccination. The dTAP and DPT vaccines have been used for years to beat Diphtheria, Pertussis, and Tetanus and are vital to stopping a Pertussis epidemic.

Information about the various vaccines:

  • DTP is the older version of the vaccine which is used in some countries but has been phased out of the United States.
  • DtAP is the most current vaccine recommended by the CDC for anyone seven years of age and younger.
  • tDAP is the booster shot given to older children to ensure they remain protected from Whooping Cough.
  • The CDC strongly recommends inoculations for anyone who is pregnant.
  • All of the vaccines have been proven safe, with minimal reported side effects including redness at the inoculation area and slight fever. Links between vaccinations and Autism or other behavioral issues have been discredited. And, in fact, some contend that this type of unsubstantiated fear have contributed to the Whooping Cough resurgence.
  • Many health care facilities and some drug stores offer the vaccine at minimal cost or even for free.

Vaccinations provide immense benefits for the health of the general public. Diseases such as Measles, Mumps and Rubella are nearing extinction due to the adoption of safe and convenient vaccinations.

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 2.0 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.

The CDC, Emergency Kits, and …..Zombies?!

Monday, May 30th, 2011
cartoon image of zombie in shadows of trees

Make sure you are prepared for everything--even zombies!

When you think about preparing for an emergency, you likely worry about threats that occur in your area. Californians contend with fires, mudslides and the specter of big quakes. East Coasters have hurricanes, floods, and damaging thunderstorms. But one threat can affect everyone from San Francisco through Topeka and beyond to Jacksonville. Zombies. Yep, brain-eating zombies who are bent on destruction.

Few scary scenarios capture popular culture quite like zombies. In real life, some individuals such as this man profiled by National Geographic Television view zombies and a possible outbreak as real scenarios that deserve proper planning. There even exists a book called “The
Zombie Survival Guide
.”

Wait. Isn’t this blog about disaster planning? Well, the CDC has a current campaign that warns of the coming “Zombie Apocalypse.” Citizens are encouraged to plan for “zombies” by taking certain initiatives. While the premise is silly, the CDC is using thoughts of a zombie takeover to get people really thinking about how to plan and manage big disasters.

For businesses that want to promote the zombie campaign, the CDC offers various images such as this one that look like the poster art for the newest zombie scare fest.

To prepare for the coming hordes of zombies, the CDC recommends some planning tips:

Create a disaster plan:

  • Discussing a disaster plan in advance can allow cooler heads to prevail (and not be eaten…) during an emergency.
  • Set two emergency meeting places. A primary spot and a distant alternate to be used in case the first one is inaccessible.

Stock your disaster kit:

  • Include some of the basics, such as light, food, and water. You need multiple flashlights with extra batteries, some canned or dried meals, and up to one gallon of water per person per day.
  • Additional items such as duct tape, plastic tarps, radios, and a whistle allow you to be prepared or reenact an episode of MacGyver.
  • Important family documents such as passports, insurance papers, and other essentials.
  • The CDC wisely leaves off the list items such as mines or bats that would truly be useful in a real zombie pandemic!

It’s refreshing to see such a serious organization as the CDC employing some humor like “Zombie Apocalypse” to get its point across. The campaign was also perfectly timed, coming days before the “end of the world” that thankfully did not come to pass. The zombie blog was so popular that it crashed the campaign’s site (not the CDC’s main site).

So what exactly is the point of the “Zombie Apocalypse?” For any type of disaster, preparation is the key. If you over prepare for the worst case scenario (it doesn’t get worse than flesh-eating zombies), then you will be able to handle any emergency.

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 2.0 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.