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Archive for January, 2017

New Mexico Sees Four Cases of Whooping Cough

Thursday, January 19th, 2017

Untitled by Mindy Olson P is licensed under CC0.

close up of eye

New Mexico is seeing its largest cluster of whooping cough cases in infants since 2013. So far, four infants from Eddy, Curry, Rio Arriba and San Juan have a confirmed case. The cases have all been reported in infants under six months old.

“Whooping cough is very contagious and can cause serious cough illness―especially in infants too young to be fully vaccinated,” said Department of Health Secretary Lynn Gallagher in a New Mexico Department of Health news release. “Getting vaccinated is the best way to prevent your child from getting it.”

Whooping cough, scientifically known as pertussis, is highly contagious. It is characterized by uncontrollable, violent coughing, which often makes it hard to breathe, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control. After a bout of coughing, the person often has to take large, deep breaths, creating the “whooping” sound. Anyone can get whooping cough, but it is extremely dangerous and can be fatal to those less than a year old.

Whooping cough is spread by coughing or sneezing, and those who are infected can be contagious for up to two weeks after the cough starts.

Whooping cough is best prevented by getting the vaccine. Infected persons can be treated through antibiotics—early diagnosis and treatment is very important.

To read more about whooping cough in New Mexico and how to prevent it, please visit the New Mexico Department of Health’s website.

To read more general information about whooping cough, please visit the CDC’s website.

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Big Data and e-Science Basics

Wednesday, January 18th, 2017

The terms Big Data and e-Science are increasingly used in a multitude of forums. Many of us are inundated with these terms at work and they are increasingly talked about in the media. But what do they mean? The Big Data to Knowledge (BD2K) initiative has been featured here before and the ongoing webinar series on Fridays are a great resource.

But sometimes it is helpful to return to the basics.

So what is Big Data? It is more than just a large count. Big Data represents the full range of challenges and complexities created by the vast amounts of data and data sources that the research community is now collecting and using.

For a basic primer on Big Data, visit the BD2K explanation. For librarians and other information specialists there is also a valuable resource in the e-Science Portal for Librarians. This resource is created and managed by the NN/LM New England Region. This portal serves as an excellent resource to foster learning and collaboration in e-Science while providing e-Science education for librarians.

Consumer Health & Tech Roundup

Tuesday, January 17th, 2017

Sometimes it can be difficult to keep track of all that’s going on. Here are some of the headlines you may have missed this past month:

Sushi Lovers, Beware: Tapeworm Now Found in U.S. Salmon [MedlinePlus]

Smartwatches could soon tell you when you’re getting sick [TechCrunch]

Quick fact sheets on key trends in digital technology now available [Pew Research Center]

Food Safety Tips for Your ‘Tamalada’ [Foodsafety.gov]

CES 2017: Smart Cane Gives Users a Boost [Health Tech Insider]

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SCR Regional Highlight: Texas Colonias See Increased Health Problems

Thursday, January 12th, 2017

Colonias. If you’re from a border state, you may be quite familiar with this word, as it is generally used to describe unsanitary or unsafe housing located along the border between the U.S. and Mexico.

In Texas, colonias date back to at least the 1950s; developed as unincorporated subdivisions because the land was agriculturally worthless, they were sold at very low prices to low-income individuals. According to the Texas Secretary of State, colonias are defined as a residential area along the Mexico-Texas border which lacks basic necessities, like potable water, sewer systems, electricity, paved roads and simply safe and sanitary housing.

As one may assume by this definition, the health of many of the nearly 500,000 colonia residents is poor.

According to a New York Times article, in the highest health risk colonias water- and mosquito-borne illnesses are rampant due to no sewer system or wastewater disposal. There are high rates of asthma, rashes and lice infestations because of the burning garbage, mold and large amount of cockroaches and rodents. But still, there are more health ailments.

Because they have poor diets, as many people in poverty do, they have poor dental hygiene, diabetes, and other diseases. But what’s worse is most of these residents have no means to help themselves. There is no easy solution of going to the doctor. With many without health insurance and little access to healthcare clinics, they have no way to receive treatment.

Thankfully, there is some light at the end of the tunnel. More rural healthcare clinics are opening to fulfill this need that is so desperately needed for colonias. Like the University of Texas recently opened a new campus—University of Texas Rio Grande Valley School of Medicine, which currently has its inaugural class. This new medical school will not only bring in medical students from around the country but will also allow students to serve the population they grew up in.

To read more about Texas colonias, please visit the following resources:

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January is National Glaucoma Awareness Month

Thursday, January 12th, 2017

Untitled by Liam Welch is licensed under CC0.

close up of eyeDid you know more than 3 million people in the U.S. are affected by glaucoma? Do you know what glaucoma is?

Glaucoma is a group of diseases that can damage the eye’s optic nerve, the part of the eye that connects it’s to the brain. When damaged, it can cause vision loss, and in fact, glaucoma is the leading cause of blindness in the United States, according to MedlinePlus.

Everyone is at risk for glaucoma, but there are certain groups of people who should be more aware of potentially contracting the disease—mainly seniors. Those over age 60 should get an eye exam every two years. Additionally, African Americans over age 40 and those with a family history of glaucoma should also get checked regularly, as they are more at risk.

Glaucoma symptoms vary, and those with the disease may experience none. But over time they may notice a loss of peripheral vision, tunnel vision, eye pain, nausea, blurred vision, halos around lights and/or reddening of eyes.

There is no cure for glaucoma, but it can usually be controlled, especially when caught early on. Current treatments include prescription eye drops and surgery.

This January, recognize National Glaucoma Awareness Month by considering getting an annual eye exam.

To read more about glaucoma, please visit “Glaucoma Resources for Special Populations from National Library of Medicine,” and/or MedlinePlus.

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Tracking Fitness and Change

Wednesday, January 11th, 2017

“Heart Rate Monitoring Device” by pearlsband is licensed under CC0.

fitnessbandsAccording to a 2013 Pew report, 60% of U.S. adults ages 18 and over nationally track their weight, diet, or exercise routine, and 21% of all adults surveyed use technology to do so.  Fitness and activity trackers such as Fitbit or Nike+ can certainly help with setting goals or finding extra motivation.

But how effective are these technologies? Recent studies reported by The Guardian show promising results in terms of retention. But lasting change takes more than a device.

The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, part of the National Institute of Health, published a guide to help consumers think about how to move through stages of change:

  1. Contemplation – thinking about making a change
  2. Preparation – planning and goal setting
  3. Action – making actual adjustments or changes
  4. Maintenance – finding a routine and overcoming setbacks

Want more information on how to execute each stage and overcome common barriers? Check out the guide here: Changing Your Habits for Better Health. You can also find additional resources for tracking progress and developing health habits on the MedlinePlus topical page on Exercise and Physical Fitness.

And then here are are some considerations if you’re in the market for a fitness tracker: Consumer Reports Fitness Tracker Buying Guide. But whether you use a high-tech gadget or a paper journal, consider what makes for lasting change!

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Tuberculosis Diagnoses Increase for First Time in 23 Years

Tuesday, January 10th, 2017

“Photo” by WikiImages is licensed under CC0.

syringe

While you may not think tuberculosis (TB) is a concern for yourself and your family, many people in the U.S. suffer with it, and for the first time in 23 years, the U.S. saw an increase in diagnosed cases in 2015. There were 9,557 cases total and it affected 27 states and the District of Columbia, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control.

This increase calls for a more comprehensive public health approach to curbing TB, according to the CDC’s report. Suggested strategies according to the report are:

  • “Increased testing and treatment of latent (showing no symptoms) TB,
  • Greater efforts to reach populations most affected by TB, and
  • Reducing TB transmission through effective diagnostic and treatment strategies.”

TB is a bacterium that usually affects the lungs but can affect any part of the body. It is usually spread through the air when a person throat coughs, speaks or sings and another person breaths it in. But not everyone who becomes infected will become sick, which is called latent TB infection. This occurs when your body is able to fight off the bacteria.

Primary TB symptoms include a cough that last as for three weeks or longer, pain in the chest, and coughing up blood. Others may also include weight loss, fatigue, no appetite, chills, fever and sweating at night.

To read more from the recent CDC report, please visit “Burden of TB in the United States.”

To read more general information about TB, please visit the CDC’s website.

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Curbing Overdose Deaths is a Priority for New Mexico

Thursday, January 5th, 2017

“Photo” by JeongGuHyeok is licensed under CC0.

Pills

Last year, the opioid epidemic was brought to the forefront of health issues facing Americans. It was announced that in 2014, more people died of drug overdoses than in any other year on record. In 2016, the Surgeon General also released a landmark report regarding addiction in America—it is the first of its kind.

In 2014, New Mexico was ranked 49th worst in the nation for drug overdose death rates. The New Mexico Department of Health recently announced that based on 2015 data released by the Centers for Disease Control, the state has improved to 42nd worst in the nation. New Mexico saw a 7 percent decrease in drug overdoses, while the country as a whole saw an increase of 11 percent.

New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez has made curbing drug overdoses a major priority for the state. In 2016, she signed two important pieces of legislation to combat drug misuse and abuse. According to the NMDOH’s news release, they were as follows:

  • “SB 263 requires practitioners to check the Prescription Monitoring Program database when prescribing opioids. The database allows prescribers and pharmacists to check the controlled substance prescription history of their patients.
  • The Governor also signed legislation that increases the availability of naloxone, a medication that reverses opioid overdoses. Medicaid claims for naloxone among outpatient pharmacies in New Mexico increased 83 percent between the first three months (January-March) and the second three months (April-June) of 2016.”

To read more about how New Mexico is combating drug overdoses, please visit “Substantial Improvement in National Ranking for Overdose Deaths.”

For more information regarding the opioid epidemic, please visit the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services website.

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Locating the preferred imaging modality

Wednesday, January 4th, 2017

National Guideline Clearinghouse Logo

Extensive radiologic tools exist to aid clinicians in the diagnostic process. The AHRQ National Guideline Clearinghouse allows clinicians to search the American College of Radiology ACR Appropriateness Criteria® to locate suggested criteria for ordering radiologic exams.

Guidelines provide the suggested radiologic procedure that may be ordered for each presenting condition with a rating scale to denote the applicability for each exam. For each procedure the rating scale indicates the level of appropriateness of the exam. The guidelines also contain the relative radiation level for each type of exam.

Additionally, a summary of the literature is provided for the clinical condition in question.  Examples of conditions described in the database include: osteonecrosis of the hip, assessment of fetal well-being, and nasopharyngeal carcinoma. Nearly 200 American College of Radiology Appropriateness Criteria are indexed by the AHRQ website to provide guidance in the ordering of radiologic exams.

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–Written by Lisa Smith, Executive Director, NN/LM SCR

 

Have You Gotten Your Flu Shot Yet?

Tuesday, January 3rd, 2017

“Photo” by frolicsomepl is licensed under CC0.

Needle

It’s not too late! While fall and 2016 have ended, winter has just begun, as of Dec. 21. There’s still nearly three months of cold weather ahead, which we generally associate with flu season.

The flu can be a serious threat to any person and persons who contract the virus can be hospitalized—nearly 970,000 Americans had to be in 2014. The flu shot seriously reduces this risk. Keep in mind that more than 40 million are affected by flu-related illnesses each year.

Getting the flu shot is especially important to seniors, young children, women who are planning to get pregnant and women who have been pregnant and those with chronic diseases. Because these people have weakened immune systems, the flu can become much more serious for these individuals.

The flu shot may not prevent you from getting the flu, but it will reduce the severity and duration of symptoms and help protect you from future viruses.

This year’s flu shot protects against certain strains of influenza A and influenza B viruses.

To read more about getting the flu vaccine, please visit healthfinder.gov.

To read more general information about the flu vaccine, please visit the CDC’s website.

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