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Archive for the ‘Public Health’ Category

Surgeon General Releases Landmark Report Regarding Addiction in America

Tuesday, November 29th, 2016

“Photo” by WebreFabrik is licensed under CC0.

Alcohol Bottles

In a landmark report, the United States Surgeon General issued a report on alcohol, drugs and health. The report comes at a time when many organizations are calling for action in the U.S.’s opioid epidemic.

“With this report, I’m calling our country to action around one of the most underrecognized and underaddressed public health issues of our time,” said Surgeon General Vivek Murphy, MD, told Medscape reporters in a conference call.

The report, more than 400 pages long, shares key findings broken into five categories:

·       The Neurobiology of Substance Use, Misuse and Addiction
·       Prevention Programs and Policies
·       Early Intervention, Treatment, and Management of Substance Use Disorders
·       Recovery: The Many Paths to Wellness
·       Health Care Systems and Substance Use Disorders

Some of these key findings are that addiction is a chronic brain disease that has potential for recurrence and recovery, communities and populations have different risk levels for addiction, and laws targeting the alcohol-impaired have significantly decreased alcohol-related traffic deaths.

For more information, see Facing Addiction in America: The Surgeon General’s Report on Alcohol, Drugs, and Health..

To read the report’s key findings, please visit the Surgeon General’s website.

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Study Suggests Women Who Have Kids Later Are More Likely to Live Longer

Tuesday, November 22nd, 2016

“Photo” by William Stitt is licensed under CC0.

Pregnant Woman

According to an article on MedlinePlus, a study, which is the first of its kind, suggests women who have children at 25 and older are more likely to live to the age of 90. The research also found that these women were more likely to be married, have college degrees and have a higher income.

Postdoctoral fellow at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine, and study author Aladdin Shadyab said he’s not sure what the link between delaying childbirth and a women’s longevity is.

One idea is that women who wait are more likely to be of a higher socio-economic class, which research has consistently suggested increases a person’s longevity.

Research published from 2015 found that women who gave birth to their last child after age 33 were twice as likely to live to 95 than those women who gave birth to their last child at age 29.

The researchers looked at data from a nationwide study in 1993 that tracked 20,000 women to come to their findings. Of them, 54 percent of them lived to 90 years old.

To read more about the study, please visit “Do Women Who Have Kids Later Live Longer?

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Three New Mexico Counties See Shigellosis

Thursday, November 17th, 2016

“Photo” by geralt is licensed under CC0.


The New Mexico Department of Health just reported Tuesday that counties Lea, Chaves, and Eddy have all seen an outbreak of bacterial disease shigellosis.

Shigellosis is a diarrheal disease that causes about 500,000 cases of diarrhea annually. Other symptoms include fever, nausea, vomiting, cramps and toxemia. Oftentimes, diarrhea will contain blood or mucus.

Since May of this year, NMDOH has seen 140 confirmed and probable cases of shigellosis, often among school-aged children, but officials believe the disease may be affecting a wider community.

Shigellosis is extremely contagious and infected persons can have bacteria in their stool for up to a month after the diarrhea has subsided. It can be spread by people not washing their hands well after using the bathroom, caretakers changing an infant’s diaper and not taking care to wash their hands properly, swallowing recreational water (for example from a pool) that has been contaminated, or exposure to feces through sexual contact.

NMDOH is urging anyone who is experiencing symptoms of shigellosis to get tested.

For more information about the shigellosis outbreak in New Mexico, please visit the New Mexico Department of Health’s website.

For more general information about shigellosis, please visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s website.

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Louisiana Sees More Cases of West Nile Virus

Thursday, November 3rd, 2016

“Photo” by FotoshopTofs
is licensed under CC0.


The Louisiana Department of Health reported this week that it has seen 36 cases of West Nile virus in Louisiana so far in 2016. Six more cases were reported within the last two weeks.

Of those diagnosed with West Nile virus, 15 were asymptomatic or fever cases, a mild illness. Twenty-one were neuroinvasive, a very severe case which can lead to brain damage and even death.

Like Zika virus, West Nile virus is a mosquito-transmitted disease. Many people (70 – 80 percent according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) who contract the disease do not experience any symptoms. However, symptoms do include, fever, headache, body aches, joint aches, vomiting, diarrhea, rash, neck stiffness, tremors, seizure, paralysis, disorientation and coma.

Currently there is no vaccine or specific treatment for West Nile virus. The CDC recommends over-the-counter painkillers or hospitalization if symptoms are severe.

The primary way to prevent West Nile virus is to protect yourself from mosquitos. This can be done by using insect repellent and wearing long sleeves and pants.

For more information regarding West Nile virus in Louisiana, please visit the Louisiana Department of Health’s website.

For more general information regarding West Nile virus, please visit the CDC’s website.

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Bacteria on Nurses’ Scrubs Can Transfer to Patients

Tuesday, November 1st, 2016

“Photo” by Parentingupstream
is licensed under CC0.


Hospitals are a place you go, generally, if you’re unwell and need immediate medical attention. But what happens if the place where you’re meant to be recovering is actually making you sicker?

In a new MedlinePlus article, they explain that nurses who are treating multiple patients can often pick up those disease causing germs and then spread them to other patients. According to researchers, the germs are often found on the sleeves and pockets of a nurse’s scrubs, and then often on bed railings.

A 40-person study found that during a 12-hour shift there were 22 instances of one of five diseases being transmitted by a nurse’s scrubs.

One of the primary takeaways of this sort of study is that healthcare providers have to be ever cautious on how they are treating patients and take the necessary steps to prevent disease transmission.

To read more about disease transmission by nurses’ scrubs, please visit “Nurses’ ‘Scrubs’ Pick Up Bad Hospital Germs.”

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Arkansas Mumps Outbreak Growing

Thursday, October 27th, 2016

“Photo” from jaytaix
is licensed under CC0.

Preparing a Shot

Northwest Arkansas has seen an increasing number of mumps cases in the last month. As of Oct. 12, there were 492 individuals involved. The majority of the individuals involved are children, and more than 30 schools in Arkansas have reported one ore more of these cases.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, mumps is a very contagious disease best known for the puffy cheeks and swollen jaw that it causes. Other symptoms include fever, headache, muscle aches, tiredness and loss of appetite. Symptoms typically don’t appear until more than two weeks after infection. Many people who contract the disease show few to no symptoms and often aren’t even aware they have the disease. There is no treatment, but most people will recover completely within a few weeks.

The CDC recommends that everyone born after 1957 receive the mumps vaccine. Two doses of the MMR vaccine (vaccinating against mumps, measles and rubella) is 88 percent effective in preventing mumps. Adults born before 1957 are considered immune.

For more information regarding the Arkansas mumps outbreak, please visit the Arkansas Department of Health.

For more information regarding general mumps information, please visit the CDC’s website.

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Resources for Flu 2016

Tuesday, October 25th, 2016

“Flu vs Cold” from CDC.

Flu vs. Cold ChartWith flu season really starting to kick in, we wanted to share some resources on the disease to help you get through fall and winter!

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend that every person aged six months and older get an annual flu vaccine by the end of October. Something important to note is that only injectable flu vaccines are recommended this year. Previously, the flu vaccine was also available through a nasal spray known as FluMist.

To further protect yourself, the CDC recommends staying away from people who are sick—people who are sick with the flu should stay home from work or school to prevent spreading the disease. Additionally, the CDC recommends consistent hand washing to get rid of germs.

Flu 2016 symptoms include:

  • fever or feeling feverish/chills
  • cough
  • sore throat
  • runny or stuffy nose
  • muscle or body aches
  • headaches
  • fatigue
  • vomiting or diarrhea in some cases

The CDC also has a chart that shows the difference between cold and flu symptoms.

If you suspect you have the flu, you should visit your doctor for a diagnosis and to be prescribed antiviral prescription drugs. This treatment works best when started within 48 hours of getting sick, so you should see a doctor right away if you experience symptoms.

To read more about the 2016 flu, please visit the CDC’s flu page.

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Zika Testing in the Rio Grande Valley

Thursday, October 20th, 2016

“Photo” by Freeimages9 is licensed under CC0.


Earlier this week, we posted a feature as part of our SCR Regional Highlight series about the new medical school that opened in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas and how it will bring more physicians to a part of Texas that is in dire need of more medical professionals.

Today, we are sharing some more health news relevant to the Rio Grande Valley—this time regarding Zika.

Texas, particularly the southernmost tip where the Rio Grande Valley is, has been monitored closely for signs of local Zika transmission. Previously, Texas has seen the local transmission of dengue fever and chikungunya virus, both mosquito-borne diseases. So far, Texas has seen 231 cases of illness due to Zika, but none due to local transmission.

Despite this, the Texas Department of State Health Services is still on the offensive and is urging residents, particularly pregnant women, of the Rio Grande Valley to get tested for Zika if they exhibit any two of the four major symptoms of Zika, which include fever, rash, joint pain, and conjunctivitis (eye redness), regardless of their travel history.

To read more about Zika testing recommendations, please visit Texas Department of State Health Services.

To read more about Zika, please visit Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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SCR Regional Highlight: New Medical School in the Rio Grande Valley Will Help Address Physician Shortage

Tuesday, October 18th, 2016

UTRGV Photo by Paul Chouy

UTRGV Family Medicine Center

The Rio Grande Valley, made up of four counties in the southernmost part of Texas along the border of Mexico, has the odds stacked against it when it comes to residents’ health. In Hidalgo County, one of those four counties, 40 percent of residents lack proper health insurance, 40 percent are considered obese, and 25 percent suffer from diabetes. Type 2 diabetes, most often found in adults, is being found more often in children in this area.

Luckily though, it looks like the Rio Grande Valley has a happy ending.

On June 27, University of Texas Rio Grande Valley School of Medicine opened its doors to its inaugural class. This first cohort contains 55 students—out of the more than 2,784 that applied. UTRGV is the first of its kind in the Valley, but the necessity it provides has been a long time coming.

In 2013, there were only 165 doctors per 100,000 people in Texas—much lower than the average of 240 doctors per 100,000 people in the U.S. as a whole. But in the Rio Grande Valley, that number was even smaller with only 124 doctors per 100,000 people. Number of doctors wasn’t the only shortcoming the Valley had; its average physician age was 57, decades above the median population age, and with older physicians, that would mean more retirements, and it would be likely the number of doctors would dwindle even further.

The inauguration of UTRGV is a fresh start for the Valley, who often lost many of its youngest, brightest minds to other medical schools without the thought of returning. The new medical school will bring new students in and keep students here to serve the population they also grew up in.

To read more about health in the Rio Grande Valley or UTRGV, please visit the following:

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Babies Born Prematurely in Oklahoma

Thursday, October 13th, 2016

“Photo” by Arnaud Jaegers is licensed under CC0.

Infant HandIn 2014, more than 53,000 babies were born in Oklahoma, putting the state right in the middle at No. 27 for the most number of births in the United States. Nearly 4 million babies were born in the U.S. that year.

Unfortunately though, but to be expected, not all of those babies made it. Those babies who died made up the infant mortality rate (IMR). The IMR is defined by the number of deaths per 1,000 live births. In 2013, the IMR for the U.S. overall was 6, which has since lowered to 5.9 today. Oklahoma’s IMR in 2013 was 6.7 but has since risen to 7.4, both of which were among the IMR national average.

The Oklahoma State Department of Health recognizes this unfortunate statistic and has found that babies born prematurely are a leading cause of infant mortality and morbidity. In 2014, 10.3 percent of Oklahoma’s births were premature.

In recognition of Infant Mortality Awareness Month last month, OSDH released information on factors that may cause a premature birth (like diabetes and high blood pressure), ways to promote a healthy pregnancy (like remaining tobacco free), and current initiatives OSDH is taking to help prevent premature births.

To read more about total number of births and the infant mortality rate in the U.S., please visit the following pages on the Kaiser Family Foundation website:

To read more about Oklahoma’s initiatives, please visit Prematurity Remains a Leading Cause of Infant Deaths in Oklahoma.

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