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Archive for September, 2012|Monthly archive page

Facing anti-malaria nets, mosquitoes alter habits

In Malaria, Uncategorized on September 24, 2012 at 9:06 am

“They found that mosquitoes seemed to change their hours of “peak aggression” from 2 or 3 a.m. to around 5 a.m. three years after nets were put up. And in one village, the proportion of mosquito bites inflicted outdoors rose.

http://in.reuters.com/article/2012/09/20/health-malaria-idINL4E8KK00520120920

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Dengue Fever in Texas?

In Dengue Fever, Uncategorized, West Nile Virus on September 10, 2012 at 8:51 am
September 4, 2012 

By 

drjane65@gmail.com

Recently, there is a lot of buzz in the news and on-line about Dengue Fever.  I had to really dig in my heels and sort through the published literature on this latest in “medical gossip”.

Normally found in more tropical climates such as the Philippines, Puerto Rico and Mexico, a few cases in recent years have been found in southern Florida according to the Center for Disease Control (CDC).    There is increasing concern that areas on the border such as Juarez, which have experienced an upsurge of Dengue Fever, could put the South Texas region on alert.

According to the most recent CDC map, recent cases in Texas seem to be travelers arriving from places outside the U.S. The concern however, is that increased international commerce from areas with infected mosquitoes and warmer environmental climates could be allowing more mosquitoes to survive thru the winter months.  Remember: it was an unseasonably warm winter this past year.

Approximately 3-8% of travelers returning from the tropics may become infected.  Next to malaria, Dengue is the second most common tropical disease infection resulting in hospitalizations.

Dengue fever is characterized by high fever, vomiting, rash and dehydration and may occur from 3-15 days after an infected mosquito bites its victim.  Headache, chills and swollen lymph nodes may be the first signs of infection.   Symptoms may last 1-2 weeks with complete recovery.  Infected individuals with more severe viral forms of Dengue may develop life-threatening symptoms such as bleeding of the skin, gums and gastrointestinal tract (referred to as Dengue Hemorrhagic Fever).

Not limited to blood work, sometimes a spinal tap is necessary for diagnosis.  Treatment is limited and usually just an increase in fluid intake is needed.  Occasionally IV fluids, and rarely hospitalization is necessary for Dengue Fever.  For Dengue Hemorrhagic Fever, blood transfusions and more intensive care is necessary.

Tylenol is the medication of choice and drugs such as aspirin and NSAIDS (ibuprofen, naproxen, etc) are not recommended as they could increase the risk of bleeding.

The prognosis (outcome) is most always excellent for Dengue Fever. As with West Nile, people with altered immune systems such as the elderly and those on chemotherapy are more likely to experience complications. Overall fatality rate is about 1%.  Although that seems low, world wide about 500,000 to 1 million people die each year from the disease (which is significant).

No vaccines are available at this time and the CDC recommends insect repellent with up to 50% DEET for adults and children over 2 months of age.

So, is the hype real?  I suspect we must all be on alert.  It was a warm winter.  For now, I am going to invest in  DEET insect repellent and pray fo a really good winters freeze.  I suggest you do the same.

Disease-Spreading Ticks on the Move as Climate Changes

In Lyme Disease, Uncategorized on September 9, 2012 at 11:15 am
Posted by David Braun of National Geographic in Tales of the Weird on September 7, 2012
A female blacklegged tick converting its blood-meal into thousands of eggs. Credit: NSF/Graham Hickling, University of Tennessee

A female blacklegged tick converting its blood-meal into thousands of eggs. Credit: NSF/Graham Hickling, University of Tennessee

One more reason to be nervous about climate change: Tick species are on the march.

The blood-sucking, disease-spreading parasites are expanding into new territories as wildlife populations, forest habitats and weather patterns change across North America, biologists have found.

“This year’s mild winter and early spring were a bonanza for tick populations in the eastern United States,” the National Science Foundation said today. “Reports of tick-borne disease rose fast.”

While Lyme disease is the most common tick-borne disease in the Northeast and Upper Midwest, new research finds that it is not the greatest cause for concern in most Southeastern states, the NSF said in a news statement about a research paper in the journal Zoonoses and Public Health.

“The majority of human-biting ticks in the North–members of the blacklegged tick species–cause Lyme disease, but these same ticks do not commonly bite humans south of mid-Virginia,” the NSF explained.

Biologist Graham Hickling of the University of Tennessee, co-author of the Zoonoses and Public Health paper, says many patients in Southeastern states, who become sick from a tick-bite, assume they have Lyme disease, but the odds of that being the case are low.

“Ticks in the eastern U.S. collectively carry more than a dozen agents that can cause human disease,” says Hickling.

“Here in Tennessee we regularly collect lone star ticks that test positive for Ehrlichia, [a tick-borne bacterial infection]. Lone stars are an aggressive species that account for most of the human bites that we see in this region. So ehrlichiosis has to be a big concern, yet most people have never heard of it.”

In contrast, explains Hickling, there have been no confirmed reports to date of the Lyme disease pathogen among the sparse populations of blacklegged ticks found in Tennessee.

Spotted Fever Rickettsiosis and Ehrlichiosis

“The Southeast is dominated by different tick species than the ones that attack humans in the North,” says Ellen Stromdahl, an entomologist at the U.S. Army Public Health Command and lead author of the paper.

“The lone star tick is by far the most abundant tick in the Southeast, and which species of tick bites you is critical because different ticks carry different diseases. In the Southeast you are unlikely to be bitten by the blacklegged ticks that spread Lyme disease,” Stromdahl says.

Most bites in the Southeast are from the tick species that spread spotted fever rickettsiosis and ehrlichiosis, but not Lyme disease, the NSF said. “A complicating factor for public health officials is that tick species are on the move, as wildlife populations, forest habitats and weather patterns change across the continent. This spring the Tennessee Department of Health, for example, reported a 500 percent increase in tick-borne rickettsiosis.”

“Identifying health risks in the face of changing climates will be critical in coming years.”

“Identifying health risks in the face of changing climates will be critical in coming years,” says Sam Scheiner, National Science Foundation program director for the joint NSF-National Institutes of Health Ecology and Evolution of Infectious Diseases (EEID) program, which funds Hickling’s research. This study will inform public health officials about what diseases are found in which areas, so they can minimize human health problems.”

Hickling’s work is also in collaboration with scientist Jean Tsao of Michigan State University and is part of an EEID project to identify the ecological factors leading to distributions of tick species and pathogens–in particular, where the Lyme disease tick and pathogen are found.

Lyme-infected blacklegged ticks are expanding south through Virginia, and lone star ticks are moving north, the NSF said in its statement. “The bite of the lone star tick can create a bulls-eye rash that appears like that of Lyme disease, but the rash isn’t caused by the Lyme bacteria. The scientists say that this almost certainly leads to misdiagnosis of some patients in mid-Atlantic states, where both tick species are common.”

The best way to distinguish Lyme from other tick-borne diseases is to be vigilant for tick bites, and whenever possible save any tick that manages to bite you. “Store the tick in your freezer or in a vial of alcohol so it can be identified if you become ill,” the NSF recommends.

Nymphal Blacklegged Ticks of the Northeast

In the Northeast, the NSF release explained, Lyme disease awareness campaigns have focused public attention on the nymphal blacklegged tick–which is responsible for most disease transmission and which is tinier than the adult form. “While nymphal blacklegged ticks and nymphal lone star ticks–which also bite humans–can be distinguished, the two are often confused by the public. In one study, 13 of 20 patients reporting tick bites to physicians were given antibiotics on the assumption that they were at risk for Lyme disease, yet 53 of the 54 ticks removed from those same patients were lone star ticks, which do not spread Lyme disease.”

“Where you live determines which tick species is likely to bite you.”

“Where you live determines which tick species is likely to bite you,” says Tsao, “and therefore which diseases you’re most likely to contract.”

The NSF says biologists are happy that recent treatment recommendations have begun to emphasize the importance of considering the tick species and its infection status as part of the diagnostic process. “Their advice: Stay open-minded about which tick-borne diseases are most common in your area–and save the tick that bites you.”

This blog post was based on publicity material provided by the National Science Foundation, an independent federal agency that supports fundamental research and education across all fields of science and engineering.

Lyme Disease

(From the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)

The Lyme disease bacterium, Borrelia burgdorferi, is spread through the bite of infected ticks. The blacklegged tick (or deer tick, Ixodes scapularis) spreads the disease in the northeastern, mid-Atlantic, and north-central United States, and the western blacklegged tick (Ixodes pacificus) spreads the disease on the Pacific Coast.

Ticks can attach to any part of the human body but are often found in hard-to-see areas such as the groin, armpits, and scalp. In most cases, the tick must be attached for 36-48 hours or more before the Lyme disease bacterium can be transmitted.

Most humans are infected through the bites of immature ticks called nymphs. Nymphs are tiny (less than 2 mm) and difficult to see; they feed during the spring and summer months. Adult ticks can also transmit Lyme disease bacteria, but they are much larger and may be more likely to be discovered and removed before they have had time to transmit the bacteria. Adult Ixodes ticks are most active during the cooler months of the year.

Mosquito repellent selling off local store shelves

In Uncategorized, West Nile Virus on September 9, 2012 at 11:00 am

By Ruben Veloz, EL PASO, Texas

Stores in the borderland are selling out of insect repellent as more and more people worry about contracting the West Nile virus, according to a local Walgreens store manager in West El Paso.

Experts are saying this is the worst West Nile season in years.

KFOX14 checked at the Walgreens store on Doniphan and Mesa, where store managers are reporting sell out of insect repellent.

The store says most of the demand seems to be in west El Paso.

The store thinks it has to do with the open space in the area, allowing the opportunity for more standing water.

One El Paso man who was seen leaving the store said he just bought four cans of spray last week.

“I can understand that they are selling a lot of the stuff because I am going to be buying a little bit more than I already have,” said 59-year-old west El Paso resident Clarence Spradley. “Me and my son are planning on going fishing and be prepared. So, yeah, I’m worried about it.”

He’s hoping his supply will keep bugs away from his family for about a year.

The El Paso Health Department has reported 16 cases of West Nile virus so far this year. Two people have died of the virus.
Three cases have been reported in Dona Ana County, N.M..

While other people are stocking up on the mosquito repellent, some find it a little bit extreme.

“I don’t think it hits the radar bad enough to me for me to actually go to the store and buy something like that to just spray on myself,” said Central El Paso Resident Hector Marquez.

Spradlley however, believes it’s better to be safe than sorry.

“It’s better to have more than what you need and not have anything then when you do need it,” said Spradley.

One Walgreens manager told KFOX14 they are expecting a special shipment of insect repellant for all Walgreen stores in El Paso.

If you have trouble finding insect repellent check, you can try checking the camping section of select stores.

Sometimes insect repellents are sold in that area.

http://www.kfoxtv.com/news/news/local/mosquito-repellent-selling-local-store-shelves/nR5QR/

Which Bug Repellent Is Best?

In DEET, Lyme Disease, Uncategorized, West Nile Virus on September 2, 2012 at 11:05 am

Bucks - Making the Most of Your Money

August 30, 2012, 4:17 PM
By ANN CARRNS

If your family is like ours, you’ll be spending time outdoors this Labor Day weekend.

And if you’re a mother like me (read: a worrier), you’re well aware of news reports

about the abundance of ticks this year,

and about an increase in cases of West Nile virus in some parts of the country.

That means we’ll be spraying ourselves and our children with bug repellent, to ward off both ticks

and the pesky mosquitoes that carry West Nile.

(Generally we avoid slathering our offspring with chemicals.

But we make an exception in this case,

if they’re going to be out in nature for extended periods of time). But which repellent is best?

Consumer Reports has updated a test of widely available repellents that work on both deer ticks and mosquitoes that carry West Nile,

along with cost information on a per-ounce basis. The six top-rated products are $2 an ounce or less.

The data on costs is from 2010, according to Consumer Reports, but all the products are currently available.

(And a quick check online suggests prices are about the same, or in some cases, lower.)

Just how much chemical you are comfortable exposing yourself

and your children to is up to you. The four top-ranked brands

— Off Deep Woods Sportsmen II, Cutter Backwoods Unscented, Off Family Care Smooth & Dry,

and 3M Ultrathon Insect Repellent — all contain DEET in varying concentrations from 15 percent to 30 percent,

and were able to repel mosquitoes for at least eight hours.

DEET is effective, and the Environmental Protection Agency says it is safe when used as directed,

but you shouldn’t use it on babies under 2 months old. The American Academy of Pediatrics advises

against using products with more than 30 percent DEET on children.

The fifth- and sixth-ranked products — Repel Plant Based Lemon Eucalyptus and Natrapel 8-hour with Picaridin —

don’t contain DEET, but provided long-lasting protection as well.

The lower-ranked products also repelled mosquitoes effectively, but generally for shorter periods of time,

and some had other drawbacks, like a tendency to stain clothing.

The upshot, Consumer Report says, is that “most of the tested products will do the job if you’re

going to be outside for only a couple of hours, but look for a highly rated product to protect you on longer excursions.”

The E.P.A. has information on its Web site to help you choose a repellentbased on your specific needs,

although it doesn’t include cost data. General information about West Nile is available

from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Are you stepping up your use of bug repellent due to West Nile?

http://bucks.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/08/30/which-bug-repellent-is-best/?src=rechp

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