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Travel Medicine News

West Nile Virus is Back!

Posted by Stuart Rose on

  West Nile Alert from the Massachusetts Department of Public Health. There may be good reason to invest in bug spray this year: the Massachusetts Department of Public Health announced just last Friday, Aug. 11, that the West Nile virus has been detected in mosquitoes in Massachusetts for the first time this season. A sample collected on June 27 in Richmond, a town in Berkshire County, tested positive for the virus. Cases also reported from the Worcester and Boston areas. Key Issues A number of different diseases can be transmitted by insect or tick bites, these are called vector-borne diseases. Insect bites...

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Keep those hands clean!

Posted by Stuart Rose on

We can never sterilize our bodies (nor would we want to). Healthy people live in harmony with trillions of microorganisms (bacteria, viruses, parasites) that establish themselves (colonize) the body inside and out. We’ve all heard of the intestinal microbiome: “We depend on a vast army of microbes to stay alive: a balanced microbiome that protects us against germs, breaks down food to release energy, and produces vitamins." The microorganisms that usually occupy a particular body site are called the resident flora and these cells of the resident flora have been historically thought to outnumber a person's own cells 10 to...

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Watch out! Tick season is open.

Posted by Stuart Rose on

TICK-BORNE DISEASES IN THE UNITED STATES Lyme disease and ehrlichiosis are not the only illnesses transmitted by ticks in the United States. Rocky Mountain spotted fever, Colorado tick fever, tick paralysis, tularemia, babesiosis, and relapsing fever are some of the other diseases of importance.  (Buy our tick bite prevention and treatment kit) IMPORTANT TICKS AND TICK-BORNE DISEASES IN THE UNITED STATES The deer tick (Ixodes scapularis) is found in great abundance from Virginia to Maine, as well as in Wisconsin and Minnesota, whereas its first cousin, the western deer tick (Ixodes pacificus, the black-legged tick) is active along the West Coast....

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Travelers' Diarrhea Alert.

Posted by Stuart Rose on

Q: What is Travelers' Diarrhea? A: It's the most common disease that travelers get. You have a 50% chance of illness if staying in a lesser-developed country for more than one month. The diarrhea is typically non-bloody diarrhea. You may have a slight (or no) fever, stomach cramps and mild nausea.  The diarrhea can range from mild (a few episodes daily) to frequent and explosive. Bacteria cause 80—85% of travelers’ diarrhea, parasites about 10%, and viruses 5%. Toxin-producing E. coli is the most common bacterial culprit. Food and water precautions may help prevent travelers’ diarrhea.  You can pick up these germs from hard surface,e.g., doorknobs; Hand washing and...

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Enjoy the 4th without the bites!

Posted by Stuart Rose on

  You’re getting ready to celebrate this holiday weekend—with everybody enjoying the fine (hopefully) weather and gathered around the grill or barbecue. But who needs those uninvited guests! This is the season when those pesky mosquitoes descend on us—annoying everyone who is trying to slap them away. It’s not just a matter of nuisance bites, however. Mosquitoes can also transfer serious diseases such as West Nile virus and Eastern equine encephalitis. What to do? Let’s start with repellents. These act on your skin and most likely contain the chemical DEET in varying concentrations, some up to 100%. Other repellents may...

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Zika Update Summer 2017—Good News for the U.S., Bad News for South America

Posted by Stuart Rose on

Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization To date, 48 countries and territories in the Americas have confirmed locally acquired, mosquito-borne transmission of Zika virus disease, while five countries have reported sexually transmitted Zika cases. Since epidemiological week (EW) 44 of 2016, no additional countries or territories of the Americas have confirmed autochthonous, insect-borne transmission of Zika virus disease. North America In the United States of America, the Florida Department of Health reported that Florida no longer has any identified areas with active Zika transmission, and cases of local transmission have not been reported. The Texas Department of State Health Services has...

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Medical Kits, Meds & Travel

Posted by Stuart Rose on

As we mature, more of us worry about health issues that might occur during travel. This may involve a disease you currently have which might flare up, or perhaps a tropical or infectious disease you might encounter, such as malaria. An injury is often possible. I tell all my traveling clients “Wear your seat belt—if there is one.” Motor vehicle and other accident account for excess mortality if travelers— “you can have your heart attack anywhere, but driving, or simply crossing the street in many countries, can be very dangerous.” One way to help reduce stress is to carry a...

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Needle Safety and Overseas Travel

Posted by Stuart Rose on

When I counsel travelers headed overseas, I always ask them if they are up-to-date on their tetanus shots. Am I worried they might get tetanus if they sustain an injury? Not really. My concern? I don’t want them getting a tetanus shot overseas. Or any other medical injection, for that matter, unless it’s absolutely necessary. Why is that? Because who knows if the needles will be sterile. Lesser-developed countries often can’t afford disposable needles/syringes and depend upon “cold sterilization” in an antiseptic solution that may not eliminate hepatitis B and C viruses and HIV. Many injuries are often minor and...

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Epidemics, Part II

Posted by Stuart Rose on

In my last blog, I asked the question: What Causes Epidemics?  Here are some answers: The host and environment are in constant interaction and diseases are caused by disturbance of equilibrium between disease agent (virus, bacterium, parasite), host and environment. The disease assumes epidemiological proportions when the environmental conditions are favorable for the disease agent and unfavorable conditions exist for man. You must have observed disasters like wars, famine, floods and earthquakes are followed by epidemics of infectious disease. Why does this happen? The following factors favor occurrence of epidemics after disasters. Temporary Population Settlements Temporary camps or settlements are hastily...

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If you're a germaphobe, make sure you're sitting down.

Posted by Stuart Rose on

Back in 1999, a woman in California cleaned up rodent droppings in her home. Two weeks later, her liver started failing. Then she started to bleed internally — a hemorrhagic fever that would kill her. Eventually doctors found a new virus in her body, which very likely came from a rat. A few years later, a man in Arizona went to the hospital. The skin on his legs was infected and dying. Doctors had to amputate. His diagnosis? A new kind of leprosy. Over in the Midwest, the problem has been new tick-borne diseases, some deadly. And in New England, doctors...

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