safety

What You Need to Know About West Nile

August 28, 2012 at 1:18 pm , by

You may have already heard the scary news about West Nile: More than 1,000 people have reported symptoms of the virus and 41 have died, more cases than any year since the virus was first detected in 1999, according to the CDC. Enough to up the ante on your anti-mosquito efforts? I think so. But don’t panic. Most people won’t get sick, even if they get bit by a mosquito carrying the virus.

Aside from bug bites, there are a couple of other things to watch out for as you celebrate summer’s end this weekend. We’ve put together a little checklist to remind you about all three.

1. Buy some bug spray
This map shows the severity of the West Nile outbreak–every state save Vermont has seen some activity. Again, no reason to freak out, but you should know that people over 50 or those who have chronic conditions like kidney disease or diabetes are especially at risk. West Nile doesn’t spread via human contact. You can only get it from a mosquito bite, so a bottle of bug repellent can go a long way. Learn more about the best bug sprays and how to apply them here. It’s also a good idea to get rid of any standing water around your home and check your window screens for holes.

2. Wear sunscreen
It may not be all over the news, but the risk of sunburn (which can lead to skin cancers later on) is as real as ever. Dermatologists recommend sunscreens that have broad-spectrum protection and an SPF of 30. And to really get protection, you’ve got to slather it on thick like vanilla icing and re-apply every two hours. If you’re going to be outside all day, don’t forget to seek shade when you can and pack a wide-brimmed hat for extra protection.

3. Drink lots of water
This has been one of the hottest summers on record since 1950. Thankfully, things are cooling off a bit, but dehydration and other heat-related illnesses are still important to watch out for, especially in children and the elderly.  On a normal day, a 150-pound woman has to drink 65 ounces of water to replace what’s lost through sweating, peeing and breathing. So if you’re sweating even a little, you should drink throughout the day. Don’t wait until you feel thirsty! And remember, regular old water is your best bet.

Have a safe and fun Labor Day from the LHJHealthLadies!


What You Need to Know About the H1N1 Vaccine

October 8, 2009 at 12:06 pm , by

EghrariThere are a lot of questions out there about the H1N1 vaccine, so we asked Dr. Jackie Eghrari-Sabet, M.D., to give us the scoop. She’s an allergist practicing in the Washington, DC Metro area, founder of Family Asthma & Allergy Care and a spokesperson for the American Academy of Asthma, Allergy and Immunology.

Who can get the H1N1 vaccine?
While anyone can ask their doctor for the H1N1 vaccine, pregnant women, people who live with or take care of babies younger than 6 months old, children and young adults (6 months to 24 years old), and healthcare personnel have first priority. Adults ages 24 to 65 who have a chronic disease (asthma, immunosuppressive diseases, chemotherapy, cardiac disease, kidney disease) are also in line for the vaccine. A recent study found that adults older than 65 years old have a “less robust” response to the H1N1 vaccine, as is the case with the seasonal vaccine, but these people are also at a lower risk of contracting swine flu.

Is one shot enough?

The single shot dose has been shown to be effective in people 10 years of age and older.  Children 9 years old and younger should receive the two-dose vaccine, spaced four weeks apart.

Does it matter whether I get the shot or the spray?
Both the shot and the spray have been show to be equally effective.  However, if you have a chronic respiratory disease such as asthma, you should get the shot.

Are there any side effects to the H1N1 vaccine?
Some people are worried that because the swine flu vaccine was developed so quickly, it might not be safe. However, there’s little cause for concern.  The H1N1 vaccine was created using the same process as the regular seasonal flu vaccine—we’ve just substituted H1N1 where we would have put another influenza strain.  You might feel a little achey and worn out as your body mounts an immunological response to the vaccine.  Like the seasonal flu vaccine, the H1N1 flu vaccine is grown in eggs, so people who have an egg allergy should consult their allergist about the appropriateness of receiving the vaccine.

Can I get it at the same time as my regular seasonal flu shot?
You should not get the H1N1 and seasonal flu nasal sprays at the same visit. However, you can receive swine flu shot at the same time as any other vaccine, including the seasonal flu vaccine.

Photo courtesy of Dr. Jackie Eghrari-Sabet.