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2009 H1N1 toll in the United States

November 3, 2010 2 comments

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has tabulated estimates of the toll the 2009 H1N1 pandemic took  in the United States. The numbers are sobering and require no additional comments. The CDC tabulated the numbers through direct observation in 62 counties covering 13 metropolitan areas of 10 states, which were then extrapolated to the entire US Population. So without further ado, here is what the 2009 H1N1 pandemic did in the US.

  • Total Cases60,837,748 (yep, millions) which break down as such:
    • 0-17 years   – 19,501,004
    • 18-64 years – 35,392,931
    • 65+ years – 5,943,813
  • Hospitalizations274, 304 which break down as such:
    • 0-17 years    – 86,813
    • 18-64 years  – 160,229
    • 65+ years     –  27,263
  • Deaths – 12, 469 which break down as such:
    • 0-17 years    – 1,282
    • 18-64 years  – 9,565
    • 65+ years     –  1,621

So, to put this in perspective. If you’re a 30-year-old such as myself, over 9,500 of our peers have died; 1,282 of our children are dead, and 1,621 of our parents are gone, all due solely to H1N1 flu. Chances are then, there is someone out there who lost his spouse, child and one parent to this disease. Makes you think twice about not vaccinating no?

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California whooping cough outbreak update 10-26-10

October 28, 2010 1 comment

The California Department of Public Health has released the latest numbers, as of 10/26/10. Unfortunately, a new death has been recorded since I last reported on this outbreak.

  • 6,257 confirmed, probable and suspect cases of pertussis reported in 2010, for a staterate of 16 cases/100,000.
    • Case Classification:
      -Confirmed: ~67%  (4,192)
      -Probable: ~16%     (1,001)
      -Suspect: ~17%       (1,064)
  • This is the most cases reported in 60 years when 6,613 cases were reported in 1950, and the highest incidence in 51 years when a rate of 16.1 cases/100,000 was reported in 1959.
  • 154 (58%) of hospitalized cases were infants ❤ months of age, and 201 (75%) were infants <6 months of age.
  • 153 (76%) of the hospitalized infants <6 months of age with known race and ethnicity were Hispanic.
  • 10 deaths have been reported; 9 (90%) were Hispanic infants. Nine fatalities were infants <2 months of age at time of disease onset and had not received any doses of pertussis-containing vaccine;the 10th victim was an ex-28 week preemie that was 2 months of age and had received the first dose of DTaP only 15 days prior to disease
    onset.
  • Rates are highest in infants <6 months of age (317.2 cases/100,000), in children aged 7-9 years (46.8 cases/100,000) and children aged 6 months-6 years (38.4 cases/100,000)

Vaccine Preventable Death – Raymond Plotkin

October 26, 2010 2 comments

Age at death – 18 years

Cause of death –H1N1 (Swine Flu)

Vaccination Status – Unvaccinated

What happened – Raymond Plotkin, was a freshman at the University of New Mexico. He was studying to become an engineer. He started class in August 2009 as a freshman interested in Chemical and Nuclear Engineering. He enjoyed his roommates and living in a dorm as part of the Engineering Living Learning Community. In 2009 he had the regular flu shot, but due to shortages of  the vaccine, he wasn’t able to get the H1N1 vaccine.

While Raymond had health issues growing up, he had no problems in the last couple of years, according to family members. Doctors told the family they do not believe underlying health problems contributed to his death

He died on Wednesday evening of  November 11, 2009, four days after being admitted in the hospital. Said Raymond’s mother:

“It was a terrible tragedy. It could have been prevented had there been vaccine,”

“We are strongly recommending that because Raymond couldn’t take his shot last year, that this year everyone, that whether you’re a child, adult, parent, grandparent, we all take one for Raymond,”

People are getting complacent about H1N1. Please remember what happened to Raymond and get both the seasonal flu and H1N1 vaccines as soon as you can.

Raymond’s family has set up a scholarship fund in honor of Raymond’s memory. The first scholarship was awarded to Sean Chavez, a 2010 graduate of Albuquerque High School and computer engineering student at UNM.

For more information about the fund, please contact Susan Georgia, UNM School of Engineering Development Office at 505 – 277-0664; sgeorgia@​unm.​edu.

Contributions can be sent to:

UNM Foundation/Raymond Plotkin Fund

ATTN: Susan Georgia, Development Office

UNM School of Engineering

Centennial Engineering Center

MSCO1 1140

1 University of New Mexico

Albuquerque, New Mexico 87131 – 0001

My deepest condolences go to Raymond’s family. I am very sorry for your loss.

Sources

KVue.com

New Mexico Daily Lobo

The University of New Mexico

Khou.com

Whooping cough claims 10th baby in California

October 20, 2010 Leave a comment

The bad news keep on coming; the 10th baby, yet another 6-week-old,  has succumbed to the whooping cough outbreak in California. All the babies who have died this year were too young to be fully immunized, so health officials are urging parents and caretakers to get booster shots to create a cocoon of immunity around vulnerable children. Our hearts and thoughts go to the families of these 10 innocent infants during these tragic times in their lives. We are very sorry for your loss.

Everything you ought to know about the flu

October 20, 2010 2 comments

Well, not exactly everything, but a lot.

What is “the flu”?

Influenza, or “the flu” is an extremely contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza A or B viruses. Flu appears most frequently in winter and early spring. The flu virus attacks the body by spreading through the upper and/or lower respiratory tract. There are 3 types of flu viruses, A, B and C which can cause the flu, and new strains (especially the A type) evolve every few years.

Type A viruses are responsible for major flu epidemics every few years. Type B is less common and generally results in milder cases of flu. However, major flu epidemics can occur with type B every three to five years. There is a third type of virus, C, which also can infect but does not produce flu symptoms.

What are the symptoms/effects of the flu?

Besides generally making one feel miserable, here is a list of some of the most typical flu symptoms/effects.

  • Headaches
  • Severe aches and pains in the joints and muscles and around the eyes
  • Cough
  • Respiratory congestion
  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Fatigue & exhaustion
  • Severe flu can lead to pneumonia
  • Sore throat and watery discharge from your nose

Are there any complications that can arise from the flu?

The most common flu complications include viral or bacterial pneumonia, muscle inflammation, and infections of the central nervous system or the sac around the heart. Other flu complications may include ear infections, sinus infections, dehydration, and worsening of chronic medical conditions, such as congestive heart failure, asthma, or diabetes.

Those at highest risk for flu complications include adults over 50, children ages 6 months to 4 years, nursing home residents, adults and children with heart or lung disease, people with compromised immune systems (including people with HIV/AIDS), and pregnant women.

How does flu spread?

The flu is spread from person to person through respiratory secretions and typically sweeps through large groups of people who spend time in close contact, such as in daycare facilities, school classrooms, college dormitories, military barracks, offices, and nursing homes.

Flu is spread when a person inhales droplets in the air that contain the flu virus, make direct contact with respiratory secretions through sharing drinks or utensils, or handle items contaminated by an infected person. In the latter case, the flu virus on your skin infects you when you touch or rub your eyes, nose, or mouth. That’s why frequent and thorough hand washing is a key way to limit the spread of influenza. Flu symptoms start to develop from one to four days after infection with the virus.

Will one catch the flu if one goes out in the cold or gets wet by cold rain?

No. The flu is a viral infection; you need to come in contact with the flu virus to get infected. Feeling cold or being wet does not give you the flu. It might give you a runny nose though and other symptoms that may be reminiscent of the flu, but it does not cause a flu infection.

What are the symptoms/effects of the flu vaccine?

The most common side effects of the flu vaccine (both inactivated and LAIV) include mild:

  • Swelling at the site of the injection (inactivated only)
  • Headache
  • Cough
  • Body ache
  • Fever

When should one get the flu vaccine?

As soon as it is available.

How many types of flu vaccines are there?

There are two types of flu vaccine. Inactivated and LAIV. The inactivated vaccine is given as a shot, generally in the arm, while the LAIV version is a nasal spray. The main difference between the two is that the inactivated, or the shot, contains dead viruses, whereas the LAIV version contains alive, but extremely weakened, viruses. Because of that, the spray is expected to be more effective in inducing an immune reaction than the shot.

Why is the flu vaccine different every year?

Two of the three flu viruses are responsible for causing flu, type A and type B. Type A has 16 subtypes, while Type B is not categorized by subtypes.  They both can mutate, especially type A which results in new strains every few years. Every given year, any combination of various strains of the various subtypes of A and of Type B can be in circulation and causing flu.

Every given year, both the LAIV and Inactivated vaccine contain three strains of influenza virus that are chosen each year based on what scientists predict will be the circulating viruses for the flu season. Given the long production times, it is impossible to know for sure which strains will be prevalent in the upcoming season, so every year scientists have to do their best to predict what they think will be the prevalent strains. Usually this process is done months ahead of the actual flu season. This is why the flu vaccine is different each year, and why we have to get re-vaccinated each year.

Which strains does the 2010 vaccine protect against?

Every year, the flu vaccine, protects against 3 specific strains of viruses that cause flu. The 2010 vaccine protects against two A viruses and one B virus. This year the vaccine protects against these 3 strains:

  • an A/California/7/2009 (H1N1)–like virus (Swine Flu)
  • an A/Perth/16/2009 (H3N2)–like virus
  • and a B/Brisbane/60/2008–like virus

Can you get the flu from the flu vaccine?

No! You cannot get the flu from the flu vaccine. You may, however, experience some flu-like symptoms, which can be experienced from any vaccine in some cases and doesn’t have anything to do with the actual disease you’re being inoculated against.

How effective is the flu vaccine?

The effectiveness of the flu vaccine depends on the strains in circulation and the strains the vaccine prevents from. When the vaccine viruses and circulating viruses are well-matched, the vaccine can reduce the chances of getting the flu by 70% to 90% in healthy adults.

Can you get the flu, even if you get vaccinated?

Yes. Firstly, as we already saw, the 3 strains in the flu vaccine have to be guessed in advance of the flu season. If there is a good match between the predicted strains and the actual strains in circulation, the vaccine will provide good protection. On the other hand, even if there is a perfect match, no vaccine is 100% effective, so even then a person who got vaccinated may still develop the flu. However, in general, people who are vaccinated experience milder symptoms than the non-vaccinated ones.

Who should get the flu vaccine?

Except for high risk groups that are advised to skip the vaccine, it is recommended that everyone over 6 months of age should get the flu vaccine.

Who should not get the flu vaccine?

Anyone with a severe allergy to eggs or egg products should not get a flu shot. Other people who should not get a flu shot include:

  • Infants under 6 months old.
  • Anyone who has had a severe reaction to a past flu shot or nasal spray.
  • Someone with Guillain-Barre syndrome.
  • People with moderate to severe illness with a fever; they should be vaccinated after they have recovered.

How Long Am I Contagious After I Get the Flu?

You are contagious for up to seven days after the onset of the flu, although the flu virus can be detected in secretions up to 24 hours before the onset of symptoms. This means you might transmit the flu virus a full day before your flu symptoms begin.

In young children, the flu virus can still be spread in the secretions even into the second week of illness.

How Can I Prevent the Flu?

To prevent the flu, be sure to keep your hands clean — making sure to wash them frequently to remove germs — and get a flu shot. The CDC develops a flu vaccine based on the type A strain that they believe will be most prevalent in the coming flu season. This is the vaccine you get with the annual flu shot or FluMist nasal spray.

Give me some statistics please?

-Every year during flu season, 1 in 20 Americans will contract the disease. Some years incidence can be as high as 1/5.

-Annually there are about 200,000 hospitalizations and an average of 23,600 annual deaths from the flu  in the US alone.


Sources

WebMD

Flu.gov

CDC Flu Website

World Health Organization Influenza Page

Indiana on track to highest whooping cough rates in 24 years

October 18, 2010 1 comment

Indiana state officials are reporting  that Indiana is on track to see it’s highest whooping cough rates in 24 years. As of mid-September, the number of whooping cough cases reported to the Indiana State Department of Health for 2010 had surpassed 390, close to the total number for 2009, which had a total of 400 cases reported.

“Infants are the most vulnerable and they can die from the  disease,” said Dr. John Christenson, director of Pediatric Infectious Disease at Riley Hospital for Children in Indianapolis. “But teenagers and adults serve as the vectors for the disease, transmitting it to infants who have no immunity.”

A new state law this year requires all students in grades six through twelve to get a booster shot. For details in Indiana’s school immunization requirements, you can refer to the Q&A posted at the Indiana State Department of Health website.

Vaccine Preventable Death – MaryJo Aglubat Kwett

October 15, 2010 4 comments

Age at death – 16 years

Cause of death – Meningococcus

Vaccination Status – Unvaccinated

What happened – MaryJo was a vibrant and intelligent girl who thoroughly loved life. Her mother, Rose, is a registered nurse. Early Saturday morning as Rose was getting ready for work, MaryJo complained of a sore throat. Rose examined her, but noted no unusual signs and recommended some Tylenol and lots of fluids. She checked on her later but MaryJo only mentioned feeling a little weak. In the afternoon, MaryJo telephoned her mother because she had developed brownish spots on her face. This was the first ominous sign that she was very ill. Rose was terrified as it hit her that she might have meningitis! This disease is frightening because it masquerades as the flu then suddenly bursts into a deadly conflagration.

She rushed home and found MaryJo seated on the sofa with blotchy purplish rash on her face. Brown rashes or purplish blotches indicate the infection has invaded the blood stream. Rose immediately called 911. She was taken to the emergency room where blood work and a spinal tap confirmed the diagnosis. Her body was overwhelmed by the infection that her condition deteriorated rapidly. Thirteen hours after her initial symptoms, MaryJo died from a bacterial blood infection that is vaccine-preventable. Writes Rose:

I felt devastated like the world just imploded in me! My heart was pierced right in the middle by this sharp awful arrow and weighted by a gigantic anvil. MaryJo’s face, with a tranquil smile, was still beautiful despite its purplish hue. I felt her presence hovering for a moment, before she ascended with the angels. Everybody was in a state of shock and disbelief due to the unexpected loss of this young and gifted person.

The sudden death of a healthy teenager is a shock to everyone. According to CDC (Centers for Disease Control and prevention), the Sacramento County Health Dept. and local practicing physicians, “the meningococcal vaccine is not recommended because it is expensive, the number of cases is rare, vaccinating teenagers is not cost effective and the number of deaths are negligible”. However, the devastating effect of losing a loved one to this disease is anything but “negligible”.MaryJo is remembered for her loving, spirited dedication to helping others. In her journal she wrote: “Others should be remembering us for our positive influence on the lives of those around us. We should be known because we changed someone’s life”.

The lives of our children will not be in vain. I want others to know that meningitis can happen to anyone, anywhere and at anytime even to accomplished healthy teens. Since MaryJo’s death, MAK – Meningitis Awareness Key to prevention, a nonprofit organization, was founded to campaign for increased meningitis awareness, to advocate for legislation & resolutions, and to collaborate with other agencies in support of meningitis vaccination programs.

My deepest condolences go out to MaryJo’s mother and the rest of her family. I am very sorry for your tragic loss.

Sources

Makinfo.org

The Sacramento Bee