Blog Posts

Florida Clinic Pitches In To Help Volusia Residents Fight Coronavirus

April 3rd, 2020

The staff at Coastal Integrative Healthcare in Edgewater specializes in physical medicine and stem cell therapy, but when the impact of the coronavirus hit their community this week they put their skills to work in another way.

Bea Johnson fills a container with Coastal Integrative Healthcare’s own home-brew of hand sanitizer.

After learning that many of the people in and around Edgewater were running out of hand sanitizer, the Coastal Integrative Healthcare staff created a homemade version of the disinfectant that is offered up for free to area residents.

“We started hearing about a lot of at-risk people who didn’t have hand sanitizer or ran out of it, and because you can’t find it in the stores right now, we decided to make it ourselves to help people out,” says Timothy Steflik, DC, at Coastal Integrative Healthcare.

Using a recipe that one of their staffers knew, the CIH staff created about six gallons of hand sanitizer by mixing four gallons of isopropyl alcohol with two gallons of aloe gel. They then added some scents to it to erase the clinical odor of the alcohol.

“The isopropyl alcohol is what kills the viruses and mixing in the aloe gel gave it some consistency,” Dr. Steflik states. “The different scents make it smell nice, and once we had it made up, we set up a tent in our parking lot and distributed it from there.”

“We set up the tent so that people wouldn’t have to come into our building and touch the doorknobs and stuff, so it was just like some of the restaurants and places like that offering curbside service.”

Coastal Integrative Healthcare began distributing its homemade hand sanitizer this past Tuesday at 2:30 p.m. Shortly before that, a line of people, many of whom had brought their own containers, had assembled to take advantage of the giveaway.

“We also gave out some small containers that we made up ourselves to people who didn’t have one,” Dr. Steflik says. “The people we served were really happy because they literally couldn’t find it any of the stores.”

Coastal Integrative Healthcare’s giveaway also benefitted a nearby medical clinic that had run out of the disinfectant.

Coastal Integrative Healthcare remains open during the coronavirus crisis.

“We had several nurses and nurse practitioners come over from the Florida Health Care facility that’s just two businesses away from us,” Dr. Steflik confirms. “And that was important because they’re one of the eight testing centers for COVID-19 in our county and they had run out of it. So we filled up the bottles they brought and then gave them some more.”

Dr. Steflik says he is hoping to make another batch of hand sanitizer to give away to area residents and businesses next week. He’s worried, though, that a shortage of one of the key ingredients will prevent that from happening.

“We’re having a hard time buying isopropyl alcohol right now,” he says. “We have access to it through a distributor that most people don’t have and that’s how we got enough to make the first batch.

But it’s getting harder and harder to find. You can’t even buy it on Amazon right now, but we’re going to keep looking because we want to continue to do what we can to help the people in our community in some way.”

 

 

 

 

Anxiety Amid COVID-19

April 3rd, 2020

A national survey conducted March 18 and 19 by the American Psychiatric Association (APA) showed that the COVID-19 pandemic is significantly affecting the nation’s mental health. In the survey, half of US adults reported high levels of anxiety.

Among the survey respondents, 48 percent reported feeling anxious about the possibility of contracting COVID-19 themselves, and 40 percent said they were anxious about becoming seriously ill or dying from the virus. In addition, 62 percent reported being anxious about the possibility of a loved one contracting the illness.

The president of the APA, Bruce J. Schwartz, MD, suggests that this level of anxiety is appropriate given the current circumstances in this country. But he warns that the rate of mental distress in America could surge if the COVID-19 crises continues much longer.

It’s the uncertainty surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic that can cause the physical, emotional and mental reactions in people. If you have a high level of anxiety, you may experience feelings such as anger, rage, confusion, helplessness, sadness, depression and guilt. Other symptoms of anxiety that may occur include:

  • Tenseness or nervousness
  • Constant exhaustion
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Increased heart rate
  • Stomach upset
  • Constant crying
  • Isolation
  • Heavy use of alcohol and/or drugs

When these feelings don’t go away after a few weeks or get worse, it may be a good idea to seek professional help. Seek help from a trained professional if you or a loved one is unable to return to a normal routine, feel helpless, have thoughts of hurting yourself or others, or begin to use alcohol and drugs to excess.

People with pre-existing mental health conditions are especially vulnerable to stress and anxiety during crisis situations. During this current COVID-19 crisis, these individuals should continue with their treatment and be aware of new or worsening symptoms.

Here’s one example of worsening symptoms. A British charity for people with obsessive-compulsive disorder reports that it has received an increase in calls and emails from people with the disorder who were developing a new fixation on the coronavirus.

For help coping during these anxious times, try these tips, courtesy of HelpGuide article Coronavirus Anxiety:

  • Stay informed, but don’t obsess —  It’s important to check the news to stay informed about what’s going on, especially as circumstances change daily. You need to follow the news to know what to do to stay safe and help slow the spread of the virus. But there’s a lot of misinformation circulating and sensational reporting can fuel anxiety and fear, so be discerning about what and how much you read and watch.
  • Focus on things you can control – There are many things out of your control right now such as how long this crisis will last and how others will respond to it. Focusing on questions without clear answers will make you feel drained, anxious and overwhelmed. Try focusing on things you can control, such as following the recommended steps for preventing the spread of the virus.
  • Plan for what you can do – If you’re worried about your workplace closing, your children being home from school, having to self-quarantine or about a loved one getting sick, make note of these worries. Then, make a list of possible solutions and draw up an action plan. Concentrate your efforts on problems you can solve.
  • Stay connected – It’s been shown that social distancing is helping to curb the spread of the coronavirus, but being physically isolated can add to stress and anxiety. Make it a priority to stay in touch with family and friends. Schedule regular phone calls or chat via video or Skype. Connect with family and friends via social media. But don’t let the coronavirus dominate every conversation.
  • Take care of your body and spirit – The rules of staying healthy are especially important during times like these. Be sure to eat healthy, get plenty of sleep and exercise regularly. Practice a stress-relieving technique such as yoga, deep breathing or meditation to help keep stress at a minimum. Be kind to yourself if you’re experiencing more depression and anxiety than usual. Take time out for activities you enjoy, and try to maintain a normal routine while you’re stuck at home.
  • Help others – Focusing on others in need supports your community, and this is especially true in times of crisis. People who focus on others tend to be happier and healthier than those who act selfishly. Focusing on others can also make a positive impact on your mental health. Doing kind and helpful acts for others can help you regain a sense of control over your life and add meaning and purpose.

Remember, we’re all in this together!

The CBD Story

March 23rd, 2020

It seems like everywhere you look these days, there are ads for products containing CBD. I get emails almost every day hawking these products. But what do we really know about CBD and how does it work? Here’s a little overview of what I’ve learned about it, and it just touches the surface of the CBD story.

CBD, an abbreviation for cannabidiol, is one of the major active ingredients of cannabis, essentially marijuana. CBD is a vital constituent of medical marijuana, but it’s actually derived from the hemp plant, a close relative of the marijuana plant. Unlike its common co-ingredient tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), CBD doesn’t cause a “high.” CBD and THC are called cannabinoids.

In recent years, CBD has been reported to have beneficial effects on a wide variety of health disorders, including epilepsy, Parkinson’s disease, post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety and chronic pain. Researchers are still studying CBD’s exact method of action on the body, but one thing they’ve uncovered is its effect on the body’s natural endocannabinoid system (ECS).

The ECS is a complex cell-signaling system in the body. It plays a role in regulating a range of functions and processes including sleep, mood, appetite, memory, and reproduction and fertility. There are three main components involved with the ECS: endocannabinoids, receptors and enzymes.

Endocannabinoids, or endogenous cannabinoids, are molecules that are similar to plant cannabinoids, but are made naturally by the body. The two key endocannabinoids are anandamide (AEA) and 2-arachidonoylglyerol (2-AG). These molecules work to keep the body’s internal functions operating efficiently.

There are special receptors found throughout the body that the endocannabinoids can bind to, signaling the ECS to perform a function. The main receptors are CB1 and CB2. CB1 receptors are found primarily in the central nervous system, the brain and spinal cord. CB2 receptors are located primarily in the peripheral nervous system and immune cells.

CB1 and CB2 act as a lock, and the endocannabinoids are the keys. AEA and 2-AG can bind to either receptor, but their effects depend on where in the body the receptor is located and which endocannabinoid binds to it.

Benefits of activating CB1 receptors include relieving depression, reducing fear and paranoia, and lowering inflammation, blood pressure and anxiety. Targeting a CB1 receptor in a spinal nerve may also ease pain.

Changes in CB2 receptor function affects many human diseases including cardiovascular, gastrointestinal, neurodegenerative, psychiatric and autoimmune. Targeting a CB2 receptor in the immune cells can alert you that inflammation is present, which is common with many autoimmune disorders.

In addition, activating CB2 receptors induces immune system cells called macrophages to destroy the beta-amyloid protein that makes up the plaque found in the brains of people with Alzheimer’s disease.3

THC and CBD work on these endocannabinoid receptors as well. THC can bind to either CB1 or CB2 receptors. By doing that, THC has effects on the body and brain. Some of these effects are positive and some are not so positive. THC can bind to receptors and help reduce pain and stimulate appetite, but it can also make you paranoid and anxious.

The way CBD interacts with the ECS is still being investigated, but researchers do know that CBD doesn’t bind to CB1 or CB2 receptors directly. Most researchers believe CBD works by preventing AEA and 2-AG from being broken down, allowing them to have a stronger effect on the body’s proper functioning.

One of the indirect ways CBD induces therapeutic effects is by activating special receptors in the body called TRPV1 receptors. These receptors are involved in regulating pain, body temperature and inflammation.

CBD also inhibits fatty acid amide hydrolase (FAAH), which creates higher levels of the cannabinoids such as AEA, also known as the “bliss molecule.” It plays a role in the neural generation of pleasure and motivation. It also performs other important functions related to eating and embryo implantation during pregnancy.

Because CBD has an effect on the ECS, it helps to promote balance, or homeostasis, in the body. It also reduces the sensation of pain and inhibits inflammation. Research continues on the methods of action of CBD on the body. And as more information is uncovered, more practical uses for CBD may also be discovered. Stay tuned!

New Technology Brings Back the Old-time House Call

March 17th, 2020

What was old is now new again.

House calls, where a doctor arrives at your door with a black bag and stethoscope, are making a comeback.

Only this time, medical providers come equipped with portable X-ray machines, labs and even EKG machines.

“We’re bringing house calls back to medicine because we believe in high-quality patient-centered, convenient care,” says Dr. Paul Nanda, chief medical officer of Tampa General Hospital Urgent Care powered by Fast Track. “As medical providers, we want to provide a concierge service for our patients, convenient care when they need it most in the comfort of their own home.”

The hospital and its urgent care partner recently began offering house calls in South Tampa and Riverview, with plans to expand the service to other areas. A discounted fee of $149 is offered through Nov. 30; after that, the standard fee is $199 per visit.

The service provides treatments for cough, colds, sore throat, ear infections, eye problems, urinary tract infections, vomiting, rashes, fevers and sprains. Urgent Care at Home powered by Fast Track also provides medical testing and diagnostics for flu, strep, rapid RSV, urinalysis and more for anyone ages three months and older.

Tampa General Hospital’s move comes as startups threaten to disrupt the health care system across the nation with technology that allows physicians access to equipment and supplies that once bound them to offices.

Here’s how it typically works: patients can contact the services through an online app, the website or simply make a phone call. A staff member takes information about the person’s symptoms and determines if a house call is the appropriate method of treatment.

Anyone with an emergency is urged to call 9-1-1. Otherwise, the staff member schedules an appointment and sends the care team to the patient’s home. A mobile unit arrives with everything available at a traditional urgent care center.

DispatchHealth, a Denver-based company, offers in-home services in 10 markets across eight states. Florida is not one of those states, but according to its website,  the company is “coming soon” to Tampa.

It accepts most forms of insurance and says those with private insurance plans can expect to pay about $50 per visit. For those without insurance, services are available for a flat fee of $275.

DispatchHealth spokeswoman Andrea Pearson confirmed that the company will begin offering services to Tampa in 2020 but did not provide further details.

She said the house call services are “ideal for seniors and people who have frequent needs for acute medical care” as well as for those “who think the emergency room is their only option.”

The new doctor’s offices on wheels are getting the attention of more than just potential patients. A four-year-old tech startup called Heal has raised more than $75 million in venture capital and is backed by celebrity investors such as Lionel Richie and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush. Unlike Dispatch Health, which defines its role as an urgent care partner with established health care providers, Heal also provides preventive and primary care.

“It’s a concept for health care that is so simple, so cost-effective and so personal,” Richie told CNBC. “Patients love the individualized attention. Doctors love the fact they can practice medicine without all the administrative paperwork and expense of operating an office or clinic.”

Bush, who also sits on the Heal’s board, said the company, which now serves nine metro areas, told the network that he sees Heal eventually going national.

“There are managed-care companies interested in partnering with Heal, and doctors love it,” he said. “But scaling services in each market will take time.”

Even the federal government has gotten in on the act. A pilot project that was approved along with the Affordable Care Act incentivizes house calls for chronically ill Medicare patients in an attempt to keep them out of emergency rooms and lower health care costs.

The Independence at Home program reported a total savings of $24.7 million during the first three years, which included 10,000 patients in 15 locations.

According to the Center for Medicare and Medicaid, statistics from the fifth year in 2017 found that costs were reduced by an average of $2,711 per patient, about 8.4 percent below target expenditures.

In 2018, Congress extended the program until the end of 2020.

“Home-based primary care allows health care providers to spend more time with their patients, perform assessments in a patient’s home, and assume greater accountability for all aspects of the patient’s care,” according to Medicare officials.

“This focus on timely and appropriate care is designed to improve overall quality of care and quality of life for patients served while lowering health care costs by forestalling the need for care in institutional settings.”

Doctors Without Borders

March 8th, 2020

When much of the area in and around Managua, Nicaragua was destroyed by an earthquake in December 1972, humanitarians from all over the world pitched in to help the Central American country recover.

Among them were legendary baseball player Roberto Clemente and a team of volunteers, all of whom perished when the cargo airplane they were flying in crashed on New Year’s Eve 1972.

Also coming to the aid of Nicaraguans in the wake of that disaster was a fledgling organization known as Doctors Without Borders, which faced its first test as a relief agency during the Nicaraguan tragedy.

What, precisely, is Doctors Without Borders? It is an independent humanitarian non-government agency that provides various forms of medical assistance throughout the world.

Internationally, it is known as Medicines Sans Frontiers (MSF), for it was founded in Paris, France in December 1971 by a group of journalists and physicians who were of the belief that much international aid was obstructed by legal barriers and was also medically inadequate.

The simplest definition of the organization comes from a MSF promotional video: “Doctors Without Borders…provides aid to people whose survival is threatened by violence, neglect, or catastrophe, primarily due to armed conflict, epidemics, malnutrition, exclusion from health care, or natural disasters.”

In 2009, MSF was awarded the Nobel Prize for Peace. Accepting the award was MSF’s then President of International Council, Dr. James Orbinski, a Canadian physician and one of the many doctors, surgeons, and nurses who mostly comprise the medical sector of MSF.

MSF receives approximately three million dollars in fiscal assistance each year. More than 80 percent of those funds are used to finance MSF programs. The remainder goes to administrative, management, and fundraising duties and responsibilities.

More than 23,000 people work in all sorts of vocations for MSF, which has approximately 3,000 paid employees and 20,000 volunteers working across the globe.

Five of the 24 MSF offices are referred to by MSF officials as Operational Centers, or OCs, and all five are located on the European continent in Amsterdam, Barcelona, Brussels, Geneva and Paris.

Other MSF bureaus can be found in Toronto, Canada; New Delhi, India;  Rio de Janiero, Brazil; Dubai, United Arab Emirates and Taipei, Taiwan, which is the site of the first office on the Asian continent.

Interestingly, although MSF exists does work in more than 70 countries, the United States is not one of them. The reason for this is, according to the Doctors Without Borders website, is that “there are other organizations with experience serving these populations that are better placed to address these challenges.”

MSF employees and volunteers are independent of any political ideology and only once in the organization’s history – during the 1994 genocide between the Hutus and Tutsis in Rwanda – have its workers asked for military intervention.

Some of the more recent examples of MSF’s work include providing medical care for those affected by the outbreak of Ebola in the Democratic Republic of Congo earlier this year; the admittance of more than 50 people to a hospital in Yemen after they were injured while publicly demonstrating against various governmental policies in that country, and the providing of various psychotherapy services to people living with extreme pressures north of the West Bank.
Much of the world’s populace continues to have problems but MSF’s work to help people cope with their problems continues as the organization seeks to provide independent, neutral and impartial medical aid where it’s needed.

COVID-19: An Update

February 14th, 2020

The spread of the novel coronavirus, recently named COVID-19, which originated in the Chinese city of Wuhan, continues to dominate the news, and with good reason. As of Tuesday, February 11, the death toll from this virus topped 1,100.

(Krysten I. Houk/U.S. Department of Health and Human Services via AP, File)

FILE – This Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2020, file photo provided by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services shows evacuees from China arriving at Marine Corps Air Station in Miramar, Calif. An evacuee from China has tested positive for the coronavirus and has been isolated at a San Diego hospital, a person with direct knowledge of the matter tells The Associated Press, Monday, Feb. 10, 2020.

That exceeds the death toll from the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, or SARS, epidemic of 2003. During that epidemic, 8,000 people in China were infected by the virus and nearly 800 people died.

According to The World Health Organization (WHO), there are currently more than 45,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 infection in China alone. There are another 395 confirmed cases of infection in 24 other countries including the United States.

In fact, the total number of cases in the US rose to 13 when an evacuee transported from China to California was diagnosed with COVID-19 on Monday, February 10. This person left Wuhan on a State Department-chartered flight that carried 167 people from China to Marine Corps Air Station Miramar in Sand Diego on Wednesday, February 3.

Initially, four of the Wuhan evacuees were hospitalized when they showed signs of the pneumonia-like illness caused by COVID-19. These signs include cough, fever and shortness of breath. The four individuals were isolated in “negative pressure” rooms that prevented the inside air from escaping and spreading the virus. Fortunately, only one of the four ended up positive for COVID-19. It was the seventh confirmed case of the virus in California

Hundreds of other people were evacuated from China to other military bases in California, Texas and Nebraska. Five people who went to Travis Air Force Base between San Francisco and Sacramento were taken to the hospital when they showed symptoms of illness, but none of them tested positive for the virus.

Elsewhere, about 200 people who were sent to March Reserve Air Base in Southern California were scheduled to be released from a two-week quarantine. And no symptoms were reported among evacuees taken to Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio or Nebraska’s National Guard training base in Omaha.

In addition, at least 24 Americans are among the 135 people infected with COVID-19 aboard a cruise ship stranded in Japan.  More than 3,000 people are stuck on that ship, which became a floating quarantine zone after dozens of people tested positive for the virus. Currently, non-infected passengers are permitted to briefly leave their cabins to get fresh air, but they must wear masks and stay one meter away from each other.

Fortunately, there are some positive steps being taken to combat the COVID-19 outbreak. In China, Suzhou-based BrightGene Bio-Medical Technology announced that is has begun mass-producing an experimental drug from Gilead Sciences called remdesivir to battle the highly infectious COVID-19.

BrightGene said it must license the patent for remdesivir from Gilead Sciences, conduct clinical trials and get regulatory approval before it can put the drug on the market. Gilead Sciences invented the drug and patented it in China for use on coronaviruses. The company is working with Chinese, US and WHO officials to determine whether it can be used with COVID-19.

In addition, WHO officials announced that a vaccine against COVID-19 could be ready in 18 months. Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the National Institutes of Health, reported that early testing of the vaccine will likely begin in April. In the meantime, countries will have to use what resources they have to fight the virus.

For us, the best way to battle COVID-19, or any virus, is to take pre-emptive steps to prevent contracting and spreading it. To stay healthy, try following these tips:

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Cover your cough and sneeze with a tissue, then throw out the tissue.
  • Regularly clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
  • Stay at home when you are sick.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after going to the bathroom, before eating and after blowing your nose, coughing and sneezing

Fortunately, it’s unlikely you will become infected with COVID-19 unless you recently traveled to China, particularly Wuhan, or are in close contact with someone else who has. But if we all take steps to prevent and detect this virus, maybe we can keep the infection rate in the US from skyrocketing.

The Best Valentine’s Gift is a Healthy Heart

February 5th, 2020

Here we are in February already. We’ve gotten through the stress of the holidays and if you’re like me, you made promises to yourself to take better care of your health this year. So how’s that going for you? Hopefully, you’re making good on your promise to yourself.

Along those lines, February brings with it Valentine’s Day, and there is no better gift that you can give yourself, or your significant other, than a healthy heart. That’s why February is American Heart Month.

According to the CDC, heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States. Some of the biggest risk factors associated with heart disease are uncontrolled high blood pressure, high cholesterol and smoking. Other conditions can also put you at risk for heart disease. For example, carrying around extra weight puts undue stress on the heart. High blood sugar or diabetes can damage the blood vessels that help control the heart muscle. Unhealthy eating and inactivity are also risk factors.

To lower your risk, there are several things you can do. For starters, you can eat better and reduce your sodium intake. One way to do that is to fill at least half your plate with fruits and vegetables and eat foods low in trans-fat and saturated fat. And be sure to include whole grains, poultry, fish, and legumes in your diet.

Limiting sweets and sugar sweetened beverages will go a long way toward improving your heart health as well. And be sure to always choose foods rich in potassium and to limit your intake of red meats. Also, limit alcohol to no more than one drink per day, if you’re a woman, and two drinks a day if you’re a man. If you enjoy cooking, research some healthier recipes you think you’ll enjoy and maybe try something new.

Another critical step you can take to lower your risk for heart related problems is to avoid second hand smoke. And if you smoke, STOP! Sure, that’s easier said than done, but there are many cessation programs that can help.

If you can’t partake in one of those, there are other ways you can break your smoking habit or at least cut back on your smoking. Changing your routine is one such way. Instead of having a cigarette after a meal, go for a walk or brush your teeth. You can also make a list of the reasons why you want to quit and read the list every time you feel the urge to smoke. If you smoke when you drink, cut down on alcohol which will help you avoid those moments.

Another way you can improve your heart health is by finding a hobby you enjoy that will get you moving for a few hours each week. Bicycling, walking or jogging, rollerblading, yoga, tennis, or any activity that gets your heart pumping will do the trick. Just be sure to choose something you actually enjoy. That way, you’ll actually look forward to the activity. Staying active and engaging in regular physical activity helps reduce blood pressure, helps control blood sugar, as well as helps control your weight. All of these will help you reduce your risk for heart disease.

It’s also important to have your healthcare provider do a blood test to measure your cholesterol levels. You will want to know your total cholesterol, LDL (bad) cholesterol and HDL (good) cholesterol as well as your triglycerides (blood fats). Having a higher level of HDL can lower your risk of heart attack and stroke. High levels of LDL on the other hand, can raise your risk because it can build up inside the arteries and form plaque which reduces blood flow. Triglycerides are the most common type of fat in your body and a major energy source. High triglycerides can cause hardening of the arteries or thickening of the artery walls, increasing the risk of stroke, heart attack and heart disease. Ask your healthcare provider for ways to best manage your levels.

Finally, you want to try to reduce the stress in your life wherever possible. Meditation, yoga, performing deep breathing exercises, or taking a nice hot bath can all help with this. We live in a world that is constantly on the go. Stress is inevitable but if we can limit it, or try to control it, we can help protect our heart.

Written by Laura Engel

New Chinese Virus Spreading Rapidly, Hits US

January 21st, 2020

One of the biggest stories making headlines today concerns the recently identified coronavirus in China that’s spreading rapidly, even outside of China to the United States. Chinese health authorities report that as of midnight Tuesday, the number of confirmed cases of infection from this virus rose over 440. On Monday, the total number of cases in China was 219.

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock

Medical staff carry a patient into the Jinyintan hospital, where patients infected with a new strain of Coronavirus identified as the cause of the Wuhan pneumonia outbreak are being treated, in Wuhan, China, Jan. 18, 2020.

According to Chinese health officials, at least nine people have died from the pneumonia-like illness caused by the virus that is being called 2019 -novel coronavirus, or 2019-nCoV. In addition, 169 people are being treated at the local hospital in Wuhan, the city of 11 million people at the center of the outbreak where a number are in critical condition.

There have been cases of 2019-nCoV infection identified in other Asian nations as well. Cases were found in Thailand, Japan and South Korea, and on Tuesday, the first case of infection from the virus was confirmed in the US in a Washington man who recently traveled to Wuhan.

The Washington man is doing well medically, according to reports but is being kept in isolation as a safety precaution. Like the man in Washington, the infected patients found in Thailand, Japan and Korea are all people who are from or had traveled to Wuhan before arriving in those nations.

Chinese health officials have determined that the point of origin for the new coronavirus is a popular seafood and animal market in Wuhan. The market has since been disinfected and closed. Initially, the mode of transmission for the virus was believed to be animal to human, but on Monday, China’s National Health Commission confirmed that there have been cases involving human-to-human transmission, including a hospital patient who infected 14 health care workers.

This revelation has health officials across the globe worried, especially as millions of Chinese are expected to travel to celebrate the Chinese New Year. The celebration begins January 25 and runs until February 8. Thus far, there have been no confirmed cases of 2019-nCoV infection outside of Asia.

In an effort to keep the virus from spreading in the US, officials from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) began screening airline passengers arriving in the US from Wuhan last weekend.

As part of this undertaking, more than 100 CDC officials have been stationed at San Francisco International Airport, New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport and Los Angeles International Airport. Approximately 5,000 passengers from Wuhan are expected to pass through those airports during the coming weeks.

Starting this week, the screening process will be expanded to include Hartsfield-Atlanta International Airport and Chicago O’Hare International Airport. And as of Tuesday afternoon, the CDC raised its travel notice for Wuhan from level one to level two, “practice enhanced precautions.”

The CDC officials are screening passengers from Wuhan for symptoms of the 2019-nCoV virus, which include fever, cough and respiratory difficulties such as shortness of breath.

Courtesy of the CDC

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is closely monitoring an outbreak caused by a novel (new) coronavirus first identified in Wuhan City, Hubei Province, China.

The new Chinese virus, which was identified earlier in January as a type of coronavirus similar to the virus that caused the SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) outbreak in the early 2000s. During that outbreak, the SARS virus sickened more than 8,000 people and left 774 dead in 29 countries.

Coronaviruses are types of viruses that typically affect the respiratory tract of mammals, including humans. They are associated with a wide variety of illnesses including mild illnesses such as the common cold and more serious, even deadly, illnesses such as SARS and MERS, or Middle East Respiratory Syndrome, which is fatal in 30 percent to 40 percent of people who contract it.

Coronaviruses got their name from the crown-like projection on their surfaces. Corona means “halo” or “crown” in Latin. In humans, coronavirus infection occurs most often during the winter months or in early spring. People can catch a second coronavirus a few months after recovering from one because their antibodies don’t last very long. Also, antibodies for one strain of coronavirus may be useless against other strains.

Courtesy of Getty images.

The Huanan Seafood Market in Wuhan, which has been linked to the new coronavirus, has been disinfected and closed.

There is no cure for coronavirus infection, so treatment involves taking good care of yourself. It’s important that you rest, drink plenty of water, avoid smoking and smoky areas, and use a humidifier or cool mist vaporizer in your bedroom. In addition, take over-the-counter medication to treat your fever, cough and other symptoms.

To prevent spreading coronaviruses, use your common sense and practice good hygiene. If you’re feeling sick, stay home and rest to avoid close contact with others, Cover your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing, Wash your hands frequently, especially before and after touching objects that others also handle.

With everyone’s diligent attention, we can keep China’s 2019-nCoV virus from spreading through the US. Will you do your part in this prevention effort?

America’s Suicide Crisis

January 20th, 2020

The United States is in a suicide crisis. America’s rate of suicide, now its 10th leading cause of death overall, has increased by more than 33 percent since 1999. That was among the findings of a US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention National Center for Health Statistics research study. The results of the study were released in June.

The worst thing you can do for someone dealing with suicide or expressing suicidal thoughts is remain quiet. Speak up, reach out, learn the best way to offer support.

The Center for Health Statistics’ research discovered that suicide among Americans ages 15 to 64 rose from 10.5 per 100,000 people in 1999 to 14 per 100,000 in 2017, the most recent year with available data. That number represents the highest suicide rate in the US since World War II.

Federal data released in October showed that suicide rates are climbing in nearly every state and across age groups and ethnicities. The suicide rate for young Americans ages 10 to 24 increased 56 percent from 2007 to 2017. It’s at its highest rate this century. Suicides by active-duty military and veterans are also on the rise.

According to one study, 10 million Americans seriously considered suicide in 2018. That certainly sounds like a crisis to me.

All of these studies confirm that suicide is a significant public health problem. The CDC also reports that on average, 129 Americans die by suicide each day. Suicide claims 47,000 lives each year. That number is probably much higher considering not all suicides are reported. Men die by suicide three and a half times more often than women, but women are more likely to attempt suicide.

It’s also been determined that 90 percent of people who died by suicide had a diagnosable mental health condition at the time of their death. And if it’s diagnosable, it’s most likely treatable. Suicide affects us financially as well. It costs this nation at least $69 billion per year in medical costs and lost work productivity.

Suicide is an equal opportunity problem. Anyone can be at risk, and those risk factors are varied. They include depression, substance abuse disorder, mental health disorder or a family history of such disorders. Other risk factors include previous attempted suicide, a family history of suicide, a history of physical or sexual abuse, the presence of guns in the home or an experience with a painful medical illness.

The reasons people die by suicide are complex. In general, they react to, think, and make decisions differently than people who are not suicidal. One researcher suggests there are six main reasons people kill themselves.

In many cases, people who attempt suicide or succeed at it are depressed, which typically comes with a pervasive sense of suffering, as well as a belief that their situation is hopeless. Some people who commit suicide are psychotic, some are impulsive, some are crying out for help, and others have a philosophical desire to die. This desire can develop when people have a painful, terminal illness.

Whatever the cause, it’s imperative to know the warning signs for suicide, especially if you or a loved one has any of the risk factors. Most people who take their lives by suicide show one or more warning signs in the way they talk and behave.

Be alert if someone you know starts talking about killing themselves, or about feeling hopeless or having no reason to live. Other verbal warning signs include talking about being a burden to others, feeling trapped or being in unbearable pain.

Certain behaviors may be warning signs as well, especially if they are linked to a painful event, loss or major change. These behaviors include increased use of drugs or alcohol, looking for methods to end their life, withdrawing from activities and becoming isolated socially, visiting or calling people to say goodbye and giving away prized possessions.

Preventing suicide is the goal, and help is available. If you or a loved one is contemplating suicide, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255) to reach a trained counselor. Use that same number and press “1” to reach the Veterans Crisis Line.  For crisis support in Spanish, call 1-888-628-9454.

In emergencies, call 911 or seek care from a local hospital or mental health provider. Today, many hospitals and mental health providers have redesigned their practices to include research-backed tools for determining a patient’s risk for suicide. These providers then use proven interventions to prevent suicide and initiate the patient’s recovery.

Florida Flu Cases on the Rise in 2019

January 6th, 2020

With the peak of flu season upcoming, it’s important to look back at beginning of the 2019-2020 flu season, as the number of people catching influenza is already outpacing what physicians have seen in the past.

According to the Florida Department of Health, 16 outbreaks were reported during the week of Nov. 23, up from nine the week before. Of those, nine were confirmed influenza, while seven were illness with flu-like symptoms. Six counties – Hillsborough, Pinellas, Miami-Dade, Collier, Lake and Escambia – reported five or more new cases that week.

Schools across the Sunshine State have been the hardest hit this year, unlike previous seasons where facilities serving older adults reported more cases.

Overall infection rates remain mild in most Florida counties, however. The predominant strain so far has been B Victoria, which has symptoms that mimic Strain A. However, unlike strain A, influenza B is contracted only by humans. This allows strain A to spread faster than B, which makes a pandemic less likely.

A prevalence of strain B early in the season is rare, and it could mean that folks are in for a second wave caused by stain A. Last year, a second wave hit and extended the flu season through spring. The last time that strain B dominated nationally was during the 1992-93 season. However, experts say the 2019-20 season appears to pose less of a threat.

“Overall, this season has not been as scary. Of course, it’s still early,’’ Ogbonnaya Omenka, assistant professor and public health specialist at Butler University told USA Today. “So far, different health departments have been able to contain it in ways that have allowed us not to have some type of significant outbreak or problem.’’

Nationally, activity continues to increase but the amount of activity and flu strains vary by region. Also, four of 10 regions in the United States were at or above their baselines in the number of visits to outpatient providers, with 2.9 percent of all visits reported as flu-like illnesses. That’s up from 2.4 percent reported during each of the past three weeks, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The flu has already killed five pediatric patients this season.

As for this year’s vaccine, it’s still too soon to determine its effectiveness. However, the fact that World Health Organization changed the strains for the upcoming season in the Southern Hemisphere may indicate what one epidemiologist described as “a mismatch.”

That said, a vaccine still gives you better odds that you would get in Vegas and are still available in most areas. Health care providers say it’s never too late to get one. In addition to a vaccine, other ways of preventing the spread of flu are to avoid being around people who are sick, stay home when you are sick, cover coughs and sneezes with your elbow, and of course, regular handwashing. Here are tips on proper handwashing techniques.

Page 4 of 24