By Rick Fromme
|Photo Credit: naturalnews.com|
Welcome back to our second edition of “Healthcare Headlines.” In a popular blog that was posted in late August (“Viruses, Bacteria and Headlines, Oh My!”), I had cited several international Ebola experts on Ebola who claimed that in their estimation, Ebola wouldn’t become a major issue in the U.S.:
“However, the CDC and other leading experts are virtually unanimous in emphasizing the likelihood of Ebola spreading like wildfire across the U.S. is very low. And if a developed country such as the U.S. should experience some isolated cases, our healthcare system has the wherewithal to deal with and contain the infection (in its current state).”
While to date, less than a handful of people in the U.S. have tested positive for Ebola, it remains to be seen if these experts’ prognostications will come to fruition (let’s hope so!) But Ebola is one of the key health issues making headlines right now, so I thought I would post some of the most recent news items concerning the disease.
New Ebola Study Finds it’s Best to Screen Outbound Flights
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As was published in the “The Lancet,” just this past Monday, the research concludes that screening airline travelers in order to block the virus' export would be far more effective if screening tests were conducted at airports inside the three stricken countries, rather than screening done in arrival countries such as the U.S.
The analysis suggests that on average, every 10.5 days, a single person infected with Ebola is likely to carry the virus by air from Liberia, Sierra Leone or Guinea to another country.
For public health officials considering the best protocol to stop passengers who could be exporting the Ebola virus, that pattern of international travel tilts the screening calculation vastly in favor of doing so at airports in those above-mentioned countries.
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Every international airline passenger screened at one of those three countries’ airports could be a carrier of thedeadly virus, the authors of the “Lancet” analysis assumed. Airports throughout the U.S. and other countries that aren’t permitting any direct flights from Liberia, Sierra Leone or Guinea. However, thermometer-wielding personnel would have to screen 2,512 passengers in order to find one who may have been exposed to Ebola.
In more disheartening news, the study suggests that countries that are presently the least able to manage the arrival of passengers are also most likely to receive infected passengers. Of those expected to travel internationally from the three West African countries affected by Ebola in 2014, more than 60% are likely to have final destinations in low- or lower-middle-income countries such as Ghana and Senegal.
Moreover, says study coauthor, Dr. Isaac I. Bogoch, screening passengers for Ebola symptoms such as fever will likely miss about 90% of those infected, since the virus' incubation is widely thought to be about 10 days, with the maximum incubation period of 21 days. For as many as nine days (in some cases, longer), an infected person would likely show no signs of fever, limiting the value of thermal screening.
GOP Leaders Say New Ebola Restrictions Don’t Go Far Enough
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CDC Tightens Rules on Caring for Ebola Patients
As of today, four people have been officially diagnosed with Ebola in the U.S. (The young boy in NYC who was thought to possibly infected tested negative for Ebola.) As stated on the Center for Disease Control's website, Cases of Ebola Diagnosed in the United States:
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"On October 10, a healthcare worker at Texas Presbyterian Hospital who provided care for the index patient tested positive for Ebola. The patient has since recovered and was discharged on October 24.
"On October 15, a second healthcare worker who provided care for the index patient at Texas Presbyterian Hospital tested positive for Ebola. The second healthcare worker had traveled by air October 13, the day before reporting symptoms. All passengers and crew on the two flights (Dallas to Cleveland on October 10, and Cleveland to Dallas on October 13) have since been contacted by public health professionals and are being monitored.
"On October 23, the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene reported a case of Ebola in a medical aid worker who had returned to New York City from Guinea, where the medical aid worker had served with Doctors Without Borders."
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Last Monday, U.S. health officials officially tightened guidelines for health workers treating Ebola patients, now requiring full body suits with no skin exposure and use of a full-time respirator.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) decided to issue the tougher rules after two Dallas nurses contracted Ebola while caring for the first patient diagnosed in the U.S., a Liberian national who was visiting in Texas. The first patient and procedures were in September. The two nurses were following Ebola guidelines that the CDC first issued in 2008 and had updated during the summer. However they ended up contracting the disease but have since recovered. The CDC now recommends a very specific set of gear to be worn by healthcare workers treating Ebola patients:
- Double gloves
- Waterproof boot covers that go to at least mid-calf
- Single-use waterproof or water-resistant gowns that extend to mid-calf
- Disposable, single-use, full-face shields
- Surgical hoods to ensure complete coverage of the head and neck
- Waterproof apron that covers the torso down to the mid-calf if the patient is vomiting or experiencing diarrhea
- Use of a respirator at all times ― either an N95 respirator or a powered air purifying respirator
- Healthcare workers must undergo rigorous and repeated training in donning and doffing all this gear, until it becomes "ritualized," the CDC emphasized.
A Breathalyzer to Detect Hospital-Acquired Infections
|Photo Credit: gizmag.com|
The company received $2.2 million in NIH-backed SBIR grants; the device is in the midst of a 110-patient trial at the University of Wisconsin.
The general idea, however, is that by using the non-invasive measurement of breath-based biomarkers, patients could be diagnosed and treated much quicker than if they wait for a lab results of, say, a blood test. The uses for Isomark’s test include initial disease detection in a clinic and other outpatient medical services, and importantly, post-op monitoring of patients who are at risk of contracting hospital-acquired infections such as sepsis and MRSA. Sepsis is a major problem in ICUs; the NIH estimates that 28-50% of the 750,000 Americans who develop it each year die.
Paralyzed Man Walks Again After Nose Cells Repair His Spinal Cord
|Photo Credit: techtimes.com|
The innovative procedure effectively provided a "bridge" over the injury site so nerve cells ― encouraged by the special nose cells ― could regrow across the scar tissue in his spinal cord.
The patient was left paralyzed from the chest down after suffering stab wounds to his back in 2010. After 19 months of treatment at a Polish hospital, his doctors say he’s recovered some voluntary movement patterns and has now regained some sensation in his legs.
The patient is continuing to improve further than predicted; he’s now able to drive and live more independently.
Vaccinations “Not Linked to Increased Risk of MS, CNS Disorders”
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Contracting some findings suggest in previous research studies, a new study published in “JAMA Neurology”didn’t correlate the association.
In this latest study, researchers set out to assess the link between vaccinations and MS and other Central Nervous System (CNS) disorders in more detail.
The researchers said they found no link between any vaccines ― including HPV vaccines and hepatitis B vaccines ― and an increased risk of MS or any other central nervous system disorder up to three years following vaccination.
However, they did find a link between vaccines and increased risk of CNS disorders among younger patients within the first 30 days after vaccination, but the association disappeared after 30 days. The researchers say this indicates that "at most, vaccines are redundant enhancers of pre-existing autoimmunity."
Health Tip: Dish Up Healthier Halloween Goodies
Young trick-or-treaters typically are overloaded with sugar-loaded candy, but that doesn’t mean you have to contribute to their soaring sugar levels. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics suggests these healthier Halloween options:
|Photo Credit: lindawagner.net|
- Vitamin C-packed, 100%-fruit chews
- Trans fat-free animal crackers or some sugar-free gum
- Small juice boxes with 100% fruit juice
- Small cups of low-fat pudding
- Halloween stickers, temporary tattoos, pencils or other non-food goodies.
In this second edition of “Healthcare Headlines,” I focused on some of the most current breaking news stories concerning Ebola. The first article cited a recently published study that suggests airport screening should be done in the countries that are experiencing the Ebola epidemic. I mentioned that GOP leaders want to see stronger restrictions set forth by the current administration. The third Ebola-oriented segment focused on the CDC’s new guidelines for healthcare workers treating Ebola patients pertaining to protective clothing. I also featured summaries of other recent medical news articles such as the development of a new breathalyzer that can sense the early onset of various infections, new advances in spinal cord surgery and repair, a new study that found no causal effect of vaccinations and CNS disorders and MS, and lastly, some healthy alternatives to sugar-laden candy for Halloween.
If you found this article useful, please feel free to click “Like” as well as share and repost it. If you have any questions or comments, as always, I’m eager to read them.
Rick Fromme combines entrepreneurial enthusiasm with an insider's knowledge of the medical industry to co-found MedMasters.com. Both his drive and perspective helps provide health care professionals with a superior mechanism with which to communicate, network and market their strengths. Prior to founding MedMasters.com, Rick operated a highly successful medical device distributorship. Other milestones in his 12-year career in the medical industry include a key position at a medical device start-up company that was later sold to the Ethicon Endo division of Johnson & Johnson. You may also reach Rick by connecting with him on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn and YouTube.