The battle over vaccinations has taken a turn for the worse in New York.
The widening measles outbreak has prompted public health officials to take extraordinary measures to limit the spread of the highly contagious virus.
The city of New York will be making unvaccinated people in high-risk areas in Brooklyn get immunized or they will face fines upwards of $1,000. Schools in Washington have barred hundreds of students from classes and school events due to an outbreak there.
Hospitals in some areas are currently screening kids who have a fever and/or a rash in the nation’s second-worst outbreak since the supposed elimination of measles in 2000.
But what about people who can’t – or shouldn’t – get vaccinated?
Of course, with any battle involving health, public trust must be taken into consideration. Parents vaccinate their children in order to protect them from preventable diseases. This also helps those who can’t get vaccinated due to age or other health issues like cancer.
We know that influenza, commonly known to us as the flu, is a very deadly illness that kills a number of people every year. But last year was no ordinary year.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention announced on Tuesday that over 80,000 people died from the flu last year, the highest death toll in decades. It was also announced by the CDC that over 900,000 people were hospitalized because of the flu.
Dr. Robert Redfield, the director of the CDC, revealed the numbers in an interview to the Associated Press (AP).
Most experts and people knew that last year’s flu season was going to be bad, but nobody had expected to see numbers this high. An average flu season can claim any from 12,000 to 56,000 deaths, which of course depends on how bad a flu season is. However, this past year exceeded those estimates.
CDC’s flu division director, Dr. Daniel Jernigan, told NBC News that while the numbers were very high, it was consistent with what happened last year.
The Surgeon General of the United States, Dr. Jerome Adams, flat out said in a news conference that the reason the flu had killed 80,000 people was that “they got it from someone. Someone gave them the flu.”
Adams noted that most of the people who had died did not have a flu shot.
The CDC does not count exactly how many adults die from the flu, but they do count how many children die from it. It was found that 180 children died from the flu last year, another high number of deaths.
The best way to prevent the flu is to get a flu shot and also tell your friends and family to get one as well. Just because you got your flu shot does not mean that you cannot get the flu.
If you do get sick from the flu, try to avoid people that are vulnerable to getting the flu. This includes children, elderly, and those who get sick easily. Lastly, do expect to go to the hospital if you get the flu. It can and will kill you if you do not prepare for it enough.
Ah, dorm life. The first couple weeks of Freshman year are debatably the most hypersocial time of your college career. You may binge on your newfound freedom and spend every waking moment with your new group of friends or partying until you can’t remember them. Or you might have been the type that stayed inside all day, despite several knocks on the door by the RA to leave your door open to socialize. Either way, you’re heavily encouraged to get out there and meet new people.
Then someone in your group of friends gets sick, but they don’t want to miss a moment of hanging out, so they decided to socialize anyway. Next thing you know, everyone in your group is sick, and everyone brings that sickness back to their roommates, and they, in turn, make their friends sick. So begins the annual event known as the Radford Plague.
You’re almost never alone in a dorm. You may wash your hands on the hour, or take a cocktail of immune boosters to keep you healthy, but your roommate might not be, and that makes you just as vulnerable.
With flu season coming up, you can protect yourself from the second Radford Plague by getting vaccinated and encouraging your friends to do the same.
Flu shots are the subject of some controversy, with critics questioning its effectiveness, as well as any number of government conspiracy theories to control the population. Such absurdities won’t be gratified here, but it’s important to understand how the vaccine works before judging whether it’s right for you.
When you get vaccinated, you’re injected with dead influenza particles, which your body then learns to make antibodies to protect against. So when you actually do come in contact with the virus, you’re already prepared to beat it. The reason some may not find it effective is because the CDC provides a flu shot for what it believes will be the most common strain of the flu, but this may not be the strain you contract. As such, the flu vaccine can never be 100% effective.
For those afraid of needles, the flu vaccine is also available in nasal spray form. Initial studies also seem to suggest that this form may actually be more effective than the shots.
Remember also that getting vaccinated is not only about protecting yourself. There is a small population that cannot be vaccinated. The elderly, and those with HIV and AIDS can have immune problems that prevent them from creating the antibodies to fight disease. Imagine being the one who brings a common cold to your group of friends and then finding out that a friend was immunocompromised and you inadvertently put them in the hospital. You have a responsibility to keep those around you safe, and you can do so by getting vaccinated.
This flu season, take care of yourself and your friends.
Since word got out about Thomas Eric Duncan (the man diagnosed with Ebola in TX), a lot of people seem in the US seem to have suddenly become concerned about their increasing likelihood of catching this deadly disease. The public reaction hasn’t been surprising; there have been posts asking why we haven’t closed the borders, outcries of why this man made it through airport security, and all kinds of questions about how to protect the American people.
Here’s the thing: a man came from Liberia with his wife to visit family in Dallas and didn’t develop worrisome symptoms until he was already on US soil. He must have contracted the illness right before the flight, as he had no fever or other symptoms that all the world’s airports are now trained to recognize. Of course, as soon as he became ill in TX, he went to a hospital, was soon diagnosed with Ebola, and has been quarantined ever since.
He isn’t even the first person to be treated in the US for Ebola. At least a handful of Americans have been diagnosed while overseas and brought back to the US to undergo treatment. Yet, despite the fact that not even the man’s wife has shown any sign of having contracted the illness, parents have been pulling their children from school and the public seems terrified, based on some loud outcries.
Why all the crazy?
Yes, Ebola has proved to be a horrible plague on West African countries who were not equipped to deal with the severity of the situation until it was too late to stop it. They are only now getting real help from countries such as the US in slowing down this disaster, despite the rising death toll that has now reached approximately 3,500.
However, the fact of the matter is that unless you have come in direct contact with an infectious (that means that they are already showing symptoms) person’s body fluids, you aren’t at risk. In order to contract Ebola you’d have to have a patient’s blood, urine, vomit, etc. reach your mouth, eyes, open wound, or some other form of direct contact with your insides.
The CDC has been very thorough in their quick response and hunting down anyone who could have come in contact with the Dallas patient since he stepped on that plane from Liberia.
Seriously. Unless you’ve had that direct contact, you don’t have Ebola. That high fever, body aches, weakness, abdominal pain, and vomiting is probably just the flu. Although, if you start having unexplained bruising and bleeding which you can’t explain, maybe go to the ER just in case.
EDIT: Since this article was written, it has been confirmed that Thomas Eric Duncan has passed away.
In response to the increasing need for assistance in the fight against Ebola in West Africa — already having spread through Liberia, Sierra Leone, Nigeria and the Democratic Republic of Congo — President Obama has volunteered 3,000 US troops, as well as supplies. What are the implications of this surge in US lives potentially exposed to the virus?
First, these troops will not be going in naked . They’ll have appropriate protection before entering areas of contagion. However, this doesn’t necessarily guarantee protection as the disease has steadily been spreading despite the best efforts of West African prevention and the international assistance that has already been given. Many troops will be helping with the disposal of bodies of those who have died from Ebola; which is one of the primary means of contraction of the virus, other than the transfer of bodily fluids.
Other than disposing of bodies, the US efforts will focus on training healthcare workers and building treatment and containment facilities. This all in the hopes of creating a sufficient foundation from which the disease can be managed before it spreads further through the continent.
This humanitarian effort will divert approximately $500 million from the overseas contingency budget focused on such things as the war in Afghanistan.
Over2,400lives have already been claimed by this particular outbreak of the disease and will only continue to rise and spread to other areas of the world, should it not be adequately contained.
The global response is escalating due to the many lives already lost and the absence of any real vaccine or cure, causing many families to turn their hopes towards black market medicines. These are a particular concern as the main method customers of this ideology are interested in is the blood of survivors. According to CNN “blood from survivors, referred to as convalescent serum, is said to have antibodies that can fight the deadly virus.” While the World Health Organization does tentatively approve of this experiment in a cure, they’re concerned about the non-prescribed or professionally-administered version desperate patients and families are turning to. This is due to the serious risk of further illness and death that can be caused by sharing blood and the insufficient research that has gone into this particular treatment method.
While natural and other immediately terrible disasters see a great response from the global and private world, health disasters usually don’t. Hopefully, however, with the response growing, the world will soon see the end to this disaster.
Recently, the US has been struck by the spread of a rare and severe respiratory virus, EV-D68. The illness with such a catchy name has already hospitalized several throughout the country and is making its way eastward. While this virus is no Ebola, it should give some cause for concern to students.
Illness around this time of year is pretty common, what with the weather changing rapidly (nearly on a daily basis) and students returning to a densely populated campus with many points of contact for new germs. It shouldn’t surprise any of us who have been around for a while that the student health center is usually packed by now. And all this is even before flu season. Sickness is nearly unavoidable.
So what can you do?
The CDC suggests some general and simple things to prevent illness. Avoid close contact, cover your nose and mouth, wash your hands, and basically do what your mom told you. Additionally, if you already are sick, please, please consider the rest of us and stay in your room! Its okay to miss class with a doctor’s note, right? So if you’re sick — whether it’s a cold or worse, go to the health clinic or your local care provider. Ask for a note and give it to your professor. Even presenting the paperwork from the health center after your visit will usually do the trick. Don’t believe me? Here’s a truth: your professor doesn’t want to catch it any more than your fellow students.
A get-out-of-class note isn’t the only thing offered through the Student Health Center attached to the COBE side of Moffet Hall, of course. They provide a whole list of services including flu shots, STD testing, prescriptions, almost anything your regular care provider at home could offer you. Most of these services are completely free to students, or at least ridiculously cheap.
Don’t worry too much about the line if you haven’t made an appointment (yeah, you can make an appointment), just make sure to take care of yourself when you’re sick and take care not to spread the love. Instead, take advantage of this convenient on-campus service and get better!
New science research at Stanford University and the University of Texas suggests that doctors may soon be able to treat HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) without the use of drugs. Gene research like this could be the future of modern medicine. Continue reading Treating HIV without drugs→
In a woman’s journey to aspire for gender equality, she can live like a man, dress in jeans, work in previously male-dominated fields, and now she can die like a man, too. Since the 50s, women have been celebrating their new-found liberation by lighting up their cancer sticks. Consequently, women have suffered a dramatic increase in lung cancer rates in recent decades leading to lung cancer becoming the lead cause of cancer death for women in the United States. Continue reading Lung cancer is no longer a prejudiced disease→