Posted in BE SAFE, Disaster Preparedness, Health & Welfare, Uncategorized, Vaccinations, Vaccines, Zika Virus

Vaccine Matters

cartoon doctor with a syringe

In the United States, children and adults receive vaccinations for a variety of preventable diseases. We pooches receive vaccinations as well. By the way, do you know what Heartworm is? The name disturbs me. Many vaccines are recommended because they not only protect the child who is vaccinated, but also create what is commonly known as “herd immunity,” which provides protection for the broader community.

This is particularly helpful for people with weakened immune systems. While some parents worry about some of the substances found in vaccines, many such fears can be alleviated by researching information provided by the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) as well as the World Health Organization (WHO).

The basic ideas behind vaccines was first developed by Hippocrates in 400 B.C. When I was a younger pup, I thought his name was about crates given to hippos. He identified several diseases and suggested that cures could be developed. In 1798, Edward Jenner proposed a cure for smallpox might be found by inoculating healthy individuals. Known as the father of immunology, Jenner’s work later came to be called variolation, wherein healthy individuals were exposed to a disease in order to build immunity. Other medical professionals, such as Louis Pasteur and Jonas Salk, capitalized on Jenner’s seed work. These pioneers eradicated some of the world’s most dangerous and contagious diseases.

Microscope

Ground-breaking vaccinations currently available to children and adults throughout the world:

  • Cholera
  • Diphtheria
  • Hepatitis A
  • Hepatitis B
  • Herpes Zoster (shingles)
  • Human papillomavirus (HPV)
  • Influenza (the flu)
  • Invasive Haemophilus Influenzae Disease
  • Invasive Meningococcal Disease
  • Invasive Pneumococcal Disease
  • Japanese Encephalitis
  • Measles
  • Mumps
  • Pertussis (whooping cough)
  • Poliomyelitis (polio)
  • Rabies (This is one I have heard of in my circles.)
  • Rotavirus
  • Rubella (German Measles)
  • Smallpox
  • Tetanus
  • Tick-Borne Encephalitis
  • Tuberculosis (BCG Vaccine)
  • Typhoid
  • Varicella (chickenpox)
  • Yellow Fever

Preventive immunization is crucial, as some of the aforementioned diseases still result in death. For example, in 2015, a case of the measles killed the first person in the U.S. in 12 years, which many scientists blame on falling vaccination rates. Rabies kills nearly 50,000 people annually, due to incomplete vaccination efforts and the frequent interactions between people and rabies-carrying animals. That’s scary stuff!Fotolia_62710469_XS

Vaccine Success

Smallpox

Especially alarming due to its high mortality rate, Smallpox is said to have killed 300-500 million people in the 20th century. The disease is one of two to have been officially declared “eradicated.” This represents a global achievement and underscores the need for aggressive vaccine research to help combat new worldwide threats.

Polio

Polio is another disease eliminated from the U.S. due to successful vaccine programs. The disease used to cripple tens of thousands of people a year. It still remains a global threat, but is much reduced due to widespread vaccinations developed famously in the 1950s by Jonas Salk.

Vaccines on the Horizon

Developing new vaccines is tricky and requires considerable funding and forward-thinking science.

Here are some of the more pressing diseases and associated efforts to create vaccines:

  • Scientists are working quickly to develop a Zika vaccine to prevent the spread of the virus beyond primarily South America and Mexico. Since the 2016 Summer Olympics are underway in Rio, where the virus has gained traction, and with additional confirmed cases in Florida, Zika is on the minds of travelers and health organizations, alike both in the U.S. and abroad. In fact, the National Institute of Health (NIH) is already performing human vaccine trials, a promising development. On a lighter note, I qualified for the 100-meter dog paddle race, but I’m sitting this one out.
  • New emphasis is turned towards an HIV vaccine, with recent human trials released and specific research tied to the way that certain people’s bodies react to the virus.
  • In late 2015, the first-ever vaccine for dengue fever launched in several countries.
  • Researchers are still developing a malaria vaccine, and pushing forward despite recent setbacks which illustrate a short-lived duration for a recent vaccine effort.

Remember that safety is a daily priority. Following proper vaccination schedules can save lives and prevent the fast and furious spread of infectious diseases. A convenient and affordable way to make sure you are prepared for disasters and emergencies of virtually every kind is to subscribe to the RJWestmore Training System by Allied Universal, which has been designed to help improve and save lives. For more information about the best system out there, or to subscribe, click here.

Posted in be prepared for emergencies, BE SAFE, Disaster Preparedness, Health & Welfare, Uncategorized, Zika Virus

What You Need to Know About the Zika Virus

Vector Cartoon mosquitoIt’s amazing that a tiny insect could cause such large scale problems as the mosquito. As tiny as it is, a mosquito’s bite can lead to serious health conditions…from Malaria to Dengue Fever, Filariasis, West Nile virusChikungunyaYellow Fever, several strains of Encephalitis and, most recently, Zika virus. Mosquitos also wreak havoc on me and my canine pals. Sometimes, we just can’t reach those pesky bites, so we can scratch them. Good thing I have heard it isn’t wise to scratch them, anyway.

According to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC), about one in five people infected with the Zika virus become ill. Unfortunately, I can’t find a definitive answer about whether pets can get it. The most common symptoms include fever, rash, joint pain, or conjunctivitis. Other common symptoms include muscle pain and headache. Doesn’t sound like a picnic.

Although the incubation period for Zika virus disease is unknown, it is likely to be similar to other mosquito-borne illnesses, which range from a few days to a week. Once contracted, the illness is usually mild, with symptoms lasting for several days to a week. While people do not typically get sick enough with Zika to warrant hospitalization, and deaths are rare, the virus remains in the blood of infected people for at least one week.

Image Courtesy of the CDC
Image Courtesy of the CDC

Unfortunately, the virus poses a particular risk to pregnant women, as it can be transmitted from a pregnant mother to her baby during pregnancy or around the time of birth. Studies are focusing on how some mothers pass the virus to their babies. For this reason, President Obama has asked congress to approve $1.8 billion in emergency funding to combat the Zika virus, because of its link to birth defects. The course of action he and his staff would like to pursue mosquito-control programs and birth-defect surveillance. After the president spends this money to study insects, I hope I can get him to cough up several million to study the impact of bacon on dogs. I would be the first volunteer for that study!

Serious birth defects of the brain called microcephaly (when a baby’s head is smaller than expected when compared to babies of the same sex and age) and other poor pregnancy outcomes in babies of mothers who were infected with Zika virus while pregnant have been reported by the CDC. Knowledge of the link between Zika and these outcomes is evolving, but until more is known, special precautions should be taken by anyone who is pregnant or is planning to become pregnant. My wife and I are done with our family. JR is enough to handle.

Prior to 2015, Zika virus outbreaks have occurred in areas of Africa, Southeast Asia, and the Pacific Islands. In May 2015, the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) issued an alert regarding the first confirmed Zika virus infections in Brazil. Currently, outbreaks are occurring in many countries, Puerto Rico and U.S. Virgin Islands. Left unchecked, the Zika virus will continue to spread and it could become difficult to determine how the virus will spread over time.

Info-graphic Courtesy of the CDC
Info-graphic Courtesy of the CDC

Although no vaccine currently exists to treat or prevent Zika, associated symptoms can be treated with rest, hydration, over-the-counter medications to relieve fever and pain, avoidance of aspirin and other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, and care to avoid additional mosquito bites during the first week of illness. Maybe it’s just me, but it seems like avoiding mosquito bites is the best answer. Wish doing so wasn’t so hard! During the first week of infection, Zika virus can be found in the blood and passed from an infected person to a mosquito through mosquito bites. An infected mosquito could then spread the virus to additional people.zika virus alert graphic, Ideal for informational and institutional sanitation and related care.-vector eps 10

The most important steps to take to guard yourself against Zika virus include:

Remember that safety is a daily priority, not just where mosquitos are concerned. So be sure to think about ways to #BeSafe all of the time. A convenient and affordable way to make sure you are prepared for disasters and emergencies of virtually every kind is to subscribe to the RJWestmore Training System by Universal Fire/Life Safety Services, which has been designed to help improve and save lives. For more information about the best system out there, or to subscribe, click here.