Tag Archives: measles

Straight, No Chaser: Public Health Has Saved More Lives Than Medical Care

healthweek

When I tell most people I have a degree in public health, the typical response involves an assumption that public health involves caring exclusively for the indigent. I guess if you watched the news you could get that impression as well. Public health is the discipline dedicated to optimizing care for populations. Over the course of my career, I’ve cared for a lot of patients as a physician, and I’ve actually saved a few lives. However, the work I’ve done as a public health professional has affected millions. The opportunity to work in public health is extremely gratifying.
public health
In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the field of public health has been responsible for adding 25 years to the life expectancy of U.S. citizens over the 20th century. In this post I’d like to review the “Ten Great Public Health Achievements in the 20th Century.” Hopefully, this will cause you to reflect on how these discoveries, innovations and habit promotion affect your life and provide you opportunities to live a healthier life. These are being presented in no particular order.

Top10AchievementsPH

  1. Control of infectious diseases: The combination of hand washing, improved sanitation and appropriate use of antibiotics has saved untold millions. Examples of once prominent diseases being much better controlled include cholera, tuberculosis and even sexually transmitted infections.
  2. Decrease in deaths from heart disease and stroke: The combination of risk modification, symptoms recognition and early treatment has contributed to a reduction in death rates by over 50% in the last four decades.
  3. Family planning and contraceptive services: Innovations include barrier contraception to prevent pregnancy and transmission of HIV and other STDs, pre-pregnancy screening and counseling, promotion of smaller family size, longer intervals between children and the development of prenatal assessment.
  4. Food safety and healthier food production: Food safety has involved reduction in contaminated food sources, better portion control, improvement of nutrition and appropriate components of meals. Fortification of foods has nearly eliminated once prominent diseases such as rickets, goiters and pellagra.
  5. Fluoridation of drinking water: Multiple benefits exists including better infectious control and prevention of tooth decay. It’s estimated to have reduced tooth decay and loss by 40-70% since its inception in the 1940s.
  6. Healthy mothers and babies: It is astounding that infant mortality rates dropped 90% and maternal mortality rates dropped 99% during the last century. The combination of better prenatal care, technological advances and better hygiene and nutrition all have played an important role.
  7. Motor vehicle safety: Seat belts, child safety seats, motorcycle helmets, speed limits, air bags, safer highways and reduction in drinking and driving have all led to substantial reductions in deaths from motor vehicle crashes.
  8. Recognition of tobacco as a health hazard: Today there are more former smokers than current smokers and untold million of lives have been saved since the 1964 Surgeon General’s report on the health risks of smoking.
  9. Vaccinations: It wasn’t long ago in history when epidemics of measles, polio and influenza were killing tens of thousands of people annually. Rubella, tetanus, diphtheria, Hemophilus and other diseases have been brought under control. Smallpox has been eradicated as a disease due to immunizations.
  10. Workplace safety: Elimination of workplace health hazards such as black lung (coal workers’ pneumoconiosis), silicosis, asbestos poisoning and reductions in injuries related to occupational hazards have reduced fatal occupational injuries by approximately 40% in the last 30 years.

Public_Health_Ounce

These efforts don’t occur by accident and shouldn’t be taken for granted. Public health is a clear example of important, appropriate and effective societal collaboration for the betterment of us all. Next time you see a public health professional, give her or him a pat on the back. More importantly, take the time to review the above listing and be sure you’ve incorporated the items into your life.
Feel free to ask your SMA expert consultant any questions you may have on this topic.
Take the #72HoursChallenge, and join the community. As a thank you for being a valued subscriber to Straight, No Chaser, we’d like to offer you a complimentary 30-day membership at www.72hourslife.com. Just use the code #NoChaser, and yes, it’s ok if you share!
Order your copy of Dr. Sterling’s new books There are 72 Hours in a Day: Using Efficiency to Better Enjoy Every Part of Your Life and The 72 Hours in a Day Workbook: The Journey to The 72 Hours Life in 72 Days at Amazon or at www.72hourslife.com. Receive introductory pricing with orders!
Thanks for liking and following Straight, No Chaser! This public service provides a sample of what http://www.SterlingMedicalAdvice.com (SMA) and 844-SMA-TALK offers. Please share our page with your friends on WordPress, like us on Facebook SterlingMedicalAdvice.com and follow us on Twitter at @asksterlingmd.
Copyright © 2018 · Sterling Initiatives, LLC · Powered by WordPress

Straight, No Chaser: Public Health Has Saved More Lives Than Medical Care

healthweek

When I tell most people I have a degree in public health, the typical response involves an assumption that public health involves caring exclusively for the indigent. I guess if you watched the news you could get that impression as well. Public health is the discipline dedicated to optimizing care for populations. Over the course of my career, I’ve cared for a lot of patients as a physicians, and I’ve actually saved a few lives. However, the work I’ve done as a public health professional has affected millions. The opportunity to work in public health is extremely gratifying.
public health
In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the field of public health has been responsible for adding 25 years to the life expectancy of U.S. citizens over the 20th century. In this post I’d like to review the “Ten Great Public Health Achievements in the 20th Century.” Hopefully, this will cause you to reflect on how these discoveries, innovations and habit promotion affect your life and provide you opportunities to live a healthier life. These are being presented in no particular order.

Top10AchievementsPH

  1. Control of infectious diseases: The combination of hand washing, improved sanitation and appropriate use of antibiotics has saved untold millions. Examples of once prominent diseases being much better controlled include cholera, tuberculosis and even sexually transmitted infections.
  2. Decrease in deaths from heart disease and stroke: The combination of risk modification, symptoms recognition and early treatment has contributed to a reduction in death rates by over 50% in the last four decades.
  3. Family planning and contraceptive services: Innovations include barrier contraception to prevent pregnancy and transmission of HIV and other STDs, pre-pregnancy screening and counseling, promotion of smaller family size, longer intervals between children and the development of prenatal assessment.
  4. Food safety and healthier food production: Food safety has involved reduction in contaminated food sources, better portion control, improvement of nutrition and appropriate components of meals. Fortification of foods has nearly eliminated once prominent diseases such as rickets, goiters and pellagra.
  5. Fluoridation of drinking water: Multiple benefits exists including better infectious control and prevention of tooth decay. It’s estimated to have reduced tooth decay and loss by 40-70% since its inception in the 1940s.
  6. Healthy mothers and babies: It is astounding that infant mortality rates dropped 90% and maternal mortality rates dropped 99% during the last century. The combination of better prenatal care, technological advances and better hygiene and nutrition all have played an important role.
  7. Motor vehicle safety: Seat belts, child safety seats, motorcycle helmets, speed limits, air bags, safer highways and reduction in drinking and driving have all led to substantial reductions in deaths from motor vehicle crashes.
  8. Recognition of tobacco as a health hazard: Today there are more former smokers than current smokers and untold million of lives have been saved since the 1964 Surgeon General’s report on the health risks of smoking.
  9. Vaccinations: It wasn’t long ago in history when epidemics of measles, polio and influenza were killing tens of thousands of people annually. Rubella, tetanus, diphtheria, Hemophilus and other diseases have been brought under control. Smallpox has been eradicated as a disease due to immunizations.
  10. Workplace safety: Elimination of workplace health hazards such as black lung (coal workers’ pneumoconiosis), silicosis, asbestos poisoning and reductions in injuries related to occupational hazards have reduced fatal occupational injuries by approximately 40% in the last 30 years.

Public_Health_Ounce

These efforts don’t occur by accident and shouldn’t be taken for granted. Public health is a clear example of important, appropriate and effective societal collaboration for the betterment of us all. Next time you see a public health professional, give her or him a pat on the back. More importantly, take the time to review the above listing and be sure you’ve incorporated the items into your life.
Feel free to ask your SMA expert consultant any questions you may have on this topic.
Order your copy of Dr. Sterling’s new book Behind The Curtain: A Peek at Life from within the ER at jeffreysterlingbooks.com, iTunes, Amazon, Barnes and Nobles and wherever books are sold.
Thanks for liking and following Straight, No Chaser! This public service provides a sample of what http://www.SterlingMedicalAdvice.com (SMA) and 844-SMA-TALK offers. Please share our page with your friends on WordPress, like us on Facebook SterlingMedicalAdvice.com and follow us on Twitter at @asksterlingmd.
Copyright © 2017 · Sterling Initiatives, LLC · Powered by WordPress

Straight, No Chaser: Public Health Has Saved More Lives Than Medical Care

healthweek

When I tell most people I have a degree in public health, the typical response involves an assumption that public health involves caring exclusively for the indigent. I guess if you watched the news you could get that impression as well. Public health is the discipline dedicated to optimizing care for populations. Over the course of my career, I’ve cared for a lot of patients as a physicians, and I’ve actually saved a few lives. However, the work I’ve done as a public health professional has affected millions. The opportunity to work in public health is extremely gratifying.
public health
In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the field of public health has been responsible for adding 25 years to the life expectancy of U.S. citizens over the 20th century. In this post I’d like to review the “Ten Great Public Health Achievements in the 20th Century.” Hopefully, this will cause you to reflect on how these discoveries, innovations and habit promotion affect your life and provide you opportunities to live a healthier life. These are being presented in no particular order.

Top10AchievementsPH

  1. Control of infectious diseases: The combination of hand washing, improved sanitation and appropriate use of antibiotics has saved untold millions. Examples of once prominent diseases being much better controlled include cholera, tuberculosis and even sexually transmitted infections.
  2. Decrease in deaths from heart disease and stroke: The combination of risk modification, symptoms recognition and early treatment has contributed to a reduction in death rates by over 50% in the last four decades.
  3. Family planning and contraceptive services: Innovations include barrier contraception to prevent pregnancy and transmission of HIV and other STDs, pre-pregnancy screening and counseling, promotion of smaller family size, longer intervals between children and the development of prenatal assessment.
  4. Food safety and healthier food production: Food safety has involved reduction in contaminated food sources, better portion control, improvement of nutrition and appropriate components of meals. Fortification of foods has nearly eliminated once prominent diseases such as rickets, goiters and pellagra.
  5. Fluoridation of drinking water: Multiple benefits exists including better infectious control and prevention of tooth decay. It’s estimated to have reduced tooth decay and loss by 40-70% since its inception in the 1940s.
  6. Healthy mothers and babies: It is astounding that infant mortality rates dropped 90% and maternal mortality rates dropped 99% during the last century. The combination of better prenatal care, technological advances and better hygiene and nutrition all have played an important role.
  7. Motor vehicle safety: Seat belts, child safety seats, motorcycle helmets, speed limits, air bags, safer highways and reduction in drinking and driving have all led to substantial reductions in deaths from motor vehicle crashes.
  8. Recognition of tobacco as a health hazard: Today there are more former smokers than current smokers and untold million of lives have been saved since the 1964 Surgeon General’s report on the health risks of smoking.
  9. Vaccinations: It wasn’t long ago in history when epidemics of measles, polio and influenza were killing tens of thousands of people annually. Rubella, tetanus, diphtheria, Hemophilus and other diseases have been brought under control. Smallpox has been eradicated as a disease due to immunizations.
  10. Workplace safety: Elimination of workplace health hazards such as black lung (coal workers’ pneumoconiosis), silicosis, asbestos poisoning and reductions in injuries related to occupational hazards have reduced fatal occupational injuries by approximately 40% in the last 30 years.

Public_Health_Ounce

These efforts don’t occur by accident and shouldn’t be taken for granted. Public health is a clear example of important, appropriate and effective societal collaboration for the betterment of us all. Next time you see a public health professional, give her or him a pat on the back. More importantly, take the time to review the above listing and be sure you’ve incorporated the items into your life.
Feel free to ask your SMA expert consultant any questions you may have on this topic.
Order your copy of Dr. Sterling’s new book Behind The Curtain: A Peek at Life from within the ER at jeffreysterlingbooks.com, iTunes, Amazon, Barnes and Nobles and wherever books are sold.
Thanks for liking and following Straight, No Chaser! This public service provides a sample of what http://www.SterlingMedicalAdvice.com (SMA) and 844-SMA-TALK offers. Please share our page with your friends on WordPress, like us on Facebook SterlingMedicalAdvice.com and follow us on Twitter at @asksterlingmd.
Copyright © 2016 · Sterling Initiatives, LLC · Powered by WordPress

Straight, No Chaser: Public Health Has Saved More Lives Than Medical Care

healthweek

When I tell most people I have a degree in public health, the typical response involves an assumption that public health involves caring exclusively for the indigent. I guess if you watched the news you could get that impression as well. Public health is the discipline dedicated to optimizing care for populations. Over the course of my career, I’ve cared for a lot of patients as a physicians, and I’ve actually saved a few lives. However, the work I’ve done as a public health professional has affected millions. The opportunity to work in public health is extremely gratifying.
public health
In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the field of public health has been responsible for adding 25 years to the life expectancy of U.S. citizens over the 20th century. In this post I’d like to review the “Ten Great Public Health Achievements in the 20th Century.” Hopefully, this will cause you to reflect on how these discoveries, innovations and habit promotion affect your life and provide you opportunities to live a healthier life. These are being presented in no particular order.

Top10AchievementsPH

  1. Control of infectious diseases: The combination of hand washing, improved sanitation and appropriate use of antibiotics has saved untold millions. Examples of once prominent diseases being much better controlled include cholera, tuberculosis and even sexually transmitted infections.
  2. Decrease in deaths from heart disease and stroke: The combination of risk modification, symptoms recognition and early treatment has contributed to a reduction in death rates by over 50% in the last four decades.
  3. Family planning and contraceptive services: Innovations include barrier contraception to prevent pregnancy and transmission of HIV and other STDs, pre-pregnancy screening and counseling, promotion of smaller family size, longer intervals between children and the development of prenatal assessment.
  4. Food safety and healthier food production: Food safety has involved reduction in contaminated food sources, better portion control, improvement of nutrition and appropriate components of meals. Fortification of foods has nearly eliminated once prominent diseases such as rickets, goiters and pellagra.
  5. Fluoridation of drinking water: Multiple benefits exists including better infectious control and prevention of tooth decay. It’s estimated to have reduced tooth decay and loss by 40-70% since its inception in the 1940s.
  6. Healthy mothers and babies: It is astounding that infant mortality rates dropped 90% and maternal mortality rates dropped 99% during the last century. The combination of better prenatal care, technological advances and better hygiene and nutrition all have played an important role.
  7. Motor vehicle safety: Seat belts, child safety seats, motorcycle helmets, speed limits, air bags, safer highways and reduction in drinking and driving have all led to substantial reductions in deaths from motor vehicle crashes.
  8. Recognition of tobacco as a health hazard: Today there are more former smokers than current smokers and untold million of lives have been saved since the 1964 Surgeon General’s report on the health risks of smoking.
  9. Vaccinations: It wasn’t long ago in history when epidemics of measles, polio and influenza were killing tens of thousands of people annually. Rubella, tetanus, diphtheria, Hemophilus and other diseases have been brought under control. Smallpox has been eradicated as a disease due to immunizations.
  10. Workplace safety: Elimination of workplace health hazards such as black lung (coal workers’ pneumoconiosis), silicosis, asbestos poisoning and reductions in injuries related to occupational hazards have reduced fatal occupational injuries by approximately 40% in the last 30 years.

Public_Health_Ounce

These efforts don’t occur by accident and shouldn’t be taken for granted. Public health is a clear example of important, appropriate and effective societal collaboration for the betterment of us all. Next time you see a public health professional, give her or him a pat on the back. More importantly, take the time to review the above listing and be sure you’ve incorporated the items into your life.
Thanks for liking and following Straight, No Chaser! This public service provides a sample of what 844-SMA-TALK and http://www.SterlingMedicalAdvice.com (SMA) offers. Please share our page with your friends on WordPress, Facebook @ SterlingMedicalAdvice.com and Twitter at @asksterlingmd.

Copyright © 2015 · Sterling Initiatives, LLC · Powered by WordPress

Straight, No Chaser: Your Questions About Measles – Could You Recognize It?

health-0326-measles-640x360

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) calls measles, a virus that lives in the nose and throat, the “most deadly of all childhood rash/fever illnesses”. About 90% of those who are not immune will become infected if they come close to an infected person, according to the CDC. An estimated 20 million people worldwide contract measles each year. In the US, the CDC typically expects only 220 cases. Last year there were 644, a nearly two-decade high. Yes, this was due to a marked drop in immunization rates in certain parts of the country.
In discussing the recent measles outbreak, one of the most common responses I received was “So? What’s measles anyway?” It has been that long since measles has been a problem in the United States. Let’s talk about common questions related to measles.
What causes measles? The medical term for measles is rubeola, and it’s caused by a virus.

 measleskoplik

What are the symptoms I’d see? To the layperson, measles most often presents as a full body rash with cold/flu-like symptoms, such as a fever, cough and runny nose. Your doctor is also looking for red eyes (conjunctivitis) and small reddish spots inside the mouth (known as Koplik’s spots).
Is measles contagious? It’s highly contagious to those not immunized. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 90% of those not immunized will contract measles if exposed to someone with it.
How is it spread? It’s spread through the air. This means sneezing, coughing and kissing.

Measles-immunization

Why don’t I ever see measles? Measles has been contained in the U.S. since the introduction of the measles vaccine over 50 years ago. It is amazing to think that there are still 20 million cases still occurring around the world annually.
How is measles prevented? Immunization! The immunization is approximately 99% effective in preventing infection in the face of exposure. Infants are generally protected from measles for 6 months after birth due to immunity passed on from their immunized mothers. For most others, the measles vaccine is part of the measles-mumps-rubella immunization (MMR) or measles-mumps-rubella-varicella immunization (MMRV) given at 12 to 15 months of age and again at 4 to 6 years of age. Additional considerations exist in the face of an outbreak.

 measlesvaxsideeffx

What are the side effects of the vaccine? Unless you have an underlying health condition and/or have a reduced immunity, the most common reactions include the following:

  • fever 6-12 days after vaccination (in about 5%-15% of those vaccinated)
  • an incidental (and non-allergic, non-contagious) rash. This goes away on its own and occurs in about 5% of vaccine recipients.

What’s the treatment of measles? Given that measles is a virus, there is no specific medical treatment (as is almost always the case with viruses). Supportive treatment is important and involves fluids and rest for what is expected to be a two-week period. Something like Tylenol or children’s ibuprofen can be given for fever or pain (but never give aspirin to a child).

 measles101

What are the common complications? 30% of cases of measles involve complications. Complications include simpler conditions such as otitis media (those pesky ear infections), croup and diarrhea.
This all sounds pretty benign. Why not just get the disease and avoid the vaccination? Because children can die from measles. Unfortunately, measles also has more serious considerations such as pneumonia (which occurs in approximately 1 of 20 cases) and a serious brain infection called encephalitis (which occurs in approximately 1 of 1000) cases. Measles also causes pregnant women to have miscarriages, premature births or low-birth-weight babies.
How do people die from measles? Pneumonia is the complication most often causing death. For every 1,000 children who acquire measles, 1 or 2 will die.
What’s the Vitamin A connection with measles? Vitamin A has been found to decrease complications and death in those infected with measles. It should be considered, especially in those hospitalized with complications of measles or those who have compromised immune systems and acquire measles.
If I had measles as a child and get exposed to the disease again, am I in danger? No. Surviving a measles infection provides one with life-long immunity. Of course, your take home message is most of this isn’t a consideration if you simply get immunized.
Thanks for liking and following Straight, No Chaser! This public service provides a sample of what 844-SMA-TALK and http://www.SterlingMedicalAdvice.com (SMA) offers. Please share our page with your friends on WordPress. We are also on Facebook at SterlingMedicalAdvice.com and Twitter at @asksterlingmd. Copyright © 2014 · Sterling Initiatives, LLC · Powered by WordPress

Straight, No Chaser In the News: Measles Outbreaks and Not Getting Vaccinated

A case of measles was just confirmed in suburban Chicago. Here’s a cautionary tale to those who rely on non-medical sources to guide their health decisions. 

measlesuscases

The measles vaccine became available in 1963. Prior to then, the virus causing measles infected approximately 500,000 Americans a year. On average, this resulted in 500 deaths and 48,000 hospitalizations per year. Universal administration of the measles vaccine in the United States was so effective that measles was officially deemed “eliminated” – meaning there had been no sustained outbreaks in the subsequent 50 years and no homegrown outbreaks since 2000.

By now, most everyone is aware of medically-unfounded controversies related to vaccine administration. The fear-mongering and isolated reports of adverse reactions, the frequency of which fall into statistic insignificance (with all due respect to anyone actually affected), have led to a not insignificant fall in the national immunization rate. Although the premise of herd immunity is meant to shield the population from outbreaks (roughly meaning that if a certain percentage of the population is immunized, then the entire population is virtually immunized), enough people are now exposed that significant occurrences of measles are being seen. Last year, cases of measles were reported in approximately 20 states. This represents the most measles cases in 20 years. The largest outbreak occurred  in Ohio, and a large outbreak notably occurred around Disneyland (which subsequently led to cases in many states across the country).

nonmedical vaccine exemptions

Ninety percent of new cases of measles have been seen among those who have not been vaccinated.

The reasons cited by these individuals for not getting vaccinated include philosophical, religious or other personal reasons for not using vaccines. High rates of nonmedical vaccine exemptions are enough to cause an outbreak. There needs to be an exposure.

vaccine preventable outbreaks

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Immunizations and Respiratory Diseases, the proverbial match that started the flame was exposure to infected travelers. Most notable was a cluster resulting from the Philippines, which experienced an outbreak in October 2013. It appears that unvaccinated Amish missionaries brought back measles while overseas.
This is an example of what would be expected to occur if individuals not immunized are exposed to the disease. Of course those immunized are protected in this same scenario. This is not an example of the cure being more harmful that the disease. Get objective, factual information about your health decisions. Consider the source, the inherent bias and consequences both for your action and inaction. The many diseases for which immunizations are offered are not to be taken lightly. Part of the equation for deciding to implement mass immunization programs involves substantial consequences (including death) resulting from exposure to those not immunized. The choice remains yours. Just remember: You can have your opinions, but you can’t wish them into being medical facts.
Thanks for liking and following Straight, No Chaser! This public service provides a sample of what 844-SMA-TALK and http://www.SterlingMedicalAdvice.com (SMA) offers. Please share our page with your friends on WordPress. We are also on Facebook at SterlingMedicalAdvice.com and Twitter at @asksterlingmd.
Copyright © 2015 · Sterling Initiatives, LLC · Powered by WordPress

Straight, No Chaser In the News: New, Old Findings on Vaccines

If this doesn’t convince you, nothing will. You’ll want to read until the end.

The most recent edition of the medical journal Pediatrics this week publishes the results of three new studies that individually are convincing and together are definitive. This really isn’t news; the public health and medical communities have been speaking with one voice on this for nearly a century. However, given all the recent misinformation disseminated, it’s important to continue to drive home the point that vaccines save lives.
Let’s summarize the three studies.

rotavirus vax

Rotavirus was once an extremely common cause of infant diarrhea, causing hospitalization and even death due to diarrhea and dehydration. A rotavirus vaccine was developed. According to a study conducted by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), based on previous usage rates, during the first four years of vaccine use, more than 176,000 hospitalizations, 242,000 emergency department visits, and 1.1 million doctor’s visits among children under 5 were prevented, saving approximately $925 million in the U.S.

chickenpoxvaccine

Chickenpox actually kills, especially adults and those with compromised immune systems. Prior to development of the chicken pox vaccine, approximately 11,000 people were hospitalized a year in the United States from chickenpox. According to a study performed by the Kaiser Permanente Vaccine Study Center, in the fifteen year period between 1994 and 2009, the chickenpox vaccine slashed the number of hospitalizations by 90%, across all age groups.

measlesvax

The recent measles outbreak has previously been discussed in Straight, No Chaser, but a 2011 outbreak was highlighted in detail in Pediatrics, and yes, the study speaks to the consequences of going without immunization. The CDC is clear that current measles outbreaks are due to parents withholding vaccines from their children, and this review could be the proverbial Exhibit A. The Minnesota Department of Health identified an outbreak infecting 21 people, with an average age of 1-year-old and whose parents in the community had largely withheld the measles vaccine. About 67% of those infected were hospitalized, mostly due to breathing complications and dehydration.
An interesting post-script to the findings in Minnesota directly involves the source of widespread misinformation about the measles vaccine (actually the measles-mumps-rubella vaccine; they’re all given together). The author of a discredited 1998 research paper that is the source of the alleged link between vaccines and autism had visited this community approximately four times, convincing many residents to go without the measles vaccine. This author, Andrew Wakefield, actually lost his right to practice medicine in England, and the journal that published his study retracted the paper linking autism and vaccines. However, you probably hadn’t heard that part of the story, and the autism-vaccine link continues in mythology via the internet and ill-informed “advocates.”
The story of diseases and vaccines is actually pretty linear and historically consistent.

  • There were a series of infectious diseases that once wreaked havoc on society, often killing mass numbers of humans.
  • Vaccines were developed to prevent infections (and their complications) from these microorganisms.
  • Mass vaccinations markedly reduced (and actually eliminated in some examples) the rate of contracting these diseases to where we take for granted the danger of the actual disease (discussing what it was like in the US when polio was a common disease would be an interesting conversation to have with your grandparents if you can).
  • Certain segments of society opt out of getting immunized over fear of the vaccine.
  • At some point when the vaccination rate drops below a certain percentage, the diseases return in those not immunized.

I welcome your questions. Discuss your legitimate concerns with your physician or experts personal healthcare consultants such as we offer at 844-SMA-TALK and www.sterlingmedicaladvice.com. Protect your families. Without exception, if a vaccine exists, you should fear the disease more than the vaccine.
Thanks for liking and following Straight, No Chaser! This public service provides a sample of what 844-SMA-TALK and http://www.SterlingMedicalAdvice.com (SMA) offers. Please share our page with your friends on WordPress. We are also on Facebook at SterlingMedicalAdvice.com and Twitter at @asksterlingmd.

Straight, No Chaser: Your Questions About Measles (Rubeola)

measles

In discussing the recent measles outbreak, the most common response I received was “So? What’s measles anyway?” It has been that long since measles has been a problem in the United States. Let’s talk about common questions related to measles.
What causes measles? The medical term for measles is rubeola, and it’s caused by a virus.

 measleskoplik

What are the symptoms I’d see? To the layperson, measles most often presents as a full body rash with cold/flu-like symptoms, such as a fever, cough and runny nose. Your doctor is also looking for red eyes (conjunctivitis) and small reddish spots inside the mouth (known as Koplik’s spots).
Is measles contagious? It’s highly contagious to those not immunized. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 90% of those not immunized will contract measles if exposed to someone with it.
How is it spread? It’s spread through the air. This means sneezing, coughing and kissing.

Measles-immunization

Why don’t I ever see measles? Measles has been contained in the U.S. since the introduction of the measles vaccine over 50 years ago. It is amazing to think that there are still 20 million cases still occurring around the world annually.
How is measles prevented? Immunization! Infants are generally protected from measles for 6 months after birth due to immunity passed on from their immunized mothers. For most others, the measles vaccine is part of the measles-mumps-rubella immunization (MMR) or measles-mumps-rubella-varicella immunization (MMRV) given at 12 to 15 months of age and again at 4 to 6 years of age. Additional considerations exist in the face of an outbreak.

 measlesvaxsideeffx

What are the side effects of the vaccine? Unless you have an underlying health condition and/or have a reduced immunity, the most common reactions include the following:

  • fever 6-12 days after vaccination (in about 5%-15% of those vaccinated)
  • an incidental (and non-allergic, non-contagious) rash. This goes away on its own and occurs in about 5% of vaccine recipients.

What’s the treatment of measles? Given that measles is a virus, there is no specific medical treatment (as is almost always the case with viruses). Supportive treatment is important and involves fluids and rest for what is expected to be a two-week period. Something like Tylenol or children’s ibuprofen can be given for fever or pain (but never give aspirin to a child).

 measles101

What are the common complications? 30% of cases of measles involve complications. Complications include simpler conditions such as otitis media (those pesky ear infections), croup and diarrhea.
This all sounds pretty benign. Why not just get the disease and avoid the vaccination? Because children can die from measles. Unfortunately, measles also has more serious considerations such as pneumonia (which occurs in approximately 1 of 20 cases) and a serious brain infection called encephalitis (which occurs in approximately 1 of 1000) cases. Measles also causes pregnant women to have miscarriages, premature births or low-birth-weight babies.
How do people die from measles? Pneumonia is the complication most often causing death. For every 1,000 children who acquire measles, 1 or 2 will die.
What’s the Vitamin A connection with measles? Vitamin A has been found to decrease complications and death in those infected with measles. It should be considered, especially in those hospitalized with complications of measles or those who have compromised immune systems and acquire measles.
If I had measles as a child and get exposed to the disease again, am I in danger? No. Surviving a measles infection provides one with life-long immunity. Of course, your take home message is most of this isn’t a consideration if you simply get immunized.
Thanks for liking and following Straight, No Chaser! This public service provides a sample of what http://www.SterlingMedicalAdvice.com (SMA) offers. Please share our page with your friends on WordPress. We are also on Facebook at SterlingMedicalAdvice.com and Twitter at @asksterlingmd. Copyright © 2014 · Sterling Initiatives, LLC · Powered by WordPress

Straight, No Chaser In the News: The Measles Outbreak and Not Getting Vaccinated

Here’s a cautionary tale to those who rely on non-medical sources to guide their health decisions. 

measlesuscases

The measles vaccine became available in 1963. Prior to then, the virus causing measles infected approximately 500,000 Americans a year. On average, this resulted in 500 deaths and 48,000 hospitalizations per year. Universal administration of the measles vaccine in the United States was so effective that measles was officially deemed “eliminated” – meaning there had been no sustained outbreaks in the subsequent 50 years and no homegrown outbreaks since 2000.

By now, most everyone is aware of medically-unfounded controversies related to vaccine administration. The fear-mongering and isolated reports of adverse reactions, the frequency of which fall into statistic insignificance (with all due respect to anyone actually affected), have led to a not insignificant fall in the national immunization rate. Although the premise of herd immunity is meant to shield the population from outbreaks (roughly meaning that if a certain percentage of the population is immunized, then the entire population is virtually immunized), enough people are now exposed that significant occurrences of measles are being seen. This year, cases of measles have already been reported in 18 states. This represents the most measles cases in 20 years. The largest outbreak is occurring in Ohio.

nonmedical vaccine exemptions

Ninety percent of new cases of measles have been seen among those who have not been vaccinated. The reasons cited by these individuals for not getting vaccinated include philosophical, religious or other personal reasons for not using vaccines. High rates of nonmedical vaccine exemptions are enough to cause an outbreak. There needs to be an exposure.

vaccine preventable outbreaks

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Immunizations and Respiratory Diseases, the proverbial match that started the flame has been exposure to infected travelers. Most notable has been a cluster resulting from the Philippines, which experienced an outbreak in October 2013. It appears that unvaccinated Amish missionaries brought back measles while overseas.
This is an example of what would be expected to occur if individuals not immunized are exposed to the disease. Of course those immunized are protected in this same scenario. This is not an example of the cure being more harmful that the disease. Get objective, factual information about your health decisions. Consider the source, the inherent bias and consequences both for your action and inaction. The many diseases for which immunizations are offered are not to be taken lightly. Part of the equation for deciding to implement mass immunization programs involves substantial consequences (including death) resulting from exposure to those not immunized. The choice remains yours. Just remember: You can have your opinions, but you can’t wish them into being medical facts.
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Straight, No Chaser: Public Health Has Saved More Lives Than Medical Care

public health

When I tell most people I have a degree in public health, the typical response involves an assumption that public health involves caring exclusively for the indigent. I guess if you watched the news you could get that impression as well. Public health is the discipline dedicated to optimizing care for populations. Over the course of my career, I’ve cared for a lot of patients as a physicians, and I’ve actually saved a few lives. However, the work I’ve done as a public health professional has affected millions. The opportunity to work in public health is extremely gratifying.
In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the field of public health has been responsible for adding 25 years to the life expectancy of U.S. citizens over the 20th century. In this post I’d like to share the “Ten Great Public Health Achievements in the 20th Century.” Hopefully, this will cause you to reflect on how these discoveries, innovations and habit promotion affect your life and provide you opportunities to live a healthier life. These are being presented in no particular order.

Top10AchievementsPH

  1. Control of infectious diseases: The combination of hand washing, improved sanitation and appropriate use of antibiotics has saved untold millions. Examples of once prominent diseases being much better controlled include cholera, tuberculosis and even sexually transmitted infections.
  2. Decrease in deaths from heart disease and stroke: The combination of risk modification, symptoms recognition and early treatment has contributed to a reduction in death rates by over 50% in the last four decades.
  3. Family planning and contraceptive services: Innovations include barrier contraception to prevent pregnancy and transmission of HIV and other STDs, pre-pregnancy screening and counseling, promotion of smaller family size, longer intervals between children and the development of prenatal assessment.
  4. Food safety and healthier food production: Food safety has involved reduction in contaminated food sources, better portion control, improvement of nutrition and appropriate components of meals. Fortification of foods has nearly eliminated once prominent diseases such as rickets, goiters and pellagra.
  5. Fluoridation of drinking water: Multiple benefits exists including better infectious control and prevention of tooth decay. It’s estimated to have reduced tooth decay and loss by 40-70% since its inception in the 1940s.
  6. Healthy mothers and babies: It is astounding that infant mortality rates dropped 90% and maternal mortality rates dropped 99% during the last century. The combination of better prenatal care, technological advances and better hygiene and nutrition all have played an important role.
  7. Motor vehicle safety: Seat belts, child safety seats, motorcycle helmets, speed limits, air bags, safer highways and reduction in drinking and driving have all led to substantial reductions in deaths from motor vehicle crashes.
  8. Recognition of tobacco as a health hazard: Today there are more former smokers than current smokers and untold million of lives have been saved since the 1964 Surgeon General’s report on the health risks of smoking.
  9. Vaccinations: It wasn’t long ago in history when epidemics of measles, polio and influenza were killing tens of thousands of people annually. Rubella, tetanus, diphtheria, Hemophilus and other diseases have been brought under control. Smallpox has been eradicated as a disease due to immunizations.
  10. Workplace safety: Elimination of workplace health hazards such as black lung (coal workers’ pneumoconiosis), silicosis, asbestos poisoning and reductions in injuries related to occupational hazards have reduced fatal occupational injuries by approximately 40% in the last 30 years.

These efforts don’t occur by accident and shouldn’t be taken for granted. Public health is a clear example of important, appropriate and effective societal collaboration for the betterment of us all. Next time you see a public health professional, give her or him a pat on the back. More importantly, take the time to review the above listing and be sure you’ve incorporated the items into your life.
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