Public Health Information

Beebe Healthcare wants our community to stay informed of the latest health concerns. Information on this page is gathered through the Delaware Division of Public Health (DPH), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and World Health Organization (WHO).

Zika Virus

Some Questions & Answers:

Q: What are the symptoms of Zika?
A: The most common symptoms of Zika virus disease are fever, rash, joint pain, or conjunctivitis (red eyes). Symptoms typically begin two to seven days after being bitten by an infected mosquito. About one in five people infected with Zika will get sick.

Q: How is Zika transmitted?
A: Zika is primarily transmitted through
mosquito bite when the mosquito bites a person already infected with the virus and then bites someone else. There is also growing evidence that men can transmit the virus to women during sexual activity. There is no evidence that Zika can be spread through casual contact like kissing, hugging, etc. The virus can also be transmitted from a pregnant mother to her baby during pregnancy or around the time of birth. We do not know how often Zika is transmitted from mother to baby during pregnancy or around the time of birth.

Q: Who is at risk of being infected?
A: Anyone who is living in, or traveling to, an area where Zika virus transmission is currently occuring or women who have male sexual partners who have traveled to these areas.

Click here for the full information from the Delaware Division of Public Health.

Via Delaware Division of Public Health: Zika is generally transmitted through bites of infected Aedes mosquitoes. The mosquito that most commonly transmits Zika (Aedes aegypti), as well as dengue and chikungunya, is very rare in Delaware. However, in Delaware we do have another Aedes species of concern for possible transmission of Zika, the Asian tiger mosquito, Aedes albopictus. Local Zika transmission via a mosquito is possible once mosquito season starts but it depends on a variety of factors.  We are working with DNREC’s Mosquito Control Section to prepare for that possibility.

Most people who are infected with Zika do not develop symptoms. About one in five people infected with the virus develop the disease, and symptoms are generally mild. Anyone who lives or travels in the impacted areas can be infected.  The most common symptoms of Zika virus are fever, rash, joint pain, or conjunctivitis (red eyes). Symptoms typically begin two to seven days after being bitten by an infected mosquito. It can also be transmitted from a pregnant mother to her baby during pregnancy or around the time of birth. It is not yet known how often Zika is transmitted from mother to baby. In very rare cases, there have been documented cases of sexual transmission from male to female.

The most serious threat linked to Zika is serious birth defects.  While it generally presents as a mild illness, there have been reports of serious birth defects to infants whose mother contracted the virus while pregnant.  Microcephaly (https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/birthdefects/microcephaly.html), a condition in which 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 are now being linked to the virus.

As a result, the Division of Public Health (DPH) is focusing its messaging and awareness on preventing exposure to pregnant women and their partners. 

If you are pregnant and have traveled outside the country or believe you may have contracted the Zika virus, please talk to your physician as soon as possible. Here is a Q&A about Zika for pregnant women.

Additional Zika Information Materials include:

• DPH Zika e-newsletter: general info and important links
• Flyer targeting pregnant women for posting  in medical/other locations (English)
• Flyer targeting pregnant women for posting in medical/other locations (Spanish; en espanol)

You may also find the DPH Zika webpage helpful: https://dhss.delaware.gov/dhss/dph/zika.html 

Lyme Disease / Tick-borne Illnesses

According to the World Health Organization: Lyme disease (Lyme Borreliosis) is caused by Borrelia bacteria and is transmitted through the bite of infected deer ticks (of the Ixodes species). Many species of mammals can be infected and rodents and deer act as important reservoirs.

The first recognized outbreak of this disease occurred in Connecticut, United States, in 1975. The current burden is estimated at 7.9 cases per 100 000 people in the United States, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The Delaware Division of Public Health says in Delaware, the most common tick-borne disease is Lyme disease, which is transmitted to humans by the bite of infected deer ticks.  There were 418 Lyme disease cases in Delaware in 2014.  Rocky Mountain spotted fever is diagnosed much less frequently in the First State with only 24 cases in 2014.  Symptoms of Lyme disease can include a “bull’s-eye” rash (seen in approximately half of Lyme disease cases in Delaware), fever, fatigue, headache, and muscle and joint aches. Chronic joint, heart, and neurological problems may occur. It usually takes 24 to 36 hours of attachment before a tick transmits a disease.

Find more information from the Delaware Division of Public Health here.

 

Mosquito-borne Illnesses

According to the Delaware Division of Public Health: Mosquitoes can carry West Nile virus (WNV), Eastern equine encephalitis (EEE), and several other diseases that cause brain inflammation (encephalitis) and can be fatal to humans and animals.  Approximately 80 percent of human WNV infections are mild and cause no apparent symptoms. The other 20 percent develop a mild illness (West Nile fever), which includes fever, body and muscle aches, headache, nausea, vomiting, and a rash. A small percentage of patients, usually the elderly, develop severe neurological disease that results in meningitis or encephalitis.

Key facts (World Health Organization):

  • West Nile virus can cause a fatal neurological disease in humans.
  • However, approximately 80% of people who are infected will not show any symptoms.
  • West Nile virus is mainly transmitted to people through the bites of infected mosquitoes.
  • The virus can cause severe disease and death in horses.
  • Vaccines are available for use in horses but not yet available for people.
  • Birds are the natural hosts of West Nile virus.

Learn more about West Nile virus here.

 

Skin Cancer

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (June 2015):  Melanoma rates doubled between 1982 and 2011 but comprehensive skin cancer prevention programs could prevent 20 percent of new cases between 2020 and 2030, according to this month’s Vital Signs report.

Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the U.S., and melanoma is the most deadly type of skin cancer. More than 90 percent of melanoma skin cancers are due to skin cell damage from ultraviolet (UV) radiation exposure. Melanoma rates increased from 11.2 per 100,000 in 1982 to 22.7 per 100,000 in 2011. The report notes that without additional community prevention efforts, melanoma will continue to increase over the next 15 years, with 112,000 new cases projected in 2030. The annual cost of treating new melanoma cases is projected to nearly triple from $457 million in 2011 to $1.6 billion in 2030.\

Read more here.

 

Too few people get cancer screenings

From the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (May 5, 2015): Many adults in the U.S. are not getting the recommended screening tests for colorectal, breast and cervical cancers, according to data published in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. For 2013, screening for these types of cancers either fell behind previous rates or showed no improvement.

Among adults in the age groups recommended for screening, about 1 in 5 women reported not being up-to-date with cervical cancer screening, about 1 in 4 women reported not being up-to-date with breast cancer screening, and about 2 in 5 adults reported not being up-to-date with colorectal cancer screening.

The report found that colorectal cancer testing was essentially unchanged in 2013 compared with 2010. Pap test use in women age 21-65 years was lower than 2000, and the number of mammography screenings was stagnant, showing very little change from previous years.

“It is concerning to see a stall in colorectal cancer screening rates,” said Lisa C. Richardson, M.D., M.P.H., director of CDC’s Division of Cancer Prevention and Control. “We must find new ways to make people and providers aware that getting tested for colorectal cancer could prevent cancer and save their lives.”

Researchers reviewed data from the National Health Interview Survey 2013, which is used to monitor progress toward Healthy People 2020 goals for cancer screening based on the most recent U.S. Preventive Services Task Force guidelines.

The screening data for 2013 show that 58.2 percent of adults age 50-75 years reported being screened for colorectal cancer; 72.6 percent of women age 50-74 had a mammogram; and 80.7 percent of women age 21-65 had a Pap test. All of these percentages are below the Healthy People 2020 targets.

Read full release here.

 

Hispanics' health in the United States

According to the CDC (May 2015):  The first national study on Hispanic health risks and leading causes of death in the United States by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) showed that similar to non-Hispanic whites (whites), the two leading causes of death in Hispanics are heart disease and cancer. Fewer Hispanics than whites die from the 10 leading causes of death, but Hispanics had higher death rates than whites from diabetes and chronic liver disease and cirrhosis. They have similar death rates from kidney diseases, according to the new Vital Signs.

Health risk can vary by Hispanic subgroup. For example, nearly 66 percent more Puerto Ricans smoke than Mexicans. Health risk also varies partly by whether Hispanics were born in the U.S. or in another country. Hispanics are almost three times as likely to be uninsured as whites. Hispanics in the U.S. are on average nearly 15 years younger than whites, so taking steps now to prevent disease could mean longer, healthier lives for Hispanics.

“Four out of 10 Hispanics die of heart disease or cancer. By not smoking and staying physically active, such as walking briskly for 30 minutes a day, Hispanics can reduce their risk for these chronic diseases and others such as diabetes,” said CDC Director Tom Frieden, M.D., M.P.H. “Health professionals can help Hispanics protect their health by learning about their specific risk factors and addressing barriers to care.”

This Vital Signs report recommends that doctors, nurses and other health professionals:

  • Work with interpreters to eliminate language barriers when patients prefer to speak Spanish.
  • Counsel patients with or at high risk for high blood pressure, diabetes, or cancer on weight control and diet.
  • Ask patients if they smoke and, if they do, help them quit.
  • Engage community health workers (promotores de salud) to educate and link people to free or low-cost services.

Hispanic and other Spanish-speaking doctors and clinicians, as well as community health workers or promotores de salud, play a key role in helping to provide culturally and linguistically appropriate outreach to Hispanic patients.

Read the full report here.

 

Ebola

April 2015:  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in partnership with the Sierra Leone College of Medicine and Allied Health Sciences (COMAHS) and the Sierra Leone Ministry of Health and Sanitation (MoHS), is now enrolling and vaccinating volunteers for the Sierra Leone Trial to Introduce a Vaccine against Ebola (STRIVE). This study will assess the safety and efficacy of the rVSV-ZEBOV candidate Ebola vaccine among health and other frontline workers.

“A safe and effective vaccine would be a very important tool to stop Ebola in the future, and the frontline workers who are volunteering to participate are making a decision that could benefit health care professionals and communities wherever Ebola is a risk,” said CDC Director Tom Frieden, M.D., M.P.H.  “We hope this vaccine will be proven effective but in the meantime we must continue doing everything necessary to stop this epidemic —find every case, isolate and treat, safely and respectfully bury the dead, and find every single contact.”

STRIVE will enroll about 6,000 health and other frontline workers. It will be conducted in Western Area Urban district, which includes Freetown, Western Area Rural district, and certain chiefdoms in Bombali, Port Loko, and Tonkolili districts. These study locations were selected because they have been heavily affected by the Ebola outbreak in the past few months.

Read more here.

World Health Organization Fact Sheet

As of October 29, 2014, Delaware does not have any confirmed cases of ebola. From the CDC: "The 2014 Ebola epidemic is the largest in history, affecting multiple countries in West Africa. Although the risk of an Ebola outbreak in the United States is very low, CDC and partners are taking precautions to prevent this from happening." On September 30, 2014, the first case of Ebola in the United States was reported by a hospital in Texas. This Texas patient, who has since died, had contact with Ebola while traveling outside the United States. Ebola is only spread through contact with bodily fluids. Since this case, two healthcare workers have contracted Ebola.  Learn more here.

As of October 20, 2014, the World Health Organization (WHO) has declared Nigeria Ebola-free. For more on the WHO outreach on Ebola, click here.

To download an information sheet to post at your work, daycare, or place of worship, click here for a PDF file.

To download the information sheet being handed out at the hospital, click here for a PDF file.

The October 29, 2014 Ebola Fact Sheet (Delaware Division of Public Health) can be downloaded here (PDF).

Spanish information sheet here and letter here.

 

Flu

Getting an annual flu shot is the best way to prevent influenza. Beebe Healthcare hosts several free flu clinics throughout the fall and winter months. 

Click here for more information about flu, including symptoms from the CDC.

 

Enterovirus 68

Enterovirus D68 (EV-D68) is one of more than 100 non-polio enteroviruses. Since EV-D68 causes respiratory illness, the virus can be found in an infected person’s respiratory secretions, such as saliva, nasal mucus, or sputum. EV-D68 likely spreads from person to person when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or touches a surface that is then touched by others. Learn more from the CDC here.

 

Sexually Transmitted Diseases

Most sexually transmitted diseases are preventable with the use of condoms. Condoms have been found to be highly effective in preventing the sexual transmission of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. In addition, consistent and correct use of latex condoms reduces the risk of other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), including diseases transmitted by genital secretions, and to a lesser degree, genital ulcer diseases. Condom use may reduce the risk for genital human papillomavirus (HPV) infection and HPV-associated diseases, e.g., genital warts and cervical cancer. Click here for more information about STDs from the CDC.

 

Helpful Website Links:

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

World Health Organization

Delaware Division of Public Health