Posts Tagged ‘Centers for Disease Control’

Mid-Monsoon West Nile Update

July 17th, 2013

Monsoon rain and humidity is great (at least I think so)…  but with it comes mosquitoes that carry the West Nile virus.  Every year since West Nile virus was introduced to AZ in ‘04, we’ve had human cases of West Nile Virus (meaning it’s endemic now). The total number of cases bumps around every year from our high of 391 cases in 2004 to only 20 cases in 2009.  Around 134 of those human cases were reported in Arizona, which is about our 10 year average.

Predicting when and where West Nile virus outbreaks will hit is a tricky game. CDC and other experts agree that weather was the driving force in last year’s national outbreak.  But…  we can take matters into our own hands and help prevent West Nile virus from spreading. The most important way to help prevent West Nile from spreading is to stop mosquito breeding.  Remember to mosquito proof your house by removing standing water in containers where water may collect, repair window and door screens to keep mosquitoes out, and make sure pools are properly maintained and not green. 

One summer we had tons of mosquitoes at our house and I discovered that I left a wheelbarrow under the eaves with monsoon water in it- and it was breeding tons of mosquitoes.  Embarrassing to say the least.

Yarnell Hill and Kingman Dean Fire Responses

July 8th, 2013

With one of the worst wildfire tragedies in history happening last weekend, our Health Emergency Operations Center was active all week.  First making sure that there was enough behavioral health support through the Regional Behavioral Health Authorities, then helping provide some specific assistance to the shelters in Prescott and Wickenburg.  

On Tuesday, we pulled special beds out of storage for both the shelters.  We used CDC grant money to buy the beds and other supplies to ensure that Arizona shelters would be able to serve all the people, even those with special needs.  These beds will support up to 750 pounds and are easier for people with mobility issues to get in and out of.  

Another new tool that we facilitated this week is telemedicine between the affected area and the Maricopa Burn Center.  The cameras at the incident are able to focus so closely on injuries that the physicians at the hospital can see how deep the burn is and triage the patient to ensure he goes to the right level of care. 

The Dean Peak fire near Kingman has also forced people out of their homes, but fortunately there haven’t been any injuries.  As we move through this fire season, we’ll be keeping the resources available to the counties and people of Arizona.

Vaccine Driving Down US HPV Rate

June 25th, 2013

This week, The Journal of Infectious Diseases published a study looking at the number of human papillomavirus infections in females before and after HPV vaccine was created (back in ’06).  The study found impressive results: a 56% decrease in HPV since the vaccine was introduced in 2006 (among girls between 14-19 years old).  This is a big deal because HPV is the most common sexually transmitted disease in the US and causes about 27,000 cases of cancer each year in men and women – mainly cervical and throat cancer.  The good news is that over 75% of these cancers are preventable because of the vaccine.  

Interestingly, these dramatic results were achieved even though only 35% of girls had completed the three-dose HPV vaccine series (37% in AZ).   If we could reach the 80% vaccination threshold we’d be able to prevent 50,000 cases of cervical cancer.  More information about HPV, cancers caused by HPV, and vaccine recommendations are available on CDCs HPV website.


Swim Safe AZ!

May 17th, 2013

National Recreational Water Illness and Injury Prevention Week is coming up next week.  Healthy swimming depends on paying attention to basic health, hygiene, sun-safety, and what swimmers bring into the pool (and what they don’t).  For starters, remind your kids to take a sunscreen, hydration, and bathroom break every hour when swimming.  You might also want to start the summer off right by getting your kids a UV protective swim shirt.  After all…  90% of lifetime sun exposure happens before you’re 20- so you can have a big influence on your kid’s lifetime risk for skin cancer.  And remember- there’s no substitute for adult supervision especially for rookie swimmers. 

Hygiene tips include not swimming when you (or your kids) have diarrhea, reminding your kids not to swallow pool water, and practicing good hygiene (shower before swimming and wash your hands after changing diapers).  And remember- little kids should have a swim diaper…  and always change diapers in the bathroom or diaper-changing areas (not poolside).  You can visit our Waterborne Disease site and a new CDC report about fecal contamination in pools to learn more. 

This year we’ll be holding a healthy swimming video contest to build awareness of safe swimming.  Kids can create a 2-minute healthy swimming video to help educate people about safe swimming including sun safety, staying hydrated while swimming, and preventing the spread of germs at pools, lakes, and water parks. The deadline for submission is June 16th and the website has the complete details and contest rules. The winning video will be used in a statewide water safety campaign. Last year’s winning video is up on YouTube.

SARS déjà vu?

May 11th, 2013

Last month the World Health Organization (WHO) began to receive reports of human cases with SARS-like infections caused by a new coronavirus. According to WHO, 30 cases of this new illness have been found and 60% of the infections have been fatal. So far, the cases have been limited to Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Jordan, the United Arab Emirates, the UK and France. Symptoms are pretty serious and include fever, cough and shortness of breath. Most of the people infected have required hospitalization. It looks like the virus spreads person to person, but scientists don’t yet know enough to say for sure.

CDC, WHO, and other public health organizations are looking into all severe acute respiratory cases, especially those with recent travel to the Arabian Peninsula to identify any new cases of the virus and learn more about how it might be spreading. No cases have been found in the US.  Here’s some up to date information if you’re interested in learning more.

Yesterday I blogged about what we’ve learned since we first discovered SARS. 


SARS… A 10-Year Retrospective

May 10th, 2013

This Spring marks 10 years since Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) arrived on the global public health scene.  It started as a mystery illness in SE Asia- without name, origin, or cure in February of 2003.  The CDC immediately began working with the World Health Organization to investigate the outbreak.  Public health scientists across the globe scrambled to understand and contain this health threat… which ultimately infected more than 8,000 people- killing about 10% of them. 

By March of 2003, the CDC had confirmed that the disease wasn’t caused by an influenza virus, but they didn’t know the culprit…  so they named it after the symptoms (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) rather than the causative agent (it turned out to be a new Coronavirus).  March of ’03 also marked the time when the CDC figured out that the virus was spread via face-to-face human contact.  That’s also when the CDC and WHO recommended strict infection control measures including hand washing, gloves, avoiding sharing household items, and limiting interaction between ill patients and others. 

Exactly 10 years ago today CDC figured out that there were some “super-spreaders” that were a particular problem with the growing epidemic.  May ’03 also marked the month in which the investigation and public health and clinical interventions matured- bringing the full weight of the global public health and clinical management system to bear on the virus.  Interventions like concise case definitions and reporting standards, laboratory diagnostic tests, travel restrictions, and clear clinical management and infection control guidelines all worked together to eradicate the virus by the Summer of 2003. 

The forensic investigation continued for a few months after the virus was eradicated.  The investigation kept pointing toward an animal called a Civet as the source of the new Coronavirus.  A SARS-like virus had been isolated from civets captured in areas of China where the SARS outbreak originated and sold in live animal markets.  It’s a mammal with a catlike body, long legs, a long tail, and a masked face resembling a raccoon or weasel.  By January of ’04 it was pretty clear that a Civet was the probable source, and the CDC issued a  “Notice of Embargo of Civets”, which banned the importation of civets into the US. The ban is currently still in effect.  China also implemented some control measures on them. 

Interested in the whole story?  Check out “Remembering SARS: 10 Years Later” on the CDC’s website.

National Campaign Shows Real Dangers of Tobacco Use

May 6th, 2013

Continuing with the success of last year’s landmark national tobacco education campaign- the CDC is launching “Tips from Former Smokers” which will run in Arizona through the end of June.  The media campaign showcases the real and devastating effects of smoking & secondhand smoke.  The ads feature people with smoking-related health conditions and candidly describe the impact of tobacco and the benefits of quitting. 

The national campaign from CDC is a great supplement to our statewide efforts to help people quit smoking and preventing young people from starting.  We operate the widely successful ASHLine, which offers free evidence-based cessation services and nicotine replacement therapies for all Arizonans. The ASHLine has a 32% quit rate, which means that we’re helping more people every day to kick the habit. 

The CDCs ad’s encourage folks to call 1-800-QUITNOW- which in AZ will roll up directly to our ASHLine (1.800.55.66.222) helping even more Arizonans find local resources to help Arizonans kick the habit.


Whooping Cough Booster & Pregnancy

April 4th, 2013

Whooping cough (pertussis) is a growing problem in the US and Arizona.  There were 41,880 cases and 14 infant deaths from pertussis in the US last year…  which is the largest number of cases since the vaccine became available in the 50s.  In Arizona there were 988 cases in 2012 and there’s a pretty substantial outbreak going on right now in Colorado City.  Anyone can get infected with whooping cough, but infants are most likely to die from it and family member – especially the infant’s mother – are the most likely to give it to infants. 

New data shows that a mother’s antibodies against pertussis are short-lived.  Therefore, giving pregnant women a booster shot in one pregnancy might not provide protection for the next.  In fact, new recommendations from the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices say that every pregnant woman should get a pertussis booster during every pregnancy.  Places to find vaccines can be found at The Arizona Partnership for Immunization (TAPI) website.

CDC’s Valley Fever Article Spotlights AZ

April 2nd, 2013

Valley Fever has been making news across the country today. A new report in this week’s CDC’s weekly epidemiology report shows that Valley Fever numbers have gone up substantially in AZ over the last 10 years.  Part of the increase is probably due to the fact that Valley Fever became reportable a few years ago- but no doubt part is because of better awareness of the disease among clinicians and the public. 

The report (coauthored by our own Clarisse Tsang) highlights the important role that AZ plays in understanding Valley Fever.  Working with the California Department of Public Health and the CDC, we helped uncover more information about who is testing positive for Valley Fever.  The report shows that people 60 or older are more likely to test positive in Arizona.  In California the cases tend to be younger with the largest group between 40 and 59 years old.  

The report also shows that about 2/3 of the reported cases in the country are right here in Arizona.  The national attention comes at a great time – since many snowbirds are returning home for the summer.  Anyone who’s spent time in the Desert Southwest needs to watch out for  Valley Fever symptoms… if you’re tired and have had a cough and fever for a couple of weeks, ask your doctor to see if you might need a Valley Fever test.

Safe Prescribing Medical Education

March 27th, 2013

The number of prescriptions filled for opioid pain relievers has increased dramatically along with deaths from overdoses from painkillers (more than 1000 in AZ last year), leading the CDC to identify prescription drug abuse a problem of “epidemic” proportions.  To better equip physicians against this crisis, the National Institute on Drug Abuse offers two free online continuing medical education courses: 


  • Safe Prescribing for Pain (1.25 credits) teaches the prevalence of prescription opioid abuse and explores ways to effectively screen for and prevent abuse in patients with pain. 
  • Managing Pain Patients Who Abuse Rx Drugs (1.75 credits) identifies the prevalence of opioid addiction and dependence in patients with chronic pain, and assists physicians in identifying emerging abuse behaviors.