Which Vaccines are Suggested for High-Risk Jobs?

healthcare workers

 

Workplaces can pose all kinds of hazards, especially to those individuals who work in environments where exposure to various diseases is heightened. Healthcare, farming, oil drilling and food handling jobs are just some of the professions and industries in which additional health risks exist that typically do not affect the average person. As a result, it is extremely important that workers in these fields be vaccinated against a variety of diseases.

Below are five vaccines that are most needed by the individuals in these higher risk jobs to help ensure protection against what could otherwise be deadly infections.

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New HPV Studies Show the Importance and Safety of Vaccination

Young Healthy Women

 

During January, Cervical Health Awareness Month, we have reviewed a range of cervical health issues, including the new vaccine from Merck, Gardasil 9, that will hopefully enter the market soon. Recently, studies have been released showing how safe the current Gardasil vaccine is, and this safety is likely to extend to the new vaccine as well. In our last post for Cervical Health Awareness Month, let’s consider what these studies mean for you and your family.

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Chikungunya in the Caribbean: An Update on the Outbreak

Canaries, Saint Lucia
Canaries, Saint Lucia

 

In 2014, many Caribbean nations experienced an outbreak of Chikungunya, a mosquito-borne disease for which there is not a vaccine.

Over one million people in the western hemisphere contracted chikungunya in 2014—an unprecedented number. While only a handful of cases are reported in the United States during an average year, nearly 2,000 tourists came home with the disease last year.

Chikungunya garnered additional attention when actress Lindsay Lohan contracted the disease on a vacation to French Polynesia. Lohan tweeted and posted Instagram photos mentioning the virus and warning others to use bug spray.

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The Flu Report: 1/28/15

Flu Near You Map - January 28th
Image courtesy of flunearyou.org. Click here to view the interactive map.

 

The number of flu cases has begun to level off, but the flu is still a serious concern as the month of January concludes.

Overview:

The overall number of flu cases actually went down this week by about 10%, when compared to last week’s numbers. Although no predictions can be accurately based on one week’s worth of data, a brief lull surely gives a welcome respite to those areas that have been hardest hit by the flu, and these hard hit areas extend all over the United States. Indeed, there remain only two US jurisdictions reporting less than widespread influenza activity. Lower rates of spread have been reported recently in some areas, particularly the southern Atlantic coastal states and the states surrounding the Great Lakes. Five states have been downgraded to regional activity (Alabama, Georgia, Hawaii, Minnesota, and Tennessee), but the states that were the last bastions of only regional activity (specifically, Arizona and California) are now listed as having widespread flu activity.

This ebb and flow of influenza activity underscores the importance of vaccination; the severity of the season can spike rapidly, and unvaccinated individuals are, of course, especially vulnerable to the flu and its potentially severe complications as it spreads quickly. As evidence of this, the flu-related death rate remains above the epidemic threshold at 9.3%, and pediatric deaths are now on pace to possibly surpass last year’s numbers.

According to FluNearYou.org, California and New England have the highest concentration of influenza cases, while the CDC shows Texas and the surrounding states as the current influenza hotzone. Given that CDC numbers are about 2-3 weeks behind FluNearYou’s instant, user-generated numbers, it is possible that the hotbed of flu activity may in fact be centered on the coasts now.

By the Numbers:

In the United States, the CDC has reported:

  • Flu Cases (Laboratory Confirmed) – 5,104
    • Influenza A – 4,800
    • Influenza B – 304
  • Flu-related Deaths (Percentage) – 9.3% (2.2% above epidemic threshold)

NOTE: Flu cases, as referenced above, are confirmed cases in people who have gone to see medical professionals. Percentage estimates, referenced in the “Overview” section, include these documented cases from medical professionals but also a variety of other self-reported metrics.

Around the World:

North America appears to be nearing a moderate rating for influenza activity, according to Google Flu Trends. Europe remains high to moderate, and Spain is the only country with a severe rating. However, Austria, the Netherlands, and France appear to be approaching severe levels and may cross the threshold in the coming week. Japan is the only Asian country with a severe rating, and the Southern Hemisphere remains almost entirely flu free.

Staying Healthy:

Our tip for this week: don’t forget to Take Three! The CDC’s Take Three program suggests doing three key things in order to avoid the flu: take time to get a flu vaccine, take everyday actions to stop the spread of germs (i.e. washing hands, covering your mouth when coughing), and take flu antiviral medications if your doctor prescribes them. Via these methods, it is possible to stay healthy and be better prepared to fight off any infection should you fall ill. For additional help, contact a Passport Health flu professional at 1-888-499-PASS (7277) and we’ll help you schedule your flu vaccination today.

The Flu Report is a weekly blog post designed to give updates on the spread of influenza throughout the year. It is posted every Wednesday and focuses on regional outbreaks, global spread and ways to avoid infection.

How to Travel With Sleep Apnea

Active travelers camping

 

Sleep apnea is a relatively common sleep disorder. People with sleep apnea may have one or more pauses in breathing or take very shallow breaths while sleeping. As a result of this, the quality of sleep is usually poor, resulting in tired days and daytime sleepiness. Luckily, CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) therapy helps to provide a solution for this sleep disorder. Unfortunately, though, most cpap machines are fairly bulky, involving hoses, masks, and nose pieces. These bulky devices can make travel difficult for people who suffer from sleep apnea. However, by following a few travel tips and using the latest in CPAP technology, many of these woes can be avoided, and sleep apnea need not limit your travels any longer!

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How Can Biometric Screenings Help Your Business?

Employees of different occupations

 

Wellness programs are becoming increasingly common among companies of all types and sizes. Simple blood tests and some basic health tips based on potential risk zones can do a lot to help employees, and employers, stay happy and feeling well throughout the year and during the crunch times in which good health is even more important. Passport Health offers wellness services that help employees understand how to maintain a healthy lifestyle based on their unique situations.

Biometric health screenings are not time intensive and provide key baseline measures for any corporate health initiative. These screenings involve a short visit with registered health professionals who will check vitals, record BMI, administer basic blood tests, and provide easy to understand advice on what the individual can do in order to maintain and improve his or her health.

How does a biometric event work? It is simple! Everything is brought to the workplace, to make the screening as convenient as possible for employees. Employees are even able to pre-register for a time slot for the screening well in advance of the event to minimize time away from work. Passport Health even provides flyers for posting around the facility and email templates to remind everyone about the benefits that come with a wellness check. Here is a bit more detail on what to expect at a biometric screening event at your workplace.

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Celebrate Australia Day with a Trip to Australia

Sydney, Australia aerial view

 

This year marks the 197th anniversary of the first official celebration of Australia Day. The holiday marks the arrival of the First Fleet of British Ships at Port Jackson in 1788. Also known as Foundation Day, Anniversary Day and Survival Day, January 26 provides an opportunity for all Australians, and visitors, to celebrate the rich history and unique sights the country has to offer.

Outdoor barbecues, concerts and sporting events are common means of celebrating this holiday, as are massive firework displays. The holiday also provides a great opportunity to travel to Australia to take in the country’s famous Great Barrier Reef, the beaches of the Gold Coast, and the fabled Outback. Another amazing sight to behold is the Sydney Opera House which, though only opened in 1973, has already been named a UNESCO Protected Heritage Site for its distinct iconography and the contributions to the arts that have been made there.

In terms of health, unique precautions should be taken for travel to Australia since the country is very different from many other developed countries. While the nation is fully industrialized, there is still need to take precautions in certain areas because of indigenous wildlife, and this unique fauna is typically not present in other countries.

For example, malaria is still comparatively prevalent in sectors of the country. In 2011, Australia recorded just over 8,000 cases while, by comparison, the United States only had 5. Thus, due to the presence of mosquitos and other wildlife, it is extremely important that mosquito-borne disease precautions are taken for travel to certain regions of Australia.

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How Can I Stay Cyber Secure While Traveling?

Modern traveler with laptop and smart phone

 

When leaving for any trip, personal safety and health should always be top of mind. In the modern world, a key part of personal safety that should never be neglected is cyber security. Hackers can attack even while you are relaxing poolside at a resort. There are many easy ways to stay cybersecure before you leave and to maintain security while traveling. Here are some tips to keep your personal information and records safe during your next trip.

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Finding a PATH to Cervical Health in the Developing World

group of supportive women

 

We are now more than midway through Cervical Health Awareness Month. So far, we have reviewed cervical health issues such as Gardasil 9 and how it can help protect against more strains of HPV than any other vaccine on the market. We have also taken a look at what the WHO advises regarding vaccination, screening and cancer prevention. Now, we turn to PATH, a group that is trying to help individuals and governments provide care for and prevent the spread of cervical cancers.

Since its beginnings in 1977, when PATH had only three staff members and a dream, the group has partnered with global health leaders in order to find affordable and effective solutions for HPV screening and vaccinations. Through these screenings the group hopes to decrease the number of deaths due to cervical and other related cancers and help improve women’s health throughout the world.

One of PATH’s major focuses has been getting screenings to areas that could not otherwise offer this medical service (not entirely unlike Matternet and Project C.U.R.E). Through a partnership with QIAGEN, a German molecular diagnostics company, careHPVTM was developed, and this test provides a faster, more cost effective, and less technically advanced way of testing for cancer-causing HPV variants than the conventional Pap test. PATH is also working with another company on developing a similar easy-to-use test that will check for cancerous cells and not just the HPV infection.

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The Flu Report: 1/21/15

Flu Near You Map - January 21st
Image courtesy of flunearyou.org. Click here to view the interactive map.

 

Despite another bad week for influenza throughout the United States, there are signs that flu season may be starting to wind down.

Overview:

Over the last week, the number of confirmed influenza cases has declined by about one-third. Despite this decline, 52 of the 54 jurisdictions are still reporting widespread flu activity. Reports of influenza-like illness remain high, but they are now on par with (as opposed to exceeding) last season. However, these numbers are still higher than those reported during the 2009-2010 and 2010-2011 seasons.

According to FluNearYou.org, only 17.5% of users are reporting influenza-like illness or symptoms, below the CDC average. This discrepancy is likely due, at least in part, to a difference in reporting methodology. FluNearYou uses instantaneous, self-reported data, but the CDC measures reported cases over time.

This week also marked a serious increase in flu-related deaths, topping out at 8.5%, 1.5% above the epidemic threshold. This is the first significant rise in mortality and shows the dangers of the flu virus. There were also 19 pediatric deaths, putting the total number of pediatric deaths for the 2014-2015 flu season at 45. This statistic for 2015 is higher than it was during the 2011-2012 season, but it is equivalent to the number of pediatric deaths reported last year.

By the Numbers:

In the United States, the CDC has reported:

  • Flu Cases (Laboratory Confirmed) – 5,284 (20.2% of specimens tested)
    • Influenza A – 5,051 (95.6%)
    • Influenza B – 233 (4.4%)
  • Flu-related Deaths (Percentage) – 8.5% (1.5% above epidemic threshold)

NOTE: Flu cases, as referenced above, are confirmed cases in people who have gone to see medical professionals. Percentage estimates, referenced in the “Overview” section, include these documented cases from medical professionals but also a variety of other self-reported metrics.

Around the World:

Flu trends around the world have declined according to Google Flu Trends. Most of North America is still listed as having high rates of activity, but it could soon be listed as moderate as cases appear to be on the decline. Europe, which was almost exclusively rated as high over the past few weeks, is now mainly showing low to moderate levels of activity with only Norway, the Netherlands, Russia and Austria listed as high. Japan and Spain have retained their severe ratings. Flu cases in Japan appears to be leveling off and could drop back to high during the coming weeks, but flu activity in Spain shows no signs of declining.

Staying Healthy:

Our tip for this week: Seek medical attention if your sickness persists. Just last week, a Wisconsin nurse became ill from the flu, developed pneumonia and sepsis, and unfortunately passed away. It is extremely important to seek medical attention if you believe you have contracted the flu and symptoms persist beyond the norm. As always, influenza vaccination is the best preventative measure to avoid the flu and the more dangerous infections that can come if an infection is not treated properly, even after vaccination. For additional help, contact a Passport Health flu professional at 1-888-499-PASS (7277) and we’ll help you schedule your flu vaccination today.

The Flu Report is a weekly blog post designed to give updates on the spread of influenza throughout the year. It is posted every Wednesday and focuses on regional outbreaks, global spread and ways to avoid infection.