Memphis Doctors Warn of Dangerous Insect Diseases As Memorial Weekend Approaches

(May 24, 2016)   As families head out for Memorial Day weekend, local docs warn that insect-borne diseases are increasing here and globally, taking a bite out of summer fun and posing serious health threats.

•Infected mosquitos carrying the Zika virus are expected to enter the U.S. starting in June or July, meaning Americans could get infected right here at home – according to the head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. *
• One type of infected mosquito likely to carry Zika will blanket the south and reach as far north as New York City and as far west as San Francisco.  Another species could spread widely along the East Coast and New England. *
• A newly released study in the journal Climatic Change shows another half a billion people could be at risk from diseases carried by insects including the Zika virus and West Nile virus.
• The World Health Organization reports that Zika, with most outbreaks in South America and Southeast Asia, now has a moderate likelihood of an outbreak in France, Italy and Greece —popular American summer tourist destinations.

The problem? Global warming has created warmer, wet breeding grounds for insects that are “sip feeders” — taking small blood meals from lots of people.

“With Zika spreading to the U.S., we are urging our patients to take precautions to protect themselves from bug bites,” says Jeremy Allen, M.D., of American Family Care. “We are here seven days a week to treat all summer injuries and illnesses from sunburn to bug bites. And if we suspect patients have contracted an insect-carried disease we will make sure they get the proper medical treatment.”

We invite you to interview our docs at the local AFC urgent care to explain the best way to protect your family from bug-bite diseases. We also invite you to talk to families in our clinics about their fears of these illnesses as they prepare for summer travel.

Zika Virus Fast Facts:
• You get the Zika virus from a bite from an infected Aedes mosquito.
• The disease is mostly a threat for women who are pregnant or want to conceive because it can cause serious birth defects.
• Zika is very hard to detect and diagnose. The symptoms are often very mild so people don’t realize they have the virus. In fact, one in five people who contract Zika have few or no symptoms.
• Symptoms include fever, rash, joint and muscle pain and conjunctivitis (pink eye).

West Nile Virus Fast Facts:
• Carried by mosquitos and transmitted when they bite.
• Symptoms include fever, headache, vomiting and in older adults — stiff neck, confusion, seizures, muscle weakness and loss of consciousness.

HOW TO PROTECT FROM ZIKA AND WEST NILE VIRUS:
• Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants.
• Stay in places with air conditioning and screens to keep mosquitos outside.
• Sleep under a mosquito bed net if you are overseas or outside and can’t protect yourself.
• Use EPA registered insect repellents with one of these ingredients: DEET, picaridin, or oil of eucalyptus.

Lyme Disease:
•Spread by tiny deer ticks that attach to the skin.
•First and most obvious symptom is a rash that looks like a red spot surrounded by a light ring that looks like a target. Some children have fever, fatigue, headaches, sore muscles and swollen glands.
•Lyme disease can cause headaches and body aches or numbness, stiff joints (similar to arthritis), fatigue, meningitis (inflammation of the nervous system), Bell’s palsy (weakness/paralysis in facial muscles), heart problems like inflammation of the heart muscle, inflammation of the eye and difficulties with speech, memory or concentration.

HOW TO PREVENT LYME DISEASE:
• Cover up. When in wooded or grassy areas, wear shoes, long pants tucked into your socks, a long-sleeved shirt, a hat and gloves. Try to stick to trails and avoid walking through low bushes and long grass. Keep your dog on a leash.
• Use insect repellents. Apply insect repellent with a 20 percent or higher concentration of DEET to your skin. Parents should apply repellent to their children, avoiding their hands, eyes and mouth. Apply products with permethrin to clothing or buy pretreated clothing.
• Do your best to tick-proof your yard. Clear brush and leaves where ticks live. Keep woodpiles in sunny areas.
• Check yourself, your children and your pets for ticks. Be especially vigilant after spending time in wooded or grassy areas. Deer ticks are often no bigger than the head of a pin, so you may not discover them unless you search carefully.
• It’s helpful to shower as soon as you come indoors. Ticks often remain on your skin for hours before attaching themselves. Showering and using a washcloth might remove unattached ticks.
• Don’t assume you’re immune. You can get Lyme disease more than once.
• Remove a tick as soon as possible.  Using tweezers, gently grasp the tick near its head or mouth. Don’t squeeze or crush the tick, but pull carefully and steadily. Once you’ve removed the entire tick, dispose of it and apply antiseptic to the bite area.

*Anthony Fauci, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases

About American Family Care:
Starting with a single location in Hoover, Alabama in 1982, American Family Care has pioneered the concept of non-emergency room urgent care. With its 2013 acquisition of the Doctors Express franchise, AFC is the nation’s leading provider of urgent care and accessible primary care, with more than 160 clinics and 500 in-network physicians caring for more than 2 million patients a year. Ranked by Inc. Magazine as one of the fastest growing companies in the U.S., AFC’s stated mission is to provide the best healthcare possible, in a kind and caring environment, while respecting the rights of all patients, in an economical manner, at times and locations convenient to the patient. For more information, visit www.americanfamilycare.com.

4 Things To Know About Holiday Party Survival

This year, about 50 percent of people in the United States will attend at least one holiday party. For about half of us, our employer will host a party for us. About 20 percent of us will even host our own.

With those numbers, it’s easy to see a lot of potential pitfalls ahead. So don’t let yourself get caught off-guard, read this guide to see how you can be happy and healthy all holiday season long!

1. If you’re watching what you eat, a holiday party can be an exercise in torture. A single piece of brie on toast can be more than 100 calories, and who could possibly eat just one? Nearly 40 percent of Americans say that the most stressful part of the holiday season is gaining weight, and it’s not hard to see why. But you can prevent a lot of the damage to your diet by planning ahead. If you know a party is going to have a lot of calorie-dense foods or that dinner is going to be served late, eat a healthy snack or small meal before you arrive. That way, the heavier amuse-bouches won’t be as tempting. You can also fill your plate up with lighter fare, like shrimp and vegetables. These will fill you up without filling you out, which can take a big holiday stressor off your mind.

2. Going off that point, it can be just as tough to limit your drinks during these parties, whether it’s because you want to have more fun, calm your nerves, or avoid peer pressure. But it can quickly get out of hand and the last thing you want is to have your wild night broadcast over Facebook or be the subject of water cooler gossip. To avoid having too much, volunteer to drive, and after one or two drinks, start drinking cranberry and soda with no alcohol so you have something to hold. And if the party is during the week, make it to work the next day. Your boss can easily find out what you were up to the night before by looking at anything you posted on social media, and you don’t want word to get around about your party animal tendencies.

3. At potluck-style meals, there are a lot of precautions you should consider taking to make the events safe and healthy for everyone. First, include the list of ingredients for any dish you prepare, so anyone with allergies knows immediately whether or not they can eat it. When serving the dishes, make sure there are serving utensils available so people don’t have to touch food with their hands, potentially spreading germs. Make sure hand sanitizer and hand soap are always readily available and encourage everyone to use it. And if you are sick, medications like Theraflu can speed up the recovery process and get you back onto the social scene as soon as possible.

4. Consider the preferences of your host when choosing a host gift. If they choose not to drink alcohol, a bottle of wine is probably not the most appropriate gift. Same goes for any dietary restrictions they may have. If you don’t know the person very well, easy gifts include flowers, a coffee table book, or a gift card in a small amount.

The holidays can be a whirlwind of activity, from preparing to travel, getting shopping done, finishing up end-of-year projects at work and any number of other tasks.

With this list of survival tips, we at AFC/Doctors Express hope to get rid of some of that stress, so you can focus on what’s really important, enjoying your holiday!

 

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