long-term-disaster diseases

/Tag:long-term-disaster diseases

Measles Outbreak 2015: What’s the Big Deal?

by James Hubbard, MD, MPH Every year we have a few measles outbreaks in the U.S., but they’re still pretty limited to a few hundred people. You’ve probably heard about the most recent one that started in Disneyland and may have led to over 100 people getting the measles so far in 2015. The worry is the outbreaks are going to get more frequent and bigger, and that’s not just because of people coming to the U.S. from countries where fewer children are vaccinated, as some have speculated. The percentage of children getting vaccinated in the U.S. is down to 91 percent. Compare that to 89 percent in Mexico, for example, and you can see there’s not a lot of difference. […]

By | February 4th, 2015|Infectious Disease|31 Comments

12 Things You Must Know About Ebola

Ebola Facts, Risks, and Air Travel by James Hubbard, MD, MPH Ebola is highly contagious and kills nine out of 10 people infected. So, why do I think headlines like USA Today’s “Ebola only a plane ride away from USA.” paint the wrong picture? Now that I think of it, why does my first sentence do the same? It’s all about perspective. First, a little background. […]

By | July 29th, 2014|Infectious Disease|54 Comments

7 Measles FAQs: What You Need to Know

Typical measles rash. (Click to zoom.) Usually starts on the face three to five days after symptoms begin. Travels down the body. by James Hubbard, MD, MPH One of the worst U.S. measles outbreaks in years is going on in Ohio. So far, around 70 people have been infected. Another outbreak, in California, has involved about 60 people. Though the measles is considered essentially eradicated in the U.S., there are a few cases here every year. This is a big year for them though, with 187 cases nationwide as of May 9, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. So this is a good time to bone up on your knowledge. Here are seven FAQs about this very contagious viral infection. […]

By | May 19th, 2014|Children, Infectious Disease|11 Comments

6 Things You Need to Know About Malaria, Just in Case

A “Long-Term-Disaster Diseases” post. See the rest in the series here. by James Hubbard, MD, MPH Normal red blood cells have light centers. The blue ones have been infested with malaria parasites. Today, April 25, is World Malaria Day. When my father was a boy in Mississippi, he had malaria. Millions of others did also in the American South in the 1930s. After a few days of the typical fever, teeth-chattering chills, and drenching sweats he got over it. Many did. But many others died. Millions still do—some here in the United States. We don’t yet have a vaccine for malaria, but we do have effective drugs. Even so, during a long-term disaster, those drugs may not be available. So here are some important facts to know. What Is Malaria? […]

By | April 25th, 2014|Infectious Disease|9 Comments

Your Disaster Fashion Guide: The Outfit That Fights Diseases

by James Hubbard, MD, MPH Back when I was growing up, I don’t think the phrase “universal precautions” was in a health care worker’s vocabulary. Now, we’re well-versed in such “precautions”—techniques that help prevent spreading diseases. But back then, people were more lax. We lived more like you might live at home with your family today—which is not like you’d want to live during a disaster. Back then, sure, people with highly contagious diseases were isolated, but few health care workers were afraid of getting a little blood on them from someone with no obvious illness. (Of course they should have been because people did get hepatitis from contaminated needle sticks, cuts, etc.) Even when I was in training, I knew of a pathologist who examined surgical specimens gloveless so he could get a feel of the texture. Then came AIDS, and everything changed. […]

By | April 14th, 2014|Infectious Disease|17 Comments

Unprecedented Ebola Outbreak. Could It Spread Here?

A field technician demonstrates protective gear in Zaire during the first Ebola outbreak in 1976. This is the third post in my “Long-Term Disaster Diseases” series. See the rest here. by James Hubbard, MD, MPH A new outbreak of Ebola is going on in Africa, and Doctors Without Borders is calling it “an epidemic of a magnitude never seen before”—not because of the number of cases or deaths. There have been more in previous outbreaks. It’s because of how the disease is spreading. In the past, Ebola has always stayed confined to a small region. This time the same strain of the virus has been found infecting people several hundred miles from the original area. The questions on the minds of many people who don’t live in Africa are, what is Ebola? Could it come here? If so, how do I prevent it? […]

By | April 7th, 2014|Infectious Disease|20 Comments

Long-Term-Disaster Diseases Part II: Typhoid Fever

Some diseases that aren’t a big problem in the most industrialized nations now could become a problem during a long-term disaster. This is the second in a series of posts I’m writing about such diseases. See part one, on typhus, here. by James Hubbard, MD, MPH We don’t hear much about typhoid fever in the United States. To most of us, it’s a mysterious disease that we know is serious, but we’re not sure what it looks like. Is it even really a fever? We need to be able to recognize it, though, because in certain conditions during a long-term disaster, it could spread rapidly. And proper early treatment dramatically lowers your risk of dying from it. […]

By | February 24th, 2014|Infectious Disease|19 Comments

Typhus Hits “Revolution”: Could It Hit Here?

Part 1 in the “Long-Term-Disaster Diseases” series. by James Hubbard, MD, MPH A doctor goes into this tent full of people who look deathly ill, some coughing. He comes out in about a minute and proclaims they all have typhus. Good diagnostician. But is it realistic? Could you tell that quickly whether people have this disease? And how dangerous is it? This scene is from the NBC television series Revolution, which is about how a bunch of people cope with life after the grid goes down—permanently. No electricity of any sort. It got me to thinking about typhus since an outbreak is a real possibility in a prolonged disaster situation. In fact, a couple of forms of it are not that uncommon in the United States right now. And in some other countries it’s much more widespread, especially Africa. So, let’s start at the beginning. What is typhus? […]

By | February 3rd, 2014|Infectious Disease|26 Comments