Friday, February 14th, 2014
A new study has linked routine well-child visits–which are advised and recommended at least on an annual basis–with an increased risk that children will be exposed to flu or flu-like germs in the waiting or examination rooms. The study, published in the journal Infection Control and Hospital Epidemiology, emphasized that the findings, which translate to more than 700,000 potentially avoidable illnesses and a $492 million pricetag each year, underscore the importance that doctor’s offices follow existing infection control guidelines.
“Well child visits are critically important. However, our results demonstrate that healthcare professionals should devote more attention to reducing the risk of spreading infections in waiting rooms and clinics. Infection control guidelines currently exist. To increase patient safety in outpatient settings, more attention should be paid to these guidelines by healthcare professionals, patients, and their families,” said Phil Polgreen, MD, MPH, lead author of the study, in a statement.
Researchers from the University of Iowa used data from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality’s (AHRQ) Medical Expenditure Panel Survey to examine the healthcare trends of 84,595 families collected from 1996-2008. Included in the analysis were demographic, office-based, emergency room, and outpatient cases records. After controlling for factors, such as the presence of other children, insurance, and demographics, the authors found that well-child visits for children younger than six years old increased the probability of a flu-like illness in these children or their families during the subsequent two weeks by 3.2 percentage points.
This incremental risk could amount to more than 700,000 avoidable cases of flu-like illness each year and $492 million in direct and indirect costs, based on established estimates for outpatient influenza.
In a commentary accompanying the study, Lisa Saiman, MD, notes, “The true cost of flu-like illnesses are much higher since only a fraction result in ambulatory visits and many more cases are likely to result in missed work or school days. Furthermore, these flu-like illness visits are associated with inappropriate antimicrobial use.”
The authors stress the importance of infection prevention and control in ambulatory settings, suggesting pediatric clinics follow recommended guidelines that include improving environmental cleaning, cough etiquette, and hand hygiene compliance.
“Even with interventions, such as the restricted use of communal toys or separate sick and well-child waiting areas, if hand-hygiene compliance is poor, and potentially infectious patients are not wearing masks, preventable infections will continue to occur,” said Polgreen.
Is your kid too sick to go to school? Take our quiz to find out.
Image: Pediatrician’s office, via Shutterstock
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Wednesday, November 16th, 2011
The consumer products company Kimberly-Clark is recalling 1,400 boxes of Kotex tampons amid fears that the tampons could be contaminated with a potentially life-threatening bacteria.
The Food and Drug Administration published details of the recall, which applies to the Kotex Natural Balance* Security® Unscented Tampons Regular Absorbency:
The tampons were manufactured with a raw material contaminated with a bacterium, Enterobacter sakazakii, which may cause health risks, including vaginal infections, urinary tract infections (UTIs), pelvic inflammatory disease or infections that can be life-threatening. Women with serious existing illnesses, cancer or immune-compromised conditions, such as HIV, are at increased risk. There is limited evidence of transfer between individuals with this bacterium.
If you are concerned your tampons may be among the recalled boxes, check the FDA website for a complete list of lot numbers and SKU codes. The Kotex website also has a list of stores that were most likely to carry the contaminated tampons.
(image via: http://www.kotex.com/)
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Tuesday, September 13th, 2011
Listeria, the gastrointestinal bacteria that is of particular danger to pregnant women, has been documented in Colorado, Texas, and Nebraska, leading health officials to declare an “outbreak” and warn at-risk individuals to take precautions. Two patients in Colorado died from the infection.
The outbreak, according to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, can be traced to tainted cantaloupe melons. Though the bacteria is most often spread through unpasteurized soft cheeses, refrigerated smoked seafood, and deli meats, officials urge pregnant women, people over 60, and those with compromised immune systems to avoid eating cantaloupe as well as those other foods until the source of the contamination can be determined. Officials note that deli meat can be safely consumed by pregnant women if it is reheated to 165 degrees Fahrenheit.
Pregnant women who contract listeria are at risk for convulsions, miscarriage, or stillbirth.
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Thursday, June 23rd, 2011
An infection called babesiosis, which is carried by the same deer ticks that spread Lyme disease, is on the rise in the coastal Northeast. The infection can be fatal, particularly in infants and those over 50.
In addition to being concerned about tick bites spreading the disease, public health officials are looking for ways to keep the blood supply safe so the infection is not spread by transfusion. The New York Times reports that a blood center in Rhode Island has become the first to use an experimental test to screen blood for the infection, following several infant deaths in the state in the past decade.
The New York Times article outlines what parents and the general public needs to know about babesiosis:
According to a recent report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there were six cases of babesiosis in the Lower Hudson Valley in 2001 and 119 cases in 2008, a 20-fold increase. In areas where Lyme disease is endemic, like coastal Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Connecticut and Long Island, babesiosis also is becoming very common, said Dr. Peter Krause, senior research scientist at the Yale School of Public Health.
In one study of residents of Block Island, R.I., Dr. Krause found babesiosis to be just 25 percent less common than Lyme disease. Babesiosis also is spreading slowly into other regions where it did not exist before, like the Upper Midwest, said Dr. Krause….
The symptoms can be vague (there is no tell-tale rash as there may be with Lyme disease) and include fever, sweats, chills, headache, fatigue, and muscle aches and pains. In people who also have Lyme disease, doctors might suspect babesiosis if the symptoms are particularly severe or the antibiotics are not working, said Dr. Krause. A diagnosis can be confirmed through blood testing….
If not caught and treated early, babesiosis can lead to such complications as kidney, lung or heart failure. The infection can be treated with antimicrobial medications, but people with serious complications are less responsive to the drugs.
Read more on Parents.com about Lyme disease, and how to tick-proof your yard.
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