New Hampshire (NH) continues to have one of the highest rates of Lyme disease in the nation, and about 60% of deer ticks sampled in NH are infected with Borrelia burgdorferi, the bacteria that causes Lyme disease (2014, Medscape).
Credit Sara Plourde / NHPR
Additional preventative measures can include:
Avoid tick-infested areas when possible and stay on the path when hiking to avoid brush.
Wear light-colored clothing that covers arms and legs so ticks can be more easily seen.
Tuck pants into socks before going into wooded or grassy areas.
Apply insect repellent (20-30% DEET) to exposed skin. Other repellent options may be found here: Outdoor workers in NH are at particular risk of tickborne diseases and they should be reminded about methods of prevention.
Do daily tick checks to look for ticks on the body, especially warm places like behind the knees, the groin, and the back and neck.
Pets returning inside may also bring ticks with them. Performing tick checks and using tick preventatives on pets will minimize this occurrence.
Shower soon after returning indoors to wash off any unattached ticks and check clothes for any ticks that might have been carried inside. Placing clothes in the dryer on high heat for an hour effectively kills ticks. A recent study suggests that if clothing is not wet, shorter drying times (minimum of 6 minutes) may effectively kill ticks.
Remove ticks promptly using tweezers. Tick removal within 36 hours of attachment can prevent disease.
Monitor for signs and symptoms of tickborne diseases for 30 days after a tick bite. Patients should contact their healthcare provider if symptoms develop.
We live in a world with other people. And we come in contact with them…at the grocery store, the pharmacy, religious services, restaurants, the work place, airplanes … everywhere. Those people came in contact with other people, and so on. We can pick up viruses like influenza easily from people we don’t even know because we are breathing the same air they breathe, touching the same door handles, pushing the same grocery carts. Flu vaccine protects you from what they carry and you cannot easily avoid.
Flu vaccine protects you. Each year new influenza viruses circulate in the community and the population is susceptible to the flu. Getting the vaccine is your best protection from influenza.
Flu vaccine protects others near you. Influenza virus can be shed by an unsuspecting individual up to 24 hours before they become symptomatic. So, very early in the period of infection, we can spread it to others even before we suspect we have it.
Flu vaccine protects those who are at particular risk. Those who have serious disease, who are on cancer treatment or immunosuppressive therapies are at very high risk of becoming very sick or dying from influenza and its complications. When members of their families, their friends and their healthcare providers get vaccine, it builds a wall of immunity around the individual.
Flu vaccine protects the community at large. When lots of people in a community have been vaccinated, it stops the virus from finding a convenient place to land and spread. The more people who are immunized, the less likely influenza is to take a foothold.
There is no cure for influenza. There are some treatments that shorten the duration of symptoms if given early, but there is no cure for influenza. Mostly we treat the symptoms while waiting for the virus to run its course. Antibiotics are of no use in influenza because they only kill bacteria, and influenza is a virus not susceptible to the threat of antibiotics.
Flu vaccine keeps you from developing complications of influenza. As if the flu wasn’t miserable enough on its own, some people develop serious complications like pneumonia and ear & sinus infections. And diabetics with influenza have trouble controlling their blood sugar during the period of infection.
Flu season is long. It lasts from September to May and it sometimes comes in waves. But here is the important thing – we don’t know when it is coming to our vicinity. A shot protects you for the entire flu season.
Flu season tends to come when we would like to celebrate the winter holidays with family and friends. But those fun gatherings carry risk for unvaccinated people. They might get the flu and pass it on to others.
Flu vaccineis safe, and the flu shot does not cause the flu. The shot is not capable of causing the flu because it is made from an inactivated protein. Some people do develop a little fever or aching after the vaccine because their own bodies are building up immunity to the virus.
ABOUT the Author: Margaret Franckhauser is Chief Executive Officer of Central New Hampshire VNA & Hospice. The Mission of Central New Hampshire VNA & Hospice is “Promoting dignity, independence, and well-being through the delivery of quality home health, hospice and community-based care services.” Central New Hampshire VNA & Hospice serves Lakes Region communities in Belknap and Southern Carroll County and provides Home Care (nursing and rehabilitation services in the home); Pediatric Care (direct health care, education and support services for children and families); and a comprehensive, team-based Hospice program. Central New Hampshire VNA & Hospice is a not-for-profit, Medicare-certified provider of home care and hospice services, licensed by the State of New Hampshire. The agency is governed by a volunteer Board of Trustees and supported by private and corporate donations.
August is National Immunization Awareness Month and a reminder that we all need vaccines throughout our lives
You want to do what is best for your children. You know about the importance of car seats, baby gates and other ways to keep them safe. But did you know that one of the best ways to protect your children is to make sure they have all of their vaccinations?
Immunizations can save your child’s life. Because of advances in medical science, your child can be protected against more diseases than ever before. Some diseases that once injured or killed thousands of children are no longer common in the United States – primarily due to safe and effective vaccines. Polio is one example of the great impact that vaccines had in the United States. Polio was once America’s most feared disease, causing death and paralysis across the country but today, thanks to vaccination, there are no reports of polio in the United States.
Vaccination is very safe and effective. Vaccines are only given to children after a long and careful review by scientists, doctors, and health care professionals. Vaccines will involve some discomfort and may cause pain, redness, or tenderness at the site of injection, but this is minimal compared to the pain, discomfort, and trauma of the diseases these vaccines prevent. Serious side effects following vaccination, such as severe allergic reaction, are very rare. The disease-prevention benefits of getting vaccines are much greater than the possible side effects for almost all children.
Immunization protects others you care about. Children in the United States still get vaccine-preventable diseases. In fact, we have seen a resurgence of measles and whooping cough (pertussis) over the past few years. For example, more than 28,000 cases of whooping cough were reported in the United States in 2014. From 2000 through 2014, there were 277 deaths from whooping cough reported in the United States. Almost all of the deaths were babies younger than 3 months of age, who are too young to be protected against whooping cough by getting the shots. Unfortunately, some babies are too young to be completely vaccinated and some people may not be able to receive certain vaccinations due to severe allergies, weakened immune systems from conditions like leukemia, or other reasons. To help keep them safe, it is important that you and your children who are able to get vaccinated are fully immunized. This not only protects your family, but also helps prevent the spread of these diseases to your friends and loved ones.
Immunizations can save your family time and money. A child with a vaccine-preventable disease can be denied attendance at schools or child care facilities. Some vaccine-preventable diseases can result in prolonged disabilities and can take a financial toll because of lost time at work and medical bills. In contrast, getting vaccinated against these diseases is a good investment and usually covered by insurance or the Vaccines for Children (VFC) program, which is a federally funded program that provides vaccines at no cost to children from low-income families.
Immunization protects future generations. Vaccines have reduced and, in some cases, eliminated many diseases that killed or severely disabled people just a few generations ago. For example, smallpox vaccination eradicated that disease worldwide. Your children don’t have to get smallpox shots anymore because the disease no longer exists. By vaccinating children against rubella (German measles), the risk that pregnant women will pass this virus on to their fetus or newborn has been dramatically decreased, and birth defects associated with that virus are rarely seen in the United States. If we continue vaccinating now, and vaccinating completely, parents in the future may be able to trust that some diseases of today will no longer be around to harm their children in the future.
Anyone Can Get the Flu, but the Disease Is More Severe for Some People. Most people who get influenza will recover in a few days to less than 2 weeks, but some people will develop life-threatening complications (such as pneumonia) as a result of the flu. Millions of people in the United States — about 5% to 20% of U.S. residents — will get influenza each year. An average of about 36,000 people per year in the United States die from influenza, and more than 200,000 have to be admitted to the hospital as a result of influenza. Anyone can get the flu (even healthy people), and serious problems from influenza can happen at any age. People age 65 years and older, people of any age with chronic medical conditions, and very young children are more likely to get complications from influenza. Pneumonia, bronchitis, and sinus and ear infections are three examples of complications from flu. The flu can make chronic health problems worse. For example, people with asthma may experience asthma attacks while they have the flu, and people with chronic congestive heart failure may have worsening of this condition that is triggered by the flu.
Influenza is a contagious disease, and for that fact alone, everyone is encouraged to receive a flu vaccine. Central New Hampshire VNA and Hospice will be presenting flu clinics starting in October.
Following are the times and places to receive flu vaccine:
Tuftonboro – Town Hall – October 14, 11am-12:00Noon
Alton – Community Center-October 14, 1:00pm to 2:30 pm
Belmont – Belmont Senior Center – October 15, 11:00am to 12:00 Noon
Sandwich – Doris Benz Center – October 15 1:30pm to 2:30pm
Wolfeboro – Wolfeboro Congregational Church – October 17, 12:30pm to 2:00pm
Clinics are able to bill the following insurances: Medicare Part B, Medicaid, Harvard Pilgrim and Anthem Blue Cross. Otherwise it will cost $25.00.