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West Nile Virus: A Seasonal Epidemic in North America

This summer North America is once again experiencing a “seasonal epidemic” of West Nile virus that is expected to last through the fall.  According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website, the mosquito-borne virus has been reported in 42 US states as of August 11, 2015.  Fortunately, most people who are infected


Virus-Associated Mystery Syndrome on the Rise: Acute Flaccid Myelitis

Named for its symptoms, acute flaccid myelitis (AFM) is a polio-like, paralyzing neurological condition that primarily afflicts young children aged 2 to 8 years. Although very rare, confirmed cases of AFM have spiked sharply since 2014, when the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) first noted the increase (see box). Available clinical, laboratory, and other evidence all suggest a viral association, and over 90% of confirmed cases had a mild respiratory illness or fever consistent with a viral infection before developing AFM. CDC is working closely with healthcare providers as well as state and local health departments to investigate and confirm AFM cases, including possible causes, risk factors, and potential treatment options. Yet because much about AFM remains a mystery—including why a small but growing number of people develop AFM after a viral infection while most others recover—some parents and doctors have grown impatient with CDC.


After the Hurricane: How to Handle a Flooded Swimming Pool or Spa

  The 2017 hurricane season is one for the record books. Among the issues residents in affected areas are contending with is flooded backyard swimming pools and spas. A new Fact Sheet from The Association of Pool & Spa Professionals provides expert and detailed guidance on safely returning your flooded pool or spa to working condition. This article lists


In the Wake of Hurricanes: The Problem with Standing Water

A discarded tire containing standing water can become a choice breeding ground for mosquitoes.   As flood waters recede in Houston and Florida, a new public health threat rears its ugly head: Mosquitoes breeding in standing water left in the wake of hurricanes. Puddles, flower pots and saucers, rain barrels, bird baths, pet bowls, discarded


Out of the Jungle: Yellow Fever on the Rise

Yellow fever, a deadly scourge transmitted by mosquitoes that has impacted the course of human history time and time again, is on the rise in Latin America. The first yellow fever death in Brazil in 17 years occurred in January 2017, when a young person who worked in the jungle succumbed to the disease. A


What Are Zoonotic Diseases?

If you guessed that ZOOnotic diseases have something to do with animals, you are right.  According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a zoonotic disease is one that can spread between animals and humans under natural conditions—such as in homes, on farms, and at county fairs and petting zoos—and can be caused


Zika Virus: On the Move

The Zika virus, a flavivirus1, is spreading “explosively” through several Latin American and Caribbean countries, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), prompting that group to declare an international health emergency which, according to the BBC “…means research and aid will be fast-tracked to tackle the infection.”  The virus is transmitted through the bite of


How to Drain a Residential Swimming Pool

Summer’s nearly over and many backyard swimming pool owners will soon undertake their annual “pool draining ritual.” Draining the water helps prevent damage to pools in geographic areas subject to freeze-thaw cycles. This article provides information to help you drain your pool responsibly. What’s the Big Deal? It’s easy enough to fill your pool with


Avoiding Chikungunya and Other Mosquitoborne Illnesses

A pediatrician returned home to Minnesota recently after providing voluntary medical service in Haiti. She arrived with “crushing joint pain” from chikungunya (pronounced: \chik-en-gun-ye), a viral infection spread by mosquitoes. The exotic-sounding disease can cause high fever in addition to joint and muscle pain. These symptoms are similar to those of dengue, another mosquitoborne illness