Health News

OK in Health - Health News

This page looks at seasonal wellness information or information that is in the news.

 

 

HEALTH  ALERTS

Health official says Norwalk outbreak no cause for alarm

Health Alert for Physicians in Central Okanagan 

 

 Our community is experiencing ongoing challenges with C. difficile. C. difficile infection (CDI) is the most common cause of infectious diarrhea in hospitalized patients. It is transmitted from hands of health care workers, contaminated hospital environments and asymptomatic carriers. Risk factors for CDI include antibiotic use, hospitalization, advanced age, gastrointestinal surgery or procedures and acid reducing agents such as proton pump inhibitors.  A hypervirulent strain of C difficile (NAP1) has been circulating worldwide that is associated with more severe disease and more frequent and recalcitrant recurrences. Although clindamycin and third generation cephalosporins have historically been associated with CDI, quinolone antibiotics seem to particularly predispose patients to the hypervirulent strain. Interior Health is introducing a pre printed order to help physicians manage CDI. Please review the documents  available for download here to learn more about C difficile.

 

 

Recall of Children and Infant's Motrin and Tylenol

More Canadian Recalls

 

NEWS UPDATE

General Tips  for Cold Temperature Exposure 
Many cold injuries can be prevented by taking the following precautions when you are outdoors in cold weather.

 

 Avalanche Warnings
If you are out in the back country this winter - The Canadian Avalanche Centre (CAC) is issuing a special  public avalanche warning for the mountainous regions of BC’s northern interior. See All Areas. Avalanche Awareness Days is held annually during the third week of January in over 40 Canadian communities.

 

  

HEALTH CONTACTS

For More Information Contact:

HealthLink BC - Phone: Toll Free: 8-1-1  - Deaf / hearing impaired (toll-free): 7-1-1 www.healthlinkbc.ca

Interior Health www.interiorhealth.ca
Dr. Paul Hasselback, Senior Medical Health Officer (250) 862-4092
Deanna Wadstein, Public Health Communications Officer (250) 870-5898
OK in Health - Contact Us

HEALTH HAZARD ALERT For more information, see HealthLinkBC at: www.healthlinkbc.ca

 

 

Seasonal Health & Safety Information

  • BC Forest Fires
  • Hantavirus
  • Ticks, Lymes disease and Removing Ticks
  • Avoid handling bats  and protect our bats
  • Keep Your Cool! 
  • Forest Fire Health Information
  • Swimmer's Itch
  • Air Quality Alerts
  • Visits our Upcoming events section

 

 

Summer Time Tips

Here are a few tips how to use our TOXIN free medicinal herbal and personal care products and some additional suggestions from Ferlow Botanicals.

SUNBURNS

To prevent sunburn from UV rays use the following products:

Neem Tree cream

Rosa Mosqueta oil (should be also used first after you get sunburned)

Rosa Mosqueta cream

Aloe Vera cream

INSECT BITES

Calendula spray takes the itching and swelling away,(also perfect for hot spots for dogs and cats).

Neem Tree cream

Camomile cream

PAIN

Devils Claw cream (especially for arthritis, gout, lupus)
Arnica cream (if you get hurt, especially athletic people in team sports such as baseball, basketball, hockey, soccer, etc. and tennis, golf, takes the swelling and pain instant away)

MSM cream (seems also to work on arthritis pain)
Wild Yam cream (sciatic nerve and joint pain) Massage lotion (sore muscles, muscle strain, massage)

ST. John's Wort oil (muscle strains & sprains, muscle fatigue, tendonitis) Rain Forest cream

 

Avoid handling bats

Bats are an important part of our environment and should be protected. Interior Health Advises of Elevated Rabies Risk during Summer Months.

Interior Health is reminding residents that summer weather and activities bring an increased risk of contact with bats, the primary carrier of the rabies virus. “Summer is a good time to remind everyone to avoid handling bats to reduce the risk of exposure to the virus, “said Dr. Paul Hasselback, Senior Medical Health Officer. “It is especially important to remind children not to play with or touch bats”. During summer, people spend more time outdoors or in poorly sealed cabins, increasing their potential contact with bats. Bats are also more active and can enter homes or roost in attics. Over 200 people a year in BC are treated for suspected exposure to rabies. Treatment is most effective when administered soon after infection. If left untreated, rabies is usually fatal. Dr. Hasselback advises that “anyone who has handled a bat should be treated, as scratches or bites are not usually visible and it can take weeks or months for symptoms to appear.”

There are several things you can do to protect yourself:

Prevention

* Do not touch live or dead bats
* Make your home or cabin ‘batproof’. Keep your doors and windows closed, make sure your windows screens don’t have any holes and keep your attic area free of bats by keeping all vents properly screened.
* Seek professional bat control advice if your work or home is inhabited by bats
* Avoid locations or activities where bats are likely to be encountered (e.g. caves)
* If you have a pet dog, cat or ferret, make sure that it is vaccinated regularly against rabies
* If you are at high risk of exposure to bats or potentially rabid animals (e.g. if you are a traveler to another country, veterinarian, cave explorer, etc.), get immunized against rabies beforehand

If you have been exposed

* Thoroughly wash the area with soap and water
* Contact your local health unit or family doctor immediately

For more information, see HealthLinkBC at: Phone: -Toll Free: 8-1-1 - - Deaf / hearing impaired (toll-free): 7-1-1

 

Keep Your Cool!

Summer sun means hot days and hot nights – and it’s all too common to get “beat by the heat”. High temperatures can take their toll and may even lead to some people needing emergency care for the effects of heat.. While it may take a little thought and preparation to avoid heat problems, the benefits are worth it.

Each person reacts differently to the heat. Fitness levels, age, obesity, pre-existing health conditions or even being used to hot climates can influence how you respond. However, whether you are fit or frail, you can suffer health problems from the heat, and it can be life threatening.
Interior Health recommends the following steps to keep your cool this summer:

* Slow Down. Take regular breaks when engaged in any physical activity on hot days
* Avoid the heat. Limit activity to early morning and late afternoon.
* Stay cool. Use air conditioning or fans. If you don’t have access to air conditioning, you may want spend time in a local air conditioned public building or shopping centre.
* Dress appropriately with lightweight, light-colored and loose-fitting clothing.
* Wear a wide-brimmed hat when out in the sun.
* Protect against sunburn: seek out shade, wear a shirt, hat & sunglasses, and wear a good sunscreen or sunblock (SPF 15 or higher).
* Drink plenty of fluids (at least 8 glasses a day, or 1 cup of water for every 20 minutes in the heat). Don't wait until you are thirsty to drink. Water is best. Avoid alcohol, caffeinated and sweetened drinks.
* NEVER leave anyone (or pets) in a parked vehicle.
* If at any time you or someone you know is showing symptoms of heat stress or symptoms worsen (see below), contact your doctor, your local clinic or call the HealthLink BC.
* People with severe symptoms from heat exposure (see below) should present themselves to the nearest Emergency Department or call 911.
* If you have any questions, call the HealthLink BC, available 24 Hours (toll free8-1-1; for deaf & hearing-impaired 7-1-1).

Symptoms of Heat Exposure

1. Heat Stress: may include general weakness, tiredness, poor muscle control, and headache.
2. Heat Exhaustion: may also include nausea, pale cool and clammy skin, excessive sweating, rapid pulse and rapid shallow breathing and muscle cramps.
3. Heat Stroke: can occur very quickly and without warning. Symptoms of serious heat stroke include hot, dry, flushed skin, usually with no sweating, agitation and confusion, headache, nausea, and vomiting, rapid, shallow breathing, irregular pulse, possible seizures and loss of consciousness, and even possible shock and cardiac arrest.
4. Gradual Dehydration over a few days is also a concern, especially for the elderly or those with weak immune systems.

Be aware of those in our society who are more vulnerable to heat related illnesses:

* infants and young children
* people aged 65 and older should be particularly careful and diligent in protecting themselves, as their bodies cannot cool down as quickly as when they were younger
* people taking certain medications such as diuretics, beta blockers (e.g. Atenolol), anti-histamines, and blood pressure medication.
* mentally challenged people
* people with a history of heart disease

Heat related illnesses can be deadly if left unattended. Be on alert for those people exhibiting signs of heat related illnesses.

Forest Fire Health Information - Your Health and Smoke from Forest Fires

* Smoke conditions and local air pollution levels can change due to the unpredictable nature of the fires. Here's some helpful information for reducing your exposure to and the effects from smoke from forest fires.
* Use common sense regarding outdoor physical activity – if your breathing becomes difficult or uncomfortable, stop or reduce the activity.
* Stay cool and drink plenty of fluids. If you stay indoors be aware of exposure or visit a location like a shopping mall with cooler air. Keep in mind that staying indoors may help you stay cool and provide some relief from the smoke, however many air conditioning systems do not filter the air completely or improve indoor air quality.
* You may be able to reduce your exposure to smoke by moving to cleaner air. Conditions can vary dramatically by area and elevation.
* Individuals with heart or lung conditions may be more sensitive to the effects of smoke from forest fires. These individuals should watch for any change in symptoms that may be due to smoke exposure. If any changes are noted you may wish to contact your physician or visit a walk-in clinic.
* Residents with asthma or other chronic illness should activate their asthma or personal care plan.
* People with severe symptoms from smoke exposure should present themselves to the nearest Emergency Department.

What to do if you're in the line of fire...

Make sure:

* You have a full tank of gas
* You have enough food for at least 24 to 48 hours
* You have enough bottled drinking water for the same period
* You have any medications you require for the next week
* You have a bottle of bleach for water purification and general clean up
* You have other supplies like a flashlight, batteries, portable radio, diapers and soap
* You have a first aid kit and a charged cell phone

For more emergency preparedness info, please visit the Provincial Emergency Program web site at www.pep.bc.ca

 

Make sure your water is safe

If you know your water has been off, or if you are under a Boil Water Advisory, please boil your water for 2 minutes prior to consumption. Consumption refers to water used for: · Drinking water, including making juice and ice cubes · Washing ready-to-eat fruits and vegetables · Brushing your teeth If the water is clear, adding one to two drops of bleach per litre of water, stirring, and letting stand for 30 minutes, is an alternative, although not as thorough as boiling. If your immune system is compromised, stick to boiling. Alternatively, you may wish to purchase bottled water.

 

Hantavirus

Hantavirus is a rare but potentially fatal disease transmitted mainly by exposure to wild mice, their urine, droppings or nesting materials. Transmission occurs when mouse droppings and urine are disturbed, sending virus particles into the air where they can be breathed in. Persons exposed to wild mice or mouse-infested areas are at highest risk of infection.

The symptoms of hantavirus infection generally occur one to six weeks after exposure. Symptoms resemble severe flu and include fever, chills, body aches, abdominal pain, cough and difficulty breathing. While infections are extremely rare, up to one half of those who acquire a hantavirus infection may die from the disease.

Hantavirus causing Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome was first identified in North America in 1993, and since that time nine cases are known to have occurred in BC, with seven of the cases in the Interior Health region. Three of the seven Interior Health residents with Hantavirus have died of the disease.

While the overall risk of acquiring a hantavirus infection is very low, here are a few simple steps you can take to reduce the risk:

 

Control Rodents

*Minimize the presence of mice by reducing the availability of food sources or nesting materials
*Use traps and seal points of entry into buildings such as barns, sheds, and summer cabins
*Cut grass, brush and dense shrubbery around homes and outbuildings
*Elevate sheds, woodpiles and outbuildings wherever possible. Store hay on pallets.

When cleaning up:

*Disturb the mouse droppings or nesting materials as little as possible. Do not sweep before wetting the area and do not use a vacuum cleaner to remove them
*Ventilate enclosed areas for 30 minutes or more before cleaning
*Wear an appropriate, well-fitting filter mask, rubber gloves and goggles
*Carefully wet down dead mice, mice droppings, or nesting materials with diluted bleach (one part bleach to 10 parts water), and place in a double sealed plastic garbage bag. Bury, burn or discard the contents according to local bylaws.
*Wash your hands after handling mice, their droppings and their nesting materials.

Resources:

BC Centre for Disease Control Hantavirus web page
BC Centre for Disease Control: Hantavirus Questions and Answers
US Centers for Disease Control & Prevention

 

Ticks and Lyme Disease

Ticks are tiny bugs that feed on blood. In BC’s Southern Interior, the most commonly encountered tick is the Rocky Mountain Wood Tick. It is about the size of a small pea and is not known to be a carrier of Lyme Disease

While not considered common to the area, the Deer Tick (Ixodes pacificus or I. angustus; photo on right) has been linked to a handful of Southern Interior Lyme Disease cases. The adult deer tick is described as the size of a sesame seed (2.5-millimeter diameter), oval, and with a flattened body before enjoying a blood meal. When engorged, the eight-legged arthropod is about the size of a small pea and blue-black in color. If a tick is carrying disease, the germs that cause the disease will be injected with the tick’s bite. Most tick bites do not result in disease (most ticks are not infected with disease-causing germs), but like any insect bite should be treated seriously since infection can occur with a break in the skin.

Avoiding ticks

Use preventive measures to avoid ticks and their bites:

1. Walk on cleared trails wherever possible when walking in tall grass or woods.
2. Wear light coloured clothing, tuck your top into your pants and tuck your pants into your boots or socks.
3. Put insect repellent look for natural insect repellents or  try ones containing 5% Permethrin onto clothing only and insect repellent containing DEET on all uncovered skin. Reapply as frequently as directed on the containers.
4. Check clothing and scalp (covered or not) when leaving an area where ticks may live.
5. Regularly check household pets, which go into tall grass and wooded areas.

How to remove ticks

Follow only the method below; do not do anything that can stress or crush the tick’s body, causing it to inject its stomach contents into your blood:

1. Using needle nose tweezers, gently grasp the tick close to the skin. If you find it difficult to remove the tick do not use grease, alcohol or heat to remove the tick. Visit your doctor.
2. Without squeezing, pull the tick straight out.
3. After removal, clean the area with soap and water and apply an antiseptic cream.
4. If you find one tick, check very carefully for others.
5. Notify your doctor if you notice any rash or unusual health problems later.

Resources

BC Health Files information on Tick Bites & Disease BC Center for Disease Control info sheet on Ticks and Disease

 

Swimmer's Itch

Most people who swim outdoors in fresh water have heard of Swimmer’s Itch. Swimmer’s Itch is the common name for “Schistosome Cercarial Dermatitis”. This is a temporary skin rash caused by a parasitic worm called a Schistosome. Although the rash can be very irritating, and if scratched the skin can become infected, the Schistosomes and the rash are not dangerous and cannot be spread. The rash is caused by an allergic reaction to the Schistosomes when they penetrate skin. Humans swimming in some lakes are simply in the wrong place at the wrong time.

The normal lifecycle of Schistosome include movement between aquatic birds, such as ducks and geese, and snails (see Schistosomes Life Cycle diagram below). When humans are swimming in water that contains Schistosomes the worms accidentally enter human skin instead of the aquatic birds. As humans are not the natural host, the Schistosomes quickly die. Humans have an allergic reaction to the foreign material and the skin becomes swollen, red and itchy for up to fourteen days.

Since the body is having an allergic reaction, each encounter with Schistosomes will cause the reaction and rash to be more severe. The degree of sensitivity a person experiences will depend on his or her immune system, the severity of the infestation, and prior exposure. Anti-itch medications recommended by a doctor or pharmacist, such as lotions and some antihistamines, may help to relieve itchy symptoms.

Protection Tips

* Shower and/or towel dry vigorously after swimming.
* Don't feed aquatic birds, as this will encourage them to remain on the beach.
* Dispose of food & litter in garbage cans.

 

Air Quality Alerts

In order to rate air quality, an Air Quality Index (AQI) has been devised, using a numbering system. The lower the number, the better the air quality: an AQI of 25 or less is good, 26 to 50 is fair, 51 to 100 is considered poor, and 101+ is very poor. When the AQI is expected to exceed 50 for some time, the Ministry of Water, Land and Air Protection will publicize an advisory. For particulate pollution, the advisory will usually coincide with a poor Venting Index – a measure of how well pollutants will disperse in the atmosphere.

The Ministry of Water, Land and Air Protection has sampling sites throughout Interior Health. Air quality will vary and can be very localized, depending on the sources of pollution and the local conditions. Open, windy areas will have better air quality than protected areas at the bottom of a narrow valley.

It is important to know that there are many variables that will determine how air quality will affect you. It is also important to know that much information is needed to judge the overall air quality for a community. The AQI is just one tool for describing it. If you are prone to health problems, discuss the impact of air quality on your health with your doctor and how you can plan around days with elevated pollution.

Also, in the summer we have experienced events of poor air quality due to forest fires. These events are quite variable: conditions during a forest fire can change depending on the proximity of a fire and weather conditions. Information will be available at our site when hazards such as wildfires arise.

Resources: British Columbia Ministry of Water Land & Air Protection, Air Quality Online

AirPlay, a pilot site hosted by Interior Health with guidelines for healthy physical activity depending on the Air Quality Index

 

Winter Wellness Tips

General Tips  for Cold Temperature Exposure 
Many cold injuries can be prevented by taking the following precautions when you are outdoors in cold weather.

 

 

 

Avalanche Warnings
If you are out in the back country this winter - The Canadian Avalanche Centre (CAC) is issuing a special  public avalanche warning for the mountainous regions of BC’s northern interior. See All Areas. Avalanche Awareness Days is held annually during the third week of January in over 40 Canadian communities

 

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