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(W)holy, (W)holy, (W)holy: September 2010 Newsletter
By Diakon Lutheran Social Ministries
July 26, 2010
Health, healing, and wholeness article, September 2010
“After this the son of the woman, the mistress of the house, became ill; his illness was so severe that there was no breath left in him.” (1Kings17:17, NRSV)
If you have ever heard an infant suffering from whooping cough (pertussis), it can be an extremely frightening experience (check out http://www.babycenter.com/2_sounds-of-whooping-cough_10316927.bc)! Inflammation from this bacterial infection leads to a cough so sever that the child cannot catch his breath. Between coughs, he gasps for air, leading to the distinctive “whooping” sound of the illness. Whooping cough is not just a childhood disease, and the number of active cases here in the US are climbing – in California alone, the number of cases has quadrupled over that of last year - enough for it to be labeled an ‘epidemic”. Cases have also increased in Arizona, Colorado, Montana, Oregon and South Carolina, and it is believe the numbers will further increase when children return to school.
Why the sharp increase? It is not due to parents failing or refusing to immunize their children, nor is it due to an increase in immigration, as one might suspect. Instead, because immunity to the disease decreases over time, adolescents and adults are increasingly vulnerable to the bacteria as they age. They may even be unknowing carriers of the disease. In addition, re-emergence of the disease appears to be cyclical, occurring every 3 to 5 years. That is why the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) (http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/pubs/vis/downloads/vis-dtap.pdf) recommends that children, adolescents, and adults receive regular immunization. This is especially important if they live with, or are caregivers of, infants under the age of three months.
Children should receive immunization against pertussis at 2 months, 4 months, and 6 months-of-age, with booster shots administered between 15-18 months, and again at ages 4-5 years. Different formulations are used in children over the age of 7, adolescents, and adults, and should be determined by the prescribing physician. Adults should be re-vaccinated every 10 years.
Like many other respiratory infections, pertussis is spread by droplet via unprotected coughs. The time required for the bacteria to grow can vary from 6 – 21 days after exposure. Initial symptoms mimic those of an ordinary cold, with runny nose, congestion, sneezing, low-grade fever, and a cough. However, instead of the cough subsiding in a week or two, the pertussis cough typically intensifies. The most vulnerable is the unimmunized infant, in which a classic case of whooping cough can rapidly worsen. Uninterrupted coughing leads to the gasping for air; blueness of the fingers, toes and skin around the mouth; drooling; and vomiting. Eating and drinking become increasingly difficult, rapidly leading to exhaustion, dehydration, and in the most sever cases, seizures, pneumonia, even death.
Currently, there is no treatment for the cough, which can linger for months, and can return with subsequent respiratory infections – earning it the name the “100 day cough”. A cool mist vaporizer may provide some relief. However, the best protection against pertussis, remains immunization. In the coming months, the CDC hopes to raise public awareness of the disease, particularly in physicians and other health care providers, who may unwittingly be passing on the disease to the very patients they are trying to protect.
If you are not sure when you last received an immunization against whooping cough, please speak to your primary care provider. If you have an infant, try to limit your child’s exposure to adults and adolescents who may not have been immunized. And finally, as with any respiratory infection, practice good cough and cold etiquette; remember to cover your cough, and practice good hand washing techniques!
Debbie Best, Program Coordinator, Diakon Family Life Service
September 6: Did you know that Medicare does not provide health coverage outside the US, but certain Medigap plans do offer partial coverage. If you have a private health insurance plan, check to see what the policy includes for international travel. You can purchase short-term health insurance from $20-$30; actual cost is based on age, gender, and any medical conditions. For more information on travel-health insurance, contact a travel agent, or check the US Department of State’s website at: http://travel.state.gov/travel/cis_pa_tw/cis/cis_1470.html
September 13: First Aid for Tick Bites:
1.remove the tick as soon as possible. Carefully, using tweezers, grasp the tick near it’s mouth and pull gently to remove without crushing it.
2. Put the tick in a sealed jar.
3. Wash your hands, and the area with soap and water.
4. See the doctor if you aren’t able to remove all of it, or if your develop the following:
▪ rash, joint swelling, inflammation,
▪ fever, swollen lymph nodes,
▪ stiff neck, flu-like symptoms,
▪ muscle aches
*Take the saved tick with you. Call 911 if you develop: severe headache, have difficulty breathing, experience paralysis have chest pain or difficulty breathing. Complications from tick bites can include: chronic joint pain and inflammation, particularly in the knees, neurological symptoms, such as facial palsy, impaired memory, heart irregularities.
September 20: South Beach Diet Almond-Jam Bars
– Preheat oven to 375˚F
1 c. natural unblanched almonds
1 lg. egg white
¼ c. granular sugar substitute
¼ c. sugar-free jam
¼ t. salt
Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Combine almonds, sugar substitute, and salt in food processor. Process until finely ground. Add egg white and process until mixture forms a paste. Transfer dough to lined baking sheet and shape into a 14”x2” log about ½” high. With a moistened thumb, make a ¼” deep trench down the length of log. Bake until dough is lightly golden and set, 12-15 mins. Warm jam in small saucepan over low heat until melted, a few minutes before log comes out of oven. Remove log from oven and immediately spoon jam along trench. Cool on baking sheet 10 min. before cutting crosswise on an angle into 27 bars, ½” thick. (34 cal., 1 g. pro, 2 g carb, 1 g fiber, 3 g fat, 0 g sat fat, 24 mg sodium) (Prevention, June 2010)
September 27: Brew your cup of tea up to 5 minutes. The longer the steep time, the greater the quantity of health boosting flavonoids, explains Jeffrey Blumberg, PhD, professor of nutrition at Tufts University. Drink tea with a squeeze of lemon juice and you’ll increase antioxidant levels by up to 80%.” (Prevention, August 2010, pg. 37)