Diseases Like West Nile Keep CNAs Busy in 2012

OK, so it’s not just CNAs.  It’s also medical assistants, medical billing and coding professionals and the physicians they all support that are working overtime to address the seeming increase in outbreaks of diseases like West Nile.  The Huffington Post this week that this season’s West Nile outbreak is the worst so far thanks to the warm winter and hot summer which favors the explosion of mosquito populations (which carry and transmit the disease).  However, it is not just West Nile.  This year has seen a resurgence of the Ebola virus on the African continent as well as other illnesses such as the food borne salmonella virus.  Whooping cough also seems to be making something of a resurgence.  It seems likely that a pandemic is not outside the realm of possibility given the nature and number of diseases at work today.  Whether the rise (or resurgence) of these diseases has to do with climate change or anti-innoculation movements, the fact is, medical offices all over are seeing an upswing in patient volume.  This means more work for certified nursing assistants, medical assistants, medical coding and billing staff and all manner of medical professionals.

Antibiotics in Food – Stopping the Rise of Superbugs

The Allen School Online blog has long covered the subject of MRSA and other so-called “superbugs” which are virulent strains of pathogens highly resistant to antibiotic treatment.  The long suspected culprit behind the rise of MRSA and other superbugs is the abuse of antibiotics by agri-business which continues to routinely include antibiotics in the feed used on poultry, cattle and hog farms.  The overuse of antibiotics is thought to promote the mutation of bacteria as all but the most resistant strains are eliminated.  Unfortunately, farm lobbies have effectively thwarted any attempts to regulate or eliminate this dangerous practice.  However, the public is ahead of Congress (as usual) in their support for such regulations.  Follow over the fold for some truly terrifying data.  Continue reading…

Charging Smokers and Obese More for Health Insurance

A report out today underscores the growing practice among employer-sponsored health benefits providers and the for-profit insurance industry of charging higher premiums to smokers and the obese.  While this seems to make sense on its face – that people with unhealthy lifestyles should pay more into the system as they are likely to be needing to take more out of it – this blogger worries that the unregulated, non-standardized practices could open up many Americans to unfair and even abusive relationships with their health insurers and/or their employers.  Read the article here for details and then sound off in the comments on whether you think this idea is disturbing or imaginitive.

Drug Resistant Bacteria and Food Production

This blog frequently covers MRSA and other drug resistant pathogens that have been increasingly threatening populations globally.  Today, we learned of the rise of a drug resistant strain of Salmonella as the news of the recall of millions of pounds of ground turkey made the rounds in the media.  We have pointed to this cause before and I think it is safe to assume again that the level of antibiotics used by agri-business to mask the effects of negligent animal husbandry practices likely contributes to the evolution of these “super germs”.

June is Prevention and Wellness Month

OK, so the stereotype of the online denizen (this includes peeps like me who work in front of a computer all day, and peeps like you who study online in front of a computer) is a sedentary, Cheetos munching lot who cringes when the curtains are drawn open and light shines in.  All kidding aside though, in today’s modern life, it can be hard to carve out enough time to spend on health and wellness.  Kathleen Sebelius, the Obama administration’s Secretary of Health and Human Services, has declared June to be Prevention and Wellness month.In a recent article on the Huffington Post Sebelius said, ” We know there’s more to good health than going to the hospital when you get sick. Good health starts with steps we can all take to avoid getting sick in the first place, from getting regular check-ups, vaccinations, and recommended screenings, to eating a healthy diet and getting enough exercise.”  This blogger concurs with this line of thinking and has even taken the drastic step of adding a SECOND walk for his self and his dog Henry every day to try and keep physically fit.  So online students, save your work, take a pause and consider what you can do to boost your own health and wellness in June and for the future.

The Intersection of Web and Medicine

AS regular readers of this blog know, we have been covering stories about MRSA, the antibiotic resistant staph infection.  Just recently, we published a post about the finding of MRSA carried in bedbugs (yechhh!).  In all the stories we’ve produced about MRSA, the news is always pretty grim so that’s why I was pleased to find the story linked here.  Evidently, it seems that occurrences of MRSA are able to be accurately tracked using none other than Google!  Yes, researchers have studied and found that spikes in Google searched for MRSA are directly correlated to actual outbreaks.  This innovative usage of Google clearly illustrates the nexus between the web and epidemiological research.  The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) will surely make good use of this new tool in their arsenal.  Allen School Online students already understand the synergies between internet technology and the study of medically related fields.

Food & Wine’s Best Burgers in the US

In-N-Out Burger, "Animal Style"

This blog periodically covers the topic of fast food and its impact on culture, wellness and society.  I have also written several times about my personal favorite, In-N-Out Burger, the west coast chain that haunts my dreams as an east coast denizen.  Well, Food & Wine magazine publushed its annual list of the best burgers in the US and In-N-Out was at the top of the list!  For us here in the NYC area, the list includes several contenders from the Big Apple.  Minella’s Tavern, the Spotted Pig and Shake Shak all made the list.  As did Peter Luger’s, the legendary steakhouse in Williamsburg.  But if I am going to Luger’s I am eating steak, not burgers.  Where is your favorite burger place?

Rising Food Costs Will Affect Public Health

Up for the seventh month in a row, the closely watched Food and Agriculture Oganisation Food Price Index on Thursday touched its highest since records began in 1990, and topped the peak of 224.1 in June 2008, during the food crisis of 2007/08.  Several factors contribute to this rise in costs.  We now use food stocks such as corn to make ethanol to burn in our cars.  The logic of using food to make fuel is dubious at best.  The other major factor has been a year fraught with severe weather phenomena from floods, to droughts to frosts which have all decimated crops in many parts of the agricultural producing world.With the price of food skyrocketing, people all over the world will struggle with less food in terms of both quantity and quality.  The effects of a global population eating less (and less nutritious) food and more of their diets being comprised of filler and processed ingredients will have a definite impact on health.

“Liquid Biopsy” One Step Closer to Reality

Graphic Courtesy of Massachusetts General via AP

File under, “awesome emerging medical technologies”: Johnson & Johnson’s prototype blood test for cancer is being fast tracked to the market.  This ingenious new technology is a blood test so sensitive that it can detect even a single cancer cell from a sample taken from a patient.  Performed simply in a doctor’s office, this blood test promises to be a boon in the early detection of breast, prostate, colon and lung cancer.Dr. Daniel Haber, one of the test’s inventors and chief of Massachusetts General’s cancer center says, “This is like a liquid biopsy” that avoids painful tissue sampling and may give a better way to monitor patients than periodic imaging scans.

5 Tips for Avoiding the Common Cold

Well, cold and flu season is upon us again and no one hates being sick more than I do.  So I have been looking for some ideas on how to minimize the probability of catching a cold this season and I came across this. An article by dietician and nutitionist Susan Dopart offers 5 tips for avoiding the sickness this time of year.  Click here to read the useful suggestions she offers.