Death Toll From Rare Mosquito Born Virus Rises

October 3rd, 2019

Hand spraying bug sprayAt least 11 people have died from Eastern equine encephalitis (EEE), a rare disease spread by mosquitoes.

What is EEE?

Eastern equine encephalitis, commonly known as EEE, is a virus transmitted by mosquitoes. There are typically five to 10 human cases reported in the United States each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

This year there has been an increase in the number of reported cases, nearly 30 among several states.

About 30 percent of all cases result in death. There have been four deaths in Massachusetts, four deaths in Michigan, two in Connecticut, and one in Rhode Island.

It takes four to 10 days after the bite of an infected mosquito to develop symptoms of EEE. Severe cases of EEE (involving inflammation of the brain) begin with the sudden onset of the following symptoms:

  • Chills
  • Headache
  • High fever
  • Vomiting

The illness may then progress into disorientation, seizures and coma.Many of those who survive have mild to severe brain damage.

Mosquito Bite Prevention

Protect yourself from EEE by preventing mosquito bites:

  • Eliminate mosquito breeding sites by empting standing water from flower pots, buckets, barrels, and other containers
  • Have secure, intact screens on windows and doors to keep mosquitoes out
  • Use insect repellent containing DEET, picaridin, IR3535 or oil of lemon eucalyptus, on exposed skin and/or clothing
  • Wear long sleeves and pants when weather permits

EEE typically occurs from late spring to early fall.

What IAA has to Say

Insurance Administrator of America is here to remind you to take precautions when it comes to mosquitoes. IAA knows that their bite may be small, but they can have large consequences.

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Does DNA Determine “Handedness”?

September 25th, 2019

DNAFor the first time scientists have found four spots on DNA that might determine whether a person is left-handed. Left-handedness is a trait found in 10 percent of the population.

New Study

Scientists already know that genes play a role in determining handedness. Studies of twins suggest that genes account for 25 percent of the variations in handedness, but the genes had not been pinpointed.

Of the four regions the scientists found, three were associated with proteins involved in brain development and structure, according to a genetic analysis of about 400,000 people in the United Kingdom, including more than 38,000 left-handers.  

Specifically, the proteins were connected to microtubules, a component of cell “scaffolding” or the cytoskeleton. The cytoskeleton determines the structure of cells, as well as the way they operate within the body. 

The new study was conducted by scientists from the University of Oxford.

What Scientists Found

By analyzing brain imaging from about 10,000 of the people studied, researchers found that genetic variants related to left-handedness were associated with differences in the brain’s white matter tracts—in particular, the tracts that connect the areas of the brain associated with language.

The study found that in left-handed participants, the language areas of the left and right sides of the brain communicate with each other in a more coordinated way. This raises the possibility for future research that left-handers might have an advantage when it comes to performing verbal tasks.

The study also found links between the genetic regions involved in left-handedness and a very slightly reduced risk of Parkinson’s disease, and a very slightly higher risk of schizophrenia. Studying these genetic links could help improve understanding of how these serious conditions develop, according to researchers.    

The findings were published in the journal “Brain.”

What IAA has to Say

Insurance Administrator of America wants you to be aware of what is going on in the world of health. Remember, with IAA one call does it all.

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Lung Disease Linked to Vaping

September 18th, 2019

LungsA severe lung disease linked to electronic cigarettes and other vaping devices is puzzling doctors across the country.

Investigation Still Leaves Questions

A seventh person in the United States has died from lung disease related to vaping, California health officials reported on September 16. The first death from lung illness linked to vaping in the U.S. was reported in Illinois in August.

There have been at least 380 possible cases of lung disease associated with e-cigarettes reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) across 34 states and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has tested 120 product samples, and so far has been unable to identify any one brand, ingredient, or substance that can explain the illnesses. The FDA is testing the products for a range of chemicals, including nicotine, THC, additives, pesticides, opioids, poisons, and toxins.

The CDC is trying to match what its scientists are finding in tissue and fluid samples taken from patient’s lungs, with substances the FDA is identifying in the products used by sick patients. 

The investigation has been hindered by the need to rely on patients’ discussing exactly what they vaped.

A study reported on September 6 in “The New England Journal of Medicine” focused on 53 patients who had vaped within 90 days of their symptoms, typically within the previous week. The median age was 19 years of age and nearly a third were younger than 18 years of age. Among the 41 patients who were extensively interviewed, 80 percent reported using THC products, seven percent mentioned CBD products, and 17 percent said they vaped nicotine only.

Patients reported 14 brands of THC products and 13 brands of nicotine products, in a range of flavors, said researchers.  

Signs and Symptoms

Patients generally feel pretty lousy for a few days and tend to be misdiagnosed with either bronchitis or a viral illness. When treatment for these conditions fail, their symptoms worsen to the point where they have trouble breathing, forcing them to go to the emergency room.

Most patients experience:

  • Cough
  • Fatigue
  • Fever
  • Nausea
  • Shortness of breath
  • Vomiting

All said they recently vaped either THC, nicotine or a combination.

The CDC recommends that people stay away from vaping devices until investigators can find out exactly what’s behind the illnesses.

What IAA has to Say

Insurance Administrator of America wants to keep you up-to-date on the world of health. Stay tuned to this blog to learn more. Remember, with IAA one call does it all.

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Backyard Poultry Could Make Their Owners Sick

September 11th, 2019

ChickenThe growing trend of raising chickens and other poultry for eggs and companionship is linked to an outbreak that has sickened people in 49 states.

Salmonella Outbreak

Salmonella infections caused by bacteria linked to backyard poultry flocks have now stricken more than 1,000 Americans this year, killing two and sending another 175 to the hospital.

On August 30, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said it had recorded another 235 illnesses in August, bringing the count of those sickened by salmonella related to home-raised poultry to 1,003.

This rising number puts the country on track to exceed 2017’s toll, the largest recorded by the CDC. In this outbreak, 1,120 people got sick and one person died from contact with backyard poultry.

The trouble stems from a lack of public education. Roughly eight percent of homes in the United States had chickens in 2018 according to the American Pet Producers Association.

Safety Measures for Backyard Friends

People who wish to keep backyard poultry need to be aware of the risks and learn about simple measures to help protect themselves and their families from illness. The CDC recommends the following for keeping live poultry:

1.      Always wash your hands with soap and water:

  • After handling poultry
  • After handling poultry food and water dishes or other equipment
  • After cleaning poultry coops or anything in enclosures, such as perches or other equipment
  • After being in areas near poultry, even if you did not touch the birds
  • Before you eat or drink

2.    Adults should supervise hand washing for children under five years of age.

3.   Don’t let children younger than five years of age handle or touch chicks, ducklings or other live poultry without supervision. Children younger than five years of age are more likely to get sick from exposure to germs like salmonella.

4.   Do not let live poultry inside the house, in bathrooms or in areas where food or drink is prepared and served or stored.

5.    Do not eat or drink in the area where the poultry live or roam.

6.    Do not snuggle, kiss or touch your mouth to live baby poultry.

7.    Set aside a pair of shoes to wear while taking care of the poultry and keep those shoes outside the house.

8.   Stay outdoors while cleaning equipment or materials used to raise or care for live poultry, such as cages, feeds or water containers.

Though keeping poultry can be fun and educational, owners should be aware poultry can carry germs that make people sick.

What IAA has to Say

Insurance Administrator of America knows that raising chickens and ducks sounds like fun, but it can also make you sick if you are not careful. IAA encourages you to do some research before jumping into getting a backyard companion.

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September is Baby Safety Month

September 4th, 2019

Car seatCalling all parents! September is Baby Safety Month, making it a great time to learn about the ways you can make your home safe for baby.

Safety Tips

Babies do not come with manuals—but they certainly need many items that require instructions! Here are some simple safety measures that parents can keep in mind:

  1. Choose and use age and developmentally appropriate products.
  2. Read and follow all manufacturers’ instructions, recommendations for use and warning labels.
  3. Register your products and establish a direct line of communication with the manufacturer.
  4. It is important to always actively supervise, watch, listen and stay near your child.
  5. Frequently inspect products for missing hardware, loose threads and strings, and holes and tears.
  6. Use straps and harnesses on products when available, each and every time.
  7. When baby can crawl, install gates on doorways and stairways. If your child tries to climb the gate, teach them how to use the stairs. 
  8. Monitor your child’s growth and development and discontinue use when needed.

Most juvenile products do have a long life, but they should be safety checked frequently.

The Basics of Baby Proofing

The best time to baby proof is early, before you register so you can include safety items on your registry.

  • Best way to baby proof? Get down on your hands and knees and think like a baby.
  • Consider child proofing an ongoing process. Monitor your child’s growth and development and always try to stay one step ahead.
  • Take care of all the obvious hazards, such as exposed electrical sockets and blind cords, but be on the lookout for those not obvious items like empty dishwashers, hanging tablecloths that can easily be pulled down and poisonous plants. 

Always remember that juvenile products are not a substitute for parental supervision.

What IAA has to Say

There is a lot to think about when you bring a new baby home! Insurance Administrator of America knows that even a little advice can go a long way. IAA wishes you all the best with you little one’s milestones!

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