Health and Safety Updates

  • Influenza in Alaska

    [Alaska is in the early stage of an influenza outbreak. As shown on the attached chart, Alaska began to experience a significant increase in influenza cases during the second week of January. A number of cases have been fairly severe and have been put on ventilators.] 

     

     

    There are a number of simple things people can do to limit the spread. Hand washing with soap and water or hand sanitizers and covering your cough are effective at reducing spread.  If you do become ill, STAY HOME.

     

    ALL individuals 6 months and older should be vaccinated, and there is still vaccine available.  Additional information on vaccine use may be found at http://www.epi.hss.state.ak.us/bulletins/docs/b2010_24.pdf

     


     

    FDA Approves New Topical Drug for Head Lice

    The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved spinosad (Natroba TopicalSuspension 0.9%; ParaPRO) for the treatment of head lice infestation in people aged 4 years and older.

     

    Head lice (Pediculus capitis) are spread most often by close person-to-person contact. They are very common among schoolchildren in the United States — second only to the common cold among communicable diseases affecting schoolchildren, according to the Mayo Clinic.

     

    A variety of topical over-the-counter medications (eg, pryrethrin and permethrin) and prescription medications (eg, malathion and lindane) are currently available to treat head lice. "Natroba provides another option for the topical treatment of head lice infestations, which are especially prevalent in the pediatric population, "Julie Beitz, MD, director of the Office of Drug Evaluation III in the FDA's Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, said in an FDA statement. 

     

    Unlike other medications for head lice, spinosad does not require combing through the hair, according to the manufacturer. A fine-tooth comb may be used to remove dead lice and nits from the hair and scalp, but is not required, according to the company's Web site.

     

    The safety of spinosad in children younger than 4 years old has not been established, the FDA notes. The agency adds that it is particularly important not to use the product in infants because it contains benzyl alcohol, which has been associated with serious adverse reactions, including death, when applied topically to the skin of children younger than 6 months.

     

    Medscape Medical News © 2011 WebMD, LLC

     


     

    NEW CAR SEAT SAFETY RECOMMENDATIONS

    As you may be aware, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has released an updated policy addressing the use of car safety seats. The new policy advises parents to keep their toddlers in rear-facing car seats until age 2, or until they reach the maximum height and weight for their seat. The new policy also advises that most children will need to ride in a belt-positioning booster seat until they have reached 4 feet 9 inches tall and are between 8 and 12 years of age.

     


     

    Frost Injuries

    Winter is coming, and this gives us a great way for us to get outside and enjoy the fun and beauty that Alaska has to offer. However, children often need to be reminded to wear hats, mittens, warm boots, snow pants, and coats when going outside. A child who better understands that even mild forms of frostbite (frost nip) will permanently damage small blood vessels might take steps to better prevent or report cold injuries. Since blood flow to the arms and legs is guided by the brain, the addition of wearing a warmer coat or hat can mean the difference between freezing the tip of a toe or not. Once damaged by cold injury, an ear, finger, toe, or limb is never the same and will always be more susceptible to cold, circulation problems, numbness, and infection. More severe cold injury, or frostbite, is best treated in a hospital setting with the goal of decreasing the amount of permanent tissue damage. Treatment involves rapid re-warming of the affected part in a swirling water bath consistent with, but not exceeding 104-107 Fahrenheit (40-42°C). If the water is too warm it can cause more damage. If it is not warm enough, it won’t save as many small blood vessels (capillaries). If underlying hypothermia is suspected or the cold  injury is beyond superficial, it is best to consult with your health care provider or emergency services. With all forms of cold injury, prevention is the best medicine.