Jan 26

Influenza Season

Posted on January 26, 2018 at 8:54 AM by Dr. Swannie Jett

‘Tis the Season for Influenza

Influenza Season

It is the flu season. I hope that everybody has gotten their flu shot. If not, it is never too late so come in today.

Last year during the 2016-2017 flu season, 121,223 individuals in the United States were tested positive for the influenza virus. To date we have 23 flu cases in Brookline. Approximately 35,000 patients were tested positive for influenza over the course of three weeks in February, out of 121,223 total patients who were influenza-positive during the 2016-2017 influenza season.

Regarding age, there seems to be an equal distribution of influenza cases among three of the four age groups; the average percentage of influenza cases was 30% among the 5-24 year olds, 25-64 year olds, and individuals 65 and older. Only 8% of the 2016-2017 influenza cases were between the ages 0 and 4.

Influenza is a highly transmissible respiratory illness that can cause mild to severe illnesses. In some cases, it can even cause death, if not diagnosed or treated early. Symptoms of influenza include fever (not everybody with the flu will have fever though), chills, cold, cough, fatigue, body aches, and sore throat. Some complications of the flu include ear infections, sinus infections, pneumonia, and even worsening of chronic medical conditions like diabetes and asthma.

However, no need to worry, as the flu can be prevented in many ways. The most important way is to get a flu vaccine every year. Both the WHO and CDC recommend that everybody gets vaccinated against the flu. In addition to getting a vaccine, you should continuously wash your hands to prevent spreading of germs. If someone becomes ill in your household, try to keep them from others to reduce the risk of spreading the flu.  

Adults over the age of 65, young children, pregnant women, and individuals with specific medical conditions that can negatively affect the body’s immune system are at higher risk of acquiring influenza, therefore they need to take extra precautions this flu season.  Below is a list of extra resources to assist you.

https://www.cdc.gov/flu/keyfacts.htm

https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/66/wr/mm6625a3.htm

http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs211/en/

https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/66/wr/mm6625a3.htm#F1_down

Oct 05

Who Will Die Next? Gun Violence is a Contagious Disease

Posted on October 5, 2017 at 3:25 PM by Dr. Swannie Jett

A crisis is playing out on the streets of America’s communities. Gun violence is a major public health epidemic and a leading cause of premature death. The issue of gun violence was thrust into the national spotlight once again on Oct. 1, when a gunman killed 59 and injured more than 500 at a music festival on the Las Vegas strip, drawing worldwide media attention.  Let us not forget we are still grieving from the Pulse night club shooting in Orlando.

Seventy-seven percent of mass killings involve a gun. According to the American Public Health Association (APHA), every year we lose over 30,000 people from firearm-related violence and an additional 180,000 suffer from non-fatal injuries. In 2015, more than 370 mass shootings occurred in the United States killing more than 475 people. It’s important to conduct research on health status of each community living with gun violence and its impact on housing, education and mental health.  

Most people who are injured after being shot will have a long-term emotional sequela, so that’s another 60,000 annually with a long-term mental illness, psychological distress. These numbers do not include family members, or the family members of the loved ones who died unexpectedly as the result of a traumatic event. Individuals that experience gun violence will become desensitized to violence over time. This doesn’t include the magnitude families deal with from homicides, suicides or police violence in urban communities.  Grief teams need to be trained within communities to heal them.  We need to deploy grief teams to include mental health, public health, and social workers to use ACEs (Adverse Childhood Experiences) to reverse trends in communities.

Furthermore, as a Chicago native, I know firsthand that many Chicagoans fear for their life each day. In 2016, Chicago’s killings increased by 58 percent to 745 total murders. Chicago has the strictest gun laws in the nation. But, this demonstrates we have a deeper problem in this nation concerning gun violence. We have a major epidemic that’s becoming more destructive to our fabric of life than Ebola. We need to treat gun violence as a contagious disease. Many of the gunmen shoot because they have either been in a poor emotional state, distressed, have a mental illness, or do not have stable lives (whether it is family life or work life).  

Gun violence is not inevitable, but It can be prevented through a comprehensive public health approach that keeps families and communities safe. Here are some recommendations to eradicate gun violence: (1) conduct surveillance to track firearm-related deaths, determine causes, and assess intervention methods; (2) identify risk factors associated with gun violence (e.g., poverty, education and mental health)and resilience or protective factors that guard against violence (e.g., youth access to trusted adults); (3) develop, implement, and evaluate interventions to decrease risk factors and build resilience; (4) institutionalize successful prevention strategies; (5) conduct research and assist families dealing with violence & its impact on future violence; and (6) ban assault weapons. We are at war in Iraq and Afghanistan, but not on our streets where these types of weapons exist.

An estimated 270 million to 310 million firearms are in circulation in the United States. Approximately 323.1 million people live in the United States; that means there is nearly one firearm for every American.

It’s time for Congress, States, and Cities to begin conducting research on firearm violence. It’s time for us to improve background checks and question why we are selling assault weapons. I support an individual’s right to own and protect him or herself. But, if we avoid change the only question left is: who will die next?