Jul 30


Posted on July 30, 2019 at 4:27 PM by Dr. Swannie Jett

For World Hepatitis Day, the community gets to learn more about different types of viral hepatitis and what people can do to help eliminate hepatitis. There are 5 types of viral hepatitis, which are hepatitis A, B, C, D, and E, causing both acute and chronic liver disease. Viral hepatitis is one of the biggest global health threats of our time. 290 million people living with viral hepatitis are unaware. It is important for the community to learn about viral hepatitis more and continue to work on eliminating the cause.

  • Hepatitis A is primarily spread when someone ingests the virus from contact with food, drinks, or objects contaminated by feces from an infected person or has close personal contact with someone who is infected. Hepatitis A does not cause chronic liver disease and is rarely fatal, but it can cause serious symptoms. Hepatitis A can be prevented through improved sanitation, food safety, and vaccination.
  • Hepatitis B is often spread during birth from an infected mother to her baby. Infection can also occur through contact with blood and other body fluids through injection drug use, unsterile medical equipment, and sexual contact. Hepatitis B is most common in sub-Saharan Africa and Asia, but is also high in the Amazon region of South America, the southern parts of eastern and central Europe, the Middle East and the Indian subcontinent. The hepatitis B virus can cause both acute and chronic infection, ranging in severity from a mild illness lasting a few weeks to a serious, chronic illness. If infected at birth or during early childhood, people are more likely to develop a chronic infection, which can lead to liver cirrhosis or even liver cancer. Getting the hepatitis B vaccine is the most effective way to prevent hepatitis B. WHO recommends that all infants receive the hepatitis B vaccine as soon as possible after birth, followed by 2-3 additional doses. In many parts of the world, widespread infant vaccination programs have led to dramatic declines of new hepatitis B cases.
  • Hepatitis C is spread through contact with blood of an infected person. Infection can occur through injection drug use and unsafe medical injections and other medical procedures. Mother-to-child transmission of hepatitis C is also possible. Hepatitis C can cause both acute and chronic infections, but most people who get infected develop a chronic infection. A significant number of those who are chronically infected will develop liver cirrhosis or liver cancer. Since discovery of new treatments, over 90% of people with hepatitis C can be cured within 2-3 months, reducing the risk of death from liver cancer and cirrhosis. The first step for people living with hepatitis C to benefit from treatments is to get tested and linked to care. There is currently no vaccine for hepatitis C but research in this area is ongoing.
  • Hepatitis D is passed through contact with infected blood. Hepatitis D only occurs in people who are already infected with the hepatitis B virus. People who are not already infected with hepatitis B can prevent hepatitis D by getting vaccinated against hepatitis B.
  • Hepatitis E is spread mainly through contaminated drinking water. Hepatitis E usually clears in 4-6 weeks so there is no specific treatment. However, pregnant women infected with hepatitis E are at considerable risk of mortality from this infection.  Hepatitis E is found worldwide, but the number of infections is highest in East and South Asia. Improved sanitation and food safety can help prevent new cases of hepatitis E. A vaccine to prevent hepatitis E has been developed and is licensed in China, but is not yet available elsewhere.
May 18

Swim Safety Month

Posted on May 18, 2018 at 1:24 PM by Dr. Swannie Jett

Do your part,

Be water smart!


Did you know May is National Water Safety Month? Swimming is the fourth most popular sports activity in the United States. Swimming improves both physical and mental health.

Drowning is a leading cause of unintentional injury death for children, and three children die every day in the United States as a result of drowning. For every child who dies from drowning, another five receive emergency department care for nonfatal submersion injuries, which include severe brain damage. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that American Indians/Alaska Natives and Black/African American children are more likely to drown compared to White children. 

Swim Safety

In the United States, about half the children aged 4-18 years do not know how to swim. And these rates are disproportionately higher among children from low socioeconomic status and racial minorities:  Black/African American, Hispanic/Latino and Asian-American children.

In Brookline, over 5,000 children cannot swim, with an estimated 233 Black children, 266 Hispanic/Latino children, and 3,191 White children with no/low swimming ability.

The American Academy of Pediatrics acknowledges the tremendous value of early swim education and its role in preventing drowning. The Brookline Recreation Department provides Youth Swim Lessons and Summer Swim Camps at affordable costs. Need-based scholarships are also available. Beginner level to advanced classes are offered for children aged 4 months to 15 years.

For more information,

Visit http://brooklinerec.com/150/Kirrane-Aquatics-Center

Or call (617) 730-2069

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?