Author: Chris Noronha

Raw Beef Recalled Due to Possible Salmonella Outbreak

First it was romaine lettuce due to an E.coli outbreak, and now raw beef is being recalled due to possible salmonella contamination. It seems like consumers, retailers, and restaurants everywhere cannot catch a break when it comes to foodborne outbreaks.

Earlier today, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) released a statement announcing that JBS Tolleson, Inc., an Arizona-based establishment, has recalled over 5.1 million pounds of raw beef products due to a possible salmonella outbreak. This comes after their first recall, which took place in early October of this year. In total, that is over 12 million pounds of raw beef products that JBS Tolleson, Inc. has recalled since October. The USDA states that those raw beef products, including ground beef, being recalled “bear the establishment number ‘EST. 267’ inside the USDA mark of inspection.” The USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) is concerned that some people may have these contaminated raw beef products in their freezers and recommend that individuals that do throw them away.

Salmonella is a common cause of food poisoning in the United States. It can be found on products such as contaminated eggs, poultry, raw fruits and vegetables. Consuming foods contaminated with salmonella can cause symptoms within 12-72 hours after consumption. These symptoms can include diarrhea, fever, abdominal cramps, and vomiting. It is important that one drinks plenty of fluids and gets adequate rest if infected with salmonella. Illness from salmonella exposure typically lasts 4-7 days, and most people recover without treatment.

The FSIS advises that individuals practice safety when handling and cooking raw meat products. Ground meats should be cooked to an internal temperature of 160 degrees Fahrenheit or 71.1 degrees Celsius. Other beef products should be cooked to an internal temperature of 145 degrees Fahrenheit or 62.8 degrees Celsius and left to rest for at least 3 minutes. Proper temperature can be confirmed with a food thermometer.

For more information about the recall and to read USDA’s official statement about it, please click here.

References

United States Department of Agriculture: Food Safety and Inspection Service. (2018, December 4). News Release: JBS Tolleson, Inc. Recalls Raw Beef Products due to Possible Salmonella Newport Contamination. Retrieved from   https://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/portal/fsis/topics/recalls-and-public-health-alerts/recall-case-archive/archive/2018/recall-085-2018-EXP-release

Salmonella. FoodSafety.gov. (2018, December 4). Retrieved from https://www.foodsafety.gov/poisoning/causes/bacteriaviruses/salmonella/index.html

United States Department of Agriculture: Food Safety and Inspection Service. (2018, October 19). Safe Minimal Internal Temperature Chart. Retrieved from https://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/portal/fsis/topics/food-safety-education/get-answers/food-safety-fact-sheets/safe-food-handling/safe-minimum-internal-temperature-chart/ct_index

Asian Longhorned Tick Spreading Across U.S.

Last week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released a statement announcing that the Asian Longhorned Tick population has spread across the country. The tick, which is not typically found in the Western Hemisphere, was first reported on a sheep back in 2017 in the state of New Jersey. Today, a total of nine states have reported finding this tick. The CDC reports that a single female tick can reproduce offspring without mating.

The Asian Longhorned Tick has been discovered on livestock, pets, wildlife, and people. The tick is known to spread pathogens in other countries, and is a major threat to livestock such as cattle in New Zealand and Australia. They suggest that if you think you have found the tick, to remove it as soon as possible from the animal or person and keep it in rubbing alcohol in a jar or ziplock bag, and to contact your state agriculture department for tick identification. A complete CDC fact sheet with more information can be found here.

The CDC is still investigating the impact and threat of the Asian Longhorned Tick spread. They recommend individuals take several steps to prevent against tick bites, such as:

  • Using EPA-approved insect repellants containing substances like DEET or oil of lemon eucalyptus (more information about these repellants can be found here)
  • Wearing permethrin-treated clothing and gear
  • Checking your body for ticks when returning from areas where ticks may be present
  • Showering within two hours after being outdoors to help reduce the risk of tickborne diseases

References

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2018, November 29). Asian Longhorned Tick Spreading Widely in U.S. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2018/p1129-tick-spreading-widely.html

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (N.d.). What you need to know about Asian longhorned ticks—a new tick in the United States [PDF]. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/ticks/pdfs/AsianLonghornedTick-P.pdf

 

Winter is a Soup-er Time!

We are already in the month of December and soon winter will be upon us.  Crazy, huh? One of my favorite foods to cook during the cold, winter months is soup! I love how versatile soups can be. I love to toss all sorts of hearty, healthy vegetables and meats into my soup. Soup can be so easy to make, and not to mention, healthy and nutritious!

Here is a list of some delicious soup recipes to try:

Butternut Squash Soup (courtesy of The Seasoned Mom)

Tomato Soup (courtesy of Ree Drummond, Food Network)

Winter Vegetable Soup with Split Red Lentils (courtesy of A Beautiful Plate)

“All You Can Eat” Cabbage Soup (courtesy of Budget Bytes)

What are your favorite winter soup recipes? Let us know in the comments below!

40th Minority Health Conference – Feb. 22, 2019

Save the Date! The 40th annual Minority Health Conference will be taking place on February 22, 2019 at the William and Ida Friday Center in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.

The theme for this year’s conference is “Advocacy for Change: Celebrating Past Successes and Planning for the Future,” which celebrates how advocacy can be used as a powerful tool for advancing the health of minorities and people of color.

The Minority Health Conference is the largest and longest running student-led health conference in the United States. The first conference was held in 1977 by the Minority Student Caucus. Past conference themes have ranged from health policy impacts on minorities to workplace health, to economic mobility and minority health.

Last year’s Minority Health Conference celebrated the theme of “Reclaiming the Narrative,” focusing on how narratives as a form of storytelling can be used as a driver for social change. I had the absolute pleasure of attending this conference and learning from the experiences of change leaders in our communities and their contributions to minority health.

Additional Minority Health Conference information, including how to register will be shared soon at http://minorityhealth.web.unc.edu/. You can also check out the Minority Health Conference Twitter page here.

References

http://minorityhealth.web.unc.edu/

https://sph.unc.edu/mhp/minority-health-conference/

December 1st is World AIDS Day

Yesterday was World AIDS Day, a global event that takes place each year on December 1st to raise awareness about HIV/AIDS, to honor those who have died from AIDS-related illness, and to show support for those living with HIV.

Globally, we have made advances in addressing the HIV/AIDS epidemic. New HIV infections have decreased by 47% since 1996, and deaths from AIDS-related illnesses have fallen more than 51% since 2004. We have made advances in HIV testing and prevention as well as antiretroviral treatment. Pre-exposure antiretroviral prophylaxis or “PrEP” has been shown to be an effective form of HIV prevention. PrEP is a pill that, when taken consistently, can reduce HIV infection risk in high-risk individuals by up to 92%. And when used with other HIV prevention methods such as using condoms, can offer even more protection. In 2015, the World Health Organization recommended use of pre-exposure antiretroviral prophylaxis or “PrEP” for high-risk individuals to prevent HIV.

However, while we have made tremendous progress in understanding the HIV virus and how to both treat and prevent it, there is still more to be done. About one in four people with HIV do not know they are infected. 1.8 million people are newly infected each year with HIV, any people across the globe lack access to the critical HIV prevention and care that they need to live long, healthy lives.

To learn more about HIV and how you can support people living with the virus, please visit the following resources:

CDC: About HIV/AIDS | https://www.cdc.gov/hiv/basics/whatishiv.html

HIV.gov | https://www.hiv.gov/

HIV/AIDS World Health Organization | http://www.who.int/hiv/en/

San Francisco AIDS Foundation | http://www.sfaf.org/hiv-info/

References

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2018, November 1). Pre-exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP). Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/hiv/risk/prep/index.html

Kaiser Family Foundation. (2018, July 25). The Global HIV/AIDS Epidemic. https://www.kff.org/global-health-policy/fact-sheet/the-global-hivaids-epidemic/

National AIDS Trust: World AIDS Day. (2018). About World AIDS Day. https://www.worldaidsday.org/about/

UNAIDS. (2018). Global HIV & AIDS statistics  – 2018 fact sheet. Retrieved from http://www.unaids.org/en/resources/fact-sheet

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (2018, November 20). Global Statistics. Retrieved from https://www.hiv.gov/hiv-basics/overview/data-and-trends/global-statistics

World Health Organization. (2015). Guideline on when to start antiretroviral therapy and on pre-exposure prophylaxis for HIV, web supplement: annex 2: evidence to decision-making tables and supporting evidence (No. WHO/HIV/2015.36). World Health Organization.

World Health Organization. (N.d.). WHO and HIV: 30-Year Timeline. Retrieved from http://www.who.int/hiv/mediacentre/news/WAD_Timeline.jpg

Improving Patient-Provider Communication: Meet Crystal Bentley

Last week, Crystal Bentley, RN, second-year Master of Public Health student in the UNC Gillings School, joined our class to share with us her interests and work in health communication.

Crystal is currently a research assistant in the Community Engagement, AHEC, and Outreach Services department of the UNC Health Sciences Library where she is developing provider-facing health literacy training modules. The goal of her work is to improve patient-provider communication and patient knowledge.

This is not a recent interest of hers, however. Crystal spent the past six years working as a registered nurse in the areas of emergency medicine, public health, and collegiate campus health prior to beginning her graduate program. These experiences are what sparked her interest in patient-provider communication, patient advocacy, and shared decision making. In her daily interactions with patients, Crystal would often see a disconnect between the way patients and providers would communicate and interact with each other in the clinical setting. It was not long until she discovered her calling was to help bridge this gap within patient-provider sphere.

Some of the key takeaways from Crystal’s talk were that lack of health literacy can have both important health and financial implications. She also described the important of using plain language and being mindful of cultural sensitivity when developing health communication materials for different audiences.

Crystal Bentley is a second-year Master of Public Health student in the Department of Health Behavior at the Gillings School of Global Public Health at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She is also an Interdisciplinary Health Communication scholar, and will be completing her certificate next semester along with her degree program.

What are your thoughts on health literacy? What do you feel are important components of good patient-provider interaction and communication? Let us know in the comments below!

FDA Expands HPV Vaccine for People Ages 27 to 45

Earlier last month, the FDA announced it has approved Gardasil 9, a vaccine for Human Papillomavirus (HPV) for people between the ages of 27 and 45. Previously, the FDA approved the HPV vaccine for individuals aged 9 through 26 years.

Gardasil 9 protects against nine types of HPV, a virus that is transmitted sexually and through intimate skin-to-skin contact. HPV is a very common virus and many individuals will get it at some point in their lives. While most HPV infections go away on their own, some may stick around and cause genital warts and cancer. This may be cancer of the cervix, vulva, vagina, penis, or anus, as well as cancer of the back of the throat.

It is recommended that all children aged 11 or 12 receive the HPV vaccine series. The vaccine is most effective at this age, before children are exposed to HPV.

Still, however, individuals up to age 45 years can now get the HPV vaccine. Older individuals can protect themselves against nine types of HPV. And even if one has been exposed to a few types, the vaccine will protect against the other strains they have not been exposed to.

HPV vaccination is cancer prevention. Why not consider protecting yourself?

For more information, check out the following Centers for Disease Control and Prevention resources:

What is HPV? 

HPV and Cancer

HPV Cancer Screening

References

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2018, August 23). Human Papillomavirus: Questions and Answers. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/hpv/parents/questions-answers.html

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2016, December13). What is HPV? https://www.cdc.gov/hpv/parents/whatishpv.html

U.S. Food & Drug Administration. (2018, October 9). FDA approves expanded use of Gardasil 9 to include individuals 27 through 45 years old. Retrieved from

https://www.fda.gov/NewsEvents/Newsroom/PressAnnouncements/UCM622715.htm?utm_campaign=10052018_PR_FDA%20approves%20expanded%20use%20of%20Gardasil%209%20to%20include%20individuals%2027%20through%2045%20years%20old

Grady, D & Hoffman, J. (2018, October 5). HPV Vaccine Expanded or People Ages 27 to 45. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/2018/10/05/health/hpv-virus-vaccine-cancer.html

Eggs and Heart Health

Eggs are a staple ingredient in my fridge. I use them in my baking and I sometimes eat them for breakfast. Over the years, however, I would often hear many mixed messages about their health benefits such as that eating too many eggs would raise your cholesterol. Because of this, I would often limit how many I eat. That said, I was interested to read a recent study (1) in which researchers found that eating an egg a day may lower cardiovascular disease risk. Researchers of this study, which included over 400,000 adults in China, found that those participants who consumed up to less than one egg per day had an 18% lower risk of cardiovascular disease death compared to those participants who do not consume eggs.

According to an article (2) in the Harvard Health Letter, Dr. Anthony Komaroff, MD, Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School, asserts that an egg a day does not increase your risk for a heart attack. Dr. Komaroff believes it is wise for individuals with diabetes or at high risk for (or already have) heart disease to consume no more than 3 eggs per week. Further, he describes that while eggs were known for having lots of cholesterol which can increase cardiovascular disease risk, research has shown that most of our body’s cholesterol comes from our liver and not what we eat. Research has also found eggs to have many healthy nutrients that are good for the body. Finally, Dr. Komaroff describes the importance of considering the other foods one eats with their eggs, such as foods with saturated fat like butter, bacon, or muffins that can raise blood cholesterol more than eggs themselves.

References:

(1) Qin c, et al. Heart2018;104:1756–1763. doi:10.1136/heartjnl-2017-312651

(2) Harvard Health Publishing. (2017, January). Are eggs risky for heart health?: Ask the doctor. Retrieved from https://www.health.harvard.edu/heart-health/are-eggs-risky-for-heart-health

October is Health Literacy Month!

Founded in 1999 by Helen Osborne, Health Literacy Month is all about promoting understandable health information. This information is critical in order for individuals to make appropriate health decisions.

Health literacy is the ability to obtain, process, and understand basic health information and services. This includes reading, writing, and numeracy of health information. Sometimes, health information can be difficult to understand and communicate among different audiences. This can make navigating the healthcare system challenging.

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 77 million U.S. adults have basic or below basic health literacy. Low health literacy can lead to poor health outcomes, such low uptake of preventive health services and/or greater use of treatment health services. This can lead to high healthcare costs.

There are many factors that can affect health literacy. Some of these factors include: education, age, language, and culture. Culture can play a key role in how one understands and responds to health information. Culture involves certain beliefs, values, communication styles that all can affect how one processes health information. Therefore, it is important that health information is communicated in a way that is culturally appropriate for the individual or audience.

One key setting for health literacy is that of patient and health care providers. Patients may have difficulty understanding complex medical information, while providers may have difficulty communicating complex medical information. It is important for providers and patients to work together in order to ensure that health information is understood and communicated effectively, so that the best health care decisions are made for the patient.

Interested in learning more about health literacy? Check out the following resources from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:

Additional resources from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services:

References:

Kindig, D. A., Panzer, A. M., & Nielsen-Bohlman, L. (Eds.). (2004). Health literacy: a prescription to end confusion. National Academies Press.

National Institutes of Health. (2017, May 31). Health Literacy. Retrieved from https://www.nih.gov/institutes-nih/nih-office-director/office-communications-public-liaison/clear-communication/health-literacy

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (2008). America’s Health Literacy: Why We Need Accessible Health Information. Retrieved from https://health.gov/communication/literacy/issuebrief/

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.  (N.d.). Quick Guide to Health Literacy: Fact Sheet – Health Literacy Basics. Retrieved from https://health.gov/communication/literacy/quickguide/factsbasic.htm

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.  (N.d.). Quick Guide to Health Literacy: Fact Sheet – Health Literacy and Health Outcomes. Retrieved from https://health.gov/communication/literacy/quickguide/factsbasic.htm
U.S. National Library of Medicine. (N.d.). Health Literacy: Definition. Retrieved from https://nnlm.gov/initiatives/topics/health-literacy

Student Develops Jelly Drops to Support Dementia Patients Like his Grandmother

As we age, we naturally lose our sense of thirst, increasing our risk of dehydration. This risk is even greater among older individuals living with dementia. Individuals with dementia may experience trouble swallowing thin liquids as well as memory loss. This was true for Lewis Hornsby’s grandmother, Pat, who struggled with dehydration. After an unexpected rush to the hospital, Lewis found his grandmother had been severely dehydrated, and it took 24 hours on IV fluids for her to return to her normal state.

Recognizing his grandmother’s struggle with dehydration, Lewis, an innovative engineering student at the Imperial College of London, developed “Jelly Drops.” These colorful, jelly-like treats contain over 90% water as well as other ingredients that give it its solid state. This solid state allows the body to slowly break down the Jelly Drop, maximizing hydration. But Lewis’  innovation does not end with the Jelly Drop alone. The Jelly Drops are stored in a clear box so that you can see the colorful treats. The box also contains a booklet with talking points to encourage social interaction between care home residents and their caretakers. Lewis’ innovative Jelly Drops is a result of thoughtful research. Some of this research involved living in his grandmother’s care home and observing the behaviors of residents as well as meeting with dementia psychologists and doctors.

Lewis has already received two awards for his Jelly Drops invention: the Helen Hamlyn Design Award – Snowdon Award for Disability as well as the Dyson School of Design Engineering DESIRE Award for Social Impact. According to his Facebook page, Jelly Drops are not available for purchase at this time as he is conducting further research and trials using the product.

What an exciting, real-life example of public health innovation! – To read more about Lewis’ Jelly Drops project, visit his project page on The James Dyson Award website.

References

Nelson, Elizabeth. (N.d.). Young Man Invents “Water You Can Eat” to Help Dementia Patients Like His Grandma Stay Hydrated. Retrieved from https://blog.thealzheimerssite.com/jelly-drops/

Royal College of Art. (N.d.). Lewis Hornsby. Retrieved from https://www.rca.ac.uk/students/lewis-hornby/

The James Dyson Foundation. (2018). Jelly Drops. Retrieved from https://www.jamesdysonaward.org/2018/project/jelly-drops/

Tuchtan, Vicki. (2016). Dehydration: how it affects the elderly and what to do about it. Retrieved from http://www.sageagedcare.edu.au/blog/dehydration-how-it-affects-the-elderly-and-what-to-do-about-it/