Exercise Versus Obesity

November 20th, 2015  |  The Blog

Exercise is important in all stages of life, young, old and in between. A recent study determined that a lack of regular exercise is potentially twice as deadly as being obese. This is a significant finding given that past information focused on being a person being obese and/or overweight, not making a direct link to the exercise factor.

The study declared that 20 minutes of walking per day can be enough exercise to change the risk of early death, when leading a sedentary or inactive life, for the better. Too many people have sedentary jobs and sit at a desk staring at a computer screen all day. It is time to get up and move, every single day.

The report was published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition and states that, “Just a small amount of physical activity each day could have substantial health benefits for people who are physically inactive.”

The Correlation Between Exercise and Obesity

The study looked at height, weight, waist size and, especially, physical activity levels with regard to lowering the overall number of early deaths. The key component of the evaluation was to research the link between early death and physical inactivity. The physical inactivity component was then compared against the the risks related to being obese.

A modest increase, not a radical upswing, in a person’s physical activity level can make a substantial difference reducing their risk of early death.

The measurement of obesity’s impact on an early death is more difficult to determine than measuring adequate physical exercise. In the study, obesity was measured in two ways:

  • Overall BMI (body mass index)
  • Central or abdominal obesity

Physical exercise can also be measured in several ways, especially with regard to a specific workout or exertion time frame.

Public Awareness

It is important for the American public to be aware of the health risks related to obesity. Reducing overall obesity levels in the U.S. will improve the public’s general health in so many ways.

Exercise should be a part of everyone’s daily life routine, whether they are young or old, rich or poor or lean or obese. Good habits are hard to break so starting to show and teach young people the importance of daily exercise will help to combat the current obesity crisis in America.

The End Result

A lack of exercise carries a doubly high risk, literally, of an early death than does obesity, according to the recent study statistics.

Participating in a regular exercise regime that burns 90 to 110 calories per day accomplishes several positive things including:

  • Equals the same as a brisk daily 20-minute walk
  • Transforms the participant from an inactive to a moderately inactive participant
  • Lowers the risk of early death by 16% to 30%

The 16% to 30% reduction in the risk of an early death is significant and should be heeded by all. Healthcare professionals need to discuss with all patients and encourage the implementation of a ?simple exercise regime, which can be tweaked as tolerated.

It is the most important to get at least 20 minutes of exercise everyday but more exercise than that is even better. Get up and get moving!

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Uterine Transplants at Cleveland Clinic

November 20th, 2015  |  The Blog

Doctors at Cleveland Clinic are preparing to perform the first ever uterine transplant. This ground-breaking surgical option will change the lives of women who have no uterus.

Sweden, at the University of Gothenburg, is the only country in the world to have done successful uterine transplants. The Swedish results include:

  • 9 women have undergone the transplant surgery
  • 4 have given birth; the first baby was born in September 2014 and another is due in January 2016
  • All babies were born healthy but were premature
  • 2 transplants failed; 1 due to a blood clot and 1 due to infection

The Qualifications for the Study

About 50,000 women in the U.S. are potential candidates for uterine transplantation. There are some basic qualification, which include:

  • Must be in good health
  • Must be in a stable relationship due to the support and help they need through the process
  • Must have ovaries
  • Must be born without a uterus, uterus previously removed or damaged

The Study Plan

The uterine transplant will be temporary. It will be removed after the recipient has one or two babies. The removal is mandated so the recipient can stop taking the sometimes harsh transplant anti-rejection drugs.

Transplanted uteruses will be harvested from deceased donors, rather than putting a live donor at risk. A live donor harvesting takes seven to eleven hours, due to the tiny uterine vessels that are wrapped around the ureters. A uterus can be removed from a deceased donor much faster than from a live donor.

A uterus can survive outside the body for six to eight hours, if it is kept cold.

Candidates undergo psychological testing before committing to the study. They need to be financially stable because they will need to live in Cleveland during portions of the study.

How the Process Works

The candidate will be given hormone therapy to stimulate egg production.

Ten eggs are needed so the woman may need multiple cycles of hormone treatment. Eggs are harvested, fertilized with her partner’s sperm and frozen.

When there are ten frozen embryos, she is placed on the transplant waitlist. The recipient and donor must have matching blood and tissue type.

The actual transplant surgery takes about five hours because it involves:

  • Attaching an artery and a vein on either side of the uterus to the recipient’s blood vessels
  • Part of the donor’s vagina will be attached to the recipient’s vagina
  • Tissue attached to the uterus will be used to stabilize the organ in the pelvis
  • No nerves connected during the surgery

The woman must wait one year after the transplant, while the anti-rejection drugs are regulated, before getting pregnant.

Fallopian tubes are not connected to the uterus so natural pregnancy is not an option. Transplant recipients undergo in vitro fertilization. One embryo at a time will be implanted until the woman becomes pregnant.

The baby will be delivered via cesarean section before the actual due date to prevent the transplanted uterus from the undue strain of labor.

Final Uterine Removal

After delivering one baby, the mother can opt to keep the uterus intact and have a second baby. For safety reasons, there is a two baby limit imposed on a transplanted uterus.

The uterus can be surgically removed or, some believe, the woman can stop the anti-rejection drugs and let her body reject the organ and it will wither away.


  • Will help women who, for personal, cultural or religious reasons, will not adopt or engage a surrogate to have a child


  • Pushes the limits medially and ethically
  • Risks associated with surgery
  • Risks associated with taking anti-rejection drugs for a transplant that is not life-saving like a kidney, liver, heart or lung transplant. One important caveat: there are many women whom have had organ transplants, specifically kidney and liver, and have been taking anti-ejection drugs before getting pregnant. These women have gone onto have healthy babies.
  • Women who do take anti-rejection drugs have a higher risk of pre-eclampsia, an issue with high blood pressure for the mom, and their babies have a low birth weight. The question remains whether these potential complications are due to pre-existing medical conditions, involving their transplant, or if they are side effects of the anti-rejection drugs.
  • The pregnancy will be high-risk
  • Fetuses will be exposed to anti-rejection drugs

The Outcome

Eight women are currently in the screening process. Cleveland Clinic will perform ten uterine transplants, assess the outcomes and decide if they will move forward with the program.

Uterine transplants are expanding the role of organ transplantation. When organ transplantation was first done, over 50 years ago, it was a means to save lives. Today, it not only saves lives but also improves the quality of life. This is demonstrated in face transplants, hand transplants and now the potential of uterine transplants that will bring a miraculous gift to the recipient-a baby.

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Enterprise Resource Planning in the Healthcare Industry

November 17th, 2015  |  The Blog

Healthcare spending in the United States is projected to surpass $3.3 trillion in 2015, with annual growth expected to take that total to almost $4.8 trillion by 2021, according to the federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.

Various factors are driving this trend while also transforming the industry, including expanded access to healthcare services, an aging population and evolving technology, such as electronic medical records, telemedicine, mobile health apps and big data analytics.

“Across the world, health care systems are recognizing the need for innovation; advances in health technologies and data management can help facilitate new diagnostic and treatment options,” according to a 2014 outlook by Deloitte.

As healthcare providers seek to maximize efficiency and productivity, they are expected to turn increasingly to enterprise resource planning. By providing access to real-time data, ERP systems can boost the performance of business processes such as customer relationship management, analytics, supply chain management and human resources management.

ERP is “positioned for accelerated growth among hospitals,” HIMSS Analytics noted in its 2014 report “Essentials of the U.S. Hospital IT Market.”

Benefits of ERP

Through the availability of internal and external data across departments and functions, ERP systems allow for automation of processes in order to reduce risk and increase efficiency. Additionally, the implementation of enterprise resource planning in the healthcare industry may lead to:

  • Optimized business processes
  • Improved information flow and communications among departments and doctors, providing for timely and accurate patient care
  • Enhanced operational efficiency for administrative staff, support personnel and physicians
  • Integration of real-time data in clinical systems and multidirectional data flow
  • Reduced operational costs
  • Improved decision-making capabilities for patient care and resource management

Overall, ERP systems can enable healthcare organizations to sharpen their focus on their primary mission: providing patients with the right care at the right time.

ERP Implementation

Although ERP can provide benefits in areas such as information technology spending and business process efficiency, effective implementation is the key to success. Even the most advanced software systems will perform poorly in the absence of a carefully integrated and customized plan for implementation.

In a healthcare setting, ERP implementation may include input from clinicians, healthcare managers and other stakeholders, as well as intensive training programs for all users, not just IT specialists.

Healthcare providers also must determine which type of enterprise resource planning solution best fits their specific needs and goals. Hospitals, physicians’ groups and other organizations may need to select from among on-premises, cloud-based or hybrid ERP systems.

“A well-defined ERP strategy that is agreed to by business leaders is key to success for ERP initiatives,” noted a 2014 report by Gartner, a global IT research firm.

Why is ERP Needed in Healthcare?

Implementing an ERP system can provide significant benefits for healthcare providers, not only in the promotion of proficient performance and functionality, but also in positioning organizations to respond to a quickly evolving industry.

From complying with patient confidentiality regulations to shifting to digital-based record keeping and attracting highly qualified employees, healthcare providers face numerous challenges in a competitive, multitrillion-dollar marketplace. As it has done for decades in manufacturing and other industries, enterprise resource planning can bring greater efficiency and heightened effectiveness to the healthcare arena.

This post was written by Haley DeLeon, who writes content for Florida Tech University Online’s website, including health, business and tech articles for Florida Tech’s online MSIT in Enterprise Resource Planning?program.

About joseph.seong@internetbrands.com

Treating Low Levels of Vitamin D

November 2nd, 2015  |  The Blog

Last week’s post asked, Are You Getting Enough Vitamin D? This week’s discussion about vitamin D turns to the highs, the lows and the treatment plan available.

Vitamin D is the buzz in the world of medicine. Most healthcare providers recommend that a patient take a vitamin D supplement, if their blood level is proven to be low, because past research reported that it is important to sustain bone health. New research reports that a vitamin D deficiency might cause damage to the brain and other body organs.

The Problem

Why is there such a growing vitamin D deficiency in the US? There are some simple and obvious reasons, which include but are not limited to:

  • Dietary sources of vitamin D are quite limited
  • Widespread use of sunscreen
  • Wearing long-sleeved, long-leg clothing when outside
  • The popularity of swim shirts when at the beach or the pool

Insufficient Vitamin D Level Downsides

Symptoms of a low vitamin D level include tiredness and general body aches but most people are totally asymptomatic. Low levels of vitamin D are associated with:

  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Heart disease
  • Some cancers

Without sufficient vitamin D, the body only absorbs 10-15% of dietary calcium. When the vitamin D levels are proper, the body absorbs about 30 to 40 % of dietary calcium. Bone health is strongly impacted by low levels.

Women with low levels during the first 26 weeks of pregnancy have a greater chance of preeclampsia.

Too Much Vitamin D Downsides

When vitamin D levels are high, the symptoms include, but are not limited to:

  • Poor appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Fatigue
  • Sore eyes
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Muscle problems
  • Hypercalcemia or too much calcium in the blood

The normal level of vitamin D in the body is up to 21 nanograms per milliliter. Vitamin D levels that are too high are worse than having too low of a level. Levels higher than normal can case arteriosclerosis or hardening of the arteries, which increases a person’s risk of heart disease.

The Treatment of Low Levels of Vitamin D

The key to addressing potential health problems is to maintain adequate vitamin D blood levels. There is a simple blood test to check the vitamin D level. Patients should talk to their PCP to be tested so they can be appropriately treated.

If the serum level is low, there are vitamin D supplements available. Eating foods rich in vitamin D include fish, eggs and vitamin D fortified milk.

There are limited foods that contain vitamin D, which include oily fish (salmon, sardines, mackerel), eggs, some breakfast cereals, fortified milk and fortified fat spreads. Vitamin D that is ingested through the GI tract, rather than that which is absorbed through the skin from sunlight, is processed by the body in the same way that it is from sunlight.

Try to absorb the vitamin from the sunshine. At least 10 to 15 minutes of exposure to sunshine is needed to maintain adequate vitamin D levels.

The Bottom Line Message

Most people should acquire enough vitamin D from sunshine and do not need to take a supplement. Patients should check with their PCP for professional guidance and recommendations.

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Are You Getting Enough Vitamin D?

October 27th, 2015  |  The Blog

Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that comes in five forms, D1, D2, D3, D4 and D5. That said, vitamins D2 and D3 are the most important of the five for the human body.

The Purposes for Vitamin D

Vitamin D has several essential baseline purposes for the body. It helps to regulate calcium and phosphorus absorption in the bones of the body. It also helps the cells of the body to effectively communicate and is essential to strengthen the immune system.

This vitamin is also important for muscle function, respiratory system health, anti-cancer properties, brain health and development and heart health.

Getting Enough Vitamin D

Most people are aware that getting vitamin D from sunlight, specifically ultraviolet B rays, is the most common practice. It is important to note that, according to the Vitamin D Council, “you do not need to tan or burn your skin to get vitamin D.” There is no specifically prescribed time of sun exposure to achieve the necessary vitamin D level, according to most healthcare experts. Some recommend 10 to 15 minutes in the midday sun with our sunscreen and wearing shorts and a t-shirt. This exposure time gives a person sufficient radiation to produce 10,000 IU of vitamin D. Fair-skinned people need less exposure than dark-skinned people to get adequate vitamin D.

How do we process vitamin D? Solar energy derived from sunlight changes a chemical in the skin to vitamin D3. The vitamin D3 travels to the liver and kidneys where it is transformed into active vitamin D. The body then utilizes the active vitamin D in the ways in which it is meant to help.

How Much Vitamin D Is Needed??

The daily recommended dose of vitamin D is 600 IU for those ages 1 to 70 years old and 800 IU for anyone over 70 years old. The maximum amount of vitamin D that should be taken per day varies between 4,000 to 10,000 IU, depending upon the individual case.

Those at risk of a vitamin D deficiency are:

  • Those over 65 years old, especially women and those who are post-menopausal
  • Pregnant and/or breastfeeding women
  • Patients who are grossly obese
  • Homebound people who do not have enough natural exposure to sunlight
  • Those with a darker skin tone
  • Children under 5 years old
  • Patients with kidney disease

The Study At Hand

In the results of a recent study done on middle-age rats, the human implications are far-reaching. When the rats were fed a diet low in vitamin D for a few months, there were changes noted in their behavior.

The Study Results

After eating a diet low in vitamin D, the rats were found to have developed free radical damage to the brain and changes in learning and memory cognitive function.

There were high levels of brain proteins noted, which added significant nitrosative stress and subsequent cognitive changes in the rats. Nitrosative stress is the result of exposure to high levels of nitric oxide or peroxynitrite, an oxidant.

With the vitamin D deficiency cases on the rise in the US, it is important to heed the effects noted on the brain function, especially in the elderly.

Stay tuned for more in-depth information about vitamin D next week when we explore the facts about too much or too little vitamin D in the system and how to effectively treat a low level.

About nburgess

Cellphones and Pacemakers

October 23rd, 2015  |  The Blog

According to a recent study, there is good data to support the recommendation that smartphones should be kept a safe distance from implanted cardiac devices. There is a rare chance that signal interference can happen when they are in close proximity. The devices affected include the 2.9 million pacemakers implanted between 1993 and 2009 and implanted defibrillators.

The Study?

The study was done using the Samsung Galaxy 3, Nokia Lumia and HTC One XL smartphones. Patients with implanted cardiac devices placed a smartphone directly on the skin over the implanted device to document the effect.

Patients with implanted cardiac devices were connected to a radio communication tester, which works like a mobile network station. Then, using the maximum transmission power and 50 Hz frequency, which are known to cause interference, the implanted device function was observed and recorded. At the same time, the patients were connected to an electrocardiogram machine to record their cardiac activity.

There were 3,400 tests conducted and only one implanted defibrillator misinterpreted the electromagnetic waves sent by the Nokia and the HTC smartphones. This confirmed that there is a potential for a problem, albeit a rare situation.

The Study Interpretation

In this day and age, most people have a smartphone of some sort. Patients with an implanted cardiac device can use a smartphone but should not place the phone directly over the cardiac device.

A pacemaker can misinterpret the electromagnetic interference (EMI) from smartphones. This can be potentially dangerous to the patient.

The most vulnerable times during a cellphone call are while the call is ringing and when it is connecting to the network. Actually talking on a cellphone was not a vulnerable time.

What Does the Information Mean for Daily Life?

A pause in the cardiac device function can cause a pacemaker dependent patient to experience syncope or faint. Another issue is that an implanted cardiac device can misinterpret smartphone interference as a life-threatening, abnormal heart rhythm called ventricular tachycardia. This malfunction causes the implanted device to deliver a very painful and alarming shock to the heart.

Here are some recommendations derived from the study for patients with implanted cardiac devices to follow:

  • Keep a smartphone at least 5 to 7 inches away from an implanted cardiac device
  • Do not carry a smartphone in a chest pocket over the implanted device
  • Hold the smartphone on the opposite ear from the side where the device is implanted
  • Avoid high-voltage power lines; it is okay to walk or drive under the lines but not to linger in the area

There is no major concern for patients whose pacemakers are programmed in the usual configuration. The most concern about the interaction between smartphones and implanted cardiac devices is for those with pacemakers in the unipolar mode or with extremely sensitive settings for a variety of reasons.

It is always best to seek the advice of the specific cardiac healthcare professional that cares for the patient. The standard of care expectation is that each patient will be counseled at the time a cardiac device is implanted and at subsequent follow-up visits.

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Breakfast: The Most Important Meal of the Day

October 14th, 2015  |  The Blog

Everyone’s mother always said it and now a study has been done to prove the importance of it…eating breakfast is important. There are many studies investigating what affect eating breakfast has on a person’s general health. One study in particular, done by the Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH), was a long-term look at almost 27, 000 men, ages 45 to 82 years old, over a 16-year span of time.

The Effects of Skipping Breakfast

Skipping breakfast can have one or more of the following effects on a person, when compared to a person who does eat breakfast, according to the recent study:

  • Higher risk of heart attack
  • Higher risk of fatal coronary heart disease
  • Tendency towards obesity
  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol
  • Diabetes

People who skip breakfast also crave and tend to eat high calorie, more appealing snacks later in the day, especially the late morning hours. Hence, they over eat and tend to lean towards obesity.

The Results

At the outset of the study, no one had been diagnosed heart disease or cancer. At the end of the 16 year study, 1,572 of the male study participants experienced non-fatal heart attacks or died of coronary artery disease.

Men who admitted not eating breakfast reported a 27% higher risk of heart attack or death from coronary artery disease than those who regularly ate breakfast.

Interestingly, another finding of the study reports that eating late at night is also not a healthy life choice. Those who eat late at night have a 55% higher risk of developing coronary artery disease than those who do not eat late at night.

A Good Breakfast

Eating a nutritious breakfast is important to keep a person healthy and provide the energy needed to make it through the day.

Here are some guidelines to eating a healthy breakfast:

  • Eat a healthy balance of protein, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals
  • Eat a filling breakfast to ward off high calorie temptations later in the morning
  • Eat cereal, hot or cold, with some healthy add-ins like nuts, chopped fruit and/or steel-cut oatmeal
  • Bananas are a healthy breakfast fruit
  • Try whole grain toast with a glass of low fat milk

The Advice

The advice derived from this eating study is quite simple. It is this: do not skip breakfast. Why? Because eating a healthy breakfast is key factor in lowering a person’s risk of having a heart attack.

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Chicken Pox Cases On The Decline

October 7th, 2015  |  The Blog

To vaccinate a child or not to vaccinate a child?this is a topic of perpetual conversation in the health field. There are mandatory levels of compliance and requirements for children to enter school and there are also families who have an exemption from vaccines due to religious beliefs. There is a heartening report from a recent study that further supports the chickenpox or varicella vaccine because it is doing its job.

Basic Chickenpox Facts?

This is a highly contagious disease caused by the varicella-zoster virus. Chickenpox is the initial phase of the disease, which can present as shingles later in life.

Pre-1995, when the varicella vaccine was first introduced, there were an estimated four million cases of chickenpox reported every year in the US. While anyone, at any age, can contract this infectious disease, 90% of the cases were children under the age of 15 years.

Chickenpox is an airborne disease, which means that coughing and sneezing are the main means of transmission from person-to-person. The usual outbreaks of the disease occur in pockets, such as a school community, when children are in close proximity.

This is a serious disease and can be life-threatening, if left untreated. According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 10,600 people are hospitalized every year with chickenpox and 100 to 150 people die from the disease.

The severity of chickenpox symptoms increases in adults so pre-vaccine or pre-1995 thinking was: it is best to have a young child contract the disease and develop immunity early on than to risk getting it later in life.

Now, children who have not naturally contracted the disease are being immunized and it is effective in controlling the disease.

The Varicella Vacccine

The varicella vaccine was introduced 20 years ago, in 1995, and thought to be a one-dose vaccine. There were fewer fatal cases of chickenpox after the vaccine was introduced but further research determined that another dose of the vaccine is needed to insure complete protection.

In 2006, the recommendation to add a second dose of the vaccine was made because there were still disease outbreaks documented in some areas, even where the rate of vaccination was high.?

The first dose of the varicella vaccine is administered to infants who are 12 to 15 months old. The second dose is administered to children 4 to 6 years old.

The Result of Varicella Vaccine Compliance

Here are some encouraging facts about the direct result of the chickenpox vaccine:

  • 93% drop in varicella-related hospitalizations since the vaccine was introduced
  • 1-to-19 year olds had the greatest decline in hospitalization since the vaccine was introduced
  • 38% further decline in hospitalizations after the 2nd dose was added in 2006
  • There was a decline in infant (those too young to be vaccinated) and adults (who have not been vaccinated) due to herd immunity*.

*Herd immunity means that the majority of people in a community are protected, which lowers the chance of a disease outbreak. With the majority of the population around the community vaccinated, it increases the protection of the potentially susceptible infants and adults.

Since the varicella vaccine has been introduced, there has been positive decline in cases of the disease, including the number of hospitalizations and deaths.

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No More Cataract Surgery

October 5th, 2015  |  The Blog

Cataracts affect more than three million people a year in the US. As refined as cataract surgery has become over time, it is still a surgical procedure with both risks and benefits. There is a new medical development on the horizon making cataract treatment more attainable for many people and without the trauma and risks of surgery.

Eye Lenses Explained

The lenses in the eyes are composed mostly of crystalline proteins, which allow the eye to focus and also keep the actual lens clear. This is a phenomenon that the medical profession does not totally understand. When the homogeneous crystalline protein structure is disturbed, clumping occurs and causes lens cloudiness. This is the development of a cataract.

Another molecule in the lens is lanosterol, which helps to build important steroids in the body. Lanosterol is produced by an enzyme called lanosterol synthase. This molecule plays a big role in whether or not a person develops cataracts.

Lanosterol’s Role

Children with the inherited type of cataracts display the same gene mutation that blocks lanosterol synthase. This finding made researchers further analyze the connection between lanosterol and cataracts.

The theory: In normal eyes with lenses rich with lanosterol, the cataract-forming proteins stop the development of clumping and the potential of reduced vision.

Cataracts Defined

A cataract is a clouding of the lens in the eye and can occur in either or both eyes. The clouding affects a person’s vision. Cataracts are actually the leading cause of blindness. Most cataracts are the result of aging but there are some types that are inherited. About half of Americans over 80 years old have had cataract surgery.

There are some risk factors for developing cataracts, which include: sun exposure, diabetes, tobacco use and alcohol use. Cataracts, most often, develop as people age and occur later in life.

Vision becomes cloudy or fuzzy and patients have a strong sensitivity to glare from the sun or lights when they develop cataracts.

Treatment Plan for Cataracts

The usual treatment is to surgically remove a cataract. The procedure is relatively standard and simple but still carries the risks of surgery.

An exciting new treatment is being developed. The new treatment is eye drops, which are still in the research stage using dogs.

The eye drop solution stops the cataract-forming proteins from clumping and, therefore, reducing vision. The lanosterol solution has been tested as an eye injection and as an eye drop.

The Results

The lanosterol eye drop solution reduces the protein clumping so results in reduced cataract development and increased lens transparency.

The potential for this cataract treatment, once tested and approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), will be life changing for everyone. Having access to cataract surgery is a gift but not having to undergo surgery with the same potential result is a major benefit.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), there are many people in countries around the world who do not have access to surgical procedures. These eye drops would change the live of so many people, especially since cataracts are the leading cause of blindness.

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Lyme Disease Vaccine

September 23rd, 2015  |  The Blog

Lyme disease, which is contracted from infected Ixodes dammini ticks, is becoming all too popular. According to a recent study at the University of Toronto, Lyme disease cases are on the rise in the United States.

The Cause of Lyme Disease

The bacteria, Borrelia, most often causes Lyme disease in the US and European cases. In many areas of the US, especially the Northeast, 30% to 50% of deer ticks are infected with the genus Borreila.

A tick must be attached to the host (human or pet) for 36 to 48 hours in order to transmit the disease.

How to Prevent Lyme Disease

There are some simple tips to stay healthy and avoid exposure to infected ticks that are carrying Lyme disease. They include, but are not limited to:

  • Avoid wooded and bushy areas with high grass
  • Use tick repellant with DEET (N, N-diethyl-m-toluamide)
  • Wear long sleeves, long pants and socks
  • Check skin and clothes regularly for ticks
  • Be aware of the increased risk during the warmer months of April through September, although there is a year-round risk

The Symptoms of Lyme Disease

The most common symptoms of Lyme disease include:

  • Skin rash, which is called erythema migrans
  • Classic?bulls-eye rash at the site
  • Headache
  • Fever
  • Fatigue
  • Depression

The debilitating symptoms cause pain and suffering for those who contract the disease.

Unfortunately, the disease diagnosis is sometimes missed and goes untreated . This leads to some potentially major complications including facial palsy, joint pain and swelling, heart palpitations and more severe headaches with neck stiffness.

Typical Treatment Plan

One single dose of the antibiotic, Doxycycline, is sometimes administered when a blood-filled tick is removed from the skin to prevent an infection. If an infection does develop, the antibiotics of choice include a 2-to-3 week course of doxycycline, amoxicillin, azythromycin or cefuroxime (ceftin).

Supportive treatment of symptoms is also encouraged to ease the discomfort.

The Potential Vaccine

A team of scientists from Stony Brook University, Brookhaven National Laboratory and Baxter International Inc. have worked together on a potential vaccine to prevent Lyme disease. They checked to safety and immune response of the vaccine, in Phase 1 and Phase 2 of the clinical trials, which were?tested in Germany and Austria.

The vaccine works on the outer surface protein of the Borrella species, which is where the spirochete bacteria live in ticks. This is the source of the disease transmission to humans.

The vaccine was administered in three primary shots and one booster shot. All types and doses of the vaccine produced significant antibodies against all species of Borrella, which causes Lyme disease.

The adverse or side effects of the vaccine are usually mild. There were no serious adverse reactions documented in the clinical trial.

The Plan Moving Forward

This vaccine is in clinical trials by the developer, Baxter. The preliminary vaccine trials have been promising and have shown strong immune system reaction in the human participants. The next phase of the trial, Phase 3, will document an even stronger immune response as well as the vaccine?s true efficacy in a larger study population.

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