Infectious disease has been in the news a good deal lately. It captured headlines for an extended time with the Ebola virus scare. In addition, the Center for Disease Control has issued warnings about the influenza virus, noting that in some areas it has reached epidemic proportions.
Moreover, outbreaks of illnesses such as measles at places like Disneyland have raised anxiety levels.
Given the heightened concern about infectious disease, the American Pharmacy Association is reminding people that pharmacists are an excellent resource for information in how to prevent the spread of such illnesses and what to do if you contract one.
More than 270 million Americans visit a pharmacy each week, so pharmacists are in the front lines when dealing with public health issues. So, if you have concerns about these illnesses and want more information, your pharmacist is a good person to talk to.
For example, regarding Ebola, the pharmacist will first get a travel history for anyone who has a viral infection, a fever over 101.5 degrees, headache, muscle pain, diarrhea, stomach pain, or unexplained bruising or bleeding 21 days after visiting Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria or Sierra Leone. The Center for Disease Control cautions healthcare professionals to take all infection control precautions in such cases and contact state and local health departments.
To stop the spread of the Enterovirus D-68, people should:
- Wash hands often with soap and water for 20 seconds; avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
- Avoid close contact such as kissing, hugging and sharing cups or eating utensils with people who are sick.
- Cover your coughs and sneezes with a tissue or shirt sleeve, not your hands.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces, such as toys and doorknobs, especially if someone is sick.
- Stay home when you are sick.
There are no vaccines for this strain of flu virus, and children with asthma are especially at risk and need to take special precautions.
To make sure they get the best care, patients should make sure they visit their healthcare providers regularly. They should fill all of their prescriptions at one pharmacy, get to know their pharmacist and talk with the pharmacist about the medications that are being taken. Patients should also carry a current list of all medications they are taking.
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