Thursday, July 24, 2008
It is important be aware of seasonal diseases

By Dr. Anthony Policastro

Infections are frequently seasonal. There is a flu season. There are a couple of strep seasons. Summertime is the season for Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. It is also the season for enteroviruses. Enteroviruses are a group of viruses that grow in warm water. The most famous of the three enteroviruses is the poliovirus. We used to have polio epidemics every summer. Thanks to immunizations that is no longer the case. However, we still see the other two groups of enteroviruses. One of them is the Coxsackie virus group. The other is the Echovirus group. They cause a variety of infections. Most of those infections are minor. Most go away in three days. Some are more obvious than others. The one that is most well known is called hand-foot-mouth disease. The patient develops blisters on the palms and soles with canker sores in the mouth. The infection that gives us the most trouble is viral meningitis. Like all meningitis infections, it is associated with bad headache, stiff neck and fever. However, it is not as serious as the other kinds of meningitis. It goes away without treatment in about three days. The reason it is a problem is that the only way to be sure it is not one of the more serious types of meningitis is to do a spinal tap. That is not a pleasant procedure. In infants under two months of age, the most common enterovirus infection is one that causes fever as the only symptom. There may be a rash on the second day. There may be some irritability. There may be a decrease in feedings. Unfortunately, these symptoms might also represent a serious bacterial infection in this age group. There is no way to be sure on exam. For that reason, when we see a young infant, we have to assume it is a serious infection. That is true for all infants under 28 days of age. It is true for many infants between one and two months of age. When these infants present to the physician with fever of over 101 degrees, the approach is pretty standard. The infants get blood tests done. They get a catheter placed in the bladder to get a sterile urine specimen. They get a chest X-ray. They get a spinal tap. They get admitted to the hospital. They get 48 hours of IV antibiotics until we are sure the cultures growing in the lab do not have bacteria in them. The reason for this is simple. If we wait to make sure whether it is a viral or bacterial infection, it will be too late to treat them if it turns out to be bacterial. The best way to prevent these infections in young infants is by careful hand washing before handling the infant. You should always wash your hands when dealing with children of this age. That becomes more important to do during the summertime enterovirus season. One of the things that I advise mothers to do is to keep their young infants away from crowded areas until the infant is two months of age. When an infant is around a lot of people, everyone wants to see and touch the infant. There are usually no sinks around. Therefore, few people wash their hands in those situations. It is useful to know what kinds of diseases are present during each time of the year. That allows us to know that young infants need to be especially protected from contaminated hands during the entrerovirus season. It is far better to spend some extra time washing hands than it is to spend 48 hours in the hospital with a series of unpleasant procedures.

Blades hosts health screening Residents living in and around the Blades community can be screened to reduce their risk of having a stroke or heart attack. Life Line Screening will be at the Blades Town Hall-Hardin Hall on Tuesday, July 29. The site is located at 20 W. Fourth St. in Blades. Appointments will begin at 10 a.m. Recommended baseline screenings include Stroke/Carotid Artery, Atrial Fibrillation, Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm and Peripheral Arterial Disease. Additional screenings can be added for a more comprehensive risk assessment and include C-Reactive Protein; complete Lipid Panel including HDL/LDL and total cholesterol; Glucose; and an ultrasound screening for Osteoporosis. Pick any four screenings for $140. All eight screenings are $199. Life Line Screening was established in 1993, and has since become the nation's leading provider of preventive screenings. For more information regarding the screenings or to schedule an appointment, call 1-800-643-6188. Pre-registration is required.

Website offers info on toxins From cleaners and cosmetics to spray paints and strippers, products found in and around the home can contain toxins that can cause cancer and other illnesses. Delawareans can learn about product ingredients and how to replace dangerous products at a new website launched by Delaware's Division of Public Health - Visitors can click on icons for Inside Healthy Homes, Outside Healthy Homes, Children in Healthy Homes, Renovating Healthy Homes and Delaware Healthy Homes Resources. These categories offer additional choices of topics. For example, Children in Healthy Homes is found under the Cleaning Products, Drinking Water, Lead, and Pesticides categories. Information is available on how products cause problems, dangers and improvement steps to take. Residents may also call the toll-free Delaware Helpline (1-800-464-HELP) to receive printed materials by mail.

Nanticoke hires new director Nanticoke Health Services welcomes Mr. Donald J. Tricarico Jr., RN, MSA, CNOR, as director of Surgical Services. Tricarico started his role on July 1. As director of Surgical Services, Tricarico will play a critical role in the delivery of patient care services in collaboration with physicians and other health care providers. His background includes over 20 years in the military and private healthcare sector. For the last six years, he has been the director of Surgical Services in a hospital that mirrors Nanticoke in both size and rural setting. Besides having a BSN from the University of Delaware, he has a master's degree in Administrative Management, his Certified Nurse Operating Room certification and has written several publications. Tricarico is a Dover native and will be relocating to the Seaford area with his wife and daughter.

Nanticoke plans golf tournament The 22nd annual Nanticoke Health Services Golf Tournament is Friday, Sept. 5 at the Seaford Golf and Country Club. The day will consist of practice, lunch, 18-holes of golf, dinner and door prizes. A full field of participants is expected with a noon shotgun start and scramble format. The tournament's goal is to raise over $35,000 for Nanticoke Memorial Hospital. Proceeds will be used for the hospital's charity endowment prescription fund, a special indigent fund for patients in need of assistance with their prescriptions. Teams of four players will compete for various donated prizes. During the course of the day, golfers will have chances to test their skills by competing in contests for Longest Drive, Closest-To-The-Pin, Hit-The-Green and a Hole-In-One. All participants will have the opportunity to putt through a three-step qualifying round. Following dinner, three people will putt for $2,500 each. Entry fees are $150 per player and $600 for a foursome. Sponsorships packages are available. Anyone interested in individual reservations or sponsorship opportunities should contact the Nanticoke Health Services Development office at 302-629-6611, extension 2404 or email

Stroke support group Nanticoke Memorial Hospital will offer free monthly Stroke Support Group meetings designed for individuals who have survived a stroke and their families and caregivers. Meetings are held the third Thursday of each month at Nanticoke Cancer Care Center, from 1:30 - 3:30 p.m. The meetings will consist of guest speakers and breakaway sessions in which caregivers and survivors will meet in two groups to discuss concerns, provide support and networking. Refreshments will be provided. Sheila Brant and Joan Burditt, occupational therapists at Nanticoke Memorial Hospital, will facilitate the support group meetings. Pre-registration not required. For more information, call 629-6611, ext. 5121.

Depression support The Mental health Association in Delaware will be sponsoring a Depression Support Group in Laurel on the second and fourth Thursdays of each month. The meetings begin at 7 p.m. The MHA encourages anyone dealing with a depressive disorder to attend. Register in advance by calling 1-800-287-6423. Peer support groups sponsored by Mental Health Association of Delaware are not intended to replace professional mental health treatment. MHA does not publish support group locations; locations are provided with registration.

Dr. Scotto's office relocates As of Aug. 1, Dr. Vincenzo D. Scotto, will be relocating to a new medical practice office located at 1350 Middleford Road, Suite 502, Seaford, DE (628-8300). He is currently accepting new patients. Dr. Scotto specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of community and hospital acquired infections, gives consultations and treatment for wound care, inpatient and outpatient antibiotic therapy and is the Regional Director for HIV. Nanticoke Memorial now has over 90 members on its active medical staff, representing 35 specialties. To find out more, call Nanticoke's Physician Referral Services at 1-877-NHS-4DOCS, or visit

Caregiver support group Join our monthly support group at the Cheer Community Center, the second Monday of each month at 11 a.m., 854-9500. This support group is for you, whether you are a new caregiver or have been taking care of a loved one for years. We are turning the "Fearless caregiver" book into a guide for our support group. Each month a chapter will be discussed, concerns shared and support given.