Thursday, July 23, 2009

Delaware's Division of Public Health (DPH) reminds Delawareans to take simple precautions to reduce the chance of getting serious tick-borne or mosquito-borne illnesses. Ticks are commonly found in moist shade in wooded, brushy or overgrown grassy areas, and are active all year. Ticks can carry Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever and ehrlichiosis. You do not need to be an avid outdoors person to have contact with infected ticks or mosquitoes. Individuals may become infected with the bacteria that causes Lyme disease when they are bitten by a tick. To prevent infection, remove the tick promptly, since the risk increases 24-72 hours after the tick attaches to the skin. Remove the tick by grasping it with fine-tipped tweezers and gently but firmly pulling it straight out. The use of petroleum jelly or a hot match to kill and remove a tick is not effective. After removal, cleanse the site with antiseptic or soap and water, and wash your hands. Mosquito-borne illnesses include West Nile Virus and Eastern equine encephalitis. Prevention is key in protecting yourself from tick or mosquito-borne illnesses. DPH recommends the following protective measures to avoid tick bites:
  • Wear light colored long sleeves and long pants to clearly see ticks. Tuck pants into socks.
  • Apply tick repellants. Repellents containing permethrin can be sprayed on boots and clothing and will last for several days. Repellents containing DEET can be applied to the skin but will last only a few hours before reapplication is necessary. Use insect repellent containing less than 50% DEET for adults. Use repellent containing less than 30 percent DEET on children. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) Committee on Environmental Health states that insect repellents containing DEET (N,N-diethyl-m-toluamide, also known as N,N-diethyl-3-methylbenzamide) with a concentration of 10 percent appear to be as safe as products with a concentration of 30 percent when used according to the directions on the product labels. AAP recommends that repellents with DEET should not be used on infants less than 2 months old.
  • Search your body for ticks after being outdoors. Check children's hair and clothing for ticks. Pets may also carry ticks. Follow these procedures for mosquito prevention:
  • Limit outdoor activities when mosquitoes are active - such as at dusk.
  • Wear protective clothing such as shoes, long-sleeved shirts, and pants.
  • Use mosquito netting to protect the face and neck or cover infant carriages, strollers and playpens.
  • Apply repellents as above.
  • Keep windows and doorways tightly sealed and maintain window and door screens to prevent mosquitoes from entering the house.
  • Remove standing water to prevent mosquito breeding: Regularly drain plastic covers, tarps, pool covers and garbage can lids. Store water-trapping containers such as wading pools, wheelbarrows and buckets upside down or inside shelters. Change water in birdbaths, pet dishes and potted plant saucers.
  • Regularly clean and repair gutters, drains, ditches and culverts to prevent them from retaining water.
  • Manage weeds. Adult mosquitoes are attracted to dense, tall vegetation around water. Shape pond edges to a shelf or steep slope. Mosquitoes prefer shallow water. Introduce mosquito-eating fish.
For more information regarding tick prevention, visit: For more information about mosquito prevention, visit:

Evidence based medicine is key By Dr. Anthony Policastro

A few months ago Senator Carper asked me my thoughts about health care reform. My answer was that one of the first things we needed to do was standardize the way we practice medicine. There are some locations in the United States like the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota where care for the same patient population costs half of what it does in other locations like UCLA in California. One of the reasons for the decreased costs is related to the use of less medications and performing less tests. Another is the decreased number of office visits. A third is decreased costs to treat complications from the excess care. The statistics show no improved quality in the care given in the more expensive locations. The primary difference is related to different approaches to the same diagnosis. A term that is important for the average person to know is something called "evidence based medicine." A few years ago we found that there was often little scientific basis for a lot of the things we do in medicine. For that reason the evidence based medicine movement was born. What this means is that we should critically look at each medical problem that we face. We should look to see what the scientific evidence tells us to do for that problem. Then we should do it. Many physicians think that this means practicing "cookbook medicine." Many patients do not follow the typical course of an illness. For that reason, they require different treatments. For those patients that do follow the typical course they need to have the standard treatment. When they move off the typical course, then treatment can be changed. For example, there are many charts that tell us exactly what to do with newborn infants who have jaundice. They tell us what tests to do and what treatments to use based on those test results. If all pediatricians followed those charts exactly the same way, we would have several advantages. The first would be that everyone would know what is going on. That would make a mistake less likely. The second would be that babies would not get lost to follow up if someone decided to do things differently. In the long run, the care should be better. The result would ultimately be that we would likely spend less money because we would have less unexpected results. Focusing on evidence based medicine is one of the essential pieces of health care reform.

How can you diet on a budget? Changing eating habits and discarding the junk food in the kitchen often strains a food budget. When following set menus on a new diet program, dieters might purchase a substantial amount of new or more expensive foods than they normally keep in their refrigerators and pantries. Sylvia Holder, owner of Curves of Seaford, says that local residents trying to alter eating habits by incorporating healthier foods into their every day diet often results in higher grocery bills. However, Holder said there are tricks to keeping the budget in check while improving the foods that make up their nutritional regime. Holder says to keep the following things in mind to work healthier foods into a diet.
  • Convenience items, like prepackaged pasta dinners or frozen all-in-one meals, are quick and easy, but they are usually laden with unhealthy ingredients to increase their shelf life. In addition to paying more for the packaging and easy preparation, these meals tend to be higher in fat and sodium which are unhealthy for your heart when eaten in excess. Try preparing a similar meal from fresh ingredients, where you can control how much extra fat or sodium you add.
  • Purchasing seasonal produce makes good budgeting sense due to a more abundant supply which leads to lower prices. As a general rule, summer produce includes: beans, berries, corn, cucumbers, lettuce, melons, peaches, peppers, plums and tomatoes; while apples, pears, pumpkins and squash are predominantly grown in the fall. For unseasonal fruits and vegetables, frozen produce is often an economical way to keep them on hand without worrying about spoilage.
  • The budget-conscious shopper will buy a whole chicken rather than prepackaged chicken breasts. Whole chickens are delicious when roasted and leftovers may be shredded for soups, tacos or salads. In addition, dark meat is cheaper than white, so consider making recipes where thigh meat can be substituted for breasts.
  • Buy foods in bulk and freeze or store what you aren't going to use right away. Consider preparing several meals at one time and freezing them for use at another time. This will be a real time saver and allow you to eat healthier, homemade foods rather than convenience items. You may also prepare a few meals at once, and then freeze them until you're ready to eat them.
  • If you are following the Curves Complete program, you might be concerned with the cost of the protein foods, particularly if you are on the higher protein version. Curves of Seaford can provide a list of cost effective protein options. For more information on Curves of Seaford or dieting while on a budget, contact Sylvia Holder at 302-629-9884, or visit the club at 22974 Sussex Hwy., Seaford.
Depression Support Group There will be a free bimonthly Depression Support Group meeting in Laurel on the second and fourth Wednesday evenings from 7 to 8:30 p.m. Any person who has signs and symptoms of depression and is under the care of a professional counselor/MD is welcome to attend. To register, call Life Matters Counseling and Consulting at 302-465-6612.

Free guidebook about AD available As many as 5.3 million people in the United States are living with Alzheimer's. AD is an illness that changes the brain. People with AD may have trouble taking care of themselves and doing basic things like making meals, bathing, and getting dressed. Over time, as the disease gets worse, they will need more help. Let CHEER help. We offer many services that can help you take care of your loved one such as homebound meals, housekeeping, personal home care, support groups and more. A free guide is also available. This guide is for people who care for family members or others with Alzheimer's disease at home. The Guide was written in an easy-to-use format by the National Institute on Aging. For inquiries about services or for your copy of the guide, call Cindy Mitchell at CHEER at 302-856-5187.

CHEER hosts free workshop Many adults face the challenge of managing one - and often several - chronic medical conditions, such as high blood pressure, heart disease, arthritis, diabetes, hearing problems and depression. The Chronic Disease Self Management Program (CDSMP), developed at Stanford University, has proven extremely effective at enabling people to take more control of their own health. This program can give adults a sense of control over their lives, improve their day-to-day functioning, and help save on medical bills. This program will begin at the CHEER Community Center on Wednesday, Aug. 5 and it ends Wednesday, Sept. 9. The program consists of 6 - 2 hour workshops which will be held from 1 to 3:30 p.m. Registration is required. For more information and to register, call Cindy Mitchell at 302-856-5187.