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Advocates’ report links climate change to worsening of diseases
By David A. Fahrenthold
Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Climate change will make Americans more vulnerable to diseases, disasters and heat waves, but governments have done little to plan for the added burden on the health system, according to a new study by a nonprofit group.

The study, released Monday by the Trust for America’s Health, an advocacy group focused on disease prevention, examines the public-health implications of climate change. In addition to pushing up sea levels and shrinking Arctic ice, the report says, a warming planet is likely to leave more people sick, short of breath or underfed.

Experts involved with the study said that these threats might be reduced if the federal government adopts a cap on greenhouse-gas emissions. But no legislation could stop them altogether, they said. Emissions already in the atmosphere are expected to increase warming — and the problems that come with it — for years to come.

“That [a cap on greenhouse gases] really is not enough,” said Phyllis Cuttino of the Pew Environment Group, which funded the study. “We can see all these problems coming, but as a country, we haven’t done enough to prepare for them.”

The idea that climate change will be bad for people as well as polar bears is not new: It was explained in detail by a United Nations panel that won the Nobel Peace Prize for its work on climate in 2007.

Monday’s report summarized some of the biggest worries for Americans in particular. They included:

— Heat waves, which the report says are expected to increase. The danger is expected to be worst, the report said, in concrete-clad cities, where the lack of greenery creates an “urban heat island.” Under climate change, the experts said, summer heat could also sneak up on people in cities where air conditioning hasn’t been needed in the past.

— More “extreme weather events,” such as hurricanes, floods and wildfire-breeding droughts. Drought could also create crop failures, the report said, leading to malnutrition.

— More widespread diseases carried by mosquitoes, ticks and other pests. If warmer temperatures allow these animals to expand their ranges northward, the result could be more cases of West Nile virus, Lyme disease and hantavirus.

— Increased air pollution, caused because heat contributes to the formation of smog. This, the report said, could increase the incidence of severe asthma or pulmonary disease.

The experts who worked on the study said they could not provide a timetable for when and where these effects will appear. But they said it is already time to get ready for them, but many governments are not doing so.

“Some of the most personal effects of climate change are going to be health-related ones,” said Jeff Levi, executive director of the Trust for America’s Health. “We should want the government doing as much as possible now to prevent these effects, or minimize them when they occur.”

Officials involved in the study said that preparations might include planting more trees in cities, to clean and cool urban air. Levi said they might also include laying in supplies of medicine for diseases that might appear in an area for the first time.

Posted by David Mittleman

October 24, 2009 10:00 AM

Here is a daunting fact: one in five Americans has an autoimmune disorder, which occurs when the immune system attacks itself. Moreover, about ¾ of those with an autoimmune disorder are women, or about 22 million women total. However, there is an even more disturbing trend amongst women with autoimmune disorders: 40% of those who are eventually diagnosed with an autoimmune disorder were initially told that they were “too concerned with their health”. Essentially, a large percentage of women with serious immune problems are passed over and told they’re hypochondriacs.

However, armed with some simple information, you could prevent yourself from falling into the category of women who suffer needlessly. In fact, health experts say that the best way to protect yourself is to educate and empower yourself by learning names, risk factors, symptoms, and treatments for the seven most common illnesses women face.

  • 1. Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome—the most common type of hormonal disorder among women of reproductive age, and one of the leading causes of infertility. It stems from having levels of androgens, a male hormone, that are too high. The most common symptoms are irregular periods (or none at all), more hair on the face, chest, back and limbs, moderate-to-sever acne, baldness, and rapid and substantial weight gain that seems impossible to control. There is no single way to diagnose PCOS, but your doctor can check your reproductive organs for signs of mass growths using a pelvic or vaginal ultrasound. However, it is your responsibility to first inform your doctor that you have the aforementioned symptoms. Otherwise, the doctor may never know that there is a serious problem because the illness is so easily written off to bad diet, lack of exercise, or other “simple” explanations for seemingly benign symptoms. While there is no cure for PCOS, it can be controlled with birth control pills and Metformin to help regulate the hormonal production.
  • 2. Fibromyalgia—doctors aren’t sure what causes this painful disorder, which results in symptoms that include pain, numbness and exhaustion, and often begins in early or middle adulthood. While there is no lab test or physical exam that can find fibromyalgia, doctors can do a tender-point exam, which identifies places in the body that are painful to the touch despite no immediate physical signs. The test is positive if 11 out of the 18 spots tested come back positive. There is no way to cure fibromyalgia, but sufferers can take over-the-counter pain medications to quell the pain. Furthermore, stretching, exercise, and massage can ease pain as well.
  • 3. Chronic Fatigue Syndrome—at least 1 million Americans are believed to have CFS. However, doctors are unsure what causes the extreme fatigue that is common to the disorder. Some studies indicate that it could be related to dormant viral infections, hormonal imbalances, and stress. The common symptoms include decreased physical or mental activity that doesn’t improve despite long periods of rest. Loss of concentration and unexplained muscle pains are also common symptoms. In order to diagnose a patient, doctors must rule out other conditions that cause similar problems, such as Lyme disease or thyroid problems. While there aren’t any treatments or cures, Ritalin has been effective in some patients in reducing fatigue. However, the treatment is still experimental.
  • 4. Lupus—there are four types of Lupus, however the most common is systemic lupus erythematosus. SLE is a nightmare: a malfunction in the immune system causes the body to attack itself, including wreaking havoc on the skin, joints, lungs, kidneys, nervous system, and blood. Doctors suspect that hormones play a vital role in the development of the disorder, particularly because women are usually diagnosed between the ages of 15 and 45. Overall, lupus seems to strike during or following a pregnancy. The most common symptoms include fatigue, fever, joint pain and stiffness, chest pain, memory loss, and skin lesions. A diagnosis of lupus is confirmed if a patient has at least four symptoms: a facial rash after exposure to sunlight, painless mouth sores, kidney disease, swelling of the lining around the lungs and heart, and low counts of red blood cells, platelets, or white blood cells. While there is no cure for lupus, mild cases can be treated with over-the-counter painkillers. Moreover, anti-malarial drugs have proven useful in stopping the progression of the disease, while corticosteroids counter inflammation in the joints and lining of the heart and lungs. Overall, doctors suggest leading a balanced life since emotional stress seems to trigger episodes of lupus.
  • 5. Multiple Sclerosis—MS strikes when the immune system attacks the protective covering of cells in the brain and nervous system. Eventually the destruction of the cells causes a breakdown in communication between the brain and body. Women are three times as likely to develop MS, and most scientists believe there is an environmental link like exposure to viruses or toxins. Classic symptoms include numbness or weakness in the limbs, dull pain, fatigue, and vision problems. Despite these symptoms, it is difficult to diagnose MS and to distinguish these symptoms from others that are related to other diseases like Lyme disease. However, tests for these other diseases can help rule out any other options and ultimately narrow the diagnosis to MS. Currently, those with milder symptoms from their MS are treated with corticosteroids. Other sufferers with more serious symptoms are put on an immunomodulator drug that helps prevent a complete relapse in muscle weakness and other symptoms. Exercise is also a crucial component in maintaining strength, muscle tone, coordination, and balance.
  • 6. Rheumatoid Arthritis—RA attacks the lining of the joints through the immune system and can cause swelling, aching and potential deformities. The symptoms are easily detectable: simple activities, such as climbing the stairs or opening jars, can cause tremendous pain. It is difficult for doctors to diagnose RA, however, blood tests can reveal an antibody that is related to RA. Treatments include alpha inhibitors, or drugs that fight the inflammatory proteins. A second treatment is called DMARDs, which help to slow, reduce, and prevent joint damage. Finally, corticosteroids can cut inflammation around the joints, but become less effective over time.
  • 7. Irritable Bowel Syndrome—simply stated, sufferers experience serious bowel problems including gas, diarrhea, and constipation, as well as abdominal cramping and pain. Doctors can usually pinpoint the problem by using the “Rome criteria”. In other words, if a patient experiences 12 weeks of symptoms out of 12 months, they most likely have IBS. The treatment is also very simple: eat more fibrous foods. Furthermore, some patients have found relief by using peppermint oil, a natural antispasmodic that can ease abdominal pain.

While most of these autoimmune disorders cannot be cured, they can still be controlled via simple methods. Be forthright with your doctor if you experience symptoms that you believe could be related to an autoimmune disorder. Most importantly, be persistent! If your symptoms bother you and interfere with your daily life, there is probably a more serious problem that needs further attention.

COMMENT:  Posted by Joanne Drayson

October 24, 2009 3:49 PMYou can not rule Lyme Disease out by a blood test blood tests are only about 50% reliable for Lyme being antigen tests.

All the above illnesses mentioned in this article could be caused by Lyme Disease and with those symptoms should be checked out by a Lyme Literate Medical Doctor through ILADS.

Currently our doctors follow the IDSA 2006 Discredited Guidelines, these are currently being reviwed. Presentations shown at the July IDSA review hearing show considerable evidence proving seronegativity and persistent infection. Details on the IDSA website.

The LeVasseurs (from left): Sarah, Cathy, Paul and Chris

The LeVasseurs (from left): Sarah, Cathy, Paul and Chris

Fairfield Public School has made a few questionable calls to the Department of Children and Families over sick kids.

By Nick Keppler – October 1, 2009

Cathy and Paul LeVasseur thought Fairfield Public Schools understood: Their son Chris was out sick with Lyme disease and wouldn’t be back to school until he was better.

Though he was a bright kid who sailed his way through the Six to Six Magnet School, Chris’ first year at Tomlinson Middle School had been derailed. The seventh-grader came down with a sore throat and fever in September 2008 and was bedridden with joint and muscle pain by the end of October. He also developed serious cognitive problems, his parents say. He could no longer remember the names of household objects. He pointed at them and then huffed in frustration. Fairfield Public Schools sent a tutor to the LeVasseurs’ home, but she was dismissed after Chris banged his head on the table in anguish during lessons.

Cathy LeVasseur says she excused all of his absences. She exchanged e-mails regularly with Chris’ guidance counselor. She met with a “team,” a cluster of school officials put together to guide the education of a child in need of long-term special ed accommodations.

Everyone was on the same page, she assumed.

Cathy was shocked, she says, when she got a call from school social worker Vanessa Constanzo last April, saying she had reported the LeVasseurs to the Department of Children and Families for the suspected “educational neglect” of Chris.

FOR FULL STORY, GO TO:

http://www.fairfieldweekly.com/article.cfm?aid=14723

mouse(NAPSI)-A Home Safety Council study found that most Americans are unaware of a hidden danger that might be lurking in their homes: mice.

According to the survey, more than half of Americans say that while mice are unpleasant, they are relatively harmless creatures. Actually, mice can spread disease and cause asthma symptoms and have even been known to start house fires, particularly in homes with older wiring, as mice can chew through the wire’s insulation.

“Safe and healthy homes are free of mice and other pests,” said Meri-K Appy, president of the Home Safety Council. “Mice can be a factor in spreading Lyme disease and salmonella, and we now know mice are related to the rise of asthma symptoms in children.” In fact, according to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, exposure to mice allergens is a well-recognized risk factor for asthma in some children.

The mouse problem is much bigger than most people think.

FOR FULL STORY, GO TO:

http://www.napsnet.com/articles/62465.html

spirocheteBy GARY THOMPSON
Philadelphia Daily News

thompsg@phillynews.com 215-854-5992

“It’s the Navy SEAL of bacteria – unusually agile, heavily armored, able to disguise itself, conceal itself, communicate with other bacteria, even swap tools on the fly to help it evade and defeat the immune system. And it’s a shape-shifter – attacked by one antibiotic, it can transform into the kind of bacteria that can only be killed by a different class of drug.” -Gary Thompson

FOR FULL STORY, GO TO:

http://www.philly.com/philly/entertainment/20090928__Skin__deep.html

Kim’s Note:  I had to post this as I love how the spirochete is described as a NAVY SEAL.  I always describe it as a “stealth bomber” to people, but this is good, too!  =) It is very tricky stuff and needs to be taken more seriously.  //Kim

shmerlingHow inflammation from the infection plays a role.

By Robert Shmerling, M.D., Harvard Health Publications

Q: What joints other than the knee can be involved in arthritis symptoms from Lyme disease? Does the location of the tick bite have any connection with what joint is affected? Does Lyme-induced arthritis usually affect the knee because most people receive tick bites on the leg?

A: Just about any joint can be affected by Lyme arthritis. Although the knee is by far the most common, other commonly affected joints include the ankle, elbow and shoulder.

The location of the tick bite does not determine which joints are affected. In fact, most tick bites are not near the knee.

It’s thought that arthritis occurs in Lyme disease because the bacterium that causes Lyme disease (called B. burgdorferi) travels from the tick into the bloodstream and is deposited in the joint where the body’s immune response causes inflammation.

It’s not clear why the knee if the favored joint or why only one or a few joints are involved in most cases. It’s also unclear why up to 40% of people with untreated Lyme infection never get arthritis at all.

harvard

Copyright © 2009 by the Presidents and Fellows of Harvard College. Used with permission of StayWell. All rights reserved. Harvard Medical School does not approve or endorse any products on the page. Harvard is the sole creator of its editorial content, and advertisers are not allowed to influence the language or images Harvard uses.

Lyme_Bar-Chart_2008Lyme disease continued its steep rise in 2008, as the CDC posted a final tally of 35,198 reported cases, a 28% increase over the previous year. Looking at a two-year timeframe, cases increased by 77% from 2006 to 2008. According to CDC epidemiologists, these reported cases are underestimated 6- to 12-fold, due to inherent flaws in its passive reporting system. So, the actual number of new Lyme cases in 2008 may total upwards of 420,000. And many Lyme-literate physicians believe that the real numbers may be even higher.

In 2008 the CDC changed its Lyme reporting process to include both “confirmed” and “probable” cases in the total, and during this transition year, it’s difficult to tell how this affected the accuracy of the case count. Fifteen states failed to report any “probable” cases.

For the states with the most reported Lyme cases in 2008, go to:

http://underourskin.com/blog/?p=337

HouseMD

It is 3 am Pacific Standard time and I am wide awake. One of my doctor calls this time of insomnia in patients as “Lyme-time”. This is usually in the middle of the night when you are desperate for rest, to get through another day. Unfortunately those little critters have different plans. Lyme time is when those nasty bugs wake up and create more havoc-after a year of this, I don’t need more havoc! I want to scream at them to “GET OUT”, but they are great at camouflage-and besides some doctor, somewhere will state that my problems are psychological in origin. Ha! To help me get through the insomnia, I have become an avid watcher of the Television show, “House”.

FOR COMPLETE STORY:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/michealene-cristini-risley/lyme-disease-where-is-hou_b_189063.html