Tagged: CDC

Bloodborne Infections from Diabetes Supplies? Yep. You read that right.

biohazard-3-1307153-640x480The longer I have diabetes, the more I learn about how we, as a community, have a lot to learn.

If you’ve ever been a patient at a hospital or a health clinic, you know that the goal is to send you home healthier than when you arrived.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t always happen and PWDs are more susceptible. It’s not just blood glucose levels we need to worry about while we’re under a medical team’s care. We also have to worry about bloodborne virus transmissions. I didn’t know  until I started to do some research. What I found shocked me – and I’m sure it will shock you as well.

Hepatitis B

Hepatitis B is a bloodborne infection that can cause serious, deadly issues (think liver cancer or cirrhosis). It can be transmitted a number of ways, including sharing of needles or blood glucose testing equipment.

Hepatitis B Virus (HBV) can survive outside the body at least 7 days and still be capable of causing infection. Think shared blood glucose testing equipment. Anywhere. Are you sure that the health care professional has washed his/her hands before putting on those gloves? Did you see them disinfect the BG meter? Are they using a single use lancet? Did an infected person’s blood land on the cart, then transferred blood to the new pair of gloves the team member just put on when he/she picked up the meter and moved the cart?

Even worse? Think about your kids letting a friend use a lancet device “just for fun.” Sadly, even kids can have Hepatitis B.

When you start to think about all the ways this virus can be transmitted, you might begin to feel sick to your stomach. (That’s one of the symptoms, by the way, but many of the symptoms are “run of the mill” when you have diabetes.)

But where it’s happening most often is long-term care facilities. And these are preventable.

Between 2008 – 2014, there have been 23 reported outbreaks, 175 outbreak-associated cases, >10,700 persons notified for screening. 17 of the outbreaks occurred in long-term care facilities, with at least 129 outbreak-associated cases of HBV and approximately 1,600 at- risk persons notified for screening. What should worry you is this next statistic:

82% (14/17) of the outbreaks were associated with infection control breaks during assisted monitoring of blood glucose (AMBG). (http://www.cdc.gov/hepatitis/statistics/healthcareoutbreaktable.htm)

There have also been cases of Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C transmissions at hemodialysis clinics (and if you think that’s not diabetes related, think of how many of us may be on dialysis for kidney disease) and home healthcare agencies.

It’s not like nurses or doctors think: “How can I hurt patients today?” But these outbreaks are PREVENTABLE. How? By following proper infection protocol policies and training healthcare professionals and patients to not share needles or lancing devices (and a few more steps).

Now, I’m sure you’re thinking: “Why should I care about this?” Simple.

Someday, it could be you.

Or someone you love.

And if we don’t ensure that these infection risks are mitigated, then who will?

What You Can Do

DPAC_ASKanEXPERT_infectionJoin the online presentation of DPAC’s Ask The Expert presentation on Tuesday, January 26th at 12pm.

Diabetes Patient Advocacy Coalition (DPAC) went straight to the CDC and they’re pleased to have a passionate expert to share her thoughts and what we, as the patient community, can do.

Dr. Pamela Allweiss, MD, MPH, Medical Officer for the Division of Diabetes Translation at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will discuss the risks of virus transmission in healthcare settings (hospitals, clinics, and long-term care facilities) in the United States.

Healthcare-associated infections (HAI) are a serious threat to even the healthiest patients; people with diabetes are at higher risk than the general population. Did you know that there have been outbreaks of Hepatitis B in healthcare settings because of improper infection protocol and diabetes supplies?

During this presentation, you will have an opportunity to learn more about why this is happening in our healthcare system, ask questions, and discover how to mitigate these risks and ways to engage your state policymakers to enforce infection control protocols to ensure your safety.

Register by clicking here. Even if you can’t attend the live presentation, you can still send questions to info [at] diabetespac.org ahead of time and get a link to the recording after the presentation ends.

We’ve got enough to worry about. Let’s work to worry about one.less.thing.

 

The Flu Shot & The Porcelain God

It's cute and orange, but I still don't want to pray to it.
It’s cute and orange, but I still don’t want to pray to it.

I hate to puke.

Whatever you call it: technicolor yawn, tossing your cookies, ralphing, or my favorite… “praying to the porcelain god”, I try to avoid doing it at all costs.

I don’t think there is anyone who thinks it’s something fun to do. (Please correct me if I’m wrong.)

“What’cha up to?”

“Not much. I’m bored, so I’m just going to puke my brains out. Want to come over and watch?” 

I get a flu shot every year now, because I have zero desire to lose my lunch (or dinner or breakfast) or feel like a freight train has run over me due to the inability of other people to wash their hands or cover their mouths.

A fellow T1 asked in a FB status about flu shots and I was surprised to see the myriad of responses. Some were positive, some were negative, and some left me scratching my head, wondering where they got their info.

I realize that if you’re reading my blog, you’ve got at least a few brain cells to rub together. (Take that compliment and run with it.) You may already have an opinion on flu shots, so let me give you some facts. (And then I’ll give you my opinion, because… well, it’s my blog.)

Here’s what the CDC has to say:

Over a period of 31 seasons between 1976 and 2007, estimates of flu-associated deaths in the United States range from a low of about 3,000 to a high of about 49,000 people. During a regular flu season, about 90 percent of deaths occur in people 65 years and older. The “seasonal flu season” in the United States can begin as early as October and last as late as May.

During this time, flu viruses are circulating in the population. An annual seasonal flu vaccine (either the flu shot or the nasal-spray flu vaccine) is the best way to reduce the chances that you will get seasonal flu and spread it to others. When more people get vaccinated against the flu, less flu can spread through that community.

So, read that last sentence again. Go ahead. I’ll wait.

Sometimes it’s not about you. It’s about the people around you. It’s about the woman ahead of you in line at the grocery store with the premature son at home. It’s about the guy next to you on the subway who takes care of his elderly parents. It’s the schoolteacher. The bus driver. The retail store employee who can’t take a week off because the paycheck pays the rent.

And the CDC page about the flu continues on to say who should definitely get a flu shot:

  • People who have certain medical conditions including asthma, diabetes, and chronic lung disease.
  • Household contacts and caregivers of people with certain medical conditions including asthma, diabetes, and chronic lung disease.

Look! We’re on the list! Hooray for us! And wait… those people around you? Yep. They’re on the list.

Getting a flu shot may not prevent you from getting the flu. As they say, nothing in life is guaranteed except death and taxes. But the likelihood of death by flu is diminished by getting a flu shot, which can prevent flu-related complications, per the CDC.

“But the flu vaccine has live viruses in it! No way am I taking something like that! I’ll just get the flu!”

That would be a no. No, a flu vaccine cannot cause you to get the flu. If you have a flu shot, you get a vaccine with viruses that have been ‘inactivated’ and are not infectious, or with no flu vaccine viruses at all.  If you get the vaccine through a nasal spray, while it does contain live viruses, the viruses are so weakened that the CDC claims it cannot cause the flu.

Influenza is a respiratory illness, but for some (like me), we get additional symptoms for free – like fertilizing the lawn or your floor or the inside of your wastebasket. For those who do get the flu, you’ll recover in a few days (up to two weeks). For others, it can progress to pneumonia, bronchitis, ear infections, sinus infections….or worse. I don’t want to be the “worse”. Hospitalization is worse. Death is worse.

(And healthy kids who die from influenza and didn’t get a flu shot? I can’t keep quiet about the need for everyone to get one. Check out Families Fighting Flu.)

You may have your reasons for not getting a flu shot. I’d love to hear them. Seriously.

If you haven’t gotten your flu shot, but plan on doing so, you can help the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation raise money by going to Walgreen’s or Duane Reade by October 31st and give them this coupon. The pharmacy will donate $1 for every flu shot, up to $100,00. I call that a win-win.

Now, onto my opinion.

I used to avoid getting a flu shot, down to flat out lying to my parents about getting one when I was younger. I’m petrified of needles and intramuscular injections. Seriously. What changed my mind? The realization that if I got sick, someone would have to take care of me and I would be putting them at risk and forcing them to take time off from work or taking them away from their own families. Financially? Being stuck in a hospital isn’t as bad as being stuck with a huge bill afterwards that could have been avoided.

Last year, we all got flu shots. And yes, when the flu came round, we did all get sick. ONE. DAY. EACH. Round robin style. I knew people who did not get a flu shot who spent weeks being sick – and then more weeks tending to other family members who got sick.

So, now I pull up my big girl pants, turn my face away and close my eyes while the nice medical person jabs me.

And the porcelain god in my house will hopefully have no one to pray in front of it.

Amen.