We’re scared of what we don’t understand, and that’s especially true when it comes to issues of health.
Whispers become rumors and rumors go viral, spreading faster than the disease itself. That happened in 2014 with the Ebola outbreak in west Africa, and it’s happening now concerning the Zika virus.
Yes, this is scary stuff: A virus that causes its victims to bleed out and kills 25 to 90 percent of the time in the case of Ebola, and one that is linked to microcephaly in children and sometimes leads to paralysis, as is the case with Zika. The facts are bad enough, and need no embellishment to stoke some free-floating anxiety.
In 2014, rumors regarding Ebola spread unnecessary fear and raised anxiety levels to such a level that the misinformation regarding the disease was named the Lie of the Year by the fact-checker Politifact.
Now, rumors abound regarding Zika. I won't repeat them, but the most prevalent falsehoods out there focus on genetically altered mosquitoes in Brazil. Depending on what you’ve seen, the mosquitoes are spreading the virus or are causing microcephaly directly, or that the bacteria used to control mosquitoes is spreading the virus. There are other rumors out there that a particular insecticide causes microcephaly, and an old chestnut given a modern twist: That vaccinations in infants are linked to microcephaly.
You can read all about them and more at a webpage compiled by the World Health Organization to dispel the misinformation regarding Zika.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is also a go-to source for the latest on the virus. The toll so far in the Continental United States: 426 cases, all travel-related, with no local transmission. There were 36 involving pregnant women, 8 cases were apparently sexually transmitted, and one apparently involves Guillain-Barre syndrome.
Should we be aware? Of course, but there’s no need to panic.
If you’re in need of a primer on the virus, check out this great new graphic titled "Bitten: Zika Virus 101." It’s the handiwork of Emily Maynard of MPH Online, a digital resource for public health students.
One of my favorite websites to waste a moment or two is snopes.com. It’s entertaining to no end, but also a great fact-checking resource.
For example, does wax on apples cause cancer, as purported in a YouTube video?
Well, no, says Snopes. Mostly…
Does the price of an incredibly effective drug to treat Hepatitis C cost nearly nine times as much in the United States than it does in India? Yep, says Snopes, with a detailed look at the complex reasons behind the price differentials.
Maybe it comes from decades spent in various newsrooms, but I tend to question everything and check health claims or reports out at various sources. It’s good to keep a jaded eye open regarding any information that may come your way on your social media sites. Stuff may seem plausible, but you need to be willing to dispel myths in the making and confirm so-called "facts" before passing possible misinformation along.
Top Dentist deadline nears
Who are Richmond’s top dentists?
We’ll soon know, as the voting deadline draws near in our 2016 Top Dentists survey.
The online survey is open to metro area dentists, and takes just a few minutes to complete. We want you to tell us which dental professionals you would recommend to a family member or friend in 18 specialty areas. This year’s winners will be honored in the July print issue.
We’re also looking for great story ideas regarding dentistry.
Voting continues through 11:59 p.m. on Monday, May 9. If you’re a dentist and haven’t received your letter with instructions on how to participate in this year’s survey, contact me at email@example.com
Yoga and Depression Study
Depression is a common problem for many women in pregnancy and after birth, but can symptoms be mitigated through yoga and other self-managed techniques?
That’s the subject of a new, two-year study, “Self-Management of Chronic Depressive Symptoms in Pregnancy,” to be conducted at Virginia Commonwealth University’s School of Nursing.
The study is a project of Patricia Kinser, an assistant professor in the Department of Family and Community Health Nursing, and is funded through a $456,579 National Institutes of Health grant, according to a university release.
Kinser said that for many women, traditional treatments of antidepressants and psychotherapy fail to provide relief. Many also are concerned about potential side effects, the cost and stigma involved.
“Pregnant women are in great need of safe, inexpensive self-management therapies to enhance their well-being, reduce the burden of symptoms during and after pregnancy and prevent chronic re-occurrence of depression,” Kinser said in the release.
Depression and depression symptoms impact about 20 percent of women in pregnancy, with 13 percent experiencing chronic symptoms. The study will involve 40 pregnant women who will participate in prenatal yoga classes and at-home physical activity.
The American Red Cross is getting a boost in its funding from Richmond-based CarMax, which is committing to donating $450,000 to the nonprofit over two years.
“When disasters occur in the communities where CarMax associates live and work, they often seek ways to provide support. In response to their interests, CarMax has pledged support to the American Red Cross as a Disaster Responder Member,” Craig Cronheim, vice president of human resources and loss prevention at CarMax, said in a release.
Combat-trained spinal surgeon Joshua Herzog has joined OrthoVirginia. The retired U.S. Army lieutenant colonel started duties on Tuesday and serves patients at HCA Johnston-Willis Hospital, according to a release.
He served three combat tours and was chairman of the Department of Orthopedics and Rehabilitation for the William Beaumont Army Medical Center in El Paso, Texas. Herzog specializes in conditions of the spine and in sports medicine.
Beth Rodgers has been named chair for the Department of Adult Health and Nursing Systems in the Virginia Commonwealth University School of Nursing.
Rodgers comes to VCU from the University of New Mexico School of Nursing, where she served as a professor and research chair, according to a release. Among her accomplishments, she is known for her “work in qualitative and mixed methods research with adults experiencing chronic illness, major life change and obstructive sleep apnea” and has served as a consultant in doctorate nursing education and faculty development.
“Her innovative scholarly work and research, as well as her leadership experience will complement the great work underway at our school,” said Jean Giddens, VCU's nursing school dean.