Health Monitor

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Protect yourself from mosquito bites while you’re travelling and relaxing outdoors this summer, urge Alberta Health Services officials.

In 2013, 21 cases of West Nile virus infection were confirmed in Alberta. Of the 21 cases, four were confirmed as Neurological Syndrome, and one case was fatal.

West Nile virus is transmitted to humans primarily through the bite of an infected mosquito.

West Nile Neurological Syndrome is the more rare form of the virus. It is a debilitating, sometimes fatal illness that affects the brain.

Since there is no vaccine or specific treatment for the virus, health officials encourage people prevent mosquito bites by wearing a long-sleeved, light-coloured shirt, pants, and a hat when outside. Use insect repellent with DEET and consider staying indoors at dawn and dusk, when mosquitoes are most active.

“These steps can make it harder for mosquitoes to find you, and remember: if mosquitoes can’t find you, they can’t bite you,” says Dr. Chris Sikora, Medical Officer of Health for the Edmonton zone.

Symptoms of Non-Neurological Syndrome can be uncomfortable, including fever, chills, nausea, vomiting, fatigue, skin rash, swollen glands and headache. For those individuals who do develop Neurological Syndrome, symptoms can be much more severe, including tremors, drowsiness, confusion, swallowing problems, high fever, unconsciousness, paralysis and even death.

To learn more about West Nile virus, visit: http://www.fightthebite.info or call Health Link Alberta at 1.866.408.5465 (LINK).

Alberta Health Services has created a new team to deal with patients and families with unresolved concerns about continuing care placement or care.

The two-person team will work to resolve issues in public and privately operated continuing care facilities. They will work with the Seniors and Health Advocate and report directly to Vickie Kaminski, AHS’ president and CEO.

“These transitions to continuing care are often complex, and the team’s approach will be to ensure patients and their families are front and centre in any decisions around placement and care,” said Kaminski.

AHS has also created a Continuing Care Concerns phone line (1-844-468-2930) and email account (continuingcare@albertahealthservices.ca) that will serve as a central point of intake for people with unresolved continuing care concerns.

There are also plans to launch a new front-line education and awareness program to ensure staff have the resources and flexibility they need to help patients transition to continuing care.

The continuing care resolution team will be available as of July 7.

3-D mammography can find significantly more potentially lethal cancers than a traditional mammogram alone and reduces call-backs for more tests, says a new study.

Published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, researchers analyzed about two years of data from 13 different centres as they switched from conventional mammograms to combined 3-D machines.

Standard digital mammograms are the most widely used screening tool for breast cancer. They involve taking one image of each breast from two positions while 3-D scans use several images of different layers of breast tissue to detect tumours that might be hidden.

After analyzing almost half a million breast scans, researchers found the 3-D scan combo detected one additional cancer per 1,000 scans, compared with conventional mammograms.

“3-D mammography finds more clinically significant breast cancers earlier, which is the key so that women have more treatment options and ultimately better health outcomes,” said senior author Dr. Emily Conant from the University of Pennsylvania.

The study also found there were 15 percent fewer false alarms with the 3-D imaging compared to standard digital. Fewer false alarms mean fewer call-backs for additional imaging or biopsy that may in the end be unnecessary.

Critics of the study have noted that 3-D scans cost more, are less likely to be covered by insurance and depending on the machine, subject the patient to more radiation than conventional mammograms.

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St. Albert Gazette

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