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  • Health News

    Health News

    6 news in this category

    1. Health News

      The West Virginia Department of Health (DH) applauded residents for their cooperation and commitment to public health after successfully containing the first case of measles reported in 15 years in late April. Friday, May 10th, 2024, marked the last day when all first-degree contacts with the infected individual passed their monitoring period. The case linked to international travel in Monongalia County was quickly identified by local health care providers and addressed by the DH in collaboration with local health departments.  More than 150 people were potentially exposed, including 128 West Virginia residents from 30 counties and four states.
      Thanks to a swift and comprehensive response through aggressive contact tracing and cooperation from the public, I am pleased to report no additional cases of measles have been reported,” said Secretary Sherri Young, D.O., MBA, FAAFP. The case highlights the importance of staying up-to-date on vaccinations, especially the Measles, Mumps, and Rubella (MMR) vaccine, which is highly effective in preventing measles.
      The reason this case of measles was able to be contained is because West Virginia has strong herd immunity, which protects vulnerable people - infants, immunocompromised people, and older adults - from the spread of deadly diseases like measles.  The MMR vaccine is the best defense against measles, not only to protect yourself but your loved ones as well,” said Dr. Matthew Christiansen, State Health Officer. “While this case was contained, outbreaks of the virus continue to plague other states.  We encourage all West Virginians to check their vaccination records and get vaccinated if they are not immune.”
      The measles vaccine is typically given in two doses with the first recommended between 12 and 15 months of age. The second dose is recommended between four and six years and, in West Virginia, is required before entering kindergarten. Unless they have other evidence of immunity, adults born after 1956 should get at least one dose of MMR vaccine, and two appropriately spaced doses of MMR vaccines are recommended for healthcare personnel, college students and international travelers. The Bureau for Public Health recommends the safe and effective MMR vaccination as part of a routine vaccination schedule for all children and adults. 
      MMR vaccines are available through healthcare providers and local health departments across the state. To find a local health department near you, visit https://dhhr.wv.gov/localhealth/pages/map.aspx. To learn more about MMR vaccines, visit https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/vpd/mmr/public/index.html.

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    2. Health News


      Brush and wildfires wreaking havoc in both West Virginia and Virginia have led to a concerning situation in Greenbrier County as dense smoke blankets the region. While the fires continue to burn out of control, residents are grappling with the health implications of inhaling smoke, with particular concern for vulnerable populations such as those with respiratory issues, infants, and individuals relying on oxygen or inhalers for asthma treatment.
      Inhaling smoke poses various health risks, including burning eyes, runny noses, sneezing, and heightened allergies. For families wondering how to safeguard their homes against the smoke infiltrating indoor spaces, experts suggest considering air purifiers as a viable solution.
      Investing in an air purifier can effectively remove smoke particles from the air, providing a crucial defense against the harmful effects of prolonged exposure. One alternative, for those with existing furnace or HVAC systems, is to upgrade furnace filters to a higher-rated option specifically designed to filter out smoke particles. However, users should be cautious as advanced filters can reduce air circulation and impact the efficiency of the furnace, making them more suitable as a temporary solution.
      When selecting an air purification unit, experts recommend opting for devices with replaceable filters over washable filters, as the latter may not effectively capture smaller particles. HEPA filters, known for their high efficiency in trapping particles, are a preferred choice for combating smoke-related issues. Quality carbon filters, often serving as pre-filters, play a vital role in eliminating both smoke and odors from the air.
      Currently, the Winix 5500-2 Air Purifier with True HEPA stands out as one of the best-selling units on Amazon, boasting more than 36,000 reviews. Experts suggest this unit for its effectiveness in removing smoke particles from indoor air. To learn more about the Winix 5500-2 Air Purifier, a video is attached for reference. For those ready to take action, a convenient link is provided below for easy purchase. https://www.amazon.com/Winix-5500-2-Purifier-PlasmaWave-Reducing/dp/B01D8DAYII?th=1
      As the wildfires continue to impact air quality in the region, taking proactive measures to safeguard indoor air quality becomes increasingly important. Residents are urged to consider these recommendations to create a healthier living environment for themselves and their families during these challenging times. 

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    3. Health News


      On October 12, the Robert C. Byrd Clinic in Lewisburg played host to a Health Fair aimed at promoting community health and wellness. The event took place in the east wing lobby of the clinic from 4:30 PM to 6:30 PM and brought together healthcare providers from across the region to offer a range of services and educational opportunities.
      One of the primary focuses of the Health Fair was vaccination. Attendees had the opportunity to receive both flu and COVID shots, underscoring the importance of vaccination in the ongoing fight against these viruses. In addition to vaccinations, the clinic provided free blood pressure checks and distributed COVID test kits to ensure the ongoing safety and well-being of the community.
      Mako Labs, a local laboratory, offered $25 lab screenings for various health markers, including HBA1c, Triglyceride, HDL, LDL, and Cholesterol. This affordable screening initiative aimed to empower attendees with valuable health information to better manage their well-being.
      A highlight of the event was the "Strollin Colon" walk-through exhibit, which was set up outside the clinic. Catherine Whitworth, a representative from the WVU Cancer Institute, emphasized the importance of colon cancer screening in her presentation. "We are educating people about colon cancer screening because early detection is key to preventing it," she noted. Whitworth also spoke about the new recommendations, suggesting that individuals start getting screened as early as age 45 for colon cancer. She highlighted that basic tests, such as stool samples, can be just as effective in detecting colon cancer as a traditional colonoscopy.
      Whitworth stressed the critical importance of early diagnosis, explaining that early-stage colon cancer is treatable. Unfortunately, more than half of West Virginians are diagnosed with late-stage colon cancer, resulting in a survivability rate of only 15%. The message was clear: people should get tested sooner rather than later.
      The Robert C. Byrd Clinic's Mobile Clinic was also on-site during the Health Fair, offering free tours and discussions about the services it provides. The Mobile Clinic will be visiting various locations regularly, including Rainelle every Tuesday of the month, Alderson every first Thursday, White Sulphur Springs every third Thursday, and Ronceverte every fourth Thursday. This outreach effort is aimed at ensuring that healthcare services are accessible to residents in different parts of the region.
      Beyond healthcare services, the event also highlighted community activities such as "Walk with a Dog." This free walking program, led by Dr. Dina Schaper, invites individuals to meet every Monday at 4:30 PM at Hollowell Park. The program not only promotes physical activity but also encourages social connections within the community, fostering a sense of well-being and unity.
      The Robert C. Byrd Clinic's Health Fair was a comprehensive and community-oriented event that not only provided essential health services but also prioritized education and prevention. By bringing together healthcare professionals and community members, it demonstrated a commitment to the health and well-being of the Lewisburg region.


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    4. Health News


      In a recent episode of the popular Big Time Talker podcast hosted by Burke Allen, the spotlight shone brightly on the crucial work being done by Healing Appalachia and HOPE in the Hills. The special guest for this enlightening conversation was Dave Lavender, the President of the Board of Healing Appalachia and the Director of the West Virginia Film Office.
      The episode delved into the significant contributions and ongoing projects initiated by Healing Appalachia, an organization that seeks to provide support, hope, and lasting solutions to those affected by the opioid crisis. Dave Lavender discussed how the opioid epidemic has deeply impacted the Appalachian region and the urgency behind addressing it. He shed light on the organization's primary focus: creating a patchwork of people, resources, and solutions to combat the crisis head-on.
      The podcast also highlighted the extensive efforts made by HOPE in the Hills, which is working in tandem with Healing Appalachia. HOPE in the Hills is responsible for producing creative content, such as films, music, and other media, to raise awareness about the opioid crisis and create a sense of hope and unity within the community.
      Dave Lavender passionately explained how the opioid crisis wasn't an unfortunate accident but rather a result of a systematic approach by pharmaceutical companies. He pointed out that the crisis primarily targeted blue-collar communities in Appalachia, where people, often broken by physical labor, became easy prey for the highly addictive prescription painkillers. Dave Lavender stated, "We just hate to see people wronged, and we want to give people second chances, third chances, however many chances it takes to get on a good path."
      The conversation also highlighted the critical role played by the West Virginia Film Office, where Dave Lavender serves as Director. With a significant emphasis on providing lucrative incentives for filmmakers, West Virginia has positioned itself as an attractive destination for film and television productions. The state offers a robust tax credit of up to 31% for projects, making it highly competitive in the industry.
      Dave Lavender shared exciting updates about the West Virginia Film Office's recent accomplishments. He noted that they had helped over 80 productions in the past year, demonstrating the state's growing appeal to the entertainment industry. This surge in activity has created an economic impact on local communities, including job creation, hotel bookings, catering services, and more.
      While Dave Lavender highlighted the economic benefits of film production, he also touched upon the lasting impact on tourism and the sense of community that a successful film project can bring. He encouraged West Virginians who had pursued careers in the entertainment industry to come back to their roots and contribute to the state's growing film community.
      As the episode concluded, Dave Lavender underlined the importance of storytelling in fostering hope and bringing about change in the community. With Appalachia as the backdrop, he believes that the region's unique beauty and resilient spirit have the potential to inspire new generations of creators.
      The conversation between Dave Lavender and Burke Allen on Big Time Talker was an eye-opening exploration of Healing Appalachia's vital work, the blossoming film industry in West Virginia, and the immense potential to use storytelling as a catalyst for hope.
      To learn more about the Healing Appalachia initiative, visit Healing Appalachia's website https://healingappalachia.org/.
      You can listen to this enlightening podcast episode on https://www.blogtalkradio.com/wams/2023/10/10/healing-appalachia-through-art-with-dave-lavender

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    5. Health News


      Governor Jim Justice and First Lady Cathy Justice visited Greenbrier East High School today to mark a heartwarming occasion—the introduction of the state’s newest therapy dog, Ruby, through the innovative Friends With Paws program. The First Lady and Governor celebrated the program's success and shared their hopes for Ruby's positive impact on the students of Greenbrier East High School.
      Ruby, a gentle and affectionate Golden Retriever, was introduced to an excited crowd during the assembly. Governor Jim Justice expressed his enthusiasm for the program, highlighting Ruby's potential to uplift the spirits of students. "Ruby loves everyone she meets and is bound to brighten your day like Babydog does for my family," he shared. "It is truly inspiring to see so many schools across West Virginia participating in our Communities In Schools program, and the First Lady and I cannot be more proud of this incredible program."
      First Lady Cathy Justice, known for her dedication to initiatives promoting the well-being of West Virginia residents, emphasized Ruby's role in making a positive difference. "Ruby is a wonderful addition to Greenbrier East High School. I know she will make a big difference in the lives of the students," she expressed. "Jim and I are so proud to introduce Ruby to her new home today."
      Superintendent of Greenbrier County Schools Jeff Bryant shared his belief in Ruby's transformative potential within the school community. "From the first time I met Ruby, I realized how much of a difference she will make in the culture of the school," he said. "Amidst students’ challenges, she’ll offer daily support and become an asset to the school. Her presence will bring such solace and peace to the students."
      The Friends With Paws program, a collaborative effort between the Governor’s Office, West Virginia Communities In Schools (CIS) Nonprofit, and the West Virginia Department of Education, is dedicated to placing certified therapy dogs in schools across the state. These dogs offer companionship and comfort to students facing various challenges. Since April 2022, thirteen therapy dogs have been placed in schools as part of this initiative.
      Therapy dogs like Ruby are specially trained to provide emotional support and comfort in various settings. They have a unique ability to alleviate anxiety, improve mood, and create a sense of calm. These dogs undergo rigorous training and certification to ensure their ability to work effectively in demanding environments.
      The Friends With Paws program targets schools within CIS counties where students are disproportionately affected by poverty, substance misuse, or other at-risk situations. The goal is to provide these students with a supportive outlet for addressing trauma and social-emotional issues. The program aims to facilitate healing and growth through the presence of therapy dogs like Ruby.
      Research has shown that the presence of dogs in educational settings can have profound benefits. A 2019 study published by the National Institute of Health found that a dog’s presence in the classroom promotes positive mood and provides significant anti-stress effects on the body. The simple act of petting animals releases an automatic relaxation response, leading to lower anxiety, reduced loneliness, and improved cardiovascular health.
      Following the assembly, students and staff had the opportunity to greet Ruby and experience her calming presence firsthand. Ruby's introduction to Greenbrier East High School marks a heartening step forward in prioritizing the emotional well-being of students and creating a more supportive educational environment.
      For those interested in learning more about the Friends With Paws program, West Virginia Public Broadcasting has produced a documentary titled "Communities In Schools: Friends With Paws," offering insights into the transformative impact of therapy dogs in schools.
      As Ruby embarks on her journey as the newest member of the Spartan family at Greenbrier East High School, her warm presence is set to bring comfort, solace, and positivity to the lives of students and staff alike.

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    6. Health News


      Today, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved Narcan, 4 milligram (mg) naloxone hydrochloride nasal spray for over-the-counter (OTC), nonprescription, use – the first naloxone product approved for use without a prescription. Naloxone is a medication that rapidly reverses the effects of opioid overdose and is the standard treatment for opioid overdose. Today’s action paves the way for the life-saving medication to reverse an opioid overdose to be sold directly to consumers in places like drug stores, convenience stores, grocery stores and gas stations, as well as online. 
      The timeline for availability and price of this OTC product is determined by the manufacturer. The FDA will work with all stakeholders to help facilitate the continued availability of naloxone nasal spray products during the time needed to implement the Narcan switch from prescription to OTC status, which may take months. Other formulations and dosages of naloxone will remain available by prescription only. 
      Drug overdose persists as a major public health issue in the United States, with more than 101,750 reported fatal overdoses occurring in the 12-month period ending in October 2022, primarily driven by synthetic opioids like illicit fentanyl. 
      “The FDA remains committed to addressing the evolving complexities of the overdose crisis. As part of this work, the agency has used its regulatory authority to facilitate greater access to naloxone by encouraging the development of and approving an over-the-counter naloxone product to address the dire public health need,” said FDA Commissioner Robert M. Califf, M.D. “Today’s approval of OTC naloxone nasal spray will help improve access to naloxone, increase the number of locations where it’s available and help reduce opioid overdose deaths throughout the country. We encourage the manufacturer to make accessibility to the product a priority by making it available as soon as possible and at an affordable price.”   
      Narcan nasal spray was first approved by the FDA in 2015 as a prescription drug. In accordance with a process to change the status of a drug from prescription to nonprescription, the manufacturer provided data demonstrating that the drug is safe and effective for use as directed in its proposed labeling. The manufacturer also showed that consumers can understand how to use the drug safely and effectively without the supervision of a healthcare professional. The application to approve Narcan nasal spray for OTC use was granted priority review status and was the subject of an advisory committee meeting in February 2023, where committee members voted unanimously to recommend it be approved for marketing without a prescription. 
      The approval of OTC Narcan nasal spray will require a change in the labeling for the currently approved 4 mg generic naloxone nasal spray products that rely on Narcan as their reference listed drug product. Manufacturers of these products will be required to submit a supplement to their applications to effectively switch their products to OTC status. The approval may also affect the status of other brand-name naloxone nasal spray products of 4 mg or less, but determinations will be made on a case-by-case basis and the FDA may contact other firms as needed. 
      The use of Narcan nasal spray in individuals who are opioid dependent may result in severe opioid withdrawal characterized by body aches, diarrhea, increased heart rate (tachycardia), fever, runny nose, sneezing, goose bumps, sweating, yawning, nausea or vomiting, nervousness, restlessness or irritability, shivering or trembling, abdominal cramps, weakness and increased blood pressure.
      “Naloxone is a critical tool in addressing opioid overdoses and today’s approval underscores the extensive efforts the agency has undertaken to combat the overdose crisis,” said Patrizia Cavazzoni, M.D., director of the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research. “The FDA is working with our federal partners to help ensure continued access to all forms of naloxone during the transition of this product from prescription status to nonprescription/OTC status. Further, we will work with any sponsor seeking to market a nonprescription naloxone product, including through an Rx to OTC switch, and encourage manufacturers to contact the agency as early as possible to initiate discussions.”
      The FDA has taken a series of measures to help facilitate access to naloxone products. In November 2022, the agency announced its preliminary assessment that certain naloxone products, such as the one ultimately approved today, have the potential to be safe and effective for over-the-counter use and encouraged sponsors to submit applications for approval of OTC naloxone products. The agency previously announced in 2019 that it had designed, tested, and validated a model naloxone Drug Facts Label (DFL) with easy-to-understand pictograms on how to use the drug to encourage manufacturers to pursue approval of OTC naloxone products. The model DFL was used to support the approved application along with the results of a simulated use Human Factors validation study designed to assess whether all the components of the product with which a user would interact could be used safely and effectively as intended.
      Through the FDA Overdose Prevention Framework, the agency remains focused on responding to all facets of substance use, misuse, substance use disorders, overdose and death in the U.S. The framework’s priorities include: supporting primary prevention by eliminating unnecessary initial prescription drug exposure and inappropriate prolonged prescribing; encouraging harm reduction through innovation and education; advancing development of evidence-based treatments for substance use disorders; and protecting the public from unapproved, diverted or counterfeit drugs presenting overdose risks.
      The FDA granted the OTC approval of Narcan to Emergent BioSolutions.

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