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Leprosy and malaria are back in FL

The Executive Briefing - Tuesday, August 1st

Schedule Your Fall Flu Shots:

Flu shots are more important than ever this year. Email flu@zerohourhealth.com to learn more about how Zero Hour Health can help with onsite flu shots or pharmacy vouchers for your smaller locations and remote employees.

Health News:

  • COVID case markers are continuing a slow but steady rise across the country, possibly the first signs of a late-summer surge. (CIDRAP)
  • Four day workweeks are good for employee health, a new study found. (Bloomberg)
  • Experts are warning against exposure to brackish water (especially with open wounds) and eating raw oysters after multiple severe Vibrio infections, leading to one death in CT and three in NC. (NCCDHS, WTNH)
  • Fentanyl is spreading the opioid crisis into big cities. (The Economist)
  • Dogs can detect COVID faster and better than most PCR tests. (CIDRAP)
  • MI has its first two cases of the mosquito-born Jamestown Canyon virus, which in rare cases can cause encephalitis or meningitis. (Michigan.gov)
  • New H5N1 bird flu outbreaks were found in Russia and China, with other countries reporting more detections in mammals, including a cat at a second animal shelter in South Korea. (CIDRAP)
  • Louisiana now requires Hep A vaccination for school-aged children. (Fox)
  • Leprosy cases in central Florida may be endemic. (CDC)
  • Mosquitoes carrying West Nile are becoming increasingly resistant to insecticides. (NBC)
  • The FDA expanded approval for the Ebola vaccine to kids 1-17 years. (FDA)
  • A second over-the-counter naloxone nasal spray (called RiVive), a competitor to Narcan, was approved for use in the US. (FDA)
  • The Hep C cure rate is way off track, despite medication to cure it. (Washington Post)

Mental Health News:

  • LA County gave up on a mental health outreach program and returned millions in grants. (LA Times)
  • A severe provider shortage is a major barrier for Biden’s plan to boost mental health coverage. (Axios)
  • Heat can affect mental health and cognitive performance. (NPR)

If you or someone you know may be considering suicide or need help, call 988 or message the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741741.

Best Questions

What should we know about leprosy if we operate in central Florida?

On Monday, the CDC announced that leprosy, or Hansen’s disease, has become endemic in the southeastern United States, specifically central Florida. Leprosy is a bacterial infection that affects the skin and nerves, and despite its reputation, it’s not that easily spread. Prolonged close contact with someone with untreated leprosy over many months is needed to catch it, not casual contact. In the past, most non-travel-related leprosy cases were linked to contact with armadillos, but recent cases in GA and central FL didn’t have any animal contact or recent travel outside the country. Scientists suspect that something in the environment is infecting people, but the source is still unknown. If an employee has signs of leprosy, including discolored or numb patches of skin, ulcers on the soles of the feet, enlarged nerves, hand and foot weakness, or other skin or nerve issues, they should seek medical attention immediately and stay home from work until their doctor clears them.
Source: CDC, CBS

Is climate change responsible for the rise in malaria in the US?

Warming temperatures and increased flooding will mean that there are more malaria cases and other mosquito-borne diseases in the US over time. Whether the cases in FL and TX that were locally acquired (not travel-related) are due to warmer temps this year is hard to pin down, and there’s no specific evidence for it. But experts agree that the US getting hotter and wetter means mosquitos and ticks will thrive, and the diseases they spread may, too. Locally acquired dengue, West Nile, and other diseases are already trending up over the past few years, and are likely to continue to rise without strong interventions. To help protect your employees, make sure you clear any standing water, offer insect repellent to outdoor workers, and offer long sleeves and pant options if you have uniform requirements.
Source: WUSF Health

Why are we hearing more about tick-borne diseases?

Cases of tick-borne illnesses are on the rise, and a changing climate may be to blame, at least in part. Ticks don’t survive freezing temps, but as winters get warmer, their active seasons are starting earlier. They’re also starting to move north into areas that used to be too cold for them. Where people live plays a role, too, since deer and other animals that ticks feed on are living closer to humans, increasing the chances of contact with an infected tick. Breaking up forests by developing the land around them can mean white-footed mice, which carry ticks, don’t have as many predators, leading to increases in the tick population. Ticks are particularly good at spreading diseases to humans, so scientists have been taking note since there are real risks of new or widespread outbreaks as ticks become a bigger part of our everyday lives.
Source: AP, CNN, PBS

Best Read:

A great read from the Atlantic to help you understand your employees who are struggling with chronic fatigue from long COVID or other disorders:

Fatigue Can Shatter a Person

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Disclaimer: This post is meant for general information and educational purposes only and does not constitute, and is not intended as, any form of medical, legal or regulatory advice or a recommendation or suggestion regarding the same.  No recipient of this information should act or refrain from acting on the basis of this information without first seeking legal advice from counsel in the relevant jurisdiction.