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The Executive Briefing - Friday, February 24th

Should you have Narcan in your first aid kit?


  • Unfortunately, using Merck’s COVID treatment drug to try to prevent household transmission doesn’t work - the same is true for Paxlovid. Both reduce the severity of illness but don’t prevent infection altogether. (Reuters)
  • COVID poses a severe risk if infected during pregnancy. (Scientific American)
  • Kids under 5 are being left behind with COVID vaccines, with single-digit uptake in LA County for Black and Latino kids. (LA Times)
  • The captain of the Chicago Blackhawks hockey team, Jonathan Toews, has been placed on the injured reserve list due to ongoing issues with long COVID and chronic immune response syndrome. (ESPN)
  • Think COVID is over? Not for the Bachelor, which aired its first-ever virtual rose ceremony this week after its lead man contracted COVID. (Yahoo)
  • A small Japanese study of 11 COVID patients who died from the disease found infectious viral levels in half, including one nearly 13 days after death. This info is key to ensuring hospitals and funeral workers protect themselves. (Japan Times)

Public Health News:

  • Bird flu killed an 11-year-old girl in Cambodia. (AP)
  • The germiest place in your private kitchen? Your spice rack. (Sky News)
  • Pepsi and Coke have entered the hard soda market with sugary alcoholic drinks that worry health experts. (NY Times)
  • An exciting new study shows that an 8-week regimen for TB treatment may work for many people instead of the more challenging 6-month approach used now. (MedPage Today)
  • Mpox is highly fatal among people with advanced HIV. (NBC)
  • Pfizer’s new RSV vaccine for infants may be fast-tracked for approval as early as this summer. (CNBC)
  • The CDC is headed to East Palestine, OH to investigate the health risk after the toxic train derailment. (Politico)
  • High costs top the list of Americans’ health worries. (Axios)
  • A boy in Florida died of Invasive Group A strep after an ankle injury. (Fortune)
  • The flu vaccine worked well this year, about 45-55% depending on whether you measure by infections prevented entirely versus moderate to severe cases prevented. (STAT)
  • A majority of Americans would be uncomfortable with healthcare providers relying on AI as part of their medical care. (The Hill)
  • The CDC finalized the recommendation for the 2-dose Jynneos vaccine for all adults at risk during any future Mpox outbreaks. (CNN)

Mental Health News:

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Best Questions:

What do we need to do if an employee is exposed to whooping cough?

Pertussis, also known as whooping cough, is most often found in babies and children, but since it’s a highly contagious disease that labs and doctor’s offices have to report to local health departments, we do see it in employees from time to time. When an employee is exposed, usually by their child, they’re often prescribed prophylactic antibiotics to prevent infection. If they have symptoms, they’ll need to stay out until they’re symptom-free, which can take 1-2 weeks. If they’re asymptomatic and have started antibiotics, we recommend keeping them out for five days while they begin antibiotics while they monitor themself for symptoms or until their doctor says they can return.

If Narcan is available over the counter, should we add it to our first aid kits?

Once it becomes readily available over the counter,  we’re likely to recommend both adding naloxone (aka Narcan) to your first aid kit and ensuring that your employees are trained in how to use it. We’re seeing a major rise in drug overdoses in retail businesses and restaurants, and Narcan can reverse the effects of an overdose that might otherwise be fatal. It’s a literal lifesaver, and we think it will soon be standard, like AEDs.  

We are having lots of issues with drug use in our bathrooms. Are others seeing the same thing?

Yes, we’re seeing more and more of this. We had seen a dip during COVID restrictions, and we’re fairly sure that what we’re seeing now is a combination of increased access to semi-public bathrooms and the unprecedented rise in drug use over the past few years. Back in 2017, a study published in the International Journal of Drug Policy found that 58% of business managers surveyed in New York City had encountered drug use in their bathrooms, with more than a third finding syringes. Almost none of them had naloxone (Narcan) training. In another study from NYC, nearly 60% of drug users reported injecting in a semi-public location like a restaurant bathroom. These numbers have almost certainly increased since those studies, highlighting the need for training and emergency response plans related to drug use and drug overdoses, as well as clean-up procedures. If you need help developing your company’s procedures, ZHH can help.

Do you recommend installing blue lights in bathrooms to help deter IV drug use?

Blue lights are sometimes used in public bathrooms to deter intravenous drug use because they make it harder to see veins. One small study from Canada interviewed drug users, who shared that blue lights would not likely stop them from using a bathroom to inject drugs and might make doing so more dangerous by risking vein damage or infections. This can actually increase the risk of blood droplets in the bathroom, making the risk of transmitting other bloodborne pathogens higher. Instead of blue lights, some businesses are making it as safe as possible for drug users by installing sharps containers and outward swinging doors so people can reach those who overdose in a stall. Others don’t want to encourage use on the property. Anecdotally, the most effective method we’ve heard of is sending employees to check on people in the bathroom periodically. As we mentioned before, having Narcan and training employees to use it is a key tool in the arsenal, as well.

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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.