Measles Cases Prompt Experts to Encourage MMR Vaccine for Children

A recent resurgence of measles infections is prompting health officials to encourage parents to ensure their children get the MMR vaccine.

Among the experts chiming in is Lehigh Valley Health Network (LVHN) pediatrician Jarret Patton, MD, who told NBC 10 Philadelphia he is concerned about the potential for an outbreak in New York City to spread to the Lehigh Valley. Patton is with Children’s Hospital at Lehigh Valley Hospital.

Bad research linking the MMR vaccine to children developing autism has caused some people to think vaccines do more harm than good, Patton told the television station for this report. But that position has been debunked, and the Pennsylvania Department of Health still recommends vaccination as the best way to prevent catching measles, which is highly contagious. Complications of measles can include swelling of the brain, pneumonia and death. Read More »

Learn Meningitis Symptoms, Prevention Tips in Wake of College Campus Outbreaks

Terry Burger

Terry Burger, RN
LVHN Infection and Prevention

In response to recent news about meningitis outbreaks on college campuses, concerned parents are calling Lehigh Valley Health Network’s (LVHN) infection control and prevention experts for information about how to protect their children from the potentially fatal disease. They’re sharing information to increase awareness about symptoms and ways to prevent the spread of meningitis.

A student died earlier this month at Drexel University in Philadelphia from serogroup B meningococcal disease, the same rare strain of meningitis that sickened students at Princeton University in New Jersey and at University of California-Santa Barbara.

The meningitis vaccine college students are required to have before starting school does not protect against this strain, says Terry Burger, RN, LVHN’s director of infection control and prevention.

“It’s not historically the strain we’ve observed as most common in the U.S.,” she says.

Because the bacteria are transmitted in saliva – such as by kissing, sharing drinks or close coughing – and college students live in close proximity in dormitories, “it’s the perfect storm for these kids,” Burger says. Read More »

Category: Health Alert!

Potential Case of Measles in Children’s Clinic Patient

There has been a potential case of measles – that has not yet been confirmed – in a single patient who visited the Children’s Clinic at Lehigh Valley Hospital-17th Street on Wednesday, March 12. At this time, there have been no further cases of anyone with symptoms matching those of the measles.

To be sure we are using all potential safeguards and precautions, Lehigh Valley Health Network is working with the Pennsylvania Department of Health and the Allentown Health Bureau to notify and protect anyone who might have come in contact with the patient. LVHN is implementing the guidelines set forth by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Anyone with questions is advised to contact LVHN’s Infection Control and Prevention’s Office at 610-402-9446. Read More »

Category: Health Alert!

Stopping a Silent Epidemic – Baby Boomers Should Get Tested for Hepatitis C

Joseph Yozviak, DO

Joseph Yozviak, DO
Internal medicine

If you were born between 1945 and 1965, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is “talkin’ ‘bout your generation.” The issue: hepatitis C, a serious and potentially fatal liver disease caused by the hepatitis C virus (HCV).

“It’s a silent epidemic among baby boomers,” says Lehigh Valley Health Network internal medicine physician Joseph Yozviak, DO, with the Hepatitis Care Center. “Hepatitis C is the most common blood-borne infection in the United States by far, but despite that, 75 percent of people who are infected don’t know it.”

Boomers have a five-times-higher prevalence of infection-indicating antibodies to the virus and account for more than three quarters of all chronic adult cases in the United States. That’s why the CDC now recommends that anyone with a 1945-to-1965 birthday get screened for hepatitis C with a blood test. If you are in that age range, ask your primary care doctor to do a blood test for antibodies to hepatitis C. Read More »

Deadly Flu Strain Still Affecting the Lehigh Valley; It’s Not Too Late To Get Your Flu Shot

Luther Rhodes, MD

Luther Rhodes, MD
Infectious diseases

Both Lehigh Valley Health Network (LVHN) and St. Luke’s University Health Network are warning area residents that a deadly strain of the flu is still here. Contrary to recent years, this current version of the flu is affecting younger, healthier people who may not have gotten their flu shot this year.

In a joint statement from Luther Rhodes, MD, LVHN’s chief of hospital epidemiology and infection control, and Jeffrey Jahre, MD, Sr. Luke’s senior vice president for medical and academic affairs and chief of infectious diseases, both say this flu season has picked up momentum, and people are feeling the symptoms more severely and all at once. More concerning is the fact that reasonably healthy people under age 50 who have not been vaccinated are becoming seriously ill very rapidly.

The types of patients both health networks are seeing are those whose conditions have deteriorated quickly from having normal flu symptoms that transition into a life-threatening situation in fewer than 24 hours. Read More »