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Canada’s flu epidemic: “We’re knee deep in virus”

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Sly says it’s time for health and safety professionals to implement masking policies once again in the workplace. He points to workplace psychology arguing there is a tendency among workers to not want to appear weak, suggesting people will be reluctant to put one on. “But if it becomes a policy, then all those people say oh, big sigh of relief, now I can put it on without feeling like an idiot,” says Sly.

He also encourages employers to provide masks to their employees, and says ideally, they should hand out the N95 respirators. “With an N95, you’re cutting your risk way down…to a factor of one tenth of what it was before,” says Sly, who recognizes there is a cost attached to the specialized masks, but argues it is well worth it.

“It’s even more sensible when the employer begins to realize you’ve cut your absentee rate by half, or down to a third of what it was simply by people wearing a mask. And that’s a tangible benefit right there.”

In addition to masking policies, Sly also points to the vaccination shot as another preventative measure to reduce the spread. Many workplaces mandated vaccinations and it became one of the most controversial topics during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Sly says the shots are another tool to reduce the risk of infection and suggests most people should be on their fourth or fifth boosters, “if you have the chance to get it, get it, they do work, they reduce your risk.” He describes the combination of masking and vaccination as having a layering effect, but notes nothing provides 100 per cent immunity.

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HIV/AIDS progress in Brazil

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03:08

December 1 is World AIDS Day,  a time to raise awareness and show support for those living with AIDS or HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.

Treatment of HIV/AIDS has come a long way since the first cases became public in the 1980s.

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And Brazil is one country that led the way; its pioneering programs to identify and treat patients recognized the world over.

In recent years, however, the country’s progress has shown to be slipping.

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Early RSV season primarily impacts infants

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Dear Doctors: What can I do to protect my baby from RSV? What are the symptoms? People are talking about a “tripledemic,” and it has my husband and me worried. We’re both vaccinated for the flu and COVID-19, and we are being super careful when we’re out and about. What else can we do?

Dear Reader: RSV is short for respiratory syncytial virus. It’s a common winter virus that can affect people of any age. In most cases, RSV infection causes mild symptoms similar to the common cold. However, infants and children younger than 2, whose immune systems are still developing, are at increased risk of becoming seriously ill.

RSV is the most common cause of pneumonia in infants and young children in the United States. It is also the leading cause of bronchiolitis in that age group. That’s a lung infection in which the smallest airways become inflamed and swollen, and an increase in mucus production impedes air flow into and out of the lungs.

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This year, as with the flu, RSV season has arrived early. Hospitals throughout the U.S. are reporting a surge of serious infections among infants and younger children.

The virus enters the body through the airways and the mucous membranes. It can remain viable on hard surfaces — such as a doorknob, night table or dinnerware — for several hours. It can also persist on softer surfaces, such as a tissue or the skin. Someone can become infected by breathing in the viral particles that remain airborne following a cough or a sneeze, or by touching their mouth, nose or eyes after direct contact with contaminated droplets.

Someone who is sick with RSV typically remains contagious for between four and eight days. However, due to their still-developing immune systems, it’s possible for infants to continue to spread the virus for several weeks, even after symptoms of the disease have abated. There is no vaccine for this virus, and no targeted treatments. Prevention relies on the same precautions you use to avoid any respiratory illness. That is, keep your baby away from people who are ill, avoid close contact with people outside your home and be vigilant about hand hygiene.

Symptoms of RSV arise between three and six days after infection. They can include a runny nose, sneezing and coughing, fever, a decrease in appetite and lung congestion that can cause wheezing. These symptoms tend to be progressive, arriving in stages as the body mounts its attack against the virus. But in very young patients, the first, and sometimes only noticeable, symptoms of RSV can be increased fussiness, a decrease in activity and difficulty breathing.

Treatment for RSV consists of managing symptoms. The specific avenue of care depends on a child’s age, general health and symptoms. In infants, treating RSV includes a focus on adequate hydration and remaining alert for any signs of problems with breathing. The majority of RSV infections run their course in a week to 10 days. Parents of younger infants should check with their pediatricians for guidance on treatment, particularly medications. If your child has difficulty breathing, isn’t drinking enough fluids or has worsening symptoms, call your health care provider right away.

Eve Glazier, M.D., MBA, is an internist and associate professor of medicine at UCLA Health. Elizabeth Ko, M.D., is an internist and assistant professor of medicine at UCLA Health. Send your questions to askthedoctors@mednet.ucla.edu, or write: Ask the Doctors, c/o UCLA Health Sciences Media Relations, 10960 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 1955, Los Angeles, CA, 90024. Owing to the volume of mail, personal replies cannot be provided.

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AIDS Memorial Quilt comes to Palm Beach County

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PALM BEACH COUNTY, Fla. — The largest piece of community folk art in the world, a tribute to victims of AIDS, is on display in Palm Beach County.

Now through Dec. 15, three different panels of the NAMES Project AIDS Memorial Quilt, often known as the AIDS Quilt, will be on display at three different Palm Beach County Public Library locations.

The quilt is a giant tribute to the lives of people who have died due to AIDS or AIDS-related causes.

The quilt weighs around 54 tons and was started in the 1980s during the early years of the AIDS pandemic.

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Three different panels of the AIDS Quilt will be on display at three different Palm Beach County Public Library locations through Dec. 15.

The AIDS Memorial Quilt is comprised of nearly 50,000 panels containing 91,000 names of the men, women and children who lost their lives to the immune system disease.

The blocks, which make up the panels, are stitched by individuals in communities across the nation, including one librarian right in Palm Beach County.

Katrina Brockway, a librarian at the Hagen Ranch Road Branch Library, said she feels it brings tragedy a bit closer to home.

Katrina Brockway, librarian at the Hagen Ranch Road Branch Library discusses the AIDS Quilt visit
Librarian Katrina Brockway explains the impact of seeing the AIDS Quilt in person.

“It becomes so much more personal when you see these quilt panels and all of these people who were loved and didn’t have the same opportunity to escape this,” Brockway said. “So you can remember them, what they went through, and what their loved ones have gone through.”

Visitors can see the quilt panels during normal library hours at the library’s main branch on Summit Boulevard at the Jupiter branch and at the west Boca Raton branch.

Click here for the library’s hours and more information on upcoming AIDS events at the library.

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