Enterovirus D68: Top Tips to Prevent Infection

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As fall approaches, more young kids could be heading to the hospital with severe respiratory illness. The culprit is a particularly brutal strain enterovirus. While it’s common for an enterovirus to circulate each year in the summer and fall, the number of confirmed cases of D68 this year is significantly higher than previous years, according to the CDC.

D68 is just one strain of a number of non-polio enteroviruses, with symptoms that range from mild to severe. Infants, children and teens are the most likely to become infected because they lack antibodies form a prior exposure. The CDC reports that mild symptoms of enterovirus are aches, fever, cough and a runny nose – similar to that of the common cold.

However, in severe cases, children infected with D68 have wheezing and difficulty breathing. These respiratory complications have led to an increase in hospitalizations as a result of this year’s enterovirus strain. Children with asthma are at especially high risk for severe symptoms as a result of an infection.

While the virus can be frightening, D68 can be prevented the same way as other seasonal viruses because it is spread in a similar way. Like cold and flu viruses, enterovirus is transmitted through saliva, sputum, and nasal mucus when an infected person coughs.

Top Enterovirus Prevention Steps from the CDC

  • Wash hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
  • Avoid touching eyes and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • If someone is sick, avoid touching, kissing, hugging and sharing cups or utensils with the person.
  • To prevent infection to others, stay home when feeling ill.
  • Use disinfectant on commonly used surfaces.
  • Children with asthma should be sure they have their reliever with them at all times and take prescribed medications as directed.

Reducing the Transmission of Infections such as Enterovirus

This year’s enterovirus is just one of many airborne infections that may lead to school absences for kids and missed work for adults – not to mention the discomfort of being sick. Enterovirus is predicted to taper off as winter approaches, but other viruses will be right around the corner. While the tips listed above are proven ways to prevent an infection, improving indoor air quality (IAQ) can also help keep a family healthy this winter.

Controlling Air Purity and Relative Humidity

An air purifier is capable of trapping 80 percent of virus-sized particles that pass through a home’s HVAC system. Since many seasonal cold and flu viruses are airborne, a whole-home air purifier may help reduce the transmission of the disease.

Another attribute of IAQ that could reduce infections indoors is relative humidity (RH). While humidity is often associated with comfort, virus transmission has been shown to increase in seasonably dry air. According to a report on the role of RH in the aerosol transmission of influenza, researchers concluded that “maintaining indoor relative humidity of greater than 40 percent will significantly reduce the infectivity of aerosolized [influenza].”

Why Everyone Needs a Flu Shot in 2014

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It’s easy to make excuses for not getting a flu shot. Most people don’t want to subject themselves to a needle stick when they feel healthy. A number of myths about the safety and effectiveness have also made it easy to make excuses for not getting protected. However, the CDC recommends that everyone – with very few exceptions – get a flu shot. Vaccination is an important step in the prevention of flu this winter.

5 Flu Shot Myths Busted

While a fear of needles probably plays the largest role in avoiding the flu shot, there are plenty of unwarranted reasons people have for avoiding what could be a health-saving vaccine.

  1. The flu shot makes you sick. While some may have a sore shoulder or a stuffy nose, the flu shot cannot infect someone with influenza or the cold.
  2. The flu is not dangerous. While it’s true that most cases of influenza aren’t life-threatening, people still miss work and school. The elderly and those with compromised immune systems can face numerous other more serious complications. And most importantly – influenza can be very dangerous. The 1918 outbreak of Spanish Flu killed 675,000 Americans in one year, according to Flu.gov.
  3. The vaccine’s side effects can be deadly. The flu shot produces few if any side effects and they are usually mild. However, patients should talk to their doctors if they have certain food or medicine allergies or other concerns about the shot.
  4. I had a flu shot last year. Strains of influenza change each year and immunity declines over time. For the best protection, an annual immunization is needed.
  5. The flu shot hurts. For those afraid of the needle, most have the option of a nasal spray or an intradermal trivalent shot, which uses a much smaller needle. For those who don’t qualify for other methods – tough it out. The pain from even a traditional shot is minimal and well worth the protection.

Add to Your Arsenal of Flu Defense This Winter

In addition to getting a flu shot, there are some things that can be done to reduce virus transmission even more. A whole-home air purifier can help trap airborne virus particles in the house when they travel through duct work.

A whole-home humidifier can also help reduce flu infection in the winter in two unique ways. According to The American Academy of Otolaryngology, dry air makes people more susceptible to illness because the nose becomes less effective at filtering the air. The viruses that cause colds and flus also thrive in dry environments. The process of heating a house in the winter reduces the indoor relative humidity, causing health and comfort issues.

According to a report on the role of RH in the aerosol transmission of influenza, researchers concluded that “maintaining indoor relative humidity of greater than 40 percent will significantly reduce the infectivity of aerosolized [influenza].”

Must-Do Fall Home Maintenance Tips for 2014

Fall is a great time of year to complete home maintenance projects that ensure a house is ready for the winter months.

Fall is a great time of year to complete home maintenance projects that ensure a house is ready for the winter months.

Fall is a great time of year to perform important home maintenance. Autumn creates plenty of predictable yard work, such as raking leaves and cleaning gutters. However, there are a number of chores that are less obvious but just as important in order to get a house in tip-top shape before winter.

5 Outdoor Projects for Home Maintenance Tips

When the gardening season draws to a close this fall, it’s time to begin working on projects outside of the house. Forbes’ magazine suggests adding these home improvements to this year’s list:

  1. Additional lighting – As the days get shorter, sprucing up walkways with ground lighting adds ambience as well as an added level of safety. Inexpensive solar lights have improved in quality and can be installed without running wire.
  2. Walk and caulk – Reducing energy bills, preventing drafts and keeping critters out of the house in the winter starts with a fresh bead of caulk around windows, siding and joints. Before it gets too cold, stroll around the entire exterior of the home and seal any potential air leaks.
  3. Bring in lawn furniture – If there’s room, it’s best to bring patio tables and chairs into the basement or garage for the winter. It’s also a good time of year to add a fresh coat of paint if the items are looking worn.
  4. Mulch garden beds – Adding fresh mulch around landscaping can help protect perennial plants from cold temperatures and keep weeds down next spring. It’s a fall home maintenance project that can also reduce work next summer.
  5. Wash your home – Many homeowners don’t realize how dirty their house can get. Even the best siding won’t shed all the dust, dirt and rain that a house is constantly exposed to. While some synthetic sidings don’t hold paint, they can be given a face lift with a power washer.

3 Indoor Home Maintenance Tips

Of course, no fall home maintenance checklist is complete without ensuring the inside of a home is warm and cozy on cool fall nights. Here are some tasks to complete indoors each fall:

  1. Clean the fireplace – For homeowners that utilize their fireplace or wood-burning stove during winter, this is one of the most important items. Hiring a professional to clean and inspect a chimney can improve efficiency and reduce the risk of fire and CO poisoning. In other words, this tip can save lives.
  2. Check your humidifier – Ensure whole-home humidifiers have a clean water panel and are working properly. Homeowners who aren’t protecting their properties with a whole-house humidifier should visit com. Proper humidification protects wood floors, instruments, art and furniture from dry air.
  3. Improve air purification – When fall begins, it’s also a good reminder that it’s time to replace air cleaner filters. A whole-home air purifier can also trap fall allergens, bacteria and viruses, helping to keep families healthy all year round.

Home maintenance in fall is essential to keeping family members safe and comfortable during the winter. Aprilaire has products specifically designed to improve comfort and protect investments from seasonal changes in humidity. To learn more, visit Aprilaire.com

A is for Allergies as Students Head Back to School

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As students head back to class, ragweed allergies are expected to flare. Hay fever symptoms, such as itchy skin, watery eyes, sneezing and coughing can make it hard for a student to concentrate on class work. Unfortunately, it can also be difficult for parents to determine if a child has an allergy or picked up a viral infection after going back to school.

Is it Allergies or a Cold? Here Are Some Key Differences:

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), there are some clear signs that signal a child is having an allergic reaction and not suffering from a cold.

  1. While symptoms may be similar to colds, seasonal allergies usually last longer than two weeks and tend to occur at the same time each year.
  2. Dry, itchy skin or a rash is a common symptom with some allergens.
  3. If a child presents with a cough at night or when exercising, he or she may also be suffering from asthma.
  4. An allergy to food often presents with an itching or tingling in the mouth, throat or ears. Parents should make sure school nurses and teachers are informed if a child must avoid certain foods before they go back to school this year. AAP recommends staying up-to-date on lunch room menus and packing a kid’s meal when necessary.

Study-up on Ragweed Allergy Treatments before Sending Kids Back to School

If a student shows signs of asthma or allergies around the same time he or she heads back to school, it’s possible that ragweed is the culprit. However, AAP recommends that parents visit an allergist to identify exactly what it is their future honor student is allergic to. The organization explains that an important step in reducing symptoms is simply avoiding the trigger. However, it’s very hard to avoid ragweed because it grows throughout the country and easily makes its way indoors.

For children with an allergy to pollen, dust or other airborne particles, keeping irritants out of the house is essential. Whole-house air purifiers can trap pollen in a home’s indoor air, so kids can breathe easier while studying. Also trapped are viruses and bacteria, which kids are sure to bring into the house more often after they go back to school.

Honey Cures Ragweed Allergy – Is it Too Tasty to be True?

Honey Cures Ragweed Allergy – Is it Too Tasty to be True?

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In 2014, many allergy sufferers will try and meet the longer ragweed season with a new arsenal of products to relieve their sneezing, itching and coughing. And one of these wonder products won’t come from the pharmacy but the farmers market, as people turn to locally produced honey for a cure.

However, according to Web MD, the theory that a spoonful of honey this summer will keep allergies at bay in the fall is mostly a myth. The notion of vaccinating against allergies by ingesting small amounts of pollen deposited in honey by bees has some scientific backing – but studies have shown little or no correlation to reduced allergy symptoms. The most obvious reason for honey’s lack of effectiveness is that it doesn’t possess the quantities or types of pollen required to immunize against common allergies.

What’s the Buzz About This Year’s Ragweed Season?

With or without a sweet tooth for honey, those with allergies will be looking for relief as summer 2014 draws to a close and hay fever symptoms begin. Known medically as allergic rhinitis, hay fever is primarily caused by an allergic reaction to ragweed plants. The plant is found in great quantities across the U.S. and experiences significant growth in the month of August, which is why many Americans find their symptoms at their worst this time of year.

Unfortunately for victims of ragweed allergies, 2014 could continue a trend of increasingly agonizing symptoms. According to U.S. News and World Reports, some asthma and allergy experts say that global climate change could be increasing the ragweed season, meaning the plant will have more time to release pollen grains, which carry for hundreds of miles in the wind. The small pollen also easily makes its way into homes through open windows, on clothes and on family pets.

For those suffering from hay fever, reports that their allergy symptoms could be lasting longer is certainly unwelcome news. It could mean more medicine – some of which has undesired side effects – or continued discomfort inside and outside of the house

Top 3 Natural Ways to Fight Back Against Ragweed Allergies

While the cure for ragweed allergy may not be sitting in the pantry, there are other remedies that can at least reduce the severity of symptoms this August without a trip to the pharmacy.

  1. Essential Oils in the Shower: One relaxing way to feel better is a hot shower with a few drops of eucalyptus oil in the bottom of the tub. The water will wash off pollen that has collected on the body during the day while the steam and eucalyptus open up sinuses and moisturize dry nasal passages.
  1. Stinging Nettle: While scientific evidence is inconclusive, Web MD reports that taking supplements of stinging nettle at the start of ragweed season appears to help ease the severity of symptoms with fewer side effects than antihistamine drugs.
  1. A Whole-Home Air Purifier: An excellent addition to allergy and asthma relief, an air purifier installed in an existing HVAC system reduces the amount of allergens that are in the air. Because allergies are a direct reaction to pollen and other particulates, purifying the air should improve comfort in the house.

For more information on whole-home air purification, total control of IAQ and available options for removing ragweed allergens form the home, visit Aprilaire.com. Also, find us on Facebook at Facebook.com/Aprilaire.

Failure to control indoor humidity could also create conditions that outdoor pests find very inviting!

Photo: You can’t escape the humidity when you’re outside in the south during the summer months, but you’ll want to control it indoors. According to The Weather Channel, the severe humidity in the southern U.S. can actually cause the wood in a home to rot. Failure to control indoor humidity could also create conditions that outdoor pests find very inviting! </p>
<p>Learn why high humidity is an invitation to bugs and the other ways it can wreak havoc on southern homeowners.<br />
http://www.weather.com/activities/health/allergies/indoorhumidity.html

You can’t escape the humidity when you’re outside in the south during the summer months, but you’ll want to control it indoors. According to The Weather Channel, the severe humidity in the southern U.S. can actually cause the wood in a home to rot. Failure to control indoor humidity could also create conditions that outdoor pests find very inviting!

Learn why high humidity is an invitation to bugs and the other ways it can wreak havoc on southern homeowners.
http://www.weather.com/activities/health/allergies/indoorhumidity.html

Staying comfortable and healthy in the summer requires more than just lowering the temperature in your home.

Photo: Staying comfortable and healthy in the summer requires more than just lowering the temperature in your home. Air purity, freshness and humidity all play a role in the quality of your indoor air, which determines if your home is a relaxing and healthy environment during the dog days of summer. </p>
<p>Aprilaire provides solutions for each of these unique conditions that could be impacting your home. With our Total Comfort Solutions, you’ll come home each day to a house that’s comfortable, fresher and operating more efficiently than ever before. Learn more about whole-home comfort!  http://www.aprilaire.com/total-comfort

Staying comfortable and healthy in the summer requires more than just lowering the temperature in your home. Air purity, freshness and humidity all play a role in the quality of your indoor air, which determines if your home is a relaxing and healthy environment during the dog days of summer.

Aprilaire provides solutions for each of these unique conditions that could be impacting your home. With our Total Comfort Solutions, you’ll come home each day to a house that’s comfortable, fresher and operating more efficiently than ever before. Learn more about whole-home comfort! http://www.aprilaire.com/total-comfort