Knowing the signs of communicable diseases is one step toward prevention

Emily Rapposelli, an epidemiologist with the Florida Department of Health in Monroe County, joined Good Morning Keys on KeysTalk 96.9/102.5FM this morning to talk about communicable disease education.

Mosquito borne diseases are a big topic of discussion in tropical climates, like the Keys.

Rapposelli said, “Mosquito borne diseases include West Nile virus, chikungunya fever, malaria, etc. They are viruses that spread to people by mosquito bites. Mosquito borne illnesses are spread by infected mosquitoes and can cause serious illnesses in people.”

How is the virus actually spread?

Rapposelli said, “If the mosquito is infected with the virus and you are bitten by that mosquito, then that’s how the virus is spread.”

How can people keep this from happening?

Rapposelli explained, “You can avoid getting bitten by practicing drain and cover. The drain refers to draining standing water, and this will prevent mosquitoes from multiplying. It includes draining water from garbage cans, house gutters, buckets, pool covers, coolers, toys, flowerpots or any other kind of container that water can collect in and then the cover portion of this refers to covering yourself and your home. You can do this through utilizing mosquito repellent with the active ingredient DEET. If you’re going to be outside where mosquitoes are present, wear shoes, socks, long pants, long sleeves, just covering your skin and you can also use drain covers in your homes and windows screen.”

What are the symptoms?

Rapposelli said, “The symptoms can include fever, chills, headache, and neck pain, muscle and joint pain, nausea and vomiting, diarrhea, rash and fatigue. So if anyone is experiencing these symptoms, it’s important that they contact their health care provider right away.”

Foodborne illnesses are also serious.

Rapposelli said, “Campylobacteriosis and Salmonellosis are the names of the illnesses, but Campylobacter and salmonella are the bacteria that causes the illness. Typically it is spread by ingesting food or water that’s been contaminated. This can be done through inadequately cooked raw meat, poultry, eggs, consuming unwashed fruits and vegetables, drinking contaminated or inadequately treated drinking water or contact with any animals or animal feces.”

Cooking food to a specific temperature can help protect you.

Rapposelli added, “We always recommend practicing proper hand hygiene. People with diarrhea should not be preparing food for others. People with diarrhea should not be using any recreational water venues and be excluded from sensitive situations such as if they are a daycare attendee or a daycare worker, health care workers or food handlers. Individuals should be symptom free for 24 hours for campylobacteriosis and 48 hours for Salmonellosis without the aid of medication prior to returning to any sensitive situation.”

Foodborne illnesses can include a number of symptoms.

Rapposelli said, “Symptoms can include diarrhea, fever, stomach cramps, nausea, vomiting, lasting around a week. So it’s important to stay at home and contact your healthcare provider right away for diagnosis, treatment and guidance if you’re experiencing these symptoms.”

Sometimes the symptoms will not go away on their own.

Flu season is also here.

Rapposelli reminded, “It’s important to avoid close contact with individuals if you’re sick or if you’re sick, limit contact with others and cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you call for sneeze. It’s important to always wash your hands with soap and water often, avoid touching your face. Clean and disinfect surfaces and objects that are considered to be high touch. It’s important to remember that flu season begins typically October and can last through May of the subsequent year.”

What about the flu vaccine?

Rapposelli said, “If you are interested in getting the flu vaccine, you can obviously do so. Discuss with your health care provider first and see the recommendations. But the flu vaccine reduces the risk of flu illness between 40 and 60 percent. There are lots of places within our community that offer the flu vaccine. Most pharmacies, lots of doctor’s offices, urgent care facilities, and of course, Florida Department of Health Monroe County will have the vaccine as well. I would recommend calling to schedule an appointment just so that our facility and our clinics are aware prior to you arriving.”

Protection from all disease is important.

Rapposelli said, “Protect yourself. If you’re experiencing symptoms, definitely go talk with your healthcare provider and see what they recommend. In terms of Florida Department of Health and our events, we have two events coming up. The first one is our Health To You event. This will be in Big Pine Key Community Center. We will have incentives for people to come. Snacks, health screenings, vaccines, bike helmets, a whole multitude of things. Also later in October, we are partnering with Lower Keys Medical Center to provide screenings to individuals in the community. HIV tests, immunizations, STD testing, glucose and sugar testing are just a couple of things.”

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