What Will Happen When Flu Season Meets the COVID-19 Pandemic?

In a nutshell… As the Northern Hemisphere flu season approaches amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, many of the same infection control measures used during the pandemic could help reduce flu cases. This article compares the two viral illnesses and the actions people can take to help prevent them.   What will happen when the 2020 flu

Airborne Coronavirus: What We Know Can Help Prevent Illness

In a nutshell… This article reports on a recent virtual workshop on the airborne transmission of coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2). Based on the state of knowledge of this mode of virus transmission, experts outlined recommendations for modifying human behavior and indoor spaces to help avoid coronavirus infection.   Still image from a “shadowgraph” video of the respiratory

Household Chemical Safety and Coronavirus: What You Need to Know

In a nutshell… This article reviews data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that show increasing numbers of phone calls to US poison centers during the current coronavirus pandemic. The CDC notes these calls could be linked to cleaning and disinfecting in the household to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

Preparing to Shelter in Place During the Coronavirus Outbreak

In a nutshell… This article provides guidance on preparing to shelter in place in the event that becomes necessary during the current coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. The interactive “Dr. Ralph’s Emergency Preparedness Closet” illustrates the supplies families will need to stay healthy and secure while confined to their homes. Also addressed are tactics for staying mentally

Coronavirus: What is it and How Can We Prevent its Spread?

In a nutshell… This article provides an update on the coronavirus outbreak that began in central China at the end of 2019 and is currently sweeping the globe. Information on the “2019 Novel Coronavirus” is provided, including its likely animal origin, symptoms, how it is spread, and most importantly, how to help prevent its spread.

RSV Cases on the Rise

In a nutshell… Cases of the contagious viral respiratory illness known as RSV are on the increase in the U.S. This article provides general and practical information on RSV, including national statistics, symptoms, warning signs of severe infection, and prevention.   This winter doctors are reporting a surge in cases of respiratory syncytial (pronounced sin-SISH-uhl)

Flu Season Survival Tips

The World Health Organization calls flu, also known as seasonal influenza, “one of the world’s greatest public health challenges.” Every year approximately one billion people around the world are infected with the seasonal flu virus, and three to five million of those cases are severe, resulting in 290,000 – 650,000 flu-related respiratory deaths. The severity of each flu season is difficult to predict, so the public is encouraged to be aware and prepared. Here are our best tips to help you survive flu season.

Hydration and Hyponatremia: Can You Drink Too Much Water?

As much of the United States swelters in the midst of a very hot summer (even in northern Minnesota), it seemed again like a good idea to write about the importance of hydration. After all, humans are carbon- and water-based organisms. My previous perspective focused on staying hydrated year-round, but this article addresses some of the current science and persistent misconceptions about hot weather- and exercise-associated dehydration and over-hydration, called hyponatremia. (So yes, you can drink too much water). Although both conditions can be serious, for most of us most of the time, drinking the right amount of water is not that difficult—even during vigorous exercise and in hot and humid conditions. The key is simply to “drink to quench thirst,” but as I noted in my previous article, thirst may become less effective an indicator as we age.

How to Sanitize Ball Pit Balls to Help Prevent the Spread of Infection

Children love to play in ball pits whether for fun or as part of a physical therapy. When I see them gleefully navigating those tubs of colorful spheres, it occurs to me they are engaging in a form of “dry swimming.” In place of water, they “swim” through a medium of lightweight plastic balls. Unlike swimming pool water, however, there is no standard method to treat ball pit balls to help prevent the spread of infectious illness. Based on recent research that identified a host of pathogens in pediatric therapy ball pits, I suggest the time to evaluate the need for such guidance is now.

Measles Outbreak of 2019: Symptoms, Transmission, and Vaccines

 Measles Returns In 2000, measles was declared eradicated from the U.S. Unfortunately, it is back. Measles outbreaks have been on the rise since 2008, and currently several states, including New York, Washington, Texas, Illinois, and California, are experiencing outbreaks. Measles is a highly contagious disease that can cause serious illness including death. According to