Working Safely with Scissor Lifts

OSHA has released a new safety hazard alert related to working safely with scissor lifts:

Scissor lifts provide a safe and reliable platform for workers to perform job tasks when used according to the manufacturer’s instructions. When not used properly, scissor lifts can present a serious hazard to workers. Employers are responsible for keeping workers safe. This Hazard Alert highlights specific hazards present in workplaces where scissor lifts are used and controls employers must implement to prevent injuries or fatalities.”
The 4-page manual covers all potential hazards associated with working in a scissor lift.

Listeria Awareness/Blue Bell Ice Cream Recall

BLUE BELL ICE CREAM RECALL AND LISTERIA AWARENESS

Listeria
Texas-based Blue Bell Creameries issued a voluntary recall Monday night for all of its products on the market after two samples of chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream tested positive for listeria, a potentially deadly bacteria.The company “cannot say with certainty” how the bacteria was introduced to its facilities, Blue Bell’s chief executive Paul Kruse said in a statement. Blue Bell issued the recall that includes ice cream, frozen yogurt, sherbet and frozen snacks distributed in 23 states and international locations because other products “have the potential to be contaminated,” according to the statement.
“We’re committed to doing the 100 percent right thing, and the best way to do that is to take all of our products off the market until we can be confident that they are all safe,” Kruse said. The first recall in the family-owned creamery’s 108-year history was issued last month after the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention linked ice cream contaminated with listeria to three deaths at a Kansas hospital. Five others in Kansas and Texas were sickened with listeriosis, which can cause fever, muscle aches, gastrointestinal symptoms.

Ice-Cream

The illness was tracked to a production line in Brenham, Texas, and later to a second line in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma. The most recently contaminated samples were discovered through a testing program the company initiated after its first recall, according to the statement.

Monday’s recall extends to retail outlets in Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Wyoming and international locations. The manufacturing facility in Oklahoma where operations were suspended earlier this month for sanitizing will remain closed as Blue Bell continues to investigate the source of the bacteria, the statement said.

Blue Bell is implementing a process to test all of its products before releasing them to the market, with plans to resume limited distribution soon. The company said it is also expanding its cleaning and sanitization system, beefing up its employee training, expanding its swabbing system by 800 percent to include more surfaces and is sending daily samples to a microbiology laboratory for testing.

Listeria primarily affects pregnant women and their newborns, older adults and people with immune systems weakened by cancer, cancer treatments, or other serious conditions.

WHAT IS LISTERIA?
• Listeriosis is a life-threatening infection caused by eating food contaminated with the bacterium (germ) Listeria monocytogenes. People at high risk for listeriosis include pregnant women, adults 65 and older, and people with weakened immune systems.
What are the Symptoms of Listeriosis?
A person with listeriosis usually has fever and muscle aches, sometimes preceded by diarrhea or other gastrointestinal symptoms. Almost everyone who is diagnosed with listeriosis has “invasive” infection, in which the bacteria spread beyond the gastrointestinal tract. The symptoms vary with the infected person:

•Pregnant women: Pregnant women typically experience fever and other non-specific symptoms, such as fatigue and aches. However, infections during pregnancy can lead to miscarriage, stillbirth, premature delivery, or life-threatening infection of the newborn .
•People other than pregnant women: Symptoms can include headache, stiff neck, confusion, loss of balance, and convulsions in addition to fever and muscle aches.
Listeriosis can present in different ways. In older adults and people with immunocompromising conditions, septicemia and meningitis are the most common clinical presentations . Pregnant women may experience a fever and other non-specific symptoms, such as fatigue and aches, followed by fetal loss or bacteremia and meningitis in their newborns . Immunocompetent people may experience acute febrile gastroenteritis or no symptoms.

Cycle

How does someone get listeriosis?
People get listeriosis by eating food contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes 1. Babies can be born with listeriosis if their mothers eat contaminated food during pregnancy. However, healthy people may consume contaminated foods without becoming ill. People at risk can prevent listeriosis by avoiding certain higher-risk foods and by handling and storing food properly.
Reservoir
Listeria monocytogenes is commonly found in soil and water. Animals can carry the bacterium without appearing ill and can contaminate foods of animal origin, such as meats and dairy products.
Transmission

VitalSigns
Most human infections follow consumption of contaminated food. Rare cases of hospital-acquired transmission have been reported in newborns.
When Listeria bacteria get into a food processing factory, they can live there for years, sometimes contaminating food products 4. The bacterium has been found in a variety of foods, such as:
• Uncooked meats and vegetables
• Unpasteurized (raw) milk and cheeses as well as other foods made from unpasteurized milk
• Cooked or processed foods, including certain soft cheeses, processed (or ready-to-eat) meats, and smoked seafood
Listeria are killed by cooking and pasteurization. However, in some ready-to-eat meats, such as hot dogs and deli meats, contamination may occur after factory cooking but before packaging or even at the deli counter. Also, be aware that Mexican-style cheeses (such as queso fresco) made from pasteurized milk and likely contaminated during cheese-making have caused Listeria infections.
Unlike most bacteria, Listeria can grow and multiply in some foods in the refrigerator.
General recommendations to prevent an infection with Listeria:
FDA recommendations for washing and handling food.
• Rinse raw produce, such as fruits and vegetables, thoroughly under running tap water before eating, cutting, or cooking. Even if the produce will be peeled, it should still be washed first.
• Scrub firm produce, such as melons and cucumbers, with a clean produce brush.
• Dry the produce with a clean cloth or paper towel.
• Separate uncooked meats and poultry from vegetables, cooked foods, and ready-to-eat foods.
Keep your kitchen and environment cleaner and safer.
• Wash hands, knives, countertops, and cutting boards after handling and preparing uncooked foods.
• Be aware that Listeria monocytogenes can grow in foods in the refrigerator. Use an appliance thermometer, such as a refrigerator thermometer, to check the temperature inside your refrigerator. The refrigerator should be 40°F or lower and the freezer 0°F or lower.
• Clean up all spills in your refrigerator right away–especially juices from hot dog and lunch meat packages, raw meat, and raw poultry.
• Clean the inside walls and shelves of your refrigerator with hot water and liquid soap, then rinse.
Cook meat and poultry thoroughly.
• Thoroughly cook raw food from animal sources, such as beef, pork, or poultry to a safe internal temperature. For a list of recommended temperatures for meat and poultry, visit the safe minimum cooking temperatures chart at FoodSafety.gov.
Store foods safely.
• Use precooked or ready-to-eat food as soon as you can. Do not store the product in the refrigerator beyond the use-by date; follow USDA refrigerator storage time guidelines:
o Hot Dogs – store opened package no longer than 1 week and unopened package no longer than 2 weeks in the refrigerator.
o Luncheon and Deli Meat – store factory-sealed, unopened package no longer than 2 weeks. Store opened packages and meat sliced at a local deli no longer than 3 to 5 days in the refrigerator.
• Divide leftovers into shallow containers to promote rapid, even cooling. Cover with airtight lids or enclose in plastic wrap or aluminum foil. Use leftovers within 3 to 4 days.

Safety Alerts are a publication of the information from various sources to share with the community. The information contained in this newsletter has been obtained from sources believed to be reliable, and the editors have exercised reasonable care to assure its accuracy. However, Ken does not guarantee that the contents of this publication are correct. We welcome topics of interest from our readers. Material may be rewritten to conform to newsletter space. Material should be addressed to the Ken Oswald, DK Services, 54 Saddle Clovis NM 88101

Information from CDC, USDA, FDA, NM Dept of Health, CNN and MSN news

Today’s post comes to us courtesy of Ken Oswald , CHSO, STS , EHS Supervisor , DFA-Portales NM
Email: koswald@dfamilk.com


Leading Edge not Only Danger in Fall Protection

Skylight

When we think about working at heights and devise a fall protection program we most commonly think about the leading edge. Unfortunately, that isn’t the only fall protection issue to worry about.

Skylights and roof openings are fall protection hazards that are often overlooked. Here area a few pointers from NIOSH on skylights and roof openings:

  1. Be aware of all skylights and roof openings in your work area.
  2. Do not sire or step on skylights – they may not support your weight.
  3. Read any safety decals affixed to the skylights.
  4. Use fall protection for any work that might result in falls.
  5. Make sure that all skylights and roof openings are appropriately guarded before work begins.
  6. Use nets, catch platforms, or fixed covers if guardrails, screens, protective grillwork, and safety belts are not practical.

For more information on skylights and roof openings fall issues, check out the NIOSH “Preventing Worker Deaths and Injuries from Falls Through Skylights and Roof Openings


Personal Security and Safety Alert- Tax Scams

*** Personal Security and Safety Alert***

With the new tax season now starting one of the biggest scam season has begun. Tax scams. Below is a list from the IRS of the top 12 tax scams you may face.

IRS Dirty Dozen Tax Scams
WASHINGTON –– The Internal Revenue Service today issued its annual “Dirty Dozen” ranking of tax scams, reminding taxpayers to use caution during tax season to protect themselves against a wide range of schemes ranging from identity theft to return preparer fraud. The Dirty Dozen listing, compiled by the IRS each year, lists a variety of common scams taxpayers can encounter at any point during the year. But many of these schemes peak during filing season as people prepare their tax returns.“Taxpayers should be careful and avoid falling into a trap with the Dirty Dozen,” said IRS Commissioner Doug Shulman. “Scam artists will tempt people in-person, on-line and by e-mail with misleading promises about lost refunds and free money. Don’t be fooled by these scams. “Illegal scams can lead to significant penalties and interest and possible criminal prosecution. The IRS Criminal Investigation Division works closely with the Department of Justice to shutdown scams and prosecutes the criminals behind them.

The following is the Dirty Dozen tax scams:

Identity Theft

Topping this year’s list Dirty Dozen list is identity theft. In response to growing identity theft concerns, the IRS has embarked on a comprehensive strategy that is focused on preventing, detecting and resolving identity theft cases as soon as possible. In addition to the law-enforcement crackdown, the IRS has stepped up its internal reviews to spot false tax returns before tax refunds are issued as well as working to help victims of the identity theft refund schemes.

Identity theft cases are among the most complex ones the IRS handles, but the agency is committed to working with taxpayers who have become victims of identity theft.

The IRS is increasingly seeing identity thieves looking for ways to use a legitimate taxpayer’s identity and personal information to file a tax return and claim a fraudulent refund.

An IRS notice informing a taxpayer that more than one return was filed in the taxpayer’s name or that the taxpayer received wages from an unknown employer may be the first tip off the individual receives that he or she has been victimized.

The IRS has a robust screening process with measures in place to stop fraudulent returns. While the IRS is continuing to address tax-related identity theft aggressively, the agency is also seeing an increase in identity crimes, including more complex schemes. In 2011, the IRS protected more than $1.4 billion of taxpayer funds from getting into the wrong hands due to identity theft.

In January, the IRS announced the results of a massive, national sweep cracking down on suspected identity theft perpetrators as part of a stepped-up effort against refund fraud and identity theft. Working with the Justice Department’s Tax Division and local U.S. Attorneys’ offices, the nationwide effort targeted 105 people in 23 states.

Anyone who believes his or her personal information has been stolen and used for tax purposes should immediately contact the IRS Identity Protection Specialized Unit. For more information, visit the special identity theft page at www.IRS.gov/identitytheft.

Phishing

Phishing is a scam typically carried out with the help of unsolicited email or a fake website that poses as a legitimate site to lure in potential victims and prompt them to provide valuable personal and financial information. Armed with this information, a criminal can commit identity theft or financial theft.

If you receive an unsolicited email that appears to be from either the IRS or an organization closely linked to the IRS, such as the Electronic Federal Tax Payment System (EFTPS), report it by sending it to phishing.

It is important to keep in mind the IRS does not initiate contact with taxpayers by email to request personal or financial information. This includes any type of electronic communication, such as text messages and social media channels. The IRS has information that can help you protect yourself from email scams.

Return Preparer Fraud

About 60 percent of taxpayers will use tax professionals this year to prepare and file their tax returns. Most return preparers provide honest service to their clients. But as in any other business, there are also some who prey on unsuspecting taxpayers.

Questionable return preparers have been known to skim off their clients’ refunds, charge inflated fees for return preparation services and attract new clients by promising guaranteed or inflated refunds. Taxpayers should choose carefully when hiring a tax preparer. Federal courts have issued hundreds of injunctions ordering individuals to cease preparing returns, and the Department of Justice has pending complaints against many others.

In 2012, every paid preparer needs to have a Preparer Tax Identification Number (PTIN) and enter it on the returns he or she prepares.

Signals to watch for when you are dealing with an unscrupulous return preparer would include that they:

  • Do not sign the return or place a Preparer Tax identification Number on it.
  • Do not give you a copy of your tax return.
  • Promise larger than normal tax refunds.
  • Charge a percentage of the refund amount as preparation fee.
  • Require you to split the refund to pay the preparation fee.
  • Add forms to the return you have never filed before.
  • Encourage you to place false information on your return, such as false income, expenses and/or credits.

Hiding Income Offshore

Over the years, numerous individuals have been identified as evading U.S. taxes by hiding income in offshore banks, brokerage accounts or nominee entities, using debit cards, credit cards or wire transfers to access the funds. Others have employed foreign trusts, employee-leasing schemes, private annuities or insurance plans for the same purpose.

The IRS uses information gained from its investigations to pursue taxpayers with undeclared accounts, as well as the banks and bankers suspected of helping clients hide their assets overseas. The IRS works closely with the Department of Justice to prosecute tax evasion cases.

While there are legitimate reasons for maintaining financial accounts abroad, there are reporting requirements that need to be fulfilled. U.S. taxpayers who maintain such accounts and who do not comply with reporting and disclosure requirements are breaking the law and risk significant penalties and fines, as well as the possibility of criminal prosecution.

Since 2009, 30,000 individuals have come forward voluntarily to disclose their foreign financial accounts, taking advantage of special opportunities to bring their money back into the U.S. tax system and resolve their tax obligations. And, with new foreign account reporting requirements being phased in over the next few years, hiding income offshore will become increasingly more difficult.

At the beginning of this year, the IRS reopened the Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Program (OVDP) following continued strong interest from taxpayers and tax practitioners after the closure of the 2011 and 2009 programs. The IRS continues working on a wide range of international tax issues and follows ongoing efforts with the Justice Department to pursue criminal prosecution of international tax evasion. This program will be open for an indefinite period until otherwise announced.

The IRS has collected $3.4 billion so far from people who participated in the 2009 offshore program, reflecting closures of about 95 percent of the cases from the 2009 program. On top of that, the IRS has collected an additional $1 billion from upfront payments required under the 2011 program. That number will grow as the IRS processes the 2011 cases.

“Free Money” from the IRS & Tax Scams Involving Social Security

Flyers and advertisements for free money from the IRS, suggesting that the taxpayer can file a tax return with little or no documentation, have been appearing in community churches around the country. These schemes are also often spread by word of mouth as unsuspecting and well-intentioned people tell their friends and relatives.

Scammers prey on low income individuals and the elderly. They build false hopes and charge people good money for bad advice. In the end, the victims discover their claims are rejected. Meanwhile, the promoters are long gone. The IRS warns all taxpayers to remain vigilant.

There are a number of tax scams involving Social Security. For example, scammers have been known to lure the unsuspecting with promises of non-existent Social Security refunds or rebates. In another situation, a taxpayer may really be due a credit or refund but uses inflated information to complete the return.

Beware. Intentional mistakes of this kind can result in a $5,000 penalty.

False/Inflated Income and Expenses

Including income that was never earned, either as wages or as self-employment income in order to maximize refundable credits, is another popular scam. Claiming income you did not earn or expenses you did not pay in order to secure larger refundable credits such as the Earned Income Tax Credit could have serious repercussions. This could result in repaying the erroneous refunds, including interest and penalties, and in some cases, even prosecution.

Additionally, some taxpayers are filing excessive claims for the fuel tax credit. Farmers and other taxpayers who use fuel for off-highway business purposes may be eligible for the fuel tax credit. But other individuals have claimed the tax credit when their occupations or income levels make the claims unreasonable. Fraud involving the fuel tax credit is considered a frivolous tax claim and can result in a penalty of $5,000.

False Form 1099 Refund Claims

In this ongoing scam, the perpetrator files a fake information return, such as a Form 1099 Original Issue Discount (OID), to justify a false refund claim on a corresponding tax return. In some cases, individuals have made refund claims based on the bogus theory that the federal government maintains secret accounts for U.S. citizens and that taxpayers can gain access to the accounts by issuing 1099-OID forms to the IRS.

Don’t fall prey to people who encourage you to claim deductions or credits to which you are not entitled or willingly allow others to use your information to file false returns. If you are a party to such schemes, you could be liable for financial penalties or even face criminal prosecution.

Frivolous Arguments

Promoters of frivolous schemes encourage taxpayers to make unreasonable and outlandish claims to avoid paying the taxes they owe. The IRS has a list of frivolous tax arguments that taxpayers should avoid. These arguments are false and have been thrown out of court. While taxpayers have the right to contest their tax liabilities in court, no one has the right to disobey the law.

Falsely Claiming Zero Wages

Filing a phony information return is an illegal way to lower the amount of taxes an individual owes. Typically, a Form 4852 (Substitute Form W-2) or a “corrected” Form 1099 is used as a way to improperly reduce taxable income to zero. The taxpayer may also submit a statement rebutting wages and taxes reported by a payer to the IRS.

Sometimes, fraudsters even include an explanation on their Form 4852 that cites statutory language on the definition of wages or may include some reference to a paying company that refuses to issue a corrected Form W-2 for fear of IRS retaliation. Taxpayers should resist any temptation to participate in any variations of this scheme. Filing this type of return may result in a $5,000 penalty.

Abuse of Charitable Organizations and Deductions

IRS examiners continue to uncover the intentional abuse of 501(c)(3) organizations, including arrangements that improperly shield income or assets from taxation and attempts by donors to maintain control over donated assets or the income from donated property. The IRS is investigating schemes that involve the donation of non-cash assets –– including situations in which several organizations claim the full value of the same non-cash contribution. Often these donations are highly overvalued or the organization receiving the donation promises that the donor can repurchase the items later at a price set by the donor. The Pension Protection Act of 2006 imposed increased penalties for inaccurate appraisals and set new standards for qualified appraisals.

Disguised Corporate Ownership

Third parties are improperly used to request employer identification numbers and form corporations that obscure the true ownership of the business.

These entities can be used to underreport income, claim fictitious deductions, avoid filing tax returns, participate in listed transactions and facilitate money laundering, and financial crimes. The IRS is working with state authorities to identify these entities and bring the owners into compliance with the law.

Misuse of Trusts

For years, unscrupulous promoters have urged taxpayers to transfer assets into trusts. While there are legitimate uses of trusts in tax and estate planning, some highly questionable transactions promise reduction of income subject to tax, deductions for personal expenses and reduced estate or gift taxes. Such trusts rarely deliver the tax benefits promised and are used primarily as a means of avoiding income tax liability and hiding assets from creditors, including the IRS.

IRS personnel have seen an increase in the improper use of private annuity trusts and foreign trusts to shift income and deduct personal expenses. As with other arrangements, taxpayers should seek the advice of a trusted professional before entering a trust arrangement.

Information from www.IRS.gov

Today’s post comes to us courtesy of Ken Oswald, Safety and Security Manager for Plateau

koswald


Health and Safety Alert- Pertussis (Whooping Cough)

*** Health and Safety Alert Bulletin ***

Pertussis (Whooping Cough)

A number of states, including New Mexico, Oregon and Washington are reporting an alarming number of whooping cough cases. In the case of Washington there are a reported 1,100 reported cases which is ten times the number of cases from a year ago. Health officials are urging adults and teens, especially those who come in contact with small children, to get vaccinated. Whooping cough is highly contagious and can be fatal to infants.

Here’s what you need to know about whooping cough.

Real name: Pertussis
Also Known as (AKA): Whoopie Doopies
Known aliases: Bordetella pertussis (the bacteria that causes pertussis illness); whooping cough (for the “whoop” sound of someone gasping for air after a coughing spell)
Microbe type: bacterium

· Profile

· Pertussis leaves its victims literally gasping for air. At first, this tricky pretender might seem like a common coldrunny nose, fever, and cough. Thats stage 1, when pertussis is just warming up. After a week or two, pertussis infection delivers its cruel surprisesthick, gluey mucous and extreme coughing spells. In these fits people can literally cough so hard and long that they throw up or turn blue because they cant breathe. Victims of pertussis make a gasping “whoop” sound when they suck in air after a coughing fit. Pertussis infection is no jokeabout 40% of infants who get it wind up in the hospital! Weeks after Stage 2, as the body finally fends off pertussis, the victims cough tapers down.

· Powers & Abilities

· Pertussis is highly contagious (easy to catch). Want proof? A person with pertussis will infect almost everyone in their household if those people arent vaccinated.

· Preferred Method of Attack

· Pertussis is primarily an “air attacker,” flying through the air looking for its next victim, when an infected person coughs or sneezes. The bacterium may also infect people who touch places where wetness from those coughs and sneezes lands, and then touch their noses our mouths.

· Known Weaknesses

· Pertussis fears four letters — D, T, a and P — and 2 vaccines, “DTaP” and “Tdap”. Kids get “DTaP” while teenagers and grownups get a “boost” with “Tdap.” The vaccine ammo contains diphtheria (the D), tetanus (the T), and acellular pertussis (aP). The term “acellular” (pronounced A-SELL-you-lur) means that the vaccine uses pieces of pertussis bacteria (not the whole bacterium cell). By using just pieces, the vaccine can “teach” the body to protect itself, with the fewest side effects.

· Since the days before the vaccine, pertussis cases are down more than 80%.

· Pertussis may be tough, but some simple basics can help to keep it in checklike washing hands with soap, covering up coughs and sneezes, and not sharing cups and silverware.

· Preferred Victims

· Pertussis is a bully, slamming young children and babies the hardest. Very young kids are just not as able to cough up the gluey mucous as older people are. Also, other bacterial infectors just love to join pertussis party, moving into a sick persons mucousy, pertussis-infected lungs and throat to cause their own infections. These are called “secondary infections.” Pertussis mostly pulls off its complications among young children, toosuch as pneumonia, seizures, and encephalopathy (disease of the brain).

· Precautions for the Public

· Stay vigilant. We may think weve gotten the upper hand against pertussis. But, the disease is always scheming to get back on top. Since the 1980s, doctors have been reporting increasing numbers of pertussis cases. At the moment, there are still far fewer cases than there were before the vaccine. Still, the number of people infected seems to peak every three or four years, showing that pertussis is still out there figuring out its next move.

· Area of Operations

· Pertussis operates worldwide. It is especially busy and deadly in developing areas of the world, where fewer people are vaccinated and medical care is less accessible. Pertussis infects millions of people each year, and claims hundreds of thousands of lives.

· Criminal Record

· Doctors have been dealing with pertussis for at least 500 years. Finally, in 1906, scientists were able to identify and see Bordetella pertussis bacteria through a microscopea first step in learning how to stop its evil tricks. From 1940-45, before the vaccine was widely used, 175,000 people in the U.S. were infected each year. In the 1940s, vaccinating against pertussis became routine and the tables turned for the better. Now, 1,000 to 25,000 people are infected each year, and very few die.

Causes & Transmission

Causes

Pertussis, a respiratory illness commonly known as whooping cough, is a very contagious disease caused by a type of bacteria called Bordetella pertussis. These bacteria attach to the cilia (tiny, hair-like extensions) that line part of the upper respiratory system. The bacteria release toxins, which damage the cilia and cause inflammation (swelling).

Transmission

Pertussis is a very contagious disease only found in humans and is spread from person to person. People with pertussis usually spread the disease by coughing or sneezing while in close contact with others, who then breathe in the pertussis bacteria. Many infants who get pertussis are infected by older siblings, parents or caregivers who might not even know they have the disease. Symptoms of pertussis usually develop within 7 10 days after being exposed, but sometimes not for as long as 6 weeks.

Pertussis vaccines are very effective in protecting you from disease but no vaccine is 100% effective. If pertussis is circulating in the community, there is a chance that a fully vaccinated person, of any age, can catch this very contagious disease. If you have been vaccinated, the infection is usually less severe. If you or your child develops a cold that includes a severe cough or a cough that lasts for a long time, it may be pertussis. The best way to know is to contact your doctor.

Signs & Symptoms

Pertussis (whooping cough) can cause serious illness in infants, children and adults. The disease usually starts with cold-like symptoms and maybe a mild cough or fever. After 1 to 2 weeks, severe coughing can begin. Unlike the common cold, pertussis can become a series of coughing fits that continues for weeks.

In infants, the cough can be minimal or not even there. Infants may have a symptom known as “apnea.” Apnea is a pause in the childs breathing pattern. Pertussis is most dangerous for babies. More than half of infants younger than 1 year of age who get the disease must be hospitalized.

Pertussis can cause violent and rapid coughing, over and over, until the air is gone from the lungs and you are forced to inhale with a loud “whooping” sound. This extreme coughing can cause you to throw up and be very tired. The “whoop” is often not there and the infection is generally milder (less severe) in teens and adults, especially those who have been vaccinated.

Early symptoms can last for 1 to 2 weeks and usually include:

· Runny nose

· Low-grade fever (generally minimal throughout the course of the disease)

· Mild, occasional cough

· Apnea a pause in breathing (in infants)

Because pertussis in its early stages appears to be nothing more than the common cold, it is often not suspected or diagnosed until the more severe symptoms appear. Infected people are most contagious during this time, up to about 2 weeks after the cough begins. Antibiotics may shorten the amount of time someone is contagious.

As the disease progresses, the traditional symptoms of pertussis appear and include:

· Paroxysms (fits) of many, rapid coughs followed by a high-pitched “whoop”

· Vomiting (throwing up)

· Exhaustion (very tired) after coughing fits

The coughing fits can go on for up to 10 weeks or more. In China, pertussis is known as the “100 day cough.”

Although you are often exhausted after a coughing fit, you usually appear fairly well in-between. Coughing fits generally become more common and severe as the illness continues, and can occur more often at night. The illness can be milder (less severe) and the typical “whoop” absent in children, teens, and adults who have been vaccinated.

Recovery from pertussis can happen slowly. The cough becomes less severe and less common. However, coughing fits can return with other respiratory infections for many months after pertussis started.

Diagnosis & Treatment

Diagnosis

Pertussis (whooping cough) can be diagnosed by taking into consideration if you have been exposed to pertussis and by doing a:

· History of typical signs & symptoms

· Physical examination

· Laboratory test which involves taking a sample of secretions (with a swab or syringe filled with saline) from the back of the throat through the nose see Figure 1

· Blood test

Treatment

Pertussis is generally treated with antibiotics and early treatment is very important. Treatment may make your infection less severe if it is started early, before coughing fits begin. Treatment can also help prevent spreading the disease to close contacts (people who have spent a lot of time around the infected person) and is necessary for stopping the spread of pertussis. Treatment after three weeks of illness is unlikely to help because the bacteria are gone from your body, even though you usually will still have symptoms. This is because the bacteria have already done damage to your body.

There are several antibiotics available to treat pertussis. If you or your child is diagnosed with pertussis, your doctor will explain how to treat the infection.

· Isolate the person (separate bedroom) until he or she has received five days of antibiotics. During this time, everyone who comes into contact with the sick person should wear a surgical mask to cover their face.

· Practice good hand washing. Whooping cough bacteria can be transmitted through contact with contaminated inanimate objects such as dishes.

· Drink plenty of fluids, including water, juices, soups, and eat fruits to prevent dehydration.

· Eat small, frequent meals to decrease the amount of vomiting.

· Do not give cough medications unless otherwise instructed by your doctor.

· Use a cool-mist vaporizer to help loosen secretions and soothe the cough.

· Keep the home environment free from irritants that can trigger coughing, such as smoke, aerosols, and fumes.

· Monitor a sick child for signs of dehydration, such as dry lips and tongue, dry skin, decrease in the amount of urine or wet diapers, and crying without producing tears. Report any signs of dehydration to your doctor immediately

Prevention

Vaccines

The best way to prevent pertussis (whooping cough) among infants, children, teens, and adults is to get vaccinated. Also, keep infants and other people at high risk for pertussis complications away from infected people.

In the United States, the recommended pertussis vaccine for infants and children is called DTaP. This is a combination vaccine that protects against three diseases: diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis. For maximum protection against pertussis, children need five DTaP shots. The first three shots are given at 2, 4, and 6 months of age. The fourth shot is given between 15 and 18 months of age, and a fifth shot is given before a child enters school, at 46 years of age. Parents can also help protect infants by keeping them away as much as possible from anyone who has cold symptoms or is coughing.

Vaccine protection for pertussis, tetanus and diphtheria fades with time. Before 2005, the only booster available contained protection against tetanus and diphtheria (called Td), and was recommended for teens and adults every 10 years. Today there are boosters for pre-teens, teens and adults that contain protection against tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis (Tdap). Pre-teens going to the doctor for their regular check-up at age 11 or 12 years should get a dose of Tdap. Teens who did not get this vaccine at the 11- or 12-year-old check-up should get vaccinated at their next visit. Adults who did not get Tdap as a pre-teen or teen should get one dose of Tdap instead of the Td booster. Most pregnant women who were not previously vaccinated with Tdap should get one dose of Tdap postpartum before leaving the hospital or birthing center. Getting vaccinated with Tdap is especially important for families with and caregivers of new infants.

The easiest thing for adults to do is to get Tdap instead of their next regular tetanus boosterthat Td shot that they were supposed to get every 10 years. The dose of Tdap can be given earlier than the 10-year mark, so it is a good idea for adults to talk to a healthcare provider about what is best for their specific situation.

Vaccine protection for pertussis, tetanus, and diphtheria fades with time, so adults need a booster shot. Experts recommend adults receive a tetanus and diphtheria booster (called Td) every 10 years and substitute a Tdap vaccine for one of the boosters. The dose of Tdap can be given earlier than the 10-year mark. Getting vaccinated with Tdap is especially important for adults who are around infants.

Remember that even fully-vaccinated adults can get pertussis. If you are caring for infants, check with your healthcare provider about whats best for your situation.

Infection

If your doctor confirms that you have pertussis, your body will have a natural defense (immunity) to future infections. Since this immunity fades and does not offer lifelong protection, routine vaccines are recommended.

Antibiotics

Your local health department may recommend preventive antibiotics (medications that help prevent diseases caused by bacteria) to close contacts, including all household members of a pertussis patient, regardless of age and vaccination status. This might prevent or reduce the chance of getting pertussis. A close contact is anyone who had face-to-face contact or shared a small space for a long period of time with an infected person or had direct contact with respiratory secretions (like from coughing or sneezing) from a person with pertussis.

Fast Facts

· In 2009, nearly 17,000 cases of pertussis (whooping cough) were reported in the U.S., but many more go undiagnosed and unreported.

· Coughing fits due to pertussis infection can last for up to 10 weeks or more; sometimes known as the 100 day cough.

· Pertussis can cause serious illness in infants, children and adults and can even be life-threatening, especially in infants.

· The most effective way to prevent pertussis is through vaccination with DTaP for infants and children and with Tdap for pre-teens, teens and adults protection from the childhood vaccine fades over time.

· Vaccinated children and adults can become infected with and transmit pertussis; however, disease is less likely to be severe.

· Worldwide, there are 30-50 million cases of pertussis and about 300,000 deaths per year.

· Since the 1980s, there has been an increase in the number of reported cases of pertussis in the U.S., especially among 10-19 year olds and infants younger than 6 months of age.

· Pertussis is also known as “whooping cough” because of the “whooping” sound that is made when gasping for air after a fit of coughing.

· More than half of infants less than 1 year of age who get pertussis must be hospitalized.

· Vaccination of pre-teens, teens and adults with Tdap is especially important for families with new infants.

· Pertussis is generally treated with antibiotics, which are used to control the symptoms and to prevent infected people from spreading the disease.

Questions and Answers

Q: How common is whooping cough?

A: Even with the success of whooping cough vaccines, the disease is still common in the United States. Many cases are not diagnosed and so are not reported. Yet over the past 5 years, between 8,000 and 25,000 cases have been reported each year. Institutional outbreaks of whooping cough, such as those in a daycare center, school or hospital, are common, taking place each year in many states.

Q: Why is there more whooping cough in some years than others?

A: Reported cases of whooping cough vary from year to year and tend to peak every 3-5 years. Our last peak year nationally was in 2005 when more than 25,000 cases were reported. This pattern is not completely understood, but thats why its important that everyone get vaccinated. If it werent for vaccines, wed see many more cases of whooping cough. It is too early to know if 2010 will be a peak year nationally.

Q: What should I do if I live in an outbreak area?

A: You can make sure you and your loved ones are up to date with recommended whooping cough vaccines. There are two types of whooping cough vaccines DTaP for infants and children and Tdap for adolescents and adults. Getting vaccinated with Tdap is especially important for family members with and caregivers of new infants. Also, if caring for an infant, keep him or her away from anyone with cough or cold symptoms.

Vaccination recommendations:

· Infants and children are recommended to receive 5 doses of the DTaP vaccine at 2, 4, and 6 months, at 15 through 18 months, and at 4 through 6 years. All 5 doses are needed for maximum protection

· Adolescents are recommended to receive the Tdap vaccine at their regular check-up at age 11 or 12. If teenagers (13 through 18 years) missed getting the Tdap vaccine, parents should ask the doctor about getting it for them now

· Adults who are 19 through 64 years old are recommended to get a 1-time dose of Tdap in place of the Td booster theyre recommended to receive every 10 years. No need to wait until you are due for your Td boosterthe dose of Tdap can be given earlier than the 10-year mark since the last Td booster. It’s a good idea for adults to talk to a healthcare provider about what’s best for their specific situation.

· Pregnant women should ideally receive Tdap before pregnancy. Otherwise, it is recommended that Tdap be given after delivery, before leaving the hospital or birthing center. If a pregnant woman is at increased risk for getting whooping cough, such as during a community outbreak, her doctor may consider giving Tdap during pregnancy. Although pregnancy is not a contraindication for receiving Tdap, a pregnant woman and her doctor should discuss the risks and benefits before choosing to receive Tdap during pregnancy.

· People 65 years and older do not currently have a whooping cough booster vaccine licensed for their age group. However, people in this age group can talk to their healthcare provider to see if getting Tdap is a good decision for them. This discussion can include weighing the risks and benefits of receiving Tdap. Receiving Tdap may be especially important during a community outbreak and/or if caring for an infant.

Q: Should I delay travel to an area that is having a whooping cough outbreak

A: No, but those traveling to an area with a whooping cough outbreak should make sure they are up to date on their vaccines. People who are not vaccinated or who are under-vaccinated, including infants too young to be vaccinated, are putting themselves at risk for catching whooping cough.

Today’s post comes to us courtesy of Ken Oswald

Safety and Security Manager for Plateau

keno


Nationwide Emergency Alert System Test on Nov. 9th

The FCC has announced that they will be conducting the first nationwide test of the Emergency Alert System (EAS), which is scheduled to take place on November 9th, 2011 at 2:00 PM Eastern Standard Time.

From the FCC consumer facts sheet:

What exactly is the EAS?

The Emergency Alert System is a media communications-based alerting system that is designed to transmit emergency alerts and warnings to the American public at the national, Tribal, state and local levels. EAS participants broadcast alerts and warnings regarding weather threats, child abductions and other types of emergencies. EAS alerts are transmitted over television and radio broadcast, satellite television and satellite radio, cable television and wireline video services.

When is the EAS used and when would a national EAS alert be sent?

The EAS is often used by state and local emergency managers to alert the public about emergencies and weather events. The system provides the ability to send messages regionally or nationally, though it has never been tested at these levels. A major disaster such as an earthquake or tsunami could require the use of the system to send life-saving information to the public.

Why do we need a nationwide test?

Although local and state components of the EAS are tested on a weekly and monthly basis, there has never been an end-to-end nationwide test of the system. We need to know that the system will work as intended should public safety officials ever need to send an alert or warning to a large region of the United States. Only a complete, top-down test of the EAS can provide an appropriate diagnosis of the system’s performance.

How will the national EAS test be conducted?

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), along with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), will conduct the nationwide test on November 9, 2011 at 2:00 p.m. eastern standard time. The alert will be transmitted throughout the country and will be monitored by the EAS participants. After the test has been completed, the EAS participants will report back to the FCC on the results of the test.

What will people see and hear during the test?

Although the nationwide EAS test may resemble the periodic monthly EAS tests that most consumers are familiar with, there will be some differences in what consumers may see or hear, which is one reason for conducting a nationwide EAS test. During the test, the public will hear a message indicating “this is a test”. The audio message will be the same for everyone, however due to limitations of the EAS, the video test message may not be the same and may not indicate “this is a test”. This is due to the use of a “live” national code – the same code that would be used in an actual emergency. Also, the background image that appears on video screens may indicate “this is a test” but in some cases there may be no image at all. FEMA and the FCC plan to reach out to organizations representing people with hearing disabilities to prepare that community for the national test. In addition, FEMA and the FCC will work with EAS participants to explore whether there are solutions to address this limitation.

How long will the test last?

We anticipate that the test will last approximately 3 minutes.

Why is the national test being conducted at this particular date and time?

In order to minimize disruption and confusion during the EAS test, it is being conducted on November 9 because this date is near the end of hurricane season and before the severe winter weather season begins. The 2 p.m. EST broadcast will minimize disruption during rush hours while ensuring that the test occurs during working hours across the country.

Will the test involve mobile communications devices?

No. The test will involve only those communications service providers – broadcast radio and television, cable television, satellite radio and television and wireline video services – that participate in the EAS.