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Health Briefs

Tick Hunting

The Fairfax County Health Department launched a pilot Tick Surveillance program Wednesday, May 18 by collecting specimens of adult ticks and nymphs from targeted areas in the county and then separated them by species.

Data collected in the pilot program will contribute to the science of ticks and tick-borne disease, including assessing human risk and improving the county’s vector surveillance program. The most common human cases of tick-borne diseases in Virginia are Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever and ehrlichiosis.

Governor Appoints IT Task Force

Gov. Mark R. Warner recently appointment 33 individuals to a newly formed Task Force on Information Technology in Health Care. Warner has asked the task force to be responsible for developing and implementing a state health information system that would better use technology and electronic health record systems.

In addition to evaluating the use of electronic health record systems and other data collection systems, Warner said the task force will study how to ensure patient privacy and how to maintain the security of health information.

The following individuals have been appointed to the task force:

* Aneesh Chopra of Arlington, managing director of H-Works Business Development for the Advisory Board Company;

* Brian P. Foley of Alexandria, special assistant to the president for medical education campus enterprise, Northern Virginia Community College;

* Frederick J. Hannett of Arlington, founder and president Capitol Alliance, Inc.;

* State Sen. Janet D. Howell (D-32);

* J. Goodlett McDaniel, R.N. of Fairfax, director of distance learning, George Mason University College of Nursing & Health Sciences.

Raising Bat Awareness

The Virginia Department of Health and the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries want to remind residents that bats become more active and visible during the spring. Bats can carry potentially fatal diseases such as rabies.

Although most of the confirmed rabid animals in the United States are raccoons (2,635 in 2003), humans are more likely to be infected with bat rabies viruses. Since 1990, 29 of 45 human rabies infections have resulted from bat viruses, and only one human has been infected with a raccoon virus.

Bats normally fly at night eating various insects including mosquitoes and agricultural pests such as corn borer moths. During the day they roost quietly by hanging upside down.

Bats can enter homes through small openings and may end up roosting in attics. In hot months they may seek cooler temperatures and end up in living spaces. If a bat is found in a home and has had no human or pet contact, allow the bat to find its way back outdoors by closing off the room, turning on the lights and opening all windows and doors.

If bats are roosting in the house, find how they get in by observing their exit holes at dusk. Once holes have been identified, these areas should be loosely covered with plastic sheeting or bird netting which will allows bats to crawl out and leave but not re-enter.

The best time to do this is either between April and May or between August and September, as young bats are typically born in late May through June.

Avoid trapping young bats in the house during the summer months. During the summer, many of these young bats are unable to fly. They may become trapped inside and die or may make their way into living quarters. For professional help, call a company that has experience dealing with excluding bats from buildings.

If bitten by a bat or awaken to find a bat in the room, try to capture the bat so it can be tested for rabies. This approach is also recommended if a bat is in the room of an unattended child or someone else who is unable to report whether a bat had contact with them. Contact a local health department or an animal-control agency for advice.

To find out more about the benefits of bats and safe co-existence with bats, log onto http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/dvrd/rabies/bats_&_rabies/bats&.htm .

If a dead bat is found it should be double-bagged in plastic and placed in a cooler or refrigerated area. Under no circumstances should a bat be stored in the same cooler or refrigerator as food or pharmaceuticals. The specimen should be kept away from potential contact with people or other animals.

Inova Offers MRI Breast Biopsy

According to Inova Fairfax Hospital, more than 200,000 new cases of breast cancer will be diagnosed in 2005.

And, based on The American Cancer Society's information that early detection saves lives, Inova has begun using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to detect breast cancer earlier.

According to Inova, physicians now have enhanced imaging options for earlier detection of breast cancer in women who are at an increased risk and also provides a non-surgical method to biopsy these breast abnormalities.

Diagnostic breast MRI is a complementary technology to mammography and ultrasound, allowing visualization of smaller cancers that otherwise would have remained undetected.

Women with recently diagnosed breast cancer or with a history of breast cancer and women who are at increased risk for breast cancer are good candidates for breast MRI.

MRI guided breast biopsy allows physicians to evaluate suspicious breast tissue that cannot be seen by other imaging techniques.

Women interested in MRI guided breast biopsy should contact their physician to discuss whether the procedure is appropriate for them. For more information about MRI guided breast biopsy, call 703-698-4465.

Exclusive Showing of 'Madagascar'

Be among the first to see "Madagascar," at an exclusive showing on Saturday, June 4 at 9 a.m. at Centreville Multiplex Cinemas, 6201 Multiplex Drive. Proceeds from ticket sales will benefit the Craniofacial Program, International Adoption Center and Pediatric Rehabilitation at Inova Fairfax Hospital for Children.

Tickets are $20 each ($10 tax-deductible gift) and can be purchased by calling 703-776-6081 weekdays from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., or by e-mail cathy.williams@inova.com.

A light continental breakfast will be served and seating is on a first-come, first-served basis.

Inova Fairfax Hospital for Children serves as Northern Virginia's only tertiary care center providing the highest level of care for pediatric patients. The Craniofacial Program uses a multidisciplinary approach to provide a treatment plan for each child who has a craniofacial abnormality.

The International Adoption Center offers comprehensive medical evaluations, developmental screenings and assists families with pre- and post-adoption evaluations, including video reviews. A team of physicians specializing in pediatric rehabilitation medicine and physical, occupational and speech therapy evaluate and treat a variety of diagnoses, including developmental delays, torticollis, autism/pervasive developmental disorders, orthopedic and neuromuscular disorders and feeding disorders and swallowing dysfunction.

Oncology Unit Opens

Inova Fair Oaks Hospital opened a five-bed oncology unit in early May. The unit's centerpiece is a Family Resource Center where patients and families can learn more about cancer diagnosis, treatment, support groups, clinical trials, oncology physicians and other health information. The center is made possible through a $100,000 donation from the Inova Fair Oaks Hospital Auxiliary.

The new oncology unit is the latest in a full range of medical and surgical cancer services offered to both inpatients and outpatients at Inova Fair Oaks Hospital.

Free Summer Meals for Children

The Fairfax County department of community and recreation services is scheduled to sponsor a program to supply free meals to children through the summer.

During the school year the department sponsors programs that provide USDA well-balanced meals to children who qualify for free and reduced meals during the school year.

The summer program is run under the same premise, so that children will begin the school year healthy and ready to learn.

Sites may serve one or two meals a day (breakfast and/or lunch). Currently, there are 33 locations in Fairfax County that provide free meals.

Meal sites are located in either low-income areas or serve a group of children, most of whom are low-income. Last year, Fairfax County provided more than 36,090 meals to children during the summer.

The Summer Meals for Kids program begins on Monday, June 27 and ends on Friday, Sept. 2. Sites may begin and end their program on different dates.

Breakfast is served from 8:30 to 9:30 a.m., lunch is served from noon to 2 p.m. and no meals will be served on July 4.

For location information and eligibility information call the department of community and recreation services at 703-324-5282 or visit the Web site at www.fairfaxcounty.gov/rec.