Ebola Update: Officials Watching Outbreak Closely

Ebola Virus - What you need to know | HealthTap

The current Ebola outbreak has not spread beyond West Africa, according to public health officials  who are nevertheless watching it closely, and with great concern. So far, the outbreak has killed more than 670 people since February.

According to the CDC, people who may have been in contact with the virus are generally monitored for fever for 21 days and only about 50 percent of patients show extreme symptoms that can include bleeding from the eyes, ears and nose. Others have only a fever as an early symptom.

Early treatment may lead to higher survival rates with treatment focusing on replenishing fluids, maintaining proper blood pressure, replacing lost blood, and treating related infections. Treatment is limited to supportive therapy.

According to Bloomberg news, historically, Ebola virus disease in Africa has killed as many as 90 percent of people who are infected. In this outbreak, the fatality rate is closer to 60 percent, according to Stephen Monroe, deputy director at the CDC’s National Center for Emerging & Zoonotic Infectious Diseases.

Concern for International Travelers  

Quoting CDC experts, Bloomberg News reports that symptoms appear from two days to three weeks after infection, meaning it’s possible for an infected person who doesn’t feel ill to board a plane, but unlikely because most people currently infected are too ill to sit up or walk.

But while an infected person who sneezes or coughs directly in another person’s face could infect that person, Ebola primarily enters the body through tiny cuts or abrasions, or through mucus membranes of the eyes, nose, ears and mouth, making it less likely to spread through air travel, said Ben Neuman, a virologist at the University of Reading.

The CDC is issuing an alert to U.S. doctors and health-care providers that will focus of the importance of asking patients about their travel history and outlining the symptoms of Ebola virus disease.

Experimental treatments have been tested and proven effective in animal models but haven not yet been used in humans.

Key Points to Know:

  • Ebola is  Ebola hemorrhagic fever because bleeding is the hallmark of serious disease
  • Symptoms are similar to many viral illnesses, with fever, muscle pains, and nausea and vomiting. It turns deadly with development of bleeding.
  • The time from exposure to onset of symptoms can be as long as 21 days.
  • Unlike influenza or measles, ebola is difficult to transmit, requiring close contact or sharing of bodily fluids (including sexual relations)
  • Men who survive Ebola may transmit the disease sexually (condoms recommended for 3 months after surviving ebola)

For more information about the Ebola virus including conditions, symptoms, treatments and tests, as well as answers from top U.S. doctors, visit HealthTap’s Ebola Virus page.

Sources: Centers for Disease Control, World Health Organization, Doctors Without Borders, Bloomberg News, and the doctors at HealthTap.

Raising Awareness about World Hepatitis Day

World Hepatitis Day is July 28th, and the the World Hepatitis Alliance has begun a campaign to end hepatitis across the world. According to the World Hepatitis Day website, this disease is currently the world’s 8th biggest killer. While to date there is not an absolute cure for most forms of hepatitis, this disease is easy to prevent by taking a few simple precautions.


What is hepatitis?

“Hepatitis means inflammation of the liver. Viral hepatitis is caused by a few specific viruses, types a, b, c, d, e, f (not confirmed), and g. The most common hepatitis viruses are types a, b, and c. A, by oral secretions and stool. B, sexual conduct, blood (tattooing, piercing, transfusions). C, sharing needles, transfusions. D, same as b. Up to 1/3 of cases have unknown source..” – Dr. Rick Kirschner

What is hepatitis A?

“Hepatitis a is a liver infection that will make you miserable for awhile with nausea, vomiting, stomach ache, diarrhea , jaundice. There is no consequences or chronic forms however. So it’s not much worse than your trivial stomach bug with vomiting/ diarrhea for a couple of days.” – Dr. Olga Nilova

What is hepatitis B?

“Hepatitis b is a virus that tends to infect the liver in humans. Transmission from person to person is by intimate contact (sexual activity) or blood exchange. There is a readily available blood test to see if you have it, and there is a vaccination available (3 shots over 6 months) to prevent you from ever getting it. Hepatitis b can lead to chronic infection and cirrhosis, possibly cancer.” – Dr. Colin Kerr

Is there a cure for hepatitis B?

“Hepatitis b virus gets into the nucleus of liver cells, and its genetic information replicates when the liver cell does. So far, we don’t know how to get that dna out of liver cells. Fortunately, many people are able to completely control hepatitis b with their own immune systems. If not, doctors may decide to put people on antiviral medications to stop the hepatitis b from making copies of itself.” – Dr. Camilla Graham


How is hepatitis C transmitted? Is it an STD?

“One can catch hepatitis c from an infected person by getting the infected person’s blood into oneself by activities such as: sharing needles during drug abuse, accidental needle-sticks, being born to a hepc+ mother, sharing razors or toothbrushes, or having sex. Transmission of hepc virus during sex can happen, but is uncommon, so hepc is usually not called an std.” – Dr. Robert Kwok

Is there a cure for hepatitis C?

“Theres a lot of excitement surrounding several new medications for hep c genotype i. The most exciting is solvaldi (sobosbuvir) in combination with ledipasvir. Its not yet fda approved but we anticipate it being marketed within the next 12 months. Its a once daily tablet. The cure rate is 90% plus. This is an interferon free regimen. This will revolutionize the treatment for hep c.” – Dr. Dominic R. Riganotti

Are hepatitis vaccines important?

“Hepatitis A and B are now routine vaccines in the USA. If you are traveling abroad it is important to get protected. In some areas of the world Hepatitis A is very common. Simply by traveling there you are at risk of becoming infected. Frequent travelers (especially to China), humanitarian aid workers and adventure travelers should get the Hepatitis B vaccine. See your doctor for further advice.” – Dr. Sarah Kohl

Who should get vaccinated?

“The hepatitis a and b vaccines are very good vaccines, in that they are very safe and provide good protection against a couple of serious liver diseases. Everyone should get the vaccines as soon as they are eligible, which is at birth for hepb vaccine and at about 18 months for hepa vaccine.” – Dr. Robert Kwok


How can I prevent a viral hepatitis infection?

“The best way to prevent viral hepatitis is to know the risk factors. For hepatitis a and b, there are vaccines which are effective at preventing acute infection. For hepatitis c, there are no current vaccines, so knowing that this can be contracted by sharing needles, blood transfusions and blood exposure, taking care to avoid these activities is advisable.” – Dr. John J. Fung



For more questions about hepatitis, ask our HealthTap doctors today!

Listeria Hysteria: What You Need to Know

Prevention, Symptoms, At-risk People, and Treatment

Listeria InfectionYesterday, Wawona Packing Co in California recalled stone fruits (peaches, plums, nectarines –anything with a pit) packaged at its warehouses between June 1 and July 22 on the suspicion that it may contain Listeria. A bold move, but a smart one that shows they have the consumers’ best interests at heart.

Listeria is particularly dangerous to children, pregnant women, and the elderly. According to the CDC, “general symptoms include, but are not limited to stiff neck, confusion, loss of balance, and convulsions in addition to fever and muscle aches.”

HealthTap Doctor, Dr. Kevin Daus, says, “When you eat food contaminated with listeria, it can take up to several months for you to have symptoms. Most people are really sick when they seek help.”

The good news is that careful food handling practices can help reduce the risk of Listeria.  The FDA’s recommendations include:

  • Rinse raw produce, such as fruits and vegetables, thoroughly under running tap water before eating, cutting, or cooking.
  • 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.


Keeping refrigerators and kitchen environments clean is a vital part of listeria prevention.  DO:

  • 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.

And your meat thermometer will help determine if you meat has been cooked 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.

According to HealthTap doctors, Listeriosis can be treated with antibiotics, but if left untreated, it can be fatal to those who are immunocompromised.  If you think you may have listeriosis, get tested right away. Listeria can be diagnosed from a blood sample or a spinal fluid test.

For more information on Listeria, visit HealthTap for a detailed description, symptoms, tests and treatments. Got more questions? Ask a Question Today!



Top 10 Tools for Coping with Stress

With so many things going on in your day, stress can easily build and become a usual part of your life. While occasional stress can be positive and can motivate you to meet your goals, prolonged stress can have a negative effect. In this week’s post, HealthTap doctors offer ten tips and tricks to help you find ways to unwind. As Sydney J. Harris put it, “the time to relax is when you don’t have time for it.”

What can I do to de-stress?

Relaxation_techniques“Reducing stress is one of the best ways to enhance health. Avoid stressful situations if possible, meditate, exercise, eat well, get enough sleep, take time out for pleasure, seek support/counsel from friends, family& professionals. Do your best to live in the present moment. Herbs like ashwagandha & holy basil & supps like magnesium & b complex often help. Read books like full catastrophe living.” - Dr. Randy S. Baker

“To my mind stress is consequence of a mind ruled by the physical body. People subjected to stress and affected by stess should study relaxation therapies and biofeedback. An internet service at heartmath.Com is an effective training tool. Perhaps the all time most useful book has been “the relaxation response” by Harvard professor Herbert Benson.” - Dr. Laurence Badgley

HealthTap“Exercise regularly, at least 40 to 50 minutes, 4 to 6 times a week in your target zone, a little breathy. Eat a plant based diet, get plenty of rest, and try to perceive as accurately as possible, as our misperceptions drive anxiety and stress. Best.” - Dr. Arthur Ciaramicoli

“A certain amount of stress is normal, however unchecked, stress can cause and contribute to disease. Anxiety, hypertension, lowered immune response are all linked to stress. The best remedy for stress is mindfulness and meditation. Meditation can come in many forms from breathing, to yoga, and even sustained exercise. Whatever you choose, sustained stress management is the best prevention.” - Dr. Maiysha Clairborne

“1. Stress management techniques: relaxation exercises, meditation, mindfulness, thankfulness journals. 2. Letting go of problems that are not ours to solve; solve problems with solutions one step at a time; releasing unnecessary worry by setting realistic goals. 3. Using social support to help us manage stress and give us perspective 4. Self help materials. 5. Time for oneself. 6.Exercise.” - Dr. Kathryn Seifert

HealthTap“It is often helpful to take time out during a day when you feel stressed, and even if you do not, to focus and center yourself with a brief period of meditation and relaxation. Even 5 minutes during your work day can help you recharge and re-focus your energies in a positive direction.” - Dr. Kristine Gerwell

Manage stress with E-A-S-E. 1) Eliminate the stressor from your life (be assertive; delegate; take breaks & vacations) 2) Alter the impact of the stressor (problem solving; time management; social/group action); 3) Shift your outlook (reduce unrealistic expectations, irrational beliefs & negative self-talk); and 4) Ease your response (relaxation, exercise & good nutrition). Counseling can help.” – Dr. Bob Stewart

“Stress is your reaction to things that happen in life. So it’s best to make sure you are doing the right things to react better. Start with eating fresh wholesome foods, make sure you get some type of exercise (walking is great) 2-3 times per week, and look up sleep hygiene to get tools to use for restful sleep. If you need medication have a plan with your doctor for when to stop.” – Dr. Troy W. Ross

Relaxing at home with cup of teaTip Taps

Do’s and Don’ts

“How to de-stress?  Go for a 10 minute walk in nature, or a park.  It can help clear your head.”  - Dr. Pamela A. Pappas

Interesting Fact

“Develop a good pre-sleep ritual. A good book, a cup of tea, anything that helps you relax/unwind.” - Dr. Marlis Gonzalez-Fernandez

Looking for more ways to de-stress? Visit HealthTap and ask a question today!


AppRx: 5 Free Android Running Apps

runEvery week, we bring you AppRx—high-quality health, fitness and wellness apps reviewed and recommended by HealthTap’s network of 60,000 top doctors. In this week’s edition, we take a look at 5 of the best free Android running apps.





1. RunKeeper – GPS Track Run Walk

AppRx | RunKeeper - GPS Track Run Walk | HealthTapDescription: Join the more than 17 million people who are using RunKeeper to turn their phone into a personal trainer in their pocket! Track your running, walking, cycling, hiking, biking and more using the GPS activities and have fun doing it. Learn More.

Recommended By: 159 Doctors

Available On: Android – FREE

2. Sports Tracker

AppRx | Sports Tracker | HealthTapDescription: Turn your mobile into a social sports computer with Sports Tracker. Track and analyze your performance, share workout data and photos with your friends on social media. Join the growing global Sports Tracker community and have fun getting fit! Learn More.

Recommended By: 19 Doctors

Available On: Android – FREE

3. MapMyRun GPS Running

AppRx | MapMyRun GPS Running | HealthTapDescription: Use their route search feature to find nearby places to run. You can filter routes by type or length, examine elevation graphs, and leaderboards. Your runs sync automatically with www.mapmyrun.com. MapMyRun+ is great for fitness, jogging, weight loss, calorie counting, training, and more, and is an integral part of the MapMyRUN platform, by MapMyFitness. Learn More.

Recommended By: 18 Doctors
Available On: Android – FREE

4. Pedometer Plus

AppRx | Pedometer Plus | HealthTapDescription: Pedometer Plus is the definitive application to measure your exercise. Pedometer Plus records the distance, number of steps, calories, current speed, and time of your run. GPS is an optional feature. Learn More.

Recommended By: 14 Doctors
Available On: Android – FREE

5. Trainer PRO Run, Walk, Bike

AppRx |  Trainer PRO Run, Walk, Bike | HealthTapDescription: If you want to improve your fitness, go for a walk any time or even to be trained for a competitive race Android Trainer is all you need! During training you can listen to your favorite music and/or details of training. A voice will inform you about distance, speed, pace, inclination, heart rate, and calories burned. With Android Trainer you will be able to keep an eye on your weight loss and check your progress with all functions. Learn More.

Recommended By: 13 Doctors
Available On: Android – FREE

For more Apps to help you run better, visit HealthTap today!  And stay tuned for next week’s edition, Doctor-Recommended Alternative Medicine Apps!