Treat Me Right: Strong provider-patient relationships contribute to good sexually transmitted disease (STD) prevention

April is STD Awareness Month! The Virginia Department of Health (VDH) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are reaching out to healthcare providers and patients alike with this very important message: Treat

 

 Me Right.

What does that mean?

For providers, this involves many aspects of patient care – from fostering a trusting patient-provider relationship to ensuring that your patients are correctly diagnosed and treated – and everything in between.

For patients, this means knowing what you can do to stay safe and healthy and how to directly ask your provider for the care that you need and deserve.

At a time when STDs are at a record high, it’s never been more important to protect your patients’ sexual health as a provider, or stand up for your own sexual health as a patient. Having a strong patient-provider relationship is always important, and the stronger these relationships are, the weaker STDs will become.

Health Alert: Synthetic Cannabinoids & Severe Bleeding

What are synthetic cannabinoids?

Synthetic cannabinoids are man-made mind-altering chemicals that are either sprayed on dried, shredded plant material so they can be smoked or sold as liquids to be vaporized and inhaled in e-cigarettes and other devices. They also can be in herbal or liquid incense.  Synthetic cannabinoids may also be called fake weed, legal weed, K2, or spice.

How do people use synthetic cannabinoids?

The most common way to use synthetic cannabinoids is to smoke the dried plant material. Other methods of use include mixing with marijuana, brewing as a tea, or using the liquid form in an e-cigarette.  When in the form of herbal or liquid incense, the product is often smoked, even though the packages are usually labelled as incense or potpourri and not for human consumption.

What are some health effects of synthetic cannabinoids?

People who use synthetic cannabinoids have shown severe effects including rapid heart rate, vomiting, violent behavior, suicidal thoughts, and increases in blood pressure, kidney damage and seizures.

Why are synthetic cannabinoids a public health concern?

On March 23, 2018, the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) reported an unusual cluster of cases involving four individuals with severe bleeding cause by a vitamin K-dependent coagulopathy. As of April 4, 2018, IDPH has received reports of 81 cases, including two deaths. All cases were associated with using synthetic cannabinoid products before the severe bleeding started.  For more information on the situation in Illinois, please visit here.

On April 4, 2018, the first case of a similar illness was reported in Virginia.  The cause of this severe bleeding is not clear. It could be poison such as rat poison contaminating the synthetic cannabinoid, or it could be due to the particular drug used. The drugs used in synthetic cannabinoids are not studied to make sure they are safe before they are sold.  In the past, there have been other situations in which people who used synthetic cannabinoids got sick with confusion, seizures, hallucinations, psychosis, or heart attack, and in some cases dying.

What should I do if I used synthetic cannabis?

If you notice any signs of unusual or unexplained bleeding, including nosebleeds, bleeding gums, unexplained bruising, vomiting blood, blood in urine or stool, or heavy period bleeding, go to an emergency room or urgent care immediately. Do not drive yourself, because you could pass out suddenly while driving.  Have a friend drive you or call 911. Tell the doctor that you used synthetic cannabis. There is a simple test that can tell if you might be having trouble with your blood clotting.

As a clinical provider, what do I do to report a case of unexplained bleeding related to synthetic cannabinoid use?

If you encounter a patient with significant bleeding and an elevated International Normalized Ratio (INR) without another identified cause (e.g., taking warfarin or overdose of rat poison), please promptly report to  poison control at 1-800-222-1222.

National Public Health Week- Day 3

Each year, the first week of April serves as a time to recognize the contributions of public health and highlight issues that are important to improving our nation’s health. Check back each day this week to learn more about what some local health districts are doing this year to celebrate public health and focus on making Virginia the healthiest state in the nation:

Richmond City Health District

Richmond City Health District (RCHD) is taking a different approach this year and bringing focus to one single topic: how the kinds of neighborhoods we live in create (or limit) our ability to pursue health and well-being. RCHD has partnered with 21 other organizations who are all in the housing space, or are deeply interested in the topic of mixed-income and mixed-use communities, for a campaign called The Power of Home. The campaign will include a spread in Style Weekly, 4 podcasts with local and national housing experts, social media messaging across all mediums, an email newsletter to 700 + RCHD contacts and an interview with RCHD Health Director Dr. Danny Avula on WRIR (97.3) on Monday, April 9 at 12pm. Learn more about RCHD and The Power of Home at http://www.vdh.virginia.gov/richmond-city/.

National Public Health Week- Day 2

Each year, the first week of April serves as a time to recognize the contributions of public health and highlight issues that are important to improving our nation’s health. Check back each day this week to learn more about what some local health districts are doing this year to celebrate public health and focus on making Virginia the healthiest state in the nation:

Crater Health District

Crater Health District is offering a packed schedule of National Public Health Week events this year, including a Health Education Outreach Fair, Farmer’s Market stands at local health departments, workshops, community conversations, and even a Public Health Parade! See the full schedule and learn more at www.craterhd.net

National Public Health Week – Day 1

Each year, the first week of April serves as a time to recognize the contributions of public health and highlight issues that are important to improving our nation’s health. Check back each day this week to learn more about what some local health districts are doing this year to celebrate public health and focus on making Virginia the healthiest state in the nation:

Chesapeake Health District

As part of both National Public Health Week and National Start Walking Day, Chesapeake Health District (CHD) is partnering with Portsmouth Health District for a walk across the South Norfolk Jordan Bridge on Wednesday, April 4 at 10am. For more information, call 757-382-8650. CHD is also taking their FREE Family Planning Express service to Southside Baptist Church in South Norfolk every 2nd and 4th Thursday, no appointment necessary. Learn more at http://www.vdh.virginia.gov/chesapeake/.

FDA: PDX Aromatics Recalls Kratom Powder Because Of Possible Health Risk

PDX Aromatics of Portland, Oregon DBA Kraken Kratom, Phytoextractum, and Soul Speciosa, has initiated a recall of certain kratom-containing powder products because it has the potential to be contaminated with Salmonella, an organism which can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people, and others with weakened immune systems. Healthy persons infected with Salmonella often experience fever, diarrhea (which may be bloody), nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain. In rare circumstances, infection with Salmonella can result in the organism getting into the bloodstream and producing more severe illnesses such as arterial infections (i.e., infected aneurysms), endocarditis and arthritis. Learn more