Ebola: Cause for Concern, But Not for Panic

Rumoro-Dino_Emergency-NEW-5-16The worst recorded outbreak of the virulent Ebola virus has killed more than 700 people in West Africa, including more than 60 health care workers, and is believed to have infected 1,300 more people since it began in March.

So far, the outbreak has been confined to Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control has issued a Level 3 travel warning advising people to avoid nonessential travel to those countries.

Dr. Dino Rumoro, head of the Rush Department of Emergency Medicine, sees little danger to the U.S. from Ebola. He explained why in the following interview.

Q: Are you worried about it Ebola coming here?

Rumoro: There’s a lot of diseases that cause us a lot of concern. In the ‘80s, when we saw the emergence of HIV and AIDS, that made us very nervous as well, and we learned how to deal with it. Our experience dealing with other infectious diseases makes us prepared for this disease. This is a disease that we know about in the scientific community, but it’s not native to the United States.

Q: How is Ebola spread?

Rumoro: The key thing to remember with Ebola is that it’s not an airborne virus, so we’re not worried about it being transmitted through the air. We’re worried about contact with bodily fluids like blood, vomit and diarrhea. Those all are symptoms. If those fluids enter another person’s eyes, nose, or mouth, an infection could occur.

Q: Who’s at risk for Ebola?

Rumoro: Anyone who comes in direct contact with body fluids of an infected person is at risk. Health care workers are at higher risk, just because they’re getting in close contact with body fluids. A close family member who may be caring for a patient is at even higher risk than a health care worker, because they don’t have the personal protection we use. Family members, if they’re cleaning up the diarrhea or the blood, they think, ‘it’s part of my job.’

While Ebola is a highly dangerous and infectious disease, we can control it by using standard precautions. We want to protect ourselves from any types of secretion. All we really need to do it is wear a facemask, wear gloves, and we need to wash our hands frequently.

There’s reason to exercise caution, but with the proper equipment, if you follow the rules you’ll be safe. The problem they have in the third world countries is they don’t have the personal protective equipment we have.

Q: Could someone from Africa bring the virus to the U.S.?

Rumoro: Because of global travel, someone could come here and not have symptoms, and two weeks later they could develop symptoms. Because we’re an international community, we have to be aware of it, but it’s not something that should cause panic.

Q: Why not?

Rumoro: With a disease like Ebola, there’s less concern here because of the type of equipment we have and because we have advance notice that it’s out there. Public health is tracking who’s coming here.

If we saw a case pop up in the United States, it would be similar to how we were made aware of a MERS (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome) case that popped up in Indiana, and we were able to control that. We have a very good public health infrastructure. They were able to identify that, isolate it, treat it, I think the same thing would happen.

Q: Ebola is fatal between 60 and 90 percent of the time. What can be done to treat it?

Rumoro: The standard of care is support. Meaning, you’re going to treat the end stage symptoms. One of the end stages is cardiovascular collapse. The blood pressure drops, the patient starts going into cardiac arrest.

Ultimately though, the source of that collapse is the virus, there is no treatment for the virus. So it would be supportive care at this point. We would try to help the pain, try to keep the blood pressure maintained. It appears that the people who die of Ebola virus don’t mount the same immunologic response as the ones who live through it. If you get them through some of those rough points, maybe you give them enough time for a reactive response and they can fight the virus off.

Drug May Slow Memory Loss Caused by Alzheimer’s

20040120-01-011A new research study at Rush University Medical Center and Northwestern Medicine is testing whether a new investigational treatment can slow the memory loss caused by Alzheimer’s disease.

The study will include men and women ages 65 to 85 who have normal thinking and memory function but who may be at risk for developing Alzheimer’s disease (AD) memory loss sometime in the future.

The purpose of the research study, called the Anti-Amyloid Treatment in Asymptomatic Alzheimer’s study (the “A4 study” for short), is to test whether a new investigational drug, called an amyloid antibody, can slow memory loss caused by Alzheimer’s disease.

Amyloid is a protein normally produced in the brain that can build up in older people, forming amyloid plaque deposits. Scientists believe this buildup of deposits may play a key role in the eventual development of Alzheimer’s disease-related memory loss and dementia. The overall goal of the A4 study is to test whether decreasing amyloid with antibody investigational drug can help slow the memory loss associated with amyloid buildup in some people.

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Rush Ranked in Seven Specialties by U.S. News

RushTowerCloudsRush University Medical Center once again has been named one of the nation’s top hospitals, according to the new issue of U.S. News & World Report. Rush is ranked in seven of 16 categories included in the magazine’s 2014 -15 “America’s Best Hospitals” issue, which became available online on July 15, and is one of the two top-ranked hospitals in Illinois overall.

Rush’s orthopedics program was ranked No. 6 nationwide, making it the highest ranked orthopedics program in Illinois. Rush’s other ranked programs were geriatrics (No. 17); neurology and neurosurgery (No. 17); nephrology (No. 31); urology (No. 43); cardiology and heart surgery (No. 46); and cancer (No. 48).

U.S. News also noted that the following Rush specialty services are “high-performing”: diabetes and endocrinology; ear, nose and throat; gastroenterology; gynecology; and pulmonary.

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Rush is Only Illinois Hospital to Achieve “Advanced” Status in “Most Wired” Survey

Tower_TechnologyRush University Medical Center has been named one of only 20, advanced “Most Wired” hospitals in the nation, according to the 16th annual survey conducted by Hospitals & Health Networks. 

Out of 680 participants, Rush was one of only 20 organizations who met the criteria to be considered for “Most Wired–Advanced Organizations.” To make the advanced list, an organization must show exceptional results in the Most Wired Survey and Benchmarking Study.

The survey focused on health care systems and hospitals throughout the nation using clinical information systems that improve and enhance patient care and the patient experience. The 2014 Most Wired survey is published in the July issue of the magazine.

“This recognition reflects Rush’s deep commitment to use information technology (IT) that engages our patients, maximizes quality, safety, and efficiency of care, and help connect Rush with our broader health care community,” said Dr. Shannon Sims, PhD, associate chief medical information officer at Rush University Medical Center.

Nearly 67 percent of Most Wired hospitals share critical patient information electronically with specialists and other care providers. Most Wired hospitals use information technology to reduce the likelihood of medical errors. For example, at Most Wired hospitals, 81 percent of medications are matched to the patient, nurse and order using bar code technology at the bedside.

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Cinnamon May Help Halt Parkinson’s Progression

cinnamonNeurological scientists at Rush University Medical Center have found that using cinnamon can reverse the biomechanical, cellular and anatomical changes that occur in the brains of mice with Parkinson’s disease.  Results of the study were published in the June 20 issue of the Journal of Neuroimmune Pharmacology.

“Cinnamon has been used widely as a spice throughout the world for centuries,” said Kalipada Pahan, PhD, study lead researcher and the Floyd A. Davis professor of neurology at Rush.  “This could potentially be one of the safest approaches to halt disease progression in Parkinson’s patients.”

“Cinnamon is metabolized in the liver to sodium benzoate, which is an FDA-approved drug used in the treatment for hepatic metabolic defects associated with hyperammonemia,” said Pahan.  It is also widely used as a food preservative due to its microbiocidal effect.

Chinese cinnamon (Cinnamonum cassia) and original Ceylon cinnamon (Cinnamonum verum) are two major types of cinnamon that are available in the U.S.

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See How Much Fun Science Can Be

Dominos fell, “elephant toothpaste” foamed and a dummy spoke as Rush’s Science and Math Excellence (SAME) Network held its second annual Math and Science Celebration in the Atrium Building lobby on Thursday.

Nearly 300 students from public and Catholic schools near Rush attended the event, which included exhibits that students from six of the schools assembled at SAME’s offices as well as science and nutrition demonstrations by Rush employees.

Part of the Rush Department of Community Affairs, the SAME Network seeks to provide students in schools in the communities surrounding Rush with the same opportunities to learn math and science that are available to students in more affluent areas.

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Lake Michigan Swim to Benefit Cancer Research

Swim Across America events have raised roughly $50 million for cancer research nationwide.

Swim Across America events have raised roughly $50 million for cancer research nationwide.

As many as 10 former Olympians, along with scores of others, will participate in the Swim Across America (SAA) fundraiser Saturday, July 26, at Ohio Street Beach in Chicago. It is SAA’s 21st annual Chicago event.

Swim Across America is a national nonprofit organization dedicated to raising money for cancer research, prevention and treatment through swimming events across the country.

The fundraiser benefits the Rush University Cancer Center, which comprises all of the clinical, research and educational efforts at Rush University Medical Center. SAA is aiming to top the more than $400,000 raised at last year’s event.

“What Swim Across America has achieved in Chicago and around the country is incredible,” said David McClellan, SAA Chicago event director. “We always set our sights high, but we expect a record-breaking 2014 event in hopes of funding groundbreaking cancer research at Rush.”

Read the news release.