Study finds strong link between Zika virus and Guillain-Barre Syndrome

The Zika virus has been in the headlines quite often recently. It is a disease spread by daytime mosquitoes that leads to symptoms including rash, fever, joint pain and red eyes. Currently, it is concentrated in central and south America. However, the disease is spreading into North America and there have been 107 reported cases of the Zika virus in Americans who have travelled from the infected area.

Between October 2013 and April 2014, French Polynesia experienced the largest Zika virus outbreak ever described to date. A study was conducted once a correlation was noticed between areas with the Zika virus and increased cases of the neurological disorder, Guillain-Barre syndrome. Of those who developed Guillain-Barre, 98% of them had Zika virus antibodies, suggesting the virus could be causing the disease.

Guillain-Barre syndrome results in symptoms starting with weakness and tingling in the feet and legs that spread to the upper body. Paralysis can even occur. Overall, it is a condition in which the immune system attacks the nerves and it is triggered by an acute bacterial or viral infection. Treatment is extensive, and includes plasma exchange and immunoglobulin therapy to relieve symptoms. Physical therapy is needed, too.

This newly discovered risk associated with the Zika virus only stresses the importance of preventing its spread. Strategies should be shared on how to avoid daytime mosquitoes and protect yourself. Pharmacists can play a role in this by educating patients in community pharmacy settings on which products work the best to deter mosquitoes and what to look out for as far as early symptoms of the virus.

 

Read the full study here.

Cao-Lormeau VM, Blake A, Mons S, et.al. Guillain-Barre Syndrome outbreak associated with Zika virus infection in French Polynesia: a case-control study. Lancet. 2016;(published online):1-9

Effectiveness of Various Methods of Teaching Proper Inhaler Technique: The Importance of Pharmacist Counseling

This article delves into the role of a pharmacist in patient inhaler education.  There were four different interventions that were compared in this study. The purpose of the study was to determine the efficacy of direct patient education vs. video or print education.

  1. Patient reads a metered dose inhaler (MDI) package insert pamphlet.
  2. Patient watches a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) video demonstrating MDI technique.
  3. Patient watches a YouTube video demonstrating MDI technique
  4. Pharmacist gives patient direct instruction of MDI technique (2 minutes long)

This study had a patient population of 72 and each was screened for demographic information, including literacy. All patients used inhalers. These patients were randomized to one of the four interventions and then evaluated by their ability to demonstrate proper inhaler technique using a placebo MDI. The effectiveness of each intervention was measured by the patient’s ability to complete each step of proper inhaler technique, and no partial credit was given. The result of the study showed that only 29.2% of the patients were able to do this correctly. There was also a statistically significant increase in correct inhaler technique in the group of patients given direct inhaler technique education.

This study showed that pharmacists can positively influence patent inhaler outcomes (in comparison to other methods) by giving direct patient education. This is important for the advancement of our profession because it shows that we can provide care outside of simply dispensing medications. Studies like this may provide a framework for allowing pharmacists to provide other services.

What other services do you see pharmacists being able to provide in the future?

View the article here:

Axtell S, Haines S, Fairclough J. Effectiveness of Various Methods of Teaching Proper Inhaler Technique: The Importance of Pharmacist Counseling. J Pharm Pract. 2016 Feb 23. pii: 0897190016628961.

Expanding Cessation Pharmacotherapy Via Videoconference Educational Outreach to Prescribers

According to studies that assessed current smoking rates among the population, it was found that people diagnosed with a mental illness are two to three times more likely to smoke than those who are not. For this reason, this study focused at providing these patients underutilized forms of smoking cessation pharmacotherapy to determine if a change could be made in this pattern. Researchers utilized two different forms of smoking cessation education methods in an attempt to determine the best way to deliver this information to patients. While the first method provided traditional group in-person cessation education sessions,  the second method aimed at determining if the use of videoconferencing technology would be an adequate alternative method for education. Members of the study analyzed the results by examining filled Medicaid pharmacotherapy claims along with the prescribers’ attitudes toward the different forms of education services. Although researchers hypothesized that in-person delivery of smoking cessation programs would be more effective than videoconferencing, they found that there were no significant differences between the two groups of patients receiving this service. They did note that patients receiving either form of this service were more likely to follow through with actions to quit smoking than those who did not.

I believe studies like these are important for future pharmacists to be aware of because it is our goal to make sure that patients are utilizing treatment options in an appropriate matter to ensure that they will receive the best health benefit. Since we are often the easiest person within the health care system for patients to approach with their issues, it is crucial that we know how to counsel them on these types of health-related concerns. Knowing that just providing some form of cessation education improves the likelihood that a patient will attempt to follow actions required to quit harmful behaviors is a positive sign that our work as professionals can have a significant impact on the people we are serving. It is for this reason that we should continually provided counseling services to patients at multiple stages in the treatment process, such as initiation of therapy and follow-ups. I believe that these actions will have a beneficial impact on patients and will make doing our job a much more fulfilling experience. I would be very interested to see how this type of study would show improvement in limiting the harmful impact that other health concerns have on the population.

Brunette MF, Dzebisashvili N, Xie H, et al. Expanding cessation pharmacotherapy via videoconference educational outreach to prescribers. Nicotine Tob Res. 2015;17(8):960-7.

Pharmacist Education and Inpatient Influenza and Pneumococcal Vaccination Acceptance Rates

The United States is vastly affected by pneumococcus pneumonia, invasive pneumococcal infections, and seasonal influenza each and every year. Although there are vaccines that prevent these diseases, approximately 70 million high-risk adults are vulnerable to pneumococcus by by remaining unvaccinated. The number of deaths related to influenza has been steadily increasing in the United States since 1990. If patients qualify, patients can receive both the influenza and pneumonia vaccinations to protect themselves from these disease, however, less than half of adults 18 years of older were vaccinated during the 2012 to 2013 flu season. It is apparent that pharmacists, as immunizers in the community setting, are increasing the current vaccination rates in the population today.

A study was conducted to determine just how effective pharmacist-driven education programs were at increasing vaccination rates. Patients in a small community hospital who initially rejected vaccinations upon admission were educated by pharmacists and pharmacy interns and reoccurred the vaccination. As a result, 39.2% of patients changed there minds and decided to receive the influence and pneumococcal pneumonia vaccines.

This study proves the importance of patient education. Pharmacists need to provide patients with all the available information in order for patients to make the right decisions in regards to their health care. I am proud to be going in to a profession that has such a big influence on its patient population.

Journal of Pharmacy Practice (2016): n. pag. Web.

Link to article