Pisgah Family Health



May 2009






About the Newsletter


Kitty joins Pisgah Family Health

Kitty (83K)

Kitty began working as our receptionist in April. She previously worked in real estate sales and mortgage lending for 22 years. She moved here from Indiana in 2006. Kitty's hobbies include hiking, running, gardening, travel, and painting. She has two adult sons, and enjoys playing with her grandchildren.

The Heartstrings Ride

The Buncombe County Medical Society Foundation and Project Access would like to extend a heartfelt thank you to everyone who participated in the 2009 HeartStrings Ride for Project Access. The dedication of the BCMS physicians, riders, sponsors and everyone who made a donation made 2009 the most successful fundraising event ever.

Pisgah Family Health was teamed up with the Asheville Police Academy for their one hour spin class at the Asheville Mall. Pisgah Family Health was able to exceed their goal of $800.00 and would like to thank all of our friends, family and patients who made a donation. We are looking forward to participating next year in HeartStrings 2010.

HIB Vaccine

Pisgah Family Health received a shipment of Hib vaccine in April 2009. If your child is in need of this vaccination, please call the office to schedule an appointment to come in for the shot.

There has been a recall in the United States of over 1 million doses of "Hib" vaccine (Haemophilus influenzae type b). This vaccine recall is a precautionary step. Merck recalled these doses of Hib vaccine because there was a possibility that some of the equipment was not fully sterilized before it was used. No contamination was found in the vaccine itself.

All of the recalled vaccine passed safety tests before being sent to doctors' offices. Bacteria were not found in the vaccines themselves. No children have gotten sick as a result of receiving recalled vaccine.

The recall has caused a shortage of Hib vaccine in the U.S. Babies normally receive doses of Hib vaccine at ages 2,4,6 and 15 months of age. In order to protect as many children as possible, CDC and its partners are asking doctors to vaccinate children at ages 2,4, and 6 months, but to delay giving healthy children the booster dose of Hib vaccine at 12-15 months of age until this shortage is over. Delaying this booster dose should not put children at risk of getting Hib disease.

The Human Race

On Saturday, June 6, Dr. Curran and the PFH staff will participate in The Human Race in Waynesville, NC. The Human Race was started in 2002 by the Haywood County Volunteer center as a source of financial support for the Center. The race is a flat and fast 5K (3.1 mile) course near downtown Waynesville.

If you've never participated in a road race, consider starting with a 5K. This distance provides a challenge for the novice, and a fast race for experienced runners. There are races of this distance around Asheville almost every weekend, frequently for a charity benefit. You can find a list of local races at www.AshevilleTrackClub.org.

Office Hours

Our normal office hours are 9-5 Monday through Thursday, and 9-12 on Friday. Our answering service can be reached after hours at 251-4873. When the office is closed, emergency care is available at the Urgent Care Centers, and at Mission/Saint Joseph hospitals ER.  Telephone calls are handled by Dr. Curran’s call partners.

  • We will be closed May 4, 5, and 8. We will be open May 6 and 7.
  • We will be closed May 25 for Memorial Day.
  • We will be closed June 26-30th.
  • We will be closed August 24-28, for Dr. Curran's vacation.
  • We will be closed Monday September 1st for Labor Day.

Office Reminders

Each time you come in, please let us know if your contact information has changed. Please bring your new insurance card(s) to your next appointment so we can get updated information for 2009.

Now is the time to schedule your annual physical. During the summer months we are less busy, and more able to make time for routine care and physical exams. Please remember to schedule these extensive visits well in advance. You will avoid waiting, and avoid contact with sick patients by having your physical during these months.

Do you need paperwork completed at your physical exam? If you are scheduling a DOT, sport, camp, school or work physical, there is always paperwork to complete. Prior to your exam, be sure to the paperwork is entirely completed, leaving only the physician portion blank. If vaccinations are required, be sure to bring all your vaccination records with you.

Thank you for referring your family and friends to Pisgah Family Health!

Medical News

Swine Flu

What is swine flu?

Swine Influenza (swine flu) is a respiratory disease of pigs caused by type A influenza viruses that causes regular outbreaks in pigs. People do not normally get swine flu, but human infections can and do happen. Occasionally the swine flu virus mutates in a way that allows it to be transmitted from person to person.

Are there human infections with swine flu in the U.S.?

In late March and April 2009, cases of human infection with swine influenza A (H1N1) viruses were first reported in Southern California and near San Antonio, Texas. Other U.S. states have reported cases of swine flu infection in humans and cases have been reported internationally as well. An updated case count of confirmed swine flu infections in the United States is kept at http://www.cdc.gov/swineflu/investigation.htm CDC and local and state health agencies are working together to investigate this situation.

How serious is swine flu infection?

Like seasonal flu, swine flu in humans can vary in severity from mild to severe. Between 2005 until January 2009, 12 human cases of swine flu were detected in the U.S. with no deaths occurring. However, swine flu infection can be serious. As of this date, there have been over 150 deaths in Mexico from this illness. The most likely to be seriously ill from swine flu are people born after the last swine flu epidemic in 1968.

Is this swine flu virus contagious?

CDC has determined that this swine influenza A (H1N1) virus is contagious and is spreading from human to human. However, at this time, it not known how easily the virus spreads between people.

What are the signs and symptoms of swine flu in people?

The symptoms of swine flu in people are similar to the symptoms of regular human flu and include fever, cough, sore throat, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue. Some people have reported diarrhea and vomiting associated with swine flu. In the past, severe illness (pneumonia and respiratory failure) and deaths have been reported with swine flu infection in people. Like seasonal flu, swine flu may cause a worsening of underlying chronic medical conditions.

How does swine flu spread?

Spread of this swine influenza A (H1N1) virus is thought to be happening in the same way that seasonal flu spreads. Flu viruses are spread mainly from person to person through coughing or sneezing of people with influenza. Sometimes people may become infected by touching something with flu viruses on it and then touching their mouth or nose.

When can someone with the flu infect someone else?

Infected people may be able to infect others beginning 1 day before symptoms develop and up to 7 or more days after becoming sick. That means that you may be able to pass on the flu to someone else before you know you are sick, as well as while you are sick.

How long can an infected person spread swine flu to others?

People with swine influenza virus infection should be considered potentially contagious as long as they are symptomatic and possible for up to 7 days following illness onset. Children, especially younger children, might potentially be contagious for longer periods.

What should I do to keep from getting the flu?

First and most important: wash your hands. Try to stay in good general health. Get plenty of sleep, be physically active, manage your stress, drink plenty of fluids, and eat nutritious food. Try not touch surfaces that may be contaminated with the flu virus. Avoid close contact with people who are sick.

Are there medicines to treat swine flu?

Yes. CDC recommends the use of oseltamivir or zanamivir for the treatment and/or prevention of infection with these swine influenza viruses. Antiviral drugs are prescription medicines (pills, liquid or an inhaler) that fight against the flu by keeping flu viruses from reproducing in your body. If you get sick, antiviral drugs can make your illness milder and make you feel better faster. They may also prevent serious flu complications. For treatment, antiviral drugs work best if started soon after getting sick (within 2 days of symptoms).

What surfaces are most likely to be sources of contamination?

Germs can be spread when a person touches something that is contaminated with germs and then touches his or her eyes, nose, or mouth. Droplets from a cough or sneeze of an infected person move through the air. Germs can be spread when a person touches respiratory droplets from another person on a surface like a desk and then touches their own eyes, mouth or nose before washing their hands.

How long can viruses live outside the body?

We know that some viruses and bacteria can live 2 hours or longer on surfaces like cafeteria tables, doorknobs, and desks. Frequent handwashing will help you reduce the chance of getting contamination from these common surfaces.

What can I do to protect myself from getting sick?

There is no vaccine available right now to protect against swine flu. There are everyday actions that can help prevent the spread of germs that cause respiratory illnesses like influenza. Take these everyday steps to protect your health:
  • Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze. Alcohol-based hand cleaners are also effective.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Germs spread this way.
  • Try to avoid close contact with sick people.
  • f you get sick with influenza, CDC recommends that you stay home from work or school and limit contact with others to keep from infecting them.

What is the best way to keep from spreading the virus?

If you are sick, limit your contact with other people as much as possible. Do not go to work or school if ill. Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing. It may prevent those around you from getting sick. Put your used tissue in the waste basket. Cover your cough or sneeze if you do not have a tissue. Then, clean your hands, and do so every time you cough or sneeze.

What is the best technique for washing my hands to avoid getting the flu?

Washing your hands often will help protect you from germs. Wash with soap and water, or clean with alcohol-based hand cleaner. We recommend that when you wash your hands -- with soap and warm water -- that you wash for 15 to 20 seconds. When soap and water are not available, alcohol-based disposable hand wipes or gel sanitizers may be used. You can find them in most supermarkets and drugstores. If using gel, rub your hands until the gel is dry. The gel doesn't need water to work; the alcohol in it kills the germs on your hands.

What should I do if I get sick?

If you live in areas where swine flu cases have been identified and become ill with influenza-like symptoms, including fever, body aches, runny nose, sore throat, nausea, or vomiting or diarrhea, you should contact your doctor. Your doctor will determine whether influenza testing or treatment is needed.

If you are sick, you should stay home and avoid contact with other people as much as possible to keep from spreading your illness to others.

If you become ill and experience any of the following warning signs, seek emergency medical care.

In children emergency warning signs that need urgent medical attention include:

  • Fast breathing or trouble breathing
  • Bluish skin color
  • Not drinking enough fluids
  • Not waking up or not interacting
  • Being so irritable that the child does not want to be held
  • Flu-like symptoms improve but then return with fever and worse cough
  • Fever with a rash

In adults, emergency warning signs that need urgent medical attention include:

  • Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
  • Pain or pressure in the chest or abdomen
  • Sudden dizziness
  • Confusion
  • Severe or persistent vomiting

Can I get swine influenza from eating or preparing pork?

No. Swine influenza viruses are not spread by food. You cannot get swine influenza from eating pork or pork products. Eating properly handled and cooked pork products is safe.


Pertussis (Whooping Cough)

North Carolina is seeing an increase in the number of pertussis (whooping cough) cases each year. Whooping cough is a highly contagious and vaccine-preventable disease that can be passed easily from person to person. This increase is not unique to North Carolina. The number of whooping cough cases in all age groups is rising across the country at a rate of great concern to the medical and public health communities.

In 1976, a record low of 1,010 cases were reported nationally. In 2004 and 2005 more than 25,000 cases were reported. Reported numbers, however, do not necessarily provide an accurate picture. In actuality, the number of annual cases may be close to one million. In North Carolina, 127 confirmed cases of pertussis were reported in 2005. This number jumped to 326 confirmed cases of pertussis in 2007.

Most children are protected against pertussis because of the DTP and DTaP (diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis) vaccines. However, immunity to whooping cough typically wanes 5 to 10 years after the last childhood vaccination. It is very serious for infants and can cause them to cough so much they cannot breathe. Whooping cough can cause adults or teens to have severe coughing that leads to vomiting or broken ribs. They can be hospitalized for pneumonia and miss weeks of work or school. Even worse, they can spread whooping cough to infants, who can suffer from severe complications or even death.

Pertussis causes symptoms are similar to a persistent and severe cold in adults. In children, symptoms are usually more severe, and may require hospitalization. The symptoms include a repetitive spasmodic cough, followed by a gasp for air (the whoop). Pertussis can be treated with antibiotics such as Zithromax or Doxycycline. Unfortunately, the cough may persist for weeks even after treatment.

TDAP Vaccination

In the spring of 2005, two brands of a new vaccine to prevent tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis in teenagers and adults were licensed by the FDA and recommended for use by the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP). This new vaccine is called Tdap, and adds protection from pertussis to the traditional tetanus-diphtheria, or Td, booster.

Tdap vaccine is recommended for:

  • Adolescents 11 through 18 years of age should get one booster dose of Tdap. The preferred age is 11-12.
  • Adolescents who have already gotten a booster dose of Td are encouraged to get a dose of Tdap as well, for protection against pertussis. Waiting at least 5 years between Td and Tdap is encouraged, but not required.
  • Adults 19 through 64 years of age should get one booster dose of Tdap. Td should be used for later booster doses.
  • Adults who expect to have close contact with an infant younger than 12 months of age should get a dose of Tdap. Waiting at least two years since the last dose of Td is suggested, but not required.
  • Healthcare workers who have direct patient contact in hospitals or clinics should get a dose of Tdap. A two-year interval since the last Td is suggested, but not required.
  • New mothers who have never received a dose of Tdap should get a dose as soon as possible after delivery.

Health Links

For more health information, check out these links:

About our Newsletter

Dr. Curran and the staff at Pisgah Family Health are proud to publish the Pisgah Family Health News to our patients.  Our goal is to provide regularly updated information about the office and current medical topics.  We plan to publish a new issue each quarter with breaking news.  The newsletters will also be archived on our website, http://www.pisgahfamilyhealth.com/

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