World Health Day 2014

World Health Day 2014

Diseases are spread in a variety of ways; bloodborne, waterborne, airborne and vector-borne, and this year the World Health Organization has chosen April 7th as Vector-borne Prevention Day.
The most common vectors that pass disease are mosquitos and ticks, and while in many countries these vectors can carry deadly and fatal diseases such as malaria, dengue, yellow fever, in the United States the most common vector-borne diseases are Lyme disease, carried by ticks, and West Nile Virus, carried by mosquitoes.
The vector-borne subject is of interest to me both professionally as a paramedic and as an organic gardener because of all the possible infectious diseases, vector-borne ones are the most preventable!
During his tour in Manila during World War II, my father contracted malaria and suffered mild bouts most of his adult life. Malaria is a parasite that is passed to humans via mosquitos, and the parasites thrive in the human’s liver. In turn, the red blood cells are affected and typically the person exhibits malaria symptoms within 10-15 days of infection, having high fever and chills.  Malaria, if caught early, is treated with artemisin-based drugs and quinine.  Fortunately, malaria is extremely rare in the North Americas and typically found in sub-tropic areas.
Lyme disease causes meningeal infection and the initial symptoms are skin lesions with rings, fever, headache and chills.  There is no treatment and no vaccine available for Lyme disease, and ticks should be removed and killed immediately if found on the skin of humans and dogs.
Another vector-borne disease is West Nile and 286 deaths in 2013 were associated with the disease. Last year a friend of mine, a fellow paramedic, almost died from West Nile and was critically ill for almost a full year before making a good recovery. West Nile is carried by mosquitos that have been in contact with infected birds. Humans as well as horses are targets for West Nile, and 1 in 150 people infected with West Nile develop severe symptoms such as high fever, severe headache, neck stiffness and hallucinations. Typically, at the onset of the West Nile infection, many people think they have the flu since the early symptoms are similar. West Nile is diagnosed through taking a sample of cerebral spinal fluid through a painful spinal tap, and the diagnosis confirmed if IgM antibodies are detected in the CSF. There is no human vaccine for West Nile and treatment includes hospitalization for intravenous fluids, antibiotics for secondary infections and respiratory support.
Because of the widespread fear many communities, including my own, have massive pesticide spraying campaigns. The insecticides commonly used sumithrin and resmethrin, and both synthetic pyrethroids. These are potentially toxic chemicals that pose a danger to humans, wildlife and the environment by killing beneficial insects such as lady bugs, as well as cause both humans and dogs to have neurological and respiratory problems due to inhaling residue fumes left by the spraying. Unfortunately, too many communities panic during the summer and resort to chemical warfare rather than removing the problem at the source!

Prevention of vector-borne diseases includes:

  • Ensuring there is not stagnant standing water in your yard for mosquitos to breed.  I have a small, flowing water fountain but occasionally find mosquitos. Simply putting a teaspoon of an oxy cleaner per five gallons of water to quickly kill the mosquitos by suffocation. Within 5-10 minutes, the mosquitos are dying and the water is then harmless to pets.
  • Remove any old tires or other types of containers where even a few ounces of water may pool.
  • Wear light-colored, long-sleeved clothing when working outdoors during early morning or late evening hours when most mosquitos feed.
  • Add a little garlic to your diet to deter mosquitos from biting.
  • Limit the amount and frequency of yard watering. Most grasses need less than an inch of water a week, especially organic yards that are not treated with pesticides.
  • Immediately remove ticks from dogs or humans, and wash the affected area with soap and water.
  • And my favorite remedy, yet the most controversial, is the use of bats. Communities that allow bat houses rarely have a problem with mosquitos since that is the favorite food of bats.
  • Plant a variety herbs in patio areas because mosquitos stay away from fragrant herbs such as rosemary, citronella grass, lavender, basil, lemon balm, catnip, horsemint and neem.
By the use of natural products and common sense, most vector-borne diseases will never occur in your home!


Dannette Heath CEH, IP, Paramedic, EVS Business Development

Dannette Young Heeth, CEH, IP, Paramedic
Varsity Facility Services/Southwest Division
Regional Business Development

During the late 1970’s, Dannette was working in an Arlington, Texas hospital where the Environmental Services Department was outsourced to a janitorial vendor. She became interested in the training and processes required to keep the hospital properly cleaned. On her breaks, she would hang out in the EVS manager’s office to learn everything she could. Several years later, Dannette started a janitorial service, and with her medical background, began seeing ALL buildings as infectious as hospitals. Later in life she married a Flight/Critical Care Paramedic that inspired her to fulfill her dream of being a paramedic as well. She completed EMT-Basic training in 2008, joined MedicOne ambulance company (formerly MedCare), completed paramedic school and licensure in 2010, began the paramedic/RN bridge program, and eventually wound up as a trauma paramedic in a busy ER on the weekends.

In addition to her weekend work as a paramedic, she is involved in business development during the week with the best janitorial service in the world….Varsity Facility Services. Her life is full and busy!

Since starting with Varsity Facility Services in January 2013, doing Regional Business Development for Texas and Arizona, Dannette has already had great success. With her medical background, she was instrumental in obtaining the DaVita Dialysis business (63 locations in Houston); and Mountain Park Health Centers (4 locations) in Arizona.She also played a key role in bringing Varsity’s industry-leading services to Prosperity Bank (Houston); and most recently, State Farm regional offices in Phoenix. She concentrates on locating Fortune 500 companies, medical facilities, universities and national companies that have multiple locations throughout the country who need the level of service that only Varsity is able to provide. She believes in meeting prospective customers face-to-face, and spends at least 60% of her week “in the field” meeting new people and spreading the good news about Varsity to companies that have never heard of us. Her motto is, “The harder I work, the luckier I get!”

Medical Experience
In addition to working with Varsity, Dannette is currently working in the medical field as a trauma paramedic on the weekends at Dallas Regional Medical Center Emergency Department.She has also been an American Red Cross (Dallas Chapter) volunteer since 2007 and is on two of their teams: their Medical Disaster Team and their Disaster Action Team for fires/floods for which she is the Team Leader.She worked as a MedicOne Medical Response paramedic for 4 years.She has also taught infection control to nurses at the Texas Hospital Association; hasbeen a speaker at TORCH (Texas Organization of Rural and Community Hospitals); and served on the Public Health Board, City of Grand Prairie from 2010-2012.

Facility Experience
As well as her impressive medical experience, Dannette has extensive experience in Facility Management and Janitorial.Before joining Varsity Facility Services, Dannette owned numerous janitorial companies. She has also served as Executive Vice President at AHI Facility Services; and as Director of Medical Treatment Facilities at Aztec Facility Services. She served on the BSCAI Board of Directors from 1955-1998; served on the Proctor & Gamble Advisory Board of Directors from 1995-1998; and was a speaker for Sales & Marketing at the 2002 & 2003 ISSA Conventions.

• University of Texas at Arlington
• Southern Methodist University
• National College of Technical Instruction (Paramedic)
• DCCCD nursing (Phi Theta Kappa)

Other experience and certifications:
• Texas State Paramedic, National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians – Paramedic (NREMT-P)
• Infection Preventionist (IP)
• IICRC carpet cleaning
• FEMA disaster paramedic certified
• Wildlands Firefighter
• Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS)
• CPR instructor
• Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology (APIC)
• International Association of Women in Fire & Emergency Services, 16 Springs Fire Department (New Mexico).
• Disaster Action Team Leader – American Red Cross
• Certified Executive Housekeeper (CEH)

Awards / Honors:
• Won Dallas 100, Inc. 1994 for being one of the fastest growing companies in Dallas.
• 1995 Greater Dallas Chamber of Commerce Enterprise of the Year winner

Literary Accomplishments:
• Published over 50 articles with SERVICES magazine and CONTRACTING PROFITS
• Former Columnist for Grand Prairie Chamber of Commerce, “Who’s Who in Grand Prairie”.

Dannette’s hobbies include playing the classical piano since the age of 3, playing pipe organ, writing hymns and she is currently working on 2 books: From Acne to Estrogen, and Crazy Stories from the ER.

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