Category: Clinical Corner

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Get Your BSN with Medical Solutions

Bachelor of Science in Nursing BSN theme

Get your BSN with Medical Solutions and you’ll be head of the class when it comes to career opportunities and skills!

By Chris Vinton, Medical Solutions Quality Assurance Specialist

If you already have your Associate’s in nursing, getting a Bachelor’s degree in nursing may seem unnecessary, or even daunting. Some of the classes needed for a BSN aren’t related to nursing, but more and more hospitals across the United States are pushing for all their nurses to have a BSN.

Having an ASN (or ADN) is perfectly fine, and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with choosing to stick with that. However, if you ever plan on moving up to nurse management, away from the bedside, or to a higher acuity unit you have little to no experience in, you will need to have your BSN. The BSN degree will open up doors for you that an ASN or ADN degree do not. Having a BSN makes you incredibly more marketable to hospitals and, in fact, more and more hospitals are simply requiring BSN degrees now.

Additionally, earning your BSN will also help you refine and develop your nursing skills. According to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing, patients who are taken care of by a BSN have more positive patient outcomes.

Medical Solutions wants to give all of our nurses the opportunity to attain their BSN, should they want to. That’s why we have a completely online RN to BSN program in partnership with Nebraska Methodist College, which ranked fifth on BestCollege.com’s list of “Best Online RN to BSN Program of 2015”!

The courses are built entirely into your pay package — so no need to worry about student loans — and Nebraska Methodist College gives Medical Solutions nurses in this program a pretty sweet discount on courses, too. Typically, the program lasts about 12-24 months and is very transfer-friendly. If you’ve already taken some steps toward your BSN, this can significantly cut down on the time it takes to earn your BSN. All in all, this program is a fantastic opportunity for any Medical Solutions RN looking to advance her or his career!

If you’re interested in Medical Solutions’ RN to BSN Program, simply get in touch with your Career Consultant. If you don’t already have a dedicated Career Consultant working to help you build the career you desire and deserve, contact us at 866.633.3548 and we will remedy that! Our Career Consultants can help you get the information you need to determine if this is the right step for you, and, once you’re ready, they’ll help you get started.

Click here to learn more about Medical Solutions’ RN to BSN Program.
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Clinical Corner: The Flu, the Flu Vaccine and You

Get Your Flu Shot

It’s that time of year again!

By Chris Vinton, Medical Solutions Quality Assurance Specialist

October is one of the best months of the year. Pumpkin Spice season is in full swing, haunted houses are up and running, the holidays are on the horizon, Halloween costumes are being bought for dogs, the weather is comfortable for the most part, and, for some reason, some stores are already playing “Rudolf the Red Nosed Reindeer.”

October also marks the beginning of flu season. Here is what you need to know about the flu, the flu vaccine, and Medical Solutions’ requirements regarding the flu vaccine.

Flu season starts in October and continues until April, though flu activity can last through May. Usually, flu season peaks from December through March. The CDC recommends flu vaccines for anyone over the age of six months — and if you’re reading this, you are either over six months or a very, very impressive baby.

This flu season, the CDC is not recommending the active virus nasal spray. Last season, the nasal spray was nowhere near as effective as the regular flu shot. The flu vaccine will not make you completely immune to the flu, it will help your body build up antibodies and severely reduce the chances of you getting the flu. The vaccine will also not make you sick, the virus will be completely dead by the time it reaches you. If you are allergic to eggs or have had a severe allergic reaction to flu vaccines, gelatin, antibiotics or other ingredients, talk to your primary care physician before considering a flu vaccine.

Woman sick with flu

Get your flu shot and avoid this sneezy, sniffly fate!

Medical Solutions requires a flu vaccination for every traveler in October or before starting a travel assignment during flu season. If you are allergic to the flu vaccine or cannot receive the flu vaccine due to religious reasons, we will require a declination form from your primary care physician or a clergy member. We require a flu vaccination for every Traveler because the flu virus effects the entire country and the flu vaccine should help defend you no matter where you travel to. The flu vaccine does take a few weeks to work, your body slowly builds up antibodies. That is why we require the flu vaccine in October or before starting any assignment during flu season. The better protected you are from the flu, the better protected your patients and coworkers will be!

There is a ton of really cool flu information on the CDC website. Everything from the effectiveness of flu vaccines, to the methodology for the flu information and even a Twitter campaign for flu awareness and vaccines.

For the general overview on the CDC’s flu page, click here.

You can get more info about the flu from the CDC’s flu FAQs and stay current on how the season is affecting the U.S. with their live map of flu activity by state.

Thanks for doing your part to keep the herd healthy! If you have any questions about Medical Solutions’ flu vaccine requirements, please feel free to contact your Career Consultant.

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Clinical Corner: It’s Hip to Follow HIPAA

HIPAA Requirements

It’s Hip to Follow HIPAA: Make sure you’re doing everything you can to best protect patient information.

By Chris Vinton, Medical Solutions Quality Assurance Specialist

Protecting patient information is a crucial part of patient care. Each patient’s information must be protected from his or her intake date all the way past the patient’s discharge date. HIPAA is a federal law that requires patient information to be protected as much as possible.

Patient information is a need to know basis. If someone doesn’t need to know, then don’t reveal the information. It can be easy to compromise a patient’s protected information, so you must be aware of what you are saying and to whom. Someone may overhear your conversation or you may accidently give too much information to whoever you are talking to. Unintentional HIPAA violations still incur a fine of $100 per offense. Some violations can cost up to $50,000 per offense — money much better spent on tacos.

So, how do you avoid spending hundreds or thousands of dollars in donations to the federal government? Simply, do not share patient information with people who do not need it. It certainly is much more complicated than it sounds, but awareness goes a long way. Making sure patient records match the patient, calling the patient at the correct number, and not giving out patient information are easy ways to prevent information breeches.

Closeup of fish tacos on plate

Wouldn’t you rather spend your money on these delicious tacos than on HIPAA fines? That’s just one more reason to follow HIPAA and keep patient info secure!

Technology has made patient care easier and faster, with some exceptions. However, technology has also made access to patient information easier, which is both good and bad. Make sure the computer you’re using is password protected and always lock computers when leaving them. Do not share your computer password with anyone. When emailing patient information, use a generic subject line. Even if the email is encrypted, the subject line will not be. Papers with patient information must be covered, put in a folder or put in a drawer. When disposing of any patient information that is on paper, shred the papers instead of throwing them in the regular trash can.

Every nurse has some great stories to tell — whether they are impressive or really gross. When telling these stories, leave out identifying details like the patient’s name, for example. Otherwise, it could lead back to the patient or someone who knows them. You never know who’s listening to your story and specific details could lead the person you’re talking to, or a person who is eavesdropping, back to the patient.

HIPAA is a constantly evolving law. There will always be new things to be aware of such as new technology, new charting systems, and there may even be new court cases that change HIPAA. If you see any HIPAA violations, you can report them on the HIPAA website. Always keep in mind that hospitals are always the last place people want to be in and some procedures can be very embarrassing to some people. Much of what nurses talk about is normal to them, but people outside of the medical profession can be appalled by the stories or if their own information was somehow leaked. Always make protecting your patient your main priority.

You can get more information about HIPAA or report a violation here.

For more tips on avoiding HIPAA violations, click here.

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Clinical Corner: Zika Virus Update

Zika Virus in USA

What’s the latest Zika buzz? This month’s Clinical Corner will help keep you educated on the Zika virus and keep yourself and your patients as safe as possible!

By Chris Vinton, Medical Solutions Quality Assurance Specialist

Clinical Corner gave you a Zika update way back in February. Unfortunately, the virus has since spread and the CDC has new information about Zika. We always try to stay on top of current public health crises and state the facts from trustworthy sources.

The CDC has issued a travel warning for Florida. Pregnant women and couples trying to become pregnant are advised to not travel to Miami. Local mosquitos have become infected and are spreading Zika in Miami. As of now, Zika-infected mosquitos are confined to a specific neighborhood, but that could change. The Florida government, FEMA, CDC, and other government agencies are doing their best to contain the virus but there is still a chance it will spread.

Zika has been linked to birth defects, specifically microcephaly, as well as neurological disorders such as Guillain-Barré syndrome. Though most people will still experience no to mild symptoms, pregnant women and fetuses are still most at risk when it comes to the Zika virus.

It has also since been confirmed that Zika is spread by sexual contact. It’s especially important that you use protection if you or your partner have been in any areas facing a Zika outbreak. Individuals infected by Zika can still spread the virus long after their symptoms have subsided. CDC recommends, for couples where either partner has been infected, that women wait at least 8 weeks after symptoms and men wait at least 6 months after symptoms before trying to conceive.

We will continue to monitor the Zika virus in the event of it spreading and always give you the facts. We want our nurses to be informed in case any patients you take care of have Zika and, as always, we want YOU to be as safe as possible!

Here are a few more resources to help you stay educated on the Zika virus:

  • If you are in the Florida area, the CDC released a new update here.
  • Click here for a map showing all areas effected by a Zika outbreak.
  • To see the plan for Zika the CDC has put forth, you can read the full interim plan by clicking here.
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Clinical Corner: How to Avoid Common Summer Injuries

Man with grill fire

This Grill is on Fy-ahhh! And not in the good way … be sure to keep all sources of fire in check this summer.

By Chris Vinton, Medical Solutions Quality Assurance Specialist

We’re right in the thick of the sweltering summer season. This means pool parties, bicycling, margaritas, hiking, camping, boating, and, of course, the occasional injury. In fact, July is the most dangerous month, according to the Department of Labor. These injuries range from common minor injuries such as sunburns to more serious injuries like heat stroke. You spend such a large portion of your life taking care of others’ health, but don’t forget to take the time to take care of YOU, too! Here are some tips on how to avoid common summer injuries this year:

1. Sunburns

This one is easy, yet often overlooked. Use sunscreen, even on cloudy days. Up that SPF depending on how long you will spend outside and how fair your skin is. And if you’ll be taking a dip, I recommend following this wise rhyme: “Don’t be shy, reapply!”

2. Strains and Sprains

The most common injury ever! Avoid overexerting yourself and wear proper clothing and footwear for the activity you are doing.

Sun protection woman

Don’t Be Shy, Reapply! Choose your SPF wisely and slather up to avoid sunburns.

3. Fire

Everyone likes fire until it gets out of control. Only start fires in fire pits that are not close to any dry brush. Keep a fire deterrent such as a bucket of water or a fire extinguisher near.

4. Lawn Mowers 

Be sure whatever you are mowing is clear or any debris that could be thrown by the lawnmower blades. Make sure nothing is in the way of your mower and never mess with it unless you are sure that it is turned off.

5. Dehydration

If you are outside and active, you need to be drinking 6 ounces of water every 15 minutes. Normally women need about 2.2 liters and men need about 3 liters of water a day. If you’re outdoors and sweating (or glistening) then you need to up your water game. Remember alcohol will make you more dehydrated, so be sure you’re drinking water in between those beers!

6. Bug Bites

woman drinks water

Water, Water, Everywhere! Be sure to stay hydrated in the face of hot temps and increased outdoor activity.

Unfortunately, summer means bugs are back. Avoid mosquitos and ticks by using insect repellant and covering up with breathable long-sleeved clothes. Keep an eye on any bug bites you happen to receive and if you have a “bulls-eye” bug bite, see your doctor immediately.

7. “Hold My Beer” Moments

If anyone says that phrase or any phrase like it, do not let that person do whatever it is they are planning on doing. “Hold my beer” is usually said before someone tries to ride a skateboard off a roof, launch their car over a pool, or light up 30 fireworks at the same time. While the end results can be pretty rad, the chances of someone getting injured are exceptionally high and some risks should never be taken.

Summer can be a load of fun but can also be dangerous. Be sure you’re being safe no matter what activity you’re doing and always be aware of your surroundings. Trust your gut instincts! Be safe and enjoy the rest of your summer.

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Clinical Corner: 9 Quick Tips for Rocking Your Travel Nurse Performance Evaluation

perfect hospital evaluation

Rock your Travel Nurse performance eval like the rock star you are!

By Chris Vinton, Medical Solutions Quality Assurance Specialist

At the end of every Travel Nursing assignment you take with Medical Solutions, the hospital is given a form to evaluate your performance. Performance evaluations are a reflection of you and the work you put in at each hospital. These evaluations will stay with you for your entire career at Medical Solutions, so it is important to have some rock star level performance evaluations!

Performance evaluations cover everything from clinical skills to communication between you and full-time staff to personal hygiene. The factors you’re rated on are intentionally broad and cover a wide range of topics, so to help you prepare, here are 9 quick tips for rocking your Travel Nurse performance evaluation:

  1. Focus on patient care.
  2. Be aware of the hospital’s policies and follow these policies.
  3. Document appropriately.
  4. Remember the five rights of medication administration.
  5. Be courteous and respectful to patients and staff.
  6. Communicate with your team and doctors.
  7. Do not be late for shifts.
  8. Ask your team and charge nurse questions.
  9. Shower — and otherwise maintain your personal hygiene.

Every assignment you take will be different, every hospital will have different policies, and you will always have a new team to work with. In order to rock performance evaluations, you need to adapt to every situation you find yourself in. There will always be different policies or ways of documenting. However, the one thing that is constant in every assignment you take is you. You have the power to communicate effectively, treat patients how you would want to be treated, and follow hospital policies. Not to get too motivational speaker sounding, but you’ve totally got this — you have the skill and will to adapt and wow the hospitals, your patients, and all the teams you will work with!

Performance evaluations are an important part of Travel Nursing. They reveal quite a bit of information about both Travelers and hospitals. This will help your Career Consultant find optimum facilities for you where you would be a perfect fit. It also helps our Client Managers learn more about the culture of each hospital. Remember that these performance evaluations reflect your work and if you are a rock star, then you will get an awesome performance eval!

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Clinical Corner: Needlestick Injuries

Nurse Needle

Clinical Corner: Find out how safety practices can help you prevent accidental needlesticks.

By Chris Vinton, Medical Solutions Quality Assurance Specialist

There are many occupational hazards working as a nurse. One of the most dangerous work hazard nurses face daily, are accidental needlesticks. These types of injuries are preventable and are one of the more serious injuries a nurse can face.

Every year, more than 385,000 needlesticks and other sharps injuries occur — 40% of the injuries occur before use and another 41% of injuries occur during the use of the sharp device on patients. While everyone in a hospital is at risk for needlesticks, the most at risk are the nurses and technicians. A person who is accidently stuck with a needle, has a chance to be exposed to and develop HIV, Hepatitis B, and Hepatitis C, as well as other bloodborne pathogens.

Nurses and Technicians are most at risk when performing the following actions:

  • Manipulating needle into the patient
  • Disposing needles with tubing attached
  • Recapping needles
  • Failure to dispose of needles in sharps containers
  • Working too quickly
  • Bumping into a needle or another worker while either person is holding a sharp

Be especially aware of your surroundings and your work when you’re doing any of the above actions. About 80% of all needlestick injuries will be prevented by being more careful performing those actions. Needlestick injuries are entirely preventable, that cannot be stressed enough!

Smokey

Only you … can prevent needlesticks!

The best way to prevent needlestick injuries is to use needles that have a safety device and to use the safety device. A safety needle is just a regular needle if you don’t use the safety device. Engaging the safety device reduces sharps injuries by 88%. Secondly, be aware of your surroundings and don’t work too quickly. Remember, you are most at risk during and after use of a needle. Avoid recapping needles, but use the one-handed scoop method if you absolutely have to.

If you do suffer a needlestick injury, wash the immediate area with soap and water. Report the injury to your supervisor and seek immediate medical attention. A number of blood tests need to be completed, some tests will even be months from the first exposure and these tests are just as necessary.

When using needles, remember to use the safety device, be aware of your surroundings, don’t work too fast and always dispose of needles in proper containers. Needlestick injuries are much like forest fires. Only you can prevent them!

For more information about the prevention and treatment of needlestick injuries, click here.

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Clinical Corner: Preventing Patient Falls

Clinical Corner Preventing Patient Falls

Patient falls are the cause of lots of injuries and deaths each year in the U.S. Learn how you can take steps to prevent patient falls whenever possible.

By Chris Vinton, Medical Solutions Quality Assurance Specialist

One of the biggest safety concerns for inpatient care is falling. In the United States, falls cause more than 30,000 deaths per year. Falls are always very serious and are the most frequently reported adverse patient event, across all age spectrums. Preventing falls is paramount for good patient care. So, how do you prevent patients from falling or tripping?

First, if you ever come across something on the ground and think, “Huh, someone could trip over that.” Do take the time to stop and clean or pick it up — even if it isn’t your job. Oftentimes, many fall injuries happen because someone saw a tripping hazard (like a puddle or a box on the floor) and did not clear it. Keep items out of walkways and an eye on patients who often spill or drop things. Also, keep a special eye on patients who are incontinent, because nothing ruins a day faster than slipping in a puddle of chocolate pudding, so to speak.

Clinical Corner Preventing Patient Falls

The GOOD kind of chocolate pudding!

When patients are in bed, be sure to pull up the safety rails on both sides. Have a nightstand within reaching distance, so patients don’t have to get up to get their phone, medication, or other important items. Have the call button either on the bed with the patient or on the close nightstand. The less a patient is standing up, the less likely they are to fall!

Be sure to know your patients for each shift. Patients that are older than 65, are weakened, have altered mental status, or are on a combination of drugs are more likely to fall. Try to take special effort in preventing these patients from falling.

Finally, if your patient happens to fall, do not try to catch them. More often than not, trying to catch a falling patient will only get you hurt. Instead, try falling with the patient to slow them down and protect their head. If you are near a wall, you can try guiding the patient’s fall into the wall to slow them down. However, do not body slam your patient into the wall, as this will likely cause more injuries and, unlike in the world of professional wrestling, you will not get a sweet championship belt for doing so! Once the patient is on the floor, assess the patient’s status. If they are well enough to stand up, call for help and get an additional person to help lift. Do not try to stand a patient that has recently fallen on your own.

As always, every hospital is different and every hospital will have different measures to prevent patients from falling. Falls will only cause more problems for you and your patients. Be sure you are doing everything in your power to prevent yourself, your coworkers, and your patients from falling. Just remember, if you see something that could potentially hurt someone, it probably will. Take care of falling hazards and remember: Falls aren’t fun!

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The Joint Commission Sentinel Event Alert 56: Suicide Prevention

The Joint Commission Sentinel Event Alert 56: Suicide Prevention

The Joint Commission Sentinel Event Alert 56: Suicide Prevention

By Chris Vinton, Medical Solutions Quality Assurance Specialist

The Joint Commission occasionally pushes out Sentinel Event Alerts with information about particular issues they find concerning. These issues range from preventing falls to healthcare worker fatigue, much like the topics addressed here on Clinical Corner. The alerts are very important, so we want to make sure that this info is available to all of our Travelers. The Joint Commission Sentinel Event Alert #56 is all about detecting and treating suicide.

The rate of suicide is increasing in the United States. Suicide claims more people every year than both traffic accidents and homicides. More often than not, people who become victims of suicide often receive healthcare services in the year prior to their death. Detection and treatment of suicidal thoughts are becoming increasingly important. Suicide victims are often thought to fit a profile — such as a person who abuses drugs, has a history of trauma, or is socially isolated. People who have these risk factors are more likely to become suicide victims, however, that certainly does not mean that these risk factors will always lead to suicide or that the absence of them means an individual is safe from suicide. With this alert, The Joint Commission is seeking to motivate nurses and organizations to use a comprehensive behavioral health plan to identify and prevent suicide.

The Joint Commission has several recommendations for nurses in a general hospital or clinical settings:

  1. Review each patient’s personal and family medical history for suicide risks.
  2. Screen all patients for suicide ideation using a brief, standardized, evidence-based screening tool.
  3. Review screening questionnaires before the patient leaves the appointment or is discharged.
  4. Take actions using assessment results to inform the level of safety measures needed.

Patients most at risk for suicide will need to have immediate access to behavioral health. Restrict access to lethal means, such as prescription medications, and conduct a safety plan. Give every patient at risk for suicide the number to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. Conduct safety planning by collaboratively identifying coping strategies with the patient and providing resources to reduce risk.

The advice in this alert applies to all patients in all settings. Using the above recommendations might just change someone’s life. Just remember, identifying risk factors is very important in preventing suicide, but not every victim of suicide has these factors. It is important to make sure every patient you come in contact with feels valued and comforted in every interaction.

This article was only a small snippet of information for this Joint Commission Sentinel Event Alert. Click here to view the entire document.

If you, a family member, or a patient needs immediate help, the number for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1.800.273.8255.

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The Zika Virus: What Travel Nurses Need to Know

The Zika Virus: What Travel Nurses Need to Know

Lots of folks are buzzing about the Zika virus, but it’s important to separate fact from fiction and theory as the threat evolves.

By Chris Vinton, Medical Solutions Quality Assurance Specialist

There’s been a lot of buzz about the Zika virus lately and right now there is a ton of sensationalized information out there. Because of this, I wanted to share some facts straight from the CDC and the WHO pages and statements about the virus with Medical Solutions Travelers, to help you be the most well-informed nurses wherever you may be located!

The Zika virus is currently found in Mexico, South and Central America, and the southern Caribbean Islands. The virus is spread primarily by mosquito bites, however it can also spread through blood transfusion and as an STD. Additionally, Zika can spread from mother to fetus and possibly through breastfeeding. Birth defects — specifically microcephaly (incomplete fetal brain development) — have skyrocketed in countries that are experiencing a Zika virus outbreak. The Zika virus has not yet been confirmed as causing birth defects but it very, very likely is. In the countries experiencing an outbreak, many infants with microcephaly have been found infected with Zika. The CDC states that Zika will not affect future pregnancies and will only effect fetuses if the mother gets Zika while currently pregnant. The Zika virus might cause Guillain-Barre syndrome (GBS) as well, a rare disorder that causes muscle weakness and sometimes paralysis. Brazil has seen a sudden rise people affected by GBS but it is not currently confirmed that Zika will make a person more susceptible to GBS.

As of now, the Zika virus has only been brought to the continental United States by people who have been infected overseas and there have been no locally acquired cases. The CDC finds the Gulf States, including Florida, to be at risk for Zika-spreading mosquitos. Puerto Rico has had several confirmed locally acquired cases.

Common symptoms of the Zika virus include fever, rash, joint pain, muscle pain, headache, and/or conjunctivitis. About 1 in 5 infected people will become ill with symptoms typically lasting several days to a week. Hospitalization for the Zika virus is uncommon and, to date, there have been no confirmed deaths from Zika. There are no vaccines or medications available for Zika.

If you happen to be infected, the treatment for Zika is rest and fluids. Take medicine such as acetaminophen to reduce fever and pain but do not take aspirin until dengue (another virus spread by mosquitos that causes internal hemorrhaging) can be ruled out. There are currently no vaccines to prevent Zika, nor specific medicine to treat Zika.

So how does this affect you as a nurse? First, if you or anyone you know has recently traveled to any of the above-mentioned locations and are feeling the symptoms of Zika, they should see a primary care physician. The tropics have all sorts of not-so-lovely diseases, viruses, and parasites and Zika’s symptoms are common to many other ailments. If you are infected with Zika, avoid being bitten by mosquitos, as the mosquitos will become infected and spread Zika. If you are taking care of a patient that has the Zika virus, be sure you are taking the necessary precautions and wearing your PPE.

It’s currently unknown what the ultimate human costs and spread of the Zika virus will be. Zika originates from Africa and was considered a benign disease until recently. It became a public health concern when it spread quickly in the densely populated areas of South America. Most people that become infected generally experience no symptoms and those who do face very minor symptoms. There have been no confirmed deaths in adults from Zika. What is most concerning about Zika is the effect it can have on pregnant women and fetuses.

If you are pregnant or trying to become pregnant, the CDC and the WHO advise against travel to affected areas during the Zika outbreak. If you are planning to travel to any of these areas in the near future, click here for information from the CDC on the current situation in each county and how to prevent Zika.

For more information about Zika, please click the following links to visit the CDC’s Zika info page or the WHO’s Zika fact sheet.
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