Welcome to the Duquesne Scope!

We are a monthly newsletter published by the Duquesne University Student Nurses Association! We are winners of the 2013 and 2014 Outstanding Newsletter Award by the Student Nurses Association of Pennsylvania. Check us out if you are interested in health news and happenings in the Duquesne School of Nursing. We are always looking for new writers and new ideas so if interested email the DUSNA Publicity Chair at: . We also would love your feedback on our articles so feel free to comment below the articles in the comment section.

Happy reading!


The War on Zika

Chelsea Kwong, senior

Recently, the CDC issued travel advisories for several regions affected by the spreading Zika virus. The increasing concern about this virus has even impacted Duquesne nursing students, as the annual spring break trip to Nicaragua led by Duquesne faculty has been cancelled. As international health authorities and impacted countries work to minimize the impact of this deadly illness, little information about its effects are actually known. The virus shows no signs of stopping at this time, and is expected to result in approximately 3-4 million cases within the next year1.

According to the World Health Organization, Zika is “an emerging mosquito-borne Flavivirus related to dengue, yellow fever, Japanese encephalitis, and West Nile viruses, and is transmitted by Aedes spp. Mosquitoes” (2015).  Symptoms include fever, myalgia, conjunctivitis, and other unpleasant conditions2. However, its most striking effects have been neurological and autoimmune in nature. The virus has been linked to an increased incidence of conditions including Guillain-Barre syndrome, thrombocytopenic purpura, leucopenia, and meningoencephalitis1.

Its most devastating effects, however, have been observed in newborns whose mothers contracted the virus during pregnancy. Specifically in Brazil, an alarming amount of cases of microcephaly (a condition in which the infant’s head appears shrunken. The smaller head capacity affects the brain, which cannot properly develop as a result of the condition) have arisen within the past year. Much of the travel advisories and warnings have been targeted toward pregnant women, whose fetuses are at risk for birth defects2.

The virus was first discovered in Uganda in 1947, but has not been of concern to humans until 2007, when the virus surfaced in Micronesia. Several years later, in May of 2015, the World Health Organization reported occurrence in the Americas, particularly in Brazil. It is said that Brazil had upwards of 1.3 million occurrences of Zika in 2015. The virus has since spread to several countries in South and Central America, even reaching Puerto Rico.3

Attention has been directed toward Brazil, a country that has been most impacted by the virus, as it is to host the Olympic Games this summer in Rio de Janiero. Already suffering political and financial hardships, the government remains optimistic about the situation, saying that “Zika will pose no risk to Olympic visitors unless they’re pregnant”, and that because the games are occurring during Brazil’s winter, the mosquitoes should not be as active. Despite the outward optimism, athletes and prospective spectators of the international event have raised concerns, and airlines have begun to give refunds to those canceling trips to Zika affected areas, particularly Brazil.4

The U.S. Department of Health states that “although local transmission of Zika virus has not been documented in the continental United States, Zika virus infections have been reported in returning travelers”. Currently, there are no publically available tests for the disease. People within the affected regions observe for onset of symptoms such as the dengue infection, fever, conjunctivitis, etc. There is also no vaccine for the disease, and it has become especially important for those inhabiting these regions (or those who must travel to these regions) to engage in standard mosquito precautions. It is critical that pregnant women avoid travel to these areas, and should be assessed by a doctor immediately if exhibiting the various symptoms of the disease within two weeks of travel.3 Though the United States is at low risk for a widespread outbreak of Zika, it is important to be aware of the condition and its devastating effects.

1Trinfol, M. & Udani, S. (2016). Concern over Zika virus grips the world. The Lancet. doi. 10.1016/S0140-6736(16)00257-9

2World Health Organization. Zika virus outbreaks in the Americas. Weekly Epidemiological Record, 45(90), 609-616. Retrieved from http://www.who.int/wer

3Hennessey, M., Fischer, M., & Staples, J.E. (2016). Zika virus spreads to new areas- Region of the Americas, May 2015-January 2016. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services/Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, 65(3), 55-57.

4Walsh, B., Sifferlin, A., Worland, J. & Sandy, M. (2016). Zika’s toll. Time, 187(5), 42-47.


Where to spring break without getting sick

Briana Gavin, freshman

Did the Zika virus ruin your spring break plans? Bummer. But don’t fret there are still some great destinations that will make your spring break awesome but won’t get you sick.

If you’re like me then you are probably sick of being cold and wet all the time. So why not go somewhere to get a nice tan and have some fun in the sun. If this is your idea of a great spring break then head south. Home to many wondrous sights, beaches and entertainment Georgia or the Carolinas are great places to visit. Whether you go Savanah or Myrtle Beach you are sure to have a great spring break trip.

If you like sitting in a car for hours on end, cranking up the music and having fun with your friends. Then a road trip would be the best spring break for you. Packing up the car, setting off onto an adventure and having memories that will last a lifetime. Whether you decide on a destination and take your time getting there or you just grab the map, throw the dart and try to have as much fun as possible, a road trip can be a great time to experience places you never would have seen otherwise. Head to the Grand Canyon or go see the world’s largest ball of yarn whatever just have fun and take pictures!

Despite the fact that being cold is getting old, some of you may want to go skiing or snowboarding this spring break. If you really want to get away there are great slopes in Colorado such as Beaver Creek. Trying to stay closer there are other places here too such as Camelback Mountain. As always there are multiple great destinations to go if you’re looking to spend time on the slopes.

Saving the best for last. Stay home! I know it’s fun to go away for spring break but what’s better than home. You can have fun with all your friends, sleep in your own bed and stay in you pjs’ the entire break and no one will judge you. Also after months of eating college food who doesn’t want a nice home cooked meal and better yet; it’s free! Just think of the money you save! Staying at home you can relax, take a breather and come back feeling better than those that decided to have a little too much fun for breakJ. So give yourself the gift of doing nothing this spring break and go home and snuggle with your pets, they miss you too!

If you are still bummed out about your missed plan just think, by staying in the United States, you won’t have to travel that much and deal with the madness of airports, or train stations. Also where you go may not be as crowded. No matter where you go have a fun spring break and stay safe.


Lead: A Threat to Children and Adults Alike

Bridget Seelinger, DUSNA Publicity Chair

The disaster in Flint, Michigan has raised awareness for rising levels of lead in drinking water. Some reports say that our very own Allegheny River may have near-toxic levels of lead in the water, which raises questions as to how much this can affect one’s health.

What makes the situation in Flint so perilous is the fact that the lead that is in the water is originating from the pipes. In 2014, the town’s water source was switched from Lake Huron to the Flint River. Pipes were used that were not properly treated against corrosion, so throughout the years, the pipes have worn down and leaked literal poison into the water. There are very legitimate fears that the high levels of lead in the children of Flint’s bloodstreams, may lead to permanent neurological damage. The state of Michigan, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the federal government are seeking to waterprosecute the officials responsible for the decisions that led to the water crisis.

Lead works as a poison in the body, mimicking the actions of important vitamins and minerals such as calcium, iron, and zinc. As a result, lead can cause severe mental alterations as the brain has decreased oxygenation and decreased muscle function, since calcium is vital for healthy muscle contractions. Lead is odorless, tasteless, colorless, and virtually undetectable until symptoms start to occur. The only way that lead can affect you is if it is ingested, which is why it is important to check one’s home for lead paint, especially if there are children in the home.1

After reports indicated high levels of lead in Pittsburgh water sources, the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority (PWSA) began testing our own pipes for corrosion and came up with a safeguard against the poisoning of our water supply, the decision to switch from caustic soda to soda ash, a chemical that will create a film over the pipes to prevent corrosion.

In a report by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette2, John Jeffries, supervisor of the county health department’s Public Drinking Water & Waste Management Program, said, “I think this is a good opportunity for people to understand the water systems of Allegheny County have been using the same sources for a very long time, and they are comfortable treating those to meet rules and regulations… For what it’s worth, I drink the tap water.”

Symptoms of lead poisoning in children include developmental delays, irritability, hearing loss, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, loss of appetite, and weight loss. In adults, symptoms include high blood pressure, muscle pain, joint pain, decline in mental functioning, miscarriages, and constipation. If you present with the symptoms above, it is important to get help right away.  Treatment for lead poisoning is Chelation Therapy, a process of ingesting a chemical and excreting the lead through the urine. In severe cases, EDTA therapy is used, where an even harsher chemical is used to excrete the lead.3

It is important for people to understand the true danger of lead, especially lead in the drinking water, and be vigilant for signs and symptoms of possible toxicity. Hopefully, as the investigation in Flint continues, proper actions may be taken to resolve this very critical issue.



1, Delaware Department of Public Health: http://dhss.delaware.gov/dhss/dph/files/leadpoisonfaq.pdf

2, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: http://www.post-gazette.com/local/city/2016/01/22/Pittsburgh-water-sewer-authority-using-new-lead-fighting-chemical/stories/201601220121

3, Mayo Clinic: http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/lead-poisoning/basics/definition/con-20035487

Photos from NBC and Wikipedia


The Reality of the Dangers of a Broken Heart

Holly Storm, freshman

You have just broken up with your significant other and feel like you could die from a broken heart. Even though it sounds silly to say you could die of a broken heart there is actually a chance you could. Broken heart syndrome is a stress-cardiomyopathy which means the heart muscle is abnormal that can be misdiagnosed as a heart attack. And even though these two things are similar in some aspects, Broken Heart Syndrome actually is very different from a normal heart attack.

In Broken Heart Syndrome, your body reacts to a sudden increase of stress hormones and a part of your heart will enlarge and start pumping badly while the rest of your heart will be functioning fine. Even though the effects of Broken Heart Syndrome can be very severe and threatening like short-term heart failure, the good news is that more than likely you can be back to normal within a week or two. Some things to look out for when experiencing Broken Heart Syndrome are severe chest pain, shortness of breath, and irregular heartbeats.  The reason that Broken Heart Syndrome is not the same as a heart attack is for several clear reasons. Heart attacks are a result of plaque building up in the arteries over long periods of time which then puts pressure on the junctions of the arteries. So heart attacks are the result of a poor health whereas to experience Broken Heart Syndrome, you do not need to be in bad health. It can happen in healthy people, even though what happens during the attacks are very different.

So when you are extremely upset over something such as a breakup or a death, do not push aside what is happening to you, as that could become life threatening.  Though it sounds ridiculous to say that you experienced Broken Heart Syndrome, it is something that should be taken seriously and your heart will thank you.

Is Broken Heart Syndrome Real? (n.d.). Retrieved February 17, 2016, from http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/More/Cardiomyopathy/Is-Broken-Heart-Syndrome-Real_UCM_448547_Article.jsp#.VsTaADY0tlI


Roses: Romantic Gesture or Join Supplement?

Ashley Altieri, senior

When one thinks of roses, an immediate connection is made with Valentine’s Day or a romantic gesture.  However, roses and rosehips, the fruit that grow from certain varieties, have a myriad of practical uses.

Besides brewing a delicious cup of tea made from rosehips, scenting a room with rose fragrance, or making rosewater cookies, there are supplemental purposes.  Fresh rosehips are known to be packed full of vitamin C1.  In addition to the antioxidant properties of vitamin C, rosehips have protective properties for the joints1.  Trials in patients that suffered from Rheumatoid and Osteoarthritis showed that rosehips made a positive impact in their quality of life1.  Systematic reviews of two randomized control trials found improved hip flexion and reduced pain when using rosehip supplements in the treatment plan for hip and knee osteoarthritis1.  In one trial, LitoZin (or five grams of rosehips) was used in one group, and a placebo in the other1.  The second trial was similar in that one group was given a placebo, and the other group given Hyben Vital tablets (five grams of rosehips) 1.  The results were not perfect, as one person developed an unexplained case of vasculitis (possibly due to the other medications the patient was on), and others reported little improvement in their hip rotation or degree of knee flexion1.

So, how do rosehips make any improvement possible?  A study examining the effects on a chemical level found that rosehips have anti-inflammatory properties that are ideal for osteoarthritis patients2.  Although rosehips are not something commonly found in the local supermarket, there could be a day when more research allows trials of complementary rosehip treatments for those that suffer from joint ailments

Rosehips and other herbal or homeopathic remedies can one day help to slowly decrease the agonizing and often deadly side effects of current drugs and first-line treatments.  Until more concrete studies can be done and interactions thoroughly investigated, all supplements should be consulted with one’s primary care provider and pharmacist.  Nurses play a vital role in educating patients on the harm that can be done when patients fail to research or question the medications and supplements that are mixed in an effort to find relief.

1, http://www.arthritisresearchuk.org/arthritis-information/complementary-and-alternative-medicines/cam-report/complementary-medicines-for-rheumatoid-arthritis/rosehip.aspx

2, http://www.hindawi.com/journals/mi/2014/105710/

3, https://nccih.nih.gov/research/results/gait/qa.htm


Saving Lives, Heart Failure Nursing

Abigail Schwing, senior

With heart failure on the rise, the strain it will create on the health care system is imminent. Heart failure comes with a poor prognosis (around 50% of severe cases lead to death), high admission and readmission rates, and lengthy hospital stays.  These conditions perfectly pave the way for the emergence of nursing specialty in heart failure.

The heart failure nurse specialist manages the complex care of patients with heart failure. Patients with heart failure often receive less than optimal treatment and management of care, which ultimately leads to readmissions. Of the readmissions, 54% are preventable. Heart failure nurse specialist work to improve the care of patient and ultimately decrease the readmissions of their patients. Through collaboration, patient education, and support, these nurse specialists improve care for heart failure patients. Heart failure nurses also coordinate care for each patients and recognize that it takes a multidisciplinary team to manage patients care.

With the aging population and the increased survival after a myocardial infarction, heart failure is on the rise. Management of heart failure patients is complex, and many nurses are overstretched which leads to poorer patient outcomes. This not only creates a great financial burden on the healthcare systems, but it also creates a poor quality of life for heart failure patients. Generally, a minimum of two years of cardiology and five years’ post-registration experience is required. A Master’s level education is also preferred. A home based specialist caseload is about 200 patients per nurse.



Peace, Love, and Nursing: Christina Levi

Bridget Seelinger DUSNA Publicity Chair

Hailing from the sunny west coast, Christina Levi, currently a sophomore in the School of Nursing, is an active participant in the on-campus theater company, The Red Masquers. The Red Masquers are notably known as the oldest amateur theater company in the city of Pittsburgh, having been performing since the late 1800s. Levi says that although she is in love with nursing, she also loves theater and the Red Masquers give her the opportunity to combine the two.

“[Theater] gives you leadership roles and helps you delegate, both things that y
ou do a lot of in nursing,” she says.

Levi’s role in the Red Masquers’ latest production, a 1960s version of William Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” is Assistant Light Design, something that she is equally passionate about.

“We have Christmas lights and we borrowed a moving light from Carlow, those are two special features for this production,” Levi says, adding, “We’re really enjoying the new theater as well.”

Duquesne recently constructed a new black box theater on campus, named the Genesius Theater, which cost abouredm2t $4.5 million and now includes dressing rooms, a set building workshop, in addition to flexibility in seating arrangement for the set designers, something that the theater in Rockwell Hall does not have. “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” certainly takes advantage of all of this.

“I love that we can walk through our grid standing up, in the old theater you had to crawl on your hands and knees,” Levi says laughing.

Levi’s interests were not always aligned to nursing. At first, she thought about medical school, biomedical engineering, and even teaching. She chose Duquesne School of Nursing because it was a little taste of all of those aspects. Right now, Levi is considering the Neuro ICU as a possible unit to pursue after school.

“Seizures, and dealing
with all of those precautions interests me, especially after a guest speaker we just had in Adult Health,” she says, “I’m happy that nursing has so many opportunities.”

In future years, Levi hopes to assume the role of Head Light Designer for one of the main productions on campus and hopes to move beyond her current board position, Historian, for the Red Masquers.

“I like to help actors be seen, although it sometimes can go unnoticed, but it is a vital part to the production.” Levi says.

Tickets for Red Masquers productions are free for both faculty and students and can be found online at www.DuqRedMasquers.com.