Recent News

After a Debacle, How California Became a Role Model on Measles

Jan 16 2018

In December 2014 something unusual happened at Disneyland. People came to visit Mickey Mouse, and some of them left with measles. At least 159 people contracted the disease during an outbreak lasting several months. This is more than the typical number in a whole year in the United States. The leading theory is that measles was introduced in Disneyland by a foreign tourist. That could happen anywhere. Medical experts generally agree that the fact that it took off was probably a result of California’s low vaccination rates, which in turn was a result of an inability to persuade a significant share of Californians that vaccines were important. The episode made national news, but in the next few years, another development was striking but attracted less national attention: Because of a policy change, California was able to turn it around.

Source: The New York Times The New York Times

Getting a flu shot is even more important when vaccine effectiveness ebbs

Jan 15 2018

​The rowdy cheers of joy following Sunday’s Minnesota Vikings victory were a welcome change from the low, rumbling coughs and trumpeting nose blows that influenza is serving up as winter’s soundtrack. Those who want future sore throats to be caused only by nonstop yelling for the home team — and not by this dangerous respiratory virus — should get vaccinated right away. Late last week came troubling warnings from state and national health officials. The flu, which can have deadly complications, is widespread in all states but Hawaii, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The indicators used to gauge the flu season’s severity are on track with those from 2014-2015, which was dubbed one of “high severity.” The Minnesota Department of Health is reporting a sharp increase in hospitalizations due to flu and, tragically, that one child has died after contracting it. With the virus barreling toward peak activity, the agency’s world-class infectious disease experts warned Minnesotans to get the flu shot if they haven’t already. “We still have a lot of flu season left,’’ said the Health Department’s Kris Ehresmann in a Jan. 11 Star Tribune story.

Source: Star Tribune Star Tribune

CDC switches its Grand Rounds discussion from nuke attack to influenza outbreak

Jan 15 2018

In a late decision, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has switched the topic of its Public Health Grand Round 1 to 2 p.m. Tuesday from nuclear-attack preparedness to “Public Health Response to a Sharp Increase in Severe Seasonal Influenza.” Because of the last minute change, registration will not be necessary to tune into the CDC Grand Rounds Live Web Stream. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette published a story Sunday about preparedness to a nuclear detonation based on CDC’s decision to address the topic in the Grand Round presentation. “The topic for CDC’s Public Health Grand Rounds on [Tuesday] will now focus on influenza,” the CDC states. “With the spike in flu cases around the country, this Grand Rounds will provide key and timely information for public health professionals on how to reduce the spread of seasonal flu in communities and adjust to spot shortages in antiviral drugs because of high influenza activity.”

Source: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Dentists Key to Promoting HPV Prevention

Jan 15 2018

New research out of the University of South Florida College of Public Health and published in the Journal of the American Dental Association is highlighting how dentists can contribute to educating patients about the risks of human papillomavirus (HPV) to aid in the fight against the infection. Much like how dentists are now becoming involved in the fight against antimicrobial resistance, they can also aid in the fight against many infections that impact the mouth, such as sexually transmitted infections. As the most common sexually transmitted disease, HPV is directly related to about 3,200 new cases of all oropharyngeal cancers in women, and 13,200 in men, each year, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). These cancers can affect the base of the tongue, the tonsils, and walls of the pharynx, all of which are seen and usually examined by dentists, but not usually brought up by the clinician unless there is an obvious issue, such as a lump.

Source: Contagion Live Contagion Live

There is a Whole Cottage Industry of Doctors Helping Parents Skip Their Kids’ Vaccines

Jan 15 2018

In December 2014, an 11-year-old visited a Disney theme park in California and afterward got a rash. It was measles, and over the next several weeks the disease spread to at least 136 Californians, as well as people in seven other states and two foreign countries. This was no fluke case. Though measles was supposedly eliminated in the United States in 2000—thanks to the highly effective measles, mumps, and rubella vaccine (MMR)—it has come roaring back, with 667 confirmed cases nationwide in 2014 alone. Among the California patients in the Disney outbreak, at least 36 percent hadn’t received their MMR vaccine. Some were too young to have gotten their shots, but more than half were unvaccinated by choice. Despite school requirements, it was easy to skip immunizations: All parents had to do was sign a form stating that “immunization is contrary to my beliefs.” From 1996 to 2014, the rate of kindergartners with personal-belief exemptions more than quintupled. And this wasn’t just a California phenomenon: 47 states allow religious or personal-belief exemptions.

Source: Mother Jones Mother Jones

Officials: Possible measles exposure reported at O'Hare International Airport

Jan 14 2018

Anyone who visited O’Hare International Airport on Wednesday morning or afternoon and who has not had a measles vaccination may need to be tested after a passenger with a confirmed case of the highly contagious disease landed and boarded another flight, state health officials said. A passenger with a confirmed case of measles landed at the international terminal (Terminal 5) on Wednesday morning and departed on a domestic flight from Terminal 1, according to a statement from the Illinois Department of Public Health. The passenger, who was “infectious on that day, may have traveled to other areas of the airport,’’ the department’s statement said. People who were at O’Hare between 6:30 a.m. and 1 p.m. could have been exposed, the statement said. Though “most people have been vaccinated routinely in childhood and are not at high risk … of most concern are people who have not been vaccinated,’’ the statement said.

Source: The Chicago Tribune The Chicago Tribune

Should Your Child Get An Extra Mumps Vaccine? The CDC Now Recommends 3 Doses For Some Kids

Jan 12 2018

The dangerous growing trend of forgoing childhood vaccinations has led to a rise in a disease most parents of small children are too young to even remember. Immunizations lose effectiveness over time, and with outbreaks becoming more commonplace, it might be time to consider whether your child should receive an extra mumps vaccine. Last October, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices unanimously recommended that those at risk of mumps during an outbreak should receive a third dose of mumps-containing vaccine (either measles-mumps-rubella, commonly referred to as MMR, or measles, mumps, rubella, and varicella, also known as MMRV).

Source: Romper Romper

The Flu Killed a Healthy 21-Year-Old Man. Here's How That Can Happen.

Jan 11 2018

Most people view influenza as a routine, if unpleasant, possibility each winter. But the case of a 21-year-old man in Pennsylvania is a poignant reminder that sometimes, the worst-case scenario is more serious than sick days and bed rest. Kyle Baughman, an aspiring personal trainer living in Latrobe, came home for Christmas not feeling well, his mother, Beverly, told WPXI. His symptoms persisted after returning to work after the holidays. “I think he thought, ‘I just got the flu, I’ll be alright. I’ll go rest a little bit,'” Beverly Baughman told WPXI.


Flu hospitalizations up this year in Boulder, Weld counties

Jan 11 2018

Hospitalizations resulting from influenza since the start of the flu season in October have more than doubled in Boulder County compared to this time last year, and the virus has caused increased hospitalizations in Weld County, too. By the end of January 2017, just 55 flu hospitalizations had occurred in Boulder County during last year's flu season, which starts in October and ends in May each year, while 115 hospitalizations already have occurred in the county this season, according to Boulder County Public Health spokeswoman Chana Goussetis.

Source: Longmont Times-Call

Why It’s Still Worth Getting a Flu Shot

Jan 11 2018

This year’s flu season is shaping up to be a bad one. Much of the country endured a bitterly cold stretch, causing more people to be crowded together inside. The strain that has been most pervasive, H3N2, is nastier than most. And, we’re being told, the vaccine this year is particularly ineffective. That last fact has had many people wondering if they should still get a flu shot. If you read no further in this column, know this: The answer is yes, you should still get a flu shot. The flu season typically peaks December through February but can last until May, and it usually takes about two weeks for the shot’s immunity to kick in. It’s worth exploring what we mean by effectiveness when we’re discussing the flu vaccine.

Source: The New York Times The New York Times