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October 26, 2008

U attempts to break flu shot record

On Tuesday, Oct. 28, the U of MN will attempt to break the Guinness World Record for the most flu shots given in one work day. The record to beat is 3,271. The record was set by a hospital in Florida on Nov. 9, 2006.

Flu shots will be offered in four locations on campus from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Northrop Auditorium Plaza – East Bank

Java City, Moos Tower – East Bank

Hubert H. Humphrey Center, Atrium – West Bank

St. Paul Student Center, North Star Ballroom – St. Paul

Get more information about the event on the Boynton Health Service Web site.

UN says 12,225 cholera cases and 201 deaths in West African nation of Guinea Bissau

An article in the Star Tribune reports that over 12,000 people in the West African nation of Guinea Bissau have been infected with cholera and 201 people have died since the outbreak started in mid-May.

The World Health Organization defines cholera as "an acute intestinal infection caused by ingestion of food or water contaminated with the bacterium Vibrio cholerae." It is typically spread through contaminated food and water. Clean water and sanitary conditions are needed to prevent the spread of cholera.

Cholera is still a threat to global public health, but cholera has not bee prevelant in the United States since the late 1800s due to proper sewage and clean water. People traveling outside the U.S. can be at risk for acquiring the disease or even bringing back contaminated food.

October 21, 2008

U prof links HIV treatment with increased chance of death

A recent article in the Minnesota Daily reports that a Universtiy professor was part of a study that shows that people receiving treatment for HIV have a higher risk of dying from non AIDS-related diseases.

The study looked at two different kinds of treatment, continuous treatment and intermittent treatment. With continuous treatment the person receives treatment no matter what their CD4 cell count is, but with intermittent treatment, the person receives treatment when their CD4 cell count is below a certain leve.

The study found that people who received intermittent treatment had the higher risk of dying from non AIDS-related diseases such as liver disease or cardiovascular disease. The study was stopped early due to the findings.

After the study was cancelled, the researchers discovered the reason that people receiving the intermittent treatment had a higher risk of death. When they received the treatment, certain protein levels would elevate. These protein levels are correlated with liver and cardiovascular disease.

The researchers note that more research needs to be done. This study does raise more questions about what the best form of treatment is for people with HIV. Based on this study, continuous treatment may be better, but it can be very expensive and the risk of taking medications everyday could have more harmful effects in the long run.

October 19, 2008

Most health workers don't get a flu shot

A recent article in USA Today reports that about 60 percent of health care workers do not get flu shots. The CDC recommends that all health workers get a flu shot, but experiences such as getting sick after recieving the vaccine are one reason that many health workers decide not to get it. While the article does mention that their are "few well documented cases of flu outbreaks caused by health care workers," this issue does raise some concerns. The close proximity of health care workers and patients can allow for the flu to spread easily.

Some hospitals require vaccines and the CDC recommends health care workers be offered free flu vaccines at work so that it is convenient for them to obtain the vaccine.

October 13, 2008

Computer glitch delays delivery of flu vaccine for Minnesota Vaccines for Children program

Kare 11 reported this weekend that a computer glitch will delay the delivery of flu vaccines to the Minnesota Vaccines for Children program. Minnesota Vaccines for Children is a federally funded program that will cover children whose insurance will not pay for the flu vaccine.

Even though the vaccine will be delayed to the program, it is still early in the flu season, so officials are not overly conserned. The news report also mentions that there are actually more vaccines available nationwide than ever before.

Below are the CDC's recommendations for who should and should not get the flu vaccine.
Who Should Get Vaccinated
In general, anyone who wants to reduce their chances of getting the flu can get vaccinated. However, it is recommended by ACIP that certain people should get vaccinated each year. They are either people who are at high risk of having serious flu complications or people who live with or care for those at high risk for serious complications. During flu seasons when vaccine supplies are limited or delayed, ACIP makes recommendations regarding priority groups for vaccination.

People who should get vaccinated each year are:

Children aged 6 months up to their 19th birthday
Pregnant women
People 50 years of age and older
People of any age with certain chronic medical conditions
People who live in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities
People who live with or care for those at high risk for complications from flu, including:
a. Health care workers
b. Household contacts of persons at high risk for complications from the flu
c. Household contacts and out of home caregivers of children less than 6 months of age (these children are too young to be vaccinated)

Use of the Nasal Spray Flu Vaccine
It should be noted that vaccination with the nasal-spray flu vaccine is always an option for healthy* people 2-49 years of age who are not pregnant.

Who Should Not Be Vaccinated
There are some people who should not be vaccinated without first consulting a physician. These include:

People who have a severe allergy to chicken eggs.
People who have had a severe reaction to an influenza vaccination.
People who developed Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS) within 6 weeks of getting an influenza vaccine.
Children less than 6 months of age (influenza vaccine is not approved for this age group), and
People who have a moderate-to-severe illness with a fever (they should wait until they recover to get vaccinated.)

October 12, 2008

HIV has been around longer than we thought

A Star Tribune article announced that a new study in the journal Nature reports that HIV has been around since the early 1900s. It was previously thought that HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, first started infecting people around the 1930s, but it wasn't actually found in humans until 1981.

Two HIV samples were found in people in Kinshasa, Africa, in 1959 and 1960. These two samples were the only ones that have been discovered before 1976, which was a key discovery for the study.

California covering screening costs for HIV

An article in the New York Times reported that California health insurers are now required to cover the costs of HIV tests. The hope is that this law will help eliminate at least one barrier to getting tested. The California Office of AIDS reports that there are about 40,000 people in California infected with HIV that do not even know it.

October 5, 2008

What makes a good health news story?

We read health news stories in the newspaper everyday and health issues are covered frequently on television newscasts. But, how can we tell if we are really getting the whole story? The Web site HealthNewsReview.org can help. This site reviews health news stories and gives them a rating based on 10 criteria. They are looking to see if the story give the reader/viewer a balanced and complete story that includes in formation on cost, benefits and harms, how the treatment or test compares to existing alternatives and more. Just knowing the criteria that they use can help us evaluate health news stories with a more criticla eye.