Category Archives: Infections

New hepatitis C treatments – FDA Consumer Update

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fda-logo-thumbnailFrom the US Food and Drug Administration

At the approval of several new drugs for hepatitis C is  welcome news for baby boomers—who make up three of four adults with the hepatitis C virus—and millions of other Americans, many of whom don’t yet know they are infected and carriers, says the US Food and Drug Administration in this Consumer Update.

Hepatitis C can be cured, and today’s drug therapies are very effective and easier for patients to take, says Jeffrey S. Murray, M.D., the deputy director of the Division of Antiviral Products in FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research. Murray is an internist who specializes in infectious diseases.

A Preventable and Curable Disease

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Washington health officials warn of risk posed by rabid bats

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From the Washington State Department of Health

BatsRabid bats have been found throughout the state and continue to pose a risk to people and pets, especially during the summer when bats are more active.

Five bats that were in contact with people or pets have tested positive for rabies so far this year.

This is fairly normal, but health officials are hoping to raise awareness and keep this number low.

“There’s an ongoing risk of people and pets interacting with wild animals, including rabid bats,” said Ron Wohrle, veterinarian at the Department of Health. “To help protect yourself and your pets, avoid contact with bats or wild animals and enjoy wildlife from a distance.”

Five bats that were in contact with people or pets have tested positive for rabies so far this year.

Though 1 percent of bats carry the rabies virus, people are more likely to come into contact with sick bats. Healthy bats usually avoid contact with people and animals and will not rest on the ground. Continue reading

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Women’s health – Week 45: Sexually transmitted infections

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tacuin womenFrom the Office of Research on Women’s HealthSexually

Sexually transmitted infections (STIs): also commonly called sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), are infections you can get by having sex with someone who has an infection. Continue reading

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Measles cases up sharply

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Washington has had more measles cases so far this year than in the past five years combined. State health officials are sounding the alarm to remind people that vaccination is the best protection against the spread of this serious disease.

Alert IconFrom the Washington State Department of Health

So far in 2014 there have been 27 measles cases in Washington, up from the five reported in 2013.

The most recent cases reported in the past month have been in King County (11 confirmed cases) and Pierce County (two confirmed cases).

This is the third measles outbreak in our state this year and the number of cases so far is the highest reported in any year since 1996. Continue reading

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West Nile virus detected in Franklin County

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Franklin CountyMosquito samples collected in Franklin County tested positive for West Nile virus, the Washington State Department of Health said Wednesday.

It’s the first sign that the virus is active in the state this season since mosquito and dead bird testing began last month. Testing will continue until fall when mosquito season ends.

Here are the details from the DoH: Continue reading

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Some plans skew drug benefits to drive away patients, advocates warn

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The insurers say they’re in compliance with the law.

Four Florida insurers allegedly discriminate against people with HIV/AIDS by structuring their prescription drug benefits so that patients are discouraged from enrolling, according to a recent complaint filed with federal officials. Continue reading

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Measles outbreak in south King, Pierce Counties

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Alert IconLocal public health officials are investigating eight confirmed cases of measles among members of the same extended family in south King County, and a single suspected case in Pierce County.

These cases are linked to another case who returned to the United States from the Pacific Islands on May 26th with measles.

Given the unfolding investigation and uncertainty about places where the people with measles may have visited, anyone residing in south King County or Pierce County should:

  • Be aware that measles cases are occurring in the community,
  • Be up to date on measles vaccine,
  • And follow the recommendations below if they develop symptoms of measles.

Known public exposures occurred at several MultiCare healthcare facilities where the infected individuals were treated, including a hospital in Tacoma.

Details about these exposures will be updated regularly at the MultiCare website.

These medical facilities are directly contacting persons who were present – clients, visitors, and staff – during the times of potential exposure.  Continue reading

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Ohio Amish reconsider vaccines amid measles outbreak

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buggy300

Photo: Sarah Jane Tribble/WCPN

 This story is part of a partnership that includes WCPNNPR and Kaiser Health News. 

The Amish countryside in central Ohio looks like it has for a hundred years. There are picturesque pastures with cows and sheep, and big red barns dot the landscape.

But something changed here when, on an April afternoon, an Amish woman walked to a communal call box.

She called the Knox County Health Department and told a county worker that she and a family next door had the measles. Continue reading

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More than 750 hospitals face Medicare crackdown on patient injuries

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During a hernia operation, Dorothea Handron’s surgeon unknowingly pierced her bowel. It took five days for doctors to determine she had an infection.

By the time they operated on her again, she was so weakened that she was placed in a medically induced coma at Vidant Medical Center in Greenville, North Carolina.

Comatose and on a respirator for six weeks, she contracted pneumonia. “When they stopped the sedation and I woke up, I had no idea what had happened to me,” said Handron, 60. “I kind of felt like Rip Van Winkle.”

Because of complications like Handron’s, Vidant, an academic medical center in eastern North Carolina, is likely to have its Medicare payments docked this fall through the government’s toughest effort yet to crack down on infections and other patient injuries, federal records show. Continue reading

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State on the lookout for West Nile virus

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The virus is now well-established in some areas of the state.

A black crow

The Washington State Department of Health is again monitoring for West Nile virus through mosquito testing and collecting reports of certain types of dead birds.

West Nile virus typically becomes active in the spring and summer during mosquito season when the insects feed on infected birds.

Mosquitoes that tested positive for the virus were found in six counties last year:

  • Benton,
  • Franklin,
  • Grant,
  • Skagit,
  • Yakima, and
  • Spokane.

The virus has been common in Central and South Central Washington during the past several years. Continue reading

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Measles cases reach 20-year high, most come from travel: CDC

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Measles Rash - Photo: CDC

Measles Rash – Photo: CDC

By Steven Ross Johnson
CDC

Cases of measles in the U.S. reached a 20-year high during the first five months of this year. The majority of cases, health officials say, have been associated with unvaccinated Americans who contracted the virus while traveling to other countries.

A total of 288 measles cases were reported across 18 states between Jan. 1 and May 23, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the largest number for the first five months of any year since 1994 and the most seen compared with year-end totals since 1996. Continue reading

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Grilling tips from the Department of Health

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State officials advise: be known for great grilling, not making people sick

Photo by Michal Zacharzewski

Photo by Michal Zacharzewski

Food safety experts from the Department of Health want people to know how to protect themselves and their loved ones from foodborne illnesses, especially when preparing foods for picnics and barbecues during warm weather.

“Bacteria in or on food can multiply quickly in warm weather,” explains State Health Officer Dr. Kathy Lofy. “By making sure food is prepared, cooked, and served properly you can reduce the risk of foodborne illnesses and be well-known for great barbecues and picnics instead of for making people sick.”

Safeguards can be taken when preparing foods to be eaten outdoors, such as using a food thermometer to make sure that meat and poultry are cooked at the correct temperature. Continue reading

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Know your hepatitis ABCs for Hepatitis Awareness Month – CDC

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From the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Graphic: Millions of Americans are living with viral hepatitis.

  • Hepatitis A: Outbreaks in the US do occur.
  • Hepatitis B: Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders have higher rates.
  • Hepatitis C: New treatments can cure the disease.

Viral hepatitis is a major global health threat and affects over 4.4 million Americans. In observance of May as Hepatitis Awareness Month, here are brief overviews of each of the three most common types of viral hepatitis in the United States: Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C.

Hepatitis A: Outbreaks in the US can and do occur

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