Category Archives: Infections

Pollution halts Vaughn Bay shellfish harvest: 14 other areas threatened

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Pollution to close shellfish harvest in one area; 14 others listed as threatened
Fecal bacteria levels force new restrictions to protect shellfish consumers

From the Washington State Department of health:

Alert Icon with Exclamation Point!OLYMPIA — The state Department of Health has closed harvesting in part of Vaughn Bay in Pierce County due to high levels of fecal bacteria. Health officials also identified 14 more of Washington’s 101 commercial shellfish growing areas that could be closed in the future if fecal pollution continues to get worse.

“The good news is that the pollution problems in almost all these areas can be found and fixed,” said Bob Woolrich, Growing Area section manager. “There have been many successful pollution correction projects using partnerships with local and state agencies, Tribes, and others.”

The agency shellfish program evaluates the state’s shellfish growing areas every year to see if water quality is approaching unsafe limits. If so, areas are listed as “threatened” with closure.

Shellfish harvesting areas threatened with closure include:

Continue reading

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High-cost hepatitis C treatments hits big insurer

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$100-dollar bill inside a capsuleBy Jay Hancock
KHN

UnitedHealth Group spent $100 million on hepatitis C drugs in the first three months of the year, much more than expected, the company said Thursday.

The news helped drive down the biggest insurance company’s stock and underscores the challenge for all health care payers in covering Sovaldi, an expensive new pill for hepatitis C.

“We’ve been surprised on the volume — the pent-up demand across all three businesses” — commercial insurance and private Medicare and Medicaid plans, said Daniel Schumacher, chief financial officer of UnitedHealth’s insurance wing. Continue reading

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Measles update: WA case count grows to 12, extending to third county

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Kitsap County resident confirmed with measles; exposure likely in San Juan County

 

From the Washington State Department of Health:

Alert IconApril 11, 2014 - Measles continues to spread in Washington as cases in San Juan County have extended to a Kitsap County resident. A man in his 40s from Kitsap visited several places in Friday Harbor, including a restaurant where a contagious San Juan County man was at the same time.

San Juan County’s case count is now five, and Kitsap County has one. In Whatcom County, the case count remains at six.  Continue reading

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Another person with measles visited Seattle and Sea-Tac

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Alert Icon with Exclamation Point!From Public Health – Seattle & King County

Local public health officials have confirmed a measles infection in a traveler who was at Sea-Tac airport and two locations in Seattle during his contagious period.

The traveler is a resident of California and was likely exposed to the measles while on a flight with an earlier confirmed measles case on March 21, 2014.

Locations of potential exposure to measles

Before receiving the measles diagnosis, the traveler was in West Seattle and at Sea-Tac Airport.

Anyone who was at Sea-Tac Airport or the locations listed during the following times was possibly exposed to measles:

Seattle

  • Safeway, 9620 28th Ave SW, Sunday, March 30th, 4:00p.m.-8:00 p.m.
  • Marshalls, 2600 SW Barton Street, Sunday March 30th, 4:00p.m.-8:00 p.m.

Sea-Tac

  • Sea-Tac Airport, Monday, March 31st, 4:30p.m.-8:30p.m.: terminal B

If you were at one of the locations at the times listed above and are not immune to measles, the most likely time you would become sick is between April 7th and April 21st.

What to do if you were in a location of potential measles exposure  Continue reading

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Should prisoners get expensive hepatitis C drugs?

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Dollar bill inside a capsuleBy Michael Ollove
Stateline Staff Writer

Mar 25, 2014

If used widely, a new generation of antiviral drugs has the potential to wipe out the deadly hepatitis C virus in the United States. But the high price of the drugs might prevent their use in prisons, which house as many as one-third of those who are infected.

The drugs cost anywhere from about $65,000 to $170,000 for a single course of treatment—between three and nine times more than earlier treatments.

Ronald Shansky, former medical director of the Illinois prison system and founder of the Society of Correctional Physicians, described that price as “extortionarily high, criminal.” Continue reading

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There’s a life-saving hepatitis C drug. But you may not be able to afford it.

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Sovaldi logoBy Julie Appleby
KHN Staff Writer

MAR 03, 2014

This KHN story was produced in collaboration with 

There’s a new drug regimen being touted as a potential cure for a dangerous liver virus that causes hepatitis C.  But it costs $84,000 – or $1,000 a pill.

And that price tag is prompting outrage from some consumers and a scramble by insurers to figure out which patients should get the drug —and who pays for it.

Called Sovaldi, the drug is made by California-based Gilead Sciences Inc. and is the latest in handful of new treatments for hepatitis C, a chronic infection that afflicts at least 3 million Americans and is a leading cause of liver failure. It was approved by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration in December. Continue reading

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Will new hepatitis C drugs bust state budgets?

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OlysioBy Michael Ollove
Stateline Staff Writer

Two new medications to treat the deadly epidemic of hepatitis C promise millions of Americans a better chance of a cure, shorter periods of treatment and fewer side effects than older drugs. They also threaten to bust state budgets and raise private insurance rates. Continue reading

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Women’s health — Week 27: HIV/AIDS

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tacuin womenFrom the Office of Research on Women’s Health

The human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is the virus that causes AIDS.

HIV attacks the immune system by destroying CD4 positive (CD4+) T cells, a type of white blood cell that helps fight infections.

If you are HIV infected, you are at risk for infections and other conditions because the HIV virus destroys your T cells.  Continue reading

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Flu has hit young and middle-aged hard this winter – CDC

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Influenza viruses

Influenza viruses

Feb 20, 2014

The flu hit younger- and middle-age adults hard this season, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported Thursday.

While the elderly tend to be most vulnerable to influenza, a large majority of those hospitalized with the flu this season, 61%, were people age 18-64 — a big jump from what was seen during the past three flu seasons in which people from this age group made up only about 35 percent of hospitalizations.

Influenza deaths this season are following a similar pattern, with people 25 years to 64 years of age accounting for about 60 percent of flu deaths compared with 18 percent, 30 percent, and 47 percent for the three previous seasons.   Continue reading

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Antibiotics don’t prevent complications of kids’ respiratory infections

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Three red and white capsulesBy Milly Dawson
HBNS Contributing Writer
FEB 18, 2014

Antibiotics are often prescribed for young children who have upper respiratory tract infections (URIs) in order to prevent complications, such as ear infections and pneumonia, however, a new evidence review in The Cochrane Library found no evidence to support this practice.  Continue reading

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It’s still not too late to get your flu shot

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A Consumer Update from the FDA

February 4, 2014

Flu shot todayMeant to get vaccinated in the fall to ward off the flu, but somehow didn’t get around to it?

Think it’s too late to get vaccinated now?

Not so. According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), vaccinations can be protective as long as flu viruses are circulating.

And while seasonal flu outbreaks can happen as early as October, flu activity usually peaks in January or February, and can last well into May.  Continue reading

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5 fast facts about this year’s flu season — CDC

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Digitally-colorized image of a collection of influenza A virions. The predominant influenza A virus this year is H1N1 - CDC photo

Digitally-colorized image of a collection of influenza A virions. The predominant influenza A virus this year is H1N1.

From the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Here are some things to know about the 2013-2014 flu season so far and steps you can take to protect yourself from flu.  Continue reading

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Flu widespread across state, nine confirmed deaths

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H1N1 viruses

H1N1 viruses

Flu is now widespread across the state and has caused at least nine flu deaths in Washington state since December, the Washington State Department of Health reported Wednesday.

It is likely the number flu deaths is higher because only laboratory confirmed cases must be reported to the state and in many cases laboratory testing is not done, health officials said.  Continue reading

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