Category Archives: Prevention

Republicans say no to CDC gun violence research

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Giving the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention money for gun violence research is a “request to fund propaganda,” a Georgia congressman says.

GunBy Lois Beckett
ProPublica, April 21, 2014

After the Sandy Hook school shooting, Rep. Jack Kingston (R-GA) was one of a few congressional Republicans who expressed a willingness to reconsider the need for gun control laws.

“Putgunson thetable, also put video games on thetable, put mental health on the table,” he said less than a week after the Newtown shootings.

He told a local TV station that he wanted to see more research done to understand mass shootings. “Let’s let the data lead rather than our political opinions.”

For nearly 20 years, Congress has pushed the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to steer clear of firearms violence research. Continue reading

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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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Health law’s free contraceptive coverage saved US women $483 million in 2013

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Twenty-dollar bill in a pill bottleThe Affordable Care Act provision that requires insurers to cover contraceptives with zero co-pay saved US women $483 million last year — $269 on average, according to a new report from the IMS Institute for Healthcare Informatics.

Overall, 24 million more prescriptions for oral contraceptives were filled in 2013, the first full year the health law’s contraceptive provision was in force, compared to 2012.

“The share of women with no out-of-pocket cost for these forms of birth control increased to 56% from 14% one year ago,” the report says.

To learn more read: 

IMS Institute for Healthcare Informatics. Medicine use and the shifting costs of healthcare: A review of the use of medicines in the United States in 2013. April 2014. LINK:

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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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FDA explains proposed changes to food labels

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Nutrition Facts Label: Proposed Changes Aim to Better Inform Food Choices
An FDA Consumer Update
Feb 27, 2014

new food label

The proposed Nutrition Facts label (above) will emphasize the number of calories and servings per container; update % Daily Values for nutrients such as fiber and calcium; update serving sizes; list the amount of added sugars; require listing of potassium and vitamin D if present, and no longer require the labeling of Vitamins A and C.

A lot has changed in the American diet since the Nutrition Facts label was introduced in 1993 to provide important nutritional information on food packages.

People are eating larger serving sizes. Rates of obesity, heart disease and stroke remain high.

More is known about the relationship between nutrients and the risk of chronic diseases.

So the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) proposes bringing this familiar rectangular box—which has become one of the most recognized graphics in the world—up to date with changes to its design and content.

“Obesity, heart disease and other chronic diseases are leading public health problems,” says Michael Landa, director of FDA’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition.

“The proposed new label is intended to bring attention to calories and serving sizes, which are important in addressing these problems. Further, we are now proposing to require the listing of added sugars. The 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends reducing calories from added sugars and solid fats,” Landa said.

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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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App lets you determine your neighborhood’s radon risk

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Screen Shot 2014-01-21 at 11.28.29From the Washington State Department of Health

Olympia, January 21, 2014 – Washington residents now have a new online map to check and see if their neighborhood has a geological risk for the cancer-causing gas, radon, using a new state app. The new app is offered by the state Department of Health’s Washington Tracking Network.

Some areas of the state, such as Spokane and Clark counties, are well-known for having higher levels of radon, but the new online map shows that there are some areas around the Puget Sound such as Pierce and King counties that might come as a surprise.  Continue reading

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Patients going for free preventive care surprised by charges

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Exclamation PointBy Michelle Andrews
KHN

The new health-care law encourages people to get the preventive services they need by requiring that most health plans cover cancer screenings, contraceptives and vaccines, among other things, without charging patients anything out of pocket.

Some patients, however, are running up against coverage exceptions and extra costs when they try to get those services.  Continue reading

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Don’t use grills or gas generators in enclosed areas – Department of Health warns

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From the Washington State Department of Health

Power outages may raise risk of carbon monoxide poisoning

Charcoal grillDon’t use grills or gas generators in enclosed areas

January 10, 2014 – Barbecue grills and gas generators may seem like they could double as an indoor furnace during a power outage, but that can be downright dangerous.

Neither should be used inside to heat homes, as families could get sick and even die from carbon monoxide poisoning.

Carbon monoxide, or CO, is a poisonous gas that can’t be seen or smelled and can kill a person in minutes. Carbon monoxide is produced whenever any fuel such as gas, oil, kerosene, wood, or charcoal is burned. It can quickly build up to unsafe levels in enclosed or semi-enclosed areas.  Continue reading

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Use certain laxatives with caution, FDA warns

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Alert IconThe US Food and Drug Administration warns that laxatives containing sodium phosphate are potentially hazardous if not taken as directed. People with certain health conditions or taking certain medications are at particularly high risk. The FDA has issued the warning after there have been dozens of reports of serious side effects, including 13 deaths, associated with the use of sodium phosphate laxatives. Continue reading

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Tips for staying safe in cold weather for older adults

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Thermometer ThumbHypothermia and older adults

Tips for staying safe in cold weather from the National Institute on Aging

Frigid weather can pose special risks to older adults. The National Institute on Aging (NIA), part of the National Institutes of Health, has some advice for helping older people avoid hypothermia — when the body gets too cold — during cold weather.

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