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Flu vaccine is 48% effective this season: CDC

US News - Fri, 02/17/2017 - 08:46

Flu vaccine has reduced the risk of infections in the United States by nearly half this season but the infection is expected to continue for the next many weeks, the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) said in its latest report.

The federal agency said that the predominant virus strain this flu season is influenza A (H3N2), and the estimated effectiveness of the available vaccine in preventing influenza A and influenza B has been 43 and 73 per cent, respectively; with overall protection rate of 48 per cent.

The interim findings are based on analysis of data collected from Nov. 28 through Feb. 4 for 3,144 kids and adults who were enrolled in the U.S. Influenza Vaccine Effectiveness Network.

Brendan Flannery, lead investigator for the network, said the viruses in the flu vaccine proved to be a “good match” for the influenza viruses circulating this season.

Speaking on the topic, Flannery added, “The prediction for the H3N2 virus was right on in terms of that particular virus continuing to be a dominant virus. This vaccine is a much better match for the circulating virus than the vaccine we had two years ago.”

During the 2015-16 and 2014-15 flu seasons, vaccine effectiveness was recorded at 47 per cent and just 19 per cent, respectively.

General: HealthCompanies: CDC

Erosion of beaches will get worse: researchers warn

US News - Thu, 02/16/2017 - 07:18

Portraying a gloomy picture of the future, the 2015-16 El Niño eroded an unprecedented amount of the West Coast’s beaches across the states of California, Oregon and Washington.

A new study revealed that unusually powerful waves brought by the last El Niño, together with lack of new sediment flushed down onto beaches, eroded 76 per cent more sand than usual from at least 29 beaches in the three states.

David Hubbard, UC Santa Barbara marine ecologist and one of the co-authors of the study, blamed climate change for the devastating El Niño.

Commenting on the findings of the study, Hubbard said, “It looks like climate change will bring us more El Niño events, possibly twice as many, at twice the frequency as in the past. So, this is a taste of what's coming.”

Scientists expect that erosion, a normal process, will get worse as sea levels rise and climate change makes extreme weather events more extreme.

The study, published in the journal Nature Communications, highlighted that erosion of coastlines is a major environmental issue that needs bipartisan agreement in Congress to be fixed.

General: ResearchEntertainmentRegion: California

Rare rat-linked disease leaves 1 dead, 2 sickened in Bronx

US News - Wed, 02/15/2017 - 08:27

A rare bacterial disease carried by rats has killed one person in the Bronx and left two others struggling for their lives, the city health authorities confirmed.

According to the Bronx Health Department, three cases of the deadly bacterial disease of leptospirosis were first spotted in a one block radius of the city’s Concourse section more than two months ago.

Demetre Daskalakis, the department’s acting deputy commissioner, said in a statement that leptospirosis mostly affects animals and it rarely affects humans.

Speaking on the issue, Daskalakis added, “Human leptospirosis cases are very rare in New York City. This is the first time a cluster of cases has been identified. All three cases had severe illness … two cases developed pulmonary hemorrhage and one died as a result of infection.”

From 2006 through 2016, there were merely 26 cases of the leptospirosis disease in New York City, or 1-3 cases per year. The median age of the patients was 42 years.

Symptoms of the potentially deadly disease include sudden onset of fever, headache, conjunctival suffusion, photophobia, nausea, vomiting, and pain in muscles.

General: HealthResearchRegion: New York

Try drug-free remedies before resorting to medication for low back pain: ACP

US News - Tue, 02/14/2017 - 05:35

People suffering low back pain should try drug-free remedies like heat wraps and physical therapy before resorting to medication, the American College of Physicians (ACP) suggested.

In its new treatment guidelines, ACP said that medicines, particularly powerful opioid painkillers like OxyContin and Vicodin, should be used only as a last resort in cases back pain. The new guidelines put more emphasis on drug-free therapies than previous ones suggested.

Another big change in the new guidelines is the removal of acetaminophen (Tylenol) from the list of medications that can low back pain patients should be used as a last resort.

Dr. Nitin Damle, the president of the ACP, explained that a recent research showed that acetaminophen (Tylenol) is not effective for the condition.

Damle underlined that most people with shorter-term ‘nonspecific’ low back pain can improve their condition with simple non-drug measures, such as heat wraps and changes in activity.

When medication becomes a necessity, the patient should opt for nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen and naproxen, or possibly muscle relaxants. Opiate painkillers come with several risks, including accidental overdose and addiction.

General: Health

Pregnant inmate forced to deliver baby on jail cell floor

US News - Mon, 02/13/2017 - 07:11

A Detroit-area sheriff has defended his staff over their over their controversial action that allegedly forced an eight-month pregnant inmate to give birth to a baby on a jail cell floor.

Jessica Preston was serving a 14-day sentence last year when she called for help on a morning and told the deputies that she was in labor and wanted medical help. But, the deputies allegedly didn’t believe her. She was sent back to her cell thrice before she finally delivered a baby on the jail’s floor.

A video captured by a surveillance camera showed Preston being sent back to her cell after she told the deputies that she was in labor. But, Macomb County Sheriff Anthony Wickersham insisted that he is confident that his staff acted accordingly.

Defending his staff, Wickersham said, “They were on the phone with the doctor. The information at that time, the baby started to come, they took her off the cot, which is close to the wall, put her on the floor on a mattress and the baby was delivered.”

Preston had been jailed by Judge Suzanne Faunce for driving on a suspended license. Though it was Preston’s first offense, the judge sent her to the jail because she failed to pay a $10,000 cash bond.

Judge Suzanne refused to comment, but the court administrator said in a statement the judge looked not only at the woman’s current charge but also at her previous court history when determining the bond. In the past, Preston had a record of drug abuse and warrants for her failure to appear in court.

The court administrator also claimed that Judge Suzanne felt that it would be in the woman and her baby’s best interests to be locked up, and that the judge had never imagined that pregnant woman would not be taken to a hospital in case she went into labor behind the bars.

General: Health

Marathon Pharma to sell decades-old drug to treat DMD for $89,000

US News - Sat, 02/11/2017 - 08:24

Marathon Pharmaceuticals will reportedly market decades-old drug deflazacort under the brand name Emflaza with a top price tag of roughly $89,000 for a year's worth of treatment, nearly 70 times higher than the drug's price overseas.

The drug in question is a common steroid that can be used to treat a rare disorder called Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD), which damages the patient's muscles and leaves many of patients dead by their late-20s.

According to the Wall Street Journal (WSJ), patients can shave the steroid for less than $1 through online pharmacies, while Marathon will market the drug for roughly $89,000 for a year's worth of treatment.

It is quite surprising how a company can get away with such a shocking list price for the drug in the U. S. It is because the drug was never approved in the country despite its widespread availability to treat other conditions, such as arthritis, in many other countries.

Since Marathon recently won the FDA's approval to treat a condition that afflicts fewer than 200,000 people in the U. S., and there has been a dearth of treatment options, the Illinois-based pharmaceuticals giant has carte blanche over the drug's pricing.

General: Health

FedEx Launches FedEx Fulfillment for Small Business to Compete with Amazon

US News - Fri, 02/10/2017 - 16:41

FedEx has launched a new service named FedEx Fulfillment for small and medium business owners. The service will first serve customers in the United States and Canada and business owners will be able to store their goods at FedEx warehouses. The logistics service will also offer custom delivery boxes with branding options for small and medium business owners.

The service would compete with Amazon for ecommerce based clients and small business owners. Amazon has registered strong growth in its similar program under which the company offers third-party sellers to store their goods at Amazon warehouse. Amazon directly ships the products and this reduces hassle for seller and delivery time for products.

Amazon has registered growth in its fulfillment business but many sellers are concerned about Amazon competing with them for their best-selling products. This won’t be the case with FedEx as the company is only into logistics and not into retailing.

In a report published on CNN, Ryan Kelly, senior vice president of FedEx Supply Chain informed, "We're focused on the retailer, and doing what's right for the retailer, in helping them grow their business. I think that is differentiated in the marketplace. It's why we're getting such great feedback."

Amazon has been working hard on improving delivery of goods on its network. The company has invested a lot of money in improving its logistics network. FedEx and UPS are now trying to compete by offering flexibility to small and medium business owners.

Business: Business NewsRetail SectorCompanies: FedExRegion: United StatesGeneral: Featured

CDC updates 2017 advisory for recommended flu shots

US News - Fri, 02/10/2017 - 07:15

An advisory board of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) on Thursday released its 2017 advisory for recommended flu shots affecting adults.

The federal agency revised its guidelines on seasonal flu shots by modifying shot advice for individuals with egg allergy and eliminating nasal flu vaccines. In addition, it tweaked recommendations for vaccines against hepatitis B, meningococcal disease and human papillomavirus (HPV).

Doctors use the FDA’s annually updated vaccine schedule to make sure that patients get the right vaccines according to their age, medical conditions and other risk factors. The updated list includes thirteen vaccinations.

Dr. David Kim, the deputy associate director for adult immunizations in the agency’s Immunization Services Division, said, “All adults need immunizations to help them prevent getting and spreading serious disease that could result in poor health, missed work, medical bills, and not being able to care for family.”

The federal agency also suggested that there are some ways to tell if a patient have a cold or the flu, such as symptoms of a cold often come gradually, whereas symptoms of flu appear suddenly, and symptoms like stuffy nose and sore throat are more common with colds than with the seasonal disease of flu.

General: HealthCompanies: CDC

Coca-Cola Helped by Strong North American Demand but Company Issues Lackluster Future Guidance

US News - Thu, 02/09/2017 - 14:13

Coca-Cola announced strong quarterly results as the company reported strong demand in North America. Coca-Cola reported strong numbers for quarter ending by December 2016 but the company has reduced its guidance for year 2017. Coca-Cola is offloading most of its bottling operations in North America and this will lead to additional charges in 2017. The company will be refranchising its bottling operations in North America and has announced that there could be 1-4 percent drop in earnings in 2017.

Coca-Cola reported flat sales for soda and carbonated beverages but it reported stronger earnings in other segments. As people are becoming health conscious with rising awareness about obesity, Coca-Cola and other beverage companies face challenge of reducing sugar content in their carbonated beverages. In many overseas markets, Coca-Cola has ventured in other drinks segment to keep its earnings healthy.

With price increase, Coca-Cola reported stronger revenue in North America. During fourth quarter, Coca-Cola registered 1 percent decline in sales. The sale for non-carbonated beverages increased by 2 percent during last quarter while sale of carbonated beverages declined by two percent.

A report published by USA Today informed, “Overall, the company's revenue fell 6% to $9.4 billion for the fourth quarter. The company said that included a 2% decline attributable to foreign exchange rates and a 10% decline attributable to corporate deals and one-time items, which included bottling refranchising efforts.”

“In North America, net revenue rose 8 percent during the quarter, outperforming total retail value growth for both the North America nonalcoholic ready-to-drink beverage industry and U.S. consumer packaged goods companies," CEO Muhtar Kent said.

Business: Company ResultsCompany UpdatesCompanies: Coca-ColaPeople: Muhtar KentGeneral: Featured

Women with dense breasts more likely to develop breast cancer: study

US News - Thu, 02/09/2017 - 10:12

Women with breasts composed mainly of dense glandular tissue rather than fat face a significantly higher risk of developing breast cancer, according to a new study.

Led by Dr. Natalie Engmann of UC San Francisco, a team of researchers examined data on more than 18,000 women suffering breast malignancies and another 184,000 women without the deadly disease of breast cancer.

The researchers were surprised to find that breast density emerged the biggest indicator of the disease, even bigger than other common risk factors, such as family history or waiting until after age of 30 years to have babies.

Dr. Engmann called dense breasts a big problem because dense glandular tissue makes it harder for doctors to detect a potentially cancerous tumor. Nearly 60 per cent of younger women and 40 percent of older women who have attained menopause have been found to have dense breasts.

Sharing the study's findings, Dr. Engmann said, "Women with dense breasts have a roughly 2-fold higher breast cancer risk relative to women with non-dense breasts . reducing the number of women with dense breasts may prevent a substantial proportion of breast cancer cases."

A different study indicated that only a relatively small percentage of women with early-stage of breast cancer get genetic testing prior to surgery.

The findings appeared in the Wednesday, Feb. 7th, edition of the journal JAMA.

General: HealthResearchRegion: San Francisco

Iranian baby with heart defect admitted to Portland hospital

US News - Wed, 02/08/2017 - 08:32

An Iranian infant in need of life-saving heart surgery, who was temporarily banned by President Donald Trump’s immigration order from entering the United States, has finally made it to Portland.

Four-month-old Fatemeh Reshad’s parents told reporters that Iranian doctors told them that their little daughter needed at least one urgent heart surgery to correct heart defects, or she would die.

But, when Fatemah’s parents were on their way to Dubai to fly to the United States for the surgical procedure to save the life of their daughter, President Trump signed the controversial executive order banning visitors and refugees from seven Muslim-majority countries.

Luckily, Gov. Cuomo secured legal assistance for the infant, and a federal court judge granted a temporary injunction on the executive order. On Tuesday, the Iranian infant was admitted to OHSU Doernbecher Children’s Hospital in Portland.

Dr. Laurie Armsby, interim head of the Division of Pediatric Cardiology at the hospital, said, “Fatemeh looks well. Our tests this morning have confirmed her diagnosis and the urgent need for treatment. As we suspected, her heart condition has resulted in injury to her lungs, however the studies today indicate that she has presented to us in time to reverse this process.”

Fatemah is in need of a crucial life-saving heart surgery to fix a number of structural abnormalities and two holes in her heart.

General: HealthPeople: Donald Trump

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