Entries in CDC (132)


FDA Investigating Hepatitis A Outbreak in Five States

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- The U.S Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are investigating an outbreak of Hepatitis A in five states that may be linked to a frozen food blend.

According to a press release from the FDA, at least 30 people have been infected with Hepatitis A in Colorado, New Mexico, Nevada, Arizona and California. Thus far, 11 of 17 patients interviewed by the CDC said they ate Townsend Farms Organic Anti-Oxidant Blend before they got sick.

The FDA has already begun to inspect Townsend Farms' processing facilities in Fairview, Ore. Additionally, the FDA is working on a method to test berries for the Hepatitis A virus and will be testing samples related to the outbreak, including the frozen blend.

Hepatitis is a contagious liver disease that can range from mild to severe. According to the FDA, the infection is most commonly spread through ingestion of fecal matter, even in microscopic amounts. Symptoms of Hepatitis A include fatigue, abdominal pain, jaundice, abnormal liver tests, dark urine and pale stool.

The CDC is recommending that consumer do not eat Townsend Farms Organic Anti-Oxidant Blend and that any remaining product should be thrown away, even if the product has already been partially eaten and no one has gotten sick. Retailers and food service operators are also being advised not to sell the anti-oxidant blend pending the end of the investigation.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


US Infant Mortality Rate Down 12 Percent Since 2005

Comstock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- The infant mortality rate in the United States has dropped nearly 12 percent since 2005, according to a new study.

According to a press release from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the infant mortality rate dropped from 6.87 deaths per 1,000 live births in 2005 to 6.05 deaths per 1,000 live births in 2011. While statistics from 2011 were not significantly lower than 2010's rate of 6.15 deaths per 1,000 live births, infant mortality has been on the decline for four consecutive years.

According to the CDC report, the rate among non-Hispanic black women decreased by 16 percent. The rate among non-Hispanic white women dropped by 12 percent, while the rate among Hispanic women dropped by 9 percent.

Historically, the infant mortality rate has been highest among non-Hispanic black women, making the 16-percent drop among that group even more significant.

The CDC report also found that four of the five most common causes of infant death were less common in 2011 than they were in 2005. The frequency of congenital malformations, short gestation, Sudden Infant Death Syndrome and material complications were between 6 percent and 20 percent lower than in 2005.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Birth Defects Plague Iraq, But Cause Unknown

iStockPhoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- The Iraq War may be over, but the casualties continue for Iraqi couples trying to have children without life-threatening birth defects.

An apparent rise in Iraqi birth defects has left parents, doctors and researchers scrambling for answers – and wondering whether there's a link between the war and babies born with deformities that often render them unable to survive until their first birthday.

"They [parents] feel desperate," Mozhgan Savabieasfahani, a reproductive toxicologist who used to work at the University of Michigan School of Public Health, told ABC News. She traveled to Iraq's Fallujah General Hospital in 2010 to research the birth defects and co-authored studies in 2010 and 2012. "One major problem we had was that there weren't enough families who had normal children, and therefore we ended up with fewer normal family studies."

Savabieasfahani and her colleagues concluded that many Iraqi babies were born with congenital heart defects, spina bifida and other deformities because their parents had high levels of lead, mercury and uranium levels in their hair, nails and teeth. They suggested that the toxins came from airborne pollutants released during the Iraq War.

"Toxic metals such as mercury (Hg) and Pb [lead] are an integral part of war ammunition and are extensively used in the making of bullets and bombs," it says in the results section of the study.

However, the U.S. Department of Defense believes the evidence is insufficient to determine whether war pollutants caused a rise in birth defects, said department spokeswoman Cynthia Smith. For example, researchers did not account for whether mothers had adequate nutrition or access to medical care during pregnancy, and they did not always consider whether the parents were cousins, she said.

"The studies have instead relied on the occurrence of conflict during specified years, and then presumed exposure of individuals to specific munitions," Smith told ABC News. "The studies have also presumed specific health effects from the claimed exposures without benefit of any scientific evidence proving the association of health effects with those exposures."

Savabieasfahani collected tissue samples from 56 families at Fallujah General Hospital to see whether parents of babies with birth defects had more lead and mercury in their bodies than parents of babies without birth defects. Savabieasfahani's co-author, Dr. Muhsin Al-Sabbak, collected similar data for 28 families at the Al Basrah Maternity Hospital, where he is a gynecologist and obstetrician.

They concluded that parents of children with birth defects had higher levels of lead, mercury and uranium than parents of normal children.

Savabieasfahani also wrote in her 2010 study that birth defects were present in 15 percent of all Fallujah births. Birth defects occur in about 3 percent of births in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

However, the Federal Ministry of Health of Iraq and the World Health Organization have yet to release their joint study exploring the prevalence of birth defects in Iraq. Its results are expected to be published this spring. The study is a response to smaller, independent studies about birth defects, and an increased number of birth defect reports submitted to the ministry, according to the World Health Organization's website.

Savabieasfahani said it was sometimes difficult to persuade parents to participate in her study because birth defects are a source of shame in Fallujah. As such, she thinks birth defects and miscarriages may be underestimated.

Al-Sabbak, who is based in Basrah, Iraq, told ABC News that he is sure that more of his patients have either given birth to babies with multiple birth defects or suffered multiple miscarriages, and that many of them lived in areas where they would have been exposed to pollution from the war.

One of Al-Sabbak's patients had 19 miscarriages, Savabieasfahani said.

"They're actually asking whether they should stop conceiving," Al-Sabbak said. "They do ask me, 'What am I going to do?' I don't have the answer."

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Tuberculosis in US Hits Lowest Levels Ever

Comstock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- The rate of tuberculosis hit an all-time low in the United States in 2012, with fewer than 10,000 new cases reported.

With World Tuberculosis Day on Sunday, the Center for Disease Control's National Tuberculosis Surveillance System reported that the rate of Tuberculosis dropped 6.1 percent from 2011. The CDC's statistics mark the 20th consecutive year of decreasing occurrence of the deadly disease.

The statistics, published in the journal Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, found that out of the 3,413 counties in the U.S., 44.2 percent reported zero new cases of TB between 2010 and 2012.

Tuberculosis is a bacterial infection that most often affects the lungs. It is spread by caughing and sneezing, and can be fatal.

While the frequency of the disease is at it's lowest ever in the United States, there is still work to be done. Foreign-born people have higher rates of TB than U.S.-born citizens. Additionally, racial and ethnic minorities have higher rates of contraction than whites.

The study is based on provisional TB data provided by the 50 states and the District of Columbia, and case rates are based on estimated population numbers. Final statistics will be reported by the CDC later in the year.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


CDC Warns of New Deadly Virus, No US Cases Yet


(ATLANTA) -- Health officials are warning of a new virus that has sickened at least 14 people worldwide, with eight fatalities, though no cases have been reported in the United States yet.

The novel coronavirus virus, known as hCoV-EMC, is associated with severe respiratory illness and renal failure. It was first recognized last September and caused alarm because it is genetically and clinically similar to the SARS virus, which caused hundreds of deaths worldwide.

The Middle East seems to be the nexus of all the coronavirus cases. There have been eight recorded deaths so far; five in Saudi Arabia, two in Jordan, and one in the U.K.

The U.K. case came about after a 60-year-old U.K. man returned home after visiting Pakistan and Saudi Arabia in late January. He went to the hospital, as did an adult household member who was also suffering from the flu. The later man died, perhaps, as the Center for Disease Control suggests, because the flu "might have made him more susceptible to severe respiratory infection."

There have been no instances of the coronavirus in the United States yet, but the CDC is urging doctors with patients who have an unexplained respiratory illness after traveling to the Arabian Peninsula or neighboring countries to report the cases to the CDC.

Doctors should also report patients with known diseases who don't respond to appropriate treatment. Close contacts of a symptomatic patient should also be evaluated.

The CDC has posted updated guidance for health care providers on its website.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Deadly Drug-Resistant Bacteria Becoming Increasingly Common

Ryan McVay/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- A bacterial family that has become resistant to many antibiotics has caused infections in hospitalized patients and is an increasing concern, says the Center for Disease Control.

In a press release, the CDC called for action to stop the spread of Carbapenem-Resistant Enterobacteriaceae. The bacteria kill up to 50 percent of the patients who get bloodstream infections from them, says the press release. The bacteria, which include E. coli, are increasingly resistant to almost all antibiotics, and leave doctors with limited or no treatment options.

Dr. Thomas Frieden, Director of U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said, "CRE has not yet spread to the community like MRSA, and it's important that we keep it that way. We have a window of opportunity to prevent its spread." Almost one in five long-term acute care hospitals had at least one infection of the bacteria in the first half of 2012.

According to the CDC press release, doctors are very concerned that these "nightmare bacteria" could increase in frequency, leaving patients with potentially untreatable and deadly infections.

In 2001, CRE accounted for just one percent of infections in hospitalized patients. That number increased to four percent in 2012, according to the CDC.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Flu Shots Effective for Majority of Recipients, Says CDC

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(ATLANTA) -- Did you get a flu shot this year and still catch the flu?  The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says it happened quite a bit this year, but the shots did prevent millions from getting sick too.  
According to the CDC's estimates of the effectiveness of the 2012-2013 influenza vaccine, shots were just 56 percent effective this year for types A and B flu.  

That may be good for those vaccine recipients included in that majority, but the news is not so great for the 44 percent of people whose shot didn't help.   

And, it turns out, getting the shot worked better for those who caught influenza B. That vaccine stopped the bug nearly 70 percent of the time in those cases, the CDC reported. The vaccine for flu type A gave recipients a less-than-50-percent chance of staying healthy.

The shot for both A and B also gave children slightly better odds than elderly adults. The vaccine was more effective in 64 percent of child recipients, compared to just 27 percent of seniors.

Given that the CDC's findings indicate the vaccine "provided substantial protection against influenza for most people who got vaccinated," the center and experts maintain your best line of defense against the flu is vaccination.
Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Children Are Consuming Fewer Calories, CDC Says

Steven Puetzer/Getty Images(ATLANTA) -- While 17 percent of American children and adolescents are still obese, they are consuming fewer calories than they were a decade ago, according to a new survey from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey says boys are now taking in about 2,100 calories a day, while girls are consuming 1,755.  That's down from the 2,258 and 1,831 calories boys and girls, respectively, took in between 1999 and 2000.

In the survey, the CDC also notes that kids are now getting more of their calories from protein and less from carbohydrates.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


CDC: Fast Food Makes Up 11% of Adults' Daily Calories

Comstock/Thinkstock(ATLANTA) -- How much fast food do you eat?

According to a new survey from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 11.3 percent of the calories adults consume on a daily basis come from fast food.

Using data from 2007 to 2010, the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey found that African-American adults between the ages of 20 and 39 ate the most fast food, constituting more than 20 percent of their daily caloric intake.  Adults 60 and over, on the other hand, consumed the least amount -- 6 percent.

The survey also found that income and one's weight can factor into how much fast food a person consumes.

Among the youngest age group studied -- 20 to 39 -- intake of fast food declined as income increased.  And, among all adults, researchers found that those who were obese ate the most.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


CDC Turns from Zombies to ‘Outbreak’ with iPad App

David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the folks who brought the world a controversial zombie apocalypse campaign, has launched a free iPad app that lets users play a game to stem a fictitious epidemic.

Users of the app, called “Solve the Outbreak,” can pretend they’re a public health detective by taking steps such as quarantining a village, asking for more lab results and interviewing sick people.  Good problem-solving skills are rewarded by high points and badges.

“We look at this as an engaging opportunity to educate young people to how public health actually works, and hopefully to draw some future epidemiologists,” CDC spokesman Alex Casanova told ABC News.

The app was developed in-house and cost $110,000 to develop, minus salaries, and so far it’s been downloaded about 2,000 times, he said.  The goal is to get between 15,000 and 25,000 downloads in a year.

The game is the CDC’s latest attempt to use pop culture to entice the public to prepare for a major outbreak.  In May 2011, the CDC unveiled a zombie-themed campaign, which included downloadable zombie-themed posters and a novella called “Preparedness 101: Zombie Pandemic.”

The agency called the campaign “tongue-in-cheek,” but later, after a string of grisly violent incidents, the CDC had to make an official statement saying there’s no evidence of a coming zombie apocalypse.

An agency official told ABC News in September that the zombie idea came after Twitter users responded to the agency’s question about what type of disasters they were prepared for.

“It can be tough to get people thinking about emergency preparedness before disaster strikes.  We’ve created these zombie posters to spark some attention and get people involved before it’s too late,” the CDC said in a statement at the time.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

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