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Best Ways to Steer Clear of the Flu

Posted 1 day 3 hours ago by Drugs.com

SATURDAY, Jan. 21, 2017 – The best way for people to protect themselves from the flu is to get vaccinated – and it's not too late to get a shot, an infectious diseases expert says. The flu vaccine also protects those who aren't able to get it, including infants younger than 6 months and people with certain allergies and medical conditions, said Dr. Jeffrey Kahn. He is chief of pediatric infectious diseases at UT Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas. Those who think it's too late to get vaccinated should reconsider since flu season lasts until spring, Kahn said in a medical center news release. UT Southwestern outlines other ways people can reduce their risk of getting the flu: Keep your hands clean. Be sure to wash your hands well and often. If soap and water aren't readily available, opt for an alcohol-based hand sanitizer. It's also important to be aware of what you touch, ... Read more

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Flu Cases Starting to Spread: CDC

Posted 3 days ago by Drugs.com

FRIDAY, Jan. 20, 2017 – Flu activity continues to rise across the United States and there's been a slight uptick in the number of deaths in the last week, federal health officials reported Friday. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says it's still not too late to get a flu shot. That's particularly important for the most vulnerable – the very young, the elderly, the chronically ill and pregnant women, officials said. "It would have been better to get vaccinated early, but there is still potential benefit from the vaccine," Lynnette Brammer, a CDC epidemiologist, said Friday. She said flu activity is "still going up – fairly slowly – but it's still increasing." "We are starting to see an increase in flu-related deaths," she added, "although deaths aren't at a level considered epidemic." The CDC doesn't track the number of adults who die from flu, but it does keep ... Read more

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Genital Herpes Vaccine Shows Promise in Animal Trials

Posted 4 days ago by Drugs.com

THURSDAY, Jan. 19, 2017 – A new vaccine for genital herpes could be nearing human clinical trials, researchers say. The vaccine has proven effective in animals against herpes simplex virus 2, the sexually transmitted virus that causes genital herpes, according to a new report. The new "trivalent" vaccine targets three different parts of the virus, shutting down its ability to enter cells and to evade detection by the immune system, said senior researcher Dr. Harvey Friedman. He's a professor with the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine's Institute for Immunology. In lab studies, the vaccine proved 98 percent effective in protecting guinea pigs against genital herpes infection, Friedman and his colleagues reported. The vaccine also promoted an immune response in monkeys, increasing the levels of antibodies targeting the virus, the study authors said. The vaccine's developers ... Read more

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Why Winter Weather Brings More Flu

Posted 6 days ago by Drugs.com

TUESDAY, Jan. 17, 2017 – Winter's first chill may bring an unwelcome guest: flu outbreaks, a new study says. Researchers looked at data on weather and flu cases in Gothenburg, Sweden, and found that flu outbreaks occurred about one week after the first stretch of cold weather and low humidity. "According to our calculations, a cold week with an average temperature below zero degree Celsius [32 degrees Fahrenheit] precedes the start of the flu epidemic," said study researcher Nicklas Sundell. He's an infectious diseases specialist at Sahlgrenska University Hospital, which is affiliated with the University of Gothenburg. "We believe that this sudden drop in temperature contributes to 'kick-start' the epidemic. Once the epidemic has started, it continues even if temperatures rise. Once people are sick and contagious, many more may become infected," Sundell said in a university news ... Read more

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Flu Tightens Its Hold on the Nation

Posted 10 days ago by Drugs.com

FRIDAY, Jan. 13, 2017 – The pace of flu activity continues to quicken across the United States, and probably hasn't peaked yet. That's the assessment of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which is urging the most vulnerable – the very young, the elderly, the chronically ill and pregnant women – to get their flu shots before it's too late. "Even though activity is elevated, we are probably not at peak yet," Lynnette Brammer, a CDC epidemiologist, said Friday. "Even if we were at peak, you've still got half the season to go," she added. Right now, the heaviest flu activity is occurring along the East and West Coasts, Brammer said. "The Northwest has been hit harder and earlier, and activity could have peaked there, but we won't know that for a couple of weeks," she said. Only the center of the country has been largely spared, but Brammer expects flu activity to ... Read more

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Medical Experts Alarmed at Trump's Reported Support of Vaccine Skeptic

Posted 12 days ago by Drugs.com

WEDNESDAY, Jan. 11, 2017 – The U.S. medical community is responding with reactions ranging from apprehension to dismay at reports that President-elect Donald Trump reportedly asked a renowned vaccine skeptic to head a new commission on vaccine safety. Robert F. Kennedy Jr., who has written articles and books claiming a link between childhood vaccines and autism, said Tuesday that Trump had offered him the post during a meeting earlier that day. A Trump spokeswoman threw some doubt on Kennedy's assertion, however, stating hours later that while the president-elect is interested in a commission on autism, no final decision has been made. Nonetheless, a host of medical societies, autism advocacy groups and individual physicians immediately denounced the potential development, which they said would shake the public's faith in a practice that regularly protects millions of people from ... Read more

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Flu Season Starting to Peak

Posted 17 days ago by Drugs.com

FRIDAY, Jan. 6, 2017 – Flu season is in full swing and it's starting to look like a severe one, U.S. health officials said Friday. That's why they're urging that the most vulnerable – the very young, the elderly, the chronically ill and pregnant women – get their shots before it's too late. "We are still a few weeks from the peak of flu season, and then there's the second half of season to go," said Lynnette Brammer, an epidemiologist with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "I would be surprised if this was the peak." The prominent strain this time around is H3N2, which often signals a severe season that hits the oldest and youngest the hardest, she said. "Not all H3 years are severe years, but a lot of the severe years are H3 years," Brammer said. Influenza H1N1 and influenza B viruses are also circulating throughout the country, she added. Although the height of ... Read more

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Flu Shots Are Worth It

Posted 28 Dec 2016 by Drugs.com

WEDNESDAY, Dec. 28, 2016 – The flu can be a serious threat to your health, but you can protect yourself by getting a flu shot, health experts say. "The flu shot can reduce the risk of hospitalization and severe disease due to the influenza virus in addition to reducing the incidence or severity," said Kevin Harrod. He's a professor in the department of anesthesiology and perioperative medicine at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. The flu vaccine is especially beneficial to children, the elderly, people with underlying chronic disease, such as heart disease, and women during and after pregnancy, he added. About 970,000 Americans were hospitalized due to the flu in 2014, and more than 40 million were affected by flu-related illnesses, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. During recent flu seasons, up to 90 percent of flu-related deaths have occurred in ... Read more

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Bird Flu Strain May Have Jumped From Cat to Human

Posted 23 Dec 2016 by Drugs.com

FRIDAY, Dec. 23, 2016 – A veterinarian appears to have been infected with a strain of avian flu known as H7N2 that spread among more than 100 cats housed at New York City animal shelters. If confirmed, this would be the first known transmission of this bird flu strain from cat to human, officials said. New York City health officials said the vet has recovered from a mild illness, and there's no sign that the flu has spread to shelter workers or those who've adopted cats. Still, the city's top health official is calling for caution. "Our investigation confirms that the risk to human health from H7N2 is low, but we are urging New Yorkers who have adopted cats from a shelter or rescue group within the past three weeks to be alert for symptoms in their pets," city Health Commissioner Dr. Mary Bassett said in a health department news release. "We are contacting people who may have been ... Read more

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There's Still Time for Your Flu Shot

Posted 23 Dec 2016 by Drugs.com

FRIDAY, Dec. 23, 2016 – Flu needn't spoil the start of the new year, say U.S. health officials who urge children and adults to get vaccinated. "Most of the flu season is still ahead of us, so it's not too late to get vaccinated," said Dr. Joseph Bresee of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But, get the shot soon because it can take several weeks to produce enough antibodies to give you maximum protection, the agency notes. "We often see spikes in flu during and right after the holidays as people congregate and travel in planes that bring people close together," said Bresee, who is chief of epidemiology and prevention in the CDC's influenza division. Flu activity will increase in most parts of the country over the next several weeks, before peaking in the next few months, he said. The hardest-hit areas so far are New York, New Jersey, Puerto Rico, the Southeast and the ... Read more

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Health Tip: Getting Your Child Vaccinated

Posted 22 Dec 2016 by Drugs.com

-- Vaccinations are a necessary part of keeping your child healthy, but the pain and fear may be difficult to endure. The American Academy of Pediatrics suggests: Talk to the pediatrician about ways to manage your child's pain. Distract a young child during the shot by singing a song, blowing bubbles or playing a game. Act the doctor about using a numbing spray or cream. Breast-feed or offer a pacifier to babies during vaccination. Stay calm and reassure your child that everything is OK. Read more

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Flu Season's Starting to Rear Its Head

Posted 18 Dec 2016 by Drugs.com

FRIDAY, Dec. 16, 2016 – Flu season is starting to take hold across the country, and U.S. health officials are urging everyone who hasn't gotten a flu shot yet to get one now. "Flu activity is still pretty low, but it's starting to increase," Lynnette Brammer, an epidemiologist with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said Friday. Although flu is scattered throughout the United States, the hardest hit places so far are New Jersey, New York, Puerto Rico, the Southeast and the Northwest, Brammer said. Most of the virus out there is influenza H3N2, she added. That strain is part of this year's flu vaccine, according to the CDC. "And this week for the first time, we have data on initial hospitalizations," Brammer said. "The range of hospitalization is still low, however. As you would suspect with a H3N2 season, the highest rate right now is in the elderly." The overall rate ... Read more

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Health Tip: Who Needs a Flu Shot?

Posted 14 Dec 2016 by Drugs.com

-- Debating whether to get a flu shot? With few exceptions, most people will benefit and a few in particular really need the vaccine. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says these people are at greatest risk of flu and should get the shot: Children between the ages of 6 months and 4 years, and seniors aged 50 and older. People with a chronic illness, such as diabetes, asthma, cardiovascular disease or kidney disease. Also, anyone with a suppressed immune system. Pregnant women. Children on aspirin therapy. Anyone living in a nursing home or long-term care facility. People who work in a health-care setting. People who live with young children or older adults. People who are obese. People of Alaskan or American Indian descent. Read more

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Just 40 Percent of Americans Vaccinated for Flu This Season

Posted 12 Dec 2016 by Drugs.com

MONDAY, Dec. 12, 2016 – Only about two out of five Americans had gotten this season's flu shot as of early November, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports. About 37 percent of children between 6 months and 17 years old have gotten the flu vaccine this year. And approximately 41 percent of adults aged 18 and older have received the shot. The overall rate is similar to the vaccination rate at the same time last year, the CDC noted. "We are glad to see that people are making the decision to protect themselves and their families from flu, but coverage is still low and we urge people to get vaccinated if they haven't yet," said Dr. Nancy Messonnier, director of the CDC's National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases. "We have a tool that is proven to prevent flu illness and hospitalization, but millions of people are not taking advantage of it. Too many ... Read more

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More Pregnant Women Getting Flu Shot, But Improvement Needed

Posted 8 Dec 2016 by Drugs.com

THURSDAY, Dec. 8, 2016 – Getting a flu shot during pregnancy can protect both a mom-to-be and her baby. And while the percentage of pregnant American women who got the vaccine has doubled in recent years, too many still go without the shot, researchers say. "Although the trend is encouraging, coverage still falls far short of the 2016 [U.S.] recommendation that all pregnant women who are or might become pregnant during flu season be vaccinated," according to a team led by Stephen Kerr, an epidemiologist at Boston University. Kerr's team has tracked data on vaccinations received during pregnancy for more than 5,300 U.S. women since 2005. The investigators found that in the flu seasons before the 2009-2010 H1N1 flu pandemic, only one in every five pregnant women in the study got an influenza vaccine. However, that number jumped to 33 percent of the women during the 2009-2010 flu ... Read more

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