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Slimy Frog Might Be a Flu Fighter

Posted 11 days ago by Drugs.com

TUESDAY, April 18, 2017 – It sounds like weird science, but the slime that coats the skin of South Indian frogs might fight some strains of the flu. A new mouse study suggests this is so, although research in animals frequently doesn't pan out in humans. What the researchers found was that certain peptides in the frogs' skin mucus can destroy the H1 variety of influenza viruses. It was known that frogs' skin can secrete peptides that protect against bacteria. Peptides are short chains of amino acids, the building blocks of proteins. The new findings suggest these peptides could help lead to new antiviral treatments as well, the researchers said. Such drugs could prove important when vaccines aren't available to deal with new strains of pandemic flu, or when known flu strains develop resistance to current medications, said study senior author Joshy Jacob. One of the peptides in the ... Read more

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When Parents Get Vaccinated, Their Kids Do Too

Posted 12 days ago by Drugs.com

MONDAY, April 17, 2017 – When parents get a flu shot, their kids are more likely to be vaccinated against not only the flu, but also other diseases, new research reveals. Investigators first focused on the flu vaccine, and found that the kids of parents who got the flu shot were nearly three times more likely to get the shot themselves. But the trickle-down effect did not stop there. When parents got flu shots, they were also more likely to make sure their kids were vaccinated against other diseases, especially the human papillomavirus (HPV). The HPV vaccine protects against several cancers, including cervical cancer in women and penile cancer in men. And the reverse held true. "Parents who chose not to immunize themselves for influenza were more likely to have children who weren't immunized against other diseases, such as HPV," said study lead researcher Steve Robison, from the Oregon ... Read more

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Flu Season All But Over in U.S.

Posted 15 days ago by Drugs.com

FRIDAY, April 14, 2017 – This year's flu season is rapidly winding down and is expected to end within the next couple of weeks, U.S. health officials predicted Friday. It was a year much like the past few flu seasons, when the H3N2 virus was the most prevalent strain. That strain usually is hardest on the elderly and the very young. But this flu season there was a slight twist – middle-aged people were more affected than children, said Lynnette Brammer, an epidemiologist with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "We are not done yet, there's still flu out there, but it is declining," she said. "This is the first week that influenza A and B are both going down." The 2016-2017 season followed a typical course, Brammer said. "We had a large wave of influenza H3N2 and then we had a smaller wave of influenza B at the end – not an uncommon pattern," she said. However, the ... Read more

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Most U.S. Kids Who Die From Flu Are Unvaccinated

Posted 3 Apr 2017 by Drugs.com

MONDAY, April 3, 2017 – The yearly flu shot could prevent most flu-related deaths among children and teenagers, a new U.S. government study estimates. Researchers found that about three-quarters of U.S. kids who died of flu complications between 2010 and 2014 were unvaccinated before they fell ill. If all children got their yearly flu shot, 65 percent of those deaths could be prevented, the researchers estimated. Experts said the findings, published online April 3 in Pediatrics, bolster what health officials already recommend: Adults and children age 6 months and up should be vaccinated ahead of every flu season. "This shows you, once again, that kids should get their flu shot," said Dr. Paul Offit, chief of infectious diseases at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. It also highlights a fact that many parents may not know: "Healthy children can, and do, die of the flu," said Offit, ... Read more

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Black Americans More Likely to Skip Flu Shot

Posted 15 Mar 2017 by Drugs.com

WEDNESDAY, March 15, 2017 – More than half of American adults don't get an annual flu shot, and black Americans are even less likely to do so because of concerns about side effects, researchers report. Campaigns advocating annual free flu shots should not only focus on the dangers of the seasonal flu but also address fears about the vaccine by explaining how it works, the study authors advised. "Most people have very limited understanding of the way vaccine recommendations are determined and how vaccines are made and distributed," explained study author Vicki Freimuth, a professor of health and risk communication at the University of Georgia. "Perhaps increasing knowledge about the process and its many contributing organizations may decrease perception of risk from the vaccine," Freimuth added in a news release from the Society for Risk Analysis. Only 41 percent of black adults in the ... Read more

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Don't Skip Veggies in Winter

Posted 21 Feb 2017 by Drugs.com

MONDAY, Feb. 20, 2017 – Just because it's cold outside doesn't mean you can't eat fresh, healthy foods. There are five types of foods you should try to consume during the winter months, according to health experts at the Cleveland Clinic who offer these suggestions: While it can be hard to find local produce during the winter, root vegetables such as beets, carrots and turnips can withstand the cold and are available. Roast carrots to get a dose of beta-carotene, or boil turnips for vitamins A and C. Oatmeal provides nutrients that are essential during winter. It's high in zinc (important for your immune system) and soluble fiber, which is associated with heart health. Instant oatmeal is more convenient but also more expensive. If you're on a budget, choose old-fashioned oats. Soup is another good food choice in winter, but hold the cream, salt and beef. Try soup recipes that call for ... Read more

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Flu Vaccine a Pretty Good Match for Viruses This Year: CDC

Posted 17 Feb 2017 by Drugs.com

THURSDAY, Feb. 16, 2017 – It's not perfect, but this year's flu vaccine is a fairly good match for the circulating viruses, U.S. health officials reported Thursday. Overall, the vaccine is 48 percent effective. For the predominant circulating influenza A type H3N2 flu strain, its effectiveness comes in at 43 percent. But it's 73 percent effective against influenza B viruses, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "The effectiveness is a little bit lower than we would like to see, but it's similar to what we have seen for H3 viruses when the vaccine is a good match for what's circulating," said Brendan Flannery, a CDC epidemiologist. Indications are that infections are still rising in certain regions of the country, like the Midwest, but declining in others, like the Northwest. This is shaping up as a moderately severe flu season, he added. In similar seasons, ... Read more

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Eczema May Leave Some Flu Shots Less Effective, Study Finds

Posted 13 Feb 2017 by Drugs.com

MONDAY, Feb. 13, 2017 – It's still flu season, and not too late to get your flu shot. But a new study suggests that people with eczema should request the vaccine be given into the muscle, rather than just under the skin. That's because the effectiveness of flu shots in people with eczema appears to vary, depending on how it's given, researchers report. The problem seems to lie with the fact that the cracked, dry skin of eczema patients is often colonized by Staphylococcus bacteria. And that seems to dampen the immune response from the flu vaccine – if the shot is given into the skin, the researchers said. "Staphylococcus infections are a widespread problem among [eczema] patients, with up to 90 percent of patients with severe disease colonized by the bacteria," lead researcher Dr. Donald Leung, of National Jewish Health in Denver, said in a hospital news release. He's head of ... Read more

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Flu Cases Spiking Across the United States: CDC

Posted 10 Feb 2017 by Drugs.com

FRIDAY, Feb. 10, 2017 – Flu activity spiked sharply across the United States this week, federal health officials reported Friday. Deaths from flu-related conditions continued at high levels, and hospitalizations among people over 65 and under the age of 4 are up. So far, 20 children have died from flu, said Lynnette Brammer, an epidemiologist for the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "More children have died this year than at the same time last year," said Brammer. "This may end up being a bad year for kids, but we just don't know yet. Deaths look high for this year because last year was light. A lot of this is timing." Overall last year, 128 children died from flu-related complications, according to the CDC. Hospitalizations among people in their 50s and 60s are also increasing, and may actually be outpacing those for children, the CDC reported. Health officials noted ... Read more

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8 Ways to Help Kids Dodge Germs

Posted 9 Feb 2017 by Drugs.com

WEDNESDAY, Feb. 8, 2017 – There are a number of ways parents can help give a boost to their child's immune system, a family doctor suggests. "The immune system helps us fight infections," said Dr. Palak Shroff, a family medicine specialist at University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center. "Immunity develops over time, so the more someone gets exposed, the more the immune system develops," Shroff explained in a center news release. "Kids' whole environment is new, but over time, their immunity will develop and get better," she added. Shroff suggested eight keys to helping children minimize their risk of catching every cold and virus that comes their way: Breast-feeding is the first step. It is an important way to help your child develop a strong immune system. "During breast-feeding, the mother's immunity transfers to the child," Shroff said. Vaccination is another crucial factor. ... Read more

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New Flu Vaccines for Dogs Unleashed in Lab

Posted 7 Feb 2017 by Drugs.com

MONDAY, Feb. 6, 2017 – Researchers who created two new flu vaccines for dogs say their work could help keep people safe, too. The vaccines were developed to protect dogs against the H3N8 canine flu virus, which is circulating among dogs in the United States. These are "live-attenuated" vaccines. That means they're made from live flu virus that is weakened so that it does not cause the flu. These types of vaccines trigger stronger immune responses and longer periods of protection than inactivated (killed flu virus) vaccines currently used by veterinarians, according to the University of Rochester researchers. The new vaccines proved safe and effective against H3N8 canine influenza in mice and dog tracheal cells, according to Luis Martinez-Sobrido, an associate professor in the department of microbiology and immunology, and colleagues. The investigators plan to test the vaccines in ... Read more

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U.S. Teens Lag on Recommended Vaccinations

Posted 6 Feb 2017 by Drugs.com

MONDAY, Feb. 6, 2017 – Teens are less likely than younger children to get all their recommended vaccinations, perhaps putting their long-term health at risk, according to a leading group of U.S. pediatricians. Teens' rates of vaccination against human papillomavirus (HPV) and the flu are well below the target of 80 percent or higher, according to two reports from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). "We often find that teenagers don't visit their doctors as regularly as they did when they were younger, and they may be late or even miss important immunizations recommended to keep them healthy," Dr. Joseph Bocchini Jr. said in an academy news release. Bocchini is co-author of the reports and former chair of the AAP Committee on Infectious Diseases. The immunization rates vary considerably by vaccine and by state, the pediatricians' group found. In 2014, only 40 percent of girls and ... Read more

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Flu Shot May Curb Respiratory Infections in People With Heart Failure

Posted 2 Feb 2017 by Drugs.com

THURSDAY, Feb. 2, 2017 – Flu and pneumonia vaccines may reduce heart failure patients' risk of dangerous respiratory infections, a new review suggests. More than 5 million Americans have heart failure, when the heart is too weak to pump enough blood to meet the body's needs. Respiratory infections are the leading cause of hospitalization for people with heart failure. These infections are associated with high death rates in a hospital, the review authors said. The researchers reviewed studies published from January 1990 to July 2016. These studies suggested that flu and pneumonia vaccines seem to help protect people with heart failure from life-threatening respiratory infections. People older than 65 with heart failure may benefit more from high-dose vaccination, the researchers said. "Vaccination represents a low-cost intervention that may be able to prevent the significant disease, ... Read more

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Flu Hospitalizations, Deaths Increasing: CDC

Posted 27 Jan 2017 by Drugs.com

FRIDAY, Jan. 27, 2017 – Although this year's flu season appears to be an average one so far, more hospitalizations are being reported and deaths are increasing, federal health officials reported Friday. And it will be several weeks before the season peaks, said Lynnette Brammer, an epidemiologist with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "We are starting to see cases of severe disease and we are seeing excess deaths, most likely due to influenza," she said. Even though deaths and hospitalizations are increasing, Brammer didn't describe this year's flu season as particularly severe. "It's looking like an average influenza season," she said. 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, ... Read more

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Best Ways to Steer Clear of the Flu

Posted 22 Jan 2017 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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