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Health Highlights: June 14, 2018

Here are some of the latest health and medical news developments, compiled by the editors of HealthDay:

Rising Number of Unvaccinated U.S. Kids Raises Risk of Disease Outbreaks

The rising number of unvaccinated children in the United States increases the risk of vaccine-preventable infectious disease outbreaks, researchers warn.

They examined rates of nonmedical vaccine exemptions for children, which are based on parents' religious, philosophical or personal beliefs rather than a known medical condition. As of 2016, 18 states allow nonmedical exemptions for personal beliefs.

The researchers found that among children enrolling in kindergarten, the number of those with nonmedical exemptions has increased since 2009 in 12 states, resulting in lower rates of vaccination for measles, mumps and rubella.

"Hotspots" of nonmedical exemptions include: Seattle and Spokane in Washington state; Houston, Fort Worth, Plano and Austin in Texas; Salt Lake City and Provo in Utah; Phoenix, Arizona, and less populated and rural counties in Idaho.

The study was published in the journal PLoS Medicine.

The increase in nonmedical exemptions "weakens herd immunity that protects the population at large, particularly children who are unable to get vaccinated for medical reasons,"Dr. Peter Hotez, professor and dean, National School of Tropical Medicine, Baylor College of Medicine, and director of the Texas Children's Hospital Center for Vaccine Development, said in a Baylor news release.


Federal Government Must Tackle Rising Insulin Prices: AMA

U.S. officials need to take action to control spiking insulin prices, the American Medical Association says.

The Federal Trade Commission and the Justice Department should monitor insulin pricing and market competition and take any necessary enforcement measures, AMA members agreed at the group's annual meeting.

The nation's largest physicians group said the rising cost of insulin is causing big financial problems for patients, Medicare and Medicaid.

"It is shocking and unconscionable that our patients struggle to secure a basic medicine like insulin," AMA board member Dr. William McDade said in a news release from the group.

"The federal government needs to step in and help make sure patients aren't being exploited with exorbitant costs. The AMA also plans to educate physicians and policymakers on ways to tackle this problem, and transparency from manufacturers and PBMs is a good place to start," McDade said.

The mean price of insulin rose nearly 200 percent between 2002 and 2013, from $4.34 to $12.92 per milliliter. Currently, at least 35 five states and a federal prosecutor are seeking information from insulin manufacturers and pharmacy benefit managers, and class action lawsuits have been filed on behalf of patients.


Child in Idaho Has Plague

A child in Idaho has been diagnosed with the plague and people need to be on alert for the potentially fatal disease, state health officials said Tuesday.

The child -- from Elmore County, located between Twin Falls and Boise -- is only the fifth person to be infected with the bacterial disease in Idaho since 1940, the Idaho State Journal reported.

The last human case in the state was in 1992, but the disease has appeared in pets and wildlife in recent years in Idaho.

The child is recovering, but no additional information on the youngster's conditions or identity was provided by the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare.

The department said the child recently returned from a trip to Oregon, but it's not known whether the youngster contracted the plague in that state or in Idaho, the Journal reported.

"The case serves as a reminder to recreationists in southern Idaho that plague is dangerous to people and pets, but with proper awareness, precautions and prompt treatment when needed, plague should not discourage you from enjoying the Idaho outdoors," state health officials said in a news release.

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Posted: June 2018

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