November 26, 2012 |
A new statistical model, built on search data from Google and principles from weather modeling, can predict flu outbreaks up to seven weeks in advance. The results, published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, signify a transition in the study of infectious disease from modeling past outbreaks and events to predicting future ones. The researchers, Jeffrey Shaman of Columbia University and Alicia Karspeck of the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colo., used data from the Google Flu Trends project, which keeps track of searches for flu-related topics and ties them to the geographic location of the searcher.
November 21, 2012 |
To date, 10 people have fallen ill - and three have died - in the hantavirus outbreak at Yosemite National Park's “signature” cabins in Curry Village, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Hantavirus only infects a handful of people in the U.S. each year, but when it strikes it is deadly about a third of the time, killing by shutting down the respiratory system. Humans can catch the virus by getting bitten by infected deer mice, which carry the disease, or by inhaling virus particles that are shed in mouse feces or urine. Hantavirus cannot pass from person to person.
November 8, 2012 |
So far, 31 people have died of fungal meningitis and nearly 400 more have been sickened by contaminated steroid shots made by the New England Compounding Center in Framingham, Mass. Could these deaths and illnesses have been avoided? It's a distinct possibility, argues Boston University law professor Kevin Outterson in a commentary published online this week by the New England Journal of Medicine. Outterson, who specializes in healthcare law and pharmaceutical markets, says that a 1997 law would have given the U.S. Food and Drug Administration more authority to regulate compounding pharmacies - except that some of its provisions were overturned by the Supreme Court in 2002.
November 2, 2012 |
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control reported this week that the number of people who had died in the ongoing fungal meningitis outbreak had increased to 29, with the latest death occurring in Virginia. In all, the CDC said , 404 people had been sickened after receiving tainted steroid injections in their backs or in peripheral joints. As of Oct. 22, 54 people had confirmed cases of meningitis from the shots. Others had infections in joints such as knees, shoulders or ankles.
October 25, 2012 |
Patsy Bivins can't stop worrying about the warning letter she got from the hospital. It came seven weeks after she received two steroid injections in her back to treat chronic pain. The steroid had been made at the New England Compounding Center and was from one of the three lots later discovered to be contaminated with a fungus. The notice informed Bivins, 68, that although she had tested negative for fungal meningitis, she was still at risk of developing the disease, which has so far sickened more than 300 people and killed 24 across the nation.
October 21, 2012 |
You get what you pay for. This maxim is proving true all over again when it comes to steroid injections used to alleviate back pain. Making safe and effective versions of such drugs involves manufacturing steps that aren't trivial. The cost of the medicine has to match the care that goes into creating it and the oversight required to ensure that the standards are maintained. Since September, about 250 people have been sickened and 19 have died after getting steroid injections for back pain.
October 19, 2012 |
With the toll from the fungal meningitis outbreak up to 21 dead and 247 sickened, and as the compounding facility responsible for fungus-tainted drugs is hit with a lawsuit, researchers have looked back at the first case that alerted them to the disease. Their results were published online Friday in the New England Journal of Medicine. The epidural steroid injections were produced at the New England Compounding Center, which shut down production and recalled all its products Oct. 6. About 14,000 patients are believed to have received injections.
October 17, 2012 |
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention officials have linked four more deaths to the fungal meningitis outbreak caused by a batch of tainted steroid medicine, bringing the total dead to 19. Two of the new deaths were in Tennessee, with one each in Virginia and Florida. Fungal meningitis is an extremely dangerous, non-contagious infection of the membranes that line the brain and spinal cord. It often causes the brain to swell. The announcement by the CDC came the same day Food and Drug Administration authorities raided the Massachusetts offices of New England Compounding Center, the company at the center of the scandal.
October 16, 2012 |
An outbreak of E. coli cases linked to a North Carolina fair is raising questions about the safety of petting zoos and animal exhibits. So far, Cleveland County Health Director Dorothea Wyant said 38 cases, including the death of a 2-year-old boy, have been linked to the Cleveland County Fair. Of the 16 adults and 22 children involved, eight were hospitalized. Many had stopped by to see the sheep, goats and pigs used for livestock competitions and in the "huge" petting zoo, Wyant said.