January 9, 2016 |
Add this to the list of things that were good about our warm December: It may be partly responsible for the mild beginning to this winter's flu season. "It is a very slow season, locally, statewide, and nationally," said Caroline Johnson, director of disease control for the Philadelphia Department of Public Health. "Everything seems to be much lower than usual. " Flu is spread by droplets that infected people spray into the air when they cough or sneeze, said Loren Robinson, deputy secretary for health promotion and disease prevention for the Pennsylvania Department of Health.
December 19, 2015
ISSUE | HOLIDAY SEASON The spirit of kindness It's that time of year again. Festive lights - symbols of what's to come and what has been - lift our spirits. It's a time to prepare and to ready our hearts for the season of light and the true meaning of Christmas, the celebration of a baby born into the world more than 2,000 years ago. Even folks who don't celebrate Christmas can appreciate the beauty of this season of peace and giving. In a world full of cynicism, mistrust, and tragedy, why not - if only for a day - be truly kind to one another.
September 5, 2015 |
An egg shortage has driven up prices at the supermarket, caused in part by an outbreak of avian flu in the Midwest. But health officials say there is no need to worry about the supply of certain eggs outside the kitchen: the ones used to grow and incubate flu vaccine for humans. Vaccine manufacturers get their eggs from chickens raised under heightened sanitary and biosafety measures not in place in the typical shed. "It's a totally separate supply," said Lynnette Brammer, an epidemiologist with the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
June 27, 2015 |
Despite the sweltering heat, some researchers are still preoccupied by cold and flu season, especially Scott Hensley of the Wistar Institute, who hopes vaccines being developed for the 2015-16 flu season will provide more protection than last year's versions. Last year's shots were only 19 percent effective in preventing medical visits due to flu-related complications, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Until now, researchers did not know why. Hensley's group identified a hot spot on the flu virus where mutations in the virus' genome occurred last year.
February 24, 2015 |
This year's flu season is officially on the wane. It peaked in January, and 12 states - including Pennsylvania and New Jersey - reported low levels of influenza-like illness in the week ending Feb. 14, according to federal health officials. But with at least a couple of more months to go, the 2014-15 flu season has already been longer and harsher than usual, especially for older folks. Nationally, flu-related hospitalizations among people 65 and over hit the highest level since the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention began tracking it nine years ago. (To be precise, 242 seniors per 100,000 were hospitalized this month; the highest previous rate was 183 per 100,000.)
January 10, 2015 |
The annual scourge known as the flu is always a serious health threat, and this season's version is particularly nasty. Not yet at its peak, the 2014-15 influenza season has already killed at least 36 people in Pennsylvania and rendered nearly 20,000 others into aching, feverish wretches, gasping for breath. The incidence of flu was high in Central and Northern New Jersey and moderate in the southern counties during the first week of January, the New Jersey Department of Health reported.
September 20, 2014 |
It is not yet flu season, but it is now officially flu shot season. Thomas Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, rolled up his sleeve at a news conference in Washington on Thursday to emphasize the need for more Americans to protect themselves and the people around them from the common, and potentially deadly, disease. He didn't flinch as the needle pierced his skin. "I hardly felt it," he said cheerfully. While Frieden predicted an ample supply of vaccine for the season, which typically runs from October through March, some local hospitals are reporting delays in shipments.
January 1, 2014 |
Break out the tissues and chicken soup, the mentholated lozenges, tea and sympathy. The annual winter misery that the viral world visits upon us has officially arrived. Within the last week, the number of confirmed cases of flu has spiked in Pennsylvania, raising the total since September to 1,159. "It really looks like the onset of flu season," said David Pegues, an epidemiologist at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania. "Until the first or second week of December, we were not detecting any cases here," Pegues said.
March 20, 2013 |
DESPITE THE decades-long fight against influenza, it's still a killer. This flu season, Pennsylvania health officials have confirmed more than 170 influenza-associated deaths. Nationally, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported outbreaks of influenza across the country, and estimated deaths soared from prior years. The severity of this year's epidemic underscores the importance of getting a yearly flu shot, which protects against the flu. But it also exposes the fact that every year the U.S. Food and Drug Administration gambles on you and the flu. Each year in the United States, influenza infection results in an estimated 31 million outpatient visits, 226,000 hospitalizations, and 36,000 deaths.
February 5, 2013 |
While many hospitals seemed to scramble this flu season to accommodate unexpected crowds, behind the scenes a small change likely made things better: staff flu shots. After years of talk, recommendations by a slew of medical groups, and thousands of hours spent on less-effective alternatives, policies mandating immunization for health-care workers are finally catching on. Southeastern Pennsylvania has been unusually aggressive, with more than half the region's hospitals reporting that 90 percent or more of their employees were vaccinated last year.