May 1, 2016 |
HOW OFTEN do you have your dog or cat vaccinated? If you're still following an annual schedule, you may want to reconsider. Vaccines save lives. They teach the immune system to recognize and fight off invading organisms that cause severe and sometimes fatal diseases, such as distemper and parvovirus. But they too often brings health risks. Vaccine reactions are rare, but they include mild itching or swelling; vaccine sarcomas - cancer at the injection site - diagnosed in as many as 20,000 cats a year; autoimmune hemolytic anemia in dogs; and anaphylactic shock leading to death.
April 13, 2016 |
Abington School District administrators say they have been dealing with an unexpectedly large number of pertussis cases this school year. Most unusual, according to health officials, is that the district had not experienced an outbreak before. Pertussis, also known as whooping cough, tends to run in cycles, and this year's incidence is not unusual at the national, state, and county levels. The 56 cases in Montgomery County since Jan. 1 are "pretty routine," said Frank X. Custer, a spokesman for the county.
January 24, 2016 |
A high school student in Cherry Hill has been found to have whooping cough. Officials at Cherry Hill High School East wrote in a letter to parents that the student with the confirmed pertussis case was in the building during the week of Jan. 11, but had not been in school since Jan. 15. The highly contagious disease is spread through the air by coughing or sneezing. "We continue to monitor the situation at school, and if additional actions to control the spread of pertussis among pupils become necessary, we will again notify parents," the principal, Lawyer Chapman, wrote in the letter.
November 23, 2015 |
For almost a decade, researchers have studied why a vaccine for adolescents that could prevent tens of thousands of cancers every year is so unpopular. Turns out it's not so much the cost, or safety worries, or the antivaccine movement. The biggest obstacle, studies show, is that doctors aren't recommending the HPV vaccine because they're uncomfortable talking to parents and tweens about a virus spread by S-E-X. But a blitzkrieg against the doctor deterrent is underway. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other public-health agencies have major campaigns designed to educate doctors about why and how to recommend the HPV shots.
November 7, 2015 |
Pennsylvania officials proposed multiple changes Thursday to strengthen immunization requirements for school entry that would bring the state more in line with the rest of the country. The updates would mean that schoolchildren must complete - not just start - multi-dose vaccine series. They also would require an additional dose of meningococcal vaccine for entry into 12th grade, and expand the required list to include pertussis (whooping cough) vaccine, which most children already get in combination with other vaccines.
October 11, 2015 |
They're now luminaries of medical textbooks, but in the 1980s, Paul Offit and Fred Clark were in a Philadelphia lab, elbow-deep in stool samples collected from calves with diarrhea. They were on a mission to develop a vaccine for rotavirus, a deadly disease that filled the hospital beds of pediatric wards, claiming many lives. Without a vaccine, in the first five years of life, four in five children would have symptoms of a viral infection, one in seven would wind up in the ER, and one in 200,000 would die from the disease, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
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.
August 24, 2015 |
There are a lot of things Sean Hartmann likes about his job as a tree trimmer. It pays well, and the roadsides where he works are often beautiful, especially in the spring and fall. But he definitely does not love poison ivy. It's everywhere. Hairy vines the size of his forearm climb the trees he must cut. Even if he can manage not to touch it, it winds up on the chain saw and in the wood chipper. Fragments fly all around him. Until this year, the result was constantly blistered, oozing skin.
August 17, 2015 |
Tiffany Weber recently went through the kind of experience parents dread: Rushing a sick toddler to the hospital - twice - with a common yet frightening respiratory virus. Weber's son is now fine and has been joined by a new sibling. Chances are the baby might have a similar experience as big brother, because respiratory syncytial virus, or RSV, is so common nearly every child gets it by age 2. Yet, told of a new vaccine being tested on pregnant women to protect their babies from RSV, the Huntingdon Valley marketing manager hesitated.
August 16, 2015 |
In February, the country was stunned by a measles outbreak in California that highlighted how many adults and children were not immunized. Since then, the Pennsylvania Department of Health has redoubled efforts to improve the state's immunization rates. Now, as another school year is about to begin, Physician General Rachel Levine is pushing to end Pennsylvania's eight-month grace period, which is far longer than that of most other states. It has meant that kids can be in kindergarten almost an entire academic year without getting required immunizations.