Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Fantastically alarming

Okay this is a depressing note to end on but this was, briefly, the main story on the CNN website today.

Doctors slash vaccines due to rising costs
Health care providers say insurers don't reimburse them enough for essential vaccinations, so they're not offering them.

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Parents who bring their kids to Dr. G. Andrew McIntosh for the chicken pox vaccine are out of luck.

The family physician, who has a solo practice in Uniontown, Ohio, doesn't offer that shot because he can't afford it. Most insurers won't sufficiently cover the cost.

"It doesn't do me any good. I am losing money on [them]," he said. The chicken pox vaccine runs about $115, but insurers only cover between $68 to $83 of that..


It's not clear exactly how widespread vaccine cutbacks are, but in a recent industry survey, 5% of pediatricians and 11% of physicians indicated that they're seriously considering no longer offering immunizations. Currently there are about 350,000 pediatricians and family physicians in the U.S.

"These are fantastically alarming numbers," said Dr. Richard Lander, a Livingston N.J.-based pediatrician who chairs a committee on administration and practices at the American Academy of Pediatricians. (AAP)

Read the full story here.

Most of you have probably not had Chicken pox because you were vaccinated against it. As someone who has had chicken pox let me tell you, in the words of Pooh Bear, it is one ******* miserable disease.

I hope you enjoyed the class. If you didn't, or it wasn't what you expected please let me know.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Infected by the Pig

Taking on Swine flu. Three videos. No comment.

Dr. Joe Bresee of the CDC takes on Swine Flu

Putnam Pig takes on Swine Flu

Elmo takes on Swine Flu

Friday, September 4, 2009

What They Say They Do and What They Actually Do

Hmmm, this sounds familiar. From a paper in this month's Journal of Environmental Health:
University Students' Hand Hygiene Practice During a Gastrointestinal Outbreak in Residence: What They Say They Do and What They Actually Do

During a 2006 norovirus outbreak at the University of Guelph in Canada researchers observed hand sanitation behavior in students. Hand sanitation stations and informational posters were stationed at the entrance to a residence hall cafeteria, where the potential for cross-contamination was high. The researchers observed that even during a high-profile outbreak, students followed recommended hand hygiene procedures just 17 percent of the time. In a self-reported survey after the outbreak had subsided, 83 of 100 students surveyed said they always followed proper hand hygiene but estimated that less than half of their peers did the same.

Hand washing is likely to reduce the chance that you will both contract influenza this winter and your chance of spreading it if you do contract it. There's no need to go all Howard Hughes but even a slight increase in hand washing rates could lead to significantly fewer sick people.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Flu buddy

Do you have a Flu Buddy?

From the informative Pandemicflu.gov website the CDC Guidance for Responses to Influenza for Institutions of Higher Education during the 2009-2010 Academic Year

Students with a private room should remain in their room and receive care and meals from a single person. Students can establish a “flu buddy scheme” in which students pair up to care for each other if one or the other becomes ill. Additionally, staff can make daily contact by e-mail, text messaging, phone calls, or other methods with each student who is in self-isolation.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Swine flu latest

The President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology said in a report last week that the virus, although moderate, could infect 30 percent to 50 percent of the U.S. population this year, put 1.8 million people into the hospital and kill anywhere between 30,000 and 90,000 people.
From a Reuters article today.

Also, interesting to see how new technologies are being used this time to track and anticipate the pandemic. The figure below shows how the discussion of 'swine flu' on Facebook is distributed geographically.

Google has been tracking flu trends for some time by analyzing people's choice of search terms. This method has been very successful and they can usually pick up trends a few weeks before the CDC data. Earlier this year a variety of workers from Google and one from the CDC published a paper in Nature describing their technique:
Detecting influenza epidemics using search engine query data.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

National Geographic

In July 2007 National Geographic had an feature article about Malaria. This is available for free at their website and there's also a video, field notes from the writer and photographer and a gallery of the usual amazingly high quality National Geographic photographs.

Summer re-runs - part 7

One survey asked rural Africans what they would buy if they had the money. A bed net was sixth on the list. The first three items were a radio, a bicycle and, heartbreakingly, a plastic bucket.

Some Malaria postings that are well worth a read. I think everybody should read the articles in the first link. Much food for thought.
and, for fun, the Star Wars mosquito Defense System