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CDC investigates deadly bacteria's link to doctors' offices

CDC investigates deadly bacteria's link to doctors' offices | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

The Centers for Disease Control is raising a red flag that a potentially deadly bacteria may be lurking in your doctor's office.

The bacteria, C. difficile, is typically found in hospitals, but a study out Wednesday reports a substantial number of people contracted the bug who hadn't been in a hospital, but had recently visited the doctor or dentist.

The bacteria can cause deadly diarrhea, according to the CDC, with infections on the rise. The new report shows nearly half a million Americans infected in various locations in one year, with 15,000 deaths directly attributed to C. diff.

In a 2013 study, researchers found C. diff present in six out of seven outpatient clinics tested in Ohio, including on patients' chairs and examining tables.

The CDC is so concerned that they're starting a new study to try to assess nationally whether people are getting C. diff in doctors' offices.

"This is really an important issue. We need to understand better how people are getting C. diff," said Dr. Cliff McDonald, a medical epidemiologist at the CDC.

In the meantime, patients should wash their hands after visiting the doctor's office -- with soap and water, because alcohol-based gels don't get rid of C.diff.

Another tip: Question your doctor whenever you're prescribed an antibiotic. Powerful broad-spectrum antibiotics wipe away good bacteria in your gut that fight off the bad bacteria, which leads the way to C. diff.

Johns Hopkins safety expert Dr. Peter Pronovost recommends asking your doctor if you really need an antibiotic, if there's a less powerful one that will treat your infection, and if you're being prescribed the antibiotic for the shortest time possible.

The CDC study, published Wednesday in The New England Journal of Medicine, said 150,000 people who had not been in the hospital came down with C. diff in 2011. Of those, 82% had visited a doctor's or dentist's office in the 12 weeks before their diagnosis.

The CDC is hoping its new study will help determine cause and effect, because it's possible the patients had C. diff to begin with and went to the doctor to get help. It's also possible that antibiotics prescribed during the doctor's visit, and not microbes at the doctor's office, caused the infection.

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You Will Feel Better's curator insight, February 26, 2015 3:56 PM

This is why PureWorks foam is an absolute necessity! 

https://youwillfeelbetter.buyygy.com/90forLifeStore/en/pureworks

4CalebWalker's curator insight, March 12, 2015 10:11 AM

CDC/ I did not realize that they investigated things that did not apply to a general population/ I agree with them taking their time to investigate and control the situation

Ashley Maddox's comment, March 12, 2015 3:00 PM
1 scoop plus 1comment =20
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Flu: Bad Season Getting Worse

Flu: Bad Season Getting Worse | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

The fluis increasing in intensity and spreading throughout much of the country, the CDC said in its weekly flu update.

And it will get worse before it gets better.

“Flu activity is expected to continue in the coming weeks, with increases occurring especially in those states that have not yet had significant activity,” according to the CDC.

“Nationally, the country is likely to continue to experience several more weeks of flu activity. … Most of the northeast and west of the country has yet to experience the full brunt of the flu season.”

Only one state, Hawaii, reported “sporadic” flu activity through Dec. 27, according to the agency. Six more -- California, Oregon, Nevada, Arizona, Alaska, and Maine -- reported significant activity, along with Puerto Rico. The flu was at “widespread” levels in the other 43 states, an increase from 36 the previous week.

Another six flu-associated deaths of children were reported, bringing the total to 21 this season. With the exception of the 2009 flu pandemic, deaths of children from the flu have ranged from 37 to 171 since 2004-2005, when they began to be reported, the CDC said.

The CDC doesn't track adult deaths from the flu. But the number of deaths in which pneumonia or influenza was listed -- which was at an “epidemic threshold” for the week ending Dec. 20 -- has declined this week. It's “once again below the epidemic threshold,” the agency says. The flu season is said to have reached epidemic levels when the proportion of deaths attributed to pneumonia and the flu reaches a certain level. That threshold changes week to week.

Get Vaccinated, Officials Say

This year’s dominant flu strain is H3N2, a type of the flu virus that tends to be more serious, officials have said. It’s also “drifted” from the strains included in the flu vaccine, meaning the vaccine is not as effective as hoped.

Seasons dominated by H3 viruses tend to have more hospitalizations and deaths, CDC Director Tom Frieden, MD, said last year.

So far, H3N2 viruses account for more than 95% of all flu cases reported to the CDC this season.

Get Vaccinated, Officials Say

Although the vaccine hasn’t worked as well as hoped, health officials continue to recommend it. It still can prevent infection with some flu strains and flu-related complications in some people. Also, it’s common for there to be two waves of flu activity during a typical season, with the second caused by a different flu virus, the CDC says. As of early November, only 40% of people in the U.S. reported getting a flu vaccine this year.

Health officials also recommend antiviral drugs to treat the flu in some people, including children or those who are very ill or at risk of flu-related complications. The drugs can help shorten the length of the flu and make it less severe. But media reports suggest that at least one of those drugs, Tamiflu, might be in short supply in some areas.


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FDA Shares Advice to Avoid Colds and Flu – WebMD

FDA Shares Advice to Avoid Colds and Flu – WebMD | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

Viral infectionscan happen at any time, but they're more common during winter when people spend more time in close contact with others indoors.

Although most respiratory viruses clear up within a few days, some can lead to dangerous complications, particularly for smokers, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration reports. Signs of complications include: a cough that interrupts sleep; persistent, high fever; chest pain; or shortness of breath.

Unlike colds, the flu comes on suddenly and lasts more than a few days. Each year, more than 200,000 people in the United States are hospitalized from flu complications, and thousands die from flu, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In the United States, flu season peaks between December and February.

Although colds and the flu share some signs, the flu can lead to more serious symptoms, including fever, headache, chills, dry cough, body aches and fatigue. Influenza can also cause nausea and vomiting among young children, the FDA said in a news release.

The flu virus is spread through droplets from coughing, sneezing and talking. It can also infect surfaces.

The best way to protect yourself from the flu is to get vaccinated every year, the FDA said. Flu viruses are constantly changing so the vaccines must be updated annually. The flu vaccine is available as an injection or a nasal spray.

Although it's best to get the flu vaccine in October, getting it later can still help protect you from the virus, the agency said.

With rare exceptions, everyone 6 months of age and older should be vaccinated against flu, federal health officials say. Vaccination is especially important for those at greater risk for flu-related complications, including seniors, pregnant women and children younger than 5 years, people with chronic health conditions, health care providers and caregivers for young children and the elderly.

There is no vaccine for colds. But measures to prevent the spread of viruses include the following:

  • Wash your hands frequently. Use soap and water when possible. If necessary, an alcohol-based hand sanitizer can help.
  • Avoid exposure to infected people.
  • Eat a healthy well-balanced diet.
  • Get enough sleep.
  • Exercise regularly.
  • Ease stress.


If you do get sick, the FDA recommends gargling with salt water to relieve a sore throat and using a cool-mist humidifier to relieve congestion. Call your doctor early on to get treatment advice, and use a tissue to cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze. Also, avoid alcohol and caffeine, which can be dehydrating.

Before taking over-the-counter medications, read all drug labels and directions. If you have certain health issues, such as high blood pressure, talk to your doctor before taking cold or flu medications. Also, don't give over-the-counter medication to children without talking to a pediatrician, the FDA advises.


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Flu Activity Up, Some Schools Closing

Flu Activity Up, Some Schools Closing | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

Fluseason is ramping up, according to the CDC, which is reporting widespread flu activity in 14 states, including much of the U.S. mid-Atlantic region and several Southern states.

In many states, flu is having a big impact on schoolchildren. In at least two counties in the South, entire school systems are beginning the holiday break early because of an increase in kids sick with flu-like symptoms.

“Due to unforeseen circumstances, we will operate on an early release schedule Wednesday, December 17th,” says the notice posted on the Polk County, GA, school district’s web site. The notice says school will remain closed until after the winter break because more and more students are out sick.

“I had a lot of people tell me on Monday that they just were not going to be able to send their kids to school later in the week, because they didn’t want their kids sick all the way through the Christmas vacation,” Polk County Superintendent William Hunter, PhD, told Atlanta NBC affiliate WXIA.

Out of the district’s 7,800 students, 1,300 of them were out sick Monday, along with 78 of the district’s 500 teachers, he said.  “The decision was pretty easy to make.”

Similarly, the Cherokee County school district in western North Carolina has announced it will shut down all schools by Thursday -- 2 days earlier than planned -- for winter break.

There are various reports from Chicago to Ohio to Georgia of individual schools shutting down as well, and warnings going out to parents about keeping kids home if they show symptoms of illness.

One school district in suburban Atlanta even sent a letter to parents asking them to simply keep sick children home from school, and not to try and cover up their kids' fever symptoms by giving them fever-reducing drugs.


Less-Effective Flu Vaccine

It’s not clear whether the flu is solely to blame for the uptick in illnesses.

“I’m seeing a lot of strep, I’m seeing RSV, conjunctivitis, ear infections, and croup,” says Atlanta-area pediatrician Jennifer Shu. “There are a lot of kids missing a lot of school these days.”


Less-Effective Flu Vaccine continued...

Earlier this month, the CDC said some of this year’s main flu strains had “drifted” from the strains included in the flu vaccine, meaning the vaccine may not be as effective as they'd hoped.

“The flu virus can be unpredictable, and what we’ve seen so far this year is concerning,” says CDC Director Tom Frieden, MD, MPH.

Frieden says this year’s dominant flu strain is H3N2, a subtype of the flu virus that tends to be more serious. “We know that in seasons where H3 viruses dominate, we tend to have worse flu years, including more hospitalizations and deaths from influenza.”

Because we’re seeing a season with less-effective vaccine, Frieden says it's key to rely on the basics, including:

  • Wash your hands.
  • Cover your cough.
  • Stay home from work or school whenever you think you might be sick.

“Fever is the big sign usually for flu, and the sudden onset,” Shu says. “For the flu patients, parents have to drag them out of bed to come to the office, and they’re lying down on the exam table.”

With colds, she says, patients are more talkative, and up and walking around.

But strep often doesn’t come with cold symptoms.

Sore throat, headaches, stomachache, vomiting, sometimes fever, but runny noses and cough are not common with strep,” Shu says.

Bottom line, she says: If your child is sick, have them stay home.

“Keep them home until they’ve been fever-free for 24 hours, or until they’re alert enough to be able to sit through a full day of school without needing to rest or cough a ton,” she says. “They’re not going to be able to concentrate if they’re feeling crummy and coughing all the time anyway.”



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