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Health

There have been calls for a criminal investigation. Now news of a raid from Reuters.

Persons with Fungal Infections Linked to Steroid Injections, by State
CDC

The Michigan Department of Community Health said the number of meningitis cases associated with the recent outbreak reached 46 yesterday. Three deaths in Michigan are linked to the outbreak.

In the meantime, the New York Times reports the FDA warns other drugs could be involved:

Congressman John Dingell says it will take time to figure out the best response to a meningitis outbreak caused by tainted steroids.  But he's urging Congress to take action and make sure it never happens again.

Dingell says the Food and Drug Administration doesn't have the authority to regulate the company that made the contaminated medicine which has killed 15 people so far, including 4 in Michigan.

Weekly influenza activity across the U.S. and its territories. Michigan is listed as "sporadic."
CDC

Flu season is officially underway.

Michigan Department of Community Health officials said today that 12 influenza cases are the first seasonal flu reports they have confirmed in Michigan during the 2012-2013 season.

They  said the illnesses occurred in children and adults in lower Michigan.

Two people were hospitalized. Nine cases have been confirmed as influenza B viruses, two as influenza A (H3N2) virus and one as influenza A (H1N1) 2009 virus.

Officials say it's too early to tell what influenza viruses will circulate this influenza season or how severe it might be.

Officials recommend flu shots as a way to prevent the disease.

Michigan's flu activity is listed as "sporadic," the lowest of four levels of influenza activity.

Several years ago I interviewed Peter Palese, a microbiologist and Chair of the Department of Microbiology at the Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York City.

They were researching why the flu virus spreads in cold weather.

They found that once the flu virus is airborne, it survives longer in cold air and low humidity. It doesn't survive as long in higher temperatures and higher humidity.

Palese said age old maternal advice held up in their research:

They tested guinea pigs infected with the flu virus - and found that the animals are more contagious when they're in a colder environment. They believe that's because their bodies don't get rid of the virus as fast in cold temperatures...

"So that makes sense when your grandmother told you 'don't go out when it's cold, and stay warm and you might get the flu,' she was probably right," said Palese.

WASHINGTON (AP) — A New Mexico food company that produced the peanut butter linked to an outbreak of salmonella poisoning has expanded an ongoing recall of its products to include raw and roasted peanuts.

The federal Food and Drug Administration said Saturday that Sunland Inc. added raw and roasted shelled and in-shell peanuts sold in quantities from two ounces to 50 pounds to its recall. FDA inspectors have found salmonella in raw peanuts from the Sunland processing plant.

CDC

The national meningitis outbreak has officials at the University of Michigan Health System reviewing their policy for where they get some drugs that are in short supply.

The outbreak has been linked to tainted steroid injections from a ‘so-called’ compound pharmacy.     Four Michigan clinics used the tainted steroids to treat people with back pain.   None of the clinics are associated with UMHS. 

Centers for Disease Control

There’s been a big jump in the number of people in Michigan affected by that national fungal meningitis outbreak.

The Centers for Disease Control says 39 people in Michigan have contracted fungal meningitis from tainted steroid injections.  Just Wednesday, the CDC listed only 28 confirmed cases in Michigan.

Three Michigan women have died since receiving the injections, which were intended to treat back pain.

The University of Michigan Health System
The University of Michigan

A new $21 million grant will establish a Center for HIV RNA Studies at the University of Michigan.

The National Institutes of Health grant will be distributed over a five-year period and is intended to help researchers better understand the virus on a molecular level.

From the University of Michigan:

CDC

The Centers for Disease Control reports a third fatality in Michigan tied to a nationwide meningitis outbreak.

A 78 year old Washtenaw County woman is the latest fatality.   Previously,  a 56 year old woman from Genesee County and a 67 year old woman from Livingston County were the only known fatalities in Michigan.

The CDC now says 25 patients in Michigan are linked to the outbreak tied to tainted steroid injections.   

Map of Healthcare Facilities which received three lots of Methylprednisolone Acetate (PF) recalled from New England Compounding Center.
CDC

News about the meningitis outbreak continues this morning. The outbreak has been linked to patients receiving steroid injections for back pain. The steroid shots could be contaminated with a meningitis-causing fungus.

From the CDC:

At this point, there is not enough evidence to determine the original source of the outbreak, however there is a link to an injectable steroid medication.

The company responsible for the medication, New England Compounding Pharmacy, Inc., announced a recall on Oct. 6 "of all products currently in circulation that were compounded at and distributed from its facility in Framingham, Massachusetts."

Ed White of the Associated Press reports on the heartbreaking case of 67-year-old Lilian Cary of Howell, Michigan.

Late last month, Cary had been responding to treatment at the University of Michigan hospital:

"She was responding to medication. Her spirits were up. Her fever was broken," George Cary said. "She was walking the hallway and Skyping with grandsons."

But she became unresponsive Sept. 26, and eventually was removed from life support after suffering a stroke, he said.

Cary said he was informed Saturday that his wife had been treated with tainted steroids for back pain. The doctor at Michigan Pain Specialists in Brighton, one of four Michigan clinics to get shipments from the Massachusetts pharmacy, said Cary also was at risk.

George Cary is now waiting to hear whether he was exposed when he received an injectable steroid shot.

The CDC reports that as many as 13,000 people received steroid shots suspected in the outbreak, but who is in danger is unclear.

From the Associated Press:

About 17,700 single-dose vials of the steroid sent to 23 states have been recalled. Inspectors found at least one sealed vial contaminated with fungus, and tests were being done on other vials.

The first known case of the rarely seen fungal meningitis was diagnosed last month in Tennessee.

Meningitis is an inflammation of the protective membranes covering the brain and spinal cord. It can be caused by a bacteria or virus. Exposure from fungi is a less common way to contract meningitis.

Persons with meningitis linked to epidural steroid injections, as of October 7, 2012.
CDC

Update Monday, October 8, 5:04 p.m.

The Michigan Department of Community Health (MDCH) now reports 22 confirmed cases of fungal meningitis in Michigan.

From the MDCH:

Dogs helping veterans with PTSD

Oct 8, 2012
Scott King / flickr

As part of Michigan Radio's Seeking Change series, Morning Edition Host Christina Shockley talked with Terran Frye. He’s a veteran of the Marine Corp and had two deployments in Iraq. He’s now the veteran liaison for an organization called Stiggy’s Dogs, based in Howell Township. It trains psychiatric service dogs to help military vets who suffer from PTSD or Traumatic Brain Injury.

Officials say there are at least eight confirmed cases of meningitis in Michigan, including two deaths.

The Michigan Department of Community Health said Saturday it won't be able to release any details about the deaths until after the weekend.

The meningitis outbreak has been linked to a steroid produced by a specialty pharmacy in Massachusetts. The steroid has been recalled, and officials have been scrambling to notify anyone who may have been injected with it.

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Michigan health officials are reporting six cases of fungal meningitis linked to injections of a recalled back-pain medication.

St. Joseph Mercy Ann Arbor spokesman Kevin DiCola says six cases are being treated at that hospital.

In all, there are 47 cases in seven states with five deaths.

Tennessee, Virginia, Maryland, Florida, North Carolina and Indiana had previously reported cases.

The Michigan Department of Community Health expects the number of cases to rise.

Every woman sees those skinny, photo-shopped models in magazines, and it probably makes us all little crazy.  But some women internalize that pressure more than others - and your genes could be the reason. 

A growing number of studies are linking eating disorders to genetics, but a new study from Michigan State University is the first to find that an early indicator of eating disorders - namely, how much of the "thin-ideal" a woman buys into - could also have a genetic component.  

State officials have chosen Priority Health HMO as the benchmark for a new health care exchange.

It's another step towards the inevitable - unless the next President and Congress make major modifications to the Affordable Care Act, or nullify it completely.

Uninsured people will be required to buy health insurance through state health care exchanges by January 1, 2014.

The state's decision means all other health insurance companies must offer at least the same level of benefits as Priority Health HMO.

clarita / MorgueFile

Update at 4:30 p.m.

The Michigan Department of Community Health says six cases of fungal meningitis have now been confirmed in Michigan, and the number of cases nationwide have increased to 49. Five people have died from the disease.

Spokeswoman Angela Minicuci says it has not yet been determined from which health care clinics the patients contracted the meningitis.

Minicuci says fungal meningitis cannot be transmitted from person-to-person.

---------------------------------

NPR

A bill in the state House would let doctors prescribe medication to the partner of a patient who's been diagnosed with a sexually transmitted disease -- without examining the partner.

alvimann / MorgueFile

Two Southeast Michigan hospitals say beginning next year, job applicants who use tobacco of any kind will not be hired.  

Henry Ford and Beaumont health systems say the tobacco ban will include cigarettes, pipes, cigars, smokeless tobacco and electronic cigarettes.

Jay Holden is a Beaumont spokesman.

He says the policy will protect patients and personnel.

When the kid who needs help has a kid of her own

Sep 26, 2012

Today State of Opportunity's Dustin Dwyer reports on a situation that affects nearly 11 thousand young women in Michigan every year: teenage pregnancy. 

Although that number is half of what it was two decades ago, teenage pregnancy is still an issue that affects far too many young women in Michigan. Many of these young women have stressful home environments. Some are even homeless.

McLaren Macomb offers free mammograms for uninsured

Sep 26, 2012

A hospital in Mount Clemens, east of Detroit, is offering free mammograms to uninsured women who are Macomb County residents.  It’s part of their “BRAvo for women” program.  

Pat Keigher directs McLaren Macomb’s Breast Center.  She says breast cancer causes nearly 40-thousand deaths each year.  But when it’s detected early, she says five year survival rate is 98 percent so women do not need to die from this disease.

A CDC graph showing the number of people infected by the current Salmonella outbreak by date. 28 cases on shown on this graph.
CDC

Michigan state health officials are warning consumers that Trader Joe's Valencia Creamy Peanut Butter made with sea salt and a variety of almond butter and peanut butter products from Sunland Inc. might be  linked to a multi-state bacterial outbreak of "Salmonella Bredeney."

The Michigan Department of Community Health says so far, one child in Michigan has been affected along with 28 people in 18 other states (as of Sept. 22). 

More from a press release from the Michigan Department of Community Health:

The product comes in a 16 ounce, plastic jar and was sold in Trader Joe’s stores nationwide as well as on the Internet. Testing of the product is under way. Customers with questions may contact Trader Joe’s Customer Relations at (626) 599-3817 Monday through Friday, 7 am to 5 pm Pacific Time....

Most individuals infected with Salmonella bacteria often experience diarrhea, fever, and abdominal cramps 12-72 hours after infection.  The duration of illness is typically 4-7 days and most people recover without treatment. Sometimes a Salmonella infection can be more severe and may spread to the bloodstream, resulting in hospitalization. Young children, frail or elderly people, and others with weakened immune systems are more likely to have a severe illness from Salmonella infection.

You can also check the Sunland Inc. recall online. The PDF document contains a list of products, the UPC codes, and best-if-used-by dates. Or consumers can contact Sunland Inc. at (866) 837-1018.


The Food and Drug Administration encourages consumers with questions about food safety to call 1-888-SAFEFOOD or consult the www.fda.gov website.

The CDC has more about the ongoing CDC investigation on its website.

Patrick Wright of the Mackinac Center says home health care workers are being forced to pay union dues.
Mackinac Center

Michigan could void its contract with thousands of home health care workers if a state board agrees with a legal action filed this week by the Mackinac Center.

The free market think tank is asking the Michigan Employment Relations Commission to rule that home health care workers aren’t public employees, but rather private contractors who can’t unionize.

The workers are organized under the Service Employees International Union.

The Mackinac Center’s Pat Wright says they’re forced to pay dues that should be going to patient care.

Blue Cross Blue Shield would undergo major changes under proposed legislation.
Wikipedia

State Senate hearings began today on a proposed overhaul of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan.

The plan calls for Blue Cross to become a customer-owned not-for-profit corporation that’s regulated just like other insurance companies.

Right now, Blue Cross has to accept all applicants, regardless of their health. Starting in 2014, the Blues’ role as “insurer of last resort” will become unnecessary. Due to the federal healthcare law, insurance companies will no longer be able to reject people because of their health conditions.

Michigan Radio

A new study suggests Michigan’s two-year-old public workplace smoking ban has had little effect on the state’s bar and restaurant industry.

Heroin abuse in Michigan on the rise

Sep 17, 2012
Amanda Darche with the Ingham County Health department says she's seen how prescription opioid abuse can lead to heroin use.
United Nations Photo

Heroin abuse is increasing in Michigan and so is the number of fatal overdoses.

Felix Sharpe of Michigan's Bureau of Substance Abuse and Addiction Services says that 680 people died from heroin overdoses in Michigan last year.

Many abusers of prescription painkillers have moved to heroin because of its price. Drugs like Oxycontin sell for up to $40 dollars a pill on the street, while heroin sells for about $10.

Sharpe says that many of the victims are young people whose first contact with opiates came through painkillers prescribed to parents and grandparents. He says parents need to lock up prescriptions or dispose of them if they're no longer being used.

According to The Michigan Department of Community Health Bureau of Substance Abuse and Addiction Services' 2011 annual report,  the number of people receiving treatment for heroin abuse in the state jumped from 7,857 in 2001 to 10,924 last year.

A mosquito
flickr user trebol-a / http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

So far this year, Michigan has seen four times as many cases of West Nile virus as it did in all of 2011.  The reason is the dry Michigan weather. 

Angela Minicuci is with Michigan’s Department of Community Health, and says the problem is worse in urban areas, like Metro Detroit particularly, and Kent county which have seen higher case numbers.  Urban areas are where this particular mosquito thrives.

People over 50 are most at-risk for infection, along with people with weakened immune systems, and children.

To minimize exposure, it's recommended that people drain standing water around their homes, repair any holes in screens, and wear insect repellent or avoid the outdoors around dusk and dawn.

- Chris Edwards, Michigan Radio Newsroom

A new study suggests that longer CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) attempts in the hospital could save lives. 

How many lives?  That's unclear, but it would be at least in the hundreds, if not a few thousand.

Cardiac arrest is a common occurrence in hospitals.  As many as 250,000 patients's hearts stop beating in the nation's hospitals each year.

DETROIT (AP) - People celebrating Labor Day weekend outdoors in Michigan could be setting themselves up as the main course for feasting mosquitoes including the species known to carry the West Nile virus.

The disease has become the summer scourge across the country and the state where on Thursday an 87-year-old Kent County woman became its fifth fatality.

user xenia / MorgueFile.com

Federal health officials are telling Americans to avoid Daniella mangoes distributed by a Northern California fruit distributor because they may be contaminated with salmonella that has already sickened more than 100 people in 16 states.

The Food and Drug Administration issued the warning yesterday after Burlingame, Calif.-based Splendid Products recalled five lots of mangoes imported from Mexico.

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