Monday, November 2, 2009

Weekend links

  1. There have been several teen suicides in California, prompting public outcry against suicide, which is the 3rd leading cause of death among teens, according to CDC. Actions are being taken to curb suicide in California, including counseling, suicide hotlines, and other measures. "These poor kids died from an untreated psychiatric illness, or undertreated. It's not as if it's a mysterious thing and it's not as if it's not preventable," says Madeline Gould, a psychiatrist. Once again, and I reference another suicide posting I've done, suicide is preventable, and it's important to treat mental illness and reach out to people.

  2. Not surprisingly, H1N1 is hindering health departments' ability to conduct other activities. Dr. David Fleming, health officer in Seattle, says, "we're being held hostage by a national shortage of the vaccine."

  3. The Infectious Diseases Society of America conference brought a lot of discussion of various infectious diseases this weekend. Antibiotic resistance is still a concern, according to this article in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. There is also a virulent strain of MRSA going around, posing another infection-related problem in hospitals.

  4. At the IDSA conference, Dr. Paul Offit, a frequent vaccine spokesperson, spoke out for the H1N1 vaccine. Another article about the speech can be found here.
    "... Now the seasonal flu vaccine and H1N1 flu vaccine are being skipped by millions of people who somehow distrust the science that went into making them, even though the illnesses they cause can be fatal.

    But hey, it’s a free country. Paul Offit just throws up his hands: “Is it your right to catch and transmit a potentially fatal infection? The answer is ‘yes,’” he says."

    The article continues:
    "So despite vaccines’ overwhelming safety profile when compared to the risks run by exposure to the diseases they prevent, and despite the exhortations of the CDC and World Health Organization, some people just gravitate toward other sources of information they deem more reliable."
  5. In food safety news, the Produce Safety Project put out results of a survey showing that there are significant gaps in foodborne illness response. The survey asked about types of questionnaires administered, the time frame in which they were completed, types of questions asked, and how the data collected were used. They found that state health departments don't ask about fresh produce initially, use a mixed questionnaire with open- and closed-ended questions, and are more likely to interview an individual linked with an outbreak. This survey did not assess staffing or funding levels, which will be discussed in a forthcoming assessment by CSTE about foodborne illness epidemiology capacity. They did report, however, that "the decisions of the responding states appear to be driven by available resources." Very true.

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