Peace of my Mind

Thoughts about life, love, politics,lyrics that hook me and finding dimes.

Wednesday, February 28, 2007


testing 123

Saturday, February 17, 2007

More Schools are Worried about an Unusual Flu Outbreak

By TIMBERLY ROSS, Associated Press Writer
Fri Feb 16, 9:04 PM ET

OMAHA, Neb. - Midway through the month when influenza typically peaks, health officials were monitoring four hospitalized Nebraska children, while three North Carolina schools remained closed over widespread symptoms of the illness.

And in Oklahoma, one school district reported 350 students out sick Friday, though no schools were closed, authorities said.

Still, a federal health official called this season relatively mild so far.

Around the country, at least nine children have died of flu, and six other child deaths have been tentatively linked to flu since Feb. 3, said Curtis Allen, a spokesman for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Last year, 47 children under age 18 died from influenza. In 2003-2004, the worst recent flu season, 153 children died.

The four Nebraska children were improving, Dr. Tom Safranek of Nebraska Health and Human Services said, but he didn't know of plans to send them home.

None of the children were nearly as sick Ahn "Anna" T. Do, who died Feb. 10, four days after falling ill, her father Chi Do said.

Safranek said the four children did not have any known relation or close proximity to each other or Anna, and at least one had received some form of flu vaccine this season.

In North Carolina, the three schools in Hyde County closed Wednesday after at least 20 percent of their total 541 students fell ill, school system spokeswoman Carol Evans said. The schools won't reopen until Monday, she said.

The illness was blamed for last week's death of a 7-year-old girl in Seattle, and an 8-year-old who died there Wednesday had suffered from flu-like systems, health authorities there said.

About 36,000 people die from the flu each year in the United States, according to the CDC.


Associated Press writers Anna Jo Bratton in Omaha and Estes Thompson in Raleigh, N.C., contributed to this report.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Rare Salmonella in Peanut Butter

By Elizabeth Weise, USA TODAY
The source of a dangerous salmonella outbreak took six months to track down in part because the culprit — peanut butter — took health officials by surprise.
The outbreak has sickened at least 290 people in 39 states since August. It took until this week to identify the source because peanut butter has only once before been linked to the life-threatening disease, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says.

ON DEADLINE: Information from the FDA, ConAgra

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced Wednesday night that jars of Peter Pan and Wal-Mart's Great Value brand peanut butter beginning with the product code "2111" on the lid of the jar could be contaminated with the strain Salmonella Tennessee.

This variety of salmonella is so rare that the CDC normally sees only about 100 cases a year, says Robert Tauxe, chief of the CDC's Foodborne and Diarrheal Diseases Branch.

Symptoms include fever, diarrhea and abdominal cramps. In people with weakened immune systems and very young children, salmonella can invade the bloodstream and cause life-threatening infections.

The affected jars were from a single ConAgra Foods plant in Georgia, which FDA officials began investigating Wednesday. Great Value peanut butter made by other manufacturers is not affected, the FDA says. Consumers should discard any of this peanut butter purchased since May, the FDA says.

"Nature's been throwing us curve balls," says Tauxe. "We've had seven major product outbreaks in the last five months, and three have been in brand-new foods — botulism in carrot juice, E. coli in spinach, and now this."

When epidemiologists began getting reports of a growing number of cases in August, they took notice. But conducting normal case control studies — asking infected people what they had been eating — wasn't providing any clues, says Tauxe. Finally, people in the most-affected states began taking extensive, 300-question surveys.

That turned up peanut butter. "As our teams were talking to the people, they'd ask if they could donate that jar to the health department," says Tauxe. "By this Monday, there was an accumulation of half-eaten peanut butter jars in state health labs around the country." Those samples are being cultured now, he says.

There has been only one known outbreak of salmonella in peanut butter — in South Australia in 1996. Subsequent studies showed that because peanut butter is so thick and oily, heat pasteurization didn't kill the bacteria.

ConAgra has stopped production of peanut butter until the cause of contamination can be identified and eliminated. Consumers who have questions should contact the company at 866-344-6970.

For a full refund, consumers should send the product lid, their name and mailing address to ConAgra Foods, P.O. Box 3768, Omaha, NE 68103.

Those who have recently eaten the targeted peanut butter and become ill should contact their doctor immediately and report the illness to state or local health authorities, the FDA says.

Friday, February 02, 2007

Unusual Deaths from the Flu AGAIN!

By Maggie Fox, Health and Science Editor
Thu Feb 1, 6:11 PM ET

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Nine children have died of flu this season in Alabama, an unusually high number that has some experts worried, a pediatrician said on Thursday.


Dr. Richard Whitley of the University of Alabama at Birmingham said he had sent samples from the children to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for analysis.

"Nine children and we are a state of 4 million people," he said.

They were all affected with the regular seasonal flu, Whitley said in an interview, but were unusually ill with it.

"We have tried extravagant things (to save them)."

"These kids are presenting with an ARDS-like syndrome," he said. Acute respiratory distress syndrome usually only occurs with severe infections, and is not normally a symptom of influenza.

Normal seasonal influenza does kill children every year, even previously healthy children. Public health officials are watching flu more closely than before because of fears the H5N1 bird flu virus, a strain found primarily in birds but that has killed 164 people since 2003, might mutate into a fast-spreading and lethal pandemic form.

"Unfortunately, it is not unusual for there to be pediatric deaths in any flu season," CDC director Dr. Julie Gerberding told reporters.

It takes years sometimes to get good estimates, but 153 children died in the 2003-2004 flu season, according to CDC figures. This year so far the CDC had reported eight deaths among children, but its statistics are usually several weeks old.

Whitley said his hospital started filling up with cases, mostly children, in December. The U.S. flu season normally runs from October to March.

"Our hospital has been at 115 percent occupancy," Whitley told reporters.

"We are not seeing influenza in our adult populations."

Most of the 36,000 Americans who die of flu and flu-related pneumonia in an average year are elderly.

Whitley said the annual flu wave was now starting to peter out in Alabama, but increased activity had been reported east, in South Carolina, and north in Illinois. The CDC says flu activity in the United States has not reached epidemic levels.

"We do know that the majority of virus circulating in this flu season is a strain that is an excellent match to the vaccine," Gerberding said. Every year, the flu vaccine is reformulated with three strains of flu that match the most common types in circulation.

The CDC now recommends that most people in the United States get flu vaccines every year, including young children, people over the age of 50, health care workers and people with chronic conditions such as diabetes.

Check this related story out:Bird flu can infect people via upper airway