April 25th, 2012
10:02 AM ET
After Tuesday's announcement confirming a case of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), sometimes referred to as "mad cow disease," in a dairy cow in California, you may want a refresher course in mad cow basics.
It's important to keep in mind that U.S. health officials said the public risk posed by BSE is extremely low, and that residents don't need to take any specific precautions.
Here are the facts:
– BSE is a transmissible, degenerative and fatal disease affecting the central nervous system of adult cattle. The disease is of concern to public health officials because it can cause variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, or vCJD, a fatal brain disorder in humans.
February 27th, 2012
07:32 AM ET
Parents have been hearing a lot about the human papillomavirus, or HPV, vaccine. But what was once designed solely for girls and young women up to the age of 26 to protect them from different strains of the virus, is now also being strongly recommended for younger boys.
Following in the footsteps of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the American Academy of Pediatrics is recommending females and males at 11 to 12 years of age have routine HPV vaccinations.
Doctors say the vaccine is most effective if administered before a child becomes sexually active, and responds better in the bodies of younger children, usually between the ages of 9 to 15.
February 24th, 2012
12:26 PM ET
Thirty years ago, I attended medical school in New York. In the key lecture on pain management, the professor told us confidently that patients who received prescription narcotics for pain would not become addicted.
While pain management remains an essential patient right, a generation of health care professionals, patients, and families have learned the hard way how deeply misguided that assertion was. Narcotics - both illegal and legal - are dangerous drugs that can destroy lives and communities.
Millions of Americans struggle with substance abuse. Across the United States, overdoses involving opioid painkillers - a class of drugs with narcotic effects that includes hydrocodone, methadone, oxycodone - have skyrocketed in the past decade.
Today, the United States consumes most of the world’s supply of opioid painkillers. By 2010, enough opioid painkillers were prescribed to medicate every American adult around-the-clock for a month. And every year, nearly 15,000 people die from overdoses involving these drugs... more than from heroin and cocaine combined.
February 7th, 2012
03:19 PM ET
Nine out of ten adult Americans eat too much salt each day, according to a report released Tuesday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And it's not what we add at the dinner table that's the problem.
People are consuming high amounts of salt in processed foods and at restaurants. High sodium levels increase blood pressure, putting people at higher risk for heart disease and stroke.
January 10th, 2012
02:03 PM ET
Binge drinking is a bigger problem in the United States than previously thought. Adults binge drink more frequently and consume more drinks when they do, according to the CDC.
Ursula Bauer, Director of the National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, announced the findings during a telebriefing Tuesday. “Excessive alcohol consumption, including binge drinking, accounts for 80,000 deaths in the U.S. each year,” she said, “making it the third leading preventable cause of death.” Those deaths are typically the result of motor vehicle crashes or violence against others while under the influence.
January 5th, 2012
02:51 PM ET
In 1980, one in every 53 babies born in the United States was a twin. By 2009, that number had risen to one in 30, according to a new brief released by the National Center for Health Statistics. Over the three decades, the twin birth rate (number of twins per 1,000 births) rose 76%.
"It's quite remarkable that the rate has increased as much as it has over this time period," says co-author Joyce Martin, an epidemiologist with the CDC who has studied trends in twins and triplets for decades.
Twin birth rates rose by at least 50% in 43 states and the District of Columbia, and by more than 100% in five: Connecticut, Hawaii, Massachusetts, New Jersey and Rhode Island. The largest increase occurred among non-Hispanic white mothers.
November 29th, 2011
03:47 PM ET
Three out of four people with HIV in the United States do not have their infection under control, even though anti-HIV drugs have been available for more than 15 years, according to a study released Tuesday by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“That’s a very poor rate. We have to do much better than that,” said Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
Keeping HIV under control is crucial not only for the 1.2 million people in the United States who carry the infection, but also for their sexual partners. Suppressing the virus decreases the chances it will be transmitted to a sexual partner by more than 95%, Fauci said.
October 19th, 2011
12:01 PM ET
Eleven percent of Americans over age 12 take antidepressants according to a report released Wednesday by the Centers for Disease Control. The study, compiled by the National Center for Health Statistics, looked at data from 2005 to 2008. Among the other key findings:
But it was another finding that surprised lead study author, Laura Pratt, an epidemiologist with the Centers for Disease Control. Only one-third of people with severe depression take antidepressants. "That means many people with severe depression are not getting treated," says Pratt.
October 13th, 2011
03:25 PM ET
Cholera cases have risen in Haiti, but the number dying from the disease is down, according to researchers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“The number of deaths were initially way too high,” said Dr. Robert Tauxe, researcher and deputy director at the CDC. “But within a few weeks of the outbreak, we trained teams to treat the disease and increased access to supplies.”
Tauxe says these improvements lowered the mortality rate from cholera in Haiti from 4% to below 1%, where it's been since December.
Cholera is contracted by consuming food or water contaminated with fecal bacteria. People who live in rural areas with a lack of adequate water treatment and sanitation are more likely to get the disease. While it can cause severe dehydration from rapid loss of body fluids, cholera is one of the easiest diseases to treat with oral rehydration salts.
Access to these very basic supplies was a core challenge in Haiti that led to many deaths soon after the outbreak.
About this blog
Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.