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Study suggests new approach to dengue fever
Mosquitoes spread a disease called dengue fever.
April 7th, 2013
01:05 PM ET

Study suggests new approach to dengue fever

Dengue fever may be more than three times more prevalent than current estimates, according to a new report. 

The study, led by researchers at the University of Oxford in England, estimates there are 390 million dengue infections around the world each year. Currently, the World Health Organization puts the number between 50 and 100 million infections each year. Researchers hope their findings will help pinpoint parts of the world most vulnerable to dengue fever and develop strategies to treat it.

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FDA approves new type of flu shot
November 21st, 2012
12:34 PM ET

FDA approves new type of flu shot

The Food and Drug Administration has approved a new flu vaccine for adults that is not egg-based, although it hasn't yet been tested on people with egg allergies.

The manufacturing process for the vaccine, called Flucelvax, is similar to the egg-based production method, but the virus strains included in the new vaccine are "grown in animal cells of mammalian origin instead of in eggs," the FDA says.

"The cell-based vaccine is as safe and effective as traditional egg-based vaccine and the technology used to manufacture it is more flexible and reliable than the traditional technology," said Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius in a statement Tuesday.

It is, however, only approved for adults 18 and older, according to the FDA.
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West Nile outbreak falls short of 2003 numbers
October 18th, 2012
01:32 PM ET

West Nile outbreak falls short of 2003 numbers

We're still more than two months from the end of the year, but the number of West Nile Virus (WNV) cases in the United States has already exceeded the second-highest annual total.

As of Tuesday, 4,531 cases of West Nile have been reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, including 183 deaths. This means the case count has surpassed the totals for 2006, when there were 4,269 cases including 177 fatalities.

But at this point in the year, it's unlikely that another 5,000 cases will develop, so the 2012 WNV season probably won't be the worst on record. That was in 2003, when there were 9,862 illnesses and 264 deaths reported. FULL POST


August 23rd, 2012
11:00 AM ET

Fast facts on West Nile virus

The recent West Nile virus outbreak is the largest ever seen in the United States, according to new numbers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The number of cases so far this year is the highest recorded through September since the disease was first detected in the United States in 1999. As of Tuesday, 48 states had reported human infections. The cases reported to the CDC as of Tuesday total 2,636, including 118 deaths.

Here are some fast facts about the virus. For more on what you need to know to protect yourself and your family, read Elizabeth Cohen's Empowered Patient column.

Background on the West Nile virus

- Symptoms of infection include: fatigue, fever, headache, body aches, rash, and swollen lymph nodes.

- Those who become ill may develop West Nile encephalitis, an inflammation of the brain.

- There is no vaccine or specific treatment for West Nile virus.

- The virus is spread by mosquitoes, which contract West Nile from infected birds.

- According to the CDC, only 1% of people bitten by West Nile-infected mosquitoes become seriously ill.

- It is not known how the virus arrived in the United States.

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Filed under: Conditions • Infectious diseases • Public Health

Could the Ebola outbreak spread to the U.S.?
July 31st, 2012
09:15 AM ET

Could the Ebola outbreak spread to the U.S.?

Sixteen people have died so far from the Ebola outbreak that began earlier this month in Western Uganda. According to the World Health Organization, the first case is believed to be from the Nyanswiga village in Nyamarunda, a sub-county of the Kibaale district of Uganda.

So far, 36 suspected cases have been reported, WHO spokesman Tariq Jasarevic said Tuesday. Nine of the deaths are reported to have occurred in one household; a health official who was treating one of the patients also died.  Unfortunately family members and health officials - those caring for the already sickened - are the most likely to be infected as well.

When was Ebola first discovered?

The Ebola virus was first detected in 1976 in the central African nation of Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of the Congo). The virus is named after a river in that country, where the first outbreak of the disease was found. There are five species of Ebola viruses, all named after the areas they were found in: Zaire, Sudan, Cote d'Ivoire, Bundibugyo and Reston, according to the WHO. (There can be different strains of Ebola within each species).
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Staph infection rates among military falling
July 4th, 2012
10:03 AM ET

Staph infection rates among military falling

Staph infections among people in the military declined during a 6 year period between 2005 and 2010, according to a report published Wednesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

The study looked at more than 9 million active duty and non-active Department of Defense personnel and found that cases of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus or MRSA dropped significantly in both community and hospital settings.

"This study is important because it's expanding on previous studies that only looked at either MRSA bacterimia in a hospital setting or focused on smaller regions in the United States," said Dr. Clinton K. Murray, a study author and chief of Infectious Disease Service at Brooke Army Medical Center/San Antonio Military Medical Center.

"So with the DOD population we could look at 266 facilities spread across the U.S. as well as overseas. And even though we're a military population, only 15% of people in the study were active duty. The other 85% were families, retirees or retiree family members."
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Global H1N1 death toll may be 15 times higher than previously reported
An Algerian doctor prepares a vaccine dose against the H1N1 flu in 2009 in a hospital in Algiers.
June 25th, 2012
07:09 PM ET

Global H1N1 death toll may be 15 times higher than previously reported

The actual number of deaths from the 2009 H1N1 pandemic might have been more than 15 times higher than previously thought, according to a study released on Monday.

When the new H1N1 virus, often referred to as swine flu, spread around the world three years ago, 18,500 deaths were reported to the World Health Organization in the first 16 months of the pandemic.  Based on this new study, published online in The Lancet Infectious Diseases, researchers estimate 284,400 people actually died in the first year the virus was circulating around the world.

According to a model developed by the study authors, the actual number of deaths linked to the H1N1 flu virus could range anywhere from 151,700 to 575,400.   Lead study author Dr. Fatimah Dawood says she and her colleagues used three types of data to come up with their estimates:

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CDC: Salmonella outbreak tied to live poultry
May 31st, 2012
05:18 PM ET

CDC: Salmonella outbreak tied to live poultry

You've probably heard a lot about salmonella in reference to food poisoning, but the latest outbreak isn't about eating cooked animals - it's about touching live ones.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced that 93 people in a total of 23 states have been infected with strains of salmonella: specifically, strains known as Salmonella Infantis, Salmonella Newport, and Salmonella Lille.  Of those affected, 18 patients have been hospitalized and one death may be related to the outbreak under investigation too.

A large portion - 37% - of the those infected are 10 years old or younger, according to the CDC.

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Goodbye flu season, for now
May 29th, 2012
05:17 PM ET

Goodbye flu season, for now

Now that summer has unofficially begun, the Centers for the Disease Control and Prevention is closing the books on the past flu season.

Anyone who got the flu during the 2011/2012 influenza season might disagree, but according to the CDC, the past flu season "began late and was mild compared to most previous seasons" for which they have data.

According to the CDC statement, this latest flu season set a new record for having the lowest and shortest peak for flu-like illness since the agency started keeping track.

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Say what? 'Flesh-eating bacteria' explained
The microscopic Aeromonas hydrophila is found in freshwater or brackish water environments, according to the FDA.
May 14th, 2012
10:06 AM ET

Say what? 'Flesh-eating bacteria' explained

It sounds like something out of a horror film - a micro-organism that enters through an open wound and begins to consume your body from the inside out.

Unfortunately flesh-eating bacteria, or necrotizing fasciitis, isn't fiction. Aimee Copeland, a 24-year-old graduate student from Georgia, is fighting for her life in an Augusta hospital after contracting one type known as aeromonas hydrophila during a zip line adventure.

Aeromonas hydrophila is found in most, if not all, freshwater or brackish water environments (water that contains salt but is not saltwater), according to the Food and Drug Administration's "Bad Bug Book."
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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.

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