June 23rd, 2013
06:35 PM ET
The H7N9 bird flu virus, first identified in humans earlier this year, kills about 36% of infected people admitted to hospitals in China, according to a new report published Sunday in the British medical journal The Lancet.
Far more difficult to estimate, according to the study, is how many die in the general population after becoming infected, as the most severe cases are also more likely to lead to hospitalization.
That estimate – a 0.16% to 2.8% overall fatality rate for those showing symptoms of infection – suggests that the H7N9 virus is less deadly than the H5N1 Bird Flu first appearing in 2003, and more deadly than the 2009 H1N1 swine flu pandemic. FULL POST
April 7th, 2013
01:05 PM ET
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.
November 21st, 2012
12:34 PM ET
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.
October 18th, 2012
01:32 PM ET
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
October 10th, 2012
02:00 PM ET
The most common sexually transmitted disease is often silent and invisible: human papillomavirus (also called HPV). But in some people HPV leads to genital warts and cancers – notably, cervical cancer.
The vaccines Gardasil and Cervarix were designed as a prevention for young women who have not yet been exposed to HPV. Men up to age 26 are also eligible for Gardasil to protect against HPV. But there are a lot of people out there who still have HPV, and nothing protects against all 130 strains of the virus. At least half of all sexually active males and females have had HPV, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
A Pennsylvania start-up company called Inovio Pharmaceuticals has developed an experimental vaccine for people who already have HPV and precancerous lesions that are associated with it. A new study demonstrating the vaccine's safety and potential effectiveness was published this week in the journal Science Translational Medicine.
August 30th, 2012
10:55 AM ET
It started with fever, fatigue, diarrhea and loss of appetite.
But for two farmers in northwestern Missouri, the severe illness that followed a tick bite led epidemiologists on a journey to a new viral discovery.
"It's brand new to the world," said William Nicholson with the National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Disease at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
"It's unique in that it's never been found elsewhere and it is the first phlebovirus found to cause illness in humans in the Western Hemisphere. At this point we don't know how widespread it may be, or whether it's found in other states. We don't know how many people in Missouri may have had this virus, as the finding of a completely new virus was a surprise to us."
April 23rd, 2012
01:13 PM ET
Two studies on the deadly H5N1 avian flu virus have been steeped in controversy because some experts view them as a threat to biosecurity. Now, the U.S. government is saying they should be published.
The papers suggest ways that manipulation of the virus could heighten its virulence and ability to be transmitted.
"This line of research is critically important because it will help public health officials understand, detect, and defend against the emergence of H5N1 virus as a human threat, a development that could pose a pandemic scenario," according to a statement by Dr. Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health.
February 23rd, 2012
03:57 PM ET
The consensus among many scientists has been that the strain of bird flu currently circulating – H5N1 – is not only highly infectious, but potentially deadly. That is based on the nearly 600 cases confirmed by the World Health Organization, more than half of which have resulted in death.
But a new study analyzing WHO data suggests that H5N1 may not be as virulent as previously thought, and that mild infections could be slipping under the radar because of less-than-ideal detection methods.
July 25th, 2011
12:01 AM ET
Deaths from chickenpox (the varicella virus) have dropped 97 percent in adolescents and children since the use of the vaccine began in 1995, new analysis shows.
"I think there's certainly the potential for very little disease in the future and very few deaths if we are to fully implement and maintain that program," said Jane Seward, deputy director, Division of Viral Diseases, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. FULL POST
May 23rd, 2011
06:35 PM ET
By the end of this week, adult hepatitis C patients will have access to two new drugs, to add to their arsenal in battling the viral disease that causes inflammation of the liver that can lead to liver failure.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved Incivek (telaprevir) on Monday, and Victrelis (boceprevir) on May 13. Both drugs are approved for use in combination with the two standard treatment drugs – peginterferon and ribavirin - for a three-drug cocktail.
Incivek and Victrelis are called protease inhibitors, which bind to the virus and prevent it from multiplying.
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.