News Scan for Jan 15, 2015

Disease disparity in minorities
CDC travel notices

CDC report highlights disease disparities among native people

Of 26 notifiable diseases analyzed for 2007 through 2011, rates were higher in American Indian/Alaska Natives (AI/ANs) than in whites for 14, and for certain diseases the rates in that minority population were dramatically higher, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported today.

Writing in Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR), the authors said they used data from the National Notifiable Diseases Surveillance System. They note that, for 20 diseases for which 20,000 or more cases were reported nationally, disease incidence was higher in 9 for AI/ANs. Among the 22 disease for which 70% or more of records had complete race information, incidence rates in AI/ANs exceeded those of whites in 12.

Of those 12 diseases, the largest discrepancy was for hantavirus pulmonary syndrome, for which AI/ANs outpaced whites 15 to 1. The group had 6.8 times the rate of tularemia, 4.2 times the rate of spotted fever rickettsiosis, 2.5 times the rate of Chlamydia infection, 2.4 times the rate of gonorrhea, and 2.1 times the rate of West Nile virus disease.

On the flip side, whites outpaced AI/ANs for varicella (chickenpox, 2.6 times) and cryptosporidiosis (2.2 times).

The authors conclude, "State and local health departments with large segments of AI/AN populations have opportunities to develop efficient intervention efforts and programs tailored to this population."
Jan 16 MMWR report


CDC updates travel advice on Lunar New Year, chikungunya, measles

In anticipation of numerous travelers going to Asia to celebrate the Lunar New Year that begins in February, the CDC this week issued a new travel notice giving tips for staying healthy, among them staying away from farms and bird markets and not touching birds, pigs, or other animals.

Other general tips for safely celebrating the Year of the Goat are to wash hands often and avoid contact with ill people, take measures to prevent mosquito bites, and follow food and water safety guidelines. The CDC stresses choosing safe transportation, saying motor vehicle accidents are the No. 1 cause of death in healthy US citizens traveling abroad.

The notice also encourages travelers to visit their doctor or clinic at least 4 to 6 weeks before departure to discuss specific medicines and immunizations appropriate for the area to be visited.
Jan 13 CDC travel notice

CDC updated a number of notices regarding travel to areas with chikungunya and measles, as well.

Warnings about chikungunya in the Caribbean, Mexico, French Polynesia, and South America, where the disease is running rampant, stress that even one mosquito bite can cause the infection and that preventing bites is the only protection available for fighting the disease, which generally causes fever and joint pain. Members of certain at-risk groups, such as those who are older or who have underlying disease or are pregnant, should discuss travel plans with their doctor, the CDC said.

The agency also updated alerts about measles in the Philippines and Vietnam. The Philippines saw nearly 60,000 suspected cases during 2014, says the CDC, with more than 21,000 of those confirmed and over 100 fatal. Cases among US travelers to the country number 25 as of Dec 20, 2014, most of them in unvaccinated people. The alert stresses the importance of ensuring that travelers, especially infants and children, are vaccinated, and says anyone feeling ill upon their return should make sure they inform caregivers about their recent travel.

Vietnam saw more than 17,000 suspected measles cases in 2014, with over 5,500 confirmed and 2 fatal, says a separate CDC alert. Again, the importance of measles vaccination before travel as well as informing healthcare providers of their travel if they become ill is stressed.
CDC travel notices page

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