HEALTH

CDC: Influenza season officially underway

BY Michael Johnsen

ATLANTA — The influenza season is officially underway as flu incidence is already above the national threshold, Thomas Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, told reporters during a teleconference Monday. "This is the earliest regular flu season we’ve had in nearly a decade, since the 2003-2004 flu season," he said. "That was an early and severe flu year, and while flu is always unpredictable, the early nature of the cases as well as the specific strains we’re seeing suggest that this could be a bad flu year."

Influenza-like illness activity is particularly strong across five states in the southeastern and south central regions, including Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee and Texas. Moderate levels of illness activity have been reported in Georgia and Missouri. 

One of the predominant strains includes an H3N2 influenza A, Frieden noted. "What we’ve seen in past years is that H3 predominant years tend to be the worst years."

However, those who have had their flu shots should be well-protected, Frieden added. Out of the flu strains that have been submitted to the CDC so far this season, about 90% are well-matched to this year’s flu vaccine. According to CDC estimates, approximately 112 million people have been vaccinated against influenza so far this year, or approximately 37% of the U.S. population over the age of six months. "It’s a little higher among children with an estimate of 40%, and 35% in adults," noted Melinda Wharton, acting director for the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases. "Influenza vaccination is continuing and our expectation is that as the season progresses, that coverage will rise," she said. "[Last year] it was 48% by end of the influenza season for the general population, six months of age and older."

The number of flu shots administered over the past several years has steadily increased, Frieden added. "We’re seeing that work sites and pharmacies are major sources of vaccination for adults, with more than a third of the vaccines being given either at work sites or pharmacies," he said.

 

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Kowa Health Care America introduces two supplements to U.S. market

BY Michael Johnsen

LOS ANGELES — Kowa Health Care America recently launched two supplement products into the U.S. marketplace — NutriDiet, a diet aid, and Okinawa Life. 

NutriDiet has been formulated to aid in the digestion of food and absorption of key nutrients necessary for internal balance. The formulation includes probiotics, prebiotics and green tea catechins in an effort to improve overall health. The combination helps to promote intestinal health, while assisting in burning fat to create a healthy weight balance.

“Our innovative digestive health and anti-aging supplements, including NutriDiet, are intended to provide holistic, nutritional solutions for a healthier lifestyle," stated Tony Hatori, Kowa Health Care CEO. "All of our products come from natural ingredients, many cultivated using organic farming methods, mostly in Japan, and are free of artificial flavors, preservatives and alcohol.”

Okinawa Life infuses three ingredients to create an optimal supplement for the maintenance of active, healthy lifestyles. The ingredients include soy isoflavones; Zedoary, a purple turmeric; and Goya, a bitter melon. 

 

 

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Study: Use of Purell hand sanitizer reduced diarrhea and respiratory illness incidence among children

BY Michael Johnsen

AKRON, Ohio — Among children who took part in a recent study on the use of hand sanitizer in an environment with limited access to clean water, diarrhea cases were reduced by 30% and respiratory illnesses by more than 11%, GOJO Industries noted in a release issued Tuesday. 

The University of Columbia study was reported in the June 2012 issue of Pan American Journal of Public Health. As part of the study, researchers monitored children’s use of alcohol hand sanitizer in conjunction with education to help to reduce life-threatening infections.

The study’s authors concluded that Colombia’s disease-prevention policies should include the use of alcohol-based hand sanitizers, especially in settings where hand-washing with soap and water is limited due to the availability of clean water.

"I believe teaching about and encouraging the use of alcohol-based hand sanitizer is a simple and easy intervention that is very effective in reducing life-threatening diarrhea and respiratory infections," stated Juan Correa, a professor at the University of Columbia. "These small changes can make a tremendous impact on the health of children and their communities."

The Colombia study reflects the GOJO commitment to evidence-based understanding of the role of good hand hygiene for health and well-being, noted Nicole Koharik, GOJO global sustainability marketing director. "The study results prove that the use of Purell products, combined with hand hygiene knowledge, can save lives," she stated. "They reinforce the importance of the GOJO commitment to social well-being around the globe as it pertains to the ‘GOJO Purpose,’ [which is] saving lives and making life better through well-being solutions."

The study was conducted in 42 childcare centers in six towns in Colombia with limited access to clean tap water, a circumstance considered a leading cause of childhood death in developing nations. The study’s purpose was to gauge the effectiveness of combining the use of alcohol-based hand sanitizers with hand hygiene education to reduce acute diarrheal diseases and respiratory infections. In partnership with GOJO, a distributor of Purell products in South America donated Purell Instant Hand Sanitizer and placed dispensers in the childcare centers. A team from Fundación Santa Fe in Bogotá developed and distributed the hand hygiene curriculum.

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