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Meningitis awareness campaign highlights importance of vaccination

BY Antoinette Alexander

SILVER SPRINGS, Md. and SWIFTWATER, Pa. — Voices of Meningitis, a public health initiative of the National Association of School Nurses, in collaboration with Sanofi Pasteur, has announced the launch of Get in the Game: Keeping Teens Healthy, a new program to help educate parents on the danger and prevention of meningococcal disease.

Get in the Game is to help raise awareness about the serious consequences of the disease and motivate parents to speak with their children’s healthcare professional about vaccinating against meningococcal disease in advance of each sports season.

Although rare, meningococcal disease develops rapidly and can claim the life of an otherwise healthy person in as little as one day after the first symptoms appear. Meningococcal disease, which includes meningitis, bacteremia (severe blood infection) and pneumonia, is spread through respiratory droplets. Common everyday activities can facilitate transmission of the bacteria that cause the disease, including kissing; sharing utensils and water bottles; being in close quarters, such as living in a dormitory or staying at a sleep-away summer camp. Athletes can be at greater risk of exposure to meningococcal disease, since many sports involve physical contact and equipment sharing. In addition, participating in group practices, being in cramped locker rooms, and taking long bus trips can facilitate the spread of germs from person to person.

Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have shown that, following infancy, there is a second peak in meningococcal disease incidence among adolescents and young adults between 16 and 21 years of age.

As part of the Get in the Game program, champions for vaccination have come together to form Team Voices. Members include:

  • Dara Torres, 12-time Olympic medal swimmer, New York Times best-selling author and mother of three;
  • Beth Mattey, incoming president-elect of the National Association of School Nurses;
  • Jamie Schanbaum, meningococcal disease survivor and USA Cycling Paralympics Road National Championships gold medalist;
  • Rayna DuBose, meningococcal meningitis survivor and former Division I basketball standout at Virginia Tech.

Ten percent to 15% of the 800 to 1,200 Americans who get meningococcal disease each year will pass away from the disease. Of those who survive, nearly 1-out-of-5 are left with serious medical problems, including: amputation of arms, legs, fingers and toes; neurologic damage; deafness and kidney damage, according to the CDC.

To help protect against meningococcal disease, the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices recommends routine vaccination of adolescents aged 11 through 18 years (a single dose of vaccine should be administered at age 11 or 12 years, with a booster dose at age 16 years for children who receive the first dose before age 16 years).


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Survey: College students not fully informed about human papillomavirus

BY Michael Johnsen

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Only 15.5% of college students know that condoms don’t fully protect a person from contacting the human papillomavirus, and this lack of knowledge can lead students to a false sense of security in their sexual practices, according to a new study in Radiologic Technology, a journal published by the American Society of Radiologic Technologists.

"As health care professionals working in the medical imaging and radiation therapy fields, we see the devastating effects of a cancer diagnosis every day," stated Megan Trad, the study’s lead author and an assistant professor for the Texas State University radiation therapy program. "As we learn more about the causes of specific cancers and ways it can be prevented, it’s our responsibility to pass that information on to others."

Study results found that most students know HPV is associated with cervical cancer, but fewer than 50% of students know that the virus also is associated with oropharyngeal, anal and penile cancers. According to the authors, "The lack of knowledge about other cancers associated with HPV is important, because those cancers are preventable with education, the use of vaccines and safer sexual practices. Without proper education, students may only be aware of the most commonly discussed correlation ­ that HPV is associated with cervical cancer and may be unaware of the other dangers the virus possesses.

"The results didn’t surprise us as research shows a lack of knowledge about HPV among the general public," Trad said. In terms of students’ level of understanding on where HPV sits on the hierarchy of sexually transmitted diseases, only 38.8% knew that the virus is the most common STD. In addition, only 13.7% understood that it generally subsided without presenting any health problems.


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White Cloud Electronic Cigarettes adds two new menthol flavors

BY Jason Owen

TARPON SPRINGS, Fla. — White Cloud Electronic Cigarettes has announced the addition of two new menthol flavors to their roster: iced berry and zero K.

Menthol triggers cold-sensitive nerves in the skin without providing a drop in temperature and the new flavors were designed to refresh the user. Iced berry is a cool hint of mint that is surrounded by wild berries. Zero K is a cold blast of peppermint.

Exclusively made in the USA, both iced berry and zero K are offered in light, full and Xtra nicotine strengths. Zero K will be offered in XXtra as well.

The new flavors are available in ClearDraw cartridges and disposable e-cigarette users will be offered the flavor on the Fling Original and Fling Mini platforms.

"We have always listened to customer input and the demand for more menthol flavors could no longer be ignored," said Matt Steingraber, managing director of White Cloud Cigarettes. "Our original Menthol has always been a favorite of our customers and no one wanted to see it discontinued. The common request in all research was for more menthol choices. Most e-cigarette companies offer 2 flavors, tobacco and menthol. Now with menthol, snap, iced berry and zero K we have more mint flavors than most companies have in total flavors."

Electronic cigarettes, sold in the United States since 2007, are battery-powered nicotine delivery devices that are either rechargeable or disposable. Nicotine is heated and delivered via water vapor. Electronic cigarettes do not produce ash and they are odorless.


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