HEALTH

Study: Not all children with flu-like symptoms have the flu

BY Michael Johnsen

BOSTON — According to research published Thursday in the New England Journal of Medicine, not all respiratory ailments that generate influenza-like symptoms can be attributed to the flu. The human metapneumovirus — which is not a strain of influenza, is impervious to antiviral medicines like Tamiflu and does not have an available vaccine according to reports — causes just as many hospitalizations and outpatient visits among children as does the flu. 

In a study tracking almost 10,500 children who presented with acute respiratory illness or fever, HMPV infections represented 6% of the children who were hospitalized, 7% of the children treated for such symptoms in an outpatient clinic and 7% of children in the emergency room on account of those symptoms.

"Children hospitalized with HMPV infection, as compared with those hospitalized without HMPV infection, were older and more likely to receive a diagnosis of pneumonia or asthma, to require supplemental oxygen, and to have a longer stay in the intensive care unit," noted researchers. "HMPV infection is associated with a substantial burden of hospitalizations and outpatient visits among children throughout the first five years of life, especially during the first year. Most children with HMPV infection were previously healthy."


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GNC raises $3.1 million for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital

BY Michael Johnsen

PITTSBURGH — GNC on Friday announced that its employees and customers donated a total of $3.1 million over the past few months to support the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital Thanks and Giving campaign. The campaign, now in its ninth year, builds awareness of and raises funds for the research and treatment done at St. Jude to help children fighting cancer. 

"We are extremely grateful for the generosity of our customers and employees in supporting this wonderful and exciting annual fundraising campaign," stated Tom Dowd, GNC EVP, chief merchandising officer and general manager. "Assisting with the St. Jude Thanks and Giving campaign is an honor, and we are proud of the health and wellness community’s commitment to enriching the lives of children and their families as they seek specialized pediatric healthcare at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital."


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Safeway, UCSF School of Pharmacy partner on smoking-cessation program

BY Alaric DeArment

NEW YORK — Safeway pharmacists will use a program developed by the University of California San Francisco School of Pharmacy to help people quit smoking, under a partnership with the supermarket operator announced by the university.

Safeway pharmacists will receive training in smoking-cessation counseling techniques developed by the UCSF pharmacy faculty, while stores will locate OTC nicotine-replacement therapies near pharmacy areas, giving customers convenient access to the pharmacist.

"Pharmacists are often the most accessible healthcare provider for patients within their own communities, but we haven’t maximized their expertise in that setting," UCSF School of Pharmacy interim dean B. Joseph Guglielmo said. "This project offers Safeway customers the full patient-care skill set of pharmacists with a goal of helping customers prevent and manage their chronic medical conditions."

Source: CDC

Safeway SVP pharmacy, health and wellness Darren Singer, said the partnership would mark the first time a smoking cessation intervention had been applied systematically across a network of pharmacies.

"We are proud to partner with the UCSF School of Pharmacy on this effort to help our customers quit smoking and live healthier lives," Singer said. "Our pharmacists are, at all times, ready to help customers reach their health and wellness goals."

At first, the project will focus on 20 stores in northern and southern California and will expand throughout 2013 to hundreds of Safeway pharmacies throughout the country.

The program uses a streamlined version of the pharmacy school’s Rx for Change tobacco-cessation program, which it created for training healthcare providers nationwide. Under the program’s "Ask, Advise, Refer" model, pharmacists ask patients whether they smoke as a standard health screening question while filling prescriptions, advising smokers to quit, offering them information on medication options available and referring them to the California Smokers’ Helpline, a free telephone counseling system at the University of California San Diego.

"We know there are several medications that have significant interactions with tobacco smoke, so this is a question every pharmacist should be asking already," UCSF Department of Clinical Pharmacy interim chairwoman Lisa Kroon said. Kroon developed the curriculum with two other professors, and the project will include a three-month study by researchers from the school, starting early this year, to assess the effect of having pharmacists who are specially trained in smoking cessation.


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