Category Archives: Military

May 8 2012

Public Health News Roundup: May 8

Required Vaccines for School Entry Improves Coverage Rates for Pre-Teens

Pre-teens living in states that require vaccinations for incoming middle school students are more likely to be immunized than those in states that simply require parents to receive information about the vaccines, according to a study in Pediatrics.

Researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reviewed school entry requirements in all 50 states and the District of Columbia for the 2008-2009 school years and compared them to adolescent vaccination rates for three vaccines: TdaP, meningitis and HPV. Compared to states with no requirements, vaccination coverage was significantly higher for the meningitis (71 percent versus 53 percent) and TdaP (80 percent versus 70 percent) vaccines.

Read more on vaccines

National Dialogue Begins on Improving Transportation Access for Active, Wounded and Veteran Military Members, and Families

The Department of Transportation has announced a month-long web-based dialogue May 7 to June 8, to help facilitate discussion about local transportation needs, challenges and opportunities facing military veterans, wounded service people and military service members and their families. Military families, veterans and organizations that support them are invited to participate in the discussion to create options to improve access to transportation. Registered participants will be able to offer an idea, a comment or vote on ideas they see on the site. A public report will be issued after the dialogue period ends.

Read more on military health issues.

Dog Food Likely Tainted with Salmonella Linked to Human Illnesses

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is reporting that at least sixteen people have been sickened by dry dog food made by Diamond Pet Foods that may be tainted by salmonella. Humans may have become infected by touching the food or a pet that ate the food. The company has recalled the products. CDC is advising that:

  • Consumers should check their homes for recalled dog food products and discard them promptly. Contact Diamond Pet Foods for more information at (800) 442-0402 or
  • Follow tips listed on Salmonella from Dry Pet Food and Treats to help prevent an infection with Salmonella from handling dry pet food and treats.
  • People who think they might have become ill after contact with dry pet food or with an animal that has eaten dry pet food should consult their health care providers. For sick animals, contact your veterinary-care providers.

Read more on salmonella

Apr 24 2012

Public Health News Roundup: April 24

Stricter Seat Belt Laws Push Teens to Buckle Up

Teen drivers and passengers are more likely to use seat belts in states with "click it or ticket" laws, according to a new study in the American Journal of Public Health. These laws, also known as primary enforcement laws, allow police to stop and ticket drivers for not wearing a seat belt. Under a secondary law, police can only ticket drivers not buckled up if they are stopped for some other reason, such as speeding.

The study found that in states with secondary laws teens were 12 percent less likely to wear a seat belt when driving and 15 percent less likely to do so as a passenger than teens in states with primary laws. Read more on public health law.

Current Bullying Prevention Programs may not Thwart Cyberbullying

A new study by researchers at the University of British Columbia found that a survey of 17,000 Canadian students in grades 8 to 12 showed that 25 to 30 percent admitted to cyberbullying, while only twelve percent said they had participated in schoolyard bullying. The researchers say that indicates that current prevention programs may not be sufficient to protect kids from online bullying. Read more on violence prevention.

Killing in Wartime Linked to Later Suicidal Thoughts

Researchers analyzing data from a survey of Vietnam War veterans have found that those with more killing experiences were twice as likely to have suicidal thoughts as those with fewer or no experiences of killing.

The researchers, who published their findings in the journal Depression and Anxiety, say the association between killing and suicidal thoughts remained even after adjusting for variables such as post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, substance use disorders and combat exposure.

"We want clinicians and suicide prevention coordinators to be aware that in analyzing a veteran's risk of suicide, killing in combat is an additional factor that they may or may not be aware of,” says Shira Maguen, PhD, the study’s lead researcher. Read more on military health.

Apr 20 2012

Public Health News Roundup: April 20

2011 Worst Year for Measles in 15 Years

A new Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention finds that there were 222 cases and 17 outbreaks of measles in the United States last year—more than four times the usual annual rate, and the highest number of reported cases of measles in the nation in the last fifteen years. In the ten years between 2001 and 2011, an average of 60 cases and four outbreaks were reported each year.

Most of the Measles cases in 2011 were in people who had traveled abroad, half to Europe where there have been significant measles outbreaks in the last few years. A significant number of those who developed measles last year were between the ages of 16 months and 19 years and eligible to be vaccinated against measles, but had not been vaccinated because of philosophical, religious or personal exemptions. Read the latest infectious disease news.

New Diabetes Guidelines Released

New guidelines for managing elevated blood glucose levels in people with type 2 diabetes have been released by the American Diabetes Association and the European Association for the Study of Diabetes.

The new guidelines call for a more patient-centered approach that allows for individual patient needs, preferences and tolerances, and takes into account differences in age and disease progression. The guidelines also call for providing all patients with diabetes education, in an individual or group setting, focusing on diet, increased physical activity and weight management. The organizations behind the guidelines encourage health care professionals to develop individualized treatment plans based on a patient’s specific symptoms; co-morbidities; age; weight; racial, ethnic, and gender differences; and lifestyles. Read more on diabetes.

VA to Add Mental Health Workers to Aid Returning Veterans

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has announced that it will add about 1,600 mental health clinicians, including nurses, psychiatrists, psychologists, and social workers, as well as nearly 300 support staff to the existing workforce of 20,590 mental health staff, as part of an ongoing review of mental health operations.

Read more

Apr 2 2012

Public Health News Roundup: April 2

U.S. Health Outcomes Outpaced by Most Other Developed Countries

The U.S. is being outpaced by most other developed countries when it comes to improvements in health outcomes, according to a new analysis by a researcher at the University Of Washington School Of Public Health. The researcher, Dr. Stephen Bezruchka, a senior lecturer in global health, says the decline comes despite increased U.S. spending on health care services.

HUD Awards $33 Million to HIV/AIDS Housing Programs

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has announced nearly $33 million in grants to extremely low-income persons living with HIV/AIDS. The grants will provide housing and supportive services such as case management and employment training. Read more on health and housing.

Funding Expands Opportunities for Veterans to Enter Health Professions

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has announced two grant programs totaling more than $24 million to help veterans enter the health profession workforce and increase the nation’s supply of advanced practice nurses and physician assistants. Read more on military health and opportunities.

FDA Denies Request to Ban BPA

Reuters is reporting that the Food and Drug Administration has denied a petition by the Natural Resources Defense Council to ban BPA, also known as bisphenol A, a chemical used in products such as water bottles, soup cans and other food and drink packaging that may cause harm to developing babies and young children.

The FDA says the petition did not provide the scientific evidence needed to change current regulations.

Mar 8 2012

Public Health News Roundup: March 8

Critical Rise in Army Suicides

Suicides among U.S. soldiers rose 80 percent from 2004 to 2008, according to a study in the journal Injury Prevention. While 40 percent of the suicides may have been linked to combat experience in Iraq, nearly a third of the soldiers who committed suicide were not in combat, according to the study. The researchers also found that rates of suicide among Army personnel from 1977 to 2003 were similar to trends in the general population, but in 2004 suicides started to increase quickly, outpacing the suicide rates among civilians by 2008. Read more on military health.

HIV Treatment in First Year of Life Needed to Avoid Cognitive Impairment in Children

A new study funded by the National Institutes of Health finds that treating HIV in order to avoid brain impairment may have a window of just the first year of life. Treatment begun later than that may not have as significant results in avoiding cognitive impairment. Read more HIV news.

Over Thirty Percent of U.S. Families Struggle with Medical Bills

One-third of American families are having trouble paying for health care, according to a report from the National Center for Health Statistics. Data for the first six months of 2011 found that one in five families had difficulty paying medical bills, one in four pays bills over time and one in 10 can't pay medical bills at all. Read more on access to health care.

Feb 29 2012

Public Health News Roundup: February 29

FDA Announces Safety Changes to Statin Drug Labels

The Food and Drug Administration has announced some key safety changes to the labeling for some widely used cholesterol-lowering drugs known as statins. The changes include a revised schedule for monitoring liver enzymes in patients taking the drugs, and new information on rare cases of memory loss, confusion and hyperglycemia. Read more prescription drug news.

National Guardsmen Face Alcohol Abuse Risk

Soldiers in the Army National Guard with no history of alcohol abuse are at significant risk of developing alcohol-related problems during and after deployment, according to a new study published in Drug and Alcohol Dependence Journal. Researchers found that the soldiers at greatest risk of developing alcohol-related problems also experienced depression or PTSD during or after deployment. Read more on military health.

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Feb 23 2012

Public Health News Roundup: February 23

Survey: Surgeons Report Alcohol Abuse at Slightly Higher Rate Than National Average

About 15 percent of surgeons have alcohol abuse or dependency problems, a rate that is somewhat higher than the rest of the population, according to a new survey published in the February issue of Archives of Surgery. Surgeons with alcohol abuse or dependence also accounted for 77.7 percent of surgeons reporting a medical error in the previous three months, researchers suggest. Read more on medical errors.

Deployed Troops More Likely To Use Smokeless Tobacco

Soldiers deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan were more likely to start using smokeless tobacco than those who stayed home, according to a new study published in the journal Addiction. Troops were even more likely to use the tobacco products if they had exposure to combat. Study authors say this study adds to a long line of research on the increased risk of substance abuse for deployed military, possibly tied to the stress of these environments. Read more tobacco news.

Study Offers More Evidence That Colonoscopy Screening Saves Lives

New long-term research supports the idea that colonoscopy screening tests not only prevent colorectal cancers, but also go on to dramatically cut deaths from the disease. Researchers from Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York City found that removing precancerous polyps during colonoscopies resulted in a 53 percent drop in colon and rectal cancer mortality compared to deaths expected among similar patients in the general population. Read more on the latest developments in cancer prevention.

>> NEWS ROUNDUPS: Catch up on previous stories you may have missed

Jan 24 2012

Public Health News Roundup: January 24

GAO Report: Number of Female Homeless Veterans Has More than Doubled in Four Years

A new General Accounting Office report released yesterday found that the number of women veterans identified as homeless more than doubled, from 1,380 in fiscal year 2006 to 3,328 in fiscal year 2010. Almost two-thirds were between 40 and 59 years old, over one-third had disabilities and many of the women live with children under age 18.

Recommendations in the report include:

  • In order to help achieve the goal of ending homelessness among veterans, the Secretaries of Veterans Affairs (VA) and Housing and Urban Development (HUD) should collaborate to ensure appropriate data are collected on homeless women veterans, and use these data to strategically plan for services.
  • In order to ensure homeless women veterans have an appropriate place to stay while they await housing placement, the Secretary of VA should ensure implementation of the agency’s referral policies.
  • To better serve the needs of homeless women veterans with children, the Secretary of VA should examine ways to improve transitional housing services for those veterans.
  • To ensure that women veterans are safely housed, the Secretary of VA should determine what gender-specific safety and security standards are needed for housing programs, especially for those serving both women and men.

Read more on military health and housing.

Online Gathering for Cancer Advocates during the State of the Union Address

The American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network will hold an online chat for cancer advocates during the State of the Union address on Tuesday night. Information during the chat will include updates on 2012 cancer issue campaigns. Get more cancer news.

Only One in Four Teens Regularly Uses Sunscreen

Children who have had sunburn at an early age are at almost double the risk for developing melanoma in adulthood, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. Despite that, a new study in the journal Pediatrics found that half of 360 children for whom sunscreen data was recorded in Massachusetts had sunburn before age 11. The researchers followed up with the same group three years later and found that their rates of sunburn remained high and that sunscreen use had dropped to 25 percent. The authors say that studies are needed to determine how best to promote sun protection in settings that attract teens such as beaches, after-school sites and sporting events. Read more on children's health.

GAO Report: Federal Agencies Tackling Prescription Pain Reliever Abuse Need to Better Coordinate Efforts

Agencies including the Food and Drug Administration, the National Institutes of Health and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration use a variety of strategies to educate prescribers about issues related to increasing abuse of prescription pain relievers, but more education is needed, according to a new report from the General Accounting Office.

The Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) is working to develop a legislative proposal to require education for prescribers who register with the Drug Enforcement Administration to prescribe controlled substances. The GAO recommends that the Director of ONDCP establish outcome metrics and implement a plan to evaluate proposed educational efforts, and ensure that agencies share lessons learned. Read more on prescription drugs.

Dec 13 2011

Public Health News Roundup: December 13

First U.S. Cell-Based Flu Vaccine Facility Opens

The first U.S. flu vaccine plant to use cultured animal cells instead of the conventional process of using fertilized eggs, opened in Holly Springs, N.C., yesterday. The facility is a public-private partnership of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), and Novartis Vaccines and Diagnostics, Inc. of Cambridge, Mass. In a release, HHS said the cell-based vaccine technology is faster and more flexible, and could provide vaccine supplies sooner in an influenza pandemic. Get more flu news.

New DOD-Funded Study to Explore Virtual Reality Treatments for Veterans With PTSD

Researchers at New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center have been awarded an $11 million, four-year grant from the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) to conduct a large-scale clinical study of the comparative effectiveness of virtual reality and traditional treatments for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) with 300 veterans in three cities. Virtual reality exposure therapy uses three-dimensional graphics delivered through special goggles to gradually immerse the patient into simulations of scenes of traumatic events, accompanied by other sensory stimulation like chair vibrations. The study will also search for genetic markers that may predispose people to the disorder. Read more on military health.

One in Five Workers Experience Mental Illness

Three in four workers with a mental disorder report reduced productivity at work, according to a new report from the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development. Work absences are also much more frequent for workers with mental illness. Report authors say the share of workers exposed to work-related stress, or job strain, has increased in the past decade all across the countries included in the study. Read more on mental health.

Nov 11 2011

Recommended Listening: Veterans and Suicide

A veteran commits suicide every 80 minutes, according to reported information from the Department of Veterans Affairs. Unreported deaths may push those numbers even higher.

Foundations and government agencies are addressing the issue through screenings that begin during deployment and with continued follow-up after a service member comes back to the U.S. In observance of Veterans Day, Washington, D.C., talk show host Diane Rehm discussed the issue with experts including Barbara van Dahlen, founder and president of Give an Hour, a non-profit organization that provides free mental health services to veterans and their families, Ranjeev Ramchand of the Center for Military Health Policy Research at the RAND Corporation and Jan Kemp, National Mental Health Program Director for Suicide Prevention, Department of Veterans Affairs.

The show’s website also includes resources that can help prevent suicides among veterans:

  • Veterans' Crisis Line: Connects veterans in crisis and their families and friends with qualified responders through a confidential toll-free hotline, online chat, or text message program.
  • Give an Hour: Provides free mental health services to U.S. military personnel and their families affected by current conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq.
  • Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors: Offers support for those grieving the death of a loved one who served in the U.S military.

>>Listen to the program.

>>Read more on military health.