Jul 6 2012
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Public Health News Roundup: July 6

CDC Reports First U.S. Case of Mother to Baby Chagas Disease Transmission

The current issue of Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, which is published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, confirms the first U.S. case of Chagas disease transmitted from a mother to a newborn. Chagas disease is a parasitic disease more typically spread by blood sucking insects, and the CDC estimates that as many as 300,000 Americans could have the disease. Most people in the United States with Chagas are immigrants from countries where the disease is more common, such as Latin America. Chagas is treatable, but is often not diagnosed and can lead to heart disease.

Outside the United States, transmission of Chagas between mother and baby ranges from 1 to 10 percent of cases. Two drugs are available to treat Chagas; they are not approved by the Food and Drug Administration but are available from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Read more on infectious disease.

University of Arizona to Study Use of Masks during Natural Disasters

Researchers at the University of Arizona College of Public Health have received a 1.2 million, three-year grant to teach community members to use specialized face masks, known as respirators, during natural disasters such as wildfires or a flu epidemic. The study is funded by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. Respirators can protect people from inhaling dangerous substances, such as chemicals and infectious particles and if used correctly can reduce exposure to potentially harmful substances.

“There are several different types of respirators. Just as people come in different sizes and shapes, one mask does not fit all,” says Philip Harber, PhD, a research professor at the College. “There are face masks that filter particles and masks that filter gas and chemicals. You have to know the right one to use and how to use it to get the full protective benefits. But there is very little guidance on how to use them properly.” Read more on preparedness.

Tags: Infectious disease, Maternal and Infant Health, News roundups, Preparedness