Public Health News Roundup: August 31
Back To School: Many Schools Unprepared for Pandemic Flu, Infectious Diseases
A new study in the American Journal of Infection Control shows that the majority of U.S. schools are not prepared to respond to a pandemic or an outbreak of an emerging infectious disease, as mandated by the U.S. Department of Education. Also, only 40 percent have even updated their pandemic response strategy since H1N1 in 2009. Researchers analyzed surveys from approximately 2,000 school nurses at elementary, middle and high schools across 26 states. “Findings from this study suggest that most schools are even less prepared for an infectious disease disaster, such as a pandemic, compared to a natural disaster or other type of event,” said Terri Rebmann, PhD, RN, CIC, lead study author and associate professor of Environmental and Occupational Health at the Saint Louis University School of Public Health. “Despite the recent H1N1 pandemic that disproportionately affected school-age children, many schools do not have plans to adequately address a future biological event.” Read more on infectious diseases.
Neurologic Disorders Puts Children at Higher Risk of Flu-related Death
Children with neurologic disorder are at higher risk than children without such disorders of dying from influenza-related health complications, according to a study of the H191 2009 pandemic by the Centers for Disease Control in the journal Pediatrics. Of the 336 children with reported underlying medical conditions who died during the pandemic, approximately 64 percent had a neurologic disorder, which can include cerebral palsy, intellectual disability or epilepsy. “Flu is particularly dangerous for people who may have trouble with muscle function, lung function or difficulty coughing, swallowing or clearing fluids from their airways,” said study coauthor and pediatrician Georgina Peacock, MD, of CDC’s National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities. “These problems are sometimes experienced by children with neurologic disorders.” Read more on influenza.
Coin-sized Batteries Present Health Danger for Children
The ingestion of coin-sized button batters—common in many household electronics—can result in serious injury and even death, according to a new report from the Consumer Product Safety Commission. Emergency department treated more than 40,000 children under the age of 13 for ingestion from 1997-2010—72 percent of the cases were for children ages 4 and under. The CPSC warns parents and caregivers to make sure these products are secure and out of the hands of children. Read more on pediatrics.