Public Health News Roundup: October 19
FDA Confirms Fungus in Steroid Linked to Meningitis Outbreak; 20 Dead
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has confirmed the presence of Exserohilum fungus in a batch of steroids linked to a national outbreak of meningitis. Twenty people have now died and the number of infections stands at 254. Officials expect that total to keep climbing as they continue to analyze the steroids and reach out to people who may have been infected. The steroids were produced at the New England Compounding Center in Massachusetts, which is now under investigation by multiple government agencies. Read more on infectious disease.
While Obesity Levels Off, Severe Obesity Still Rising
The percentage of severely obese Americans rose to 7 percent in 2010 from 4 percent in 2002 — an increase of approximately 70 percent, according to a new study in the International Journal of Obesity. Severe obesity is defined as having a body mass index (BMI) or 40 or higher; obesity is 30 or higher. Lead researcher Roland Sturm, a senior economist at the non-profit research institute RAND Corporation, said while “[e]verybody's talking about obesity leveling off,” this is clearly not true for severe obesity, which can lead to high health care costs from conditions such as diabetes and heart disease, and even an inability to work. Read more on obesity.
12,000 Kids Die Each Year from Preventable Accidents
Approximately 12,000 children die each year due to preventable accidents, according a new report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the journal Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. Boys are at twice the risk of girls. Researchers looked at statistics for the years 2000 to 2009, finding motor vehicle collisions were the leading cause, with suffocation and drowning at two and three. CDC researchers said parents and schools can help reduce this public health problem by “using safety belts, reducing drinking and driving, strengthening graduated driver licensing laws, using safety equipment during sports participation, requiring four-sided residential pool fencing, and encouraging safe sleep practices for infants.” Read more on injury prevention.