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beyond-minnesota

Typhoon Haiyan: public health concerns

A week after Typhoon Haiyan wreaked havoc in the Philippines, the death toll continues to rise and survivors now face food, water, and supply shortages. As a result, many relief efforts will focus squarely on combating growing public health concerns in the region.

“There are two immediate health risks in a disaster like this: disease caused by sanitation issues, and the downstream health effects associated with blunt force trauma that occurred during the event itself,” said Michael Osterholm, Ph.D., director of the Center for Infections Disease Research and Policy (CIDRAP) at the University of Minnesota and a professor in the School of Public Health. “Both of these issues are immediate and will only worsen.”

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beyond-minnesota

A step ahead in the walk back to the origins of SARS

Being linked to any number of things, including vampires and rabies, bats have always had a public relations problem.

Now, even close to Halloween, bats still can’t catch a break. Researchers may have definitively linked the mammals to Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS).

In 2002, a previously unknown airborne coronavirus generated worldwide panic when it sickened more than 8,000 people in 33 countries, causing more than 700 deaths before disappearing.

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expert-perspectives

Could a universal flu vaccine become a reality in the near future?

In a recent study out of Great Britain, researchers discovered a key that might unlock a universal flu vaccine: blood.

Not just any blood, though. The researchers said the answer to what they call a universal flu vaccine may be in the blood of those who became infected with the H1N1 strain of influenza present during the 2009 influenza pandemic, but who beat the strain without getting sick.

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expert-perspectives

Expert Perspective: When should you get your flu shot?


As the weather across much of the country shifts to the breezy, cooler days of fall, many people have started to consider getting their annual flu shot. For many, the decision of when to get the shot is prompted by reminders at the workplace or from insurance providers.

But is getting the shot earlier in the season necessarily better? Or should you wait until the flu actually arrives before getting a shot, given that recent research has shown the vaccine’s effectiveness can lag after three months.

WCCO recently tackled this subject in a Good Question segment, and found the answer around ideal flu shot timing isn’t necessarily unanimous among flu experts.

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beyond-minnesota

Middle East coronavirus, is there reason to be alarmed?

In just a few months, concern around a new virus in the Middle East, a coronavirus known as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) – has escalated quickly, sparking fears among some public health experts that the virus may pose a substantial threat to the entire world.

Though the name Middle East Respiratory Syndrome may sound harmless – perhaps even bland – the virus represents a very serious potential health problem.

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expert-perspectives

Childhood vaccination: protecting the herd

Childhood vaccinations are a cornerstone of modern public health. Routine vaccinations have significant health benefits for the person being vaccinated – benefits that may be extended to someone who’s either not protected via vaccination or natural immunity. This protection is referred to as “herd immunity.”

Herd immunity is similar in principle to how a herd of elephants protects their babies. When a herd of elephants encounters danger, the adults form a ring around the babies, facing outward towards the danger. They become a barrier between the danger and the defenseless babies. But for the practice to work, there must be enough adult elephants to circle the baby elephants. If not, then the protection scheme is in danger of breaking down. The same thing happens with herd immunity.

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