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In the news: No link between MMR vaccine and autism, even for children at risk for autism

In a new study published in JAMA, researchers yet again found no link between the MMR vaccine and autism, even for kids who are at risk for developing autism.

According to Forbes, “the likelihood of developing autism was actually lower for those at-risk children if they received the vaccine, though that finding was not statistically significant and no one would suggest that vaccination reduces autism risk. What vaccination reduces is disease, the kinds that can disable and kill children and the kind that is even more likely to cause serious complications in children with neurological conditions.”

The study’s findings were not surprising to infectious disease experts, including Mark Schleiss, M.D., a pediatric infectious disease physician at the University of Minnesota.

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Report maps complex challenges to Ebola vaccine efforts

As experimental Ebola vaccines start to head toward large clinical trials in Africa, a report released today by academic experts and a British charitable foundation spelled out the complexity of the challenges involved in providing a vaccine to help stop West Africa’s sprawling epidemic.

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CDC declares flu an epidemic

The U.S. is experiencing epidemic-level flu activity, the CDC announced yesterday.

The proportion of deaths related to pneumonia and influenza reached 6.8 percent as of December 20, 2014, which is considered the epidemic threshold. This demonstrates how easily the flu spreads, however an epidemic classification is typical with most flu seasons, the Washington Post reported.

“The CDC announcement confirms that we are entering a period of increased influenza transmission,” said Nick Kelley, PhD, research associate for the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota. “We expect to see higher levels of influenza during this time of year, with peak transmission typically occurring in January.”

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Players pass more than the puck as mumps spreads through the NHL

A fever is spreading through hockey nation, but this one isn’t about fan frenzy. It’s mumps, and at least a dozen National Hockey League (NHL) players have been diagnosed.

According to the Associated Press, mumps has spread through the locker rooms of the Anaheim Ducks, New Jersey Devils, New York Rangers, and Minnesota Wild – where five players are reportedly ill. It isn’t clear if the teams passed the disease along with the puck during matchups or caught it in other ways.

Mumps is a disease most common among children. It is highly contagious and symptoms include fever, headache, body aches, and swelling in the salivary glands. In some cases, it can have serious effects, including encephalitis, hearing loss, or even sterility in young men.

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I got my flu shot today and here’s why you should, too

Today I did something that could help safeguard my community from getting a potentially deadly infectious disease. Before you begin to think I did something heroic, I did something so simple it may surprise you (sans the title of this blog post): I got my flu shot.

Yes, it’s that simple folks. I got my flu shot. It took less than 30 seconds and the pain involved from the flu shot was far less than the pain involved in getting the actual flu.

I’ve heard many excuses or explanations as to why people choose not to get a flu shot, and many are rooted in myth, not fact. Health Talk even debunked many common flu shot myths in a blog post in 2013.

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Ebola, although deadly, not a likely threat to the US

The first documented Ebola outbreak was recorded over 40 years ago in central Africa. Until now, outbreaks have been contained rather quickly, and although medicine has advanced, the deadliest recorded outbreak of Ebola is happening in West Africa right now.

Having originated in fruit bats, the Ebola virus is found primarily in Africa. And while the origin of the virus may be thousands of miles away from Minnesota, visitors to the region including a Minnesota man set to visit family next month have perished after infection. Furthermore, the families of Liberians in Minnesota have taken action to protect their loved ones abroad by fundraising to battle the deadly virus.

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