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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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news-and-notes

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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expert-perspectives

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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u-of-m-voices

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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in-the-news

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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expert-perspectives

U of M expert: The evidence is in (again). Vaccines are safe

In 1998, Andrew Wakefield published fraudulent evidence blaming the MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) vaccination as the cause of autism in young children, prompting parents around the world to stop vaccinating their children. Despite the fact the paper was retracted, the damage was done and the anti-vaccine movement is still prevalent today.

CNN recently addressed the issue of vaccination refusal, and stated once again that children should be vaccinated. Period.

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