Nevada Outpatient Clinics Linked to Hepatitis C Cases
Eighty-five people treated at the Endoscopy Center of Southern Nevada and the Desert Shadow Endoscopy Center—both of which are run by the same group of doctors—have been diagnosed with hepatitis C, the Associated Press reports. Health authorities said they don't know for sure how the patients were infected, but they've confirmed that those affected tested negative for hepatitis C prior to being treated at the clinics. About 300 other patients treated at the clinics also tested positive for hepatitis C, but health authorities said that those people could've been infected in other ways, such as intravenous drug use, organ transplants, blood transfusions, and kidney dialysis. At least 50,000 people, according to Nevada health officials, may have been subjected to unsafe practices by the clinics' staff members, who reused single-use vials of medications during anesthesia.
Learn about prevention, treatment, and symptoms of the illness on the U.S. News Hepatitis C Channel.
Flu Vaccine Manufacturers to Make Record Supply Next Season
Flu vaccine manufacturers say they intend to make a record number of vaccinations for next flu season, despite concerns that the demand may be less because of a largely ineffective vaccine this past flu season, according to the Associated Press . The companies say they plan to make at least 143 million doses for the 2008-2009 season, and the supply should be ready by the end of September.
This year's flu season was the worst in four years because the vaccine was a poor match for circulating strains of the virus. The number of doctor visits for the flu was higher than normal for 13 consecutive weeks during flu season, and college health centers also reported a spike in on-campus illnesses. However, health officials noted that it was still worth being vaccinated, because doing so may keep you from getting as sick as you would otherwise and may shorten the duration of your illness if you catch the flu. And U.S. News 's Nancy Shute explains why children should be vaccinated in her On Parenting blog.
Teens Marijuana Use May Make Depression Worse
The White House Office of National Drug Control Policy sent out a clear message Friday about teen pot use and depression: They're a bad combination, Sarah Baldauf reports. Issuing a report that analyzes approximately a dozen studies about marijuana use and mental health, the policy office warned that teens who use marijuana to "self-medicate" may worsen their underlying depression or other mental health issues. The intention of the report, says John Walters, director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, is to "try to correct two misunderstandings: That teen depression is not a problem and that teen marijuana use is not a problem—marijuana use is not safe." He advises parents to talk to their kids' pediatrician if they see signs of depression and suspect drug use.
A New Treatment Option for Gestational Diabetes
Taking metformin is a safe and effective option for treating gestational diabetes, according to a study published Thursday in the New England Journal of Medicine. Metformin is the second oral drug women can now consider. Glyburide, an oral medication costing less than $15, has been a viable treatment option since 2000.
Pregnant women with gestational diabetes previously had limited treatment options. Excessively high blood-sugar levels during pregnancy were controlled primarily by modifying a patient's diet or, if that failed, using insulin to treat the condition. Dietary changes remain important, however, since they can reduce the risk of having a large baby and a more difficult delivery.
U.S. News explains how metformin compares with other treatments, and discusses why high blood sugar may be linked to pregnancy complications. Experts previously noted a rise in cases of gestational diabetes, which can be a threat to both mom and baby, Michelle Andrews reported in November.
—January W. Payne