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[ Pitt Researchers Propose New Model To Design Better Flu Shots ]

Pitt Researchers Propose New Model To Design Better Flu Shots

The flu shot, typically the first line of defense against seasonal influenza, could better treat the U.S. population, thanks to University of Pittsburgh researchers. New research that focuses on the composition and timing of the shot design was published in the September-October issue of Operations Research by Pitt Swanson School of Engineering faculty members Oleg Prokopyev, an assistant professor, and Professor Andrew Schaefer, both in the Department of Industrial Engineering, and coauthors Osman Ozaltin and Mark Roberts, professor and chair in Pitt's Department of Health Policy and Management. Ozaltin, who is now an assistant professor of engineering at the University of Waterloo in Ontario, did his research for the study as a Pitt graduate student in the Swanson School; he earned his Pitt PhD degree in industrial engineering earlier this year.

Statins May Lower Flu Mortality Rates

A report published online by The Journal of Infectious Diseases reveals that statins, commonly known as cholesterol-lowering medications, might lower the number of deaths among individuals who are hospitalized with influenza. Vanderbilt's William Schaffner, M.D., professor and chair of Preventive Medicine, explained that the observational study is the first to assess the association between the use of these drugs and death in individuals hospitalized with laboratory-confirmed influenza virus infection. Schaffner, co-author of the investigation led by Meredith Vandermeer, MPH, of the Oregon Public Health Division, said: "We may be able to combine statins with antiviral drugs to provide better treatment for patients seriously ill with influenza." In order to assess the connection between influenza-related mortality and patients who received statins, the team analyzed adult individuals hospitalized with laboratory-confirmed influenza from 2007 to 2008.

Bird Flu Scare In Hong Kong

Bird Flu virus was identified in a poultry market in Hong Kong, resulting in government officials ordering the slaughter of 17, 000 chickens. It has been three years since the last mass culling. York Chow, the Hong Kong secretary for food and health, said in a statement that the cull was a precautionary measure due to the highly pathogenic nature of the H5N1 avian influenza virus. The alert level was raised from "Alert" to "Serious" The public are reminded to remain vigilant against avian influenza infection and try to adhere to the following precautions : Avoid direct contact with poultry and birds or their droppings; if contact is made, wash hands thoroughly with soap and water; Cook poultry and eggs thoroughly before eating; Wash hands frequently; Cover nose and mouth while sneezing or coughing, hold the spit with tissue and put it into a covered dustbin;

Pregnant Women - Beware Of Hazards Of Cold Medications

For pregnant women a new warning outlining the possible dangers or common cold medicines during pregnancy has been issued by experts in pregnancy and breastfeeding health at the California Teratogen Information Service (CTIS) Pregnancy Health Information. CTIS is a California non-profit located at the University of California, San Diego. The center informs the public about exposures during pregnancy and breastfeeding. Christina Chambers, PhD, MPH, professor of pediatrics at UC San Diego and CTIS program director, explained: "Every year around this time, we get a significant number of calls from pregnant and breastfeeding women in California who are battling colds and are worried about which meds they can and can't take." Sonia Alvarado, CTIS supervising counselor who takes calls through the service's toll-free hotline and online chat service, said: "The callers I've personally spoken to have valid concerns because there are certain ingredients in over-the-counter medications they need to watch out for that could be harmful to their developing babies.

How Influenza Evolves - And How To Stop It From Doing So

If you become infected with the flu after getting vaccinated, your body activates an immune response that stops you from becoming ill. Although, this can trigger the virus to change into a slightly different form - one that may be more infectious. A novel investigation from MIT reveals the mechanism responsible for this phenomenon, known as antigenic drift. The study was funded by the National Institutes of Health and the Singapore-MIT Alliance for Research and Technology and appears in the December 19 online edition of Scientific Reports, an open-access journal published by Nature. The chain of amino acids that create viral protein hemagglutinin was examined by the researchers, led by Ram Sasisekharan. The team identified which amino acids are most likely to encounter mutations that enhance the virus' ability to infect novel hosts.

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