CDC offers glimpse into new virus response center

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offered a glimpse Thursday into its Emergency Operations Center in Atlanta, where employees are tasked with responding to the new virus at the center of a global outbreak. (Feb. 13)

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CDC: Our strategy for Coronavirus is containment

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention says their main strategy for handling Coronavirus in the United States is “containment.” (Feb. 11)

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US evacuation flight from China’s coronavirus zone lands in California | AFP

A US charter flight that left Wuhan on Wednesday with 210 Americans on board — including consulate staff — lands at March Air Reserve Base in California. Passengers were screened and monitored before arriving at the base, says the CDC (Centers for Disease Control), adding that they will be evaluated on landing and then monitored again for symptoms. IMAGES

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CDC: New virus’s risk for U.S. public remains low

A Chicago woman has become the second U.S. patient diagnosed with the dangerous new virus from China, health officials announced Friday. And The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say the risk to the U.S. public remains low. (Jan. 24)

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US airports screen passengers for China virus

The Coronvirus outbreak in China has the CDC on alert. They have set-up screenings at three U.S. airports including San Francisco, JFK in New York and LAX. (Jan 18)

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CDC explains airport screening plans for virus

A top official at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention spelled out plans to screen airline passengers arriving from central China for a new virus that has killed two people and sicked dozens of others. (Jan. 17)

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Here’s the latest for Friday, January 17th: Trump names impeachment defense team; Jury selected for Weinstein’s trial; CDC will screen airline passengers for new virus; Owners bring pets to be blessed at Madrid church.

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Here’s the latest for Tuesday, September 24: House Speaker calls for Trump impeachment inquiry; Trump to release transcript of Ukraine call; CDC says vaping illnesses will increase; Earthquake rocks Pakistan’s Kashmir region.

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CDC expects “hundreds more” cases of vaping illness

A top public health official with the CDC told House lawmakers Tuesday that the number of vaping-related illnesses in the U.S. could soon climb much higher. (Sept. 24)

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CDC warns against buying some vaping products

The CDC is warning the public to stop buying e-cigarettes of the street or “further manipulate them in ways not intended by the manufacturer” as it investigates an outbreak of illness and death associated with vaping. (Sept. 18)

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Louisiana Is Getting an Unlimited Supply of a $24K Hep C Cure (HBO)

Louisiana has struck a deal to improve access to a Hepatitis C cure so expensive that some people only acquire the drug once they already have liver damage.

Gilead Sciences, the owner of Hepatitis C cure Epclusa, will now provide an unlimited supply of the generic version of the drug to people covered by Medicaid and in Louisiana’s state prisons. Asegua, a subsidiary of Gilead making the generic, will supply the drugs.

The list price of Epclusa is $74,760; the generic is priced at $24,000. Medicaid receives a discount price, but in many states, including Louisiana, Medicaid only approves the treatment after Hepatitis C causes severe liver damage because of its astronomical cost.

Under the deal, dubbed the “Netflix model,” Louisiana will pay for the Hep C cure up to a negotiated spending cap in exchange for an unlimited supply of the drug over five years. The state will then receive a rebate from Gilead for all its expenses above that cap.

The Louisiana Department of Health first chose Gilead as a partner for the deal back in March, after three drug companies submitted proposals to the state. Since then, negotiations stalled, to the point that the agreement nearly fell through entirely. But this week, the deal closed, Louisiana Secretary of Health Rebekah Gee confirmed to VICE News.

Gee said she hoped to not spend more than $30 million — the cost of treating only 326 people last year, according to the state’s Department of Health. The pricing cap won’t be announced until next week, but Gee told VICE News that Gilead agreed to a higher amount than that. Louisiana will hold an official signing on the deal next week, according to Gee.

“We need to get our money’s worth,” Gee said. “Our goal is 10,000 [treated people] next year, but we’ll have to hit a lot less than that to make it work.”

Gee estimated that around 40,000 people in Louisiana suffer from Hepatitis C, a chronic liver disease spread through blood. It’s the most widespread infectious disease in the U.S. The CDC estimates 2.4 million people in the U.S. were living with Hep C in 2016, the latest year with data available.

Louisiana hopes to use the deal to attempt to eliminate the disease entirely.

As Hep C most commonly spreads through shared needles, the opioid epidemic has only made its prevalence worse. The CDC estimates that 41,200 people were infected in 2016.

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CDC to parents: Vaccinate against measles

With this year’s U.S. measles epidemic now surpassing a 25-year-old record, experts say it’s not clear when the wave of illnesses will subside and are calling on parents of unvaccinated children to get their kids vaccinated against the disease. (June 3)

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CDC: US measles infections at 25-year high

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says 971 cases of measles have been reported in the U.S. so far this year. That’s a 25 year high, and experts say it’s not clear when the wave of illesses will stop. (May 30)

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CDC: Vaccine, safe and effective to halt measles

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said last week that there have been more cases of measles reported this year than in the past 25 years. (April 29)

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US measles cases hit highest mark in 25 years

The CDC said Wednesday that measles in the U.S. has climbed to its highest level in 25 years. Roughly three-quarters of those cases are in two ultra-Orthodox Jewish communities in New York. (April 24)

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NY officials toughen response to measles outbreak

A NYC child care program has closed after the health department said the Williamsburg preschool repeatedly failed to provide access to medical records. The CDC says 2019 could be the worst year for measles since its eradication in 2000. (April 16)

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How One Washington State Senator Is Rationalizing The Measles Outbreak (HBO)

CLARK COUNTY, Washington — The United is currently home to six ongoing measles outbreaks. But with 70 confirmed cases, Clark County, Washington in particular, has gotten a lot of attention. It’s quickly become a classic example of what happens when parents hesitate to vaccinate their children. Still, the spread of a highly contagious and sometimes deadly disease hasn’t been enough to change everyone’s minds about vaccines.

Washington State Senator Lynda Wilson told VICE News during a recent interview that she believes the measles vaccine has caused more harm than the disease itself — a statement that has been debunked by multiple peer-reviewed studies, including a massive study published this week. She also said she hasn’t actively reached out to any scientists or doctors to verify her opinion on the matter. “I’m kind of busy up here, and so I’m just dealing with what I’m getting from my constituents,” she said.

The measles is a nasty disease that can lead to serious complications, including swelling of the brain and pneumonia. It also kills around 1 or two children out of every 1000 who become infected. That’s why scientists recommend the vaccine, which is both safe and effective. But right now, Clark County has an unusually low vaccination rate.

So, Senator Wilson’s view of vaccines aren’t just emblematic of the crisis — they could also have an impact on upcoming legislation. A proposed bill would eliminate one of Washington’s non-medical vaccine exemptions, the philosophical exemption, and Senator Wilson has already said she plans to vote to keep the exemption. “I don’t believe that everyone should be having to do them,” she said, in reference to vaccines.

Despite having vaccinated her own children when they were younger, Wilson doesn’t think parents should be required to do so with their own kids — at least not American parents. “The cases are coming from out of the country,” she said. “So, you know, maybe what we should do is start thinking about requiring vaccinations if you’re coming into our country. Maybe they should be vaccinated instead of requiring all of our people to be vaccinated.”

The CDC says that the current measles outbreaks are linked to travelers. But there’s little evidence to suggest that vaccinating visitors to the United States would be at all effective. That’s because the measles vaccine, called MMR, is only 93 percent protective after a single dose, so people who aren’t vaccinated can still get sick. That’s why scientists say it’s important for communities to reach a certain vaccination rate — a concept called “herd immunity.” When a high number of individuals in a community are vaccinated, that limits the spread of disease and prevents those who, for medical reasons, cannot be vaccinated from becoming sick.

“Measles continues to exist in other countries and within the United States,” a spokesperson for Clark County Public Health told VICE News. “As long as measles is present elsewhere, it’s only a plane, car, train or boat ride away from our community and will continue to be a risk for our community or any community with large unvaccinated populations.”

Senator Wilson says the current outbreak is under control. Moreover, she says the people who were infected will benefit from the disease. “We didn’t have any deaths, and we didn’t have any hospital stays. So I don’t know that it’s unacceptable,” she said. “I mean, now these people have full immunity for the rest of their lives.”

VICE News went to Washington state to see how the measles outbreak is impacting a parent, a pediatrician, and a legislator.

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CDC says mystery illness cases higher this year

(10 Dec 2018) Health officials are reporting the most cases ever of a mysterious paralyzing illness in children. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Monday reported 158 confirmed cases so far this year. That’s more than the 149 reported in a similar wave of illnesses in 2016. (Dec. 10)

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CDC warn consumers not to eat romaine lettuce

(21 Nov 2018) Health officials in the U.S. and Canada on Tuesday told people to avoid eating romaine lettuce because of a new E. coli outbreak. (Nov. 20)

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CDC: Cases of mysterious illness rising

(14 Nov 2018) The CDC advising the number of Acute Flaccid Myelitis cases has increased to 90 spread among at least 25 states. (Nov 14)

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Most Black Kids Can’t Swim. It’s Not Just A Stereotype, It’s History. (HBO)

In 2014, the CDC found that an 11-year-old black child is 10 times more likely to drown than a white child the same age. The idea that “Black people can’t swim” may sound like a stereotype, but this disparity is rooted in a history of discriminatory access to swimming pools.

This summer has produced three high-profile incidents of white Americans calling – or threatening to call – the police on Black pool goers.

A South Carolina woman was charged with multiple accounts of assault for accosting a 15-year-old boy and a police officer. A North Carolina man lost his job after a video of him calling the police on a woman who refused to show him her identification. A property manager at a Memphis apartment complex also lost her job for calling the police on a man for wearing socks in the pool.

These episodes are just the most recent in a long history of discriminatory access at American swimming pools, going back almost 100 years. VICE News spoke with Jeff Wiltse, a professor of History at the University of Montana, and the author of “Contested Waters: A Social History of Swimming Pools in America.”

“It was socially normal for blacks and whites to swim together at these public pools during the late 19th and early 20th century but that all changed during the 1920s and 1930s when cities opened up large resort like pools,” says Wiltse. “That permitted males and females to use them together.”

Wiltse said that it was at that point that white swimmers and public officials imposed racial segregation because most whites did not want to allow black men to interact with white women at such intimate public spaces.

Pools were desegregated after World War II — frequently by court order — but like America’s public schools, integration in the water was more of a legal concept than a cultural one.

Racial desegregation of public pools rarely lead to meaningful sort of interracial use, said Wiltse. “In general, whites abandoned public pools that black swimmers started to use.”

“Swimming became broadly popular within white communities and was passed down from generation to generation. Because of African-Americans more restricted access, swimming did not become a broadly popular activity among Black families.”

In 2017, USA Swimming, the governing body for the sport of swimming in the US, has found that African-American children and their parents are three times more fearful of drowning than Caucasian children and parents. Additionally, 64% of African American children have low or no swimming ability.

Dezria Holmes knows how to swim, but wouldn’t call herself a strong swimmer. She’s trying to change that for her children, 12-year old Madison and 7-year old Mason. Both are enrolled in a Chicago swimming program launched by USA Swimming, Chicago Park District, and Illinois Swimming to get a more diverse group of young people in the water.

“My grandparents couldn’t swim because of segregation,” said Holmes. “So when I saw the opportunity for my daughter to swim, and then my parents were able to see their granddaughter swim. They were actually crying, because no one in our family swims like Madison. So to be afforded this opportunity has just been amazing.”

USA Swimming has found that Black children and their parents are three times more fearful of drowning than white children and their parents. Safety was the main reason Holmes wanted her kids to learn how to swim.

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Lettuce E. Coli Outbreak Largest In A Decade

The CDC says a death in California has been linked to a national romaine lettuce food poisoning outbreak. So far, 121 people have gotten sick in 25 states. Fifty-two people have been hospitalized. (May 3)

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Here are the top stories for Thursday, April 5th: Pres. Trump says he has faith in Pruitt; Missing CDC worker’s body found; Tour Bus Crashes on Way to Masters Tourney; and Parade for NCAA Champs Villanova.

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Iowans Are Trying To Legalize An Underground Needle Exchange (HBO)

In Iowa, a spike in opioid abuse among people under 30 is causing another public health crisis: cases of Hepatitis C — a virus that attacks the liver — are up 375 percent according to the CDC.

To combat the problem, a group of Iowans has been operating an underground needle exchange. And now, they’re lobbying for a bill to legalize that effort. Under state law, it’s illegal to possess or distribute clean syringes for an “unlawful” purpose.

The Iowa Harm Reduction Coalition, founded in 2016 by medical student Sarah Ziegenhorn, 29, provides weekly outreach services in cities across Iowa by distributing safer injection kits, condoms and test kits for HIV and hepatitis C. The clean syringes, provided by partnering non-profit Prairie Works, are handed out discreetly from the back of a car.

More than 30 states have legalized distribution of needles and Iowa could be next if the bill, slated for a vote in the Senate next week, continues its journey to the governor’s office. Ziegenhorn is a weekly fixture at state capitol, leading the charge and drawing numbers of constituents to bring the issue to the attention of legislatures.

This is the second attempt to legalize in a state where there are very few opioid related regulations or policies in place. Many legislators believe the presence of needle exchange programs would encourage drug use and prevent proper law enforcement.

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CDC Doctor Missing, Foul Play Not Ruled Out

Authorities said Tuesday that a 35-year-old doctor, who has been missing for two weeks, told co-workers he was expecting a promotion and was disappointed when he was passed over for it. Timothy Cunningham worked as an epidemiologist at the CDC. (Feb. 27)

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