Health

Health
11:15 am
Mon January 14, 2013

Hispanics Less Likely to Get Flu Shot

Hispanic adults are less likely to get vaccinated for the flu than non-Hispanic whites.
CDC/ Judy Schmidt

Hospitals and clinics in Austin and Travis County are reporting high levels of flu activity. Across Texas, six kids have died so far this year from flu-related illnesses.

Doctors say the best way to protect yourself is to get a flu shot.

But the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says Hispanics are 10 percent less likely to get vaccinated than non-Hispanic whites. According to a CDC survey, in March of 2012, less than 40 percent of Hispanic adults had been vaccinated. That's compared to around 50 percent of non-Hispanic white adults.

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Health
8:04 am
Fri January 11, 2013

Feeling Miserable? You're Not Alone, And The Flu Epidemic Has Yet To Peak

Reaching for relief: A customer at a pharmacy in New York City was grabbing some medicine on Thursday.
Andrew Kelly Reuters /Landov

Originally published on Fri January 11, 2013 10:50 am

If you haven't caught the flu yet or don't know someone who has, you might want to buy a lottery ticket today. You're one lucky person.

As The Associated Press writes, "from the Rocky Mountains to New England, hospitals are swamped with people with flu symptoms." More than 40 states report "widespread" outbreaks. The flu's been blamed for the deaths of at least 20 children, the AP adds.

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Health
5:48 am
Fri January 11, 2013

Checking Numbers on Orthodontia Spending

The state spent $184 million in 2010 on braces for kids under Medicaid.
via http://www.flickr.com/people/36948558@N03/

A new study by the Pew Center on the States gave Texas a D for its pediatric dental health, as a leading state legislator says the state of Texas spent more Medicaid money on orthodontia for children than all the other states combined.

The Austin American-Statesman’s PolitiFact unit wondered about that.
And KUT’s Emily Donahue spoke with Gardner Selby of the Statesman’s PolitiFact Texas to get the scoop.

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Health
5:59 am
Tue January 8, 2013

Can You Get A Flu Shot And Still Get The Flu?

Shea Catlin, a nurse practitioner, doses out flu vaccine to give a shot at a CVS Minute Clinic in Arlington, Va., on Jan. 3.
Barbara L. Salisbury The Washington Times/Landov

Originally published on Tue January 8, 2013 5:06 am

This year's flu season started about a month early, prompting federal health officials to warn it could be one of the worst in years. They're urging everyone to get their flu shots.

But like every flu season, there are lots of reports of people complaining that they got their shot but still got the flu. What's up with that?

Well, as Michael Jhung of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention explains, there are lots of possible reasons.

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Health
7:13 am
Mon January 7, 2013

Why Exercise May Do A Teenage Mind Good

Members of the boys basketball team from Dimond High School in Anchorage, Alaska, celebrate their 2012 state championship victory. Psychological research shows that sports camaraderie improves teenagers' mental health.
Charles Pulliam AP

Originally published on Tue January 8, 2013 7:02 am

It's well known that routine physical activity benefits both body and mind. And there are no age limits. Both children and adults can reap big benefits.

Now a study published in Clinical Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, explores whether certain factors may help to explain the value of daily physical activity for adolescents' mental health.

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CPRIT
11:29 am
Mon December 17, 2012

Amid Investigations, CPRIT's Future Uncertain

Todd Wiseman, Texas Tribune

In 2008, when the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas embarked on its mission to cure cancer, the $3 billion program was welcomed with fanfare by voters who had passed a constitutional amendment to establish it.

Four years later, CPRIT’s future is far from certain, as the quasi-governmental agency and its fast-shrinking cast of advisers face accusations of impropriety and criminal and civil investigations.

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Health
8:08 pm
Thu December 13, 2012

Caution: Walking Under The Influence Of Mobile Devices

He better not be talking to his mom.
iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Fri December 14, 2012 4:50 pm

Here's an experiment you can try. But please be the scientist and not the test subject.

Watch people cross the street and note whether they're yakking on the phone, texting or bopping to tunes while they do it. If you're really ambitious, time how long it takes them to cross.

This past summer researchers from the University of Washington did it. They watched more than 1,100 pedestrians at the 20 intersections in Seattle that racked up the most pedestrian injuries over the last three years.

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Texas
2:55 pm
Tue December 11, 2012

Travis County DA Investigating State Cancer Institute

CPRIT executive director Bill Gimson at a conference in October. Gimson resigned this month.

There’s more trouble for the state’s embattled cancer-fighting agency.

The Travis County District Attorney’s office is now investigating the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas, better known as CPRIT.

Gregg Cox is the head of the Public Integrity Unit in the Travis County DA’s office. He says they’ll be looking at how contracts were awarded.

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Health
3:51 pm
Mon December 10, 2012

Austin HIV Planning Council Looking for Volunteers

A recruitment fair of HIV Planning Council members is tonight at City Hall.
flickr.com/andymccarthyuk

The Austin Area Comprehensive HIV Planning Council is looking for volunteers.

Federal legislation for the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program requires “that we have a board with committee members that reflect the make up of the community,” says the council’s John Waller. Recruiting new members is a normal part of the council’s charge, but Waller says with a new chair and other members recently having completed their terms, the council is looking for new members.

The council needs different types of volunteers: HIV positive Austin residents that use programs funded by Ryan White grants; local social and medical service providers; and community leaders.

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Women's Health
12:01 pm
Fri December 7, 2012

Lawmakers Could Restore Family Planning Funds

Microgestin birth control from Planned Parenthood.
Todd Wiseman, Texas Tribune

When state lawmakers passed a two-year budget in 2011 that moved $73 million from family planning services to other programs, the goal was largely political: halt the flow of taxpayer dollars to Planned Parenthood clinics.

Now they are facing the policy implications — and, in some cases, reconsidering.

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Women's Health
9:55 am
Fri December 7, 2012

'Morning After' Pill Advocates Want Age Rules Revisited

Currently, you need a doctor's prescription to obtain emergency contraception, such as Plan B, if you are younger than 17.
AP

Originally published on Fri December 7, 2012 8:20 am

Friday marks a not-so-happy anniversary for some of President Obama's biggest supporters: It's exactly one year since Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius decided not to lift the age restrictions on availability of the so-called morning-after pill, Plan B.

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Pakistan
4:49 pm
Tue December 4, 2012

A Polio Outbreak In Pakistan Reveals Gaps In Vaccination

A child is inoculated with the polio vaccine at a traffic checkpoint just outside Pakistan's capital, Islamabad. Roadside vaccinations help health workers reach children in mobile populations.
Jackie Northam NPR

Originally published on Wed December 5, 2012 8:55 am

Pakistan has made a lot of progress this year in wiping out polio. There are signs that one type of poliovirus is gone and transmission of other strains seems to be slowing.

But a recent outbreak of polio there has health officials concerned about the overall effectiveness of the effort to eliminate polio in that country.

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Health
4:25 pm
Tue December 4, 2012

Computerized Health Records Breeding Some Digital Discontent

Electronic medical records can have drawbacks, too.
iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Tue December 4, 2012 5:50 pm

Two years and $8.4 billion into the government's effort to get doctors to take their practices digital, some unintended consequences are starting to emerge.

One is a lot of unhappy doctors. In a big survey by Medscape, an online site for doctors, 38 percent of the doctors polled said they were unhappy with their electronic medical records system.

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Health
9:55 am
Mon December 3, 2012

Texas Democrats See Path to Medicaid Expansion

Todd Wiseman/Texas Tribune

Despite Gov. Rick Perry’s firm opposition to a key tenet of federal health reform — expanding the state’s Medicaid program for those with low incomes — Texas Democrats remain optimistic that the 2013 legislative session can yield a deal that brings in billions in additional federal dollars.

It will be a tough sell: No Republican lawmakers have gone on record supporting the Medicaid expansion, which would add an estimated 1.8 million Texans onto the joint state-federal health plan by 2022.

But state Sen. Rodney Ellis, D-Houston, said fiscal conservatives have an incentive to reach an agreement “because the alternative is going to cost us much more economically and dig a much deeper hole in our budget.”

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Health
8:16 am
Fri November 30, 2012

Texas Cancer Research Agency Gave Out $11M Without Review

A new controversy faces CPRIT.
Todd Wiseman, Texas Tribune

The state’s cancer research agency has revealed it handed out an $11 million grant without reviewing the proposal.

It’s the latest challenge facing the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas, or CPRIT.

The grant was awarded to Peloton Therapeutics in June 2010, making it one of CPRIT's first grants.

The cancer research institute says the oversight was discovered during an internal review.

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Health
8:59 am
Wed November 21, 2012

Pflugerville Lifts Boil Water Notice (Update)

Some Pflugerville residents should boil tap water or drink bottled until further notice.
flickr.com/ag2r

Update: The City of Pflugerville says “The boil water notice is now lifted. Chlorine levels are now at required levels and water is safe to drink.” You can read more here.

Original post (Nov. 20, 7:02 a.m.): The City of Pflugerville is telling people in several subdivisions to boil their water until further notice. The city says a routine check of  the water revealed the chlorine level is too low.

People who live in Pflugerville Heights, Spring Trails, Springbrook and Enclave should boil tap water for at least two minutes before drinking, cooking and making ice.

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Health
3:19 pm
Tue November 20, 2012

Holiday Shoppers, Read This Report on Dangerous Toys

Joy Diaz, KUT News

The holiday shopping season is here. But a consumer advocacy group wants to make sure you don’t buy toys that could endanger the health of children.

One example is the Fisher‑Price Dora the Explorer Guitar pictured above, according to Ilya Slavinski with the Texas Public Interest Research Group. 

“The National Institute on Deafness and other Communication Disorders recommends that no toy should be above 85 decibels. And this Dora Guitar clocked in at 93 decibels,” Slavinski said. “It’s dangerous and can lead to hearing loss.”

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Health Care
4:31 pm
Thu November 15, 2012

Computer Issues May Complicate Launch Of Health Insurance Exchanges

Problems with a computer system could delay work on health insurance exchanges.
iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Thu November 15, 2012 2:34 pm

Online insurance markets set to begin selling health coverage to consumers next October may be hampered by software delays.

State regulators learned late last week that an electronic system most insurers will use to submit their policies for state and federal approvals won't be ready for testing next month, as originally planned. The lag is being blamed on the wait for several regulations from the Obama administration that are needed to update the software.

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Health
1:09 pm
Wed November 14, 2012

Two More West Nile Deaths in Travis County (Updated)

Mosquito activity may finally be slowing down across Central Texas.
flickr.com/aesum

Update: Nov. 11, 1:09 p.m.:

Dr. Philip Huang is the Medical Director for Austin/Travis County Health and Human Services. He says there are still some people in the county who are very sick from the virus but he’s hopeful the death total won’t continue to rise.

Dr. Huang says it’s not clear if West Nile will be as big of a problem next year.

“This particular season with the warmer winter and then some of the spring rains seemed to be sort of the conditions that really promoted West Nile activity," Huang says. "So we don’t know how things are going to be next year. But I think there’s certainly some concern that there is going to be for the future continued increase in some mosquito activity and things in the Austin-Travis County area.”

Huang says the county has found mosquitoes testing positive for West Nile as recently as late October.

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Texas
7:12 am
Wed November 14, 2012

New Agency Head Appointed Amid Criminal Investigation

Howard Baldwin (left) stepped down as Commissioner of the Department of Family and Protective Services. John Specia, Jr. (right) will take his place.
Photos: Texas Health and Human Services Commission, Background Image: flickr.com/thomasletholsen

The Texas Health and Human Services Commission has appointed a new head of the Department of Family and Protective Services.

The previous commissioner resigned last week as an Abilene office of the department is under criminal investigation.

Abilene Police say employees at the Child Protective Services office were not cooperative in the investigation into a toddler’s death in August. Police believe some employees may have tampered with evidence.

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