Archive for February, 2020

CDC Travelers’ Health ​Update: Coronavirus Disease 2019

Friday, February 28, 2020 // Coronavirus

Travel: Because of the novel (new) coronavirus outbreak, CDC recommends that travelers avoid travel to mainland ChinaSouth Korea, and reconsider cruise ship travel to or within Asia. The recommendation to avoid travel to China applies only to mainland China and does not include Hong Kong, Macau, or the island of Taiwan. CDC has posted several country-specific travel health notices for coronavirus. These notices are also listed in the travel health notice section below. The coronavirus situation is evolving rapidly, and CDC is following it very closely.

During travel: CDC does not currently recommend that the general public or travelers wear facemasks or respirators to prevent spread novel coronavirus if they are healthy.

Although facemasks are commonly worn in many countries, little evidence supports their use in a community setting. People sick with respiratory symptoms (coughing, sneezing), however, can consider wearing a facemask to prevent the spread of germs to others. This is especially important if seeking care in a healthcare setting, such as a hospital or clinic.

The use of facemasks is crucial for health workers and people who are taking care of someone in close settings (at home or in a health care facility). Take everyday preventive actions to help slow the spread of respiratory illnesses:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing. If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Do not travel when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.

After travel: If you do not feel well after your trip, call your doctor and tell them where you traveled and your symptoms.


Travelers should continue to monitor the CDC website for updates. More novel coronavirus frequently asked questions.

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In rough US flu season for kids, vaccine working OK so far

Monday, February 24, 2020 // Flu

NEW YORK (AP) — It may end up being a bad flu season for kids, but early signs suggest the vaccine is working OK.

The vaccine has been more than 50% effective in preventing flu illness severe enough to send a child to the doctor’s office, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Thursday. Health experts consider that pretty good.

The vaccines are made each year to protect against three or four different kinds of flu virus. The ingredients are based on predictions of what strains will make people sick the following winter. It doesn’t always work out.

This flu season has featured two waves, each dominated by a different virus. Both of those flu bugs are considered dangerous to children, but tend not to be as dangerous to the elderly.

Health officials grew worried when it became clear that the vaccine didn’t match the Type B flu strain that ended up causing most early season illnesses. But the CDC estimates that the vaccine has been about 50% effective against that strain in children.

And the vaccine has been about 55% effective among kids against the Type A strain that has caused a second wave of flu illnesses.

“These estimates are reassuring,” said the CDC’s Brendan Flannery, who oversees the agency’s system for evaluating the vaccine.

Vaccines against many infectious diseases aren’t considered successful unless they work at least 90% of the time. But flu is particularly challenging, partly because the virus can so quickly change. Overall, flu vaccine averages around 40%.

This season, the vaccine has been 45% effective against both types of flu across all ages.

That can change as the flu season progresses. Updated vaccine numbers are expected later this year.

One troubling finding: This season’s vaccine has been virtually ineffective vs. the Type A virus in younger adults. The reason is a mystery, but may change as more data comes in, Flannery said.

U.S. health officials have counted 92 child flu deaths this year, up from the same time last year but fewer than were counted by this point in 2018. In all, the CDC estimates at least 14,000 Americans have died of the flu this season.


Read the article here:

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Just How Much of a Benefit Do We Get from a Healthful Lifestyle?

Monday, February 17, 2020 // Prevention

Anthony L. Komaroff, MD reviewing 

A long-term analysis suggests that adopting such a lifestyle at midlife might add as long as 10 years of disease-free life.

Virtually everyone knows that a healthful lifestyle — never smoking, normal body-mass index (BMI), moderate-to-vigorous physical activity, moderate alcohol intake, and a higher-quality diet — is good for their health. What very few people know is just how much benefit they get from achieving all these lifestyle goals.

A Harvard team examined data from about 111,000 people at age 50 and followed them prospectively for as long as 34 years. Healthful lifestyle factors were measured repeatedly and systematically, and development of various diseases and death were recorded. The primary endpoint was life expectancy free from diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, and cancer. Women who met all the healthful lifestyle measures had an additional 10.7 years of disease-free life compared with women who met no healthful lifestyle measures. For men, the number was 7.6 additional disease-free years.


Most of my patients know that a healthful lifestyle is good for them, but very few appreciate just how good — which negatively affects their desire to adopt one. This report might be helpful in that regard. You can say to your 50-year-old patient: “Adopting a healthful lifestyle (compared with not doing so) might allow you to live an additional 7 to 10 disease-free years.” For many, that would be an attractive and meaningful goal.


Disclosures for Anthony L. Komaroff, MD at time of publication

Consultant/Advisory Board: SerImmune Inc.; Ono Pharma

Grant/Research Support: NIH (1U54NS105542-01)

Editorial Boards: Harvard Medical School: Harvard Health Publications; Harvard Health Letter

Li Y et al. Healthy lifestyle and life expectancy free of cancer, cardiovascular disease, and type 2 diabetes: Prospective cohort study. BMJ 2020 Jan 8; 368:l6669. (

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