Public health issues that grabbed news headlines in August included the Louisiana flood and its aftermath, the spread of Zika virus in Florida, a court challenge to California's school vaccination law, and national outcry over perceived pharmaceutical price gouging related to EpiPens.
After Flooding in Louisiana, Officials Brace for Public Health Crisis– US News and World Report
Officials are bracing for a public health crisis as thousands of residents from communities impacted by the recent flooding in Louisiana begin to return to their homes. Residents are at risk for a range of health threats, including mosquito and foodborne illnesses, respiratory infection from mold, and bacterial infections from cuts.Emergency response efforts in the state range from screening and isolation of infected individuals who may cause a health risk, to recommendations for residents to receive tetanus shots.
A U.S. District Court judge in San Diego ruled last week to uphold California’s vaccination law. The law, which went into effect July 1, requires all children, except those with medical exemptions, to be vaccinated for certain infectious diseases before attending private or public schools or day care facilities. The law did not allow religious or personal belief exemptions
FDA Calls for Zika Testing of All Blood Donations – Wall Street Journal
On August 26, the FDA recommended that all blood banks screen blood donations in the U.S. for the Zika virus. The agency advised that blood banks in these states begin testing in the next four weeks: Alabama, Arizona, California, Georgia, Hawaii, Louisiana, Mississippi, New Mexico, New York, South Carolina and Texas; and that blood banks in all other states test within 12 weeks.
In mid-August, local Zika virus transmissions were reported in Florida, prompting the CDC to issue travel advisories for two areas in the state: a one square mile area in a neighborhood north of downtown Miami, and a 20-block stretch in Miami Beach. The CDC generally must defer to state officials when determining boundaries for areas of disease transmission and related travel warnings.
U.S. Affirms Its Prohibition on Medical Marijuana – Washington Post
The Drug Enforcement Administration on August 11 announced that marijuana will remain a Schedule 1 substance under the Controlled Substances Act, meaning it is illegal for any purpose, including medical use. Advocates for marijuana legalization hoped that the increase in states’ legalization of medical marijuana would soften the federal government’s stance on the drug. At least eitght states will consider marijuana issues in this year’s November election.
Berkeley's Soda Tax Appears to Cut Consumption of Sugary Drinks – NPR
Last year, Berkeley, California became the first city in the nation to tax sugar-sweetened beverages in an attempt to curb consumption. A new study reveals that in some Berkeley neighborhoods consumption of sugary drinks is down by 20%, which experts say is due to the tax. The tax targeted sugary beverages because they are often associated with increasing rates of obesity, and Type 2 diabetes.
Klobuchar Denounces Sharp Price Hikes for EpiPen Injectors – StarTribune
Lawmakers are asking the Federal Trade Commission to investigate the pricing practices of Milan pharmaceuticals, the maker of EpiPen epinephrine auto-injectors. EpiPens cost about $100 in 2008 and are as high as $600 today. Children who have food and other allergies depend on EpiPens as first-line treatment for life-threatening allergic reactions.
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