The Consumer Health Week in Review: Mass General Hospital is #1; FDA approves pill to reduce HIV; Egg allergies, treated with egg; Whooping Cough strikes
Move over Bruins, there’s a new #1 in Boston: Mass General Hospital
The best hospitals rankings are out from U.S. News and Mass General is No. 1 for the first time. Displacing Johns Hopkins, Mass General’s honor marks the end of a 21-year reign for Hopkins that started in 1991. The rankings are based largely on objective measures of hospital performance, such as patient survival rates, and structural resources, such as nurse staffing levels. Each hospital’s reputation, as determined by a survey of physician specialists, is also a factor in the ranking methodology. The 17 hospitals on the list excel across a broad spectrum of patient care, scoring at or near the top this year in at least six of the 16 Best Hospitals medical specialties. Three of the Honor Roll hospitals are located in New York City, and two -Brigham and Women’s in addition to Mass General-are in Boston. No other city has more than one hospital in this select group.
FDA approves once a day pill to reduce risk of getting HIV virus
The Food and Drug Administration on Monday approved a once-a-day pill that can drastically lower a person’s risk of getting the virus that causes AIDS reported the Associated Press. The FDA approved Gilead Sciences’ pill Truvada as a preventive measure for healthy people who are at high risk of acquiring HIV through sexual activity, such as those who have HIV-infected partners. The decision comes less than two weeks after the agency approved another landmark product: the first over-the-counter HIV test that Americans can use in the privacy of their homes. This is one of the latest milestones in the 30-year battle against the virus that causes AIDS. The AP reports the two developments are seen as the biggest steps in years toward curbing the spread of HIV in the U.S., which has held steady at about 50,000 new infections per year for the last 15 years. An estimated 1.2 million Americans have HIV, which develops into AIDS unless treated with antiviral drugs.
An egg a day may keep your allergy away
Doctors have reversed egg allergies in some children and teens by giving them tiny daily doses of the problem food, gradually training their immune systems to accept them reports a study in the New England Journal of Medicine. Researchers enrolled 55 children ages 5 to 18. Forty were given tiny daily amounts of powdered egg white, the part that usually causes the allergy. The other 15 were given a cornstarch placebo treatment. The amounts were increased every two weeks until kids in the treatment group became "desensitized" and experienced little or no allergic reaction. They were eating about one third of an egg each day. They periodically went to their doctors to try eating eggs. They failed the test if a doctor could see any symptoms such as wheezing. At about a year, none receiving the placebo treatment passed the egg challenge. Those on the egg white powder fared better.
Whooping cough cases spike
The U.S is headed for its worst year of whooping cough in five decades reports the AP. Nearly 18,000 cases have been reported so far which is more than twice the number seen at this point last year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Washington and Wisconsin have reported more than 3,000 cases each, and high numbers have been seen in a number of other states, including New York, Minnesota and Arizona. At this pace, the number for the entire year will be the highest since 1959, when 40,000 illnesses were reported. Whooping cough, or pertussis, is a highly contagious disease that can strike people of any age but is most dangerous to children. Its name comes from the sound children make as they gasp for breath. It typically starts with cold-like symptoms that can include a runny nose, congestion, fever and a mild cough. Health officials are encouraging adults—especially pregnant women and those who spend time around children—to get a booster shot. They also advise parents to see a doctor if they or their children develop a prolonged or severe cough. Whooping cough is treated with antibiotics, the earlier the better.
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