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More than 2,000 cases of vaping-related lung injuries verified in 49 states



Photo by Lindsay Fox from Newport beach, United States - Vaping | Vape Shop, CC BY 2.0,

The number of vaping related cases of lung injuries and deaths continues rise while the nation’s premiere health organization searches for the cause.

New statistics were released this afternoon by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: 2,051 cases of illness and 39 deaths have been confirmed as of Nov. 5, 2019.

Since August, Illnesses have been reported in every state, except Alaska, the District of Columbia and one U.S. territory. Deaths have occurred in 24 states.

The CDC is working with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, state health departments and other clinical and health partners to investigate the outbreak, but to date, no single cause has been identified. The illness has been given an acronym: EVALI, which stands for e-cigarette and vaping associated lung injury.

In Mississippi, the number of confirmed EVALI reports has risen to nine including one death. All of the injuries required hospitalization.

The CDC states that no one compound or ingredient has emerged as the cause of the illness. It may be that more than one is responsible. Nonetheless, findings from the investigation suggest that products containing THC, particularly those obtained off the street, play a major role in the outbreak.

This is an illness that is hitting young people the hardest. Patients as young as 13 and as old as 75 have been diagnosed; however, 79 percent of patients are under 35, and most are between 18 and 24.

The only way to assure you are not at risk is to refrain from using any e-cigarette or vaping products.

For more information, visit the Mississippi State Department of Health website, or the CDC website.

In related news, Juul Labs announced it will stop selling its mint-flavored products in response to research showing the flavor was a best seller among high-school students. It will continue to sell menthol and tobacco flavors, according to the Associated Press.


Rural health care in Mississippi: Kemper County’s last pharmacy has closed



When discount retailer Fred’s closed its doors in Kemper County Oct. 18, it closed the last pharmacy in the entire county.

Fred’s was located in the county seat of DeKalb, a town with only about 1,000 residents. Rural Kemper County, in east central Mississippi, has fewer than 10,000 residents according to 2017 Census figures, reports the Clarion Ledger.

Rural health care is in trouble in Mississippi. Of 64 rural hospitals in the state, nearly half are at “high financial risk,” according to a report released in February. DeKalb’s hospital, the John C. Stennis Memorial Hospital, isn’t on that list, yet. Nationwide, one out of every five rural hospitals are at risk of closing, meaning more of Mississippi’s rural hospitals are risk than those in most other states. Only Alabama’s rate of risk is higher, and Mississippi has far more rural hospitals than our neighbor to the east.

Folks in DeKalb will now have to travel to Meridian or Philadelphia, Miss., to get a prescription filled. That’s about an hour’s travel round-trip. It’s a burden, especially for elderly and poor people with limited resources and limited ability to get around.

“Our most critical patients, the ones usually on multiple prescriptions, it’s a huge hurdle for them, having access to solid and reliable transportation,” Ryan Harper, president of the Mississippi Board of Pharmacy, told the Ledger.

“It’s unfortunate but it’s something we’re just going to have to deal with,” DeKalb Mayor Clark Adams told the Ledger, at least for the foreseeable future. Adams said three pharmacies have shown an interest in opening in Kemper County, but no one has yet made a commitment, and the process could take six months or longer.

Fred’s closed its doors in Vicksburg on July 6, and the space was filled by Roses. In all, the chain closed 441 stores across the country this year, leaving only 80 stores open. Mississippi still has a few Fred’s open, having lost about 70 percent of the stores in the state.

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MSDH confirms first flu case this year, highly recommends flu vaccine



Photo from the CDC website.

The Mississippi State Department of Health has reported the first-lab-confirmed case of influenza in the state for the 2019-2020 flu season. The case was reported in a child under 18 years of age.

While flu cases have been diagnosed and treated by healthcare providers throughout the state already this season, this is the first case confirmed in the MSDH Public Health Laboratory, detected through the Influenza-Like Illness Sentinel Surveillance System.

“While last year’s flu season was not particularly severe, there were still 116 pediatric flu deaths nationwide, including one child here in Mississippi,” said MSDH State Epidemiologist Dr. Paul Byers in a statement. “Nationwide, the 2017-2018 flu season killed 183 children – three of whom were in Mississippi – and an estimated 80,000 adults. Influenza is a serious illness that should not be taken lightly.”

Byers said that flu season can occur as early as November and as late as March in Mississippi, but usually peaks anywhere from December through February.

Individual flu cases are not reported to MSDH, but the agency monitors flu activity through the ILI System, made up of health-care providers in Mississippi who report the percentage of patients with flu-like symptoms to a statewide database. Providers participating in the system also submit respiratory samples for flu testing to the MSDH lab. State health officials use this information to determine the presence and spread of flu throughout the state.

“We recommend getting vaccinated now before we reach peak flu activity. Influenza vaccine is especially important for young children, pregnant women, those over 65, and those with underlying health problems,” he said. “Flu vaccine is the best way to protect both children and adults from serious complications such as hospitalization, and in many cases, death.”

With very few exceptions, a seasonal flu vaccination is recommended for anyone ages 6 months and older to prevent the spread of flu, and more importantly, save lives.

Pediatric flu shots are now available at all Mississippi State Department of Health county clinics. Those 18 and under who are eligible for the Vaccines for Children program can receive a flu vaccination for $10. Insurance, Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program is accepted for children’s flu shots.

Adults who are under-insured or uninsured, and who meet certain high-risk criteria, qualify for an adult flu vaccination at MSDH county health department clinics.

In Warren County, the MSDH clinic is located at 807 Monroe St., and is open from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. Call 601-636-4356 for more information.

Flu shots for insured adults are now widely available through private physicians, pharmacies and retail centers.

Flu symptoms include fever, cough, sore throat, muscle and body aches, and fatigue. Most people recover from the flu without complications, but nationwide there are up to 200,000 hospitalizations from flu each year.

While vaccination is the best protection, basic infection control measures can also reduce the spread of flu and should be taken whether individuals are vaccinated or not. These measures include covering your mouth when coughing and sneezing, staying at home when you or your children are sick, and washing your hands frequently.

For more information about flu, visit the MSDH website or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website.


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Vaping-related lung disease cases continue to rise with no clear cause identified



Reports of vaping-related lung disease continue to rise in Mississippi and across the U.S.

The Mississippi State Department of Health now reports a total of seven cases of severe lung illnesses related to vaping, or e-cigarettes, requiring hospitalization and one death. The victims, five men and two women, are all between 18 and 34 years old. Three of the individuals used only nicotine products, three used only THC products and one used both types of products.

That mix of products is consistent with findings of the federal Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which are monitoring and investigating the outbreak. Nationwide, the majority of victims have used THC products; however, the specific cause has not been identified.

“No one compound or ingredient has emerged as the cause of these illnesses to date; and it may be that there is more than one cause of this outbreak,” the CDC writes on its website. “Many different substances and product sources are still under investigation. The specific chemical exposure(s) causing lung injuries associated with e-cigarette product use, or vaping, remains unknown at this time.”

“… [T]he only commonality among all cases is that patients report the use of e-cigarette, or vaping, products.

As of Oct. 15, 1,479 cases of lung injuries associated with vaping have been reported in every state except Alaska, in the District of Columbia and one U.S. territory.

Thirty-three deaths have been confirmed in 24 states.

Because the specific causes are still unknown, the CDC advises that the only way to make sure you are not putting yourself at risk is to not vape.

For more information on the outbreak in Mississippi, visit the MSDH website. For information on the nationwide outbreak, visit the CDC website. If you are vaping to quit smoking, both sites provide alternatives to help you safely quit.

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