Tag: CDC

Norovirus Outbreak Sickens Cruise Line Passengers

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John Yannone is a partner at Price Benowitz LLP, a personal injury and medical practice law firm in Maryland, DC, and Virginia.

Last week, a Fred. Olsen cruise liner originating in England was forced to dock in Baltimore due to a serious norovirus outbreak which caused over 100 of its passengers and crew members to become alarmingly ill.

Maryland’s Mysterious Deaths

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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently parsed some macabre–but fascinating–data. Using state death data, they determined which causes of death were most “distinctive” on a state-by-state basis. To break this down a bit: All over the country, the leading causes of death (heart attack, accident, suicide, etc.) are the same. This particular data-crunching was looking for something else– causes of death that might not represent huge populations, but were significantly higher, statistically speaking, than in other states.

Smallpox Discovered in Maryland Storage Room. Oops.

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Smallpox is a disease so virulent and deadly that it’s only allowed to be kept in two places on the entire planet, both of them regularly inspected by the World Health Organization. So when an FDA scientist found 16 vials containing the disease in a storage room in Bethesda, everyone was pretty surprised.

One in Five Boys Labeled with ADHD

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credit: examiner.com
credit: examiner.com

If you know a boy between the ages of 4 and 17, there’s a pretty good chance he’s been diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). According to a recent report by the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one in every five male students in this age group, a whopping 20 percent, has been labeled with ADHD; two-thirds take prescribed medicine for it. That’s a 16 percent jump in just the past six years—troubling statistics for a couple of reasons.

For starters, there’s no definitive way to diagnose ADHD. There’s no blood test, stool sample, or other physical marker. Health care providers must rely on symptoms like inattention, impulsivity, and hyperactivity. In my experience, the majority of boys exhibit these symptoms on occasion, if not regularly. If they see a girl’s braid, they’re likely to pull it. Impulsivity, or typical boy behavior? If they’re asked to sit at a desk for a lengthy amount of time, many will begin to tap their feet, rap their hands on the desk, or lose interest in what’s happening at the front of the classroom. Hyperactivity and inattention or, again, normal behavior befitting the male persuasion? I guess that depends on whom you ask.

And that’s sort of scary. Because the prescription medicine that kids take for ADHD isn’t anything to be taken lightly. It can have some pretty serious side effects, including suppressed appetite and, subsequently, reduced expected height and weight gain, as well as sleeplessness and, in some instances, tics—when muscles involuntarily contract, resulting in embarrassing facial movements or even uncontrollable vocalizations like snorting or coughing.

Without a doubt, some kids do suffer from ADHD and, for them, an accurate diagnosis and prescription medication can mean academic salvation. But it seems quite likely that scores of boys are erroneously being saddled with a diagnosis of ADHD when, perhaps all they really need is a little more recess time; more stimulating, active-style learning in the classroom; and/or consistent discipline that enables them to understand without a doubt when it’s time to goof around and when it’s time to buckle down.

Unless these sorts of recommendations are employed more systematically, we’re likely to see the number of boys being diagnosed with ADHD continue to climb.

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