Oregon Health Authority: OSU requires vaccinations in light of sixth meningococcal disease case

Health officials today reported a sixth case of meningococcal disease infecting a student enrolled at Oregon State University in Corvallis, and are encouraging undergraduate students during winter break to receive vaccinations for meningococcal B disease.

“Oregon State University takes the health and welfare of its students, employees and the general public very seriously,” said Steve Clark, OSU vice president for university relations and marketing.

“Effective immediately, Oregon State University will require all of its Corvallis students 25 and younger to be vaccinated for meningococcal B disease by Feb. 15,” he said. “Prior to this latest case, vaccinations were encouraged for all OSU students 25 years and under, but required for all incoming first-year students and transfer students.” Learn more

Allergic to eggs? You can now get the flu shot, new guidelines say

Most flu vaccines administered today are manufactured using chicken eggs and contain trace amounts of a protein called ovalbumin. But a paper published Tuesday in the Annals of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology found the flu shot to be safe and recommended its use for people who are allergic to eggs. “People with egg allergy of any severity can receive the influenza vaccine without any special precautions,” said Dr. Matthew Greenhawt, the paper’s lead author and chairman of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology Food Allergy Committee. The new findings mean that even more people will be able to get their recommended flu shot without sacrificing peace of mind. Learn more 

Be Food Safe This Holiday Season

food safety graphicFood safety is important for keeping your holiday gathering happy and healthy. However, food safety can be a challenge during the holiday season. Group gatherings may include more dishes than there is room for in the refrigerator or oven. Guest lists may also include those who are more vulnerable to illness, such as older people, young children, and pregnant women.

Follow these tips for a food-safe, happy holiday season:

Happy Handling

  • It’s flu season! Wash your hands well to prevent the spread of germs, using soap and clean running water for at least 20 seconds. This will help prevent the spread of bacteria from raw poultry, too.
  • Wash all fresh produce to reduce the potential for bacterial contamination.
  • Don’t forget to also wash utensils and work surfaces to protect your food and family!

Let’s Talk Turkey

Follow the tips in the infographic (right) to make sure your turkey is both delicious and safe to serve.

Cooking for a large group?

  • Prepare uncooked recipes before recipes that include raw meat. Also, store uncooked items out of the way while preparing meat dishes. These steps will help to reduce cross-contamination.
  • Cook to the proper temperature, and use a thermometer!
  • Remember the golden rule: Keep hot food hot and cold food cold! Use chafing dishes or crock pots and ice trays. Hot items should stay above 140 ˚F, and cold items should stay below 40 ˚F.
  • Discard perishable foods left out for 2 hours or more. Plan to refrigerate any leftovers within 2 hours of preparation.

Eating Out?

Follow these four tips from CDC to prevent food poisoning:

  1. Check inspections online for the restaurant you plan to go to. Restaurant inspection data for Virginia is available by health district here.
  2. Make sure that the restaurant is clean. If not, you may want to visit a different establishment.
  3. Check that your food is completely cooked. Send back any undercooked food, as it may contain harmful bacteria.
  4. Refrigerate leftovers within 4 hours of eating. Eat leftovers within 3 to 4 days from purchase.

View our My Meal Detective videos to learn how to prevent and report foodborne illness. For more information on general food safety, visit the VDH Food Safety page and:

CDC- Food Safety Tips for the Holidays and Tips for Your Holiday Turkey

FDA- Food Safety Tips for Healthy Holidays

FightBAC.org- Holiday Food Safety Resources (includes recipes and kids games and activities)

FoodSafety.gov- Thanksgiving and Winter Holidays

USDA- Seasonal Food Safety

FDA approves first once-monthly buprenorphine injection, a medication-assisted treatment option for opioid use disorder

FDA approves first once-monthly buprenorphine injection, a medication-assisted treatment option for moderate-to-severe opioid use disorder.  The U.S. Food and Drug Administration today approved Sublocade, the first once-monthly injectable buprenorphine product for the treatment of moderate-to-severe opioid use disorder (OUD) in adult patients who have initiated treatment with a transmucosal (absorbed through mucus membrane) buprenorphine-containing product. It is indicated for patients that have been on a stable dose of buprenorphine treatment for a minimum of seven days. Read the full news release.

Open Enrollment

If you get medications or health insurance through Virginia ADAP, call Benalytics at 1-855-483-4647 for help enrolling in a health care plan today! Benalytics is available Monday-Friday 8A-7P Eastern Time and on Saturdays 9A-1P Eastern Time. ACA open enrollment ends on December 15, 2017.

National Influenza Vaccination Week

CDC Get A Flu Shot Graphic (superhero arm with a bandaid) National Influenza Vaccination Week is a great time to make sure that you have had your flu shot this year and encourage your friends and family to get theirs. Getting a flu shot every year is the single best way to prevent the flu. It not only protects your health; it protects the health of those around you. Everyone age 6 months and older should get a flu shot.

Even if you got a flu shot last year, it’s still important to get one this year. The flu vaccine is updated every year to provide protection from the flu viruses that are likely to be circulating and causing disease. Also, your body’s level of immunity from a vaccine received last year will have declined.

You can find out where to get a flu shot in your area by

Be familiar with the symptoms of flu and the people most at risk from flu complications, including young children, older adults, pregnant women and people with certain medical conditions. If you fall into one of those groups, make sure you get vaccinated promptly, and treated promptly if you do get the flu.

There are also simple steps you can take to help prevent the spread of flu:

  • Always cover your cough and sneeze into your elbow
  • Wash your hands
  • Routinely clean and disinfect surfaces and objects that get touched a lot, such as door handles, countertops, and faucets.
  • If you feel sick, stay home from work or school

Learn more about the Flu and how to care for you and your loved ones.

FDA: Virginia Diner, Inc. Issues Allergy Alert on Undeclared Peanut Allergen in Chocolate Covered Cashews 10 oz. cans

Virginia Diner, Inc. is voluntarily issuing a recall of 10 oz. cans of Plow & Hearth Chocolate Covered Cashews at Plow & Hearth’s locations and nationwide (Mail Order) as a precaution because they may contain peanuts and peanut allergens. People who have an allergy or severe sensitivity to peanuts run the risk of serious or life-threatening allergic reaction if they consume these products.  A label mix up was discovered by a consumer who received and opened a Cashew Tower Set (3 individual cashew cans) of which one can, the 10 oz. Chocolate Covered Cashews, were found to have Salted Peanuts.

The Virginia Diner, Inc. is working with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in administering this voluntary recall.  The Virginia Diner has not received any reports of illness or injury to date regarding this product. Learn more

FDA: Biotin (Vitamin B7): Safety Communication – May Interfere with Lab Tests

The FDA is alerting the public, health care providers, lab personnel, and lab test developers that biotin can significantly interfere with certain lab tests and cause incorrect test results which may go undetected.

Biotin in blood or other samples taken from patients who are ingesting high levels of biotin in dietary supplements can cause clinically significant incorrect lab test results. The FDA has seen an increase in the number of reported adverse events, including one death, related to biotin interference with lab tests.

Biotin in patient samples can cause falsely high or falsely low results, depending on the test. Incorrect test results may lead to inappropriate patient management or misdiagnosis. For example, a falsely low result for troponin, a clinically important biomarker to aid in the diagnosis of heart attacks, may lead to a missed diagnosis and potentially serious clinical implications. The FDA has received a report that one patient taking high levels of biotin died following falsely low troponin test results when a troponin test known to have biotin interference was used.

The FDA is aware of people taking high levels of biotin that would interfere with lab tests. Many dietary supplements promoted for hair, skin, and nail benefits contain biotin levels up to 650 times the recommended daily intake of biotin. Physicians may also be recommending high levels of biotin for patients with certain conditions such as multiple sclerosis (MS). Biotin levels higher than the recommended daily allowance may cause interference with lab tests.

Patients and physicians may be unaware of biotin interference in laboratory assays. Even physicians who are aware of this interference are likely unaware as to whether, and how much biotin, patients are taking. Since patients are unaware of biotin interference, patients may not report taking biotin supplements to their physicians, and may even be unware they are taking biotin (e.g., when taking products generally labeled for their benefits to hair and nails).

The FDA is working with stakeholders to better understand biotin interference with laboratory tests, and to develop additional future recommendations for safe testing in patients who have taken high levels of biotin when using laboratory tests that use biotin technology.

The FDA is monitoring reports of adverse events associated with biotin interference with laboratory tests and will update the public if significant new information becomes available.

Learn more

World AIDS Day: A Changing Landscape

World AIDS Day, observed each year on December 1, is an opportunity for people around the world to unite in the fight against HIV, show support for people living with HIV, and to remember those who died from HIV- or AIDS-related complications.

Knowing your HIV status is the first step in preventing HIV.  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend that everyone get tested at least once in their lifetime.  If a person participates in high-risk behaviors, CDC recommends more frequent testing.  Take a moment to read about HIV Risk and Prevention and consider taking an HIV test as part of your personal commitment to preventing HIV.

People who are HIV negative and people who are HIV positive can both take medications to prevent new HIV infections. Biomedical interventions (using medication to prevent HIV transmission) give us a real opportunity to end the HIV epidemic.

Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP)—Prophylaxis means to prevent the spread of infection or disease.  PrEP is a once-a-day pill that can prevent the transmission of HIV.  Studies have shown that PrEP is over 90% effective in preventing HIV when taken every day.  The CDC also recommends that people on PrEP continue to use condoms for extra protection and to prevent other sexually transmitted infections.  For more information about PrEP, or to find a PrEP provider in your area, visit the Virginia Greater Than AIDS page.

Post-Exposure Prophylaxis (PEP)—PEP is used after a person has a potential exposure to HIV.   PEP can be used after unprotected sex; a condom broke or after a sexual assault.  Health care workers can also use PEP if they have an exposure at work.  PEP is taken for 28 days and must be started within 72 hours of exposure.  The sooner that PEP is started, the better the results are.  For more information on PEP, check out the CDC PEP Fact Sheet, or call the Virginia Disease Prevention Hotline at 800-533-4148.

HIV Treatment—While there is no cure for HIV, taking HIV medications can improve health outcomes and help people living with HIV live a normal lifespan.  CDC recently confirmed that when HIV medications result in viral suppression, HIV is not transmitted to other people through sex.  Viral suppression is when an HIV-positive individual has less than 200 copies of the virus per milliliter of blood, or is undetectable.  Undetectable is a term that means a person’s viral load is at such low levels that the virus may not be detected in their blood.  Being undetectable is not a constant state and if a person stops taking their medications, their viral load will go back up again.

Across three different studies, including thousands of couples and many thousand acts of sex without a condom or PrEP, no HIV transmissions to an HIV-negative partner were observed when the HIV-positive person was virally suppressed.  This means that people who take HIV medications daily as prescribed, and achieve and maintain an undetectable viral load, have effectively no risk of sexually transmitting HIV to an HIV-negative partner.   The results of these studies are being promoted through U=U (Undetectable = Untransmittable) campaigns across the US to encourage both HIV testing and linkage to and retention in HIV medical care. Feel free to read more about HIV treatment as prevention.

Many have died from HIV- and AIDS-related complications, but with new scientific advances occurring every year, we can change the story of HIV in the United States and Virginia.  Protect yourself and your loved ones by learning about HIV and how to prevent infection.  Talk to your friends or loved ones about the importance of HIV testing and treatment.  Together we can combat the stigma around and educate on HIV, helping to make Virginia the healthiest state in the nation.

International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women

The United Nations General Assembly designated November 25 as the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women. Women and girls around the world are subject to violence. Intimate partner violence (IPV) is a serious, preventable public health problem that affects millions of Americans. IPV can be physical, sexual or psychological harm by a current or former partner. In Virginia, 71% of victims of intimate partner homicide were women. If you or someone you know is experiencing partner violence, get help:

  • Virginia Family Violence & Sexual Assault Hotline: 1-800-838-8238
  • The LGBTQ Partner Abuse and Sexual Assault Helpline: 1-800-356-6998

Learn more: