CDC strains to improve next flu vaccine

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CDC strains to improve next flu vaccine
CDC strains to improve next flu vaccine

Next season's flu vaccination is being tweaked for broader protection due to last year's inconsistent coverage of influenza strains, U.S. health officials announced. 

Because millions of doses are needed each season, the vaccination formula is determined months in advance to allot time to make the doses, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in its most recent report. Components of the vaccine have been adjusted to accommodate more circulating viruses for the 2015-2016 season, the agency stated. 

“Influenza activity is unpredictable in terms of what virus will predominate and the exact timing of the season, and both of these things, along with others, can have a large impact on season severity,” explained CDC Epidemiologist Lynnette Brammer.

One version of the vaccine, quadrivalent flu vaccine, will protect against two influenza A viruses and two influenza B viruses. The new shots will contain two type A viruses, H1N1 and H3N2, and a type B component. These strains are expected to be the main ones of next season, Brammer noted. 

Last year, only 18.6% of shots were effective against H3N2 because nobody expected that strain to predominate and was not worked on until February, Brammer added. 

DEMENTIA HELP

Dementia-related behavioral disturbances are one of the top reasons senior living residents are readmitted to hospitals, according to experts affiliated with the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.

Specialized training could help staff better handle disturbances and decrease the need for antipsychotics, according to those speaking on an MLN Connects conference call involving the National Partnership to Improve Dementia Care and Quality Assurance & Performance Improvement. Researchers Monica Tegeler, M.D., and Kathleen Unroe, M.D., MHA, of Indiana University included results of a study on the effect of training on staff comfort in dealing with dementia-related behavioral disturbances.

SALMONELLA BLAMED

A salmonella outbreak at Heritage Corner Assisted Living facility in Ohio may be the reason for the death of two residents, according to local reports. Health officials have not released an official cause of death at press time. 

There were 18 positive cases of salmonella starting at the end of May, officials said. The outbreak appeared to have ended by June 10. The investigation is ongoing.

The county health district advised the facility to close common areas for sanitization and serve meals in takeout containers. The areas were reopened after no new symptoms were reported for 72 hours. 

STIMULATING DISCOVERY

Communities with strong environmental stimulation are more likely to decrease the apathy levels among their residents with dementia, researchers have found. 

About 90% of residents with dementia experience apathy and are not motivated to engage in everyday activities or socialize with other residents, Ying-Ling Jao, RN, Ph.D., assistant professor of nursing at Penn State, said. Engagement is crucial, however, because dementia has been shown to decline quicker in those who are apathetic. 

In Jao's study, published in The Gerontologist, 40 residents with dementia were observed via video while having a meal, directly interacting with staff members, or doing random activities. Jao watched and focused on the environmental characteristics around the residents, including stimulation, ambiance, crowding, staff familiarity and lights and sounds. 

VERSATILE DIABETES MED 

Prior research has shown older adults with diabetes have a higher risk of developing dementia, but a new study finds that a frequently prescribed diabetes drug could reduce that risk.

Researchers from the German Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases found that diabetics were less likely to develop dementia if they were treated with pioglitazone. The medication is used in short-term and long-term treatment of diabetics whose bodies are still able to produce insulin. Researchers found a correlation between dosage duration and dementia risk. Results were most favorable among patients taking the drug for two or more years. 

The study analyzed data from 145,000 men and women age 60 and older, and found that after taking pioglitazone the risk of developing dementia was around 47% lower than in non-diabetics. Metformin, another popular diabetes medication, was also found to lower the risk of dementia, but not as significantly as pioglitazone.

PARTY ENDS FOR RESIDENT

A Pennsylvania assisted living facility apparently was willing to look the other way whenever one of its residents would return from a “booze run” to pander liquor to other residents, but not when its staff discovered a prostitute under the man's bed, according to published reports.

The unidentified facility in Montgomery County said it recently informed the resident he would be kicked out, and resultingly lose his housing subsidy — part of the $1 million in subsidies county commissioners authorized last year to just 21 assisted living seniors — after learning he was using the liquor run profits to pay for prostitutes.

County Chief Financial Officer Uri Z. Monson described the man as a “more mobile gentleman” in his 70s who would charge residents for liquor delivery.

THEFT LEADS TO PRISON

An assisted living aide said the looming threat of becoming homeless was what prompted her to steal a resident's wallet and checkbook before eventually being arrested for forging $10,000 in checks. 

In Focus

July 18

A truckload of charity

Gainesville, FL 

The Village at Gainesville recently donated a truckload of used appliances from its residences to the Bread of the Mighty Food Bank.

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