HEALTH

CDC: Recent influenza activity exceeds average flu season rates

BY Michael Johnsen

ATLANTA Visits to doctors for influenza-like illness continued to increase in the United States for the week ended Oct. 3, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced Friday, and are higher than levels expected for this time of the year.

For patients between the ages of 5 and 49, hospitalization rates from April through October have already exceeded average flu season rates for that period.

A total of 37 states are reporting widespread influenza activity at this time and almost all of the influenza viruses identified so far are of the 2009 H1N1 influenza A viruses. Only Washington, D.C., Hawaii and Vermont reported less than regional influenza activity.

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FDA approves generic OTC allergy medication

BY Alaric DeArment

ROCKVILLE, Md. The Food and Drug Administration has approved a generic version of an OTC allergy drug, FDA records show.

The agency approved Anmeal Pharmaceuticals’ cetirizine hydrochloride syrup in the 5 mg-per-5 milliliter strength.

The drug is a generic version of Johnson & Johnson’s Zyrtec. Amneal is the 10th company to gain FDA approval for a generic version of the drug. J&J switched Zyrtec from a prescription to an OTC drug last year.

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Genetic disorder may delay diagnosis of IBD in children

BY Michael Johnsen

INDIANAPOLIS New findings related to an uncommon genetic disorder may impact the diagnosis and treatment of inflammatory bowel disease, the most common chronic gastrointestinal illness in children and teens. Researchers from the United States and Canada have identified a genetic defect not previously known to be a cause of chronic granulomatous disease, an inherited disorder with recurrent bacterial and fungal infections. Some patients also develop gastrointestinal inflammation. CGD, which occurs in 1-in-200,000 patients, is usually diagnosed in childhood.

In addition to providing insight into CGD, a condition in which an enzyme defect prevents white blood cells in the body from killing invading bacteria, the new findings highlight how abnormal white blood cell function can predispose individuals to IBD, and may help provide insight into why IBD develops. Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis are the most common forms of IBD.

The research was led by Mary Dinauer of the Herman B Wells Center for Pediatric Research at the Indiana University School of Medicine and Riley Hospital for Children. The new findings are reported in the Oct. 8 print edition of the journal Blood.

“We now know that a genetic defect that selectively affects the production of oxidants inside of white blood cells can cause gastrointestinal symptoms of CGD,” Dinaur said. “Exploring the gene defect’s role in inflammatory bowel disease and immune processes will be a key priority in the future.”

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