HEALTH

CDC releases updated flu guidance for back-to-school

BY Michael Johnsen

ATLANTA The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Friday released updated guidance for school administrators and state and local governments to help decrease the spread of flu among students and school staff during the 2009-2010 school year.

Approximately 55 million students and 7 million staff attend the more than 130,000 public and private schools in the United States each day, the CDC noted, representing about one-fifth of the country’s population.

In a nutshell, in lieu of closing schools outright at the first hint of influenza-like illness, CDC is suggesting that sick kids and teachers stay home and that children and teachers attending schools emphasize illness etiquette — i.e., washing hands, covering mouth when coughing/sneezing and proper disposal of tissues.

The CDC is suggesting that ill students and staff be quarantined in a separate room until they can be sent home. CDC also recommends that they wear a surgical mask, if possible, and that those who care for ill students and staff wear protective gear such as a mask.

Based on the severity of 2009 H1N1 flu-related illness thus far, the CDC guidance recommends that students and staff with influenza-like illness remain home until 24 hours after resolution of fever without the use of fever-reducing medications.

School staff should routinely clean areas that students and staff touch often with the cleaners they typically use. However, special cleaning with bleach and other non-detergent-based cleaners is not necessary, the CDC stated.

The guidance also provides a checklist for making decisions at the local government level, which is usually tasked with the decision around possible school closures. The decision to dismiss students should balance the goal of reducing the number of people who become seriously ill or die from influenza with the goal of minimizing social disruption and safety risks to children sometimes associated with school dismissal. Based on the experience and knowledge gained in jurisdictions that had large outbreaks in spring 2009, the potential benefits of preemptively dismissing students from school are often outweighed by negative consequences, including students being left home alone, health workers missing shifts when they must stay home with their children, students missing meals, and interruption of students’ education. CDC expects that the overall impact of 2009 H1N1 should be greater as compared to earlier this spring, and school dismissals may be in fact be warranted depending on the disease burden and other conditions.

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Home Diagnostics, Inc. reports spike in retail sales

BY Michael Johnsen

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. Home Diagnostics, Inc. on Thursday realized a 45.2% increase in retail channel sales for the second quarter ended June 30, the company announced.

Retail sales were driven by the continued national rollout of the TRUEresult and TRUE2go blood glucose monitoring systems and the expanded product portfolio at Walmart. Though total revenue for the second quarter was $32.7 million, a decrease of 2.1%.  International sales decreased 22.3%, reflecting lower sales in Latin America following the company’s decision to limit its exposure in that region due to poor economic conditions.

“We are particularly pleased with our domestic sales which grew during the quarter, outpacing the reported results of the majority of our branded competitors, which reported sales declines for the quarter,” stated Joseph Capper, president and CEO of HDI. “This reflects our position as a leading provider of value-priced, high-quality blood glucose monitoring products. We achieved 45% growth in our retail channel, driven by strong reception of our new products, TRUEresult and TRUE2go, as well as organic growth of existing products with our major retail partners.”

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The Best for Babes Foundation set to release new pro-breast-feeding ad

BY Michael Johnsen

LITTLE SILVER, N.J. The Best for Babes Foundation on Thursday will release a provocative new ad to coincide with World Breastfeeding Week, which takes place Aug. 1 to 7 in 150 countries.

The ad is intended to relay that breastfeeding save lives and expecting moms need more help and to be better prepared around breastfeeding. The ad urges expecting mothers to find a support group, get expert lactation help, and choose hospitals and physicians that are breastfeeding friendly.

Best for Babes co-founders Bettina Forbes and Danielle Rigg contend that women are being pressured to breastfeed, but prevented from succeeding. “Moms don’t need more pressure, judgment or guilt,” Forbes stated.

The new ad will run in the Fall/Winter issue of Mom & Baby magazine and online through TheFamilyGroove.com and various blogs. Frank About Women, a marketing-to-women communications firm, donated the six-figure ad campaign.

The campaign is being backed by a growing corporate alliance of companies, including Earth Mama Angel Baby, My Brest Friend, Hotslings, Pumpease and My Baby Experts.

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