Thursday, February 11, 2010

CDC Reports Mumps Outbreak

By Charles Bankhead

A mumps outbreak in New York and New Jersey has tripled the expected annual incidence of the disease, according to a report from the CDC.

More than 1,500 cases of mumps were reported from several counties in New York and New Jersey from June 28, 2009 through Jan. 29, 2010. All but 44 cases involved members of the Orthodox Jewish community. Almost half of the cases came from New York City, primarily Brooklyn.

"Anecdotal reports from certain affected areas suggest that the rate of new cases is not decreasing," investigators from the CDC and state and local health departments wrote in the Feb. 12 issue of Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. "The appearance of a downward trend in recent weeks is partly a result of reporting delays."

Since 1967, when the MMR (measles-mumps-rubella) vaccine was introduced, the number of reported cases of mumps has declined from 186,000 annually to fewer than 500 cases. Even so, the mumps component of the vaccine is less effective compared with the other components, the authors wrote. Estimates of the mumps vaccine's effectiveness have ranged from 73% to 91% after one dose and from 79% to 95% after two doses.

Investigators traced the index case of the outbreak to an 11-year-old boy who returned June 17, 2009 from a trip to England, where 7,400 laboratory-confirmed cases of mumps were reported in 2009. Upon returning to the U.S., the boy attended a New York summer camp for tradition-observant Jewish boys, where he became symptomatic on June 28.

Subsequently, additional cases of mumps were reported among other camp attendees and staff members. Transmission occurred at multiple locations when the attendees returned home.

By the end of January 2010, 1,521 cases of mumps had been reported, all from counties in New York and New Jersey. Investigators reported that 44% of the cases involved residents of Brooklyn. Additionally, 97% of the cases involved members of the same Orthodox Jewish community.

Among patients with known age, the median is 15, and 76% of cases with known sex are male.

Complications have been reported in 65 cases and include 55 case of orchitis, five cases of pancreatitis, two cases of aseptic meningitis, and one case each of transient deafness, Bell's palsy, and oophoritis. Although 19 patients have been hospitalized, no deaths have been reported.

Of 1,115 patients with known vaccination status, 88% had received at least one dose of mumps-containing vaccine before the outbreak, and 75% had received two doses.

"This outbreak emphasizes that mumps outbreaks can occur in highly vaccinated populations," the authors wrote.

Even so, "maintenance of high two-dose MMR vaccine coverage remains the most effective way to prevent and limit the size of mumps outbreaks," they added.

Public health officials in one of the New York counties involved in the outbreak began offering a third dose of mumps vaccine to students at certain schools, although no data exist in support of the effectiveness of a third dose for reducing the risk of mumps or altering the course of an outbreak, the authors said

Bill Clinton's New Heart Problems

Bill Clinton was hospitalized this afternoon after experiencing chest pains. Spokespersons for Columbia Presbyterian Hospital in New York City, where the 63-year-old former President Clinton was admitted, said he has received two stents in one of his coronary arteries. Mr. Clinton is known to have had coronary artery disease at least since 2004, when he had bypass surgery performed to four of his coronary arteries. At that time, it was noted that he did not have heart muscle damage. Whether he has sustained any permanent heart muscle damage with this latest episode has not been reported.

So what does this latest episode indicate? It is impossible to know for sure considering the sparse details released so far, but based on the symptom of chest pain, and his doctors' very rapid insertion of stents as a result, it appears very likely that President Clinton has experienced a form of Acute Coronary Syndrome (ACS).

Generally, ACS occurs when a blood clot suddenly forms within a coronary artery, usually due to the acute rupture of a plaque. ACS can lead to myocardial infarction (which causes permanent heart muscle damage), or to unstable angina. ACS always ought to be considered a medical emergency, and ought to initiate medical care aimed at accomplishing two things: 1) to limit the heart muscle damage being done acutely by the blood clot within the coronary artery, and 2) to limit the possibility that the plaque - which has now shown itself to be unstable and prone to rupture - will rupture again.

Accomplishing the first goal - limiting the damage being done by the blocked or partially-blocked artery - often involves rapid angioplasty and stenting.

So, if Mr. Clinton had ACS, as appears likely, the treatment he has received so far has been appropriately aggressive.

Hong Kong Court Overturns Murder Conviction of US Citizen

An American woman serving a life sentence in Hong Kong for murdering her banker husband has won a retrial.

Hong Kong's Court of Final Appeal ruled Thursday that the murder trial of Nancy Kissel was flawed and ordered that she be held in custody while undergoing a new trial.

Kissel's lawyers had argued that prosecutors used improper evidence to challenge her credibility during her trial in 2005. In those proceedings, Kissel was sentenced to life in prison.

Kissel, dubbed the "milkshake murderer," was convicted of giving her husband a sedative-laced milkshake and then clubbing the Merrill Lynch & Company banker to death in 2003.

Kissel admitted that she killed her husband, saying he was abusive.

Prosecutors argued that Kissel planned the attack, and noted that her husband was worth $18 million in life insurance, investments and properties.

Joe Louis: American Hero� Betrayed

Film Review by Kam Williams
Excellent (4 stars)

On January 10, 1942, a month after Pearl Harbor, Heavyweight Champ Joe Louis (1914-1981) enlisted in the Army at the height of his boxing career. Not only did he volunteer to serve in a still segregated army, he also donated the entire purses of his prior two fights to the war effort.

That ill-advised altruistic overture would come back to bite The Brown Bomber in the butt, because the country he loved would never love him back. Instead of appreciating the fact that he had taken a pay cut from six-figures per bout down to a GI's salary of about $50 a month, the IRS decided that Joe still had to pay taxes on the $200,000 he had so generously given the government.

Meanwhile, his financial manager, Mike Jacobs, was no help either. He so mismanaged the champ's finances for the next four years that Joe was an additional quarter million dollars in debt by the time he was honorably discharged from the military in 1945. Things got so bad, that the IRS even seized the $64,000 Louis had put into a trust fund for his kids.

Broke and desperate, Joe ended up continuing to fight in the ring far past his prime, since he didn�t have any other way to make the sort of money the U.S. was charging him interest on and hounding him for. After all, he was born in rural Alabama the son of sharecroppers and the grandchild of slaves, and he had no formal education to fall back on. So, after he could no longer box, he had to turn to professional wrestling to make a few bucks.

To add insult to injury, when he died, his widow was denied permission to bury her patriotic veteran husband in Arlington National Cemetery until the president intervened on her behalf. And she was only able to afford to give him a fitting send off because Joe's former foe, Max Schmeling, offered to pay for the funeral.

This disgraceful chapter of U.S. history is the recounted in Joe Louis: American Hero � Betrayed, a heartbreaking HBO documentary. Given that we presently have an African-American leading in the race for the Democratic Presidential nomination, it's fitting reflect upon how far we've come since these sort of racist shenanigans were par for the course during the heyday of the so-called �Greatest Generation.�

Perhaps the best way he ought to be remembered is how sportswriter Jimmy Cannon eulogized him: �Joe Louis, a credit to his race � the human race.�

Joe Louis: American Hero � Betrayed premieres on HBO at 8 PM (EST) on Saturday, February 23. (check local listings)

Man takes baseball bat to TVs in Wal-Mart

A Georgia man did more than yell at a TV -- he walked into a Wal-Mart Wednesday, grabbed a baseball bat and belted 29 flat-screen sets, police allege.

Police were trying to figure out why he did it, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.

Just after noon, 23-year-old Lawrenceville resident Westley Strellis strode into the Liburn Wal-Mart on Lawrenceville Highway. He allegedly grabbed a metal baseball bat out of the sporting goods department, walked to the electronics section and started smashing the flat-screen televisions on display, doing more than $22,000 worth of damage, police say.

Strellis was arrested, taken to the Gwinnett County jail and charged with 29 counts of second-degree criminal damage to property, the Journal-Constitution said.

Teen gang taped beating girl in bus tunnel

A group of teens beat a 15-year-old girl in a Seattle bus tunnel as security guards watched, following rules that kept them from intervening, officials say.

King County Metro Transit is rethinking its security policies in the wake of the Jan. 28 incident, The Seattle Times reports.

"The county executive has ordered us to work with the sheriff's office to review the circumstances surrounding this incident and seek advice from other security experts to determine whether we need to change our security protocols," General Manager Kevin Desmond said in a release Tuesday.

The assault was partly caught on videotape by a security camera. In the tape, one guard is seen raising his arm at one of the attackers, allegedly another 15-year-old girl, while she ignores him.

The unarmed guards, who work for Olympic Security Services, are supposed to radio Metro Transit Control Center if they observe criminal or suspicious behavior. The center then contacts law enforcement.

A group of 10 teens allegedly confronted the victim in a downtown department store. After police intervened, they followed her into the bus tunnel where she was beaten, kicked and robbed.

A teen suspected of being the girl videotaped kicking the victim was arrested Friday.

Rep denies Edwards and Hunter engaged

Former Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards has asked his mistress, Rielle Hunter, to marry him, the National Enquirer reported Wednesday.

In an exclusive report, the tabloid newspaper said the former U.S. senator from North Carolina also is buying a $3.5 million beachfront home for them and their 2-year-old child. The Enquirer didn't say where the home is located.

The Enquirer said Edwards and Hunter intend to get married after his divorce from Elizabeth Edwards is finalized, possibly within a year.

People magazine reported on its Web site that a representative for Edwards denied the tabloid story.

"It's absolutely not true," the unidentified Edwards representative said, adding Edwards and Hunter "only communicate through a third party" to work out visitation arrangements.

But the tabloid quoted unidentified sources as saying Edwards proposed shortly before acknowledging paternity of their child, Frances.

"John dropped the proposal bomb on Rielle shortly before he issued his statement," the source said. "John knew Rielle had been waiting for a proposal for two long years.

"Rielle never uttered a peep about their affair publicly, and remained loyal to John. John felt she deserved to know that he wanted to raise their child together, and wanted Rielle in his life as his partner.

"John has said that when his divorce is final, he'll buy her a diamond ring. But in the meantime, he's getting them a house."

The newspaper said another source said, "John has proposed to Rielle, and she said yes."

New aerial NYPD photos of 9/11 attack released

NEW YORK — Newly released aerial photos of the Sept. 11, 2001, World Trade Center attack show the towers coming down from a dramatic new angle.

The photos were obtained by ABC News, which filed a Freedom of Information Act request with the National Institute of Standards and Technology last year. The NIST collected the images as part of its investigation into the terrorist attack.

ABC said it was provided 2,779 pictures on nine CDs. Many of the photos, taken from police helicopters, have never been released before.

Twelve of the photos appear on ABC's Web site. One photo shows a close-up of the upper floors of the burning towers. Others show the towers' dramatic collapse in a thick plume of smoke and debris and sweeping views of billowing smoke clouds.