Friday, February 25, 2011

Oscar-Nominated True Grit Gets Top Reviews for Acting but Mixed Reviews for Snakebite Treatment

Editor Note:  If you have a medical emergency out in nature, be sure to call 911.  They can provide you with the best advice on what should be done as you are in route to seeking emergency medical treatment.

/PRNewswire/ -- Confronting a rattler may be a minor challenge for Rooster Cogburn in the Coen brothers' Oscar-nominated remake of True Grit, but proper handling of poor Mattie's snakebite was a major ordeal in the old West. The tough-as-nails U.S. Marshall unknowingly perpetuates Hollywood myth by doing precisely the opposite of proper snakebite protocol, although the hero does get it right when it comes to the need for speed in seeking immediate treatment.

Cutting the skin ("X marks the spot") to suck or bleed out the poison, applying a tourniquet, bandage or pressure, and drinking alcohol not only don't help, but may cause added harm by further damaging tissue.

Despite all of the folklore, the only correct response to poisonous snakebite is to seek emergency care. Remain calm and call 911 or your local poison control center at (800) 222-1222. Snakebite treatment is best left to the experts! So it is imperative to get to an appropriate hospital or emergency center as quickly as possible.

Above all, do not attempt to capture the snake, which could very well result in a second bite. CroFab® Crotalidae Polyvalent Immune Fab (ovine) is an intravenous medicine, usually administered in the hospital emergency room, that is approved to treat venomous snakebites from North American pit vipers. Pit viper snakes include rattlesnakes, copperheads and cottonmouths/water moccasins. BTG International Inc. markets and distributes CroFab® to hospitals in the United States.

"Although nowadays we don't cut and suck snakebites like the cowboys used to do, Rooster knew the best thing for Mattie was to get her to a doctor as fast as he could," said Sean Bush, MD, Professor of Emergency Medicine at Loma Linda School of Medicine in Loma Linda, CA. "The same is true today. The difference now is that there is a treatment to prevent the progression of a venomous pit viper bite."

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Georgia-Pacific Professional Supports CDC in Showcasing History and Health Benefits of Handwashing

/PRNewswire/ -- A gift from Georgia-Pacific Professional will help the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) highlight the health benefits of proper handwashing through a multi-media art exhibition called Watching Hands: Artists Respond to Keeping Well. The exhibition is scheduled to open in September 2011 at the Global Health Odyssey Museum on the campus of CDC's headquarters in Atlanta.

The Watching Hands exhibit is supported through a contribution to the CDC Foundation and will showcase the importance of effective hand hygiene practices through various creative media including vinyl installation, graphic design, video projection, drawing, painting and sculpture. Handwashing is one of the most effective ways to prevent the spread of many types of infection and illness in all settings—from homes and workplaces to child care facilities and hospitals.

"CDC's Global Health Odyssey Museum offers unique opportunities to share CDC's work and health messages with the Atlanta community and the thousands of individuals who visit CDC from all over the world," said Charles Stokes, president and CEO of the CDC Foundation. "We are grateful to Georgia-Pacific Professional for helping CDC create this exhibit and promote hand hygiene in this artful, experiential way."

"The CDC shares our commitment to promoting good hygiene and infection control practices and we are extremely honored to partner with them on such an innovative public health campaign," said Bill Sleeper, president - Georgia-Pacific Professional. "By communicating through a powerful medium such as art, we believe strongly that this exhibition will have a profound impact on educating consumers about the importance of proper hand washing to avoid the spread of infectious diseases."

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Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Highest Rates of Leisure-Time Physical Inactivity in Appalachia and South

/PRNewswire/ -- Americans who live in parts of Appalachia and the South are the least likely to be physically active in their leisure time, according to estimates released last week by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In many counties in those regions, more than 29 percent of adults reported getting no physical activity or exercise other than at their regular job.

The 2004-2008 estimates, posted online at, provide county-level estimates for leisure-time physical inactivity for all U.S. counties. Areas where residents are most likely to be active in their free time are the West Coast, Colorado, Minnesota and parts of the Northeast.

States where residents are the least likely to be physically active during leisure time are Alabama, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma and Tennessee. In those states, physical inactivity rates are 29.2 percent or greater for more than 70 percent of the counties.

A 2008 CDC survey found that 25.4 percent of U.S. adults did not spend any of their free time being physically active, including activities such as walking for exercise, gardening, golfing or running.

CDC previously released maps with estimated levels of diabetes and obesity for all U.S. counties. Combining all three factors produces a map that shows the highest levels of diagnosed diabetes, leisure-time physical inactivity and obesity in the South and parts of Appalachia. The regions with the lowest levels of all three are the West and Northeast.

Physical activity can help control weight, reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease and some cancers, strengthen bones and muscles, and improve mental health.

"Physical activity is crucial to managing diabetes and reducing serious complications of the disease," said Ann Albright, Ph.D., R.D., director of CDC's Division of Diabetes Translation. "Moderate intensity activities such as dancing or brisk walking, for just 150 minutes a week, can significantly improve the health of people with diabetes or at high risk for the disease."

The county level leisure-time physical inactivity estimates come from CDC's Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, which uses self-reported data from state-based adult telephone surveys, and 2007 census information. Those participating in the survey were asked if they participated in any physical activities or exercise outside of their regular job.

Community organizations and policymakers can use this information to support health-promoting urban design, land use, and transportation policies in their state, community or neighborhoods. "Chronic diseases, like diabetes, are a burden on our health care system," said Janet E. Fulton, Ph.D., of CDC's Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity and Obesity. "We need changes in communities that make it safe and easy to be active. Sidewalks, street lights, and access to parks or recreation areas can encourage people to get out and move more."

CDC and its partners are working on a variety of initiatives to increase physical activity, reduce obesity and prevent type 2 diabetes. CDC funds 25 states through the state-based Nutrition, Physical Activity and Obesity program that coordinates statewide efforts with multiple partners to address obesity and other chronic conditions. Communities Putting Prevention to Work is a two-year program through which communities and states are funded to reduce the burden of chronic diseases related to obesity and tobacco use through policy, systems and environmental change.

CDC's National Diabetes Prevention Program supports establishing a network of lifestyle intervention programs for overweight or obese people at high risk of developing type 2 diabetes. These interventions emphasize dietary changes, coping skills and group support to help participants lose 5 percent to 7 percent of their body weight and get at least 150 minutes per week of moderate physical activity.

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Friday, February 04, 2011

Dermatologists Warn That Plants Can Cause a Garden Variety of Pesky Skin Problems

/PRNewswire/ -- What may start as a seemingly harmless day of gardening or yard work can quickly take a turn for the worse when common plants make their mark on the skin, causing a host of mild to even severe skin reactions. That is why dermatologists are arming outdoor enthusiasts with preventative tips to keep these perils of the great outdoors at arm's length.

Speaking today at the 69th Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Dermatology (Academy), dermatologist Julian J. Trevino, MD, FAAD, associate professor of dermatology at Wright State University Boonshoft School of Medicine in Dayton, Ohio, discussed common skin reactions that can occur from contact with plants, including effective treatments and preventive strategies.

"While most of the skin reactions resulting from direct contact with a hazardous plant are more of a nuisance than anything else, there are some instances where the reaction can affect the entire body and pose a potentially more serious risk," said Dr. Trevino. "For example, people who are allergic to plants or have sensitive skin that is prone to eczema or atopic dermatitis may experience more severe or long-lasting effects that require medical attention."

There are many outdoor plants that can cause an adverse skin reaction simply by brushing up against them. One group of plants in particular that causes toxin mediated urticaria (hives) is stinging nettle plants, which have sharp hairs that produce irritants. These irritants are chemicals, such as histamine or acetylcholine, which usually cause an immediate outbreak of hives within 30 to 60 minutes upon exposure. Most people would experience a mild reaction with hives that resolve on their own in a few hours.

Dr. Trevino also explained that people who handle food frequently or those with a tendency toward eczema can develop an allergic reaction to plants known as immunologic contact urticaria. This reaction usually results from susceptible individuals coming in contact with various fresh fruits and vegetables, herbs, nuts, shrubs and grasses. In this instance, a person usually experiences itching and hives within 30 minutes. In its more severe form, this reaction can involve not only hives on the skin, but also swelling in the throat, lungs or gastrointestinal tract that requires immediate medical attention.

Another common cause of skin irritation from plants stems from exposure to spines or glochids – tiny emergences of certain cacti or prickly pear plants – which can get caught in the skin and cause an itchy rash. Since these tiny spines break the skin, Dr. Trevino cautioned that a person could develop a staph or fungal infection if bacteria or fungus are present on the prickly spine that enters the skin – leading to a more serious situation.

"The spines from the plants should be carefully removed from the skin, usually with tweezers or a piece of tape that is placed over the area where the spine entered the skin and gently torn away with the tip of the spine attached," said Dr. Trevino. "Minor itching, irritation or rash can be typically treated with an oral antihistamine or over-the-counter topical steroid, but when a rash doesn't respond to over-the-counter treatments, you should see a dermatologist. In cases where a rash is accompanied by more severe reactions such as difficulty in breathing or swallowing, a person should go to the emergency room immediately."

Perhaps the most well-known and feared plants linked to skin rashes and irritation are poison ivy, oak and sumac. Dr. Trevino explained that these plants contain a resinous sap called urushiol that can cause a rash when it comes in contact with the skin in the estimated 50 percent of the population that is allergic to these plants. However, Dr. Trevino added that direct contact with poison ivy and its variants is not the only way that people can get this bothersome rash.

"When a poison ivy plant is injured in any way, the urushiol is released quickly and can stick to anything around it," said Dr. Trevino. "That means that you can develop poison ivy if you pet your dog after he has come in contact with the plant, or if you touch a gardening tool or piece of clothing that has come in contact with poison ivy. Even airborne contact with urushiol is possible, especially in the fall or winter when these poisonous plants are burned among other brush and particles of urushiol are released into the air. If these airborne particles land on your skin or you inhale them, you can get a widespread rash and severe irritation in the respiratory tract."

When a person with poison ivy allergy contacts the plant, Dr. Trevino explained that time is of the essence to prevent a rash. The area that has been exposed should be rinsed off immediately with water. This can remove at least some of the resin before it is absorbed in the skin. To treat a rash caused by poison ivy, lukewarm baths and soaks with products containing aluminum acetate (a type of salt that dries up the weeping and blisters), and topical preparations such as calamine or topical steroids are helpful. While oral antihistamines will help alleviate itching and skin irritation, topical antihistamines should be avoided – as some people are allergic to them and the rash could get worse.

"In some cases when a rash is severe or covers a large area of the body and is not getting better with over-the-counter therapies, a dermatologist may prescribe strong topical steroids or a course of steroids taken orally," said Dr. Trevino.

To minimize the risk of such skin reactions, Dr. Trevino recommended the following tips:

* Wear protective clothing whenever possible – including gloves (preferably vinyl gloves), long sleeves and long pants tucked into socks.
* Apply an over-the-counter barrier cream or lotion containing quaternium-18 bentonite to exposed skin before going outdoors. This helps prevent urushiol from poisonous plants from contacting the skin.
* Avoid poisonous plants (remember this phrase: "leaves of three, let it be").

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March of Dimes Welcomes FDA Approval of Progesterone Injections

/PRNewswire/ -- The first-ever drug known to prevent some preterm births, which won market approval today from the Food and Drug Administration, was welcomed by the March of Dimes.

"For the first time, we have an FDA-approved treatment to offer women who have delivered a baby too soon, giving them hope that their next child will have a better chance at a healthy start in life," said Alan Fleischman, MD, senior vice president and medical director of the March of Dimes. "Women who already have had a baby born prematurely should check with their health care provider to see if this treatment is appropriate for them. This treatment is not for everyone."

The FDA approved hydroxyprogesterone caproate injection, commonly known as 17P, which is a synthetic form of a hormone produced during pregnancy. It will be marketed under the brand name Makena™ and given in weekly injections to pregnant women between 16 and 20 weeks gestation and continuing until 37 weeks gestation.

A published study by the March of Dimes, the National Institutes for Health, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, using data from 2002, estimated that if all women eligible for the progesterone injections received them, nearly 10,000 spontaneous premature births might be prevented each year.

Nikki and Densel Fleming's first child, Lauren, was born 3 1/2 months early, weighing only two pounds, one ounce. Lauren was hospitalized for five months, a scary and agonizing time for the Marvin, N.C. couple. Although they wanted a bigger family, the Flemings knew Lauren's early birth increased the chance that future babies also would be born too soon. Nikki received weekly progesterone injections for her next two pregnancies and their next two children, Erin and Corbin, were born nearly full term.

"I thank the March of Dimes for making high-risk pregnant women aware of progesterone treatments because, in my heart, I know that the weekly injections I received while pregnant, combined with the knowledge doctors now have about the causes and signs of preterm labor, helped Erin and Corbin be born full term," said Nikki Fleming.

Since 2003, the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists has recommended that doctors offer progesterone treatments to high-risk women.

Prior to today's approval of Makena, health care providers ordered prescriptions of 17P from compounding pharmacies; however, many eligible patients faced logistical and financial barriers to access. FDA approval means the drug now will be widely available only in specialty pharmacies and that there will be improved access of the drug through healthcare coverage.

The drug is approved for use by women pregnant with one baby and who already have a baby who was born before 37 weeks of pregnancy either because labor began on its own, without drugs or other methods, or because the membranes surrounding the baby ruptured too early.

In the United States, more than half a million babies are born preterm each year. Preterm birth, birth before 37 weeks of pregnancy, is a serious health problem that costs the United States more than $26 billion annually, according to the Institute of Medicine. It is the leading cause of newborn death, and babies who survive an early birth often face the risk of lifetime health challenges, such as breathing problems, cerebral palsy, intellectual disabilities and others. Even infants born just a few weeks early have higher rates of hospitalization and illness than full-term infants. The last few weeks of pregnancy are critical to a baby's health because many important organs, including the brain and lungs, are not completely developed until then.

The March of Dimes is the leading nonprofit organization for pregnancy and baby health. With chapters nationwide, the March of Dimes works to improve the health of babies by preventing birth defects, premature birth and infant mortality. For the latest resources and information, visit or Find us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

The March for Babies is sponsored nationally by the March of Dimes number one corporate supporter Kmart, Farmers Insurance Group, Bayer HealthCare, CIGNA, United Airlines, Famous Footwear, FedEx, Sanofi Pasteur, First Response, and Mission Pharmacal. To join an event near you, visit

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Small Changes in Skin Care Routine Can Significantly Improve Skin Affected by Acne and Rosacea

/PRNewswire/ -- Patients with acne and rosacea are often confused about selecting appropriate skin care products, cosmeceuticals and cosmetics to add into their daily routine. While they want to continue to see results with the treatment regimen from their dermatologist, they also want to be comfortable using products that address other skin issues, such as wrinkles or that protect their skin, such as sunscreens. They also may want to select skin care products that can help improve the overall appearance and health of the skin during treatment, especially if their medications have left their skin with redness, dryness or inflammation.

Speaking today at the 69th Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Dermatology (Academy), dermatologist Diane S. Berson, MD, FAAD, assistant clinical professor of dermatology at Weill Medical College of Cornell University in New York, NY, discussed how proper skin care and using some of the newly formulated cosmeceuticals can improve the skin of acne and rosacea patients, as well as helping them comply with their treatment regimen.

"When the skin is stripped of lipids, which are part of its protective outer layer, the skin barrier is compromised and can worsen acne and rosacea," said Dr. Berson. "By keeping the skin well hydrated with the proper skin care products, the barrier will stay intact, allowing patients to better tolerate their medications."

Cleansing 101: Gentle, Gentle, Gentle

When it comes to cleansing the skin, Dr. Berson recommended gentle cleaning and cleansers for skin prone to acne and rosacea. Scrubbing the skin will actually worsen acne, as it can remove skin lipids and can increase irritation. Instead, gently wash with a non-irritating, pH balanced cleanser to decrease inflammation.

"Harsh cleansers, alkaline bar soaps and alcohol-based products may worsen irritation," said Dr. Berson. "Cleansing products with mild surfactants can remove surface oil and dirt without compromising the skin's barrier function. It is important to thoroughly rinse cleansers from the skin because the residue can be irritating."

In addition, Dr. Berson recommended the use of body washes, which contain moisturizers that can deposit moisture back into the skin. By keeping the skin well hydrated, the skin's barrier function remains intact and, in turn, helps patients remain compliant with their treatment regimen without interruption due to skin irritation.

Moisturizers: Good for All

It is a common myth that patients with acne should not use moisturizers, but Dr. Berson explained that this is simply not true. If patients do not use a daily moisturizer, their skin can become red and peel easily due to the drying effect of their acne medications. By using a moisturizer, patients counter the effects of these medications by adding moisture back into the skin.

"Those with acne should use a light, oil-free moisturizer that is non-comedogenic, or won't clog the pores," said Dr. Berson. "Moisturizers containing heavy mineral oils should be avoided, though products containing silicone oils such as dimethicone are good choices."

For patients with rosacea, Dr. Berson noted that their skin is more sensitive and likely to react to ingredients in both prescription medications and skin care products. Moisturizers containing lipids, such as ceramides, are usually well tolerated and improve the barrier that is often compromised in patients with this condition.

"Moisturizers are extremely important for both acne and rosacea patients, and the key is finding the right moisturizer for your specific skin type," said Dr. Berson. "In addition to ceramides, the humectants glycerin and hyaluronic acid are often added to moisturizers to hold moisture in the skin and hydrate it."

New Technologies Improving Sunscreen Formulations

While the health consequences of ultraviolet (UV) radiation from sunlight and artificial light sources are well known, some acne and rosacea patients might not be aware that sunlight also can further aggravate their condition. Dr. Berson recommends the daily use of broad-spectrum sunscreen that protects from both UVA and UVB light, and commented on the new technologies which are improving the feel of sunscreen on the skin.

"One of the newer developments in sunscreens is the use of microfine particles, which takes active ingredients and grinds them down to small particles that are less visible to the naked eye," said Dr. Berson. "In the past, the physical blockers zinc oxide and titanium dioxide were more opaque, greasy, and heavy. Sunscreens with microfine zinc oxide are smoother, lighter textured and more cosmetically appealing formulations."

In addition, since some of the newest sunscreens are designed to not clog pores or worsen acne, Dr. Berson noted that patients are more likely to use these products regularly. She added that spray or gel-based sunscreens also work well for those with acne or oily skin.

Cosmetics and Cosmeceuticals Offer Many Skin Benefits

Manufacturers of cosmetics and cosmeceuticals are continually improving their products by adding ingredients that offer many benefits to the skin, including skin affected by acne or rosacea. Many nonprescription acne products now contain salicylic acid to reduce inflammation and help exfoliate in and around the pores.

"As far as prescription medications are concerned, the reformulation of existing active ingredients has led to better-tolerated products," said Dr. Berson. "The vehicles that deliver the active ingredients to the skin now contain more emollients and humectants that are soothing and non-irritating. Active ingredients can also be released slowly through microsponges – a unique technology that consists of tiny sponges that release its active ingredient on the skin slowly over time and also in response to other factors, such as temperature or massaging the product into the skin. These advances result in products that are more cosmetically pleasing, thus enhancing results by improving compliance."

In addition, Dr. Berson explained that cosmetics –traditionally used to camouflage redness and pimples common with acne and rosacea – are continually improving and can be found in formulations that are non-greasy and non-comedogenic. For example, mineral-based cosmetics, which contain powdered formulas of silica, titanium dioxide and zinc oxide which absorb oil and camouflage redness, are non-irritating for acne and rosacea patients. The ingredient dimethicone also creates a smooth, matte finish when added to cosmetics. These can camouflage breakouts or redness while also protecting the skin from ultraviolet light, a common trigger for rosacea flares.

"Patients with acne or rosacea should talk with their dermatologist to determine the best skin care products for their condition and how these can improve their overall medical therapy," said Dr. Berson. "Choosing the appropriate vehicle formulation for a given patient will also increase tolerability and enhance compliance. There also are several in-office cosmetic procedures – such as peels and lasers – that can improve acne, redness, scarring and pigmentation problems. Dermatologists understand that patients want to look good even in the face of a noticeable skin condition like acne or rosacea, and today that is entirely possible."

To learn more about acne and rosacea, visit AcneNet or RosaceaNet at, a Web site developed by dermatologists that provides patients with up-to-date information on the treatment and management of disorders of the skin, hair and nails.

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