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Susan Smith-Harmon

Susan Smith-Harmon

Polio-like illness a mystery in California

Monday, 24 February 2014 00:53 Published in Health & Fitness
   LOS ANGELES (AP) — A polio-like illness has afflicted a small number of children in California since 2012, causing severe weakness or rapid paralysis in one or more limbs.
   The Los Angeles Times reports that state public health officials have been investigating the illness since a doctor requested polio testing for a child with severe paralysis in 2012. Since then, similar cases have sporadically been reported throughout the state.
   Dr. Carol Glaser, leader of a California Department of Public Health team investigating the illnesses, called the doctor's request "concerning" because polio has been eradicated in the U.S. and the child had not traveled overseas.
   The symptoms sometimes occur after a mild respiratory illness. Glaser said a virus that is usually associated with respiratory illness but which has also been linked to polio-like illnesses was detected in two of the patients.
   Dr. Keith Van Haren, a pediatric neurologist at Stanford University's Lucile Packard Children's Hospital who has worked with Glaser's team, will present the cases of five of the children at the American Academy of Neurology's upcoming annual meeting.
   He said all five patients had paralysis in one or more arms or legs that reached its full severity within two days. None had recovered limb function after six months.
   "We know definitively that it isn't polio," Van Haren added, noting that all had been vaccinated against that disease.
   Glaser wouldn't provide the number of illnesses. Van Haren said he was aware of around 20.
   She urged doctors to report new cases of acute paralysis so that investigators can try to figure out a possible cause.

EPA wood-stove proposal prompt rural MO backlash

Monday, 24 February 2014 00:41 Published in Local News
   JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - A federal proposal to clean up the smoke from wood-burning stoves has sparked a backlash from some rural residents, lawmakers and manufacturers.
   Proposed regulations from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency would significantly reduce the amount of particle pollution allowed to flow from new residential wood-powered heaters.
   Some manufacturers contend the proposed standards are so stringent that the higher production costs would either force them out of business or make their products unaffordable to lower- and middle-income consumers.
   In Missouri, some lawmakers are fighting back with state legislation seeking to discourage the enforcement of tougher standards on wood-burning stoves. Concerns over wood-stove pollution and regulations also have been simmering in other states, including in some places where local officials are pushing for stronger environmental standards.
   
 
   After website issues caused a slow start, new data from the federal government shows enrollment in health-care plans through federal and state online marketplaces is taking off, particularly when it comes to young women.
   Laura Burbank, the lead certified application councilor for Planned Parenthood of St. Louis says more insured, young, women today will mean a healthier Missouri in the future.  "Women and families are going to have a lot more options to take care of themselves and their families," Burbank said.  "And that's going to really have long-term health impacts on our community."
   Burbank says she's not surprised to see so many young women taking advantage of the Affordable Care Act, because of features such as preventive care, maternity services and prescription birth control with no co-pay. "Having them included at no cost really kind of frees women up to be able to make those health-care choices for themselves," she said.
   According to the federal data, nearly 55,000 Missourians already have signed up for a marketplace plan. Nationwide, 55 percent of the 3.3 million new enrollees are women, with one in three of those who signed up in January younger than age 35.  
   Open enrollment ends March 31.
 

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