Health Highlights: Nov. 28, 2011

More U.S. Kids Being Exempted From Vaccinations Chickenpox Shot Benefits More Than Babies: Study Ocean Spray Recalls Craisins Trial of Anti-HIV Vaginal Gel Halted 3 More Cases of New Flu Virus Confirmed by CDC

Here are some of the latest health and medical news developments, compiled by the editors of HealthDay:

More U.S. Kids Being Exempted From Vaccinations

In eight states, more than 1 in 20 public school kindergarten students aren't getting all the vaccinations required for attendance and more than half of states have had at least a slight increase in the rate of parental exemptions over the past five years, according to an Associated Press analysis.

Rules for exemptions vary between states and can include medical, religious and even philosophical reasons.

In 2010-11, Alaska had the highest exemption rate (9 percent), followed by Colorado (7 percent), Minnesota (6.5 percent), Vermont and Washington (6 percent). Oregon, Michigan and Illinois were close behind. The lowest exemption rate was in Mississippi, the AP found.

Over five years, vaccine exemptions rose in more than half of states and the rate of exemptions increased by about 1.5 percent in 10 states.

The growing trend of parents seeking vaccination exemptions for their children has health officials concerned about possible outbreaks of diseases that had been all but eliminated, the AP reported.


Chickenpox Shot Benefits More Than Babies: Study

The number of infant chickenpox cases in the United States fell nearly 90 percent between 1995 and 2008, a new study finds.

The findings show that the vaccine not only protects the child who is vaccinated, but also infants who come into contact with the child afterward, reported.

The vaccine isn't given to children younger than 12 months, but they indirectly benefit when older children receive the vaccine, the researchers explained. Their study appears in the journal Pediatrics.

"It's not impossible for kids to have chickenpox after they've been vaccinated, even if they have two doses of vaccine. But the case is so mild and benign that it's much, much better," Dr. Elaine Schulte, a pediatrician at the Cleveland Clinic Children's Hospital, told

She was not involved in the study.


Ocean Spray Recalls Craisins

Possible contamination with small metal particles has prompted the recall of certain lots of packaged and bulk original flavor Craisins, which are sweetened dried cranberries.

The recall announced late Friday by Ocean Spray covers the following 5-ounce, 10-ounce and 48-ounce packages, as well as 10-pound bulk packages, reported:

  • 5-oz. Craisins UPC: 00293-000 Best By Dates/Letter: Oct 27 2012 M
  • 10-oz. Craisins UPC: 29456-000 and 29464-000 Best By Dates/Letter: Oct 27 2012 M, Oct 28 2012 M, Oct 29 2012 M
  • 48-oz. Craisins UPC: 00678-318 Best By Dates/Letter: Oct 27 2012 M, Oct 28 2012 M, Nov 3 2012 M, Nov 4 2012 M, Nov 5 2012 M, Nov 6 2012 M, Nov 7 2012 M, Nov 10 2012 M, Nov 11 2012 M.
  • 10-lb. bulk ingredient & food service UPC: 03477-000 Best By Dates/Letter: 30 Oct 2013 M, 31 Oct 2013 M, 1 Nov 2013 M, 5 Nov 2013 M.

Ocean Spray said consumers should destroy the recalled products, save the UPC labels and Best By dates and contact the company's consumer hotline at 1-800-662-3263, reported.


Trial of Anti-HIV Vaginal Gel Halted

A clinical trial of a microbicide vaginal gel to protect women from HIV infection has been canceled after researchers said the gel was not working.

The trial began in 2009 and enrolled more than 5,000 women in South Africa, Uganda and Zimbabwe. It was hoped that it would confirm the findings of an earlier trial that found the vaginal gel containing the drug tenofovir protected 39 percent of women who used it, and that women who used it most often reduce their chances of HIV infection by 54 percent, The New York Times reported.

Researchers have not yet been able to determine why the gel did not work in the second trial.

The news is a setback for HIV/AIDS prevention research. Creating a vaginal gel that protects women against HIV (the virus that causes AIDS) while still enabling them to get pregnant has long been a goal of researchers, The Times reported.


3 More Cases of New Flu Virus Confirmed by CDC

Three new cases of a new flu virus that originated in pigs but spread from person to person have been confirmed by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The CDC has confirmed a total of 18 cases of the virus, an influenza strain called S-OtrH3N2, over two years. The three latest cases involved three Iowa children, USA Today reported.

The low number of cases during the past few years suggests that the virus is not spreading quickly or easily, said William Schaffner, a professor at the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine and spokesman for the Infectious Diseases Society of America.

Flu expert Arnold Monto agrees that there's no reason to fear the start of a new flu pandemic.

"I don't think this is anything to worry about for the moment," Monto, a professor at the University of Michigan School of Public Health, told USA Today. "We have known that swine viruses get into humans occasionally, transmit for a generation or two and then stop. The issue is whether there will be sustained transmission (from person to person)- and that nearly never happens."


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