In Brief

April 17, 2008

Vaccine

Mumps outbreak could lead to 2nd booster shot

Most of the college students who got the mumps in a big 2006 outbreak had received the recommended two vaccine shots, according to a study that raises questions about whether a new vaccine or another booster shot is needed.

The outbreak was the biggest in the U.S. since states began requiring a second shot for youngsters in 1990.

Nearly 6,600 people became sick with the mumps, mostly in eight Midwest states, and the hardest-hit group was college students. Of those in that group who knew whether they had been vaccinated, 84 percent had had two mumps shots, according to the study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and state health departments.

The researchers, reporting in the New England Journal of Medicine, note that the virus likely came from travelers or students from the United Kingdom, where mumps shots are voluntary and there was a much larger mumps outbreak of the same strain. Many countries don't vaccinate against mumps, so future cases from overseas are likely.

Associated Press

Osteoarthritis

Study: Knee surgery advice favors men

Women are less likely than men to get a recommendation for knee replacement, a Canadian study reports, even when they have the same symptoms.

One man and one woman, both 67, who had identical levels of knee osteoarthritis, visited 29 orthopedic surgeons and 38 family physicians, with instructions to present their symptoms in exactly the same way.

Researchers found that two-thirds of the doctors recommended knee replacement for the man, while only a third did for the woman. The study, led by James G. Wright, a professor of surgery at the University of Toronto, appeared in a March issue of The Canadian Medical Association Journal.

New York Times News Service

Smog

Panel seeks lower level of ozone in air

An advisory panel of scientists told the Environmental Protection Agency that its new air quality standard for smog fails to protect public health as required by law and should be strengthened.

In a stern letter to EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson, the advisers expressed frustration that their unanimous recommendation for a more stringent standard was ignored when Johnson set the new smog requirements last month.

Johnson on March 12 lowered the amount of ozone that should be allowed in the air for it to be considered healthy from 80 parts per billion to 75 parts per billion. That meant 345 additional counties nationwide are in violation of the federal air quality standards for ozone, commonly known as smog, and must find ways to reduce the pollution.

While business lobbyists wanted the smog requirement unchanged, most health experts had argued that even stronger measures were needed.

The Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee, created by Congress to advise the EPA, had urged the EPA to set a standard for ozone of between 60 parts per billion and 70 parts per billion.

Associated Press

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