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  Press Summaries

MMWR
February 5, 1999

MMWR articles are embargoed until 4 p.m. Eastern time on Thursday.


MMWR Synopsis
  1. Bioterrorism Alleging Use of Anthrax and Interim Guidelines for Management -- United States, 1998
  2. Physician Advice and Individual Behaviors About Cardiovascular Disease Risk Reduction -- Selected Sites, United States, 1997
  3. Surveillance of Morbidity During Wildfires -- Central Florida, 1998
  4. Tuberculosis Outbreaks in Prison Housing Units for HIV-Infected Inmates -- California, 1995-1996
Fact Sheet: Booster Safety Seats
Notice to Readers: "National Child Passenger Safety Week" -- February 14-20, 1999

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MMWR

Synopsis February 5, 1999

Bioterrorism Alleging Use of Anthrax and Interim Guidelines for Management -- United States, 1998
From October 30-December 23, 1998, CDC received a series of reports of bioterrorism threats alleging the use of anthrax in Indiana, Kentucky, Tennessee, and California.

PRESS CONTACT:
Division of Media Relations
CDC, Office of Communication
(404) 639-3286
Anthrax is an infectious disease caused by the spores of Bacillus anthracis. People usually become infected through contact, ingestion, or inhalation of the spores, which are extremely durable and can be delivered as an aerosol. The public health response to bioterrorism threats requires communication and coordination with public health partners including first responders (police, fire, emergency medical services, and hazardous materials units) and law enforcement officials. CDC is actively working with state and local health departments, federal agencies, and nongovernmental organizations to address the growing threat of bioterrorism. This report summarizes the findings of these investigations and provides interim guidelines for public health authorities on bioterorrism threats. All of the anthrax threats reported in this article were hoaxes.

  Physician Advice and Individual Behaviors About Cardiovascular Disease Risk Reduction -- Selected Sites, United States, 1997
Advice from a physician to reduce fat and cholesterol in the diet and to exercise appears to be a strong motivator for getting patients to reduce their risk for cardiovascular diseases.
PRESS CONTACT:
Kurt Greenlund, Ph.D.
CDC, National Center for Chronic Disease & Health Promotion
(770) 488-5699
Cardiovascular disease (CVD), including coronary heart disease and stroke, is the leading cause of death in the United States, accounting for 960,000 deaths a year, or one every 33 seconds. In 1997, adults in seven states and Puerto Rico (total: 20,847) responded to a telephone survey about CVD and physician counseling. The results showed that physicians are more likely to advise patients with a history of CVD to improve their diet and increase physical activity. However, whether or not they have heart disease, respondents indicated that they were more likely to practice such behaviors, if their physician recommended it. These findings suggest that physicians could help patients reduce their risk of cardiovascular disease, if they routinely counseled all of their patients to reduce fat and cholesterol intake and increase their physical activity.

  Surveillance of Morbidity During Wildfires -- Central Florida, 1998
Wildfires in several Florida counties resulted in an increase in respiratory problems attributable to smoke.
PRESS CONTACT:
Zubare Mulla, M.S.P.H.
Florida Department of Health
(407) 623-1212
From June-July 1998, a total of 2,277 fires burned 499,477 acres throughout the state of Florida. After receiving numerous calls from persons complaining of respiratory problems, a public health alert was issued. The Florida Department of Health and the Volusia County Health Department initiated surveillance of selected respiratory conditions. From 1997 to 1998, emergency department visits increased substantially for asthma (91%), bronchitis (132%), and chest pain (37%). This report illustrates that rapid surveillance is possible during a public health disaster. Surveillance during this outbreak of respiratory conditions enabled key hospital staff to be identified in advance, ensured rapid access to critical information, and minimized confusion by using simple data collection methods.

  Tuberculosis Outbreaks in Prison Housing Units for HIV-Infected Inmates -- California, 1995-1996
Two prison outbreaks underscore critical need for collaboration between departments of health and corrections.
PRESS CONTACT:
Office of Communication
CDC, National Center for HIV, STD & TB Prevention
(404) 639-8895
The California departments of corrections and health services, together with local health departments, investigated two TB outbreaks that occurred in the HIV units of state prisons and spread to the community. Because HIV infection so severely weakens the immune system, people infected with both HIV and TB have a 100 times greater risk of developing active TB disease, which can then spread to others. During these outbreaks, 32 cases of TB were confirmed among HIV-infected inmates and parolees, and a visitor. These findings point to the rapid cycle of TB transmission in the prison environment. Early diagnosis, isolation of infectious TB cases, and effective treatment among HIV-infected inmates is needed to cure TB disease and to minimize outbreaks. Following these investigations, new procedures were developed by the California departments of corrections and health services to ensure that suspected TB cases are tracked, and contacts are identified rapidly to prevent future outbreaks.

Notice to Readers:

"National Child Passenger Safety Week" -- February 14-20, 1999

In observance of National Child Passenger Safety Week, February 14-20, CDC has published recommendations stating that children more than 4 years of age and weighing over 40 lbs., who have outgrown their child safety seats, require belt positioning booster seats used with vehicle lap/shoulder belts to ride safely. Most children under the age of 10 years are not big enough to ride safely without the use of a booster seat. A partnership between CDC, other federal agencies, and private organizations focused recommendations on this age group because currently 75% of these children are not properly restrained in motor vehicles, and another 20% ride unrestrained entirely. The consequences can be deadly. In 1997, nearly half of the 5-9-year-old children, who were passengers involved in fatal crashes, were unrestrained.

Contact: Kyran Quinlan, M.D., M.P.H.
CDC, National Center for Injury Prevention & Control
(770) 488-4648


Booster Safety Seats

February 5, 1999
Contact: Kyran Quinlan, M.D.
CDC, National Center for Injury Control & Prevention
(770) 488-4648

 

What is a Booster Seat?

Belt-positioning booster seats are designed to raise children up on the car seat so that the lap/shoulder belts fit correctly. This is the preferred type of booster seat and requires a lap/shoulder belt in the back seat of the vehicle. Shield booster seats have a plastic shield in front of the child. These seats offer less protection, however, and the report recommends they only be used with the shields removed so that they function as belt-positioning booster seats.

Why Use a Booster Seat?

In the United States, 1,791 children younger than 15 years were killed and 282,000 were injured as passengers in motor vehicle crashes in 1997. Among 5-9 year old passengers, 46% of those involved in fatal crashes were unrestrained.

Who Should Use a Booster Seat?

Children should start using a booster seat when they grow out of their convertible child safety seats -- when their ears are level with the top of the back of the safety seat and their shoulders are above the top strap slots, or when they reach the upper weight limit for the seat. Children should use a booster seat until the lap/shoulder belts in the car fit properly -- when they are at least 58 inches tall, have a sitting height of 29 inches and weigh 80 pounds (with clothing on). To ride comfortably and safely, children must be able to bend their knees over the edge of the seat while sitting with their backs firmly against the seat back. In most cases, this means that children 10 years old and younger should be using a booster seat.

Where Should Booster Seats be Placed in the Car?

All children 12 years and younger should ride in the back seat whenever possible, regardless of whether they use a booster seat.

For more information, visit this CDC website http://www.cdc.gov/ncipc/ncipchm.htm.


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