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MMWR – Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report

News Summary for September 8, 2011

1. Chemical Suicides in Automobiles — United States, 2006–2010

CDC Division of News and Electronic Media
(404) 639-3286

Chemical suicides can cause harm to bystanders and responders.During a 3-month period in 2008 in Japan, 208 persons committed suicide by mixing bath sulfur with toilet bowl cleaner and, while in a confined space, breathing in the resultant poisonous gas. Similar suicides have occurred in the US and are believed to have resulted from the posting of directions for generating poisonous gas on the Internet. The lethal gas generated by intentionally mixing household chemicals can leak from confined spaces, triggering evacuations, and exposing bystanders and first responders to injury. When responding to suspected chemical suicide incidents, emergency responders must take precautions to ensure both their safety and the safety of any bystanders in the immediate vicinity.

2. Maternal and Infant Outcomes Among Critically Ill Pregnant and Postpartum Women with 2009 Influenza A (H1N1) Infection — United States, April 2009–August 2010

CDC Division of News and Electronic Media
(404) 639-3286

During the 2009 H1N1 influenza pandemic (April 15, 2009 -- August 10, 2010), CDC requested reporting on pregnant/postpartum women with severe influenza. During this time, CDC received reports of 278 pregnant/postpartum women who were admitted to the intensive care unit and survived and 84 pregnant/postpartum women who died.  Infants born during their mother’s hospitalization for severe influenza illness were more likely to be born preterm and of lower birthweight than the general population, and infants born after their mothers had been discharged were more likely to be small for gestational age and of lower birthweight. Consistent with earlier reports, pregnant women receiving prompt treatment with recommended antiviral medications were less likely to die than those treated later. The potential impact of severe influenza during pregnancy on mother and infant/fetus emphasizes the importance of influenza vaccination of pregnant women, regardless of pregnancy trimester, and the importance of prompt, empiric treatment with appropriate antiviral medications for pregnant women with suspected or confirmed influenza.

3. Surveillance for Foodborne Disease Outbreaks — United States, 2008

CDC Division of News and Electronic Media
(404) 639-3286

Foodborne illnesses are an important disease burden in the United States.   In 2008, the most recent year for which foodborne outbreak data are finalized, 1,034 foodborne disease outbreaks were reported.  These outbreaks resulted in 23,152 cases of foodborne illness, 1,276 hospitalizations, and 22 deaths.  Among outbreaks with known pathogens, norovirus was the most common agent and Salmonella was the second most common.  Although the cause of an outbreak cannot always be determined or confirmed, state health officials reported specific food groups associated with 218 of these outbreaks. The top food groups to which the 218 outbreaks were attributed were poultry (15 percent), beef (14 percent), and fish (14 percent). Among the 7,177 illnesses in these 218 outbreaks, the food groups associated with the most illnesses were fruits and nuts (24 percent), vine vegetables (23 percent), and beef (13 percent). Public health, regulatory, and food industry professionals can use this information to continue to target pathogens and foods that cause the most foodborne disease outbreaks. To prevent foodborne illness, CDC recommends that consumers and food handlers appropriately clean, separate, cook and chill foods.

4. Respiratory Syncytial Virus — United States, July 2007–June 2011

CDC Division of News and Electronic Media
(404) 639-3286

Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) is the leading cause of pneumonia and bronchiolitis among infants. In the United States, the season generally begins during the fall and continues through the winter and spring months; however, the exact timing of RSV circulation can vary by location and year. The National Respiratory and Enteric Virus Surveillance System (NREVSS) is a network of laboratories that track RSV trends by calculating the percentage of RSV antigen tests performed each week that are positive. The most recent RSV season began in November 2010 and ended in April 2011; in several regions, the onset and offset was slightly later during the past four seasons (2007–2011). Understanding long-term seasonal trends in RSV activity is helpful for guiding diagnostic testing during respiratory disease outbreaks and timing the use of RSV immunoprophylaxis for reducing RSV-related hospitalizations of children at high risk for serious disease.

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