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Opioid Painkiller Prescribing: Where You Live Makes a Difference

Categories: Public Health Partners

Photo of pillsHealth issues that cause people pain don’t vary much from place to place—not enough to explain why, in 2012, health care providers in the highest-prescribing state wrote almost 3 times as many opioid painkiller prescriptions per person as those in the lowest prescribing state in the U.S. Or why there are twice as many painkiller prescriptions per person in the U.S. as in Canada.

Prescription opioid painkillers such as Vicodin, OxyContin and methadone can provide relief from painful conditions. However, as shown in a recent CDC Vital Signs report, health care providers wrote 259 million prescriptions for these painkillers in 2012, enough for every American adult to have a bottle of pills. And every day, 46 Americans die from an overdose of these powerful drugs.

The Vital Signs report also highlights states across our country that have had success working to reduce overprescribing of painkillers. A promising step is increasing the use of state-based prescription drug monitoring program. The goal of these state-run programs is to track prescriptions for controlled substances and help find problems in overprescribing.

Florida is one example of a state that has reversed its overdose trend. After statewide legislative and enforcement actions in 2010 and 2011, painkiller prescribing declined, and the death rate from prescription drug overdose decreased 23 percent by 2012. Where does your state rank in terms of prescribing painkillers? Do you want to learn what states can do to drive this epidemic down? Check the new Vital Signs report.

Steps to Prevent Teen Pregnancy

Categories: Public Health Partners

Photo - Doctor and TeenTeen births in the US have declined over the last 20 years to the lowest level ever recorded but still nearly 1,700 teens between the ages of 15 to 17 give birth every week, according to this month’s CDC’s Vital Signs report.

CDC researchers who analyzed birth data from the National Vital Statistics System and adolescent health behavior data from the National Survey of Family Growth also found out that racial and ethnic disparities in teen pregnancy rates remained in 2012. The birth rate to younger teens is higher for Hispanic, non-Hispanic black and American Indian/Alaska Native teens.

The report recommends targeted and culturally appropriate interventions and services.

Doctor, nurses, and other healthcare providers can provide confidential, respectful, and culturally appropriate services; Encourage teens who are not sexually active to continue to wait; Offer sexually active teens a broad range of contraceptive methods, and encourage them to use the most effective methods; Counsel teens about the importance of condom use to prevent pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV/AIDS.

Parents, guardians, and caregivers can: Talk with teens about sex, including normal sexual development, and how and when to say “no” to sex, having a mutually respectful and honest relationship and using birth control if they have sex and a condom every time.

Parents can also know where their teens are and what they are doing, particularly after school and be aware of their teen’s use of social media and digital technology (e.g. cell phones, computers, tablets).

Teens can: Know both they and their partner share responsibility for preventing pregnancy and resisting peer pressure to start having sex and wait until they are older; Talk openly about sexual health issues with parents and other people they trust; and see a health care provider to learn about the most effective types of birth control and use it and condoms correctly every time.

May is Teen Pregnancy Prevention Month. This Vital Signs report was created to help communities continue the dialogue about teen pregnancy and its burden on our nation’s youth. Visit CDC’s Teen Pregnancy website for more information.

How Poor Antibiotic Prescribing Puts Patients at Risk for Deadly Infections

Categories: Disease Detectives, Public Health Partners, U.S. Disease Outbreaks

 Yellow-green fluorescence of Clostridium difficile (or C.diff)

Antibiotics save lives, but poor prescribing practices are putting patients at unnecessary risk for preventable allergic reactions, super-resistant infections, and deadly diarrhea. Errors in prescribing practices also contribute to antibiotic resistance, making these drugs less likely to work in the future. Because we’ve used antibiotics so widely and for so long, the infectious organisms antibiotics are designed to kill have adapted to them and made the drugs less effective. Over time, if we don’t use antibiotics correctly, we’ll lose them.

“Part of [CDC’s] role is to sound the alarm about health threats and do whatever we can to address those threats,” said CDC Director Tom Frieden, M.D., M.P.H., “As an infectious disease doctor myself, I recall running out of antibiotic options for my patients, and I don’t want to see that kind of situation spread in this country.”

Antibiotic resistance is already a serious problem in U.S. healthcare. Each year in the United States, more than 2 million people become infected with bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics and 23,000 people die as a result.

New Mobile App Helps Providers Prevent Life-threatening Infections in Newborns

Categories: Innovative Labs, Public Health Partners

The phrase, “…time is of the essence,” often rings true when working to protect people from health threats. It is especially true when caring for infants.  CDC launched a new app—Prevent Group B Strep (GBS) — in October 2013 created specifically for busy health care providers on the go.

Each year about 1,200 infants less than 1 week old get early-onset group B strep disease in the United States. Group B Streptococcus bacteria, or GBS, are a leading cause of infection and death within the first week of life. These bacteria can cause life-threating infections, such as sepsis (infection of the blood), pneumonia (infection in the lungs), and meningitis (infection of the fluid and lining around the brain).

5 Fast Facts about this Year’s Flu Season

Categories: Public Health Partners, U.S. Disease Outbreaks

 

Image above: Digitally-colorized image of a collection of influenza A virions. The predominant influenza A virus this year is H1N1.

Every season, flu causes on average 200,000 Americans to go to the hospital and kills thousands to tens of thousands of people depending on the severity of the season. Because flu is unpredictable, each season is different. That’s why CDC works hard to protect people by tracking flu every season. CDC  identifies where flu viruses are circulating, those that are most affected by this season’s viruses, and communicates that information to the public.  

Here are some things to know about the 2013-2014 flu season so far and steps you can take to protect yourself from flu. 

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