Wednesday Briefing

Federal panel urges whooping cough vaccine for all adults 65 and older. A key goal of the recommendation, made today by the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, is to prevent older adults from spreading the disease to infants, who are most vulnerable. Whooping cough is a highly contagious bacterial disease that in rare cases can be fatal. It leads to severe coughing that causes children to make a distinctive whooping sound as they gasp for breath. Contributing to the push to vaccinate more adults was a California whooping cough epidemic in 2010 that infected 9,000. The Associated Press

Combination vaccine slightly raises immediate risk of fever-related seizures, Danish study finds. Researchers tracked children who received a single-shot vaccine against diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough, polio and Haemophilus influenzae type 2, an immunization known as DTap-IPV-Hib. They found, however, that the chance of having a seizure was still small after the shots, and kids who got them weren’t any more likely to develop epilepsy than those who weren’t vaccinated. What’s more, although there was evidence of a slightly higher risk of seizures on the day of the shot,  researchers found that the risk for vaccinated children dipped below average within a few days. Taking the whole week after vaccination into account, there didn’t appear to be any increased risk of seizures. Reuters

Pennsylvania candy plant cited for nine workplace violations after protests by foreign student workers. The Occupational Health and Safety Administration lodged most of its charges, and is proposing fines of $283,000, against Excel Inc., the operator of the Palmyra, Pa., packing plant. OSHA said six of those violations were willful, the federal agency’s most serious charge, and involved failing to report injuries and illnesses and failing to protect workers’ hearing. OSHA also proposed a $5,000 fine against SHS Staffing Solutions, which it accused of failing to train foreign students who it helped place into jobs at the plant. The students’ protests over working conditions last summer drew widespread attention. The Associated Press, The Patriot News, OSHA

Republican-affiliated climate scientists express frustration with GOP leaders’ denial of global warming. “No GOP candidates or policymakers want to touch the issue, and those of us trying to educate them are left frustrated,” said Kerry Emanuel, an atmospheric scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a registered Republican. None of the candidates vying for the GOP nomination acknowledges the widespread scientific agreement that global warming stems mainly from the buildup of greenhouse gases produced by burning fossil fuels. InsideClimate News

Federal regulators act to resolve shortages of two leading cancer drugs. In one move, the Food and Drug Administration is allowing temporary imports of Lipodox, an alternative to Doxil, which is used to treat ovarian cancer and other diseases. Separately, the FDA approved a new company, APP Pharmaceuticals, to make preservative-free methotrexate, a drug used to treat children with leukemia. It also asked other companies for increased production of the medication. FDA officials said the actions should relieve the shortages, which stem from production problems at an Ohio drug plant, within weeks. Reuters, The Associated Press

Recalls:  2008-2009 Honda Odyssey minivans, Honda All-Terrain Vehicles, Fuji Saratoga women’s bicycles, PRO Atherton mountain bicycle handlebar stems, Pro Armor latches for utility vehicle doors, Healthy People dietary supplements

Compiled by Stuart Silverstein

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