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LATEST NEWS HIGHLIGHTS

Norovirus Cases Continue to Climb in the U.S., Especially in the Northeast

The CDC reports a rise in norovirus cases in the country, particularly in the Northeast, with over 12% of tests coming back positive for the week ending February 17. This highly contagious virus causes gastrointestinal symptoms, and outbreaks are common in late fall, winter, and early spring.

 

While the current rates are lower than the same period last season, the CDC emphasizes that norovirus causes 19-21 million illnesses annually, often in crowded settings. The CDC advises handwashing, proper food preparation, and avoiding contaminated surfaces to prevent the spread of norovirus. Read more from CNN here.

Edible Plant-Based Vaccine TOMAVAC Shows Promising Defense Against COVID-19

Scientists from Uzbekistan have unveiled a novel antiviral vaccine derived from a tomato plant and genetic vectors to fight against COVID-19. The innovative vaccine, named TOMAVAC, is distinct in that it can be consumed directly from the tomato plant.

 

Scientists created a transgenic tomato, TOMAVAC, which produces a key protein of the virus. Feeding mice with TOMAVAC resulted in a significant increase in virus-fighting antibodies in their blood and intestines. These antibodies showed 15-25% neutralizing activity against the virus. Initial trials in humans also demonstrated a steady increase in antibodies without severe side effects, suggesting TOMAVAC's safety and potential effectiveness. Read the study here.

Adolescent Immunization Toolkit

The Association of Immunization Managers (AIM) Adolescent Immunization Toolkit provides insights strategies to enhance and improve the vaccination delivery through adolescence, from middle school to college. The Adolescent Immunization Resource Guide section overviews programmatic activities, key lessons learned, and downloadable resources to help you address low adolescent immunization rates Explore the Adolescent Immunization Toolkit from AIM here.

FEATURED TOPICS

Six Steps to Using AI in Your Communication Strategies

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In the realm of public health communications, the rapid emergence and integration of Artificial Intelligence (AI) is ushering in a transformative era. As a comprehensive leader in communications, public relations and marketing technologies, the Cision company understands the importance of embracing AI’s capabilities early in its development stages as a critical element in the future of addressing complex challenges, bolstering crisis response, and ultimately improving the health outcomes of communities worldwide.

During the Cision-sponsored showcase session “AI & the Future of Crisis Comms,” at the 2023 National Conference on Health Communication, Marketing & Media (NCHCMM), its panelists shared key findings and insights derived from real-life crises before delving into a focused conversation on how AI is re-shaping crisis communications in healthcare and empowering healthcare communications teams.

As a supplement to that inspiring and insightful discussion, Cision has followed up with six ways public health communicators, at all levels, can integrate the enormous power of AI tools into their daily work processes. The NCHCMM management team is happy to share these steps as part of our ongoing efforts to keep public health communicators informed and up to date on the evolution of public health communication in a changing world.   

Please click here to access the Six Steps to Using AI in Your Communication Strategies.

Gun Violence is the Number One Public Health Threat

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Many of the health threats that plagued Americans several decades ago—such as unclean drinking water, bacterial and viral illnesses, and the consequences from behaviors such as smoking cigarettes and not wearing seatbelts—have been successfully diminished. These health threats were reduced thanks in part to the work of public health initiatives. 

However, a significant public health threat lingers without much hope on the horizon for a definitive resolution – the threat of gun violence. 

Unfortunately, results from a recent Axios/Ipsos American Health Index poll indicate that the majority of Americans surveyed now name gun violence in their communities as the number one health threat, followed closely by the threat of the opioid epidemic. 

The discussion of gun violence is intrinsically linked to political divisiveness. However, regardless of political lines, the threat to everyday Americans’ safety remains. The more that public health communicators and health organizations can reframe the issue of gun violence as a salient public health threat, the more progress may be made to ensure that Americans are safe. 

Here’s what you need to know about the state of gun violence in 2023 and how this kind of violence represents a threat to public health. 

U.S. Preparedness for the Next Pandemic

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The end of the COVID-19 public health emergency (PHE) declaration came on May 11, 2023. One significant lesson emerging from the COVID crisis is that the U.S. and most of the world were unprepared for it. Furthermore, the World Health Organization (WHO) and other agencies stress that it is never too soon to prepare for the next global emergency. 

Will the U.S. be able to respond to the next global public health crisis?  

“We Cannot Kick This Can Down the Road” 

While it may feel like the country is winding down from the effects of COVID, many public health leaders and experts warn against complacency and inaction. Instead, they urge governments to negotiate policies and enact legislation to prepare for the next pandemic. 

At this year’s United Nations annual assembly, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus stressed the inevitability of the next pandemic. He claimed, “We cannot kick this can down the road” because it is only a matter of when, not if, the next public health threat will emerge. 

The WHO is drafting a pandemic treaty that the member states will vote on in next year’s general assembly. This new treaty represents an agreement including more than 200 recommended actions countries can take to improve global security. Also, the treaty’s call to action covers the entire spectrum from pathogen identification to widespread vaccination. 

Recognizing June as National Men’s Health Month

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Men and women should be proactive about their health. However, some health issues pertain specifically to men. Each June, healthcare organizations around the country recognize Men’s Health Month as a way to encourage men to take care of their health and prevent future illnesses. 

National Men’s Health Month can also serve as a helpful nudge for some men who are reluctant to discuss health issues with their medical providers. 

Whether you work in public health, are a man, or are a person who loves a man, raising awareness about specific men’s health concerns is a great way to recognize Men’s Health Month this June. 

This article will show you how to encourage men to take care of their bodies, prevent disease, and seek medical attention to stay well. Furthermore, supporting men’s health overall can also help men in minority groups stay healthier. 

How Can Men Stay Healthy Over the Long Term? 

Staying healthy as a man means maximizing one’s longevity and taking steps to avoid the development of disease. This lifelong mission boils down to a few key pillars of healthy living that include exercising, healthy eating, and sleeping enough. And avoiding habits that can impact your long-term health, such as smoking cigarettes or drinking heavily. 


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