The MetroWest Daily News alerts us:
The state Department of Public Health issued a consumer advisory about possible gasoline odors in 3- and 5-gallon jugs of Poland Spring bottled at the company's Framingham plant that sickened at least one person.
The state blames people who used Poland Spring bottles after Sandy to transport gasoline, then returned them to the company.
Stats for last week show Boston experienced the same number of flu cases as the week before - and that ER visits for flu like symptoms actually went up.
Statewide, the number of flu cases dipped from the week before.
City statistics for the week ending Jan. 5 show Roxbury and Hyde Park had the highest percentage of emergency-room visits due to flu-like symptoms while Charlestown had the highest per-capita number of confirmed flu cases. The latest Boston Public Health Commission flu report shows a total of 750 confirmed flu cases city wide for this flu season - 231 of them since Dec. 31. Most are Influenza A with a small number of Influenza B cases.
On Wednesday, Mayor Menino declared a public-health emergency in part because health-care facilities are now at or near capacity. One out of four of the confirmed cases have been among people who had to be hospitalized; four people have died.
Neighborhood health centers are running free flu-shot clinics for Boston residents this weekend and next week.
The city plans to ring the phones - more than half belonging to senior citizens - following yesterday's declaration of a public-health emergency. A transcript:
Aside from increasing efforts to get people vaccinated, the declaration is a recognition that local hospitals are now near or at capacity due to an influx of people with flu-like symptoms.
The city plans to stock community-health centers with flu vaccine and open them this weekend to provide free doses to Boston residents. See the schedule. For more details, contact the Mayor's Health Line at 617-534-5050 9 am. to 5 p.m. on weekdays, or the Mayor's 24-hour Hotline at 617-635-4500 after hours.
Brian Benoit, 40, of South Boston, faces arraignment in Suffolk Superior Court on charges he stole the contents of 106 vials and syringes loaded with painkillers and sedatives in late summer, 2011, the Suffolk County District Attorney's office reports.
The city offered drug screening to 57 people who received shots from the tampered containers, which contained fentanyl, lorazepam, midazolam or morphine. Benoit was suspended from his job earlier this year, after an investigation by Boston EMS and police tied him to the alleged thefts. The DA's office says Benoit agreed to be tested for communicable diseases, and was found to be clean.
Have you seen the new Boston Public Health Commission ads with the guy with the blood-drenched face? Boston Biker has, and is not amused:
Helmets are good, and people should wear them. But showing a kid who looks like someone took a bat to his face is not going to get more people to ride their bike, and I think we would all be better off if more people rode their bikes, with or without helmets.
The Atlantic Cities picks up on the theme, says European cities where few wear helmets are safer for bicyclists simply because there are so many of them.
The Boston Public Health Commission has notified 57 people that they received "compromised" painkillers during ambulance rides in the summer of 2011 with a now suspended paramedic - or in his ambulance.
All 57 patients have been offered free screening for infectious diseases, and the Boston Public Health Commission is running an incident hotline staffed by trained clinicians to answer questions and provide information to these individuals. However, the department is not aware of the suspect having or transmitting an infectious disease to any patients.
The commission says the paramedic has been relieved of duty and that he or she could face criminal charges. Because of the criminal investigation, the commission says it can't say exactly how the emergency worker tampered with fentanyl, lorazepam, midazolam and morphine. The Globe reports incidents of health-care workers stealing powerful painkillers are not uncommon.
The Boston Public Health Commission reports a mosquito sample from West Roxbury has tested positive for West Nile Virus, a couple weeks after Roslindale won this year's honors for first infected neighborhood.
There have been no confirmed human cases of the infection, but health officials say the sampling means it could only be a matter of time. They urge people to wear long sleeves and pants when outdoors and use insect repellent from dusk to dawn. Also, check those screens, turn over those unused flower pots and garbage cans, haul away those old tires and cover those kiddie and swimming pools when not in use.
A student at Boston Latin School was recently diagnosed with tuberculosis and a small number of students and teachers who had been in close contact with him or her will be tested next week.
Headmaster Lynne Mooney Teta informed students about the case today:
TB is both a curable and preventable disease. TB is not transmitted by brief contact (such as passing in the hall or in the cafeteria) and exposure to a person who is sick does not usually result in infection. The student who has TB is being treated with medicine and will not return to school until it is safe for that student to return.
TB spreads through the air, but many hours of contact with someone who has active TB are usually needed for this to happen. A small number of Boston Latin School students and faculty who fall into this group will be TB tested by the [Boston Public Health Commission] next week. ...
The BPHC is not concerned that anyone else is ill. The testing is a precaution. I know that we are in good hands.
About 60 Boston residents a year are diagnosed with TB, according to BPHC statistics.
The Boston Public Health Commission has a new PSA seeking volunteers for its Boston Medical Reserve Corps, which helps out with large events and disasters. You don't have to have medical experience to apply.
Massachusetts health officials notified about measles carrier at Super Bowl festivities.
The Boston Public Health Commission yesterday enacted regulations that prohibit the sale of e-cigarettes to anyone under 18 - and their use in the workplace. the new rules will also soon make it illegal to sell single cigars and doubles the fines for violations.
Mayor Tom Menino and School Superintendent Carol Johnson issued statements:
"At this difficult time our hearts ache for the family and friends of this young student," said Mayor Thomas M. Menino. "We mourn her loss and join with the Boston Latin Academy in this hour of grief."
"Tonight, the entire Boston Public Schools community mourns the loss of one of our students," said Superintendent Carol R. Johnson. "We send our most sincere condolences to those who loved her. We have assembled a team of counselors who are ready to work with the Boston Latin Academy community in the difficult days ahead."
UPDATE: Channel 4 reports the girl has died.
A 12-year-old Boston Latin Academy student is "very, very, seriously, critically ill" with bacterial meningitis, but poses no risk to most other students, a city public-health official says.
A school nurse recognized symptoms of the potentially fatal disease when the seventh grader came into her office Friday not feeling well and had her rushed to a local hospital, Dr. Anita Barry, director of infection control at the Boston Public Health Commission said this morning.
CommonHealth alerts us to a Children's Hospital study that found kids infected with MRSA seemed to be especially at risk to death by flu. In some areas, up to 9% of kids now have the antibiotic-resistant bacteria living in their noses; such kids had an eightfold risk of severe and sometimes fatal H1N1 flu infections. And this, they say, is why kids need to get flu shots.
A Boston man in his 40s has died after coming down with the flu, the Boston Public Health Commission said today. The man was particularly vulnerable because of unspecified underlying health issues, the commission said.
The commission says everybody should get a flu shot and take other precautions to reduce the odds of contracting or spreading the virus, including frequent hand washing or sanitizing, staying home with flu symptoms and for at least one day after your fever breaks, covering your mouth when coughing and avoiding sick people.
The Boston Public Health Commission today approved draft regulations to ban the sale of "e-cgarettes" to minors, prohibit the sales of single cigars and double the fines for violating the city's tobacco-control rules.
The proposed e-cigarette regulations would cover devices that "are made of plastic and metal and heat a liquid nicotine solution in a disposable cartridge to create vapor that the smoker inhales," the board said in a statement.
There are no current laws that bar their sale to minors and already several convenience stores sell them, with more interested in pushing them, the board says. Under the proposed regulations, anybody who wants to sell e-cigarettes would require a city permit and would require the gizmos to be stored behind a counter, like cigarettes, and not sold to anyone under 18.
From the Boston Public Health Commission's Fatsmack.org, which has lots more photos of people getting smacked in the face with blobs of fat.
The Boston Public Health Commission reports latest bug testing shows mosquitoes laced with West Nile Virus are in Hyde Park, South Boston and East Boston. Earlier testing had shown germy bugs in West Roxbury, Roslindale and Dorchester.
Last week, the state raised Boston's risk of WNV from low to moderate. There have yet to be any confirmed cases of the normally mild illness in Boston people this year.
The Boston Public Health Commission today added Roslindale to the list of neighborhoods where mosquitoes have tested positive for the virus, which doesn't pose much of a threat to most people.
West Roxbury and Dorchester had already yielded virus-laden mosquitoes; the commission says new sampling in those two neighborhoods showed more germy bugs.
The Globe reports doctors at Boston Medical Center are seeing an increased number of young children suffering from malnourishment:
Many families are unable to afford enough healthy food to feed their children, say the Boston Medical Center doctors. The resulting chronic hunger threatens to leave scores of infants and toddlers with lasting learning and developmental problems.
The Boston Public Health Commission reports the latest sampling of mosquitoes shows West Nile Virus in one sample taken in Dorchester and three in West Roxbury - following the detection of the virus in other West Roxbury locations a few days earlier.
To date, nobody has been diagnosed with the mosquito-borne virus, which typically does not seriously affect otherwise healthy individuals, the commission says.