March 13th 2017

The latest news on chronic, acute, and preventive care across the health care landscape

Chronic: Amazon’s Alexa Helps Celebrate Multiple Sclerosis Awareness Month with New Skill

In conjunction with March being Multiple Sclerosis (MS) Awareness Month, Acorda Therapeutics has launched a new Alexa skill called “MS Awareness Facts.” Alexa is Amazon’s cloud-based voice service, which allows voice command of the device, according to the press release. To begin using the new skill, consumers say, “Alexa, start MS Awareness.” Alexa then randomly selects a fact about MS from a repertoire of almost 50 tips and facts and reads it aloud to the user. “Education is an important component of each person’s fight against multiple sclerosis,” Michael Russo, executive director, corporate digital strategy & innovation, said in the release. “As we move towards becoming an increasingly digital society, it’s important that we provide solutions that match the way people live and work, and in this case that means voice search.”

Acute: Flu Hospitalizations Double This Year

Hospitalizations for influenza have more than doubled this winter in Montana, according to theBozeman Daily Chronicle. The latest report from the state’s Department of Health and Human Services revealed that 643 Montana residents have been hospitalized as of March 4, 2017, since the beginning of the flu season in October. In contrast, there were 339 flu hospitalizations at the end of the 2016 flu season last April. Since the start of the current flu season, 17 deaths have been reported in Montana compared with 15 in 2016. The increase in hospitalizations reflects an increase of flu cases at some assisted-living facilities, among other factors, theChroniclereported. The health department said the disease most severely impacts individuals 65 years and older. However, despite the hospitalizations, the report shows fewer influenza cases in nearly all Montana counties for this flu season.

Prevention: 17 Unvaccinated Children Dead from Measles Outbreak in Romania

Seventeen children in Romania have been killed by a measles outbreak, and thousands more have been infected since September because of poverty and the antivaccination movement, the Romania Health Minister Florian Bodog told the media. Of the 17 children who died, none had been vaccinated. Bodog urged individuals to get vaccinated because it “is the only effective way to prevent the disease,”SBSreported. Although the World Health Organization recommends 2 doses of vaccinations, 80% of Romanians received the first vaccination and only 50% received the second.

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