Vaccines & Immunizations

Sanofi Pasteur / Patrick Boulen

Chikungunya is a debilitating inflammatory virus carried by mosquitoes. The University of Iowa is one of three sites in the U.S. that is enrolling participants for a clinical trial of an experimental vaccine for chikungunya. The illness has been found in the U.S.

Amy Mayer/IPR

In a hog barn near Odebolt, veterinarian Paul Thomas's approach sends pigs scurrying. He watches for unusual behavior. As he walks the length of the barn, Thomas notices one of the two-month-old hogs nestled against the railing at the edge of its pen and reaches over to gently pet the pig's back. The pig shakes its head and drowsily gets up.

 

"He's just sleepy," Thomas says, and by the time he's spoken the words, the pig has trotted off to join its pen-mates.

 

Amy Mayer/IPR file photo

Bacteria containing a gene that confers resistance to an important class of antibiotics have been found at a swine farm in the U.S., raising the troubling concern that one of the last lines of defense against hard-to-fight infections may be failing.

The drugs, called carbapenems, are used to fight infections resistant to more-common medicines and are banned for use in livestock.

Schools across Iowa are beginning classes this week amid concerns from public health officials about the drop in vaccination rates. At many schools, the percentage of students fully vaccinated is below 90 percent, and at a few around the state, it's below 50 percent. 

State Epidemiologist Dr. Patricia Quinlisk says more families are seeking exemptions from vaccinations for a variety of reasons. 

"One of the reasons is that people no longer have seen these diseases and therefore don't realize how bad they can be," she explains. 

University of Michigan School of Natural Resources & Environment/Flickr

Scientists have discovered a third instance of a bacteria resistant to one of the strongest antibiotics available, raising concerns about the spread of so-called "superbugs."

Researchers found E. coli bacteria resistant to the antibiotic colistin in a pig at an Illinois slaughterhouse, a U.S. Department of Agriculture spokesperson said earlier this week. Colistin is often used against bacteria that fail to respond to more common antibiotics.

IPR Photo by Amy Mayer

Consumer demand, public health concerns and new federal rules all are driving the pork industry away from routine use of certain antibiotics. Booths at the World Pork Expo, a three-day event underway this week at the State Fairgrounds in Des Moines, reflect the move away from antibiotics.

Photo by Amy Mayer

On a cold windy morning, Kelly Nissen feeds the cows at the Iowa State University Beef Nutrition Farm north of Ames. Far from just tossing hay, he weighs out specific rations and carefully delivers them to numbered feed bunks.

"When you're feeding, you’re always double-checking yourself to make sure it's going in the right lot," Nissen says.

 

Harvest Public Media file photo by Grant Gerlock

Some of the most important medicines doctors prescribe to fight infections are losing effectiveness and the Obama Administration is calling on farmers to help turn the tide against antibiotic-resistant bacteria. A recent report by the president's advisors on antibiotic resistance charts some progress but also left some critics urging for more immediate action.

Flickr / Loren Kerns

Iowa’s deputy state epidemiologist says people should start thinking about getting vaccinated against the flu. 

Dr. Ann Garvey says this is the best way to avoid getting sick and prevent transmission, even in years when the vaccine is less effective. Last year the virus changed after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention developed the 2014-2015 vaccine, which made it less effective.

Mark / flickr / https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/legalcode

Last year's legislation that decriminalized possession of cannabis oil for treatment of chronic epilepsy has not changed much for Iowa patients hoping to use the drug for treatment.

Sanofi Pasteur

Measles is on the rise in the U.S. More than 100 people nationwide have been diagnosed in January alone.

Sanofi Pasteur / Flickr

Earlier this week in the midst of a measles outbreak at Disneyland, Rand Paul stated that vaccinations should be voluntary.

Amy Mayer/IPR file photo

In the budget President Obama is sending to Congress he’s asking for more than a billion dollars to combat antibiotic resistance, and some of that money would focus on animal agriculture.

Antibiotic resistance can make common medications ineffective, meaning sick people don’t get better and doctors have fewer options to treat bacterial infections.  

Amanda Hatfield

Today's River to River examines the diagnosis of depression, treatment options, and the possibility of prescribing anti-depressants to people with mild symptoms of depression or even merely sadness. Guests also evaluate how depression in farmers is treated and viewed differently than others.

John Pemble / Iowa Public Radio

Happy Friday! Here's your news buzz wrap-up for the week...

Joyce Russell, IPR’s Statehouse Correspondent, recaps the 2014 Iowa legislative session:

Paul Sleeper, Fisheries Biologist for Iowa DNR, explains that fishy smell near your lakes and ponds:

Alan Light / Flickr

Since its beginning, the conservation movement has been focused on preserving the natural places we still have, but Joe Whitworth, president of the Freshwater Trust, says that is not good enough.  Host Charity Nebbe talks to Whitworth about his work restoring freshwater ecosystems, how he believes that clean water can co-exist with profitable agriculture, and the future of conservation.  

Sheep Purple / flickr

University of Iowa clinical associate professor in the Department of Epidemiology, Michael Pentella, joined host Ben Kieffer on the talk show "River to River" to talk about the state of antibiotic resistance in the country. The discussion focused on tuberculosis, since ISU researchers are currently studying an extensively antibiotic resistant strain of the disease that is growing in parts of the world.

To hear the full show, visit the "River to River" page here.

Carissa Byers / Flickr

In Iowa, the average amount of tuberculosis (TB) cases is 30-50 a year. In the U.S., TB affects an estimated 10 to 15 million people.