There's growing concern about the risks of concussions in young athletes. For years, high school coaches have had to take courses on the dangers of head injuries. This year, for the first time, all high school athletes in Florida are required to educate themselves about concussions before they can compete.

Some new evidence this is a particularly bad flu season: Flu-related hospitalizations of the elderly are the highest since the government started tracking that statistic nine years ago.

  CDC officials released the new flu season numbers on Friday.About 198 out of every 100,000 people 65 and older have been hospitalized with flu-related illness this flu season. That's roughly 86,000, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Preven­tion.

Associated Press

In the midst of a worrisome flu season, health officials are pushing doctors to prescribe antiviral medicines.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Friday sent a new alert to doctors, advising prompt use of Tamiflu and other antivirals for hospitalized flu patients and those at higher risk for complications like pneumonia.CDC research suggests doctors prescribe antivirals to one in five high-risk flu patients. CDC officials say the number should be higher.

The flu vaccine may not be very effective this winter, according to U.S. health officials, who worry this may lead to more serious illnesses and deaths.

Flu season has begun to ramp up, and officials say the vaccine does not protect well against the dominant strain seen most commonly so far this year. That strain tends to cause more deaths and hospitalizations, especially in the elderly.

Lottie Watts / WUSF

Health experts say changing your eating habits is one way to avoid becoming overweight or obese.

But anyone who has tried a new diet knows it can be really tough -- even when you're facing serious health consequences. So some people are trying out free cooking classes with a professional chef to help make better choices about what they eat.

Associated Press

Gov. Rick Scott defended his decision to monitor anyone coming from Ebola-affected countries, saying Monday it's "the right thing to do" to protect Floridians. 

Appearing beside New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie at a campaign event in Wellington, Scott said his executive order would ensure that the state wards off an outbreak and goes beyond actions by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

"I want to make sure that ... we don't do what CDC did — they got behind," he said. "We're not going to get behind. We're going to be prepared."

Most Americans have some confidence that the U.S. health care system will prevent Ebola from spreading in this country, but they're not so sure their local hospital can safely handle a patient, according to an Associated Press-GfK poll.

Amid worry here, most Americans say the U.S. also should be doing more to stop Ebola in West Africa. Health authorities have been clear: Until that epidemic ends, travelers could unknowingly carry the virus anywhere.

Orlando Woman Shares Anti-Smoking Message (VIDEO)

Sep 24, 2014

 The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has a new ally in its graphic anti-smoking campaign.

Even though the CDC's “Tips from Former Smokers” ads are aimed at adults, Felicita Soto of Orlando says she hopes kids will get the message.  She started smoking when she was in the sixth grade. 

Mary Shedden/WUSF

Florida lags behind the rest of the country in vaccinating children for the human papillomavirus. 

Part of the problem started eight years ago, when the HPV vaccine was introduced as a way to prevent a sexually transmitted infection that researchers knew was a major cause of cervical cancer and other disease.

But the shots are recommended for 11- and 12-year-old children. And talking about a vaccine tied to sexual activity made some parents and pediatricians squirm.

Wikimedia Commons

Health officials say a mosquito-borne illness that had afflicted Floridians who traveled to the Caribbean has now been transmitted within the state.

The Florida Department of Health on Thursday reported the first locally acquired cases of Chikungunya. A 41-year-old woman in Miami-Dade County and a 50-year-old man in Palm Beach County are out of the hospital and recovering from the illness, which is serious but rarely fatal.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reports prescription pill related deaths in Florida fell sharply in the past few years.

State officials have said it’s a sign laws aimed at cracking down on “pill mills” in the Sunshine State are working. But, addiction specialists say the crackdown has had some unintended consequences. 


Lethal forms of antibiotic-resistant bacteria have struck hundreds of patients in a dozen health-care facilities in Florida since 2008,  but state health officials have not required them to share their information and have not alerted the public, the Palm Beach Post reports.

A 62-year-old Lakeland man bitten on the neck by a spider six months ago has died from complications, the Lakeland Ledger reports.

In August, Ronald Reese was performing construction work in an old house when he was bitten by a brown recluse spider, his father told the Ledger. Reese later collapsed, and over the course of six months, endured a series of hospitalizations and a great deal of pain, his father said.

Seniors looking for love need to remember they aren’t immune from sexually transmitted disease, Palm Beach Post columnist Steve Dorfman writes.


Miami’s city commission voted unanimously Thursday to ban e-cigarette sales to minors.  The measure, which would also prohibit vending machine sales of e-cigarettes, would become law in Miami in 30 days if the commission backs it during a second reading, the Miami Herald reports.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports e-cigarette use among high school and middle school students more than doubled in 2012, from 3.3 to 6.8 percent.  

So Are 2 Drinks A Day Really Too Many?

Jan 8, 2014

A lot of us are drinking too much, and on Tuesday the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention called us on it.

More than eight drinks a week for women and 15 drinks a week for men can get you into trouble, the CDC warned.

But that doesn't seem to jibe with other studies that found that drinking alcohol makes for better heart health, several Shots commenters noted. Shana Cuddy wrote:

Across the state, four out of 10 people who come to hospital emergency rooms with nonfatal gunshot wounds were shot by accident, according to the Orlando Sentinel (paywall alert). The rate is even higher in Orange County, with accidents accounting for more than half of firearm-related ER visits.

The teen smoking rate in Florida is at a record low, according to a new national report. As the Orlando Sentinel reports, the national rate is 15.8 percent; Florida’s is much lower at 8.6 percent. The Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids says Florida’s anti-tobacco campaign is so effective they point to as a “model.” 

A salmonella outbreak from undercooked chicken that has affected 18 states including Florida appears to have struck just at the worst time: when most epidemiologists at the Centers for Disease Control are on furlough.

Here at The Salt, we've been following the controversies that surround antibiotic use on the farm. Farmers give these drugs to chickens, swine and beef cattle, either to keep the animals healthy or to make them grow faster. Critics say it's contributing to an epidemic of drug-resistant bacteria not just on the farm, but among people, too.

Tampa Metropolitan YMCA

For the first time in a long time, Florida's children aren't getting heavier.

The Centers for Disease Control credits the drop, at least in part, to First Lady Michelle Obama's "Let's Move!" campaign.

A TV ad from the Marijuana Policy Project that says marijuana is less toxic than alcohol is mostly true, according to PolitiFact. The Centers for Disease Control's National Center for Health Statistics doesn’t have any records of deaths caused by marijuana, but attributes 41,682 deaths to alcohol in 2010. 

NIAID / Flickr

Two Tampa Bay Buccaneers football players are fighting MRSA infections, a type of staph infection that's resistant to some antibiotics. 

According to the Centers for Disease Control, athletic facilities are especially risky for MRSA infections, given the close physical contact and the likelihood of cuts and scrapes during practices. 

According to the latest "F as in Fat" report from the Trust for America's Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Florida still has a serious obesity problem. 

Although the rate decreased slightly from 26.6 percent in 2011 to 25.2 percent in 2012, researchers say the lower numbers aren't statistically significant. They call the changes a "leveling off," not a decrease.

Across the country, every state except for Arkansas had a slightly lower adult obesity rate. Researchers caution there's still a long way to go, and note people who are obese are at risk for much worse health outcomes and higher health costs. 

"The numbers were essentially flat from last year," said Jeff Levi, executive director of the Trust for America's Health. "That's the first time  in the 10 years we've been doing this report, and in the many years the CDC has been following theses trends, that we've seen that kind of leveling off, so that's a very hopeful sign."


A 12-year-old Southwest Florida boy is fighting for his life in Miami Children’s Hospital after playing in water that was contaminated with Naegleria fowleri, a rare and deadly organism that attacks the brain, the Fort Myers News-Press reports. According to the CDC, just one person has recovered from primary amebic meningoencephalitis out of the 128 who were infected in the U.S.

While alcohol- and tobacco-related deaths have been documented, both substances remain legal, providing a source of tax revenue.  In his column in the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, Kingsley Guy writes that while marijuana may not be entirely benign, data indicate that it is no worse than alcohol and tobacco, and may be less harmful.  He goes on to argue the benefits of legalization.

FL KidCare

A report released by the CDC Tuesday shows that the rates of childhood obesity are declining in 19 states and that Florida is one of the five states showing the best results, a full percentage point drop.  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s study focused on low-income children, a group at high risk for obesity, according to the

Three quarters of new mothers gave breast-feeding a try in 2010, and mothers are sticking with breast-feeding longer, according to federal data.

Almost 50 percent of babies are still being breast-fed at least sometime at 6 months of age, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That's up from 35 percent in 2000.

The number of babies breast-feeding at 12 months also rose, from 16 percent in 2000 to 27 percent in 2010. Go moms!

Joe Buckingham

Hundreds of people, including 24 in Florida, contracted a severe stomach bug that health officials suspect may have been caused by a bagged salad mix, the Associated Press reports.  One of the Florida patients was hospitalized, the health department reports, but none have died. The CDC has confirmed 372 cases of of cyclospora infections in 15 states. 

Michael Wilson / Lakeland Ledger

Even though the CDC says the HPV vaccination is even more effective than expected, many parents still aren’t getting their children vaccinated. Doctors say cost can be issue, since insurance doesn’t always cover the series of the three shots, the Lakeland Ledger reports. Other parents simply opt out of all vaccines for their children. Meanwhile, doctors insist the vaccine is safe, and is the key to preventing thousands of cases of cervical cancer.