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Hundreds Quarantined After Measles Outbreak at L.A. Universities

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  • The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health issued a quarantine order for UCLA and Cal State LA on Thursday.
  • The quarantine is for those who have been exposed to confirmed cases of measles and cannot provide proof of their immunizations.
  • The quarantine can last up to 21 days until there is no longer a risk of spreading the disease.

Quarantines at Los Angeles County Universities

The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health issued a quarantine order on Thursday for anyone at the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) or California State University Los Angeles (Cal State LA) that has been exposed to measles.

“In this situation, for those exposed to a confirmed case of measles who could not provide evidence of two doses of measles immunizations or lab verified immunity to measles, a Health Office Order for quarantine is being issued,” according to a press release from the Department of Public Health.  

The order explains that those who have been exposed to measles should remain in their homes, notify Public Health of their symptoms, and avoid all contact with others. The quarantine can last up to 21 days from the date of exposure. After that time, individuals who have been exposed to measles are no longer at risk of contracting or spreading the disease.

The LA County Department of Public Health also reiterated in its statement how contagious the illness is, noting that a sneeze or cough can remain in the air, spreading the virus for up to two hours. It also stated that approximately 90 percent of people exposed to the disease develop measles within seven to 21 days of the exposure.

The Los Angeles Times reported that more than 900 students and staff members at Cal State LA and UCLA were quarantine this week and told to stay home. However, as of Friday, that number had dropped to about 700 as people proved they had received the vaccine. All of these quarantines stem from the five confirmed cases in L.A. County this year, which include a UCLA student and a Cal State L.A. student, according to the Times.

UCLA and Cal State LA Responses

UCLA said in a statement about the outbreak that eight faculty members and 119 students were quarantined by the Department of Public Health. On Thursday, 45 of those patients were released once UCLA was able to prove their immunity to the disease. On Friday morning, school officials announced that only one student remains in quarantine.

The University said that most people are expected to remain quarantined for only 24 to 48 hours until they can prove they have been immunized, though a few may have to remain in quarantine for seven days.

However, Cal State LA said in a statement that they intend to follow the Department of Public Health protocol, and enforce the 21-day quarantine.
“When Public Health identifies a person who has been exposed to measles and does not have written verification of two vaccination doses,” Cal State LA wrote in their statement. “They will be subjected to quarantine of up to 21 days from the date of exposure. This will be enforced by a Health Officer Order.”

On Friday, Cal State LA reported 550 students and 106 staff members were still under quarantine. A campus spokesperson told the Los Angeles Times that out of the 1,000 students living on campus, none were under quarantine.

The Vaccine

According to the Center for Disease Control, measles was eliminated from the United States back in 2000. California, with its high tourist rates, was still at risk since the virus is mostly spread through travel. The CDC says measles is a common disease throughout the world and advises against traveling internationally without the vaccine.

The California Department of Public Health and all the University of California schools began to create new policies in an attempt to combat the spread of preventable diseases. These efforts included requiring incoming students to receive vaccinations for certain communicable diseases including measles.

Previous Coverage on Measles Outbreaks.

The statement from the Department of Public Health also encouraged unvaccinated individuals to get immunized. The statement noted that the measles vaccine MMR is 97 percent effective and encourages everyone to receive their immunizations.

For more information about the measles vaccine, please visit: https://www.vaccines.gov/diseases/measles

See what others are saying: (The New York Times) (CNN) (Los Angeles Times)

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FDA Authorizes Moderna and J&J COVID Vaccine Boosters, Approves Mix-and-Match Doses

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The approval will allow at-risk Americans who received Pfizer and Moderna vaccines to get any booster six months after their initial series and all Johnson & Johnson recipients 18 and older to do the same two months after their single-shot dose.


New FDA Authorization

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on Wednesday authorized boosters shots of Moderna and Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccines and approved a mix-and-match strategy that will allow people who got one company’s shot to get a booster from a different maker.

The decision paves the way for millions of more at-risk Americans to get extra protection, and not just certain Pfizer recipients as previously approved by the FDA.

Under the authorization, people who received Moderna or Pfizer can get any one of the three booster shots six months after completing their initial series if they are 65 and older, at high risk of severe COVID, or face increased exposure because of their work.

Meanwhile, all J&J recipients 18 and older can get any of the approved vaccines two months after they received the one-shot jab.

Hazy Recommendations, For Now

Notably, the FDA did not recommend a certain combination of vaccines, nor did the agency say whether or not it would be more effective for people to stick with their original vaccine maker for their booster.

The new authorizations draw on a study from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), which found that there are no safety concerns with mixing boosters and that vaccine combinations were at least as effective in stimulating antibodies as matched vaccines.

In the case of J&J recipients, the NIH found that people actually had a higher boost from mixing either Moderna or Pfizer boosters.

However, some of the scientists who worked on the study said it should not be used to recommend one combination over another because the research was limited.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which determines vaccine recommendations, could issue more guidance on when and whether people should switch vaccine makers for their booster shots.

An advisory panel for the agency is meeting Thursday to discuss the new FDA authorizations and recommendations.

Once the panel makes its decision, the CDC director has the final say on the guidelines. If the agency agrees with the FDA’s decisions, the booster shots could be rolled out as soon as this weekend.

See what others are saying: (The New York Times) (NPR) (The Washington Post)

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Paris Hilton Urges Lawmakers To Crack Down on Abusive Teen Treatment Facilities

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The heiress alleges that she was a victim of abuse in these types of centers for two years and wants to ensure that no child suffers through the same experience.


Paris Hilton Details Abuse Within “Troubled Teen Industry”

Socialite and entrepreneur Paris Hilton spoke outside of the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday to support the Accountability for Congregate Care Act, which is set to be introduced in the near future.

Hilton joined Rep. Ro Khanna (D-CA), Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.), and Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) to advocate for the legislation, which aims to create a “bill of rights” for children in treatment and behavioral centers.

The heiress has alleged that she spent two of her teenage years in these types of facilities and was subject to rampant abuse. She is far from alone. 

During a press conference, Hilton said that one night when she was 16, she woke up to two large men in her bedroom forcing her out of her house. She said she screamed for help because she thought she was being kidnapped, but her parents watched as she was taken away to a “troubled teen” program. 

“Like countless other parents of teens, my parents had searched for solutions to my rebellious behavior,” she explained in an op-ed for The Washington Post this week. “Unfortunately, they fell for the misleading marketing of the ‘troubled teen industry’ — therapeutic boarding schools, military-style boot camps, juvenile justice facilities, behavior modification programs and other facilities that generate roughly $50 billion annually in part by pitching ‘tough love’ as the answer to problematic behavior.”

Hilton said she was sent to four different facilities where she was “physically and psychologically abused.” 

“I was strangled, slapped across the face, watched in the shower by male staff, called vulgar names, forced to take medication without a diagnosis, not given a proper education, thrown into solitary confinement in a room covered in scratch marks and smeared in blood and so much more,” she explained during the press conference. 

“At Provo Canyon School in Utah, I was given clothes with a number on the tag. I was no longer me, I was only number 127,” she continued. “I was forced to stay indoors for 11 months straight, no sunlight, no fresh air. These were considered privileges.”

Goals of the  Accountability for Congregate Care Act

Hilton claims that a lack of transparency and accountability has allowed this structure of abuse to thrive for decades. In some cases, she said it has taken children’s lives. Now, she wants Congress and President Joe Biden to act. 

“This bill creates an urgently needed bill of rights to ensure that every child placed into congregate care facilities is provided a safe and humane environment,” Hilton said of the Accountability for Congregate Care Act.

“This bill of rights provides protections that I wasn’t afforded, like access to education, to the outdoors, freedom from abusive treatment, and even the basic right to move and speak freely. If I had these rights and could have exercised them, I would have been saved from over 20 years of trauma and severe PTSD.” 

Foster children, children being treated for mental disorders, and other children in youth programs would be impacted by the bill.

Hilton was one of several survivors and advocates who fought for the legislation on Wednesday. Rep. Khanna thanked them for using their stories to fight for change. 

“No child should be subjected to solitary confinement, forced labor, or any form of institutional abuse,” he wrote. “Thanks to Paris Hilton, my colleagues & the survivors & advocates who joined us today to discuss how we can hold the congregate care industry accountable.”

While only Democratic legislators are currently sponsoring the bill, Hilton called for a bipartisan effort to fight for the rights of children. 

Ensuring that children are safe from institutional abuse isn’t a Republican or Democratic issue,” Hilton said. “It’s a basic human rights issue that requires immediate attention.”

See what others are saying: (The Washington Post) (The Hill) (NBC News)

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Surgeons Successfully Test Pig Kidney Transplant on a Human

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The procedure has been hailed as a major scientific breakthrough that could eventually open the door to a renewable source of desperately needed organs.


Groundbreaking Procedure

Surgeons at the NYU Langone Transplant Institute revealed Tuesday that they temporarily attached a kidney from a genetically modified pig to a human patient and found that it worked normally.

The operation was the first of its kind and could one day lead to a vast supply of organs for those who are in severe need. According to the Associated Press, more than 90,000 people in the U.S. are in line for a kidney transplant. Each day, an average of 12 die while waiting.

With the family’s consent, the groundbreaking procedure was performed on a brain-dead patient who was kept alive on a ventilator.

According to the surgeons, the pig used was genetically engineered to grow an organ that wouldn’t produce a sugar that the human immune system attacks, which would then trigger the body to reject the kidney. 

The organ was connected to blood vessels on the patient’s upper leg, outside the abdomen, and it was observed for over 54 hours, with doctors finding no signs of rejection.

Concerns and Hurdles Ahead

While the procedure was successful, this doesn’t mean it’ll be available to patients anytime soon. Several questions about long-term functionality remain, and it will still have to go through significant medical and regulatory hurdles. 

Details of the procedure haven’t even been peer-reviewed or published in a medical journal yet, though there are plans for this. 

Experts are also considering the ethical implications of this type of animal-to-human transplant. For some, raising pigs to harvest their organs raises concerns about animal welfare and exploitation. Such medical procedures have already earned criticism from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, or PETA.

“Pigs aren’t spare parts and should never be used as such just because humans are too self-centered to donate their bodies to patients desperate for organ transplants,” PETA said in a statement, according to The New York Times.

On the other side of the debate are people like Dr. Robert Montgomery, the director of the N.Y.U. Langone Transplant Institute who performed the breakthrough procedure in September.

“I certainly understand the concern and what I would say is that currently about 40% of patients who are waiting for a transplant die before they receive one,” he told BBC.

“We use pigs as a source of food, we use pigs for medicinal uses – for valves, for medication. I think it’s not that different.”

See what others are saying: (CNN)(BBC) (The New York Times)

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