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Disney measles outbreak: For Altadena girl with leukemia, measles would be 'an end game'

Rebecca Plevin/KPCC

Brooklyn Roffman, left, with her sister, Indie. Brooklyn has leukemia, so her only protection against measles is herd immunity.

Read our Measles FAQ

The measles outbreak that began at the Disneyland theme parks in Anaheim has reminded us of the importance of herd immunity. A quick refresher: When more than 92 percent of a given population is vaccinated against measles, we say a community has herd immunity.

Herd immunity creates a type of protective wall, shielding those who can't get vaccinated from the contagious disease.

Check out how I explained it on the radio (thanks to freeSFX for sound effects):

Among those relying on this wall of immunity is 4-year-old Brooklyn Roffman of Altadena.

Brooklyn is one of those vulnerable children who can't get vaccinated for medical reasons. In Los Angeles County, 169 kids entered kindergarten this school year with a Permanent Medical Exemption, which means they can't get one or more vaccines. 


Study: Toddler meals bought off the shelf contain too much salt

Kraft Foods To Split Into Two Companies

Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

Boxes of Kraft Macaroni & Cheese sit are on a store shelf on August 4, 2011 in Los Angeles. A new report says packaged meals for toddlers have too much salt.

Packaged snacks and lunches for toddlers contain too much salt, and many have unnecessary sugar, according to a new study published Monday in The Journal of Pediatrics.

Mary Cogswell, lead study scientist at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and her colleagues studied a broad range of commercially packaged foods for infants and toddlers sold at retailers such as Target, Walmart and Costco.

They found that regardless of price — house brand or private label — toddler foods tend to be high in sodium. Meals labeled "organic" didn't equate to healthier, either.

"Just because something’s organic, doesn’t mean it's low in sodium," Cogswell said.

The worst offenders were toddler dinners, such as packaged macaroni and cheese, pasta and chicken, and pasta with meat sauce. Some 72 percent of the meals had too much salt.


I've only had one dose of the measles vaccine. What should I do?

measles infection

CDC/ Heinz F. Eichenwald, MD

This is the skin of a patient treated at a New York hospital after 3 days of measles infection, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

During the Disney measles outbreak, there's been a lot of focus on unvaccinated kids. But what about adults who may have only been partially vaccinated? What should they do? 

I've consulted with the experts, and here's what I've learned:

What is the vaccine recommendation for kids?

Children should get two doses of the measles vaccine: one dose when they're about one year old, and a second dose when they enter kindergarten. One dose is considered 95 percent effective; with two doses, the vaccine is more than 99 percent effective.

What's recommended for adults?

With adults, it's a little complicated: If you were born before 1957, health officials say you likely got the measles - or were at least exposed to it – so you're considered to have natural immunity.

But a lot of adults born after that point probably only got one dose of the vaccine.


One woman's challenge: Lower cholesterol in 3 months, without meds

Karen Perea Gannon has adopted a heart-healthy diet to lower her cholesterol.

Last month, I asked Impatient readers if their doctors had prescribed them exercise or a healthier diet as an antidote to chronic health problems.

Karen Perea Gannon, of Sherman Oaks, responded. Via email, she told me that her doctor had recently called her with some unsettling news: Her annual blood test showed she had very high cholesterol.

Here's the breakdown: her overall cholesterol count was 267; the preferred number is below 200. Her LDL (the "bad" cholesterol) was 185, while ideally it would be under 130; and her HDL (the "good" cholesterol) was 51, at the lower end of the preferred range.

Her cholesterol level - and creeping weight - were scary, but not necessarily surprising. As she put it, "I knew exactly where my health was: In the toilet!"

Gannon explained that she had been dealing with the stress of work and caring for her aging parents. Along with – or maybe as a symptom of – that, "my gym membership had been forgotten, and my eating habits were terrible," she wrote. "I had put on 15 pounds in a year, when I should have been working on losing 15!" 


NYC requires flu shots for day care, preschool. Should Calif.?

baby vaccine bandaid

Photo by Erik Bishoff via Flickr Creative Commons

During the 2013-2014 flu season, the Golden State lagged behind Connecticut and New Jersey in flu shots for kids.

Has your child received the influenza vaccine during this year's flu season?

Starting this year, children attending New York City-licensed day care centers and preschools must have received at least one dose of the flu vaccine by December 31, or risk being excluded from school, according to this New York Times article. All children should get two doses of the flu vaccine each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

The new regulation requires facilities to track whether kids have received the flu vaccination, according to this FAQ from the city health department.

"The city had been lagging behind the national average in preschool flu immunization rates, and officials are expecting that the new mandate will help," Times reporter Sharon Otterman writes.