Federal Agency Updates

CDC Issues Health Update on Rabies Vaccine
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On August 22, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a Health Update regarding the limited supply of rabies vaccine which may affect the near-term availability of vaccine for rabies post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP). Because of limited existing supplies, the CDC strongly recommends that health care providers, state and local public health authorities, animal control officials, and the public take immediate steps to ensure appropriate use of human rabies biologics.

FBI Science Briefing On the Anthrax Investigation
FBI Web Page

On August 18, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) provided a science briefing regarding the anthrax investigation. The opening statement of the briefing presented by Vahid Majidi, Assistant Director for the FBI’s Weapons of Mass Destruction Directorate, is posted on the FBI website. To read the statement and to access other information about the investigation, go to the FBI web page.

MMWR: Measles, United States, January - July 2008
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The August 22 Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) includes an update of an earlier report on measles in the United States during 2008 and summarizes two recent U.S outbreaks among unvaccinated school aged children. The findings demonstrate that measles outbreaks can occur in communities with a high number of unvaccinated persons and that maintaining high overall measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccination coverage rates in the United States is needed to continue to limit the spread of measles.

NIH Report on Bacterial Pneumonia and the 1918 Influenza Pandemic
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A recent article published by the National Institutes of Health/National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases reports that the majority of deaths during the influenza pandemic of 1918-1919 were not caused by the influenza virus acting alone. The report states that most victims succumbed to bacterial pneumonia following influenza virus infection. The authors conclude that comprehensive pandemic preparations should include not only efforts to produce new or improved influenza vaccines and antiviral drugs but also provisions to stockpile antibiotics and bacterial vaccines as well.

CDC Publishes Online Storybook on Pandemic Influenza Survivors
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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently released an online storybook containing narratives from survivors, families, and friends who lived through the 1918 and 1957 influenza pandemics. The purpose of the storybook is to provide insight for public health officials preparing for the possibility of another pandemic sometime in our future.
CMS Posts Revised Advanced Beneficiary Notice on Website
For More Information

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid (CMS) recently posted on the CMS website its revised Advanced Beneficiary Notice (ABN), which replaces the existing laboratory specific ABN (ABN-L) and the general ABN (ABN-G). ABNs are used for all situations where Medicare payment is expected to be denied. The revised ABN has a new official title, the “Advance Beneficiary Notice of Noncoverage” in order to more clearly convey the purpose of the ABN and may be used for voluntary notifications, in place of the Notice of Exclusion from Medicare Benefits (NEMB). One significant change in the revised ABN is that it includes a mandatory field for cost estimates of the items/services at issue. In addition, it includes a new beneficiary option, under which an individual may choose to receive an item/service, and pay for it out-of-pocket rather than have a claim submitted to Medicare. Although some providers, including laboratories are already using the revised ABN, the official implementation date is March 3, 2009.

AHRQ New Innovations Research Portfolio
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The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Agency for Health Research and Quality (AHRQ) recently announced a new Request for Information (RFI) called "Request for Planning Ideas for Development of an AHRQ Innovations Research Portfolio." The goal of AHRQ's new Innovations Portfolio is to identify and support research that has the potential to accelerate improvements in the organization, delivery, and management of health care. Research and activities supported under the Innovations Portfolio will reflect ideas substantially different from those already being pursued by AHRQ, and are expected to span a diverse array of health care disciplines.