Health notes: Tests show no leukemia for Duluth girlAnnika Linberg passed the 100-day mark on Friday, and her family got great news on Wednesday.
By: Compiled by John Lundy, Duluth News Tribune
Annika Linberg passed the 100-day mark on Friday, and her family got great news on Wednesday.
Annika is the 6-year-old Duluth girl who received a bone marrow transplant Nov. 11 for treatment of a recurrence of acute promyeolocytic leukemia, better known as APL. The bone marrow came from her little sister, Katy, now 20 months.
Annika’s dad, Kurt Linberg, said a biopsy on Friday included four tests to determine if any signs of leukemia remained. By Wednesday morning, they had results from three of the tests, all showing no sign of leukemia. But they were warily waiting for the results from the final, most sophisticated, test. Wednesday afternoon, it came:
Negative. No leukemia.
Through all of this, Annika was going about the work of being a kid.
“She’s doing good,” Kurt Linberg said. “She’s got energy. Yesterday, she was sledding with her mom.”
Another milestone was scheduled for today when Annika’s catheter is scheduled to be removed. That means no more weekly dressing changes, mom Adrienne Hastad Linberg wrote on her Caring Bridge website. It also removes a potential source of serious infections, since the catheter provides direct access to her bloodstream.
After a long stay at the Ronald McDonald House in Minneapolis while Annika was treated at University of Minnesota Amplatz Children’s Hospital, the Linbergs are spending most of their time back home in Duluth.
Off to a slow start, the influenza season is here.
“Everyone is in agreement that this is a late flu season, that it’s probably now just starting up,” said Guy Peterson, public health director for the St. Louis County Health Department.
Doctors at Essentia Health have noticed an increase in flu cases within the past week for patients of all ages, said Connie Wirta, a spokeswoman for Essentia.
That meshes with what Amy Westbrook, Duluth-based epidemiologist for the Minnesota Department of Health, has seen. “It’s picking up all across the state, including the Northeast,” she said. “I would say it’s still pretty mild.”
With the late start, the flu season likely will extend through March and April, Westbrook said, and she put in a plug to procrastinators: It’s still not too late to get a flu vaccination.
The most recent influenza update from the Minnesota Department of Health said nine people were hospitalized with the flu and one person died in the state in the week of Feb. 5-11. One long-term-care facility and six schools reported influenza outbreaks that week. None of them were in Northeastern Minnesota.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta declared last Friday that the season had begun, with widespread cases in California and a spike in reports of flu-like illnesses in Missouri. Until last week, there hadn’t been enough flu cases in the United States to say the season had started.
The season usually starts in December or January, the Associated Press reported. The last time it started this late was the winter of 1987-88.
Taking on whooping cough
All adults — even retirees — should get vaccinated for whooping cough, a federal panel says.
The Associated Press reported on Wednesday that the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices has added adults 65 and older to the list of adults who should get vaccinated for pertussis, more commonly known as whooping cough. The panel had been gradually expanding the recommendation, most recently in 2010 when it said those 65 and older who spend a lot of time around infants should get the shot.
There has been a whooping cough vaccination for children since the 1940s, but a booster for adolescents and adults wasn’t added until 2005. The AP reported 70 percent of all adolescents have received the booster, but only 8 percent of adults.
The booster is offered at Walgreens drugstores in Minnesota and Wisconsin, a company spokesman said.
Whooping cough is a highly contagious bacterial disease characterized by a gasping cough, particularly in young children. In rare cases, it can be fatal.
Sporadic outbreaks of whooping cough have been reported in recent years, including in Northwestern Wisconsin over the past few months. Last week, the South Shore School District in Port Wing began a four-day weekend one day early in response to an outbreak that resulted in absenteeism of 25 percent or more of its 151 students for several days in a row.
Clendon Gustafson, the district’s administrator, said on Wednesday that the break seems to have accomplished its purpose. On Tuesday, the first day back, only two of the 66 high school and middle school students were absent and 10 of the 85 elementary school students. Absenteeism appeared to be up slightly on Wednesday, he said, but most of that appeared to be from causes other than whooping cough. He also said he’s not hearing nearly as much coughing around the building.
The school’s custodians spent Monday thoroughly sanitizing the district’s single building, Gustafson said.