Citing 157,000 Deaths,

CDC Stresses Basic Safety

More than 157,000 Americans were killed and about 1.6 million hospitalized by car crashes, falls, violent acts and accidents in 2001, federal officials said yesterday in a report that urged the nation to pay more attention to basic safety.

Researchers with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said data from the 50 states and District showed the problem of unintentional injuries cuts across age, gender and race.

One in 10 U.S. residents, or about 29.7 million people, were treated for nonfatal injuries in emergency rooms in 2001, according to the CDC report, the first to study the magnitude of both fatal and nonfatal injuries in the nation.

"This makes it very clear that everyone is impacted by injuries," said Lee Annest, a CDC statistician. "We have to understand that we all have a risk of injury, and there are things we can do to reduce the risk."

The price tag of injuries is an estimated $117 billion in annual health care expenses.

Cats Can Contract

And Spread Bird Flu

Cats can not only contract deadly bird flu but can also spread it to other felines, Dutch researchers reported yesterday, raising new questions about the pets' role in outbreaks.

So far, cats have not been implicated in the spread of avian flu to people, said World Health Organization influenza expert Klaus Stohr. There are two potential reasons, he said: "One is nobody looked. The other is they don't play a role," as infected cats do not shed as much virus as infected poultry.

Bird flu has caused recurring outbreaks in recent years, including killing 27 people in Asia this year. Human infections until now have been traced to direct contact with infected poultry or poultry waste, and millions of chickens and other fowl have been slaughtered in attempts to stem the spread of the disease.

WHO alerted scientists to examine household cats and other mammals whenever they investigate human bird-flu infections. The first such check, in Vietnam last week, found that cats in patients' households were healthy, Stohr said.

Because the bird flu is different from human influenza strains that typically infect people, scientists fear it eventually could lead to a human flu pandemic.

The new research was reported in the journal Science.

Master Cells in Follicles

Could Replace Hair, Skin

Master cells found inside hair follicles might offer a new way to treat baldness and burns, researchers reported yesterday.

So far the cells have been found only in mice, but there is no reason to believe they do not also exist in humans, the team at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and Rockefeller University in New York said.

The stem cells replace not only hair but also skin and sebaceous glands, key to healthy skin and hair, they report in this week's issue of the journal Cell.

In this case, the stem cells the researchers found are adult stem cells that retain the ability to change their "type" to some degree. They are different from stem cells taken from embryos, a more controversial source.

-- From News Services