With National Public Health Week just three days away, Chester County, Pa., plans slew of events; U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to promote second round of Tips from Former Smokers; and can a tablet reduce allergies? These stories and more top public health news on Friday, March 29, 2013.

The Unionville TimesCounty to observe National Public Health Week
Even before a national survey last week deemed Chester County the healthiest county in the state for the second time, its Health Department had planned numerous events to celebrate National Public Health Week starting on April 1. “National Public Health Week helps educate and engage Americans in the movement to create a healthier America for ourselves and the generations to come,” said Margaret Rivello, who heads the county’s Health Department, in a news release. “The events that will take place this week help showcase the value of supporting prevention and the role that public health agencies, organizations and practitioners play in making prevention possible.”

NBCCDC rolling out second round of anti-smoking ads
The Centers for Disease Control and prevention is rolling out the second part of an ad campaign to help smokers kick the habit. The government is hoping the second round of graphic anti-smoking ads will encourage more smokers to quit. The 48 million dollar ad campaign uses several different types of media to get its message across, from television, online, and radio spots to print and billboard ads. It attempts to get people to stop using real life stories of people affected by smoking. One ad features a woman diagnosed with oral and throat cancers at 40 who needed to have her larynx removed. Another shows a mother and her seven-year-old son, who has asthma attacks due to second hand smoke. The CDC is focusing on the entire spectrum of smoking related diseases including heart issues and diabetes. They say for every one person who dies from a smoking-related illness 20 more live with an illness caused by smoking.

USA TodayFDA reviewing tablet to eliminate allergy
Drugmaker Merck & Co. said Wednesday that federal regulators are reviewing its application to sell a new type of treatment for grass pollen allergy that gradually reduces allergy symptoms over time, rather than just temporarily relieving the sneezing and itching. The treatment, a tablet that quickly dissolves under the tongue, could become the first alternative available in the U.S. to getting a long series of uncomfortable allergy shots. Both methods work by gradually desensitizing the patient’s immune system to the substance triggering the allergic reaction. Merck’s immunotherapy, still unnamed, would be taken daily throughout allergy season for three years. The company said six late-stage studies of the tablet in nearly 3,500 adults and children — conducted during peak spring or summer pollen season — found that it was safe and effective at reducing grass allergy symptoms. Those include runny nose, congestion, sneezing and itchy, watery eyes. The most common side effects reported were itchiness of the mouth and ear and throat irritation.

HealthDayAnother study sees no vaccine-Autism link
Although some parents worry about the sheer number of vaccines babies typically receive, a new U.S. government study finds no evidence that more vaccinations increase the risk of autism. Looking at about 1,000 U.S. children with or without autism, researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found no connection between early childhood vaccinations and autism risk. Children with autism and those without had the same total exposure to vaccine antigens — the substances in vaccines that trigger the immune system to develop infection-fighting antibodies. “This should give more reassurance to parents,” said lead researcher Dr. Frank DeStefano, director of the CDC’s Immunization Safety Office. The findings, which appear online March 29 in the Journal of Pediatrics, cast further doubt on a link between vaccines and autism spectrum disorders — a group of developmental brain disorders that impair a child’s ability to communicate and socialize.