Rise in Hepatitis C is caused by heroin use, officials say

Health officials are warning Massachusetts is facing an “epidemic” of Hepatitis C virus infections among adolescents and young adults, particularly those who are injection drug users.

The cases were reported from all areas of the state, occurred predominantly among non-Hispanic whites, and were equally distributed among males and females.

The increase came as overall Hepatitis C infections have dropped or leveled off according to the study by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

From 2002 to 2009, rates of newly reported Hepatitis C infections, confirmed and probable, among those aged 15 to 24 increased from 65 per 100,000 individuals to 113 per 100,000 individuals.

State epidemiologist Dr. Alfred DeMaria said the spike in Hepatitis C infections could be related to a rise in heroin use in Massachusetts. 

Strike by nurses is avoided by tentative 18-month deal

A planned strike by nurses at Tufts Medical Center in Boston has been averted by a last minute labor deal.

The nurses’ union and hospital management reached a tentative deal on a new 18-month contract late Thursday night following a 15-hour negotiating session.

The hospital’s roughly 1,000 nurses had planned to strike Friday to protest what they called staffing levels that endangered patient safety.


Lake Champlain over flood stage in ‘slow disaster’

Already at its highest level ever, Lake Champlain surpassed flood stage by 3 feet Friday, leaving hundreds of homes destroyed or damaged in a slowly unfolding catastrophe on island communities and the New York and Vermont sides of the 120-mile-long lake.

Teams from the Federal Emergency Management Agency will be in Vermont on Tuesday to begin assessing damage, said spokesman Dennis Pinkham.

Authorities said it could take weeks before floodwaters, which took weeks to hit their current levels, recede.

“I had a guy from the state tell me that this was the slowest disaster he’s ever seen,” Clinton County Emergency Services Director Eric Day told the Press-Republican newspaper of Plattsburgh, N.Y., where about 100 residents of an apartment complex evacuated Friday.

The two major east-west roads that link the Vermont island county of Grand Isle to the mainland remained open but were water-covered.


Hearing in June as nuclear power plant fights shutdown

A federal court hearing is scheduled for next month on an effort by the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant to avoid being shut down by the state of Vermont.

The Brattleboro Reformer says U.S. District Court Judge J. Garvan Murtha scheduled the hearing for June 23 and 24 in federal court in Brattleboro.

Vermont Yankee is asking the court to rule the state can’t order the plant to shut down when its original license expires next March.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has granted the plant a 20-year license extension, but the state wants the plant to close as scheduled.