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Vaccine Vocab
If you've tuned into the news lately, all the talk is about vaccines. Read along as we dive into some vaccine vocabulary. 
  • Vaccine: A product (usually injection) that creates a response in a person's immune system to recognize a pathogen and create antibodies to destroy it. That way, you're better prepared to fight off the real thing if you later become infected. 
  • Pathogen: An infectious virus, bacteria, fungi or parasite, which causes a disease.
  • Antibody: A protein that is created by the immune system that attacks invading organisms or bacteria. 
  • Antitoxin: An antibody with the ability to neutralize a specific toxin. Antitoxins are produced by certain animals, plants, and bacteria in response to toxin exposure. 
  • Immunity: The body's ability to fight off an infection usually with the help of antibodies. 
  • Herd Immunity: When enough people in a community have developed immunity to a disease (through vaccination and/or prior illness).  This lessens the risk of contracting the disease.  
Case #1
A 3 year old girl ate a piece of a leaf from a poinsettia plant left from the holidays. The specialist explained that although the poinsettia plant has a bad reputation, it is not very toxic. He recommended to give the child fluids and watch her for any gastrointestinal symptoms like upset stomach or diarrhea. In the follow up call, the mother stated that the daughter had not had any symptoms and was active as usual.

Case #2
A call was received about a 4 year old that swallowed a battery from one of his toys. The specialist recommended that the child be taken to the emergency room (ED) for testing and explained that batteries could be very dangerous when swallowed due to potential burns to the esophagus.
Fortunately, the family acted fast and the battery was able to be removed with a special instrument before it caused any serious damage. After some additional observation, the child was released from the hospital the next day and the child did well with no additional complications.


The New Year is usually the time for New Year's Resolutions.   Many people set new goals about having a healthier lifestyle. When it comes to healthier living, there's no better time than the present. As the new year approaches, there will be many people looking for new health foods, supplements and sometimes energy drinks to help them meet their goals. Below is some important information on the energy drink business. 

Energy Drinks

Energy drinks are often marketed as beverages to increase alertness and energy levels, containing significant amounts of caffeine and as much or more sugar as common soft drinks.  Many contain upwards of 300 mg of caffeine, the amount in three cups of coffee. Although most people consider energy drinks unhealthy, some of these products are marketed as being natural and containing healthy ingredients.

Be aware, that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) only provides guidance and it is the energy drink companies themselves that decide whether to label their products as a beverage or a dietary supplement. Most energy drinks were originally classified as "dietary supplements", which allows them circumvent the FDA caffeine limit of 71 mg per 12 ounces on drink. Most energy drinks typically surpass that limit with about 120 mg per 12 ounces. It wasn't until recently, that manufacturers agreed to disclose their ingredients and add information on the quantity of caffeine, sugar, and other stimulants in their products.
In addition to caffeine, many energy drinks contain other herbal substances like guarana, ginseng, gingko biloba, taurine, and others that can also contain caffeine and that are not analyzed by the FDA. 

One of the greatest concerns is that these companies will often focus their marketing efforts towards the younger adolescent population. Although energy drink companies warn that these beverages may not be suitable for children, many still wind up in their hands. According to the Centers for Disease Control, "In 2011, 1,499 adolescents aged 12 to 17 years went to the emergency room for an energy drink related emergency."

Some of the dangers of drinking energy drinks may include:
  • Heart complications (such as irregular heartbeat and heart failure)

  • Dehydration (not enough water in your body) & lower potassium levels
  • severe anxiety (feeling nervous and jittery)
  • Insomnia (unable to sleep).
An additional concern is combining caffeine with alcohol. According to the CDC, "when alcohol is mixed with caffeine, the caffeine can mask the depressant effects of alcohol, making drinkers feel more alert than they would otherwise. As a result, they may drink more alcohol and become more impaired than they realize, increasing the risk of alcohol-attributable harms." 


Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The Buzz on Energy Drinks.


Call for help!
Remember, if you suspect that you or someone you know has been poisoned,  call the FREE Poison Helpline at
Your will be connected to a poison center in Texas.
Expert help is available around the clock, every day, even on holidays! 
Program the Poison Help number into your cell phone today.

Want more poison information???
Don't forget to check out the Texas Poison Center Network's blog!