- - Sunday, July 24, 2011

ALASKA

Grizzly bear mauls two on wilderness excursion

ANCHORAGE — A grizzly bear that was with her cub attacked several teens participating in a survival-skills course in remote wilderness in Alaska, badly mauling two in the group, state troopers said Sunday.

The teens were among seven students participating in a 30-day backcountry course by the National Outdoor Leadership School when the attack occurred Saturday night in the Talkeetna Mountains north of Anchorage. They were rescued early Sunday.

The teens told troopers the attack occurred as they were lined up in front of each other for a river crossing. Those in the back of the line heard scream about the presence of a bear, with the two at the front of the line taking the brunt of the attack, trooper spokeswoman Megan Peters said.

Another group of seven students and three instructors was waiting about six miles away for a helicopter hired by the Lander, Wyo.-based NOLS, said Bruce Palmer, a spokesman for the organization, which leads many such excursions in Alaska and elsewhere.

Mr. Palmer said the worst injured with bear-bite wounds are 17-year-old Joshua Berg of New City, N.Y., and 17-year-old Samuel Gottsegen of Denver. They were being treated at Providence Alaska Medical Center in Anchorage. Hospital spokeswoman Crystal Bailey said both are listed in serious condition.

GEORGIA

Chickenpox vaccine cut fatalities 90 percent

ATLANTA — Chickenpox vaccine has dramatically reduced deaths from the disease, especially in children, says a new government study proclaiming an important public health victory.

Researchers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that chickenpox deaths fell from an average of 105 per year to 14 — a decrease of almost 90 percent — after the vaccine had been available for a dozen years.

Deaths declined in all age groups, but the drop was most significant among children.

“To see the near-elimination of chickenpox deaths in this country is very exciting,” said Jane Seward, a CDC official who co-authored the paper. She has been involved in the agency’s chickenpox vaccine program for 15 years.

The report was released online Monday by the journal Pediatrics.

NEW YORK

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