Dr. Donald Ainslie "D.A." Henderson, the Chief Medical Officer of the World Health Organization's fight against smallpox, has died at the age of 87. [more inside]
Harvard Public Health Review: Why Public Health Concerns for Global Spread of Zika Virus Means That Rio de Janeiro’s 2016 Olympic Games Must Not Proceed [more inside]
Vox, with the help of the Washington State Department of Health, has used "housing and poverty data in our calculations to [map] areas of risk" for lead poisoning. [more inside]
Meet the "rented white coats" who defend toxic chemicals: How corporate-funded research corrupts America's courts and regulatory agencies. [more inside]
"The way these governments are handling the virus is foolish, highly unrealistic, and insensitive to women." But Zika Virus Isn't The First Disease To Spark A Debate About Abortion [more inside]
Kentucky counties with highest Medicaid rates backed Matt Bevin, who plans to cut Medicaid
Owsley County, one of the nation's poorest places [prev], neatly fit the trend. Nearly 1,000 of its 4,508 residents got health insurance after Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear established Kynect two years ago and expanded Medicaid to include people up to 138 percent of the poverty level, which is $16,105 a year for an individual. Newly insured people started to visit the Owsley County Medical Clinic on the outskirts of Booneville. They desperately needed medical care. Even by Kentucky's lax standards, Owsley has high rates of obesity, smoking and poor nutrition, and as a result, greater than normal incidences of cancer, heart disease and diabetes. Some patients wept with relief as longtime ailments finally were treated, clinic officials said. [...] The community's largest-circulation newspaper, the Three Forks Tradition in Beattyville, did not say much about Kynect ahead of the election. Instead, its editorials roasted Obama and Hillary Clinton, gay marriage, Islam, "liberal race peddlers," "liberal media," black criminals and "the radical Black Lives Matter movement."Owsley County voted for Bevin, a Tea Party businessman who vowed to dismantle Kynect, by a 70-25 margin. [more inside]
Premature birth and problem pregnancies near fracking wells A new study in the US's 'fracking capital' Pennsylvania has found that pregnant women who live near gas fracking wells are far more likely to give birth prematurely or develop problems during their pregnancies. [more inside]
Catholic Bishops In Kenya Call For A Boycott Of Polio Vaccines Fearing a UN plot to sterilize the populace with vaccines containing estrogen derivatives, Bishop Philip Anyolo and others have been encouraging others not to immunize their children. [more inside]
Use of K2/Spice continues to rise, despite public health officials in many parts of America declaring it a national health crisis. But let's take a look back. Like many in the American military where its use remains twice as popular as marijuana, some early users may have thought that K2/Spice (or "synthetic marijuana") was a safer, more responsible alternative to weed for managing their substance abuse problems and for self-medicating anxiety disorders. After all, until recently, it was still sold legally throughout the country, and convenience stores everywhere sold the stuff. [more inside]
New Ebola vaccine shows 100% success rate in clinical trial. Today the World Health Organization has announced that the rVSV-ZEBOV vaccine had a 100% success rate in preventing onset of the disease if administered within 10 days of exposure (n=4,000). In response to the current outbreak in West Africa that has afflicted over 27,000 and killed over 11,000, this collaborative effort led by the WHO pushed the vaccine through a process that usually takes more than a decade in just 12 months. Official paper from The Lancet here (pdf).
The most common question I get asked is, "Should homeless people have pets?" And my response is always, "Should we have people who are homeless?" Ottawa veterinarian Michelle Lem talks about the Community Veterinary Outreach program and its model of community medicine for people and pets. At CVO, volunteer veterinarians, vet techs, social workers and public health nurses work together to connect with marginalized people by providing free veterinary care for their beloved pets. You can watch a brief timelapse video of a day in the life at the busy mobile clinic. [more inside]
Buzzfeed reports on Rock Hudson's last days, and the Reagan administration's response.
Ontario's former Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Richard Schabas and infectious diseases specialist Dr. Neil Rau question the utility of mass, annual influenza vaccination: "Vaccines, in general, are perhaps the biggest success story of modern medicine. But in the league tables of vaccines, influenza vaccine hovers near the relegation zone."
The Art of Saving a Life, sponsored by the Gates Foundation, is a collection of stories about vaccination and immunization, as told by more than 30 world-renowned photographers, painters, sculptors, writers, filmmakers, and musicians. The intent is to promote vaccination just in time for an international effort to raise funds to inoculate millions, especially in poor nations. The full collection of art will be unveiled over the course of January 2015.
"Mushak calculated that for each day in the desert that she drank 3 liters from the pits, she was exposed to uranium at levels nearly 100 times the federal maximum… She also received a dose of radioactive alpha particles that was probably 10 times the safety threshold for pregnancy or more. When Lois drank from the pits, she pumped ‘a witch's brew’ into her womb." [more inside]
Warehouse Empire Behind the largest undercover bribe the FBI ever paid to a public official is the story of how our whole consumer economy has been transformed, bringing lung-stunting pollution and, in some cases political corruption.
Paul Farmer, back from Sierra Leone, discusses Ebola treatment strategies. Brigham and Women's Hospital Grand Rounds, October 31, 2014. Almost an hour but worth it for the depth of info and analysis.
Today is Jonas Salk's 100th birthday. Salk, who reimagined the idea of a vaccine by suggesting that immunity could be established in the body by using inactivated viruses chose not to patent his polio vaccine, which he first tested on his own family. [more inside]
Three North Carolina researchers spend 18 months learning about the food and cooking choices of almost 200 households. They learned, perhaps unsurprisingly, that simply encouraging households to cook healthier meals at home was unlikely to address the challenges to healthy eating most families face. [more inside]
Over the past 20 years, medical researchers have found new ways to quantify the effects of the relentless violence on America’s inner cities, [and are] only now beginning to trace the effects of untreated PTSD on neighborhoods that are already struggling with unemployment, poverty and the devastating impact of the war on drugs. [...] Despite the growing evidence of PTSD in civilians, little is being done to address the problem. Hospital trauma centers often provide adequate care for physical wounds, but do almost nothing to help patients cope with the mental and emotional aftermath of trauma.
The Good-Luck Charm That Solved a Public-Health Problem ¸.·´¯`·.´¯`·.¸¸.·´¯`·.¸><(((º> [more inside]
Vax: Gamifying Epidemic Prevention "Players are tasked to prepare for an outbreak by vaccinating a network that resembles human social networks. After distributing vaccines, an infectious outbreak begins to spread and the player is tasked to quell the epidemic by quarantining individuals at risk of becoming infected." [more inside]
Why the modern bathroom is a wasteful, unhealthy design (The Guardian): "Piped water may be the greatest convenience ever known but our sewage systems and bathrooms are a disaster" [more inside]
Bacterial diseases cause millions of deaths every year. Most of these bacteria were benign at some point in their evolutionary past, and we don’t always understand what turned them into disease-causing pathogens. In a new study, researchers have tracked down when this switch happened in one flesh-eating bacteria. They think the knowledge might help predict future epidemics. [more inside]
What exactly is bullying, anyway? [PDF] Centers for Disease Control: The inconsistent definitions used to measure bullying coupled with evidence indicating the importance of distinguishing bullying from other types of aggression between youths highlight the need for a uniform definition. [more inside]
What we talk about when we talk about gangs "Gangs (and their many incarnations) are complex social networks whose roots are deeply intertwined with those of the communities and socio-economic environments they call home. Not unlike the military, they offer youth a surrogate family, something to belong to, someone to watch their back, and something to fight for. But they also offer so much more – the promise of a social circle, the possibility of controlling what would otherwise control them, an outlet for frustration or revenge, and a name, status, and “juice” (respect). Respect, in particular, is a highly coveted commodity for kids that feel beat down or oppressed by circumstance. If they can prove themselves worthy of being feared, people will be less likely to mess with them just for the hell of it." [more inside]
Carole Vance and Kim Hopper had been professors at the Mailman School of Public Health for decades — 27 and 26 years, respectively. Vance... has done “pioneering work on the intersection of gender, health and human rights”; Hopper “is both an advocate for the homeless and one of the nation’s foremost scholars on homelessness.” They were fired not because of any shortcomings in their research or teaching, but because they hadn’t raised enough money." Here's why it matters. [more inside]
There Is No Childhood Obesity Epidemic Paul Campos in TNR reviews the latest report from the Journal of the American Medical Association. [more inside]
A new Report on the State of Health + Urbanism (pdf) from MIT looks at the relationship between urban planning and public health, with some surprising findings. The cities covered are Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Houston, Minneapolis, New York, Los Angeles, and San Francisco. [more inside]
[Eleven] days ago, The New Yorker’s Daily Comment blog published an essay by Michael Specter titled “What Young Gay Men Don’t Know About Aids,” in which Specter points to the increase of “unprotected anal intercourse among gay men,” claims that “the rates of HIV infection will surely follow,” and then identifies the cause of this shift as the ignorance of my generation, who weren’t around to see the AIDS epidemic for themselves. The piece is a call to arms of sort, stating the need for increased public funding for HIV/AIDS prevention, and concludes by quoting Larry Kramer’s famous 1983 warning, “1,112 and Counting.” It’s a familiar argument—one that, in my lifetime, I have heard repeated ad nauseam and, I fear, largely misses what AIDS means to me and many other young gay men.
We tend to think now of scurvy as mainly a punch line, if anything—“scurvy-ridden rats” is the kind of popular pirate epithet that appears in even the most G-rated family fare. Partly this is because now, fully understanding its mechanism, it seems a particularly ridiculous problem. But ask anyone who's suffered from it: it is a singularly horrid and terrible way to die.- The Spoil of Mariners, Colin Dickey, Lapham's Quarterly.
In a remarkable paper Allison et al. (2011) gather data on the weight at mid-life from 12 animal populations covering 8 different species all living in human environments. Dividing the sample into male and female they find that in all 24 cases animal weight has increased over the past several decades.
"There is no vaccine for guinea worm, and there are no drugs that can cure those who are infected. The pest once afflicted hundreds of millions of people from the Gambia to India. But the worm is now gone from Guinea, and from almost everywhere else. At last count, there were only five hundred and forty-two people infected, down from an estimated 3.5 million in 1986. Of the remaining cases, exactly five hundred and twenty-one are in South Sudan." -- Parasitologist Mark Siddall on the very successfull, Jimmy Carter sponsored campaign to eradicate the guinea worm and how this campaign proved Malthus wrong.
The relationship between lead and crime has been well-documented. Now, researches show that there may be a link between lead exposure and schizophrenia.
Self-harm now takes more lives than war, murder, and natural disasters combined. Why are we killing ourselves, and how can we stop it?
Over the last five decades, millions of lives have been remade for the better. Yet within this brighter tomorrow, we suffer unprecedented despair. In a time defined by ever more social progress and astounding innovations, we have never been more burdened by sadness or more consumed by self-harm. And this may be only the beginning. If Joiner and others are right—and a landmark collection of studies suggests they are—we’ve reached the end of one order of human history and are at the beginning of a new order entirely, one beset by a whole lot of self-inflicted bloodshed, and a whole lot more to come.
Everyone's favourite shit-disturbing pediatric endocrinologist recently became a published author of popular science. He's not doing it for money, and given the upturned noses of some of his brethren, probably not for love, either. The parade of overweight kids passing through his clinic at UCSF's Benioff Children's keeps getting longer, and the man is angry. So angry, he's going to law school to help quarterback the fight against the processed food industry himself. Previously.
New York City has announced a new teen pregnancy prevention campaign. Some are calling them the meanest PSAs ever. [more inside]
291 diseases and injuries + 67 risk factors + 1,160 non-fatal complications = 650 million estimates of how we age, sicken, and die
As humans live longer, what ails us isn't necessarily what kills us: five data visualizations of how we age, sicken, and die. Causes of death by age, sex, region, and year. Heat map of leading causes and risks by region. Changes in leading causes and risks between 1990 and 2010. Healthy years lost to disability vs. life expectancy in 1990 and 2010. Uncertainties of causes and risks. From the team for the massive Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation Global Burden of Diseases, Injuries, and Risk Factors Study 2010. [more inside]
Since mid-2011, a substantial rise in pertussis [Whooping Cough] cases has been reported in the state of Washington. In response to this increase, the Washington State Secretary of Health declared a pertussis epidemic on April 3, 2012. By June 16, the reported number of cases in Washington in 2012 had reached 2,520 (37.5 cases per 100,000 residents), a 1,300% increase compared with the same period in 2011 and the highest number of cases reported in any year since 1942 [Make sure you don't miss Figure 1]. Commentators are already drawing corellations with the fact that Washington State leads the nation in vaccine non-compliance, Washington State's recent cutbacks in public health funding, and increases in the number of uninsured (PDF). [more inside]
Mapping Toilets in a Mumbai Slum. As part of an initiative by the Harvard School of Public Health, a team of students is researching life in the Mumbai slum, Cheeta Camp. They started by studying sanitation and water use. Their results? This map of toilets.
Chagas' disease can cast a silent, lifelong shadow. 'Chagas is a potentially fatal parasitic disease most often found in Latin American immigrants. There had been little awareness of it in the U.S., but' it is slowly making its way into the United States. 'Chagas affects an estimated 300,000 people in this country and about 13 million worldwide, chiefly in Latin America, where it is a leading cause of heart failure.' [more inside]
Some critics have noted that there is no indication that those who had what Dr. Bouchard is calling an adverse response to exercise actually had more heart attacks or other bad health outcomes. But Dr. Bouchard said if people wanted to use changes in risk factors to infer that those who exercise are healthier, they could not then turn around and say there is no evidence of harm when the risk factor changes go in the wrong direction. "You can’t have it both ways," Dr. Bouchard said. (SLNYT)
Consequences, Choices, Children in Crisis, Challenges. HBO’s multi-part research documentary The Weight of the Nation examines obesity in America in four parts, marshaling leading doctors, epidemiologists, economists, researchers, and community leaders to understand and explain the individual costs and public solutions to a multi-faceted social and individual problem. The documentary both explores large picture statistics, while giving voice “to those that often too seek to be invisible: members of the nearly 70 percent of Americans currently diagnosed as overweight or obese. (AV Club Review)” [more inside]
Biocaster is an ontology-based global health monitoring system that monitors and maps disease outbreaks through internet-based news aggregation and social media. [more inside]
Since 2010, over 3,000 children throughout northern Uganda have come down with nodding disease, a degenerative neurological condition, reports CNN. [more inside]
In March 2010, a pair of health inspectors responding to multiple tips paid a three-day visit to the factory headquarters of the Poly Implant Prothese (PIP) company, a leading international maker of breast implants. On their second day, the inspectors found something odd: six discarded plastic containers of Silopren, a liquid silicone designed for industrial, not medical use, lined up along the outside wall of the production site. The lead inspector estimated they had contained nearly 9 tons of liquid silicone. It now appears as if between 300,000 and 400,000 women throughout the world may have received potentially toxic, faulty breast implants containing ingredients never clinically tested on humans, manufactured and distributed by a company that knowingly deceived regulators, suppliers, distributors, medical professionals and ultimately, patients. Reuters photographer's Blog: Operating on an implant scandal. (Last link NSFW, graphic images that contain nudity.) [more inside]
The once-secret Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) slouches toward signing on Saturday. ACTA is expected to raise constitutional issues in the U.S., raise soverenty issues in the E.U., give copyright holders extensive powers to impose DRM and identify alleged infringers, and increase health risks worldwide. In addition, the U.S. has launched the Trans Pacific Partnership agreement (TPP) to obtain what copyright provisions were stripped from ACTA. (see michaelgeist.ca, techdirt, or slashdot) [more inside]
How did hookworm infections slow the economy of the postbellum South? Do body mites play a role in diseases such as rosacea? Did fermenting seal flippers in Tupperware instead of traditional containers increase Native Alaskan botulism rates? Body Horrors is the blog of microbiologist Rebecca Kreston, who aims to explore the intersection of infectious diseases, the human body, public health and anthropology.
Between 1946 and 1948, the United States deliberately infected hundreds with gonorrhea and syphilis in Guatemala. This link goes to a page on the National Archives posting the records of Dr. John C. Cutler, a surgeon with the United States Public Health Service. Some of the 70 links from that page go to files containing graphic images. The National Archives and Records Administration has reviewed these historical records for release, and has redacted only information identifying each patient (updated 8/2/11). The original records are available for public research in the National Archives at Atlanta. Some of the files contain graphic medical images of the effects of untreated sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), including syphilis, which may not be appropriate for all audiences. A preview of some of the Doctor's correspondence is available at Harper's. (Subscription required.)
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