One Year Later: WHO Advisers Mull Rolling Back Crisis Designation For Zika
But some worry that if the World Health Organization no longer classifies the outbreak as a public health emergency of international concern, a disease that many have struggled to understand will slip further down in priority. In other public health news: a buzzy new product to reduce stress that leaves critics unimpressed; germs and ATMs; cucumbers' tendency to carry salmonella; and more.
Is Zika Still A Public Health Emergency?
On Friday, almost a year to the day from that first warning, experts who advise the UN’s global health agency on Zika will grapple with the question of whether this most unusual of outbreaks still constitutes a crisis. It won’t come as a huge surprise to the global health community if the experts tell WHO Director-General Margaret Chan that Zika, while still alarming, no longer meets the criteria for a “public health emergency of international concern,” as its known in the agency’s vernacular. But some observers worry that if the WHO downgrades Zika’s status, an outbreak that continues to bedevil scientists and threaten the health of developing fetuses will slip further down the priority list for research funding. They are also concerned that efforts to detect and report spread around the world will ease. (Branswell, 11/17)
How A Device To Ease Stress Came To Be Tested In A Trailer Park
Its first wearable device, priced at $199, promised to energize you with a few zaps of electrical pulses to the neck.Now, the startup Thync is developing a new model aimed at reducing stress. After sinking $30 million into research and development at Thync, the team set out recently to test the second-generation model — in a trailer park in Warren, Mich....Though Thync has published a safety study to show that the product won’t harm users, the studies Thync cites as evidence it’ll actually work are thin. (Thielking, 11/18)
The Washington Post:
Scientists Catalogue The Yucky Stuff On New York City ATMs
Bacteria found on human skin. Microbes from bony fish, mollusks, chicken and baked goods. These are part of the long list of life-forms that live on the surfaces of ATM keypads in Manhattan, Queens and Brooklyn, according to a new analysis. The study was published in the American Society for Microbiology's open access journal mSphere. It is one of a number of fascinating research projects in recent years to catalogue and understand the microbes that live among, on or inside us and how they impact human health. (Cha, 11/17)
One Percent Of Cucumbers Carry Salmonella, FDA Says
One in a hundred cucumbers carries salmonella bacteria, according to new data from the Food and Drug Administration — and for fresh hot peppers that number rises to three per hundred. Both the vegetables were targeted by the agency’s proactive testing because of their role in previous outbreaks. Because cucumbers are often eaten raw, bacteria on them are more likely to make it into food; raw cucumbers have been blamed in five outbreaks of illness from 1996 to 2014. (Raffensperger, 11/17)
Minnesota Public Radio News:
Rethinking End-Of-Life Dread
New research shows the emotional and social quality of life near its end may not be nearly as bad as many expect. MPR's Cathy Wurzer spoke with Sandy Schellinger, one of the researchers on the project. She's a palliative nurse at Allina Health LifeCourse and her team will be presenting their work at the Gerontological Society of America's annual meeting later this week. (Wurzer, 11/17)
NFL Doctors' Conflicts Of Interest Could Endanger Players, Report Says
Doctors that work for professional football teams have conflicts of interest that could jeopardize players’ health, according to a report by Harvard researchers. The report released Thursday, funded by the NFL players’ union, states that because doctors are paid by the teams, they may put teams’ business above players’ health interests. However, it doesn’t identify any specific instances when this has occurred. League sources flatly denied the existence of any such conflict of interest, calling the report nothing more than an academic exercise. (Swetlitz, 11/17)