Rise In Polio-Like Illnesses In Kids Comes At A Time When States’ Public Health Systems Are Already Stretched
"Insufficient funding has hampered the ability of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and state and local health departments to keep pace with the new and continuing threats to the health of the American people and to fully fund prevention initiatives,” according to the Trust for America’s Health, a nonpartisan, Washington, D.C.-based research organization. In other public health news: the flu, salmonella, suicide, Ebola, ticks, genetic testing, and more.
Polio-Like Illness AFM Tests An Overstretched Public Health System
The mysterious, polio-like disease that has struck 414 people — mostly young children — across the United States since 2014 comes at a time when the public health system already is overstretched. Reported in 39 states and Washington, D.C., acute flaccid myelitis, known as AFM, causes muscle weakness and in some cases paralysis in the arms or legs, terrifying parents and puzzling medical researchers. (Ollove, 11/15)
The New York Times:
What To Know About Getting A Flu Shot This Year, No Matter Who’s Paying
When I went to a pharmacy in Brooklyn to get a flu shot last year, I was presented with a choice: one vaccine with three different strains of the flu virus for about $30 or, for just $10 more, four strains. It sounded vaguely like a late-night television infomercial. I stood at the counter, confused. Didn’t I want every strain? I thought that one new vaccine was developed each year and that it was more effective some years than others. What was I missing? (Bernard, 11/15)
The Star Tribune:
Salmonella Outbreak In Raw Turkey Expands Nationwide
With Thanksgiving and turkey dinners just around the corner, food-safety investigators are still trying to pinpoint the source of drug-resistant salmonella that has shown up in some raw turkey around the country over the past year. While more than 1 million Americans get sick from salmonella each year, this particular outbreak of drug-resistant salmonella has vexed experts because it is so diffuse, appearing in a variety of products and in most of the country. (Painter, 11/14)
Nearly 1 In 5 Teens Seriously Considers Suicide. Can Schools Offer Relief?
The statistics are sobering: according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, suicide is now the second-leading cause of death for ages 10 to 18, and the number of teens reporting feeling sad, hopeless or suicidal has risen. But experts say suicide is preventable. (Stark, 11/13)
The Washington Post:
As Ebola Outbreak Worsens In Congo, U.S. Stays Out Of War Zone
The United States has no plans to redeploy personnel to fight the growing Ebola outbreak on the ground in Congo because of worsening security concerns, administration officials said Wednesday. The outbreak in northeastern Congo is taking place in an active war zone and has now become the country’s largest in more than four decades. Attacks on government outposts and civilians by dozens of armed militias have complicated the work of Ebola response teams, who have often had to suspend crucial work tracking cases and isolating people infected with the deadly virus. Violence has escalated in recent weeks, including attacks by armed groups this weekend near the operations center in Beni, the urban epicenter in North Kivu province. (Sun, 11/14)
US Officials Report A Record Number Of Tick Diseases
U.S. health officials say a record number of tick-borne diseases were reported last year. The 2017 tally of more than 59,000 cases is a 22 percent increase from the previous year. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released the numbers Wednesday. Lyme disease accounted for nearly three-quarters of the illnesses. That's about 43,000 cases. (11/14)
Nebula Genomics, With Free DNA Sequencing, Opens For Business
Information wants to be free, says the old internet meme, and a genomics company will now apply that to DNA: Starting on Thursday, the startup Nebula Genomics is giving customers the option of having their full genome sequenced at no cost, a first for direct-to-consumer genetics. There is, naturally, an itsy-bitsy little catch. Customers will have to answer a handful of questions about their health and other traits — from whether they have ever been diagnosed with cancer to their history of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and other common ills to what medications they take, how physically active they are, and whether they smoke — in order to earn credits toward free sequencing. Answering the questions will earn enough credits, or “tokens” as the company calls them, to score free DNA sequencing. (Begley, 11/15)
Scientists Hope To Translate Paralyzed Patients' Thoughts Into Speech
Dr. Ashesh Mehta, a neurosurgeon at the Feinstein Institute for Medical Research on Long Island, was operating on his epilepsy patient to determine the source of seizures. But the patient agreed to something more: to be part of an audacious experiment whose ultimate goal is to translate thoughts into speech. While he was in there, Mehta carefully placed a flat array of microelectrodes on the left side of the brain’s surface, over areas involved in both listening to and formulating speech. By eavesdropping on the electrical impulses that crackle through the gray matter when a person hears in the “mind’s ear” what words he intends to articulate (often so quickly it’s barely conscious), then transmitting those signals wirelessly to a computer that decodes them, the electrodes and the rest of the system hold the promise of being the first “brain-computer interface” to go beyond movement and sensation. (Begley, 11/15)
The New York Times:
Data-Driven Medicine Will Help People — But Can It Do So Equally?
The promise of data-driven medicine is clear. Using the latest analytical techniques can lead to better health outcomes and — over time as data technology inevitably becomes cheaper and more widely available — help many more people. But as medicine moves from the kind of clinical practice that has informed centuries of treatment to the data-driven practices that have already transformed commerce, finance and the media, it will also find itself facing some of the same social challenges. In particular, big-data technology might seem like a social neutralizer or even a leveling force, but it can have a way of increasing divisions. One hint at why this is comes from what communications theorists describe as a knowledge gap. (Tufekci, 11/15)
Hospitals Are Ill-Equipped To Treat Behavioral Health, ECRI Finds
Many hospitals aren't equipped to treat patients with behavioral health needs, but they could do better if they develop a clear vision for caring for those patients, according to a new report released Wednesday. The not-for-profit ECRI Institute Patient Safety Organization found that about half of the 2,400 behavioral health events at hospitals they studied involved patient violence against others, while 81 incidents involved temporary or minor patient harm. (Castellucci, 11/14)
The New York Times:
Proteomics Might Have Saved My Mother’s Life. And It May Yet Save Mine.
The sergeant with the Mount Crested Butte Police Department in Colorado appeared and I was with my wife and our two young children, ages 2 and 7, at Lake Irwin, a remote campsite at 10,200 feet in the Rocky Mountains. When the officer stepped out of his S.U.V. cruiser, its blue and red emergency strobes piercing the darkness, I thought that perhaps a neighboring camper had summoned him to silence my dissonant guitar strumming beside the campfire. “I’m looking for Mr. Behar,” the sergeant announced. My cousin, who knew our whereabouts, had called the county sheriff, who dispatched the sergeant. His name was Brad Phelps, and he had navigated a dirt road at night through rugged alpine terrain to our location, because there was no cell reception where we were. After I identified myself, Phelps read from a palm-size paper notepad: “I’m sorry to have to tell you that your mother has passed away.” (Behar, 11/15)
The New York Times:
There’s A Stress Gap Between Men And Women. Here’s Why It’s Important.
I was a workaholic. I love to create things, grow them and solve problems,” said Meng Li, a successful app developer in San Francisco. “I didn’t really care about my mind and my body until they decided to go on strike.” Ms. Li said her stress led to insomnia. When she did sleep, she experienced “problem-solving dreams,” which left her feeling unrested when she woke up. “After I became a first-time mother, I quickly realized between work and family, I was so busy caring for other people and work that I felt like I’d lost myself,” she said. “I’d put my own physical and mental needs on the back burner.” (Wong, 11/14)
The Associated Press:
Skulls Reveal Neanderthals, Humans Had Similarly Harsh Lives
Life as a Neanderthal was no picnic, but a new analysis says it was no more dangerous than what our own species faced in ancient times. That challenges what the authors call the prevailing view of our evolutionary cousins, that they lived risky, stressful lives. Some studies have suggested they had high injury rates, which have been blamed on things like social violence, attacks by carnivores, a hunting style that required getting close to large prey, and the hazards of extensive travel in environments full of snow and ice. (Ritter, 11/14)