Recently in Medicine and Health Category

Yikes - polio

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From Associated Press:

Philippines declares new polio outbreak after 19 years
Philippine health officials declared a polio outbreak in the country on Thursday, nearly two decades after the World Health Organization declared it to be free of the highly contagious and potentially deadly disease.

Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said at a news conference that authorities have confirmed at least one case of polio in a 3-year-old girl in southern Lanao del Sur province and detected the polio virus in sewage in Manila and in waterways in the southern Davao region. Those findings are enough to declare an outbreak of the crippling disease in a previously polio-free country like the Philippines, he said.

Not good - this disease is a killer and if it does not kill you, you will have issues for the rest of your life.

Vaccines are a good thing.

Time for that flu shot

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From NBC News:

This year's flu season may be a bad one. Here's why you need a flu shot
Flu seasons are notoriously unpredictable, but there are already clues that the upcoming season may be especially difficult.

Flu season in the Southern Hemisphere can be an indication of what's to come in the Northern Hemisphere, and the recent flu season in Australia, where winter has just ended, arrived early and with a vengeance. A particularly virulent flu strain, H3N2, dominated.

What's more, a pediatric flu death has already been reported in the U.S. — a 4 year old in California who had underlying health problems.

"We should never forget that the flu still kills," Dr. Cameron Kaiser, a public health officer for Riverside County, California, said in a news release announcing the death.

Cheap insurance. Not a fun illness to have.

An explosion in a lab. Not just any lab. From Russia Today:

Blast & fire hits major virus lab in Russia, where HIV, Ebola & anthrax strains are stored
One of the world’s largest virus research centers, located in Siberia, was reportedly engulfed in flames after a sudden explosion rocked the secretive compound, known for its stores of Ebola, HIV, anthrax and other strains.

Firefighters and rescue services were scrambled on Monday to respond to a fire that broke out in Koltsovo, a scientific hub several kilometers from Novosibirsk. The situation was quickly upgraded from an ordinary emergency to a major incident as the explosion and fire affected Russia’s research center of virology and biotechnology, often referred to as the Vector Institute.

The laboratory is known for having developed vaccines for Ebola and hepatitis, as well as for studying epidemics and genera issues surrounding immunology. During the Cold War, it was thought to be part of now-defunct Soviet biological weapons program, meaning that some of the most dangerous strains – including that of smallpox, Ebola, anthrax and certain plagues – are still being kept inside the Institute’s building.

With that in mind, a local branch of the Emergencies Ministry swiftly responded to the call, sending in 13 fire engines and 38 firefighters, who entered the six-story building minutes after arrival.

Yikes - brave first responders. The Vector Institute is well known in the west now - lots of nasty stuff there.

There is another story at a Russian site but Google Translate no longer accepts URLs to translate a website - it only handles blocks of 5,000 characters at a time. Sad that Google is no longer offering this service as it was really helpful.

Russian news site here.  The Vector Lab home page here.

California is sliding down the tubes. From The Sacramento Bee:

Sacramento trying to kill packs of enormous rats that infested city lot near downtown
The city of Sacramento has started exterminating more than 100 rats that have infested a vacant lot in Sacramento’s River District where the city plans to build a new fire station.

Many homeless encampments typically line the lot, located on Ahern Street between North A and North B streets, causing city officials to worry the rats could also cause a health crisis.

The Centers for Disease Control has a list of rat-borne diseases. Some wonderful ones besides the plague.

Best and brightest - Mumps

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Looks like we are getting some healthy and productive future citizens. From the Centers for Disease Control:

Notes from the Field: Mumps in Detention Facilities that House Detained Migrants — United States, September 2018–August 2019
On October 12, 2018, five confirmed cases of mumps among migrants who had been transferred between two detention facilities were reported by the facilities to the Texas Department of State Health Services (TDSHS). By December 11, eight Texas detention facilities and six facilities in five other states had reported 67 mumps cases to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Health Service Corps (IHSC) or local health departments. On December 12, TDSHS contacted CDC to discuss mumps control in detention facilities and facilitate communication with IHSC. During January 4–17, 2019, six more state health departments reported new cases in detention facilities, which prompted CDC and IHSC to launch a coordinated national outbreak response.

And this disease is spreading to the general population:

Since 2015, approximately 150 mumps outbreaks and 16,000 cases have been reported in the United States, typically in close-contact settings such as universities, schools, and athletic events.

The word you are looking for is: Epidemic. Next up will be bubonic plague and ebola. Not if, when.
Get out of the big cities - the shitholes.

Hansen Disease? You may know it as Leprosy. From the Journal of the American Medical Association:

Characterization and Outcomes of Patients With Hansen Disease Treated at the Los Angeles County Hospital
Although endemic elsewhere, Hansen disease (HD) is a chronic infection caused by Mycobacterium leprae and Mycobacterium lepromatosis that is rarely seen in the United States. Few domestic reports offer long-term follow-up of patients with HD, who sometimes develop significant morbidity owing to delayed recognition of their illness. The Los Angeles County HD clinic, in operation since 1963, offers an archive that allows the description of the disease courses of a large group of patients with HD.

The full article is behind a paywall. All that we need is for the bubonic plague to rear its ugly little rat head and Los Angeles is done for. All the medieval plagues are returning as we stand by with our collective thumbs up our asses.

Vaping in the news

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Proponents claim that it is safe but I have my doubts. They also claim that it is a way to reduce nicotine consumption but everyone I know has increased the concentration over time. From The New York Times:

Cases of Vaping-Related Lung Illness Surge, Health Officials Say
Medical experts and federal health officials on Friday warned the public about the dangers of vaping and discouraged using the devices as the number of people with a severe lung illness linked to vaping has more than doubled to 450 possible cases in 33 states. The number of deaths linked to vaping rose to four from two on Friday.

The Indiana Department of Health announced the third death, and hours later, officials in Minnesota confirmed that a fourth person had died. The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health said Friday that it was investigating a possible fifth death, saying that the fatality was “associated with the use of e-cigarettes.”

“There is clearly an epidemic that begs for an urgent response,” Dr. David C. Christiani of the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health wrote in an editorial published on Friday in The New England Journal of Medicine.

We simply do not have enough history. It took several hundred years of tobacco use to get the laws that we have today. Vaping is going to get much worse before it will get better.

Tried it for a few years a long time ago but never really liked it. From FOX News:

Surgeon General deems cannabis completely unsafe for pregnant women, teens
The Surgeon General says no amount of marijuana is safe for adolescent and pregnant women.

Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar joined FOX Business on Thursday to discuss the risks associated with pot use by pregnant women and young people. He said one of the major consequences has to do with brain development.

“A critical factor in brain development is this cannabinoid receptor,” Azar told Stuart Varney on Thursday. “And what happens with marijuana is it actually binds to that cannabinoid receptor. And that's where we get a lot of the pleasure-seeking behaviors that we have.”

And crucially:

Azar said that it can block and slow neural and brain development in young people and in utero babies and lead to impaired IQ, early onset of psychosis, including schizophrenia, and reductions in attention and increased levels of depression.

Nice little shopping list there... Explains a lot about today's society.

Good news - looking at Vaping

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I have zero problem with people vaping but I am really concerned that we do not know what possible dangers there might be with the chemicals used. Glycol is benign as a liquid. We simply do not know enough about its physiological properties as a vapor. Or as a liquid when condensed onto lung tissue. From CNBC:

US health officials investigating 215 possible cases of severe lung disease associated with vaping
U.S. health officials are investigating 215 possible cases of severe lung disease associated with vaping across 25 states, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration said in a joint statement Friday.

The agencies said they need more information to understand whether there’s a relationship between specific products or substances and the reported illnesses. As of now, it does not appear the cases are linked to one particular product, the agencies said, noting that in “many” of the cases, patients reported using THC or CBD, compounds found in cannabis.

“Even though cases appear similar, it is not clear if these cases have a common cause or if they are different diseases with similar presentations, which is why our ongoing investigation is critical,” CDC Director Robert Redfield and acting FDA Commissioner Ned Sharpless said in a joint statement.

Good - I like that they are calling for more information and research. Not an outright ban. More here and here.

He developed a vaccine for Yellow Fever and won the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1951. When asked what he would do with the money -- approximately $32,000 -- that came with his Nobel Prize, Theiler replied that he would buy a case of Scotch and watch the Brooklyn Dodgers play baseball.

Nice biography of a great man here: Max Theiler (1899–1972): Creator of the yellow fever vaccine

Making medical care cheaper

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Two simple things would cut costs substantially. From Market Watch:

The U.S. can slash health-care costs 75% with 2 fundamental changes — and without ‘Medicare for All’
As the Democratic presidential candidates argue about “Medicare for All” versus a “public option,” two simple policy changes could slash U.S. health-care costs by 75% while increasing access and improving the quality of care.

These policies have been proven to work by ingenious companies like Whole Foods and innovative governments like the state of Indiana and Singapore. If they were rolled out nationally, the United States would save $2.4 trillion per year across individuals, businesses, and the government.

The first policy—price tags—is a necessary prerequisite for competition and efficiency. Under our current system, it’s nearly impossible for people with health insurance to find out in advance what anything covered by their insurance will end up costing. Patients have no way to comparison shop for procedures covered by insurance, and providers are under little pressure to lower costs.

The article cites LASIK eye surgery which is not covered by medical insurance. Because of this, the clinics have to publish their prices and competition has cut the price by quite a lot.

The second item is creating a Health Savings Account - a great idea and is working well for the State of Indiana:

Those changes resulted in 35% lower health-care spending than when the same employees were enrolled in traditional health insurance. Even better, the study found that employees enrolled in the deductible security plan were going in for mammograms, annual check ups, and other forms or preventive medicine at the same rate as when they were enrolled in traditional insurance. Thus, these cost savings are real and not due to people delaying necessary care in order to hoard their HSA balances.

Of course, the lobbyists in DC do not want this so it will never happen. I thought that our elected officials were supposed to listen to their constituents.

A great rant - ZDogg MD

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A great observation into our state of medical care (computers) as well as how we medicalize our social problems.

Here is the website for Epic software. There is a term of art in the computer industry - bloatware.

Hepatitis is spreading - Akron, Ohio

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The epidemic is slowly spreading throughout the USA - from USA Today:

Hepatitis A is breaking out across the country in wake of opioid crisis
AKRON, Ohio — Just before the Fourth of July, Trenton Burrell began feeling run-down and achy. Soon he could barely muster the energy to walk from one room to another. A friend shared an alarming observation: “You’re turning yellow.”

Within days, the 40-year-old landed in the hospital, diagnosed with the highly contagious liver virus hepatitis A, which has infected more than 3,220 people in Ohio and killed at least 15.

Since 2016, the virus has spawned outbreaks in at least 29 states, starting with Michigan and California. It’s sickened more than 23,600 people, sent the majority to the hospital and killed more than 230. All but California’s and Utah’s outbreaks are ongoing, and experts expect to eventually see the virus seep into every state.

Here are some of my earlier posts tracking this medieval scourge: here, herehere, and here. This shit is real and a serious public health problem for urban dwellers. Another reason why I am never going to live in a city again.

Anti-vaccination - unreal

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From the London Daily Mail:

Muslim parents refuse to let their children take part in nationwide flu vaccine drive 'because treatment is not halal'
Muslim parents are reportedly refusing to allow their children to have a nasal flu vaccine because the treatment is not halal.

Concerns were first raised over the spray - Fluenz Tetra - containing pork gelatine last year, but the issue has been highlighted again ahead of a new nationwide drive.

At the time, the Vegetarian Society branded the use of the ingredient in three vaccines as 'disappointing', while the Muslim Council of Britain said the spray would only be permitted if there was no alternative and lives were at risk.

Next month, every healthy child between two and 10 in England will be offered Fluenz Tetra to increase herd immunity.

Christ on a corn dog - these people are not acting on anything factual. They are operating on 9th century tribal superstition. Let them die.

There has been a justifiable push to remove BPA from food-grade plastics. It makes for a much better plastic but it has serious long-term health problems. The industry has substituted BPS and BPFfor the last couple of years but...

From the US National Institutes of Health, Environmental Health Perspectives:

Bisphenol S and F: A Systematic Review and Comparison of the Hormonal Activity of Bisphenol A Substitutes
We identified the body of literature to date, consisting of 32 studies (25 in vitro only, and 7 in vivo. The majority of these studies examined the hormonal activities of BPS and BPF and found their potency to be in the same order of magnitude and of similar action as BPA (estrogenic, antiestrogenic, androgenic, and antiandrogenic) in vitro and in vivo. BPS also has potencies similar to that of estradiol in membrane-mediated pathways, which are important for cellular actions such as proliferation, differentiation, and death. BPS and BPF also showed other effects in vitro and in vivo, such as altered organ weights, reproductive end points, and enzyme expression.

In plain english, from Science Daily:

Exposure to common chemicals in plastics linked to childhood obesity
Bisphenol S (BPS) and bisphenol F (BPF) are manufactured chemicals used in certain kinds of plastic, in the lining of aluminum-canned food and drinks, and in thermal paper from cash-register receipts. These chemicals have been used as a replacement for bisphenol A (BPA), a well-known endocrine-disrupting chemical that harms human health by interfering with the body's hormones.

"This research is significant because exposure to these chemicals is very common in the United States. BPS and BPF use is growing because manufacturers are replacing BPA with these chemicals, so that is contributing to the frequency of exposure," said the study's corresponding author, Melanie Jacobson, Ph.D., M.P.H, of NYU School of Medicine in New York, N.Y. "Although diet and exercise are still understood to the main drivers of obesity, this research suggests that common chemical exposures may also play a role, specifically among children."

Who allowed this substitution to be done? Doesn't seem like there was much testing done...

The crazy that is the liberal

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A clickable headline but you do not need more than just that:

Transgender Woman, 26, Who Was Jailed After Dousing Her Ex-Boyfriend In Bleach Then Trying To Set Him On Fire Is Spared Prison Over Lashing Out At Police Who ‘Didn’t Use The Proper Pronouns’ To Address Her

Surprised that there are not several chapters in DSM-V about liberalism. 100% fruit loops.

Not at all "into" social media. I still keep meaning to delete my faceb**k account (have not yet) but I have not logged into it for many many months. I think it is really sad when parents use tablets as baby sitters for their kids - an easy fix now but serious problems in a couple of years.

Anyway, from the Journal of the American Medical Association:

Association of Screen Time and Depression in Adolescence
Key Points
Question What is the association of various types of screen time and depression in adolescence?

Findings In this cohort study of 3826 adolescents, a within-person association, based on repeated measures, was found between social media and television use with symptoms of depression in adolescence.

Meaning Use of social media and television in adolescents may enhance symptoms of depression and should therefore be taken into account when developing preventive methods.

Abstract
Importance Increases in screen time have been found to be associated with increases in depressive symptoms. However, longitudinal studies are lacking.

Objective To repeatedly measure the association between screen time and depression to test 3 explanatory hypotheses: displacement, upward social comparison, and reinforcing spirals.

Design, Setting, and Participants This secondary analysis used data from a randomized clinical trial assessing the 4-year efficacy of a personality-targeted drug and alcohol prevention intervention. This study assessed screen time and depression throughout 4 years, using an annual survey in a sample of adolescents who entered the seventh grade in 31 schools in the Greater Montreal area. Data were collected from September 2012 to September 2018. Analysis began and ended in December 2018.

Main Outcomes and Measures Independent variables were social media, television, video gaming, and computer use. Symptoms of depression was the outcome, measured using the Brief Symptoms Inventory. Exercise and self-esteem were assessed to test displacement and upward social comparison hypothesis.

More at the site - 3,800 samples over four years is good statistics. I know several people who are glued to their screens and it is not just adolescents that have this problem.

I am a poster child for computers - dropped out of college when the first ones became available - but I have never been "owned" by them. I turn them on. I use them. I shut them off and do something else - read a book, talk with people either in a tavern or on the radio.

Ebola on the move

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Not good - from the London Daily Mail:

Ebola outbreak in the Congo spreads to a new city where one MILLION people live in the epidemic that has killed 1,600
Ebola has spread to the Congolese city of Goma, which has a population of more than a million people, as the virus continues to devastate the region.

The victim is a pastor who had arrived in the city by bus after visiting Butembo, a town around 200miles (320km) north in the centre of the outbreak.

He had been preaching at a church where he would have touched worshippers 'including the sick', the country's health ministry said on Sunday.

Authorities have urged people to remain calm after the government said the chances of the virus spreading were 'low'.

Yikes - the pastor had come from Goma which means that not only the pastor but there is the Goma parishioner. Depending on how long the pastor was there, he could have been contagious which means that the other passengers on that bus may well be infected.

This is a very nasty plague and it is spreading.

ZDoggMD is the online name of Dr. Zubin Damania whose YouTube videos are fun and informative. In this one, he talks about the Dunning-Kruger effect. We see this a lot with our elected officials and in other bureaucratic life.

Be sure to check out his other videos - great stuff and well presented.

From Nature Biotechnology:

Engineered toxin–intein antimicrobials can selectively target and kill antibiotic-resistant bacteria in mixed populations
Targeted killing of pathogenic bacteria without harming beneficial members of host microbiota holds promise as a strategy to cure disease and limit both antimicrobial-related dysbiosis and development of antimicrobial resistance. We engineer toxins that are split by inteins and deliver them by conjugation into a mixed population of bacteria. Our toxin–intein antimicrobial is only activated in bacteria that harbor specific transcription factors. We apply our antimicrobial to specifically target and kill antibiotic-resistant Vibrio cholerae present in mixed populations. We find that 100% of antibiotic-resistant V. cholerae receiving the plasmid are killed. Escape mutants were extremely rare. We show that conjugation and specific killing of targeted bacteria occurs in the microbiota of zebrafish and crustacean larvae, which are natural hosts for Vibrio spp. Toxins split with inteins could form the basis of precision antimicrobials to target pathogens that are antibiotic resistant.

Antibiotic-resistant bacteria is getting to be a real problem. Our arsenal is shrinking. Had MRSA a number of years ago - not fun.

Just wonderful - ebola

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And it starts. From Reuters:

WHO likely to declare Ebola an international emergency: experts
The World Health Organization (WHO) should and is likely to declare an international emergency over the Ebola epidemic in the Democratic Republic of Congo that has now spread to Uganda, experts said as a WHO advisory panel met on Friday.

Nasty disease.

About time - measles

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From Buzzfeed:

New York Ended Its Religious Exemption For Vaccines After The Worst Measles Outbreaks In Decades
New York will no longer allow parents to refuse vaccinations for their children because of religious reasons after the state became the center of the worst measles outbreak in decades.

The state legislature approved a bill Thursday that will require all children attending school or daycare to receive vaccinations, unless they could not be safely vaccinated because of a medical issue. Gov. Andrew Cuomo immediately signed it into law.

“I understand freedom of religion. We all do. We respect it. I’ve heard the anti-vaxxers’ theory, but I believe both are overwhelmed by the public health risk,” Cuomo told reporters Wednesday.

The state has recorded 854 cases of measles since September in outbreaks centered in Orthodox Jewish communities in New York City and Rockland County. Health officials in both areas have called the outbreaks a crisis that risks the safety of the public — particularly infants, pregnant women, elderly people, and those with compromised immune systems, such as patients with cancer.

Great news. You can sustain a small population of unvaxinated people when the majority of people are protected - this is called herd immunity When it tips beyond the 5% to 7% threshold for measles, the disease will spread. It was eliminated in 2000 but the influx of illegal immigrants are bringing a host of old-world pests into our civil population. Waiting for Ebola to surface.

Just wonderful - Ebola

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It has made its way from the Congo to Uganda - from the World Health Organization:

Confirmation of case of ebola virus disease in Uganda
The Ministry of Health and the World Health Organization (WHO) have confirmed a case of Ebola Virus Disease in Uganda. Although there have been numerous previous alerts, this is the first confirmed case in Uganda during the Ebola outbreak on-going in neighbouring Democratic Republic of the Congo.

The confirmed case is a 5-year-old child from the Democratic Republic of the Congo who travelled with his family on 9th June 2019. The child and his family entered the country through Bwera Border post and sought medical care at Kagando hospital where health workers identified Ebola as a possible cause of illness. The child was transferred to Bwera Ebola Treatment Unit for management. The confirmation was made today by the Uganda Virus Institute (UVRI). The child is under care and receiving supportive treatment at Bwera ETU, and contacts are being monitored.

This was published yesterday - segue to today. From NBC News:

New Ebola cases in Uganda raise fears of further spread
Uganda announced two more cases of Ebola on Wednesday - a grandmother and a three-year-old boy, confirming that a deadly outbreak has spread for the first time beyond the Democratic Republic of Congo.

And more:

A five-year-old boy who had crossed into Uganda from Congo died late on Tuesday, said Uganda's health minister, Jane Ruth Aceng, and his family were now being monitored in isolation.

So that means that he was in the late stages of infection, highly contageous while not displaying any symptoms.

The two new victims were the boy's brother and grandmother, the Ugandan health ministry said. His grandfather had recently died of Ebola.

"This epidemic is in a truly frightening phase and shows no sign of stopping," said Jeremy Farrar, an infectious disease specialist and director of the Wellcome Trust global health charity, which is involved in fighting Ebola.

All it takes is for one person to fly to Mexico, get hauled across the border and bussed into a sanctuary city. Two weeks later, it explodes.

From San Antonio, Texas station KENS5:

'Parle vous français?' City searches for French speakers as hundreds of Congolese asylum-seekers head to SA
Roughly 350 migrants from the Congo are expected to arrive in San Antonio in the coming days leaving the city scrambling for French-speaking volunteers.

"We didn't get a heads up," Interim Assistant City Manager Dr. Collen Bridger told KEN 5 on Thursday.

Bridger said the Congolese migrants began to arrive in town on Tuesday. They told Migrant Resource Center workers, they traveled with a group of about 350 migrants through Ecuador to the southern border.

I still want to know who is funding this? We are talking at least $10K per person to get them from the Congo over to Ecuador and then over land, through Mexico and to our border. A bit more:

The city opened up the Frank Garrett Center to house the Congolese migrants for the weekend, but after that, they're not sure where they'll house them especially since they don't know how long some of them will be here.

"The plan was 350 of them would travel from San Antonio to Portland. When we reached out to Portland Maine they said, 'Please don't send us any more. We're already stretched way beyond our capacity," Bridger said.

"So we're working with them [the migrants] now to identify other cities throughout the United States where they can go and begin their asylum seeking process."

Yikes - Portland is close to Seattle and the rest of the Pacific Northwest - two very dense population centers with large rapid transit systems. You can be without symptoms for as long as two weeks but still be highly contagious. This is a serious health problem and nothing is being done. Every person who comes into unprotected contact with these illegals stands a chance of contracting ebola. 50% fatal even with the best of care and there are only 35 hospitals able to do this.

From the Wall Street Journal:

U.S. Measles Outbreaks Hit Highest Level in More Than 25 Years
The number of measles cases in the U.S. this year has hit the highest level in more than 25 years, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported Thursday, warning that the virus may no longer be considered to have been eliminated in this country if the large outbreaks continue through the fall.

The CDC said 971 cases have been reported so far in 2019, including 91 cases in the past week and a half. The tally means in just five months the outbreaks have surpassed the previous high of 963 cases set 25 years ago, in 1994.

We had it licked and then stupid parents started believing the narrative and not vaccinating their children:

“The measles elimination goal, first announced in 1963 and accomplished in 2000, was a monumental task,” the CDC said. Before use of the vaccine became widespread, an estimated 3 to 4 million people got measles each year in the U.S., the agency said. Of them, 400 to 500 people died, and 48,000 were hospitalized.

Not vaccinating your kid is child abuse plain and simple.

It is not an opioid problem

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It is a general drug abuse/mental health problem and needs to be treated as such. From United Press International:

Opioid overdose victims die with other substances in their system
A large number of people who overdose from opioid use have other substances in their systems when they die, new findings show.

About 82 percent of deaths that involved opioids included other substances like cocaine, methamphetamine and other stimulants, according to findings published in the July issue of Drug and Alcohol Dependence.

"As a provider, these findings indicate a pressing need to address and treat not just opioid use disorder, but other substances that patients are misusing," lead author Joshua Barocas, an infectious disease physician at Boston Medical Center and study lead author, said in a news release.

Synthetic opioids like Fentanyl are cheap and easy to make so they are the product of choice for the cartels. Heroin is expensive to grow and process so the move to the synthetics was a no-brainer. Another thing to do would be to police the border and build the wall - that is where 90% of the bad shit is coming from.

I was wondering - Energy Drinks

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Could very well be bad for you - from The American Heart Association:

Energy drinks may increase risk of heart function abnormalities and blood pressure changes
Study Highlights:

    • Three to four hours after drinking 32 ounces of energy drinks, the heart’s electrical activity was abnormal compared to drinking a placebo drink.
    • Two different commercially available energy drinks produced the same results, suggesting that energy drinks as a class should be consumed with caution.

Drinking 32 ounces of an energy drink in a short timespan may increase blood pressure and the risk of electrical disturbances in the heart, which affect heart rhythm, according to a small study published in Journal of the American Heart Association, the Open Access Journal of the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association.

The study enrolled 34 healthy volunteers between the ages of 18 and 40 years. Participants were randomly assigned to drink 32 ounces of one of two commercially available caffeinated energy drinks or a placebo drink on three separate days. The drinks were consumed within a 60-minute period but no faster than one 16-ounce bottle in 30 minutes.

Researchers measured the electrical activity of the volunteers’ hearts by electrocardiogram, which records the way a heart is beating. They also recorded participant’s blood pressure. All measurements were taken at the study’s start and every 30 minutes for 4 hours after drink consumption.

Very small sample size but the results were overwhelming:

In participants who consumed either type of energy drink, researchers found that the QT interval was 6 milliseconds or 7.7 milliseconds higher at 4 hours compared to placebo drinkers. The QT interval is a measurement of the time it takes ventricles in the heart (the lower chambers) to prepare to generate a beat again. If this time interval is either too short or too long, it can cause the heart to beat abnormally. The resulting arrhythmia can be life-threatening.

The results of the study confirm previous findings and suggest that the QT interval changes are generally sustained over the four-hour monitoring period rather than being a short-lasting effect after consuming 32-ounces of an energy drink.

Researchers also found a statistically significant 4 to 5 mm Hg increase in systolic and diastolic blood pressure in participants who consumed the energy drinks.

Everyone showed the QT change and it persisted for at least four hours. I tried Red Bull a couple of times when it first came out but I did not like the way I felt. Do not use them - a Latte in the morning works much better for me...

Ebola in the news

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A collection of links from MetaFilter:

"Violent attacks are winning, and infections are unchecked."
Ebola is out of control in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, in the second-worst outbreak in history. The WHO says the national and regional risk levels are very high, and with the number of new cases increasing in recent weeks, the UN is strengthening its response. Neighbouring countries are considering using an experimental vaccine which has shown impressive results in the DRC itself, but the challenge there is dispensing it: health workers are met with mistrust, and work in constant fear of armed attack, with some having to lie about being doctors in order to treat people.

This really worries me - again, very glad to not be living in a city. You can be highly contagious for weeks before showing symptoms. All it takes is one traveler on a crowded airplane.

They are getting even stupider - from the Sacramento, CA CBS affiliate:

Anti-Vax Movement Spreads To Pet Population
The growing anti-vax movement has spread to the pet population. Fewer dog and cat owners are opting to get their furry friends vaccinated.

The stupid! It burns!

20190522-stupid.jpg

Child abuse in the news - Measles

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The news just keeps getting better - from Reuters:

Measles outbreak spreads to Oklahoma as U.S. reports 41 new cases
The worst measles outbreak in the United States in 25 years has spread to Oklahoma, federal health officials said on Monday as they reported 41 new cases nationwide, raising the total number sickened this year to 880 people.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported a 4.9% increase in the number of measles cases from May 10 to May 17 in an outbreak that has now reached 24 states. The agency has been providing weekly updates every Monday.

Parents who do not vaccinate their children need to really have their heads examined.

Good news from Belgium

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Looks like some clear heads are passing laws there - from MSN:

Making your kids go vegan can mean jail time in Belgium
On May 16, the Royal Academy of Medicine of Belgium issued an opinion that will make it possible to imprison parents who enforce a vegan diet on their children.

The academy determined that veganism for kids is “unethical” because it can lead to health problems for growing children, the Belgian publication Le Soir reports (link in French). The animal-product-free diet isn’t technically prohibited, and the ruling doesn’t necessarily equate veganism with child neglect. However, it will make it easier to prosecute parents who impose the strict diet and whose children have health problems.

Children can follow a vegan diet if it’s accompanied by medical supervision, regular blood tests, and vitamin supplements, Belgian pediatricians concluded. However, parents who don’t follow through on the additional requirements risk two years in prison, fines, and the possibility that their children will be removed from their homes if the kids do have associated health issues.

Good - you can maintain a fairly healthy life eating vegetarian but going vegan tips you over the edge. I can always tell when someone is vegan - they look really unhealthy.

Thinking of getting a tattoo?

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From the U.S. Food and Drug Administration:

FDA Advises Consumers, Tattoo Artists, and Retailers to Avoid Using or Selling Certain Tattoo Inks Contaminated with Microorganisms

Product
The following tattoo inks have been recalled because they are contaminated with microorganisms:

    • Scalpaink SCScalpaink PA, and Scalpaink AL basic black tattoo inks manufactured by Scalp Aesthetics (all lots)
    • Dynamic Color - Black tattoo ink manufactured by Dynamic Color Inc  (lots 12024090 and 12026090)
    • Solid Ink-Diablo (red) tattoo ink manufactured by Color Art Inc. (dba Solid Ink) (dba Antone's Ink) (lot 10.19.18)

Purpose
The FDA is alerting consumers, tattoo artists, and retailers of the potential for serious injury from use of tattoo inks that are contaminated with bacteria. Tattoo inks contaminated with microorganisms can cause infections and lead to serious health injuries when injected into the skin during a tattooing procedure, since there is an increased risk of infection any time the skin barrier is broken.

Yikes... Thought about getting a dragon on my forearm from time to time but never have and probably never will.

Measles in Seattle

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From Seattle station KIRO:

King and Pierce County Health Departments warn of possible measles exposure
Health departments in Pierce and King counties are warning of a possible measles exposure in over a dozen locations spanning both counties.

A Pierce County man in his 40s spent time at a number of public locations while contagious.

So far, this single case has not been linked to any others. It is not known where the man contracted measles.

Sigh... Anti-vax is child abuse plain and simple.

Public Health - three headlines

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Public health in the news - Hep. A

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From Seattle station KOMO

Homeless man sick with hepatitis A, public health launches outreach efforts
New concerns are emerging in Seattle's homeless crisis. A man living on the streets is sick with hepatitis A and now public health workers are scrambling to keep the virus from spreading.

On Thursday, teams from Public Health – Seattle & King County began outreach at various shelters and encampments where the man might have gone to offer free vaccinations and help with thorough cleaning.

A bit more:

Public health workers are moving quickly because the man who got sick marks the first time in years that King County has seen hepatitis A in the homeless community.

And the consequences:

Left unchecked, the virus can cause severe liver damage. King County saw 14 hepatitis A cases in 2018. There have been eight cases so far this year but the latest one is the first to affect the homeless community.

More here - a nasty disease and highly contagious through feces and contaminated food: Hepatitis A

Some good news - measles

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From The Bellingham Herald:

Washington state bill limits measles vaccine exemptions
Washington state lawmakers voted Tuesday to remove parents’ ability to claim a personal or philosophical exemption from vaccinating their children for measles, although medical and religious exemptions will remain.

The vote comes as the number of measles cases nationwide this year has passed 600.

The measure now heads to Gov. Jay Inslee, who has expressed support for limiting exemptions. The state has seen 74 cases of measles this year. Most of those cases were centered in one county and involved children 10 or younger who were not immunized.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has reported that as of the end of last week, 626 cases of measles have been confirmed in the U.S. so far this year, up from 555 as of a week ago. While 22 states have reported cases, most of the nation’s cases are centered in New York City and in nearby Rockland County north of the city.

Great news - there is no rational excuse for denying your child protection against these potentially fatal diseases.

An interesting medical event

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From Nebraska's Omaha World-Herald:

Pothole jolts man's heart rate back to normal on way to Omaha hospital. Here's how that's possible
Most drivers get a sinking feeling when their cars clunk into crater-like potholes.

But one pothole did a passenger a favor when the ambulance he was in struck it, according to first responders.

Members of the Gretna Volunteer Fire Department on Monday were taking a 59-year-old man suffering chest pain to the hospital, a Sarpy County 911 dispatcher said.

The patient also had an abnormally high heart rate. While en route to Lakeside Hospital, the ambulance hit a pothole. The jolt returned the patient’s heart rate to normal, said Gretna Fire Chief Rod Buethe.

Entirely plausible - an electrical shock is the preferred way to defibrilate a heartbeat but a mechanical shock will work almost as well.

Yikes - knocking at the door - Ebola

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I wrote this three days ago about people from the continent of Africa showing up along with all the other illegal immigrants from South America - who is funding this? Now we have this from Hal Turner:

20 Illegal Aliens from Congo Being "Monitored for EBOLA" at U.S. Border
A public health official in Laredo, Texas, said 20 Congolese migrants are being monitored for Ebola in shelters in his city and across the Mexican border in Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas.

Shortly after his announcement during a Laredo City Council meeting, the World Health Organization (WHO) considered declaring a “global emergency” in response to a massive outbreak of Ebola in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

“We have 8 Congolese right now in one of our shelters and a dozen in Nuevo Laredo,” Laredo Health Director Dr. Hector Gonzalez told the Laredo City Councilman George Altget during a council meeting on April 4. “For them, my concern was Ebola.” He said that due to the time element, the Congolese migrants were not developing symptoms of Ebola. “But, we’re on alert to check that,” he said.

This really scares me - you can be infectious for up to two weeks before displaying any symptoms, the disease is highly contagious and the fatality rate is about 80% even with excellent care. All it takes is one person walking through a crowded airplane terminal on a busy day.

Measles in the news

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It is not going away anytime soon. This could have been prevented if people realized that the supposed link between the MMR vaccination and autism was promoted by someone with financial reasons to do so. Andy Wakefield did this specious "paper" and was drummed out of the medical profession (his right to practice medicine was stripped) and was funded by an insurance company which stood to profit.

Here are three clickable headlines:

Not vaccinating your kid is child abuse.

Why I never take the stuff - Tylenol

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From The American Council on Science and Health:

Is Tylenol 'By Far The Most Dangerous Drug Ever Made?'
Why would Dr. Hausknecht, a New York neurologist and pain management specialist, say this? Taken out of context, such a sweeping statement may seem to be hyperbolic. The most dangerous drug ever made? I asked him to elaborate. He did:

"Each year a substantial number of Americans experience intentional and unintentional Tylenol (acetaminophen) associated overdoses that can result in serious morbidity and mortality. Analysis of national databases show that acetaminophen-associated overdoses account for about 50,000 emergency room visits and 25,000 hospitalizations yearly. Acetaminophen is the nation's leading cause of acute liver failure, according to data from an ongoing study funded by the National Institutes for Health. Analysis of national mortality files shows about 450 deaths occur each year from acetaminophen-associated overdoses; 100 of these are unintentional."

Much more at the article - key problem is that the difference between a therapeutic dose and a lethal dose is very very tiny. As for the 50,000 emergency room visits and 25,000 hospitalizations, yet only 450 deaths per year?

Dr. Hausknecht's statistics may seem puzzling. How can there be 50,000 emergency room visits and 25,000 hospitalizations, yet only 450 deaths per year?  This is because, when treated in time, irreversible liver damage from an acute overdose of acetaminophen can be prevented. There is an antidote called N-acetylcysteine. But the danger of the drug is not only from acute doses. Both acute and chronic use of acetaminophen can lead to permanent liver damage, not because acetaminophen itself is toxic, but because the liver converts it into something that is, sealing its own fate in the process.

Still, something to be aware of. I always go for Aspirin. It is safe and reasonably effective. If you take too much, it will thin your blood but this is extremely good for people suffering either a heart attack or a stroke so gobble down a dozen if you ever find yourself in this category. Be sure to tell the Emergency Responders first so they don't give you even more blood thinner. No bueno if that happens.

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