Recently in Medicine and Health Category

Great news from ABC News:

FDA approves first generic EpiPen
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved the first generic version of the EpiPen and EpiPen Jr auto injector for the emergency treatment of allergic reactions.

The approval is part of the FDA's "longstanding commitment" to providing access to low-cost generic alternatives, FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said in a statement.

"This approval means patients living with severe allergies who require constant access to life-saving epinephrine should have a lower-cost option, as well as another approved product to help protect against potential drug shortages," the commissioner said.

It is unclear how much the generic product -- manufactured by Teva Pharmaceuticals -- will cost. In August 2016, Mylan Pharmaceuticals was criticized for raising the price of a two-pack of EpiPens to $600.

The price of two EpiPens was about $100 in 2009. The brand name version is by far the most popular epinephrine auto-injector on the market.

It will be interesting to follow Mylan's stock prices in the next day or two. A 50ml bottle of Veterinary Epinephrine sells for $24. A standard adult EpiPen dispenses 0.3ml so your $24 will buy about  166 doses at just under 15¢ per dose. The Veterinary grades are just as good as human doses. Someone with a prized racehorse or bull is not going to be putting crap into their animal.

Laser pointers - dangerous

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A cautionary tale. Laser pointers are NOT toys. From the New England Journal of Medicine:

Macular Hole from a Laser Pointer

20180627-eye.jpg

A 9-year-old boy was brought by his parents to our ophthalmology clinic for evaluation of decreased vision in his left eye. Visual acuity in the left eye was 20/100, as compared with 20/20 in the right eye. Funduscopic examination of the left eye revealed a large macular hole with a hypopigmented atrophic area inferiorly (Panel A). Optical coherence tomography confirmed the full-thickness macular hole. Fundus autofluorescence imaging highlighted two spots inferior to the macular hole that corresponded to additional areas of injury (Panel B). The child reported playing with a green laser pointer and repeatedly gazing into the laser beam. Although many national health agencies have warned about the potential eye hazards associated with handheld laser pointers, and the sale of devices with greater than 1 mW of power is restricted in many areas, more powerful laser devices remain accessible, especially through the Internet. Because of the large diameter of the macular hole and the accompanying atrophy in this patient, we favored conservative management rather than surgery. The patient’s vision has remained unchanged during 18 months of follow-up.

Emphasis mine - the damage is permanent. Barring some new development in medicine, the kid is going to have bad vision for the rest of his life. I own some lasers including one very powerful one but they are not used as toys.

Not surprised - the place certainly has its share of idiots. From BoingBoing:

Which American cities have lowest herd immunity due to anti-vaxxers?
Parents of Seattle, Spokane, Portland, Phoenix, Salt Lake City, Provo, Houston, Fort Worth, Austin, Plano, Detroit, Troy, Warren, Kansas City and Pittsburgh: beware.

According to a peer reviewed study of kindergartners whose parents had opted out of vaccination, these cities are the places with the lowest herd immunity to preventable, debilitating (and potentially fatal) diseases.

Vaccinations are not 100% effective, and some people can't be vaccinated due to illness. The reason vaccination keeps our children of dying or being maimed for life by the diseases that burned through generation after generation is "herd immunity": if all the kids get immunized, then the disease can't find enough people to infect and spread.

The parents need a good whack with a clue-bat - vaccines are not harmful. The guy who first claimed a link between vaccines and autism was in the pay of an insurance company and he had is license to practice medicine revoked. His "paper" was based on a sample size of 12.

Homeopathy in the news

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One word for it - BUNK!  From Ars Technica:

Doctor slammed by med board for selling $5 homeopathic sound waves for Ebola
The California medical board is threatening to revoke the license of Dr. William Edwin Gray III for selling homeopathic sound files over the Internet that he claims—without evidence or reason—can cure a variety of ailments, including life-threatening infections such as Ebola, SARS, swine flu, malaria, typhoid, and cholera.

In an accusation filed with the state (PDF), the medical board writes that Gray is guilty of gross negligence and requested a hearing in which the board would decide whether to possibly revoke or suspend his license.

In an interview with the Los Angeles Times, Gray said he had decided not to contest the board’s allegations, saying it would cost too much money to fight. He added: “Frankly, I think we'd lose anyway.”

Classic case of why this form of treatment should be regulated a lot more tightly - regulated into oblivion. These fools are paying this "doctor" for sounds to cure an infection instead of seeking qualified medical help. Their infections will only get worse until they finally go into sepsis and have to spend expensive time in the hospital. Could have been cured with a simple Doctor's visit and a prescription.

Yikes - Nipah Virus

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Hope it doesn't spread - an excerpt from this article at the Associated Press:

...At least 10 people have died of Nipah since an outbreak began earlier this month in Kerala, health officials say, and two more people are in critical condition. There is no vaccine for the virus, which can cause raging fevers, convulsions and vomiting, and kills up to 75 percent of people who come down with it. The only treatment is supportive care to keep patients comfortable...

A fairly recent development:

Nipah was first identified during a late 1990s outbreak in Malaysia. Later outbreaks have occurred in Bangladesh and India.

An explanation of his plan from David Catron writing at The American Spectator:

Trump’s Excellent Plan to Reduce Drug Prices
Last Friday, President Trump caused consternation among Democrats and their media allies by introducing an eminently sensible blueprint for reducing drug prices. The 50-point “American Patients First” plan addresses four broad challenges: High list prices for drugs, government programs overpaying for drugs, rising out-of-pocket costs for consumers, and foreign governments free-riding off American innovation. The blueprint relies on free market competition and private-sector negotiation rather than regulatory coercion and price controls. And, assuming his plan works as designed, President Trump will have succeeded where his predecessor proved utterly impotent. Consequently, the plan drew immediate criticism from the left.

The most common liberal complaint about the President’s blueprint involves his decision, as the New York Times laments, “not to have the federal government directly negotiate lower drug prices for Medicare.” Trump alarmed conservatives during his presidential campaign by flirting with that exceptionally bad policy idea, but sensibly abandoned it when working with his advisors to formulate a concrete plan. The term “negotiate” has no real meaning in the context of federal dealings with the drug industry. It is nothing more than a pseudonym for price controls. Allowing the government to “negotiate” with drug companies for lower Medicare drug prices would inevitably create shortages of badly needed pharmaceuticals.

Much more at the site - President Trump's plan seems to be effective and well thought out.

Reforming Medicare

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Excellent news - from PBS:

Medicare to require hospitals to post prices online
Medicare will require hospitals to post their standard prices online and make electronic medical records more readily available to patients, officials said Tuesday.

Let the informed customer make their own decisions. A bit more:

Seema Verma, head of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, said the new requirement for online prices reflects the Trump administration’s ongoing efforts to encourage patients to become better-educated decision makers in their own care.

“We are just beginning on price transparency,” said Verma. “We know that hospitals have this information and we’re asking them to post what they have online.”

Good - this will encourage clinics and hospitals to specialize and this will drive costs down. Clinics that specialize offer better service and cheaper prices. Eye Surgery, Hernias, etc...

Just wonderful - the Flu, round two

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From United Press International:

Second wave of flu season hits U.S.
The winter season ended last month but that doesn't mean the danger of getting the flu is over, even though it is springtime.

Rather than getting a strain of Influenza A, you have a greater chance of getting Influenza B. They carry roughly the same level of severity, having a similar cough, runny or stuffy nose, itchy or watery eyes, sore throat, fatigue and low fever.

They quote data from the Centers for Disease Control:

In the latest results, the CDC said the breakdown was 39.6 percent for Influenza A and 60.3 percent for Influenza B. Among 21,823 specimens tested, 15.4 percent were positive.

"The percentage of respiratory specimens testing positive for influenza in clinical laboratories remains elevated," the CDC said in the report.

A very bad year and it is just getting worse.

Homeopathy explained

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Excellent animation on what it is, why it took off when it did and why it is bunk.

Interesting story along the lines of British sailors contracting scurvy on long voyages. From Atlas Obscura:

How Killer Rice Crippled Tokyo and the Japanese Navy
IN 1877, JAPAN’S MEIJI EMPEROR watched his aunt, the princess Kazu, die of a common malady: kakke. If her condition was typical, her legs would have swollen, and her speech slowed. Numbness and paralysis might have come next, along with twitching and vomiting. Death often resulted from heart failure.

The emperor had suffered from this same ailment, on-and-off, his whole life. In response, he poured money into research on the illness. It was a matter of survival: for the emperor, his family, and Japan’s ruling class. While most diseases ravage the poor and vulnerable, kakke afflicted the wealthy and powerful, especially city dwellers. This curious fact gave kakke its other name: Edo wazurai, the affliction of Edo (Edo being the old name for Tokyo). But for centuries, the culprit of kakke went unnoticed: fine, polished, white rice.

Gleaming white rice was a status symbol—it was expensive and laborious to husk, hull, polish, and wash. In Japan, the poor ate brown rice, or other carbohydrates such as sweet potatoes or barley. The rich ate polished white rice, often to the exclusion of other foods.

This was a problem. Removing the outer layers of a grain of rice also removes one vital nutrient: thiamine, or vitamin B-1. Without thiamine, animals and humans develop kakke, now known in English as beriberi. But for too long, the cause of the condition remained unknown.

An interesting story - much more at the site. The Doctor who discovered the actual cause became a member of the Royal Family and was named Doctor Barley.

Great news from the CDC

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From United Press International:

Doctors visits for the flu down for second week in a row, CDC says
If the latest government data on doctor visits is any indication, a brutal flu season may be starting to wane.

For the second week in a row, there was a drop in doctor visits for flu-like illness in the United States. And the latest drop was more pronounced than the one before, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported Friday.

As of Feb. 17, the CDC said that 6.4 percent of patient visits to doctors were for the flu, down from 7.5 percent of patient visits the week before.

But the news was not all good, and it doesn't look like the flu season is over yet.

Flu-linked hospitalization rates continued to rise -- from 67.9 per 100,000 people for the week ending Feb. 10, to 74.5 per 100,000 people for the week ending Feb. 17, the findings showed.

Pediatric flu deaths are also still increasing, with 97 children now dead from the flu so far this season, according to the CDC.

CDC officials have pinpointed one reason why this flu season has been so brutal: the flu vaccine is only 25 percent effective against H3N2 influenza, which is causing most flu cases this year.

This was a bad season - lost a dear friend to the flu. He was only 52 years old.

News you can use - longevity

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From the UC Irvine Institute for Memory Impairments and Neurological Disorders (UCI MIND)

The 90+ Study
The 90+ Study was initiated in 2003 to study the oldest-old, the fastest growing age group in the United States. The 90+ Study is one of the largest studies of the oldest-old in the world. More than 1,600 people have enrolled. Because little is known about people who achieve this milestone, the remarkable increase in the number of oldest-old presents a public health priority to promote the quality as well as the quantity of life.

The 90+ Study participants
Initial participants in The 90+ Study were once members of The Leisure World Cohort Study (LWCS), which was started in 1981. The LWCS mailed surveys to every resident of Leisure World, a large retirement community in Orange County, California (now incorporated as the city of Laguna Woods). Using the 14,000 subjects from the LWCS, researchers from The 90+ Study were able to ask, What allows people to live to age 90 and beyond?

Some of their findings are interesting:

Major findings
Researchers from The 90+ Study have published many scientific papers in premier journals. Some of the major findings are:

    • People who drank moderate amounts of alcohol or coffee lived longer than those who abstained.
    • People who were overweight in their 70s lived longer than normal or underweight people did.

I'm down with that - love a glass of two of red wine in the evening and maybe I'll ease up on getting that last ten pounds off my bodyweight...

Just fscking wonderful

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From the The Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region:

CHP notified of human case of avian influenza A (H7N4) in Mainland
The Centre for Health Protection (CHP) of the Department of Health (DH) today (February 14) received notification from the National Health and Family Planning Commission (NHFPC) that a human case of avian influenza A (H7N4) was confirmed from February 10 to 14, and reminded the public to maintain strict personal, food and environmental hygiene both locally and during travel.

According to the NHFPC, this is the first case of human infection with avian influenza A (H7N4) in the world. The case involved a 68-year-old female patient living in Liyang in Changzhou of Jiangsu Province who developed symptoms on December 25, 2017. She was admitted to hospital for medical treatment on January 1 and was discharged on January 22. She had contact with live poultry before the onset of symptoms. All her close contacts did not have any symptoms during the medical surveillance period.

According to a report from the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, upon analysis, the genes of the virus were determined to be of avian origin.

"All novel influenza A infections, including H7N4, are notifiable infectious diseases in Hong Kong," the spokesman for the CHP said.

"Based on the seasonal pattern, the activity of avian influenza viruses is expected to be higher in winter. Travellers to the Mainland or other affected areas must avoid visiting wet markets, live poultry markets or farms. They should be alert to the presence of backyard poultry when visiting relatives and friends. They should also avoid purchasing live or freshly slaughtered poultry, and avoid touching poultry/birds or their droppings. They should strictly observe personal and hand hygiene when visiting any place with live poultry," the spokesman reminded.

Just what we need - a new strain of flu to watch out for... Lost a dear friend to it earlier this year. RIP Kurt.

Faster please - vaccine

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From The Wall Street Journal:

Experimental Drug Promises to Kill the Flu Virus in a Day
As Americans suffer through the worst influenza outbreak in almost a decade, a Japanese drugmaker says it has developed a pill that can kill the virus within a day. But even if the experimental drug lives up to the claim, it likely won’t be available in the U.S. until next year at the earliest.

A late-stage trial on Japanese and American flu patients found that for the people who took the Shionogi & Co. compound, the median time taken to wipe out the virus was 24 hours. That is much quicker than any other flu drug on the market, including Roche AG’s Tamiflu, which the trial showed took three times longer to achieve the same result. Quickly killing the virus could reduce its contagious effects, Shionogi said.

Also, Shionogi’s experimental drug requires only a single dose, while patients need to take two doses of Tamiflu a day, for five days.

Both Shionogi’s compound and Tamiflu take roughly the same amount of time to entirely contain flu symptoms, but Shionogi says its compound provides immediate relief faster.

Scientists at the Japanese company leveraged their work on a blockbuster anti-HIV drug to create the compound, which works differently from existing flu medicines. It blocks the flu virus from hijacking human cellular machinery, Chief Executive Isao Teshirogi said. Switzerland’s Roche has acquired the international license to distribute Shionogi’s experimental drug.

Not available in the USA as yet but great news nonetheless.

Not a good thing to do for many reasons - from The Atlantic:

The Startling Link Between Sugar and Alzheimer's
In recent years, Alzheimer’s disease has occasionally been referred to as “type 3” diabetes, though that moniker doesn’t make much sense. After all, though they share a problem with insulin, type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease, and type 2 diabetes is a chronic disease caused by diet. Instead of another type of diabetes, it’s increasingly looking like Alzheimer’s is another potential side effect of a sugary, Western-style diet.

And the upshot:

A longitudinal study, published Thursday in the journal Diabetologia, followed 5,189 people over 10 years and found that people with high blood sugar had a faster rate of cognitive decline than those with normal blood sugar—whether or not their blood-sugar level technically made them diabetic. In other words, the higher the blood sugar, the faster the cognitive decline.

Much more at the site. Trish and I are both eating reduced carb diets and are feeling a lot better for it. Trying to stay under 30 grams/day seems to be the real sweet-spot.

The Flu - three articles

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Just wonderful - flu season

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From Time magazine:

The Flu May Be Spread Just By Breathing, Study Says
For years, you’ve been told to cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze, especially when you’re sick. But a new study finds that it may be possible to spread the flu just by breathing—no coughing or sneezing required.

“People shed a lot of virus all the time, even when they don’t cough,” says Donald Milton, author of the study published in PNAS and a professor of environmental health at the University of Maryland School of Public Health. “As a result, it’s important to realize you can be infectious at any time.”

During the 2012-2013 flu season, Milton and his colleagues studied 142 University of Maryland students with active influenza, attempting to track how and when they expelled virus particles. During a total of 218 30-minute observation sessions, the students sat in a machine that could measure the droplets they shed while breathing, talking, coughing or sneezing. While coughing did expel some flu particles, the researchers discovered that almost half of the aerosol particles collected in the absence of coughing also contained flu matter, suggesting that simply inhaling germ-ridden air could get you sick.

Joyful news - especially since I am summoned for jury duty this coming week. I'll see how I feel and then give them a call on Monday morning to see if I can get out of it.

Scientific American has more:

Warning: A Flu Pandemic Today Could Kill As Many As 80 Million People
If the 1918 flu pandemic broke out today, it would likely kill at least 62 million people, or slightly more than the number that die in a single year from all other causes combined. The estimate stems from a new tally of flu deaths from 1918 to 1920 in different countries, which varied widely. Based on their findings, authors of the study say that 96 percent of the victims of a present-day pandemic would be in the developing world.

The report comes on the heels of fears that the H5N1 flu virus currently circulating among birds in Southeast Asia and Africa may be the precursor to a deadly global outbreak or pandemic. To gauge the potential threat, researchers reviewed the toll of the most severe previous case, which occurred in 1918 when a flu swept the world, claiming at least 20 million lives. "It's the benchmark against which we worry about future flu pandemics," says population health researcher Christopher Murray of the Harvard Initiative for Global Health.

Just great - we have another - and worse strain - waiting to cross over to humans.

News you can use - sneezing

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Makes perfect sense - I always use the inside of my elbow to stifle mine. From the UK Guardian:

Achoo! Why letting out an explosive sneeze is safer than stifling it
In a season where colds are rife, holding your nose and closing your mouth might seem like a considerate alternative to an explosive “Achoo!”. But doctors have warned of the dangers of such a move after a man was found to have ruptured the back of his throat when attempting to stifle a sneeze.

Medics say the incident, which they detail in the British Medical Journal Case Reports, came to light when a 34-year old man arrived in A&E with a change to his voice, a swollen neck, pain when swallowing and a popping sensation in his neck after he pinched his nose to contain an expulsion.

The team took scans of the man’s neck to investigate and discovered bubbles of air in the tissues at the back of the throat, and in the neck from the base of the skull to halfway down the man’s back. 

That, they say, suggested a tear had occurred at the back of the throat as a result of increased pressure from the stifled sneeze, leading to air collecting in his soft tissues. 

“For reasons of propriety and etiquette, one sometimes stops a sneeze. However on unfortunate rare occasions it might lead to potentially serious complications,” said Dr Sudip Das, co-author of the report from the University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust.

Propriety and etiquette be damned - use your elbow or a hankerchief. Do not spread it around but also, First Do No Harm.

The 2018 flu season

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It is getting worse - from the medical blog STAT:

Flu season is shaping up as one of the worst in years, officials say
The entire continental United States is experiencing widespread flu right now, the first time in the 13 years of the current tracking system that that has happened, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Officials said that this flu season is shaping up to be one of the worst in recent years.

The rate of flu hospitalizations — the number of people hospitalized with flu per 100,000 — nearly doubled last week compared with the previous week. Last week it was 22.7 per 100,000 people; the week before that rate was 13.7.

I lost a dear friend who was only 52 and in great health. His memorial service was less than a week ago.

The Flu - some advice

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Some great advice from Aesop - an Emergency Room Doctor and blogger: RACONTEUR REPORT

PSA: Flu 2018 - Updated
Thirty-six states report influenza activity as "widespread". That would be all the brown ones in the CDC map, above.
Nota bene the number of states with no influenza activity this year is "zero".
The CDC has identified 648 different active influenza virus sub-types this year, to date.

Anecdotally, where I am, approximately 4 out of every 6 persons swabbed for flu for URIs in the ER are coming back with positive results. (My patient pop. average age is markedly older than most of the county.) Just the other night, I admitted three different people over the age of 60 to the hospital, for flu which had debilitated the patients, who subsequently acquired pneumonia as well, the latter affliction being well capable of killing you deader than canned tuna untreated. Breathing underwater has that effect on people.

Flu symptoms are fever, sore throat, cough, body aches, fatigue, muscle aches, and possibly nausea/vomiting.

If you have a fever, you are infectious to others.
If you're treating a fever with Tylenol/ibuprofen/etc., you are infectious to others.
If either of those apply, keep your dumb ass at home, until you're over it. Period.
Anything else deserves a crotch kick.
(A co-worker was patient Zero at my ER, and another colleague gifted me with the crud for two weeks, followed by another four weeks of dreadfully lingering cough. This year's cold has a horrendous URI "tail" of hacking cough that just hangs on.)

Treatment
1) Stay the f*** home. Until it's ALL gone.
2) Get plenty of sleep and rest, but get up and move around, if only to use the bathroom, make a sandwich, pee, poop, or puke. Lying immobile increases your odds for bigger problems.
3) acetaminophen/ibuprofen for fever control and aches.
4) Water, water, water. Anything less than an hourly pee trip, and your pee isn't clear and mostly colorless, you're probably not drinking nearly enough water.
5) Soups, Gatorade, Jell-O, popsicles, etc. are also water.
6) And more water.
7) Caffeine and alcohol are diuretics, and dehydrate you more, and faster. Avoid both.
8) Take any number of "snivel" meds to mitigate symptoms, loosen congestion and mucus, suppress cough, etc.
9) If you find homeopathic voodoo meds that help, use them. They likely can't hurt.
10) Stay the f*** home. Until it's ALL gone.

This year's flu outbreak is in addition to normal viral illnesses (a "cold"), which are similarly rampant, especially from Thanksgiving to Easter, when intergenerational family members gather to share diseases and finger-bang everything they touch and cough on, for everyone from snot-monkey age to grandma and grandpa.

Prevention
1) Keep yourself and your little bastards home when they're sick.
2) Wash your hands.
3) Wash your hands before you eat, drink, or touch your face.
4) Wash your hands.
5) Wash your hands after you poop, pee, cough, or touch anything else in the entire world.
6) Wash your hands.
7) Cover your mouth when you cough.
8) Keep at home all your kids too young and stupid to learn to cover their mouths when they cough.
9) Carry personal disinfectant/sanitizer, and use it vigorously and frequently.
10) Understand that if I catch you or your kids out and about in public, coughing, sneezing, and dribbling your snot-mitts on everything, I may replace or augment my personal disinfectant with OC spray, and I will use it on you. If you can still identify me afterwards, and I'm still in the same area 30 minutes later when your vision clears up, I may express feigned/mock regret over my "mistake" in grabbing the wrong spritzer and using it on you.
11) Or, not.

NB: OC Spray is Oleoresin capsicum - pepper spray. - good words of wisdom...

Three headlines - romaine lettuce

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From Canada's Public Health AgencyOutbreak of E. coli infections linked to romaine lettuce

From the USA's Centers for Disease ControlCDC Investigating Multistate Outbreak of E. coli O157:H7 Infections

From Consumer Reports magazine: Avoid Romaine Lettuce for Now, Consumer Reports Says

Things are pointing to a Canadian source - 59 people ill and two fatalities - washing the lettuce does nothing. Time to switch to iceberg or butter...

The Flu in England

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From the UK Telegraph:

NHS hospitals ordered to cancel all routine operations in January as flu spike and bed shortages lead to A&E crisis
Every hospital in the country has been ordered to cancel all non-urgent surgery until at least February in an unprecedented step by NHS officials.

The instructions on Tuesday night - which will see result in around 50,000 operations being axed - followed claims by senior doctors that patients were being treated in “third world” conditions, as hospital chief executives warned of the worst winter crisis for three decades.

Hospitals are reporting growing chaos, with a spike in winter flu leaving frail patients facing 12-hour waits, and some units running out of corridor space.

The joys of socialized medicine - the system creaks along until something like this epidemic happens and then it collapses. There is no resiliency built into the system. That costs money and they do not have any.

Bad all over - flu

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Kurt died from the flu and he was in really good health. It is bad all around the USA - from the Los Angeles Times:

Severe flu brings medicine shortages, packed ERs and a rising death toll in California
So many people have fallen sick with influenza in California that pharmacies have run out of flu medicines, emergency rooms are packed, and the death toll is rising higher than in previous years.

Health officials said Friday that 27 people younger than 65 have died of the flu in California since October, compared with three at the same time last year. Nationwide and in California, flu activity spiked sharply in late December and continues to grow.

The emergency room at UCLA Medical Center in Santa Monica typically treats about 140 patients a day, but at least one day this week had more than 200 patients — mostly because of the flu, said the ER’s medical director, Dr. Wally Ghurabi.

Wash your hands frequently and stay away from crowds. This season is a bad one. There is a bit of good news from the Centers for Disease Control:

Flu vaccines have been updated to better match circulating viruses

Good news - the initial vaccines didn't cover this year's prevailing strain.

Influenza in the news

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My manager's husband died from the flu a few days ago - it has been a very bad season for this disease. Here are a few links:

The Centers for Disease Control show that the prevailing strain is not what people were being vaccinated for.

The California fires

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It will be interesting to see if the State of California will take funds away from social programs nad spend them on repairing their crumbling infrastructure. The winds caused power lines to arc and this is what caused the majority of the fires. Here is one other cause - from the Los Angeles Times:

Fire at a homeless encampment sparked Bel-Air blaze that destroyed homes, officials say
The blaze that swept through the hills of Bel-Air last week, destroying six homes and damaging a dozen others, was sparked by a cooking fire at a homeless encampment in a nearby ravine, Los Angeles officials said Tuesday.

The encampment was nestled in a canyon several hundred feet from Sepulveda Boulevard and the 405 Freeway, hidden from passing cars. For several years, it had been home to an unknown number of people, officials said.

Investigators said the fire had not been set deliberately and they have not found any of the people who lived there. The camp — one of scores of makeshift communities that have grown along freeways, rivers and open space across Los Angeles — was largely destroyed in the fire, leaving authorities with little evidence.

And of course, it is not the homeless who are at fault:

News that one of Los Angeles’ most affluent neighborhoods was damaged in a fire sparked by some of the city’s poorest residents added a sober note to the incident, with some officials saying it underscores the need to do more to house the homeless.

The majority of the homeless are mentally ill - they used to be institutionalized and although these institutions were mundane and many times underfunded, at least they were fed and kept clean and given things to do according to their mental abilities. Enter President John F. Kennedy and his Community Mental Health Act - passed in 1963, it caused widespread deinstitutionalization. Every single act by progressives have only exacerbated the homeless problem. We need to return to a program of institutionalization. People will cry that this would violate the "rights" of the mentally ill but the mentally ill - by the very definition - are not capable of acting on their own best interests.

From Dr. Helen Smith writing at PJ Media:

I Believe It: Vegetarian Men More Depressed
A recent study finds men who don't eat meat are more depressed:

From the same dataset that brought you the information that vegetarian mothers create drug-addled children, we learn that vegetarian men are more depressed than their meat-eating brothers. The study, Vegetarian diets and depressive symptoms among men, is in the Journal of Affective Disorders.

That dataset, Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC), has over 9,000 men self-reporting on their eating habits. This study looked at the 350 self-identified vegetarians in their midst. These men completed a survey including a set of measures on depression at roughly the 18th week of their spouses’ pregnancy. Vegans were lumped in with vegetarians because of their small numbers. The researchers found that vegetarian men were more likely, with an odds ratio of 1.71 (that is a 70% increased risk) to be depressed. The authors say they accounted for a range of sociodemographic factors including family history, prior childhood psychiatric contact, educational level, number of children at home, marital and employment status, alcohol and tobacco use and educational level. The longer time an individual had been a vegetarian did not correlate, at least at a statistical significance, with depression.

Dr. Smith closes with this excellent observation:

I have to say that the stricter people are with their diet, the more out of  control they seem to feel about their lives, and I think too many vegetables and not enough protein is a recipe for disaster, especially for men.

My chicken breasts should be thawed out by now - time to make a quick marinade and get them ready for dinner tonight.

News you can use

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Trish and I have been looking at getting some more exercise. We are both pretty fit but I want to take it up a notch or three - this news makes perfect sense. From Australia's University of Sydney:

Strength exercise as vital as aerobic
Push ups and sit ups could add years to your life according to a new study of over 80,000 adults led by the University of Sydney.

The largest study to compare the mortality outcomes of different types of exercise found people who did strength-based exercise had a 23 percent reduction in risk of premature death by any means, and a 31 percent reduction in cancer-related death.

Lead author Associate Professor Emmanuel Stamatakis from the School of Public Health and the Charles Perkins Centre said while strength training has been given some attention for functional benefits as we age, little research has looked at its impact on mortality.

“The study shows exercise that promotes muscular strength may be just as important for health as aerobic activities like jogging or cycling,” said Associate Professor Stamatakis.

Interesting and it looks like a well-run survey. 80,000 is a great sample size - good p-Value. The disgraced study that caused all the controversy about vaccines and autism had a sample size of 12.

America's Opioid crisis

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Americans are dying from opioid overdose and the numbers are rising sharply. It seems that people are looking into this - especially one of the families responsible. From the U.S. Attorney’s Office - District of Massachusetts:

Founder and Owner of Pharmaceutical Company Insys Arrested and Charged with Racketeering
The founder and majority owner of Insys Therapeutics Inc., was arrested today and charged with leading a nationwide conspiracy to profit by using bribes and fraud to cause the illegal distribution of a Fentanyl spray intended for cancer patients experiencing breakthrough pain.

John N. Kapoor, 74, of Phoenix, Ariz., a current member of the Board of Directors of Insys, was arrested this morning in Arizona and charged with RICO conspiracy, as well as other felonies, including conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud and conspiracy to violate the Anti-Kickback Law. Kapoor, the former Executive Chairman of the Board and CEO of Insys, will appear in federal court in Phoenix today. He will appear in U.S. District Court in Boston at a later date.

And the charges:

(long list of people including Kapoor) conspired to bribe practitioners in various states, many of whom operated pain clinics, in order to get them to prescribe a fentanyl-based pain medication.  The medication, called “Subsys,” is a powerful narcotic intended to treat cancer patients suffering intense breakthrough pain.  In exchange for bribes and kickbacks, the practitioners wrote large numbers of prescriptions for the patients, most of whom were not diagnosed with cancer.

Emphasis mine. Lots more at the site. This is only one instance but it is a great place to start.

I have always wondered why we do not outright buy the entire Afghani opium crop each year and just destroy it after refining what the world medical industry needs. One sure way to get it off the streets.

A new Shingles vaccine

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Time to get the jab again - from UPI:

CDC recommends new shingles vaccine for people over 50
On the heels of approval of a better vaccine for the painful condition shingles, adults over 50 should plan to roll up their sleeves -- again.

The new vaccine, Shingrix, will likely be recommended even for those already inoculated with an older vaccine.

An advisory panel of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended Wednesday that all adults 50 and older receive the new two-shot vaccine, just days after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced its approval of Shingrix.

Planning to get this myself. I have known a couple people who had Shingles and would not wish this on anyone...

Great little eye-opener from Conservative Tribune:

Socialism at Work: British Feds Ban Surgery for Smokers and the Obese
Socialized medicine is a wonderful, compassionate system that brings important care to everyone… at least, that’s what leftists in the United States and Europe keep insisting.

As the United Kingdom is finding out, however, everyone is not actually equal under health care socialism. As soon as the system starts running out of other people’s money, people are quickly pushed out… and you’d better hope that you’re not one of the unlucky ones who gets thrown aside!

That’s exactly what happened this week in Britain, as the socialized National Health System announced that patients are being banned from important surgeries if they happen to be a bit overweight or smoke tobacco.

More at the site - tip of the hat to Wirecutter at Knuckledraggin My Life Away for the link.

The link between childhood vaccinations and autism is simply not there. It first reared its pointy little head in a 1998 paper in the British journal Lancet based on research by Dr. Andrew Wakefield. Slight problem - Wakefield's research was funded by an insurance company which hoped to profit off future lawsuits against vaccine makers. The paper was retracted and Dr. Wakefield now goes by Andy - his license to practice medicine was stripped from him.

Still, like a chicken, the head was chopped off but the body still twitches. From Canada's CBC News:

UBC researchers pull paper linking vaccine component to autism after data alleged to be manipulated
Researchers from the University of British Columbia are retracting their scientific paper linking aluminum in vaccines to autism in mice, because one of the co-authors claims figures published in the study were deliberately altered before publication — an issue he says he realized after allegations of data manipulation surfaced online.

The professor also told CBC News there's no way to know "why" or "how" the figures were allegedly contorted, as he claims original data cited in the study is inaccessible, which would be a contravention of the university's policy around scientific research.

The paper looked at the effects of aluminum components in vaccines on immune response in a mouse's brain. It was published in the Journal of Inorganic Biochemistry on Sept. 5.

Talk about a two-fer - not only the vaccine/autism fraud but they were looking at aluminum which has been featured highly in the do not use aluminum cookware as it can give you Alzheimers bullshit. A bit more:

However, subsequent scrutiny has raised questions about the validity of the data, with one doctor calling the paper "anti-vaccine pseudoscience."

The allegations were published last week on Retraction Watch, a site that reports on withdrawn papers as "a window into the scientific process."

By the middle of September, commenters on PubPeer — a database where users can examine and comment on published scientific papers — pointed out that figures in the study appeared to have been altered, and in one case lifted directly from a 2014 study also authored by Shaw and Tomljenovic.

Soo busted. A lot more at the site. One of the researchers had a previous paper retracted for dodgy data in 2016. Who is funding these idiots and why do they still have tenure at UBC?

Healthcare in Canada

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In the USA, our health-care system is a muddled mess. It started off fine but grew larger and larger as more and more activists lobbied for their niche causes. Add congressional lobbying by pharmaceutical companies and you have a big steaming expensive mess. As we look for alternatives, Canada keeps coming to mind. Turns out the numbers simply do not add up. From Canada's Financial Post:

Why Canada’s ‘best’ health-care system just got ranked last — again
Because liberal Americans see us, in this age of Trump, as an oasis of sanity in a worldwide desert of populism, The New York Times is doing more reporting on Canada, presumably so its U.S. readers don’t lose all hope that saner choices could be available in an alternative world.

It also offers a weekly “Canada letter” on worthwhile and actually sometimes interesting Canadian initiatives. Recently the letter reported on a health-care tournament the Times organized in which five experts decided which of eight rich countries had the best health-care system.

We didn’t win. In fact, we went out in the first round, losing to Britain, which then lost to Switzerland, which ultimately beat France, though only by three votes to two in the final. Other first-round losers were Singapore, Australia and Germany. The U.S. made it to the semis where it was beaten by France, three votes to two.

Wait times were the big issue. This is a perfect example of rationing which is what Obamacare and Single Payer will be implementing. "Free" medical is only good if you can get it in a timely manner.

Obamacare meltdown

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Looks like President Trump is taking Obamacare to the mat - three headlines:

Stick a fork in it - it is done and over with. Private insurance, free market competition. Those will drive down the costs - a centralized administration will drive up the costs.

Two different stories, two different cities:

Not like this is a new event either. From 2015. From 2016. From 2017.

Good news - baby Charlie Gard

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Baby Charlie was born with a genetic disorder and will not live unless he receives an experimental treatment in the United States. His parents raised over $1.5 million but England's National Health Service (their version of government single-payer health care) is insisting that Charlie die with dignity at home. This case is really demonstrating the failure of the single-payer system plus the fact that when a single-payer system is installed, the available funding to do basic research dries up - there are no experimental treatments in England, only in America.

But, some good news from CNS News:

Judge Rules Against London Hospital--In Favor of Charlie Gard's Parents
A judge at London's High Court ruled against the hospital and in favor of the parents of baby Charlie Gard--who is suffering from a rare genetic disorder--that they may present new scientific evidence concerning their son's treatment, which will be reviewed this Thursday and could possibly lead to Charlie receiving treatment in the United States. But the outcome is still uncertain and Charlie's fate is precarious.

Charlie Gard is 10 months old. He lives on life support in the Great Ormond Street Hospital in London. His genetic disorder is destructive to muscles and organs, and most people who have the problem die in infancy. The baby's parents, Chris Gard and Connie Yates, want their son to undergo an experimental treatment, which has been helpful in some cases. An online campaign has raised more than $1.5 million for the baby's treatment.

Under the health care laws in Britain, however, the parents are not allowed to pursue this option. The hospital contends Charlie is brain-damaged and beyond medical hope, and the hospital wants to shut off his life support. This denial of the parent's desire to seek treatment for their son elsewhere led to several court rulings -- in favor of the hospital. On Monday, July 10, the judge who previously ruled against the Gards agreed to review whatever new evidence they can present to him for a reevaluation.

Single-payer health care - Canada

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Single payer does not work. There is no competition so costs escalate. When the costs get too high, rationing happens. When rationing happens, delays occur. From Canada's Frasier Institute:

Waiting Your Turn: Wait Times for Health Care in Canada, 2016 Report
Waiting for treatment has become a defining characteristic of Canadian health care. In order to document the lengthy queues for visits to specialists and for diagnostic and surgical procedures in the country, the Fraser Institute has—for over two decades—surveyed specialist physicians across 12 specialties and 10 provinces.

This edition of Waiting Your Turn indicates that, overall, waiting times for medically necessary treatment have increased since last year. Specialist physicians surveyed report a median waiting time of 20.0 weeks between referral from a general practitioner and receipt of treatment—longer than the wait of 18.3 weeks reported in 2015. This year’s wait time—the longest ever recorded in this survey’s history—is 115% longer than in 1993, when it was just 9.3 weeks.

There is a great deal of variation in the total waiting time faced by patients across the provinces. Ontario reports the shortest total wait (15.6 weeks), while New Brunswick reports the longest (38.8 weeks). There is also a great deal of variation among specialties. Patients wait longest between a GP referral and Neurosurgery (46.9 weeks), while those waiting for Medical oncology begin treatment in 3.7 weeks.

The full report can be found here (PDF). No wonder so many Canadians come down here for healthcare.

A couple of days ago, I posted about baby Charlie in England where their single-payer healthcare system's Doctors sugested that he should be able to ‘die with dignity’ even though his parents had raised £1.4million so he could come to America and try some experimental treatments.

Today, our President weighed in - from The Hill:

Trump offers help for critically ill British child
President Trump on Monday offered to help a critically ill British child who has become a flashpoint in the U.K. debate over whether the government should have a say in individual matters pertaining to life and death.

Trump tweeted his support for Charlie Gard, a 10-month-old infant on life support due to complications from a mitochondrial disease. The controversy around Gard has engulfed the Vatican, which infuriated some on the right by not immediately siding entirely with the parents, who want to seek experimental medication in the U.S. or bring their child home to die.

“If we can help little #CharlieGard, as per our friends in the U.K. and the Pope, we would be delighted to do so,” Trump tweeted.

This is leadership - plain and simple. A refreshing change.

Here is what England's National Health Services is doing - from Louder with Crowder:

PURE EVIL: Baby Sentenced to Death by Government Healthcare
There are some things in life that should remain private. Like your IBS, your foot fetish, or the lack of underwear under those jeans. When it comes to more important decisions and information, like healthcare, privacy is essential (see California Senate Flips Bird to Taxpayers. Passes Single-Payer Healthcare Bill… and Women’s ‘Healthcare’? Planned Parenthood ONLY Performs Ultrasounds to Kill the Baby). So too is privately funding your own healthcare. When one’s government funds it, that government also makes some horrendous calls.

Trigger warning for snowflakes: this story doesn’t have a fairytale ending. Move to the UK.

The parents of terminally-ill baby Charlie Gard are ‘utterly distraught’ and facing fresh heartbreak after losing their final appeal in the European Court of Human Rights.

Chris Gard, 32, and Connie Yates, 31, wanted to take their 10-month-old son – who suffers from a rare genetic condition and has brain damage – to the US to undergo a therapy trial.

Doctors at Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children in London, where Charlie is being cared for, said they wanted him to be able to ‘die with dignity’.

But the couple, from Bedfont, west London, raised almost £1.4million so they could take their son to America but a series of courts ruled in favour of the British doctors.

Let me pause here. The couple has raised their own money to take their own son to the United States for possibly life-saving medical care. The UK government told them no. The UK government has sentenced a child to death.

Much more at the site - as said, the couple raised the so they could take their son to America but the National Health Service said no - the doctors want the baby to be able to ‘die with dignity’. Heaven help that someone should be able to actually cure the baby - that would show the NHS doctors to be the incompetent fools that they are.

Notice also that under a Single Payer Healthcare system, there is no research. There are no experimental treatments. There is no money for these because all of the money is sucked into the daily operation of the bureaucracy. If more money should become available, the bureaucracy will incrementally grow in size until it absorbs that extra money for its daily operation.

The idea that such a system could take root in America makes me sick to my stomach.

From The Seattle Times:

Elizabeth Warren: ‘The next step is single-payer’ health care
Sen. Elizabeth Warren said Tuesday that opposing the Republican health-care bill wasn’t enough and the Democratic Party should start running on a new national single-payer plan.

“President Obama tried to move us forward with health-care coverage by using a conservative model that came from one of the conservative think tanks that had been advanced by a Republican governor in Massachusetts,” she told The Wall Street Journal. ”Now it’s time for the next step. And the next step is single payer.”

Massachusetts tried single-payer and it failed spectacularly with overall costs skyrocketing. There is no incentive for a hospital to keep costs low - there is no competition. England has its National Health Service and it too is failing with staffing shortages, exorbitant waiting times (hip and knee replacements have average wait times of over 100 days), a large number of unnecessary deaths - 1 in 28 - four times that of US Hospitals.

Single payer is the worst form of health care - if we think that the Veterans Hospitals are bad, wait until every hospital is just as bad. Open up the health care markets - bring in competition and we will see better care and lower costs.

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