Recently in Medicine and Health Category

The Wuhan coronavirus - not good

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Two articles - first, from journalist Ezra Cheung's twitter:

And second, from the London Daily Mail:

Chinese 'nurse' claims corpses of coronavirus victims are left lying in a Wuhan hospital crammed with patients as she warns 'everyone will end up being infected' in desperate plea for help

    • Self-proclaimed medic filmed three corpses unattended in a hospital corridor
    • In a post, she accused authorities of covering up the truth of the epidemic
    • She claimed doctors refused to issue diagnoses to control the official figures
    • She begged the public 'to save the people of Wuhan' in a heart-rending thread
    • Outbreak of a new deadly virus has killed 26 people and infected 830 in China

Corpses of coronavirus victims are being left unattended in a corridor of a hospital flooded with patients in Wuhan as the Chinese city is ravaged by the deadly infection, it has been revealed.

The chilling scene, captured by a woman who claims to be a nurse, was posted on the country's social media network today but quickly censored.

Dozens of videos posted online appear show people lying in the street after collapsing where they stood as they walked through the streets of Wuhan.

Given the tight censorship in China (isn't socialized central government just peachy), I am guessing that this is just the tip of the iceberg. I was worried about Ebola. I am even more worried about this new coronavirus. It is not as lethal as Ebola but it is carried on the air and apparently does not require physical contact to infect.

From the London Daily Mail:

Beijing CANCELS major Chinese New Year celebrations in desperate attempt to control the spread of the killer Coronavirus
Beijing has today announced major Chinese New Year events will be cancelled to control the spread of the killer coronavirus.

Officials in the Chinese capital have scrapped events including temple fairs – which can attract thousands of tourists.

Residents have been urged to 'strengthen prevention' against the virus, which has killed 25 and potentially infected thousands.

More than 800 people have been confirmed to have the virus, with cases recorded in the US, Singapore, Thailand, Japan, South Korea, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Macau - as well as China.

Wonder how bad it really is for them to do this measure. New Year is a big thing there.

UPDATE - Wuhan coronavirus

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From the english language Channel News Asia:

Singapore confirms first case of Wuhan virus
Singapore on Thursday (Jan 23) announced a confirmed case of the Wuhan virus, a new coronavirus that has sickened hundreds of people and killed at least 17.

In a media briefing on Thursday evening, the Ministry of Health said the patient is a 66-year-old Chinese man. The Wuhan resident, who arrived in Singapore with his family on Jan 20, flew from Guangzhou via China Southern flight CZ351.

The genie is out of the bottle...

Just wonderful - from the scientific journal Nature - 2017/02/23:

Inside the Chinese lab poised to study world's most dangerous pathogens
A laboratory in Wuhan is on the cusp of being cleared to work with the world’s most dangerous pathogens. The move is part of a plan to build between five and seven biosafety level-4 (BSL-4) labs across the Chinese mainland by 2025, and has generated much excitement, as well as some concerns.

Some scientists outside China worry about pathogens escaping, and the addition of a biological dimension to geopolitical tensions between China and other nations. But Chinese microbiologists are celebrating their entrance to the elite cadre empowered to wrestle with the world’s greatest biological threats.

And, of course, it was an international body of scientists that certified the lab for occupancy:

The lab was certified as meeting the standards and criteria of BSL-4 by the China National Accreditation Service for Conformity Assessment (CNAS) in January. The CNAS examined the lab’s infrastructure, equipment and management, says a CNAS representative, paving the way for the Ministry of Health to give its approval. A representative from the ministry says it will move slowly and cautiously; if the assessment goes smoothly, it could approve the laboratory by the end of June.

Just wonderful - a virus that would be ideal as a bioweapon shows up in a city that has the first BSL-4 lab in all of China. A lab that was OK'd by Chinese bureaucrats and not a team of independent scientists. When I say bioweapon, I am talking about how it has an asymptomatic incubation time - the guy who flew to the US did not realize that he was ill until some days after he arrived. He was contagious and spreading this around to all the other people on the long flight.

It is not lethal, it just incapacitates the victim. You want to invade but you do not want to kill your future serfs.
Just perfect

The Wuhan Coronavirus outbreak

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Tyler has some updates at Zero Hedge:

Coronavirus Deaths Double Overnight To 17, Suspected Case Identified In St. Petersburg
Update 2: Just as we suspected, Chinese authorities have revised the death toll for the Wuhan coronavirus outbreak to 17 on Wednesday, meaning that in under 24 hours, the death toll has practically doubled.

Meanwhile, Russia media reports claim that a passenger from Shanghai has been hospitalized, a sign that the virus may now have spread to Russia.


- - - - - - - - -

Update: So much for being 'contained'.

Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador - better known as AMLO - said Wednesday morning that two cases of coronavirus are suspected in Mexico, and that health officials are scrambling to confirm. He added that one of the patients is under observation in Tamaulipas.

- - - - - - - - -

China's National Health Commission has revised the total of coronavirus cases higher for at least the second time on Wednesday: there are now 473 confirmed patients infected in China alone, though the death toll remained at 9, Reuters reports.

Internationally, the total number of cases has climbed to 481, according to a running count by the SCMP

The clock is ticking - somewhere out there is something that will rival the 1918 influenza pandemic (worldwide with 500 million infections and 50-100 million deaths) and we are woefully underprepared.

Only in California

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The place was paradise until the Democrats took over - from ABC News:

California considers declaring common pain killer carcinogen
A fight is coming to California over whether to list one of the world's most common over-the-counter drugs as a carcinogen, echoing recent high-profile battles over things like alcohol and coffee.

The drug is acetaminophen, known outside the U.S. as paracetamol and used to treat pain and fevers. It is the basis for more than 600 prescription and over-the-counter medications for adults and children, found in well-known brands like Tylenol, Excedrin, Sudafed, Robitussin and Theraflu.

Acetaminophen has been available in the U.S. without a prescription since 1955. Concerns about its potential link to cancer come from its relationship to another drug: phenacetin. That drug, once a common treatment for headaches and other ailments, was banned by the FDA in 1983 because it caused cancer.

Sometimes you just have to say enough. Whatever agency is promoting this needs to have their budget cut by 90%

Look, I get it - tracking potential carcinogens is a good thing but once you have all the big ones, you need to dial back and not start labeling everything. 90% of everything can cause cancer if you consume enough of it - Paracelcus knew this back in the 1500's when he wrote that The dose makes the poison.

Oh joy - Wuhan coronavirus in the USA

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Just South of here to be exact. From the Seattle Times:

Case of Wuhan coronavirus detected in Everett, first in United States
A Snohomish County resident is infected with the Wuhan coronavirus, the first confirmed case in the United States of a mysterious respiratory infection that has killed at least six people and sickened hundreds more in Asia.

The patient is a man in his 30s who recently had traveled to Wuhan, China, where the outbreak appears to have originated, federal officials have found. He had no symptoms when he arrived at the Seattle-Tacoma airport last Wednesday, but he contacted doctors on Sunday when he started feeling ill, and he was hospitalized with pneumonia, officials said.

Investigators tested samples from the man for the presence of the coronavirus and received positive results. The patient is said to be at Providence Regional Medical Center in Everett in good condition and isn’t considered a threat to medical staff or the public.

The newly discovered virus has infected about 300 people, all of whom had been in China, and killed six people in Wuhan. Most of the dead were age 60 or older, and at least some had a previous medical condition.

This is what freaks me out about the highly contageous virusses like Ebola. You can be asymptomatic for a week or more while still being contageous. Wonder how many people on that long flight were exposed. Have they been checked?

Happy days in China - from the South China Morning Post:

China coronavirus: Beijing breaks its silence, but only to ‘deny rumours’
China’s central government has broken its silence on the Wuhan pneumonia outbreak with an online post aimed at “defying the rumours” surrounding the spread of the new coronavirus but without providing any new facts or figures.

In an information poster reproduced on social media and its own website on Saturday night, the Chinese Centre for Disease Control and Prevention said the new virus was not Sars (severe acute respiratory syndrome), which killed more than 700 people around the world in 2003.

The centre also dismissed suggestions that hospitals outside Wuhan had been secretly treating people infected with the virus, saying that all known cases were being dealt with in the central China city.

Something out there is waiting to break out. The Ebola epidemic is far from over. What and when will it happen.

Absolutely brilliant idea

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From Science:

Biocompatible near-infrared quantum dots delivered to the skin by microneedle patches record vaccination

The précis:

Vaccines prevent disease and save lives; however, lack of standardized immunization recordkeeping makes it challenging to track vaccine coverage across the world. McHugh et al. developed dissolvable microneedles that deliver patterns of near-infrared light-emitting microparticles to the skin. Particle patterns are invisible to the eye but can be imaged using modified smartphones. By codelivering a vaccine, the pattern of particles in the skin could serve as an on-person vaccination record. Patterns were detected 9 months after intradermal delivery of microparticles in rats, and codelivery of inactivated poliovirus led to protective antibody production. Discrete microneedle-delivered microparticle patterns in porcine and pigmented human skin were identifiable using semiautomated machine learning. These results demonstrate proof of concept for intradermal on-person vaccination recordkeeping.

That they made it work with a cell phone and an app is pure genius.

Common sense in Seattle - vaccination

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Good news from Seattle station KIRO:

Thousands of Seattle students told to get vaccinated, or don’t come back after winter break
Seattle Public Schools is warning thousands of students that they will be excluded from school after Christmas break unless they get in compliance with Washington's vaccine laws.

The district sent letters home to families warning that students must get in compliance by January 8th.

A notice on the district website says, “Student records must reflect updated immunization status by January 8, 2020, or students cannot attend school until the required information is provided to the school nurse.”

Great - the link between childhood vaccinations and various diseases is absolutely baseless. The original study linking MMR to Autism was abject fraud and the joker (in the pay of an insurance company) had his license to practice medicine stripped and the paper was completely retracted.

Anyone who perpetuates this fraud is guilty of one of the worst forms of child abuse. The child gets sick and dies. Needlessly. All because of some pop-culture pseudo medical bullshit.

Anti-Vax = big money

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I have always wondered why the movement against vaccination is so persistent. There is zero scientific backing and the initial study linking MMR to autism was found to be completely fabricated for money, the paper was retracted and Dr. Andrew Wakefield is now Andy Wakefield - his license to practice medicine was stripped from him.

Now this, from Texas' Laredo Morning Times:

Major funder of the anti-vaccine movement has made millions selling natural health products
The nation's oldest anti-vaccine advocacy group often emphasizes that it is supported primarily by small donations and concerned parents, describing its founder as the leader of a "national, grass roots movement."

But over the past decade a single donor has contributed more than $2.9 million to the National Vaccine Information Center, accounting for about 40 percent of the organization's funding, according to the most recent available tax records. That donor, osteopathic physician Joseph Mercola, has amassed a fortune selling natural health products, court records show, including vitamin supplements, some of which he claims are alternatives to vaccines.

In recent years, the center has been at the forefront of a movement that has led some parents to forgo or delay immunizing their children against vaccine-preventable diseases such as measles. Health officials say falling vaccination rates contributed to the infectious virus sickening more than 1,200 people in the United States this year, the largest number in more than 25 years. Measles outbreaks are surging worldwide, including in Samoa - where nearly 80 people have died since mid-October, the great majority of them young children and infants.

The Northern Virginia-based National Vaccine Information Center lists as a partner on its homepage and links to the website, where readers can learn about and purchase Mercola's merchandise.

Last month, Mercola wrote on his website that measles "continues to be a Trojan Horse for increasing vaccine mandates." A page that was recently removed said that "vitamin C supplementation is a viable option for measles prevention." Elsewhere on the site, a page about vitamin D includes the headline, "Avoid Flu Shots With the One Vitamin that Will Stop Flu in Its Tracks."

Mercola, whose claims about other products have drawn warnings from regulators, has also given at least $4 million to several groups that echo the anti-vaccine message. His net worth, derived largely from his network of private companies, has grown to "in excess of $100 million," he said in a 2017 affidavit.

Mercola needs to be muzzled. He is promoting faulty science for personal financial gain. He is personally responsible for the measles deaths. I rarely wish anyone personal harm or injury but in the case of Mercola, I will make an exception...

Sigh - antivaxxing

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Child abuse runs rampant in Samoa - from Brickmuppet:

Anti-Vaxxers Making A Difference
All schools and public services are shut down because of a measles outbreak in American Samoa, which has declared an emergency and is engaged in a massive, belated, vaccination campaign.  The situation is even worse in the nearby Kingdom of Samoa which has over 4800 people sick and over 70 deaths, mostly children.

The people who fall for this idiocy need to be educated with a cluebat. Nothing but child abuse.

From nature.medicine:

Chronic inflammation in the etiology of disease across the life span

Although intermittent increases in inflammation are critical for survival during physical injury and infection, recent research has revealed that certain social, environmental and lifestyle factors can promote systemic chronic inflammation (SCI) that can, in turn, lead to several diseases that collectively represent the leading causes of disability and mortality worldwide, such as cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes mellitus, chronic kidney disease, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease and autoimmune and neurodegenerative disorders. In the present Perspective we describe the multi-level mechanisms underlying SCI and several risk factors that promote this health-damaging phenotype, including infections, physical inactivity, poor diet, environmental and industrial toxicants and psychological stress. Furthermore, we suggest potential strategies for advancing the early diagnosis, prevention and treatment of SCI.

United Press International has a writeup on this paper - some of their findings:

  • Roughly half of all deaths worldwide are caused by inflammation-related diseases.
  • "This is a substantial public health crisis," co-author George Slavich, a research scientist at the Norman Cousins Center for Psychoneuroimmunology at UCLA, said in a statement. "It's also important to recognize that inflammation is a contributor not just to physical health problems, but also mental health problems such as anxiety disorders, depression, PTSD, schizophrenia, self-harm and suicide."
  • According to Slavich, risk factors for chronic inflammation include obesity, poor diet, lack of physical activity, smoking, social isolation, stress and inadequate or poor sleep. Exposure to environmental and industrial toxins can also cause inflammation, as can infections, particularly when left untreated.

Scary stuff - our society is twitching us to death.

Yikes - shipping gone wrong

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From Seattle station KOMO:

Misdelivered urine sample triggers hazmat evacuation at North Bend theater
A urine sample with a rather dire warning attached to the package triggered the evacuation of a movie theater and a trip to the hospital for a manager after the package got delivered to the wrong address.

The mysterious package arrived at the North Bend Theater Friday evening and when the theater manager opened it, found a box with a liquid inside labeled "highly contagious human substance," according to Sgt. Paul Graham with Snoqualmie Police, which provides police services to North Bend.

Hazmat crews raced to the scene as the theater was evacuated and nearby streets were closed as crews tried to determine what the substance was. Meanwhile, the manager was taken to a local hospital to be checked out due to regular exposure protocol, Graham said.

100% perfect call - the pee was packaged for shipping but the recipients did not know that. All they saw was the label. It was supposed to go to a medical clinic in Tacoma - about 40 miles away.

Heh - stupidity at Whole Foods

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From the American Council on Science and Health:

Whole Foods Sells Both 'Nitrate-Free Meat' And Nitrate Supplements. Yup.
Whole Foods chemists, an incongruity if ever there were one, must have a helluva job. They somehow must explain to suckers customers how the same chemical can be both good and bad for you. And also how an inorganic salt can be "organic" depending on its source. This takes a degree of creativity, and Whole Foods is nothing if not creative, especially when it comes to science. 

More at the site - they go into quite a bit of detail. Vegetables are a very good (ie: high) source of nitrates.

From the DC Clothesline:

Head of New York Medical Clinics Found Guilty in Nearly $100 Million Money Laundering and Health Care Kickback Scheme
The manager in control of multiple medical clinics in Brooklyn and Queens, New York, was found guilty today for his role in a nearly $100 million health care kickback and money laundering scheme.

After a two-week trial, Aleksandr Pikus, 44, of Brooklyn, was found guilty of one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering, two counts of money laundering, one count of conspiracy to receive and pay health care kickbacks and one count of conspiracy to defraud the United States by obstructing the IRS. Sentencing has been set for April 8, 2020.

“Aleksandr Pikus was the architect of a massive healthcare kickback and money laundering scheme in which he and his co-conspirators stole tens of millions of dollars from the Medicare and Medicaid programs,” said Assistant Attorney General Brian A. Benczkowski of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division. “The jury’s verdict reflects the tireless work of our dedicated prosecutors and law enforcement partners to achieve justice and protect these essential healthcare programs on behalf of American taxpayers.”

I am not a betting man but;

#1) - this is just the tip of the iceberg and 
#2) -Obamacare greatly facilitated this sort of scam. That is why it was so loved by administrators and insurance companies. Lots of money to be made there.

The money is not made on the cure. The money is made on the process.

Just wonderful - Seattle opioid epidemic

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From Seattle station KOMO:

An opioid more deadly than fentanyl found on Seattle streets
Right in the midst of the opioid crisis, another illicit drug has hit the streets of Seattle. Experts say it's more potent and deadly than other opiods.

The DEA says carfentanil is 10,000 times more potent than morphine and 100 times stronger than fentanyl. It was first detected in Seattle in March. Experts insists its usage is "very rare" in the area, but nonetheless, it's surfaced in the city.

The timing couldn't be worse. Two people in Washington state overdose on opioids each day. In King County, at least three teenagers have died from fentanyl overdoses recently.

"I was like, 'Oh crap!' " said Dr. Caleb Banta-Green when he heard that carfentanil was detected in Seattle.

These opioids - fentanyl and carfentynil are not being prescribed by Doctors - that is not the opioid crisis that we have. These are cheap to make and are coming in from overseas - China and North Korea. It is coming in through our port cities as well as through the borders.

I am ambivalent - there are some real personal tragedies but also, many of the fatalities are people who would find some other way to shuffle off this mortal coil if they didn't have these drugs. At least, this will be a painless way to go.

Interesting - Vitamin D

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I take D3 supplements - a small amount in summer and a larger amount in winter. From United Press International:

Vitamin D deficiency linked to muscle weakness in older adults
Vitamin D deficiency is linked with poor muscle health in older adults, a new study finds.

Maintaining muscle health helps seniors maintain their independence, mobility and quality of life. It also lowers their risk of falls and frailty.

Researchers looked at more than 4,100 people, aged 60 and older, in England. About 4 in 10 with vitamin D deficiency had muscle weakness -- twice the level found among those who had adequate vitamin D levels.

Impaired muscle performance was three times more common among those with vitamin D deficiency (25.2 percent) than those with adequate vitamin D (7.9 percent).

Interesting - one of those chemicals that is used (for good) in several places in our body.

Quite obvious really

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I hate to see parents using a screen as an artificial babysitter. Yes, it keeps the kiddos quiet but it is causing some significant damage to their developing brains. From the MIT Technology Review:

Screen time might be physically changing kids’ brains
study published today in JAMA Pediatrics warns that kids’ literacy and language skills suffer with screen use, and MRI scans of their brains appear to back up the findings.

The study: Forty-seven 3- to 5-year-olds took a test to measure their cognitive abilities, and their parents were asked to answer a detailed survey about screen time habits. Questions included: How frequently do they use that screen? What type of content are they viewing? And is there an adult sitting with the child talking about what they’re watching? The answers were scored against a set of screen time guidelines put out by the American Academy of Pediatrics. The kids also had their brains scanned in an MRI machine.

Brain changes: The scans revealed that kids who spent more time in front of screens had what the authors call lower “white matter integrity.” White matter can be roughly thought of as the brain’s internal communications network—its long nerve fibers are sheathed in fatty insulation that allows electrical signals to move from one area of the brain to another without interruption. The integrity of that structure—how well organized the nerve fibers are, and how well developed the myelin sheath is—is associated with cognitive function, and it develops as kids learn language. 

Lead author John Hutton of Cincinnati Children’s Hospital told MIT Technology Review there’s a clear link between higher screen use and lower white matter integrity in the children his team studied. That structural change appears to be reflected in the results of the cognitive test the kids took as well, which showed high screen time associated with lower levels of language and literacy skills. “The effect size is substantial, as these findings also rigorously controlled for multiple comparisons across the brain,” Hutton says.

Sample size was pretty small (less than 70) but the evidence is pretty overwhelming.

Socialized medicine - England

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They just got woke big-time - from the National Health Service:

North Bristol hands red card to racism
North Bristol NHS Trust has today launched a “Red Card to Racism” campaign to protect all staff from any discrimination.

Following a national trend, staff have reported that incidents of racism on wards have increased over the past year so the hospital will be enforcing its zero tolerance policy against abusive behaviour.

This means that any patient abusing staff will be challenged and warned, leading to a sports-style disciplinary yellow card and then final red card in which treatment would be withdrawn as soon as is safe.

Any visitors causing disturbance or behaving in an unacceptable manner will get one verbal warning before being removed.

Talk about the Camel's Nose - you get a yellow card and then a red card and then the Doctors withdraw treatment? Stopping the medical care for which this person was admitted to the hospital. What is next? Checking their social media before you attempt resuscitation?

Here is what gets you a red card:

  • Racist or sexist language, gestures or behaviour.
  • Excessive noise.
  • Abuse of alcohol or drugs.
  • Threatening and offensive language.
  • Malicious allegations.
  • Intentional damage to trust property.

So you are injured or in pain or confused and you blurt out something not in keeping with the protected narrative (all hail the narrative) - they withhold your treatment?

This is socalized medicine and this is why it needs to be killed with fire. We do not want to implement it here.

You are what you eat

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An interesting look at the link between depression and diet - from scientific journal PLOS | ONE:

A brief diet intervention can reduce symptoms of depression in young adults – A randomised controlled trial
There is strong epidemiological evidence that poor diet is associated with depression. The reverse has also been shown, namely that eating a healthy diet rich in fruit, vegetables, fish and lean meat, is associated with reduced risk of depression. To date, only one randomised controlled trial (RCT) has been conducted with elevated depression symptoms being an inclusion criterion, with results showing that a diet intervention can reduce clinical levels of depression. No such RCTs have been performed in young adults. Young adults with elevated levels of depression symptoms and who habitually consume a poor diet were randomly allocated to a brief 3-week diet intervention (Diet Group) or a habitual diet control group (Control Group). The primary and secondary outcome measures assessed at baseline and after the intervention included symptoms of depression (Centre for Epidemiological Studies Depression Scale; CESD-R; and Depression Anxiety and Stress Scale– 21 depression subscale; DASS-21-D), current mood (Profile of Mood States), self-efficacy (New General Self-Efficacy Scale) and memory (Hopkins Verbal Learning Test). Diet compliance was measured via self-report questionnaires and spectrophotometry. One-hundred-and-one individuals were enrolled in the study and randomly assigned to the Diet Group or the Control Group. Upon completion of the study, there was complete data for 38 individuals in each group. There was good compliance with the diet intervention recommendations assessed using self-report and spectrophotometry. The Diet group had significantly lower self-reported depression symptoms than the Control Group on the CESD-R (p = 0.007, Cohen’s d = 0.65) and DASS-21 depression subscale (p = 0.002, Cohen’s d = 0.75) controlling for baseline scores on these scales. Reduced DASS-21 depression subscale scores were maintained on follow up phone call 3 months later (p = .009). These results are the first to show that young adults with elevated depression symptoms can engage in and adhere to a diet intervention, and that this can reduce symptoms of depression. The findings provide justification for future research into the duration of these benefits, the impacts of varying diet composition, and their biological basis.

Looks like they were very thorough. No mention in the abstract as to what the two diets were but the Mediterranean diet is well known for being very healthful.


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Not surprising at all - from Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes Journal

Dog ownership associated with longer life, especially among heart attack and stroke survivors
Dog ownership may be associated with longer life and better cardiovascular outcomes, especially for heart attack and stroke survivors who live alone, according to a new study and a separate meta-analysis published in Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes, a journal of the American Heart Association.

“The findings in these two well-done studies and analyses build upon prior studies and the conclusions of the 2013 AHA Scientific Statement ‘Pet Ownership and Cardiovascular Risk’ that dog ownership is associated with reductions in factors that contribute to cardiac risk and to cardiovascular events,” said Glenn N. Levine, M.D., chair of the writing group of the American Heart Association’s scientific statement on pet ownership. “Further, these two studies provide good, quality data indicating dog ownership is associated with reduced cardiac and all-cause mortality. While these non-randomized studies cannot ‘prove’ that adopting or owning a dog directly leads to reduced mortality, these robust findings are certainly at least suggestive of this.”

Makes perfect sense to me. My pups bring me joy. Always been a dog person although cats are a lot of fun (so are llamas, horses, goats, etc...)

Just wonderful - Ebola outbreak

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This time in the Democratic Republic of the Congo - from the World Health Organization:

Ebola virus disease – Democratic Republic of the Congo
The Ebola virus disease (EVD) outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo continues this week with 20 new confirmed cases reported in North Kivu and Ituri provinces from 25 September to 1 October 2019, versus 29 in the previous week. This decrease in the number of cases should be interpreted with caution, as operational and security challenges in certain health zones make it difficult to undertake case detection and response functions. With over half (55%) of cases in the past week coming from Mambasa and Mandima Health Zones, there is a clear shift in the hot spots of the outbreak from high density, urban settings, such as Butembo, Katwa, and Beni, to more rural areas with a lower population density. This results in a change in the transmission dynamics, with more community-based transmission and less possible transmission in healthcare facilities. Conversely, this may introduce new issues in terms of accessibility and logistical challenges to reach affected villages, especially as we enter the rainy season.

In Mambasa Health Zone, delays in raising EVD awareness and involving the community and civil society in the response have led to community mistrust. To strengthen the participation of local communities in the response, WHO is working with the community, civil society, and partners in Mambasa Health Zone to engage women’s groups and enhance community-based surveillance. While in Lwemba, within Mandima Health Zone, poor EVD awareness compounded with armed conflict has led to heightened tensions between local communities and Ebola response teams. This has resulted in difficulties in investigating community deaths. Therefore, it is likely that the number of cases and community deaths in this area is under reported.

Emphasis mine - community mistrust? More like tribalism and ignorance. I would take these numbers and multiply them by at least 50. This is spreading out.

Gee - if only we could use DDT

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We had a serious problem with DDT - it was so effective that we were - literally - marinating the planet in it. We need to bring back it's use on a limited and careful basis. Why? Mosquitoes kill more human beings than any other cause of death.

From USA Today:

Deadly EEE: Parts of nation see worst outbreak of brain-swelling, mosquito virus in more than a half-century
Patricia Alice "Pat" Shaw, of East Lyme, Connecticut, loved the outdoors. She walked her dogs three times a day. She often sat by the backyard swimming pool at her home, surrounded by woods.

The walks, the pool, the woods – any of those pleasures may have led to the mosquito bite that killed her weeks later on Sept. 19.

A bit more:

This year, Massachusetts is experiencing its largest EEE outbreak since 1956. The virus is typically spread through bites from infected mosquitoes, which are more likely to be carriers near wetlands or sitting water. While people of any age can die from EEE, the victims this year have primarily been the young or old.

There is no cure for EEE. A vaccine developed by the military exists for the virus, but it is not commercially available because the side effects are considered too severe. Although EEE can be treated, about 80% of survivors are left with some level of permanent neurological damage.

Nasty stuff. A perfect example of why we need to return to using DDT on a controlled basis.

Some bad drugs in Franklin County, Ohio

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Yikes - from CBS News:

Coroner reports 10 overdose deaths in 26-hour period in one Ohio county
The coroner of Ohio's most populous county reported 10 deaths from drug overdoses in a 26-hour period that ended at 10 a.m. Sunday morning. In a statement published on Facebook, Franklin County Coroner Dr. Anahi Ortiz said, "This is an unusually high number for our county in this period of time."

Dr. Ortiz urged residents to carry naloxone — an anti-overdose medication that treats narcotic overdoses immediately. She also cautioned residents about the dangers of fentanyl, a hyper-powerful, synthetic opioid that can easily be mixed with cocaine and methamphetamine and even black market opioid pills.

The reason is not named but the article mentions fentanyl a lot. Most of this is coming from China.

Just wonderful - flu vaccine

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They got it wrong for this year. From Stat:

Flu vaccine selections may be an ominous sign for this winter
It’s never an easy business to predict which flu viruses will make people sick the following winter. And there’s reason to believe two of the four choices made last winter for this upcoming season’s vaccine could be off the mark.

Twice a year influenza experts meet at the World Health Organization to pore over surveillance data provided by countries around the world to try to predict which strains are becoming the most dominant. The Northern Hemisphere strain selection meeting is held in late February; the Southern Hemisphere meeting occurs in late September.

The selections that officials made last week for the next Southern Hemisphere vaccine suggest that two of four viruses in the Northern Hemisphere vaccine that doctors and pharmacies are now pressing people to get may not be optimally protective this winter. Those two are influenza A/H3N2 and the influenza B/Victoria virus.

So basically, of the four strains in this years vaccine, two of them may be wrong. Predicting is a crap-shoot regardless and they have done worse but they have also done better. Thinking of skipping my shot this year.

Forty-four health hoaxes debunked

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Great canonical list at Vice:

The Most Overhyped Wellness Promises, Debunked
Raise your hand if you have a friend who’s tried one of the following in the name of wellness: apple cider vinegargluten-free foodcolonics, or detoxing? How about the friend who avoids microwaves and antiperspirant to protect themselves from “radiation” and “toxins,” respectively? Or the one who swears that the crystals in their bedroom are responsible for all the positive changes they’ve made recently? Yeah, that one. Those ones. This list is for them. And for you, to share with them when you’re at a loss for words.

Behold our ever-growing list of today’s most pervasive wellness lies. Click through on each one for a clear, deeply researched, as-definitive-as-possible explanation, gathered from experts and years of scientific research. You won’t find any thin claims based on small studies or experiments on cells or mice, unless we’re using them to point out how insufficient the research is on a given subject.

In some of these cases, the body of research continues to develop. There may be a time when, say, there’s a probiotic on the market that is proven to improve your mood. But until that time arrives, it’s worth saving your time and money and keeping an eye on the research. Here, in no particular order, we’re setting the record straight on the the most overhyped health and wellness promises out there today.

People believe the strangest things...

Just wonderful - Ebola

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Looks like it is not being contained and is spreading. From the World Health Organization:

Cases of Undiagnosed Febrile Illness – United Republic of Tanzania
The following is a description of the current situation in the United Republic of Tanzania regarding unofficial reports of a number of cases of illness and a summary of WHO efforts to obtain information about this situation.

As specified in Article 9 of the International Health Regulations (IHR), WHO may take into account reports from sources other than notifications from Member States and shall assess these reports according to established epidemiological principles under the IHR.

On 10 September 2019, through its regular event-based surveillance process, WHO was made aware of unofficial reports regarding the death of a person with suspected Ebola Virus disease (EVD) case in Dar es Salaam, United Republic of Tanzania. The identified contacts of the deceased were unofficially reported to be quarantined in various sites in the country. Under the IHR Articles 9 and 10, WHO immediately sent a verification request to the National IHR Focal Point (NFP) of the country.

They are minimizing the extent here - read between the lines. Here is another press release from two weeks ago:

WHO deploys technical team to Tanzania to support investigation of a rumour of unknown illness
The World Health Organization (WHO) is aware of a rumour related to the death of a person due to an unknown illness in the United Republic of Tanzania. We have reached out to Ministry of Health officials for further details and have offered our support.

In line with our responsibility under the International Health Regulations, WHO regularly receives and investigates numerous rumours of public health events.

In this regard, WHO is working with national health authorities and is deploying a technical team to the United Republic of Tanzania to investigate this rumour as a matter of urgency.

WHO will be informing Member States of the outcome of this investigation through their national International Health Regulations focal points.

Their eyes are squeezed shut and they are praying that this will go away. If not that, that they are the last persons to contract this disease. This is big. They know what it is but they are afraid to report on it and its extent.

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.

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