Health Desk

Shots - Health News
6:56 am
Sat February 7, 2015

In Puerto Rico, Health Overhaul Gets An Incomplete

Javier Villa (right) with his wife and son in their home in Puerto Rico.
Anders Kelto/NPR

Originally published on Sat February 7, 2015 10:41 am

Javier Villa has worked at his family's used car dealership in San Juan, Puerto Rico, ever since he finished high school.

Villa, 35, always assumed the insurance plan he had through work would take care of him and his family. But a couple years ago, he ran into a problem.

He was taking a shower one morning when he noticed a lump on the side of his throat. "Very big, like maybe a tennis ball," he says.

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Goats and Soda
6:03 am
Sat February 7, 2015

To Get To Zero Ebola Cases, It'll Cost A Lot: Roughly $1.5 Billion

Survey teams are part of the Ebola army: They determine who's sick and send out burial teams when needed. Here, Osman Sow talks with Kadiatu, who is eight months pregnant and suspected of having the virus, as she waits at a health center in Freetown, Sierra Leone.
David Gilkey NPR

Originally published on Mon February 9, 2015 9:34 am

"The closer you get to zero, the harder the job."

That's according to Dr. David Nabarro, who heads the U.N.'s effort against Ebola. In a new report, the agency says that while health workers have been making progress in containing the outbreak in West Africa, it will take $1.5 billion over the first half of 2015 to bring the number of cases down to zero. And the effort will require more than 67,000 national and international health care workers and experts.

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Shots - Health News
4:34 am
Sat February 7, 2015

To Get Parents To Vaccinate Their Kids, Don't Ask. Just Tell

Gary Waters Getty Images/Ikon Images

Originally published on Tue February 10, 2015 12:56 pm

As California's measles outbreak continues to spread beyond state borders, many doctors nationwide are grappling with how best to convince parents to have their children vaccinated. Inviting a collaborative conversation doesn't work all that well, many are finding. Recent research suggests that being more matter-of-fact can work a lot better.

Pediatrician Eric Ball, who practices in southern California, says, in his experience, the families skeptical of vaccines can be divided into two types.

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Shots - Health News
3:35 pm
Fri February 6, 2015

Being With People Like You Offers Comfort Against Death's Chill

Residents of ShantiNiketan, a retirement community near Orlando, Fla., walk in a Hindu religious procession.
Courtesy of ShantiNiketan Inc.

Originally published on Mon February 9, 2015 12:52 pm

Iggy Ignatius was born in India. Even though he moved to the States in his 20s, he still felt that India was the place he belonged. He always thought he'd retire there. But when the time approached, there was a problem.

"My daughters, my son, my grandchildren are all like chains that do not allow you to leave for India," Ignatius says.

He couldn't imagine leaving them to go to the place he belonged. He was torn. And then one day it hit him. What if he built an Indian retirement community — in Florida?

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Goats and Soda
1:03 pm
Fri February 6, 2015

A Rap Star And A Therapist Fight Female Genital Mutilation

Sister Fa campaigns against female genital mutilation. "You have got my support," her father told her.
Courtesy of Women Make Movies

Originally published on Fri February 6, 2015 2:25 pm

Sister Fa is a Senegalese-German rap star. Leyla Hussein is a Somali-born, London-based documentary filmmaker and psychotherapist. Their day-to-day lives are different, but they have a great deal in common.

"We're both survivors of FGM," Hussein explains. "We both have daughters and we didn't cut our daughters."

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Shots - Health News
11:22 am
Fri February 6, 2015

What Microbes Lurk In The Subways Of New York? Mysteries Abound

The Pseudomonas stutzeri bacterium, commonly found in soil, was the most prevalent subway microbe. Lower Manhattan was its prime hangout.
Mason/Cell Systems 2015

Originally published on Mon February 9, 2015 12:53 pm

If you were seeking a seething mass of microbes, it'd be hard to think of a better place to look than the New York City subway system.

Scientists who descended into that subterranean maze in search of its microbial tenants wanted to find out how the 5.5 million people who use the system each weekday influence the microbes, and vice versa.

But the 18-month-long project, which sampled DNA from 466 stations, was no walk in Central Park.

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Goats and Soda
9:56 am
Fri February 6, 2015

Measles Vaccination Rates: Tanzania Does Better Than U.S.

This World Health Organization map shows the percent of the population vaccinated for measles in each country in 2013. Dark green is at least 90 percent. Light green is 80 to 89 percent. Orange is 50 to 79 percent. Red is less than 50 percent.
Courtesy of WHO

Originally published on Fri February 6, 2015 1:51 pm

As debate mounts in the U.S. over whether or not to require measles vaccinations, global immunization rates show something interesting: Many poor countries have far higher vaccination rates than rich ones.

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The Two-Way
9:53 am
Fri February 6, 2015

Canadians Have A Right To Assisted Suicide, High Court Says

The Supreme Court of Canada, seen here in a welcoming ceremony last October, has overturned the country's ban on physician-assisted suicide.
Chris Wattie Reuters/Landov

Originally published on Fri February 6, 2015 10:46 am

In a unanimous ruling, Canada's supreme court struck down the country's law that bans doctor-assisted suicide Friday. The court said the law denies people the right "to make decisions concerning their bodily integrity and medical care" and leaves them "to endure intolerable suffering."

The ruling includes several provisions:

  • Patients must be competent adults who clearly consent to terminating their life.
  • They must be suffering from "a grievous and irremediable medical condition ... that causes enduring suffering that is intolerable."
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The Two-Way
7:54 am
Fri February 6, 2015

Officials Predict More Measles Cases After 5 Babies Are Diagnosed In Illinois

The KinderCare Learning Center in Palatine, Ill., where five infants have been diagnosed with measles. Officials are trying to track down the source of the infection.
Scott Olson Getty Images

Originally published on Fri February 6, 2015 9:42 am

Health officials in Illinois are trying to find the source of a measles infection, after five babies were diagnosed with the contagious respiratory disease in a Chicago suburb. Saying that more cases are likely, a health official warns, "The cat is out of the bag."

Because the Illinois patients are all under a year old, they can't be vaccinated. The new cluster of cases joins more than 100 other reports of measles in 14 states this year; most of them have been traced to an outbreak at Disneyland in California in December.

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TED Radio Hour
7:44 am
Fri February 6, 2015

Why Should We Treat Violence Like A Contagious Disease?

Dr. Gary Slutkin says we should think of violence as a contagious disease.
James Duncan Davidson TED

Originally published on Fri February 6, 2015 3:50 pm

Part 4 of the TED Radio Hour episode Seven Deadly Sins

About Gary Slutkin's TED Talk

While looking at the problem of gun violence, Dr. Gary Slutkin wondered — what if it could be treated like a communicable disease? His program, Cure Violence, aims to do just that, with real results.

About Gary Slutkin

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TED Radio Hour
7:44 am
Fri February 6, 2015

How Did An Obese City Lose A Million Pounds?

Oklahoma City Mayor Mick Cornett explains how his city went from one of the fattest to one of the fittest.
Courtesy of TED TED

Originally published on Fri February 6, 2015 3:49 pm

Part 2 of the TED Radio Hour episode Seven Deadly Sins

About Mick Cornett's TED Talk

Mayor Mick Cornett realized that, to make Oklahoma City a great place to live, it had to become healthier and cope with gluttony. He explains step-by-step how the city dropped a collective million pounds.

About Mick Cornett

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Global Health
4:11 am
Fri February 6, 2015

Critics Say Ebola Crisis Was WHO's Big Failure. Will Reform Follow?

Dr. Margaret Chan, director-general of the World Health Organization, has said of Ebola: "It overwhelmed the capacity of WHO, and it is a crisis that cannot be solved by a single agency or single country."
Fabrice Coffrini AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Fri February 6, 2015 11:37 am

Ebola was the Hurricane Katrina for the World Health Organization — its moment of failure. The organization's missteps in the early days of the outbreak are now legendary.

At first the agency that's responsible for "providing leadership on global health matters" was dismissive of the scale of the problem in West Africa. Then it deflected responsibility for the crisis to the overwhelmed governments of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. After eight months, it finally stepped up to take charge of the Ebola response but lacked the staff and funds to do so effectively.

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Code Switch
2:55 am
Fri February 6, 2015

An Unlikely Alliance Fights HIV In The Bronx's Afro-Honduran Diaspora

A December celebration launching a partnership between members of the Garifuna community and a doctor in New York. The collaboration is aimed at reducing the HIV infection rate among the Garifuna.
Alexandra Starr NPR

Originally published on Fri February 6, 2015 10:25 am

On a recent winter evening in the Bronx, a group of men and women in red-checkered shirts and dresses encircled Dr. Julie Hoffman during a ceremony. They pounded wooden drums crisscrossed with thick rope and shook maracas as they danced and sang.

The event took on a somber tone when Hoffman talked about the crisis that had brought them all together.

"Too many members of this community continue dying," she said in Spanish. "That's why I'm here. I want to work with you."

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Goats and Soda
3:59 pm
Thu February 5, 2015

Why Is Nearsightedness Skyrocketing Among Chinese Youth?

Originally published on Fri February 20, 2015 2:24 pm

If you walk the streets of China today, you'll quickly notice that most young people wear glasses. In Shanghai, for instance, 86 percent of high school students suffer from myopia, or nearsightedness, according to the government's Xinhua News Agency.

Myopia has risen quickly in much of East Asia and Southeast Asia. And researchers are still trying to pin down exactly what's driving the epidemic.

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Shots - Health News
3:04 pm
Thu February 5, 2015

FDA Commissioner Hamburg Grappled With Global Challenges

Dr. Margaret Hamburg will have served almost six years as FDA commissioner by the time she leaves, far longer than the recent tenure for chiefs of the agency.
J. David Ake AP

Originally published on Thu February 5, 2015 5:31 pm

Dr. Margaret Hamburg is stepping down from one of the toughest jobs in the federal government: commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration.

The agency regulates drugs and medical devices and has an important role in food safety. And it's a highly contentious job. No matter what you do, someone's going to complain that you're either too easy on industry or standing in the way of progress.

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The Two-Way
7:39 am
Thu February 5, 2015

FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg To Step Down

Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Dr. Margaret Hamburg in a photo taken last May. Hamburg, who has been in the top FDA job for nearly six years, will reportedly step down.
J. David Ake AP

Originally published on Thu February 5, 2015 3:56 pm

Updated at 10:23 a.m. ET

FDA Commissioner Dr. Margaret A. Hamburg — who has been at the center of controversial decisions such as relaxing age restrictions on the Plan B contraceptive — has decided to step down after six years in the job.

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Goats and Soda
7:22 am
Thu February 5, 2015

Dude, Why Is There A Cow In The Back Of Your Cab?

Originally published on Thu February 5, 2015 11:44 am

Been there. And there. And there, too.

Chris Guillebeau's travels began in 2002, when he was an aid worker in Sierra Leone, and ended in Norway in 2013. Along the way, he's been to every single U.N. recognized country in the world: a grand total of 193.

Guillebeau, an adventurer at heart, had set a goal of visiting 100 countries, but he soon decided it wasn't ambitious enough. So he figured, why not go to every country?

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NPR Story
4:04 am
Thu February 5, 2015

Measles Outbreak Sparks Bid To Strengthen Calif. Vaccine Law

Leah Russin, of Palo Alto, Calif., holds her son, Leo, 16 months, as she speaks Wednesday at a news conference in support of proposed state legislation that would require parents to vaccinate all school children.
Rich Pedroncelli AP

Originally published on Mon February 9, 2015 12:53 pm

State lawmakers in California introduced legislation Wednesday that would require children to be fully vaccinated before going to school, a response to a measles outbreak that started in Southern California and has reached 107 cases in 14 states.

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The Two-Way
1:26 am
Thu February 5, 2015

Hackers Strike Health Insurer Anthem

Originally published on Thu February 5, 2015 6:25 pm

The country's second-biggest health insurer says cyberattackers infiltrated one of its IT systems and obtained personal information about current and former customers as well as employees covered by the insurer.

"The information accessed includes names, birthdays, social security numbers, street addresses, email addresses and employment information, including income data," wrote Anthem CEO Joe Swedish in a letter to the company's policyholders.

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Shots - Health News
6:30 pm
Wed February 4, 2015

Measles + Low Vaccination Rates = Big Headaches For Schools

California is one of 20 states that allow parents to opt out of vaccination requirements for reasons of "personal belief." About 10 percent of students in the Santa Monica-Malibu school district are not immunized.
Justin Sullivan Getty Images

Originally published on Wed February 4, 2015 7:25 pm

In Southern California many schools are facing tough questions about measles.

California is one of 20 states that allow students to opt out of school vaccination requirements when those rules conflict with their parents' personal beliefs. Many affluent areas along the California coast are home to schools with some of the highest "personal belief exemption" rates in the country. And that is creating some tension for administrators and health officials.

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Shots - Health News
4:59 pm
Wed February 4, 2015

Pediatricians Pressured To Drop Parents Who Won't Vaccinate

Dr. Eric Ball examines a healthy 5-day-old patient in his office in Ladera Ranch, Calif. Ball and colleagues decided this week to take only patients whose parents follow the recommended vaccine schedule.
Courtesy of Eric Ball

Originally published on Thu February 5, 2015 7:15 am

Dr. Bob Sears, a pediatrician in Capistrano Beach, Calif., says that he strongly believes in the protective power of vaccines to save lives. But he's also well-known in Southern California as a doctor who won't pressure parents who refuse to vaccinate their children, or who refuse some vaccines, or who want to stray from the recommended schedule of vaccinations.

"They all come to me because, I guess, I'm more respectful of their decisions, more willing to listen to them," Sears says, "[and to] discuss pros and cons and acknowledge that there are some side effects to vaccines."

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The Salt
4:27 pm
Wed February 4, 2015

Scientists Want To Trick The Gut Into Burning Fat Without Food

Scientists say a drug that's been effective in mice acts like an "imaginary meal" in the body.
iStockphoto

Originally published on Wed February 11, 2015 1:42 pm

Forget the so-called "miracle" diet pills that claim to rev up metabolism.

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Health
3:58 pm
Wed February 4, 2015

CDC Director: 'Unfortunately, I'm Not Surprised' By Measles' Rise

Originally published on Wed February 4, 2015 6:33 pm

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

The Salt
3:51 pm
Wed February 4, 2015

Would You Eat At A Restaurant That Skipped The Hand-Washing?

Hand-washing: one of public health's most powerful weapons, or undue regulatory burden?
iStockphoto

Originally published on Thu February 5, 2015 7:17 am

Apparently, making restaurant workers wash their hands before exiting the bathroom is a sign of regulation gone overboard.

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NPR News Investigations
3:27 pm
Wed February 4, 2015

Hospitals Fail To Protect Nursing Staff From Becoming Patients

The X-ray of Tove Schuster's spine shows the metal cage and four screws her surgeon used to repair a damaged disk in her back.
Daniel Zwerdling NPR

Originally published on Wed February 25, 2015 4:09 pm

When Tove Schuster raced to help a fellow nurse lift a patient at Crozer-Chester Medical Center near Philadelphia in March 2010, she didn't realize she was about to become a troubling statistic.

While working the overnight shift, she heard an all-too-common cry: "Please, I need help. My patient has fallen on the floor."

The patient was a woman who weighed more than 300 pounds. So Schuster did what nursing schools and hospitals across the country teach: She gathered a few colleagues, and they lifted the patient as a team.

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Shots - Health News
2:10 pm
Wed February 4, 2015

Most People Getting Measles Are Adults. Time For A Shot?

Jackie Carnegie immunizes Mabel Haywood in a Colorado Health Department immunization van in 1972. Shots for measles and other infectious diseases were offered.
Ira Gay Sealy Denver Post Archive/Getty Images

Originally published on Wed February 4, 2015 6:27 pm

Most of the 92 cases of measles confirmed in California are among adults — more than 62 percent. Maybe they or their parents chose not to vaccinate, or maybe those people are allergic to one of the ingredients in the measles vaccine.

But it's also possible that a few of those adults happened to slip through the cracks when the measles vaccine first came to the public.

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Medical Treatments
12:52 pm
Wed February 4, 2015

New Meds Block Heroin Craving, But Reporter Finds Treatment Centers Don't Use Them

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

TERRY GROSS, HOST:

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Shots - Health News
12:35 pm
Wed February 4, 2015

Does Binge-Watching Make Us Depressed? Good Question

Originally published on Thu February 5, 2015 8:26 am

Netflix and other streaming media services have become the crack of television, making it possible to watch an entire season of shows like House of Cards or Orange Is the New Black in one go. It seems like harmless fun, but recent headlines suggest that our binge-watching habits could be making us depressed and miserable.

The most recent findings on binge-watching associated people who binge on television with depression, loneliness and an inability to control their behavior.

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The Salt
11:34 am
Wed February 4, 2015

Cooking 101: Stanford Adds Healthful Eating Skills To The Curriculum

Chef David Iott explains the perfect way to prepare risotto to Stanford students.
Courtesy of Stanford's Residential and Dining Enterprises

Originally published on Fri February 6, 2015 3:13 pm

College is in many ways a time to learn life skills. But students often get so bogged down building up their resumes and studying for that Rocket Science 101 midterm that they've got no time left for the basics — like cooking.

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Health Desk
10:59 am
Wed February 4, 2015

Illinois Approves Medical Marijuana Patients

Credit Credit flickr/eggrole

Illinois has now approved approximately 1,000 patients
for the state's medical marijuana program.
 
 Department of Public Health spokeswoman Melaney Arnold said Wednesday that
about 14,000 people have started the patient registration process. Of those,
about 2,100 have submitted at least part of the application.
 
 Some newly licensed growers say they'll be ready to provide medical marijuana
this summer. Gov. Bruce Rauner awarded licenses Monday to marijuana growers and
retailers across the state.
 

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