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April 15, 2014

How Flesh-Eating Strep Bacteria Evolved into an Epidemic

(Wired) – Bacteria aren’t kind enough to leave behind a fossil record (save for cyanobacteria), but they’re evolving fast. Really fast. Their short life cycles mean that generations come rapid-fire, adapting through natural selection into the monster pathogens that are currently shrugging off our finest antibiotics. It’s all the more troubling when we’re dealing with the flesh-eating variety. A new study, published today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, details the evolution of one such bacteria, group A Streptococcus. By charting its evolution, scientists hope to gain invaluable insights into tackling subsequent generations of these menaces, and to begin to better understand the very nature of epidemics.

April 11, 2014

A New Edition of Health Policy and Planning is Available

Health Policy and Planning (Volume 29, No. 2, March 2014) is now available online by subscription only.

Articles include:

  • “Impact of user fees on maternal health service utilization and related health outcomes: a systematic review” by Susie Dzakpasu, Timothy Powell-Jackson, and Oona M.R. Campbell
  • “Estimates of performance in the rate of decline of under-five mortality for 113 low- and middle-income countries, 1970–2010” by Stéphane Verguet and Dean T. Jamison
  • “Financial protection in health in Turkey: the effects of the Health Transformation Programme” by Mahmut S Yardim, Nesrin Cilingiroglu, and Nazan Yardim
  • “Health reform and out-of-pocket payments: lessons from China” by Lufa Zhang and Nan Liu
  • “Through the back door: nurse migration to the UK from Malawi and Nepal, a policy critique” by Radha Adhikari and Astrida Grigulis

A New Edition of Health Education Research is Available

Health Education Research (Volume 29, No. 2, April 2014) is now available online by subscription only.

Articles include:

  • “Barriers and facilitators in health education for adults with intellectual disabilities—a qualitative study” by H. Bergström, L. S. Elinder, and U. Wihlman
  • “Using the Precaution Adoption Process model to describe a disaster preparedness intervention among low-income Latinos” by Deborah C. Glik, et al.
  • “A televised entertainment-education drama to promote positive discussion about organ donation” by Georges E. Khalil and Lance S. Rintamaki
  • “School-based HIV/AIDS education is associated with reduced risky sexual behaviors and better grades with gender and race/ethnicity differences” by Zhen-qiang Ma, Monica A. Fisher, and Lewis H. Kuller
  • “Including a client sexual health pathway in a national youth mental health early intervention service—project rationale and implementation strategy” by C. A. Edwards, et al.

A New Edition of Public Health Ethics is Available

Public Health Ethics (Volume 7, No. 1, April 2014) is now available online by subscription only.

Articles include:

  • “Do Social Networking Sites Enhance the Attractiveness of Risky Health Behavior? Impression Management in Adolescents’ Communication on Facebook and its Ethical Implications” by Julika Loss, Verena Lindacher, and Janina Curbach
  • “Parents’ and Children’s Perceptions of the Ethics of Marketing Energy-Dense Nutrient-Poor Foods on the Internet: Implications for Policy to Restrict Children’s Exposure” by K. P. Mehta, et al.
  • “Using Social Networking Sites for Communicable Disease Control: Innovative Contact Tracing or Breach of Confidentiality?” by Kate L. Mandeville, et al.
  • “Social Networking Sites as a Tool for Contact Tracing: Urge for Ethical Framework for Normative Guidance” by Mart L. Stein, et al.
  • “Beyond Individual Responsibility for Lifestyle: Granting a Fresh and Fair Start to the Regretful” by Sarah Vansteenkiste, Kurt Devooght, and Erik Schokkaert
  • “Recruiting and Educating Participants for Enrollment in HIV-Vaccine Research: Ethical Implications of the Results of an Empirical Investigation” by Sibusiso Sifunda, et al.
  • “Ethical Challenges in Implementation Research” by Ruth Macklin

April 10, 2014

Tamiflu: Millions Wasted on Flu Drug, Claims Major Report

(BBC) – Hundreds of millions of pounds may have been wasted on a drug for flu that works no better than paracetamol, a landmark analysis has said. The UK has spent £473m on Tamiflu, which is stockpiled by governments globally to prepare for flu pandemics. The Cochrane Collaboration claimed the drug did not prevent the spread of flu or reduce dangerous complications, and only slightly helped symptoms. The manufacturers Roche and other experts say the analysis is flawed.

Ensuring Privacy in the Study of Pathogen Genetics

(The Lancet, by subscription only) – Rapid growth in the genetic sequencing of pathogens in recent years has led to the creation of large sequence databases. This aggregated sequence data can be very useful for tracking and predicting epidemics of infectious diseases. However, the balance between the potential public health benefit and the risk to personal privacy for individuals whose genetic data (personal or pathogen) are included in such work has been difficult to delineate, because neither the true benefit nor the actual risk to participants has been adequately defined.

April 8, 2014

Polio Spreads from Syria to Iraq, Causing Worries

(New York Times) – Syria’s polio outbreak has now officially spread to Iraq, the first neighbor of the war-ravaged country to be hit by the crippling virus despite an ambitious Middle East inoculation effort, and global health officials warned Monday that dozens of vulnerable Iraqi children could potentially be infected. The transmission of polio, a highly contagious disease that primarily afflicts children younger than 5 and can lead to partial and sometimes fatal paralysis, reflects one of the most insidious effects of the three-year-old Syria conflict, which has sent millions of refugees across the country’s borders and severely undermined its public health system.

How Public Health Advocates Are Trying to Reach Nonvaccinators

(NPR) – Whooping cough made a comeback in California last year, which researchers have linked to vaccine refusals. And with new measles outbreaks in Southern California, New York and British Columbia, the debate over vaccination is also spreading. Forty-eight states allow parents to sign a vaccine exemption form — only West Virginia and Mississippi don’t. California now requires a doctor’s signature on the school form, but parents are still able to find doctors who will sign.

April 3, 2014

Do You Need the Measles Vaccine?

(ABC News) – Most (but not all) U.S. children receive the MMR vaccine — an immunization against measles, mumps and rubella. A single dose of the vaccine, usually administered in 1-year-old kids, is 95 percent effective in preventing measles. And a second dose virtually eliminates the risk completely. So how did measles make its way back stateside? We imported it.

UN’s Safe Drinking Water Target Was Never Really Met

(New Scientist) – In 2012, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared that a UN Millennium Development Goal – to “halve the proportion of people without access to safe drinking water” between 1990 and 2015 – had been met. UN secretary-general Ban Ki-Moon hailed “a great achievement for the people of the world”. But now the WHO’s official journal has admitted that the claim does not stand up.

April 2, 2014

Diet’s Link to Longevity: After 2 Studies Diverge, a Search for Consensus

(New York Times) – The studies are immensely expensive because the monkeys must be followed for their lifetimes and given almost the same standard of health care as human beings. But these long-running experiments are also of great importance. In laboratory mice, reducing the calories in a normal diet increases longevity by up to 40 percent, and it does so by postponing the onset of age-related diseases. The monkey studies are the most direct way of determining whether the same would be true of people.

March 31, 2014

Skin Cancer: Genetic Mutations ‘Warn of Risk’

(BBC) – Scientists say they have taken a step forward in understanding why some people are at greater risk of skin cancer because of their family history. A newly identified gene mutation causes some cases of melanoma, a type of skin cancer, says a UK team. The discovery will pave the way for new screening methods, they report in Nature Genetics.

March 28, 2014

4 Health Care Workers among 66 Dead in Ebola Outbreak

(ABC News) – Four health care workers are among the 66 people who have died in the West African Ebola outbreak, according to the World Health Organization. The ongoing outbreak has sickened 103 people in Guinea in all, and this Ebola strain has a 64 percent fatality rate, WHO officials said. The number of people reported sickened by Ebola in Guinea has more than doubled in the past five days.

New York Council Sees Flawed Mental Health System

(New York Times) – At a hearing, council members expressed frustration with the city’s Correction Department over increasing violence at Rikers and a culture of neglect they said was a factor in Mr. Murdough’s death. But the council members said the failings went beyond the jail system and involved the city’s inadequate mental health system, which often leaves police with little choice but to jail mentally ill people who are arrested.

India Declared Polio-Free

(ABC News) – The World Health Organization formally declared India polio-free on Thursday, after three years with no new cases. It said the milestone means the entire Southeast Asian region, home to a quarter of the world’s population, is considered free of the disease. Being declared polio-free once was considered all but impossible in a nation hobbled by corruption, poor sanitation and profound poverty. Although the disease could return, eradicating it is a landmark public health achievement.

March 27, 2014

7 Million Premature Deaths Annually Linked to Air Pollution

(World Health Organization) – In new estimates released today, WHO reports that in 2012 around 7 million people died – one in eight of total global deaths – as a result of air pollution exposure. This finding more than doubles previous estimates and confirms that air pollution is now the world’s largest single environmental health risk. Reducing air pollution could save millions of lives.

Serious Resistant Infections Increasingly Found in Children

(Wired) – Here’s some disturbing news published late last week in the Journal of the Pediatric Infectious Diseases Society by a team of researchers from two Chicago medical institutions plus an expert analyst of antibiotic resistance: Serious drug-resistant infections in children are rising across the United States. While the rate of their occurrence remains low overall, they nonetheless increased two- to three-fold over 10 years.

Investing in the Science of Public Health

(Huffington Post) – There is another aspect of the shrinking public investment in science research that we should be equally concerned about: the implications of underfunding the science of how to prevent disease and create a healthier population. This is the science of public health. Without good health, after all, American workers will not be able to hold those jobs.

March 21, 2014

A New Edition of Journal of the American Medical Association is Available

Journal of the American Medical Association (Volume 311, No. 8, February 26,  2014) is now available online by subscription only.

Articles include:

  • “Innovation, Risk, and Patient Empowerment: The FDA-Mandated Withdrawal of 23andMe’s Personal Genome Service” by Nicholas S. Downing and Joseph S. Ross
  • “Returning Pleiotropic Results From Genetic Testing to Patients and Research Participants” by Jonathan M. Kocarnik and Stephanie M. Fullerton
  • “Finding the Role of Health Care in Population Health” by Emma M. Eggleston and Jonathan A. Finkelstein
  • “A Unified Code of Ethics for Health Professionals:  Insights From an IOM Workshop” by Matthew K. Wynia
  • “The Patient-Centered Medical Home:  One Size Does Not Fit All” by Thomas L. Schwenk
  • “Nonspecific Effects of Vaccines” by David Goldblatt and Elizabeth Miller
  • “Live Vaccine Against Measles, Mumps, and Rubella and the Risk of Hospital Admissions for Nontargeted Infections” by Signe Sørup, et al.

A New Edition of The New England Journal of Medicine is Available

The New England Journal of Medicine (Volume 370, No. 9, February 27, 2014) is now available online by subscription only.

Articles include:

  • “Preventing and Controlling Influenza with Available Interventions” by T.M. Uyeki
  • “Enterovirus Vaccines for an Emerging Cause of Brain-Stem Encephalitis” by P.C. McMinn
  • “Pancreatic Safety of Incretin-Based Drugs — FDA and EMA Assessment” by A.G. Egan, et al.
  • “DNA Sequencing versus Standard Prenatal Aneuploidy Screening” by D.W. Bianchi, et al.
  • “Beyond Malaria — Causes of Fever in Outpatient Tanzanian Children” by V. D’Acremont, et al.
  • “Efficacy, Safety, and Immunogenicity of an Enterovirus 71 Vaccine in China” by F. Zhu, et al.
  • “An Inactivated Enterovirus 71 Vaccine in Healthy Children” by R. Li, et al.
  • “Attention Deficit–Hyperactivity Disorder in Children and Adolescents” by H.M. Feldman and M.I. Reiff
  • “Screening for Trisomies in Circulating DNA” by M.F. Greene and E.G. Phimister

A New Edition of British Medical Bulletin is Available

British Medical Bulletin (Volume 109, No. 1, March 2014) is now available online by subscription only.

Articles include:

  • “Implementing tissue engineering and regenerative medicine solutions in medical implants” by Dongxia Ye and Antonio Peramo
  • “A review and update on the current status of retinal prostheses (bionic eye)” by Yvonne H.-L. Luo and Lyndon da Cruz
  • “Neuroendocrinology of obesity” by Benjamin C. T. Field


The Bioethics Poll
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