Her Daughter Was Scared Of Needles, So She Didn’t Push For Flu Shot. It Was A Fatal Mistake.
One woman is trying to get the message out about the importance of flu shots after her child died, not wanting others to make the same mistake as she did. Meanwhile threats to public health often flourish in a bad economy.
The Washington Post:
She Didn’t Think A Flu Shot Was Necessary — Until Her Daughter Died
Piper Lowery had a fever that soared to 105 degrees. It hurt for her to walk, and she was breathing heavily, her mother said. She was also bleeding from her nose and vomiting blood. On Jan. 16, just four days after she got sick, Piper collapsed in the parking lot of a children's hospital in Tacoma, Wash. By then, the H1N1 flu had already attacked her kidneys.Piper died shortly before 12:30 p.m. that day. She was 12 years old. (Guerra, 10/27)
Mosquitoes — And Diseases Like Zika — Flourish When Economies Tank
The news out of Puerto Rico is grim: Not only has the Zika virus infected nearly 25,000 people so far, including almost 1,700 pregnant women, but the US government has appointed a Financial Control Board to oversee the territory’s government spending as it tries to cope with a nosediving economy and crippling debt. With few job prospects, Puerto Ricans are leaving the island in droves, often abandoning their homes. A failing economy, empty homes, and the outbreak of Zika: The three are related. (Liebman, 10/28)
In other public health news —
Americans Are Dying Faster. Millennials, Too
The latest, best guesses for U.S. lifespans come from a study (PDF) released this month by the Society of Actuaries: The average 65-year-old American man should die a few months short of his 86th birthday, while the average 65-year-old woman gets an additional two years, barely missing age 88. This new data turns out to be a disappointment. Over the past several years, the health of Americans has deteriorated—particularly that of middle-aged non-Hispanic whites. Among the culprits are drug overdoses, suicide, alcohol poisoning, and liver disease, according to a Princeton University study issued in December. (Steverman, 10/28)
Smoking Machine Helps Researchers Study Lung Disease
It’s pretty hard to smoke at Harvard University unless you are a small rubber block full of lung cells at the Wyss Institute. Then, it’s totally OK, because it’s in the name of science. This block, called a lung-airway-on-a-chip, is connected to a respirator that mimics how humans smoke. It’s part of new technology created by Wyss researchers to study the effects of tobacco smoke and electronic cigarettes on lung cells. (Empinado, 10/27)
The Mercury News:
How Does THC Make You High?
How does THC make you “high”? Here is an explanation from the National Institute on Drug Abuse: THC and other cannabinoid chemicals in marijuana are similar to chemicals that naturally occur in the body. These natural cannabinoids, such as “anandamide,” function as neurotransmitters because they send chemical messages between nerve cells throughout the nervous system. They affect brain areas that influence pleasure, memory, thinking, concentration, movement, coordination, and sensory and time perception.Because of this similarity, THC is able to attach to molecules called cannabinoid receptors on neurons in these brain areas and activate them, changing various mental and physical functions. (Krieger, 10/27)