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Sudan Officials Warn of Disease from Unidentified Bodies

September 27, 2022

(Associated Press) – Sudanese medical officials warned Monday that more than 1,500 unidentified bodies piled up in several of the country’s morgues could lead to an outbreak of disease, amid accusations the government is covering up their causes of death. Among the deceased are believed to be pro-democracy protesters, who activists say were killed by government forces in their crackdown on demonstrations. They believe the failure to conduct proper autopsies is an attempt to conceal evidence of those killings. (Read More)

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Walmart to Cover Fertility Treatments Under Insurance Plan

September 27, 2022

(Associated Press) – Walmart is teaming up with a fertility startup to offer benefits under its insurance plan that will help its workers expand their families. The nation’s largest retailer and private employer said Tuesday it’s partnering with New York-based Kindbody to offer benefits such as in vitro fertilization as well as fertility testing regardless of sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, or marital status. (Read More)

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Mental Health Crisis Leads Hospitals to Create a New Type of ER

September 27, 2022

(Bloomberg) – With mental health treatment in short supply, Americans experiencing a psychiatric crisis frequently land in a hospital emergency room—brought in by the police or loved ones—and usually stay there until they can be safely discharged or transferred. That means patients can spend hours or even days stuck on a gurney until a spot opens in a psych ward, the only other setting deemed appropriate. The approach rarely offers any real treatment for mental health conditions, and it ties up scarce ER beds. That’s spurred some hospitals to try a new idea: mental health crisis units designed to treat people quickly in a more serene setting, so they can stabilize patients and send them home. (Read More)

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Study Tries to See If Child Vaccines and Asthma Are Linked

September 27, 2022

(Associated Press) – A number of scientists have wondered if aluminum, a vaccine additive that has been used for decades, had a role in allergies and asthma in children. A new federally funded study has found a possible link, but experts say the research has important shortcomings and is not a reason to change current vaccine recommendations. The study doesn’t claim aluminum causes the breathing condition, and officials say more work is needed to try to confirm any connection, which hadn’t been seen in earlier research. (Read More)

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More Trans Teens Are Choosing ‘Top Surgery’

September 26, 2022

(New York Times) – Genital surgeries in adolescents are exceedingly rare, surgeons said, but top surgeries are becoming more common. And while major medical groups have condemned the bans on gender-related care for adolescents, the surgeries have presented challenges for them. Much research has shown that as adults, transgender men generally benefit from top surgery: It relieves body-related distress, increases sexual satisfaction and improves overall quality of life. A few small studies of transgender adolescents suggest similar benefits in the short term. But some clinicians have pointed to the rising demand and the turmoil of adolescent development as reasons for doctors to slow down before offering irreversible procedures. Although medical experts believe the likelihood to be small, some patients come to regret their surgeries. (Read More)

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Monkeypox Appears to Recede, but Risks and Uncertainties Linger

September 26, 2022

(New York Times) – Supplies of the vaccine have improved, and federal health officials have begun clinical trials to gain a better understanding of who benefits, and how much, from both the vaccine and the drug used to treat those who become infected. That’s the good news. But unhappily, case numbers are accelerating in a few states and jurisdictions, including Indiana, Virginia and Massachusetts. Black and Hispanic men make up nearly two-thirds of the infected, but only about one-fourth of those vaccinated so far. (Read More)

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‘Sobering’ Study Shows Challenges of Egg Freezing

September 26, 2022

(New York Times) – The procedure of egg-freezing is an increasingly popular, but expensive, option for women who want to delay childbirth. But new research documents some caveats: how old a woman is when she freezes her eggs and how many eggs she freezes make a significant difference in whether she will have a baby. Most women who tried to become pregnant, the study found, did not succeed, often because they had waited until they were too old to freeze eggs and had not frozen enough of them. That note of caution comes from data published this summer in a paper in the journal Fertility and Sterility from the clinic where Ms. Evans froze her eggs — New York University Langone Fertility Center. (Read More)

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Viruses to Fight Superbugs? Scientists Are Working on It

September 26, 2022

(Wired) – Not only do you need to find the right phages for a particular bacterial infection, then—they must also be lytic ones. But many phages in Hatfull and his team’s collection are temperate, including two of the three they wanted to combine into a cocktail to treat this patient. Their solution? Genome editing. They engineered the genomes of the phages such that they would always be lytic, by removing the genes needed for lysogeny. By doing this, Hatfull explains, “We’ve essentially converted a naturally occurring temperate phage into one that’s now lytic, and essentially moved it from the ‘can’t use’ category into the ‘potential use’ category.” (Read More)

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Long COVID Has Forced a Reckoning for One of Medicine’s Most Neglected Diseases

September 26, 2022

(The Atlantic) – A wide variety of infections can cause ME/CFS, and SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus that causes COVID-19, is no different: Many cases of long COVID are effectively ME/CFS by another name. The exact number is hard to define, but past studies have shown that 5 to 27 percent of people infected by various pathogens, including Epstein-Barr virus and the original SARS, develop ME/CFS. Even if that proportion is 10 times lower for SARS-CoV-2, the number of Americans with ME/CFS would still have doubled in the past three years. “We’re adding an immense volume of patients to an already dysfunctional and overburdened system,” Beth Pollack, a scientist at MIT who studies complex chronic illnesses, told me. (Read More)

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Covid-19 Has Changed the Funeral Business Forever

September 26, 2022

(Wall Street Journal) – Covid-19 has killed more than one million people in the U.S. As new Covid-19 cases drop, hundreds of people continue to die of the disease each day. The toll has generated a surge in business for funeral homes, along with challenges that morticians said prompted the industry to become more nimble and responsive. Many funeral directors added services including virtual events and outdoor gatherings. Others struggled to retain burned-out or traumatized staff.  (Read More)

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Women Were More Likely to Overdose During COVID Pandemic

September 26, 2022

(Axios) – While men were far likelier to be diagnosed with a substance use disorder during the pandemic, women were more likely to overdose, according to a new FAIR Health analysis provided to Axios. Why it matters: The study of private insurance claims shows the rising burden of substance use across the U.S. (Read More)

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Frozen Embryo Transfers Linked with High Blood Pressure Risks in Pregnancy

September 26, 2022

(Medical Xpress) – In vitro fertilization (IVF) using frozen embryos may be associated with a 74% higher risk of hypertensive disorders in pregnancy, according to new research published today in Hypertension. In comparison, the study found that pregnancies from fresh embryo transfers—transferring the fertilized egg immediately after in vitro fertilization (IVF) instead of a frozen, fertilized egg—and pregnancy from natural conception shared a similar risk of developing a hypertensive disorder.  (Read More)

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Ebola Infections Grow in Uganda as Death Toll Rises to 23

September 26, 2022

(CNN) – Ebola infections have risen across districts in Uganda, bringing the cumulative number of confirmed and suspected deaths to 23, health authorities in the east African country said Monday. Uganda declared an Ebola outbreak last Tuesday after a case of the relatively rare Sudan strain was detected in the country’s Mubende district.  The virus has now spread to neighboring Kyegegwa and Kassanda districts, with the Ugandan Health Ministry reporting that cumulative cases had risen to 36, including confirmed and probable cases. No cases have been detected in the capital city Kampala. (Read More)

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Pfizer Seeks to Expand Omicron Booster to 5- to-11-Year-Olds

September 26, 2022

(Associated Press) – Pfizer asked U.S. regulators Monday to expand use of its updated COVID-19 booster shot to children ages 5 to 11. Elementary school-aged children already received kid-sized doses of Pfizer’s original vaccine, a third of the dose given to everyone 12 and older — two primary shots plus a booster.  (Read More)

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Hemp-Derived Delta-8 Skirts Marijuana Laws and Raises Health Concerns

September 23, 2022

(Kaiser Health News) – The FDA has issued warnings about the “serious health risks” of delta-8, citing concerns about the conversion process, and has received more than 100 reports of people hallucinating, vomiting, and losing consciousness, among other issues, after consuming it. From January 2021 through this February, national poison control centers received more than 2,300 delta-8 cases, 70% of which required the users to be evaluated at health care facilities, according to the FDA. (Read More)

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Japan’s $2-Billion Initiative to Prep Pandemic Vaccines in 100 Days

September 23, 2022

(Nature) – After recognizing that Japan was slow to develop vaccines for COVID-19, the government has pledged to invest US$2 billion in a vaccine-research initiative to ensure that the country is ready to respond promptly to future epidemics. The Strategic Center of Biomedical Advanced Vaccine Research and Development for Preparedness and Response (SCARDA) will initially invest in vaccine research for eight pathogens, including coronaviruses, monkeypox, dengue virus and Zika virus, using a range of technologies for vaccine delivery, such as mRNA technology, viral vectors and recombinant proteins. (Read More)

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U.N. Experts Find That War Crimes Have Been Committed in Ukraine.

September 23, 2022

(New York Times) – Russian soldiers have raped and tortured children in Ukraine, a United Nations-appointed panel of independent legal experts said in a damning statement on Friday that concluded war crimes had been committed in the conflict. A three-person Commission of Inquiry set up in April to investigate the conduct of hostilities in four areas of Ukraine laid out the graphic allegations in an unusually hard-hitting, 11-minute statement to the U.N Human Rights Council in Geneva. (Read More)

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Major Covid Holdouts in Asia Drop Border Restrictions

September 23, 2022

(New York Times) – After two and a half years of tight pandemic controls, some of Asia’s last holdouts are opening their borders, as they move to bolster their economies and play catch-up with a world that has largely learned to live with Covid. Hong Kong said on Friday that it would abandon mandatory hotel quarantine for people coming to the city starting next week, following a similar move by Taiwan. Japan said it would drop its daily limit on arrivals and fully open its doors to tourists on Oct. 11. (Read More)

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‘Humanitarian Crime’: Fighting Cuts Off Insulin Supply in Tigray

September 23, 2022

(The Guardian) – Doctors at the biggest hospital in Tigray say they have just days supply left of insulin, as the resumption of fighting between rebels and Ethiopian government troops once again cuts off supplies to the region. In what the head of the International Diabetes Federation (IDF) has branded “a humanitarian crime,” medics at Ayder specialist referral hospital warn they have already run out of one kind of the life-saving medicine and have only a week’s supply of another. (Read More)

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‘Truly Remarkable’ Drug Helps Motor Neuron Disease

September 23, 2022

(BBC) – Scientists say they have slowed and even reversed some of the devastating and relentless decline caused by motor-neurone disease (MND). The treatment works in only 2% of patients but has been described as “truly remarkable” and a “real moment of hope” for the whole disease.  One leading expert said it was the first time she had seen patients improve – but this is not a cure. The MND Association said there was “mounting confidence” in the therapy. (Read More)

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