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They Call It ‘Tranq’–And It’s Making Street Drugs Even More Dangerous

August 11, 2022

(Kaiser Health News) – Xylazine, which is also known as “tranq” or “tranq dope,” surged first in some areas of Puerto Rico and then in Philadelphia, where it was found in 91% of opioid samples in the most recent reporting period. Data from January to mid-June shows that xylazine was in 28% of drug samples tested by the Massachusetts Drug Supply Data Stream, a state-funded network of community drug-checking and advisory groups that uses mass spectrometers to let people know what’s in bags or pills purchased on the street. (Read More)

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Polio Unlikely to Spread Widely in U.S.

August 11, 2022

(Axios) – The detection of poliovirus in wastewater samples in London and New York state is providing another stark reminder of the importance of vaccination and new forms of surveillance, public health experts say. Why it matters: A pandemic-weary public already facing the uncontrolled spread of COVID-19 and monkeypox is feeling jittery about the resurgence of a dreaded disease that was thought to be largely eradicated. (Read More)

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‘Disturbing’: Experts Troubled by Canada’s Euthanasia Laws

August 11, 2022

(Associated Press) – Many Canadians support euthanasia and the advocacy group Dying With Dignity says the procedure is “driven by compassion, an end to suffering and discrimination and desire for personal autonomy.” But human rights advocates say the country’s regulations lack necessary safeguards, devalue the lives of disabled people and are prompting doctors and health workers to suggest the procedure to those who might not otherwise consider it. Equally troubling, advocates say, are instances in which people have sought to be killed because they weren’t getting adequate government support to live. Canada is set to expand euthanasia access next year, but these advocates say the system warrants further scrutiny now. (Read More)

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Covid-19 Variants Keep Getting More Contagious. Here’s Why.

August 11, 2022

(Wall Street Journal) – Comparing the BA.5 subvariant to earlier versions of the virus, such as Delta or even BA.1, however, is more of a challenge, Dr. Bedford and other infectious-disease experts said. Covid-19 vaccinations and infections have changed our immune defenses over time, making head-to-head matchups between past and present variants harder, including for characteristics like intrinsic severity of the disease.  The specific traits that help a variant thrive and take over have shifted, too, as our immunological landscape has changed. Earlier in the pandemic, when most people had yet to encounter the virus, variants that figured out how to increase their innate infectiousness had the advantage. Now, after most people have been vaccinated, infected or both, variants that can also evade or suppress our existing immune responses tend to have the edge. (Read More)

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