Archive for Health

Contagion

Back from my travels, I lifted my jet-lagged head off the pillow at 5 am. Needing coffee (as I always do upon rising), I zipped down to the nearest Dunkin’ Donuts shop for a medium hazelnut (hot, cream no sugar) and a couple of Old-Fashioned (plain) doughnuts—breakfast of champions. These are the fleeting moments I permit myself to listen to NPR.

A reporter from Sierra Leone described the hell that is the Ebola outbreak there. Sensing that this story might be free of slander toward Israel (though you can never be certain), I listened on. Damned if I didn’t learn something.

The audio/transcript won’t be online for a few hours yet, but the reporter called in with a similar take yesterday:

NPR’s Jason Beaubien is in Sierra Leone, covering the Ebola outbreak that began in March in Guinea and has spread to neighboring countries. We’ll be speaking with him throughout the week about what he’s seeing on the ground. Today he’s in Kailahun, the largest town in the country’s eastern province, with a population of about 18,000, and the epicenter of Sierra Leone’s outbreak. In the past week, Doctors Without Borders staff in Kailahun have treated more than 70 patients with Ebola-like symptoms.

When we called, Beaubien was with a team driving to the treatment center to pick up the body of a 70-year-old woman who died of Ebola. Burial was scheduled for this afternoon.

What will happen at the burial?

The Ministry of Health is handing over body management to the Red Cross. This is one of the first bodies they’re going out to do, so there’s a whole bunch of people [who will be at the burial]. It may turn into a bit of a mob scene. And there’s a lot of anger in the community; there’s a potential that family members might not be happy that such a large group of people are showing up at the burial.

That’s where this morning’s story picked up the trail. The poor woman who died wanted only to be buried behind her simple house. Her son had dug her grave. Before her body arrived, however, the “mob” filled in the grave, in the presence of the regional chief, who forbid the burial of an infected body so near other people. Bury it deep in the bush, he counseled, where it won’t infect the drinking water.

Was he right? Can ebola (which is transmitted by bodily fluids) seep out of a body bag (two, out of an abundance of caution) and into the water table, infecting whole towns? I certainly don’t know.

But doesn’t this sound eerily similar to the AIDS crisis of the 1980s? An unknown disease that seemed to effect only intravenous drug users, homosexuals, and Haitians with terrifying afflictions, before the inevitable death. Nobody wanted to have anything to do with that. We shunned, we turned our backs, we kept our hands in our pockets.

As who would not?

Ebola spreads by contact with bodily fluids. What precautions are people taking?

People have been told not to shake hands. But this is West Africa. People usually grab your hand in both their hands and don’t let go, especially someone who really wants to engage with you. It’s very hard for people not to shake hands. You go into an office, and people have their hands in their pockets just to keep from pulling them out and shaking hands.

America needs no remind of its shortcomings. Slavery, Jim Crow, mistreatment of native peoples, homophobia—ours is not a spotless record. But that doesn’t make America racist, genocidal, or otherwise intolerant, it makes us human. If these Sierra Leone villagers succumb to panic—from one of their own, one whom must have been known by all—they are only human too.

Arthur Miller’s The Crucible is playing in London at the moment (to excellent reviews). Miller’s merciless tale of the Salem witch trials is universally seen as an allegory for the anti-red witch hunts of his own time. But would the “brave”, “heroic” Mr. Miller have the nerve to set a modern Crucible on West Africa?

I don’t think so, either.

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We Asked For It

“Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.

Two cases of the H1N1 virus have been confirmed among immigrants caught in the Rio Grande Valley.

Vice President of the National Border Patrol Council #3307 Chris Cabrera confirmed the cases late Saturday morning.

Cabera told Action 4 News that one case was confirmed at the Brownsville Border Patrol Station and another at the Fort Brown Border Patrol station, also located in Brownsville.

Cabera said both cases involve juveniles and both were confirmed on Friday by medical personnel located at both facilities.

He added that an estimated 120 people are being isolated at the two stations because they were exposed to the juveniles.

Medical teams are stationed inside the detention centers to screen for lice, scabies and chicken pox but not everyone gets medical clearance.

“If someone is released and they are symptomatic, it could spread rapidly” said Caberera.

“Immigrants”? Since when did diseased foreign nationals wading across the stagnant pools of the Rio Grande qualify as immigrants? If they test positive for TB, do they get in-state tuition rates? What next, ebola?

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Whoop-di-do

What a great motto for a country: e pleurisy unum.

California is being hit hard with a whooping cough epidemic, according to the state’s public health department, with 800 cases reported in the past two weeks alone.

The agency says that there were 3,458 whooping cough cases reported between January 1 and June 10, well ahead of the number of cases reported for all of 2013.

This is a problem of “epidemic proportions,” the department said. And the number of actual cases may be even higher, because past studies have shown that for every case of whooping cough that is reported, there are 10 more that are not officially counted.

California has historically had higher vaccination rates than other states, but a recent study found large clusters of parents who did not vaccinate their children close to areas with a large number of whooping cough cases during the 2010 California outbreak.

Whooping cough cases have spread rapidly in the United States this year, with a 24% increase nationally in the number of cases, compared to January through April of last year, according to the CDC.

This makes no sense. California has a higher vaccination rate, yet “clusters” (large clusters) of families are at risk of infection.

Who are these clusters?

The flood of children entering the U.S. illegally from Mexico has overloaded federal housing and processing facilities, creating conditions that border control agents fear could result in the spread of disease.

[B]order control agents have already experienced a rabies outbreak and now fear a host of new ailments could be imminent.

‘We are starting to see chicken pox, MRSA staph infections; we are starting to see different viruses,’ Rio Grande Valley Border Patrol agent Chris Cabrera told ABC 15.

A spokesman at the Rio Grande facility said that agents to not screen children for diseases and are only responsible for processing them.

‘Apparently, a significant amount of communicable disease is suspected by custodial and agent personnel,’ Zack Taylor, chairman of the National Association of Former Border Patrol Officers, told Breitbart Texas.

‘What level of medical screening, if any, is being done is unknown. What the medical testing shows is likely not being shared with the agents. And, there are potential communicable diseases that the detainees will not be tested for unless individually requested by a medical officer, which is unlikely without acute symptoms.’

The media have been quick to condemn parents who don’t vaccinate their children. But if most of the diseases have been all but eliminated in America, where, pray tell, do the media think the risk of infections comes from?

Message to parents: vaccinate. Message to media: investigate. Heck, I’d settle for cogitate. How “humanitarian” is a system that encourages serial felonies, second-class (at best) citizenship, disease, human trafficking, sex abuse, and worst of all, spoiled burritos:

Tony Banegas, consul of Honduras to Arizona, told KPHO-TV that children had complained about the food at the shelter.

‘This morning they switched to burritos, but they complained the eggs were cold,’ Banegas said. ‘They couldn’t eat them and even made them sick. They complained they had a burrito but had to throw it in the trash.’

Who’s higher in your contempt, the kids who turn up their noses at free food, or the authorities who patronize them by offering them burritos? If they were African refugees, would we offer them fried chicken (cold fried chicken) and (warm) watermelon? Sausages to Poles? Whiskey to Irish? Offer the kids American food like Kraft mac ‘n’ cheese, and tell them that’s dinner if they’re hungry. After they wash their hands.

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Uh Oh.

Cynical people more prone to Alzheimers.

Your spouse “had to stay late at work” — are you skeptical? Do you think your friend doesn’t like you if he cancels dinner plans? Do you suspect that your co-worker is putting her ambitions ahead of the team?

Curmudgeons of the world, listen up: This line of negative thinking might actually hurt your health.
A new study in the latest edition of Neurology, the journal of the American Academy of Neurology, found that cynical people have a higher likelihood of developing dementia.

“There have been previous studies that showed that people who were cynical were more likely to die earlier and have other poor health outcomes, but no one that we could tell ever looked at dementia,” said Anna-Maija Tolppanen, one of the study’s authors and a professor at the University of Eastern Finland. “We have seen some studies that show people who are more open and optimistic have a lower risk for dementia so we thought this was a good question to ask.”

Cynicism is a deep mistrust of others. Psychologists consider it a kind of chronic anger that develops over time.
Specifically, the kind of cynicism researchers looked at involved doubting the truth of what people say and believing most people are motivated by self-interest rather than by what is best for the community.

The study tested 1,449 people with an average age of 71. The study participants took a test for dementia. A separate test measured their level of cynicism. Both tests are considered reliable by researchers.

So, are people cynical because their wiring is somehow flawed, and in later years that sometimes leads to dementia, or do they have control of these negative thoughts? Either way I’m doomed.

- Aggie

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Vegetables Don’t Prevent Cancer?

Say it ain’t so!

This is from the NY Times, so we know it must be accurate…

A trip to almost any bookstore or a cruise around the Internet might leave the impression that avoiding cancer is mostly a matter of watching what you eat. One source after another promotes the protective powers of “superfoods,” rich in antioxidants and other phytochemicals, or advises readers to emulate the diets of Chinese peasants or Paleolithic cave dwellers.

But there is a yawning divide between this nutritional folklore and science. During the last two decades the connection between the foods we eat and the cellular anarchy called cancer has been unraveling string by string.

This month at the annual meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research, a mammoth event that drew more than 18,500 researchers and other professionals here, the latest results about diet and cancer were relegated to a single poster session and a few scattered presentations. There were new hints that coffee may lower the risk of some cancers and more about the possible benefits of vitamin D. Beyond that there wasn’t much to say.

In the opening plenary session, Dr. Walter C. Willett, a Harvard epidemiologist who has spent many years studying cancer and nutrition, sounded almost rueful as he gave a status report. Whatever is true for other diseases, when it comes to cancer there was little evidence that fruits and vegetables are protective or that fatty foods are bad.

About all that can be said with any assurance is that controlling obesity is important, as it also is for heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, hypertension, stroke and other threats to life. Avoiding an excess of alcohol has clear benefits. But unless a person is seriously malnourished, the influence of specific foods is so weak that the signal is easily swamped by noise.

And this is truly astounding:

But now that smoking is on the wane in this country, obesity is on the rise. Being fat (as opposed to eating fat), Dr. Willett proposed, may now be causing more fatal cancers than cigarettes.

Why astounding? Because most people gain a lot of weight when they quit smoking. Jeez. Yet more evidence that the Food Nazis were just that.

- Aggie

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ObamaCare Continues To Hurt Health Care

Doctors must consider cost/benefit analysis, rather than just benefit

Saying they can no longer ignore the rising prices of health care, some of the most influential medical groups in the nation are recommending that doctors weigh the costs, not just the effectiveness of treatments, as they make decisions about patient care.

The shift, little noticed outside the medical establishment but already controversial inside it, suggests that doctors are starting to redefine their roles, from being concerned exclusively about individual patients to exerting influence on how health care dollars are spent.

“We understand that we doctors should be and are stewards of the larger society as well as of the patient in our examination room,” said Dr. Lowell E. Schnipper, the chairman of a task force on value in cancer care at the American Society of Clinical Oncology.

Can you say Death Panel? Do you really want your cancer doc to be more concerned about the benefits to society at large than about you? Do you think that well-connected “folks” will be perceived as offering more benefit to society than you? Count on it.

Think I’m exaggerating about death panels and rationing?

In practical terms, new guidelines being developed by the medical groups could result in doctors choosing one drug over another for cost reasons or even deciding that a particular treatment — at the end of life, for example — is too expensive. In the extreme, some critics have said that making treatment decisions based on cost is a form of rationing.

They don’t even need panels! Your doc is your panel. Better be nice to him. :)

Give this guy the coveted ‘Ya Think™ Award:

Some doctors see a potential conflict in trying to be both providers of patient care and financial overseers.

“There should be forces in society who should be concerned about the budget, about how many M.R.I.s we do, but they shouldn’t be functioning simultaneously as doctors,” said Dr. Martin A. Samuels, the chairman of the neurology department at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. He said doctors risked losing the trust of patients if they told patients, “I’m not going to do what I think is best for you because I think it’s bad for the health care budget in Massachusetts.”

You’re getting the British system, folks:

Still, it is unclear if medical societies are the best ones to make cost assessments. Doctors can have financial conflicts of interest and lack economic expertise.

They plan to rate the value of treatments based on the cost per quality-adjusted life-year, or QALY — a method used in Britain and by many health economists.

The societies say that treatments costing less than about $50,000 a QALY would be rated as high value, while those costing more than $150,000 a QALY would be low value.

“We couldn’t go on just ignoring costs,” Dr. Heidenreich said.

We voted for this, and in doing so we voted for a bunch of useless social programs that cost us a boatload – Cash for Clunkers, anyone? We have to pay for our excesses somewhere, I suppose.

- Aggie

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Surprise, Surprise!

I thought we’d have a temporary lull in stories about what a catastrophic, epic failure ObamaCare was. I mean, they got their seven million (with 0.1 to spare!), what’s left to fight about?

Then, just this morning, we learn that all this chaos and mayhem was for the benefit of 1.4 million people (actually, we learned that a week ago), and we learned that no one will be allowed into ObamaCare from now till the end of the year.

As they say of bad news, so is it true of good news: it comes in threes.

People who signed up early for insurance through the new marketplaces were more likely to be prescribed drugs to treat pain, depression and H.I.V. and were less likely to need contraceptives, according to a new study that provides a much-anticipated look at the population that signed up for coverage under the new health care law.

The health of those who enrolled in new coverage is being closely watched because many observers have questioned whether the new marketplaces would attract a large share of sick people, which could lead to higher premiums and ultimately doom the new law.

The study, to be released Wednesday by the major pharmacy-benefits manager Express Scripts, suggests that early enrollees face more serious health problems and are older than those covered by their employers. The study also showed a higher use of specialty drugs, which are often used to treat diseases like cancer and rheumatoid arthritis; the use of such drugs could hint at more costly medical problems.

The facts of life are conservative. Sick people were bound to sign up for ObamaCare (especially as they were thrown off their previous plans); healthy people didn’t see the point. No matter how Obama and his jackbooted thugs talked up the plan, everyone could see that that the pig was just wearing a fetching shade of Maybelline.

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If You Like Your Brewski, You Can Keep Your Brewskie

Doing to beer what they did to health insurance:

Beer brewers are objecting to a proposed federal rule that would make it harder for breweries to sell leftover grains as animal feed instead of throwing them away.

The Food and Drug Administration rule change would mean brewers would have to meet the same standards as livestock and pet-food manufacturers, imposing new sanitary handling procedures, record keeping and other food safety processes on brewers.

Beer makers complain that the new rules, if adopted, would force them to dump millions of tons of “spent grains,” which are left over after barley, wheat and other grains are steeped in hot water.

Bear Republic brewmaster Rich Norgrove says the rules would be costly and force brewers to dump the grains, instead of the more sustainable practice of feeding them to livestock.

The Northern California brewery sells its spent grain to local ranches, which use it as an affordable food source for about 300 head of cattle, according to The Santa Rosa Press Democrat.

“Now the government wants to get involved,” Cheryl LaFranchi, a Knight’s Valley rancher, said. “What are they going to do with it? Put it in a landfill?”

The most blood-curdling words you’ll ever here: “We’re from the government, and we’re here to help.”

Chris Thorne of the Beer Institute said he believes once the FDA has all of the information, it will see the benefits of the current system of recycling the old grain.

“This regulation is onerous and expensive, but really it’s just unnecessary. There has never been a single reported negative incidence with spent grain,” Thorne said in a statement.

Santa Rosa rancher Jim Cunningham gets about 10 tons of used grain from the Lagunitas Brewery every day at about $100 per ton.

With drought and other factors pushing commercial feed prices more than three times higher than the brewery grain, he says the new rules would affect his bottom line.

“It might put us out of business if we couldn’t get cheaper feed,” Cunningham said.

Change the title of this post to read: “If You Like Your Rib-Eye…”

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So… Did You Sign Up For ObamaCare?

And did your costs go up or down? Because the CEO of Cleveland Clinic says that for 75% of us, costs went UP.

No. Wait. What? Obama promised that costs would go down. To the tune of $2500 per year per family. I want my money back.

The CEO of the Cleveland Clinic says that a majority of Americans who signed up for Obamacare have seen their premiums rise.
“About three-quarters of them find that their premiums are higher than they had been previously with other insurance,” Toby Cosgrove told Fox News.
Cosgrove explained that the Affordable Care Act is having a “major effect” upon health care providers.
“We know for example that we’re going to get paid less for what we do,” Cosgrove stated. “Hospitals are going to be paid less for what they do. We also know that insurers are paying less for what we do.”
Cosgrove said providers need to “become more efficient” in how they deliver health care.

More efficient, eh? The most efficient thing to do is to deny treatment.

- Aggie

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Sweets for the Sweet

Sasha and Malia seem pretty nice. And you can’t blame the dogs, Bo and… the other one.

The rest of the inhabitants seem a pretty bitter lot:

The White House executive pastry chef, Bill Yosses, is calling it quits, in part because first lady Michelle Obama has discouraged his creativity in working with full fat, sugar, and eggs, The New York Times reported.

“I don’t want to demonize cream, butter, sugar and eggs,” Yosses told the Times.

Old-fashioned “20 percent traditional desserts” make White House appearances only on special occasions. On Thanksgiving, “the Crustmaster,” as President Barack Obama calls him, was authorized to make different kinds of pies, and on Christmas he has created a detailed gingerbread version of the White House.

When German Chancellor Angela Merkel came in 2011 for a state dinner, Yosses created his own version of phyllo strudel with a plethora of farmer’s cheese, raisins, and apple. When French President Francois Hollande came in February, Yosses was permitted to prepare chocolate pastries without fretting about fat and sugar.

Here was that glorious moment:

We’re using a paint sprayer (previously unused of course) to give a micro-thin layer of chocolate over soft and creamy ganache cake. The bittersweet chocolate comes from Hawaii, and it will be served à la mode with vanilla ice-cream from Pennsylvania.

Bet that peeved Michelle no end. No wonder he was out a month later.

Yosses, now 60, was brought on board by Laura Bush in 2007 when decadent desserts were more welcome. With the arrival of the Obamas, Yosses found himself picking more ingredients from the White House garden, including strawberries, blueberries, and pineapple sage.

Á chacun a son goût, as they say. If the Obama’s like pineapple sage better than crème brulée, why shouldn’t they have it? But you’ve seen the president when he’s allowed to go out without the little ball and chain. It’s all butter, cream, chocolate, and eggs. And you can’t keep an ice cream cone out of his hands when he’s on vacation. Any nutritionist will tell you to include a little fat in your diet. You crave it and you need it. But let Michelle terrorize the kitchen staff if it keeps her happy.

But I want to consider a different angle (Rush and I came to these thoughts independently). Yosses is gay, and is moving to New York City with his husband. You all know that’s a-ok with me.

But if a gay couple can insist that a baker may not refuse on religious grounds to make their wedding cake (offering muffins and cookies—even non-wedding cakes—in their place), why does Michelle get to hound a gay baker out of his job without being criticized?

Besides:

A new review of published evidence challenges current guidelines that suggest in order to reduce heart disease risk, people should generally restrict intake of saturated fats – like those found in butter and dairy foods – in favor of unsaturated fats – such as in margarine and sunflower oil.

The analysis, published in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine by an international group led by a team at the UK’s University of Cambridge, included 72 separate studies on heart risk and intake of fatty acids.

They found no evidence to support guidelines that say people should restrict saturated fat consumption to lower their risk of developing heart disease.

God spare us from these liberal do-gooders. They’ll be the death of us. Certainly the death of our jobs.

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First Reported ObamaCare Death


This is probably not the first death, but it is the first death that I have heard about.

- Aggie

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Good News, Bad News

Cases of cancer are set to soar worldwide.

And now the bad news:

Cancer cases are expected to surge 57% worldwide in the next 20 years, an imminent “human disaster” that will require a renewed focus on prevention to combat, according to the World Health Organization.

The World Cancer Report, produced by the WHO’s specialized cancer agency, predicts new cancer cases will rise from an estimated 14 million in 2012 to 22 million annually within two decades. Over the same period, cancer deaths are tipped to rise from 8.2 million a year to 13 million annually.

The rising incidence of cancer, brought about by growing, aging populations worldwide, will require a heavier focus on preventive public health policies, said Christopher Wild, director of the International Agency for Research on Cancer.

Wait… couldn’t the headline instead be: “Mortality Rates Set to Plummet”? I mean no offense to any of you who have lost an elderly loved one to cancer. I have. But the good news is that people worldwide are living long enough for cancer to catch up to them.

To be fully honest with you, my suspicions were aroused by the WHO acronym itself. All international organizations are infected by leftist (often antisemitic) microbes. It’s only one step from this bogus story to “Humanity Set to Perish From ‘Natural Causes’: ‘Imminent Human Disaster’ Unavoidable, WHO Says.”

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