Health and Medical News and Resources

General interest items edited by Janice Flahiff

EPA Releases Water Pollution Tool

From the EPA press release of 25 January 2012 

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced the release of a new tool that provides the public with important information about pollutants that are released into local waterways. Developed under President Obama’s transparency initiative, the Discharge Monitoring Report (DMR) Pollutant Loading Tool brings together millions of records and allows for easy searching and mapping of water pollution by local area, watershed, company, industry sector, and pollutant. Americans can use this new tool to protect their health and the health of their communities.

“Transparency leads to greater accountability and better information about pollution in our nation’s communities,” said Cynthia Giles, assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance. “By making the data we collect available in easy to use tools, we are keeping Americans informed about the health of the environment in their neighborhoods.”

Searches using the DMR Pollutant Loading Tool result in “top ten” lists to help users easily identify facilities and industries that are discharging the most pollution and impacted waterbodies. When discharges are above permitted levels, users can view the violations and link to details about enforcement actions that EPA and states have taken to address these violations. …

February 9, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , | Leave a comment

New community health approach aims to combats chronic disease, empower patients, reduces costs

From the 8 February 2012 Eureka News Alert

New community health approach aims to combats chronic disease, empower patients, reduces costs

Value of Accountable Care Community approach to public health promotion and disease prevention outlined in new paper released today

AKRON, Ohio, February 8, 2012 – A new community-wide collaboration to reduce the impact of chronic disease and empower patients is generating impressive early results, leaders of the Accountable Care Community (ACC) initiative said today. The Akron-based Austen BioInnovation Institute in Akron (ABIA) is leading the initiative with its founding institutional members and more than 60 public and private community partners.

The groundbreaking effort supported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention unites medical, public health and social science professions, nonprofits and faith-based and community organizations for an “all-hands-on-deck” approach to public health. Eventually, communities across the country will be able to apply this new model toward public health, reducing the tremendous negative impact chronic disease has on their economies, said Dr. Janine Janosky, head of ABIA’s Center for Community Health Improvement, who is leading the effort described in a white paper released today.

The news comes just weeks after an Institute of Medicine report called for a new public health approach based on “enhanced collaboration among the public health, health care and community non-healthcare sectors” to address the challenges of chronic disease. The World Health Organization refers to the growing impact of chronic disease as “a global epidemic” reaching crisis levels. The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation estimates that by 2030, half the U.S. population will have at least one chronic condition.

The ABIA, along with national experts and more than 60 Akron organizations, have been collaborating for more than a year on a new, integrated, and measurable strategy to community health that could be replicated in other U.S. communities. The ACC approach detailed in the report “Healthier by Design: Accountable Care Community” utilizes a unique “impact equation” that measures the benefits of a seamless approach to community health, including metrics for a patient empowerment and market value of health, said Dr. Frank L. Douglas, ABIA president and chief executive officer.

“The amount spent on healthcare and health initiatives in the United States should translate into good health for the community and its residents. Unfortunately, America’s public health continues to lag behind other nations. Further, we are now in an era of debate about how to reverse the unsustainable cost trends and improve the health outcomes and quality of life for our fellow man,” Dr. Douglas said. “The development of this inventive Accountable Care Community model, which not only speaks of the need for collaboration but actually enables all parties to be on the same page with an integrated, measurable strategy, promises to improve the health of millions of patients.”

In Akron, the ACC approach uniquely aligns public, private and philanthropic resources in a coordinated fight to improve community health by identifying and closing gaps in health education, access and delivery. The group’s initial pilot project focused on diabetes self-management. Ultimately, participants changed their behaviors and took increased control over their disease. Significant results included decreases in blood sugar and bad cholesterol levels, weight loss, decreased body mass, and a decline in emergency room visits. An additional program demonstrated nearly a total of $225,000 of cost savings or cost avoidance for local healthcare institutions through the use of volunteers and community services to monitor and serve low-income, medically underserved patients with diabetes….

February 9, 2012 Posted by | Public Health | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

How bacteria behind serious childhood disease evolve to evade vaccines (& related article about bad immunity genes)

Vaccines

Vaccines (Photo credit: www78)

How bacteria behind serious childhood disease evolve to evade vaccines

From the 29 January 2012 Science Daily article

 Genetics has provided surprising insights into why vaccines used in both the UK and US to combat serious childhood infections can eventually fail. The study, recently published in Nature Genetics, which investigates how bacteria change their disguise to evade the vaccines, has implications for how future vaccines can be made more effective…

n spite of the success of the vaccine programmes, some pneumococcal strains managed to continue to cause disease by camouflaging themselves from the vaccine. In research funded by the Wellcome Trust, scientists at the University of Oxford and at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta studied what happened after the introduction of this vaccine in the US. They used the latest genomic techniques combined with epidemiology to understand how different serotypes of the pneumococcus bacteria evolve to replace those targeted by the initial vaccine.

The researchers found bacteria that had evaded the vaccine by swapping the region of the genome responsible for making the polysaccharide coating with the same region from a different serotype, not targeted by the vaccine. This effectively disguised the bacteria, making it invisible to the vaccine….

Why bad immunity genes survive -Utah study implicates arms race between genes and germs

 IMAGE: This electron microscope image shows yellow particles of a mouse leukemia virus named Friend virus emerging or “budding ” out of an infected white blood cell known as a T-cell. By…

Click here for more information.

SALT LAKE CITY, Feb. 6, 2012 – University of Utah biologists found new evidence why mice, people and other vertebrate animals carry thousands of varieties of genes to make immune-system proteins named MHCs – even though some of those genes make us susceptible to infections and to autoimmune diseases.

“Major histocompatibility complex” (MHC) proteins are found on the surface of most cells in vertebrate animals. They distinguish self from foreign, and trigger an immune response against foreign invaders. MHCs recognize invading germs, reject or accept transplanted organs and play a role in helping us smell compatible mates.

“This study explains why there are so many versions of the MHC genes, and why the ones that cause susceptibility to diseases are being maintained and not eliminated,” says biology Professor Wayne Potts. “They are involved in a never-ending arms race that causes them, at any point in time, to be good against some infections but bad against other infections and autoimmune diseases.”

By allowing a disease virus to evolve rapidly in mice, the study produced new experimental evidence for the arms race between genes and germs – known technically as “antagonistic coevolution.” The findings will be published online the week of Feb. 6, 2012, in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Potts, the senior author, ran the study with first author and former doctoral student Jason Kubinak, now a postdoctoral fellow in pathology. Other co-authors were biology doctoral student James Ruff, biology undergraduate C. Whitney Hyzer and Patricia Slev, a clinical assistant professor of pathology. The research was funded by the National Science Foundation and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

February 9, 2012 Posted by | Medical and Health Research News, Public Health | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

What are friends for? Negating negativity

(Although the study was on children, wondering if this can be extended to adults, and to some degree, being in community – whether physical or mental or spiritual)

 

What are friends for? Negating negativity

From the 26 January Science Daily article

‘Stand by me’ is a common refrain when it comes to friendship but new research from Concordia University proves that the concept goes beyond pop music: keeping friends close has real physiological and psychological benefits.

The presence of a best friend directly affects children going through negative experiences, as reported in the recent Concordia-based study, which was published in the journal Developmental Psychology and conducted with the collaboration of researchers at the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center and the University of Nebraska at Omaha. Feelings of self-worth and levels of cortisol, a hormone produced naturally by the adrenal gland in direct response to stress, are largely dependent on the social context of a negative experience.

“Having a best friend present during an unpleasant event has an immediate impact on a child’s body and mind,” says co-author William M. Bukowski, a psychology professor and director of the Concordia Centre for Research in Human Development. “If a child is alone when he or she gets in trouble with a teacher or has an argument with a classmate, we see a measurable increase in cortisol levels and decrease in feelings of self-worth.”

A total of 55 boys and 48 girls from grades 5 and 6 in local Montreal schools took part in the study. Participants kept journals on their feelings and experiences over the course of four days and submitted to regular saliva tests that monitored cortisol levels.

Although previous studies have shown that friendships can protect against later adjustment difficulties, this study is the first to definitively demonstrate that the presence of a friend results in an immediate benefit for the child undergoing a negative experience.

February 9, 2012 Posted by | Psychology | , , | 2 Comments

Live Science – Commercial Site of Science, Health, and Technology News since 2004

 

This morning I stumbled upon LiveScience.com while perusing January’s Internet Reviews at College and Research Library News.

Live Science provide news in the areas of science, health, and technology for a general academic audience, especially undergraduates.It is a commercial site that is part of the TechMedia Network (which also includes TechNews Daily and Business News Daily). LiveScience content is often featured at partner sites including Yahoo and MSNBC.com. Most of the professional journalists on the editorial staff  hold advanced degrees in technology or the sciences.

The site can be a big overwhelming at first with its images and video links, but there is wealth of information for the patient!
The features include:

  • 11 subject areas in the bar at the top of the page – “Space,” “Animals,” “Health,” “Environment,” “Technology,” “History,” “Culture,” “Video,” Strange News,” “Images,” and “Topics.”
  • “Top Stories” section typically presents five current news items along with a variety of rotating images.
  • Images  (containing considerable archives)  with links to albums, infographics, and wallpapers

 

 

 

February 9, 2012 Posted by | Educational Resources (High School/Early College(, Finding Aids/Directories, Health News Items, Librarian Resources, Medical and Health Research News | , , , | Leave a comment

   

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