Global Health

We are running out of ways to treat gonorrhea, the World Health Organization announced today.

The U.N. health agency released new guidelines warning doctors that it no longer recommends an entire class of antibiotics, quinolones, because quinolone-resistant strains of the disease have emerged all over the world.

Instead, the health agency recommends using cephalosporins, another class of antibiotic. The new protocol replaces guidelines that had not been changed since 2003.

The Food and Drug Administration is recommending that blood banks screen all blood donations in the U.S. for the Zika virus.

It's a major expansion from a Feb. 16 advisory that limited such screening to areas with active Zika virus transmission.

In a statement released Friday, the FDA says all those areas are currently in compliance with blood screening, but that expanded testing is now needed.

Vincent Van Gogh's paintings might not make it obvious that he was an artist troubled with depression and mania. But a computer algorithm might be able to figure that out. Computer programs are getting pretty good at discovering health information by studying heaps of social media data.

A computer script analyzed galleries of photos posted to Instagram and accurately predicted if the users had depression, according to a study posted this month to the public online repository arXiv.com.

Mosquitoes have begun spreading the Zika virus in a second part of Miami — the popular tourist destination of Miami Beach — Florida officials announced Friday.

The human papillomavirus vaccine is the only vaccine invented explicitly for the purpose of preventing cancer. Yet a decade after its approval, the vaccine continues to struggle from a PR problem, as shown in a study that finds just one in five parents would support making the HPV vaccine a requirement for school.

But this first national study of parents' attitudes found that those attitudes shifted if the requirement allowed parents an opportunity to opt out.

Kids from less affluent homes, even when they have health insurance, aren't as likely as others to get vision screenings that can identify conditions like lazy eye before the damage becomes irreversible.

When parents are trying to keep their children safe, one of the things many do is to transport their kids in a stroller or baby carrier.

While strollers and carriers are generally safe when used properly, a new study is a reminder that even these devices can be dangerous, especially when parents don't use them properly.

Next-generation hot dogs and hamburgers may come with an unusual ingredient: seaweed. That's the goal of a group of scientists trying to make these red-meat-rich, unhealthful foods more healthful by adding nutrient-packed seaweed, a staple in Japanese and other Asian cuisines.

It's increasingly clear that bad experiences during childhood are associated with long-lasting health effects, including higher rates of heart disease, diabetes and depression. And childhood abuse in particular has been associated with psychiatric problems and chronic diseases years down the line. But whether that translates to a higher risk of early death for abuse survivors isn't well studied.

The residents of Flint, Mich., received some welcome news this week: Researchers released the results of a new round of water tests, showing lead levels in that city's water system falling just below the Environmental Protection Agency action level.

Too many water samples above that level is a red flag for utilities, a sign that they may have a broader lead problem.

Virginia Tech researcher Marc Edwards, who leads the team documenting Flint's water problems, called the new results the "beginning of the end," a turning point in the city's saga with corrosive water.

A computer may soon be able to offer highly personalized treatment suggestions for cancer patients based on the specifics of their cases and the full sweep of the most relevant scientific research.

IBM and the New York Genome Center, a consortium of medical research institutions in New York City, are collaborating on a project to speed up cancer diagnoses and treatment.

Health officials in Nigeria are gearing up for a massive emergency polio immunization drive after two children were paralyzed by the disease.

The two new polio cases in Nigeria are the first detected on the African continent in more than 2 years.

Nigerian health officials plan to vaccinate nearly 5 million kids across the northeast of the country in an effort to contain this latest outbreak.

The re-emergence of polio in Nigeria is a major setback for global efforts to eradicate the disease.

How Weight Training Can Help Women Stay Strong

Aug 11, 2016

For years I was a totally lopsided exerciser.

I did aerobic workouts until the cows came home, easily meeting the government's recommendation of 150 minutes of moderate-intensity or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity exercise per week. But I rarely picked up a dumbbell or did a pushup. I definitely didn't follow the government's advice to work out all my major muscle groups with resistance training at least twice a week.

For the past few years, the world has been on the edge of one of the biggest medical triumphs of modern history: Wiping out a horrific parasite from the face of the Earth.

In the early '80s, there were 3.2 million cases of Guinea worm — a two-feet long worm that emerges slowly — and excruciatingly — from a blister on the skin.

A massive campaign, led by President Jimmy Carter, has eradicated the worm from all but four countries. And this year, there have been only seven cases, the Carter Center reports.

A study of drinking water supplies throughout the U.S. shows that numerous sources are contaminated with firefighting chemicals.

A team of scientists examined government data from thousands of public drinking water supplies. The water samples had been collected by the federal Environmental Protection Agency.

The scientists were looking for several types of chemicals from a class of fluorinated substances used commonly in firefighting foam.

Until March of this year, Janet Prochazka was active and outspoken, living by herself and working as a special education tutor. Then a bad fall landed her in the Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital.

Doctors cared for her wounds and treated her pneumonia. But Prochazka, who is 75, didn't sleep or eat well in the hospital, and became confused and agitated. Then she contracted a serious stomach infection.

Some arrive on their own, worried about what was really in that bag of heroin. Some are carried in, slumped between two friends. Others are lifted off the sidewalk or asphalt of a nearby alley and rolled in a wheelchair to what's known as SPOT, or the Supportive Place for Observation and Treatment, at the Boston Health Care for the Homeless Program.

Connie Hill of Columbus, Ohio, got some unsettling news after her son's 12-month checkup.

A nurse called to say that the 1-year-old's blood lead level test had come back as slightly elevated, which would put him in the top 2.5 percent of lead-exposed children ages 1 to 5 in the United States.

We're living at a time when more than 80 percent of Americans fail to eat the recommended amounts of fruits and vegetables. At the same time, many Americans overeat refined grains and sugar.

This may help explain why the obesity rate seems stuck. The most recent estimate is that 36 percent of adults in the U.S. are obese.

Does Flossing Help Or Not? The Evidence Is Mixed At Best

Aug 2, 2016

Flossing has quietly lost its place among recommendations for daily health, at least as prescribed in the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, which are issued every five years by the U.S. departments of Health and Human Services and Agriculture.

That could be because there's scant evidence that flossing does much to keep teeth and gums healthy.

Updated July 29, 2:57 pm ET: Florida Gov. Rick Scott announced Friday morning that health officials have ruled out travel and sexual transmission as possible routes of transmission for four Florida people infected with Zika virus.

In a big hotel conference room near New York's Times Square, six doctors huddle around a greasy piece of raw pork. They watch as addiction medicine specialist Michael Frost delicately marks the meat, incises it and implants four match-sized rods.

"If you can do it well on the pork, you can easily do it on the person," Frost tells his audience.

Psychotherapy Helps People Tune Out The Din Of Tinnitus

Jul 21, 2016

About three years ago, a high-pitched "eeeeeeeee" sound started ringing in Linda Gray's ears. Sometimes, the ring would suddenly turn into a roar, sending Gray into panic mode. Her heart would speed up. She'd try to find a quiet room. "You're trying to escape it. It's like, 'Turn this off!' " she says.

A lot of people experience ringing, roaring or buzzing, also known as tinnitus. It can be maddening.

Patients may go to rehabilitation hospitals to recover from a stroke, injury or recent surgery. But sometimes the care makes things worse.

In a government report published Thursday, 29 percent of patients in rehab facilities suffered a medication error, bedsore, infection or some other type of harm as a result of the care they received.

If you're a woman who gets screening mammograms, you may have received a letter telling you that your scan was clear, but that you have dense breasts, a risk factor for breast cancer. About half of U.S. states require providers to notify women if they fall into that category.

The star of a new HBO documentary called Open Your Eyes is wizened and gray, although she's most likely only in her 60s – exact ages can be hard to figure out in Nepal, where she lives. She lives with her husband and son and young granddaughter. Playing with the child in an early scene in the film, she says, "When I feel her toes, it feels like mine."

A year ago, Mari d'Alessandro got some of the worst news a mother can get. She had taken her son, Hugo, for a routine checkup, and the pediatrician told her Hugo had cancer. He was only 10.

Since then, Venezuela has faced economic and political upheaval that has led to food riots — and now, according to doctors and patients, a health crisis as well.

"You can't find the medicines," d'Alessandro says. "The doctor told me I'm going to have to pay six or seven thousand dollars for just one of the medicines, if I can even get it on the black market."

A sitting duck. That's what South America was a few years ago when Zika first struck. The continent had never recorded a case of the mosquito-borne virus. And everyone was susceptible.

"So you get this huge raging epidemic that blows through the population, usually very fast and infects a pretty high percentage of the population," says Justin Lessler, an epidemiologist at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

Now that the nasal spray FluMist is no longer considered an effective vaccine against influenza, parents will have to resort to the old, unpopular standby for their kids: a shot.

In an epidemic, health professionals often struggle to answer two basic questions: Who is sick and where are they?

There are innovative digital strategies to help answer these questions.

Researchers have investigated how a spike in Google searches (for example, "What is flu?") can help them determine if a disease is spreading and how many people might be affected in a given area.

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