Category Archives: Medical

September 12, 2017

Time travel with viruses

Viral infections leave trace information in our tissues. Researchers can read it like a history book extending from mediaeval smallpox epidemics to ancient Egypt.

Virologist Mari Toppinen began her journey through history at a lecture on identifying war dead, focusing on corpses left on the Russian side of the border after the war between Finland and the Soviet Union. The dead have been transported to Finland for identification, beginning in 1992.

“I was listening to professor of forensic medicine, Antti Sajantila, and I started wondering if the bones on the former battlefield could have signs of parvovirus, which was one of the research topics of our group,” Toppinen says. “During the infection, the parvovirus multiplies specifically in the bone marrow.”

The parvovirus causes a common, typically harmless disease known as fifth disease, which is characterised by an intense red rash. Scientists at the Department of Virology in the Academic Medical Center Helsinki place a special significance on it: It was while studying the very parvovirus that they found what a fascinating compendium of information viruses can leave in the tissues of their hosts during their visit.

Toppinen and her colleagues joined forces with forensic scientists, and found parvovirus DNA in the bones. “We analysed 106 of the war dead. Approximately every other individual had traces of the virus, despite the bones being exposed to UV radiation and the acidic earth.”

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June 11, 2017

Drug Deaths in America Are Rising Faster Than Ever

New data compiled from hundreds of health agencies reveals the extent of the drug overdose epidemic last year.

Drug overdose deaths in 2016 most likely exceeded 59,000, the largest annual jump ever recorded in the United States, according to preliminary data compiled by The New York Times.

The death count is the latest consequence of an escalating public health crisis: opioid addiction, now made more deadly by an influx of illicitly manufactured fentanyl and similar drugs. Drug overdoses are now the leading cause of death among Americans under 50.

Although the data is preliminary, the Times’s best estimate is that deaths rose 19 percent over the 52,404 recorded in 2015. And all evidence suggests the problem has continued to worsen in 2017.

Because drug deaths take a long time to certify, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will not be able to calculate final numbers until December. The Times compiled estimates for 2016 from hundreds of state health departments and county coroners and medical examiners. Together they represent data from states and counties that accounted for 76 percent of overdose deaths in 2015. They are a first look at the extent of the drug overdose epidemic last year, a detailed accounting of a modern plague.

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June 8, 2017

America’s Hidden H.I.V. Epidemic

Why do America’s black gay and bisexual men have a higher H.I.V. rate than any country in the world?

Early on a balmy morning last October, Cedric Sturdevant began his rounds along the bumpy streets and back roads of Jackson, Miss. Sturdevant, 52, has racked up nearly 300,000 miles driving in loops and widening circles around Jackson in his improvised role of visiting nurse, motivational coach and father figure to a growing number of young gay men and transgender women suffering from H.I.V. and AIDS. Sturdevant is a project coordinator at My Brother’s Keeper, a local social-services nonprofit. If he doesn’t make these rounds, he has learned, many of these patients will not get to the doctor’s appointments, pharmacies, food banks and counseling sessions that can make the difference between life and death.

Negotiating a maze of unpaved roads in Jackson in the company car, a 13-year-old Ford Expedition with cracked seats and chipped paint, he stopped to drop off H.I.V. medication at a couple’s home. One of the men was H.I.V.-positive, the other negative; they lived in the neighborhood locals call the Bottom, where every fifth or sixth home is abandoned, with broken windows, doors hanging off hinges, downed limbs and dry leaves blanketing front yards. Sturdevant banged on the door of a small house, its yard overgrown with weeds; he knew not to leave the package on the doorstep, where it could be stolen. After a while a young man emerged, shirtless, shrugging off sleep. He had just gotten out of jail. Sturdevant handed him the package, shook his hand and told him to “stay out of trouble.”

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May 13, 2017

Cary Grant: how 100 acid trips in Tinseltown ‘changed my life’

At the height of his fame, Cary Grant turned to LSD therapy for help. He later claimed the drug saved him, but did it also spell the end of his career?

In the late 1950s, at the height of his fame, Cary Grant set off on a trip in search of his true self, unpicking the myth he had spent three decades perfecting. He tried hypnosis and yoga and felt that they both came up short. So he began dropping acid and claimed to have found inner peace. “During my LSD sessions, I would learn a great deal,” he would later remark. “And the result was a rebirth. I finally got where I wanted to go.”

Grant’s adventures in psychedelia – an estimated 100 sessions, spanning the years 1958-1961 – provide the basis for Becoming Cary Grant, a fascinating documentary that plays at next week’s Cannes film festival. It’s a film that takes its lead from Grant himself, undressing and probing the star of North by Northwest to the point where the very title risks feeling like a red herring. “Like all documentary makers, we started out looking at the construction of Cary Grant,” says producer Nick Ware. “But we ended up deconstructing him through the LSD sessions.”

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March 31, 2017

Fake doc gets prison for deadly butt injections

Morris, who is not a licensed doctor, combined silicone, mineral oil, Fix-a-Flat tire sealant, cement and Super Glue to give women shapelier backsides.

A woman dubbed the “Toxic Tush” doctor will spend a decade behind bars for using Super Glue and Fix-a-Flat tire sealant to enlarge women’s behinds and causing one patient to die.

Oneal Ron Morris, 36, who is transgender, was sentenced to 10 years Monday in Florida’s Broward County court after pleading guilty to manslaughter and injecting several women with the toxic mixture, according to CBS Miami.

Shatarka Nuby, 31, died after receiving as many as 10 injections from Morris between 2007 and 2010. She paid Morris as much as $2,000 for the deadly procedures, the Sun-Sentinel reported.

“There’s no closure. Putting [Morris] in jail won’t bring her back,” said Nuby’s aunt Juanita in court.

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March 13, 2017

State Drops Hammer On ‘Ruthless’ Doctors Profiting Off Opioid Addiction

“He was ruthless, he made my son into an addict,” Delmonaco told Fox News. “My son started taking it, he was injured in the military, he had pain, and he quickly got addicted. This doctor just kept writing prescriptions, the highest dosage.”

Doctors issuing mass opioid prescriptions in New Jersey are facing a legal crackdown to combat rampant heroin addiction fueled by painkillers.

A record number of doctors in the state were sanctioned in 2016 over their irresponsible prescribing habits, resulting in long-term suspensions, permanent revocation of medical licenses and in some cases criminal charges. George Beecher, a doctor in Somerset County, was found cashing in on the opioid epidemic with his associates by writing scripts for large quantities of oxycodone, a highly addictive painkiller, to patients he never met or evaluated, reports Fox News.

In total, Beecher wrote prescriptions for roughly 60,000 tablets of oxycodone to more than 24 patients he never came into contact with. David Delmonaco, the father of a 21-year-old U.S. Army officer who committed suicide after getting addicted to oxycodone through Beecher, said the doctor “did it all for money.” The state sanctioned another 30 doctors during 2016 for failing to follow prescribing guidelines or deliberately violating medical standards for profit.

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September 20, 2016

A searing new report claims opioid drugmakers spent 8 times as much as the NRA on lobbying

Rope a dope congressmen…

A searing new report from the Associated Press claims that the makers of opioid painkillers, the dangerous drugs at the center of the tragic overdose crisis, outspent the US gun lobby on lobbying and campaign contributions by 8:1.

The report looked at the period from 2006 to 2015, when deaths from the drugs began to skyrocket. Here are some of its most striking findings:

* Opioid drugmakers including Purdue Pharma, the maker of OxyContin, spent more than $880 million, or roughly $98 million per year, on lobbying and campaign contributions in support of the drugs.
* Drugmakers and allied advocacy groups employed a yearly average of 1,350 lobbyists in legislative centers.
* In 2015 alone, 227 million opioid prescriptions were given out in the US, or “enough to hand a bottle of pills to nine out of every 10 American adults.”
* Purdue Pharma, the company that makes OxyContin, made $2.4 billion from opioid sales last year alone.

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June 29, 2016

Messenger: St. Louis jury sends $17.6 million message in opioid abuse verdict

Opioids, which have been dangerously over-prescribed in the U.S. medical system for more than a decade, should be monitored more carefully by doctors, particularly primary care doctors who are prescribing the pills for simple maladies such as back pain.

The court documents will say that Brian and Michelle Koon won their medical malpractice lawsuit against Dr. Henry D. Walden and St. Louis University.

But the trial before Circuit Court Judge Michael Noble that ended late Tuesday afternoon was about something much bigger than one doctor making a mistake, or the health care system he works for failing to monitor the drugs he delivered to his patients.

For seven days, the nation’s opioid-abuse epidemic was on trial.

Opioids lost.

After hearing evidence that Brian Koon, a city parks employee, had been prescribed more than 37,000 pain pills between 2008 and 2012 at levels far above those recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other experts, a jury of eight women and four men awarded $1.4 million to Koon and an additional $1.2 million for his wife.

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June 21, 2016

Six Diseases Return To US as Migration Advocates Celebrate ‘World Refugee Day’

Six diseases that were recently near eradication are making a comeback in the United States, as the taxpayer funded refugee resettlement industry launches a propaganda blitz about the so-called World Refugee Day this Monday.

The returning diseases are;

1. Tuberculosis
2. Measles
3. Whooping Cough
4. Mumps
5. Scarlet Fever
6. Bubonic Plague

The near eradication of these diseases in the United States during the twentieth century was a remarkable accomplishment of American civilization. Until recently, most Americans believed these diseases were gone from our shores for good.

But a politicized public health system, and a rise in the subsidized migration into the United States, however, have combined to reverse a century of progress.

The number of foreign-born residents of the country has increased by 31 million in three decades, from 11 million in 1986 to 42 million in 2015. Immigration to the United States during this period has come from Middle Eastern, African, Asian, South American and Central American countries where all these diseases are prevalent. The extra 31 million have arrived in a number of ways: approximately 3 million are refugees, 11 million are illegal immigrants, and the remainder are legal immigrants, asylees, and parolees.

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May 27, 2016

The superbug that doctors have been dreading just reached the U.S.

“It’s hard to imagine worse news for public health in the United States,” Lance Price, director of the Antibiotic Resistance Action Center and a George Washington University professor said in a statement Thursday about the Pennsylvania case. “We may soon be facing a world where CRE infections are untreatable.”

For the first time, researchers have found a person in the United States carrying bacteria resistant to antibiotic of last resort, an alarming development that the top U.S. public health official says could signal “the end of the road” for antibiotics.

The antibiotic-resistant strain was found last month in the urine of a 49-year-old Pennsylvania woman. Defense Department researchers determined that she carried a strain of E. coli resistant to the antibiotic colistin, according to a study published Thursday in Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy, a publication of the American Society for Microbiology. The authors wrote that the discovery “heralds the emergence of a truly pan-drug resistant bacteria.”

Colistin is the antibiotic of last resort for particularly dangerous types of superbugs, including a family of bacteria known as carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae, or CRE, which health officials have dubbed “nightmare bacteria.” In some instances, these superbugs kill up to 50 percent of patients who become infected. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has called CRE among the country’s most urgent public health threats.

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