Archive for the ‘public health’ Category

The world finally has an approved vaccine against Ebola

November 13th, 2019
A nurse in PPE administers a shot to a man in an outdoor clinic.

Enlarge / A man receives a vaccine against Ebola from a nurse outside the Afia Himbi Health Center on July 15, 2019, in Goma. (credit: Getty | PAMELA TULIZO )

Regulators in Europe have granted the world's first approval of a vaccine against Ebola—and health officials are wasting no time in rolling it out.

The European Commission announced at the start of the week that it had granted a landmark marketing authorization of Merck's Ebola vaccine Ervebo. The vaccine has been in the works since the 2014 West African Ebola outbreak. It is now being used in the ongoing outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo based on a "compassionate use" protocol.

The current outbreak in the DRC has killed nearly 2,200 since August 2018, causing nearly 3,300 cases. The outbreak is the second-largest recorded, surpassed only by the 2014 West African outbreak that caused more than 11,000 deaths and 28,000 cases.

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Posted in Democratic Republic of the Congo, drug approval, ebola, europe, Infectious disease, public health, science, vaccine, viral disease, virus, WHO | Comments (0)

Lawsuit: Juul sold tainted e-liquids to users “drunk and vaping like mo-fo’s”

October 30th, 2019
Mint and menthol pods for Juul Labs Inc. e-cigarettes are displayed for sale at a store in Princeton, Illinois, on Monday, Sept. 16, 2019.

Enlarge / Mint and menthol pods for Juul Labs Inc. e-cigarettes are displayed for sale at a store in Princeton, Illinois, on Monday, Sept. 16, 2019. (credit: Getty | Bloomberg)

Leading e-cigarette-maker Juul knowingly sold a large amount of contaminated mint-flavored e-liquid, endangering public health in the name of profits, according to a lawsuit brought by Siddharth Breja, the company’s former senior vice president of global finance.

Breja filed the lawsuit Tuesday, October 29 in the US District Court for the Northern District of California.

Breja began working at the company in May of 2018 but alleges he was abruptly fired in March of 2019 after voicing concern that the company refused to issue a recall over the contaminated products or warn customers about the potential risk. Breja is suing Juul for retaliation for whistleblowing, wrongful termination, and other violations.

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Posted in addiction, CDC, contamination, e-cigarettes, juul, nicotine, public health, science, vaping | Comments (0)

Forget poisoned candy and razor blades. Here’s the real Halloween horror

October 28th, 2019
Trick-or-treaters set out at sundown.

Enlarge / Dun-dun-duun. (credit: Getty | Los Angeles Times)

You've likely heard the spooky stories: adorable, sugar-crazed kids gleefully toddle from door to door in their homemade costumes and festive masks—only to be handed razor-blade-stuffed apples or cyanide-laced pixie sticks by wicked, faceless strangers.

As such, many a trick-or-treater has hauled their cloying bounties home over the decades only to surrender them to parental authorities for thorough inspection. At some points, hospitals even offered free X-ray screenings for candy to make sure that the sweet loot was safe. Subsequent research found that this costly endeavor failed to turn up any threats. But, still, it seemed worthwhile.

Through the years, media reports continued to gather terrifying tales of deadly Halloween candy handed out be evildoers—a phenomenon dubbed "Halloween sadism" in the press. There was little 5-year-old Kevin Toston of Detroit, who died from heroin-laden Halloween candy in 1970. And 8-year-old Timothy O'Bryan of Pasadena, Texas, who died from cyanide poisoning after eating tainted Halloween candy in 1976.

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Posted in children, cyanide, halloween, heroin, medical case study, poisoning, public health, public safety, razor blades, sadism, science | Comments (0)

We’ve officially annihilated a second strain of polio. Only one remains

October 24th, 2019
A Pakistani health worker administers polio vaccine drops to a child during a vaccination campaign in Karachi on December 10, 2018. Pakistan is one of only two countries in the world where polio remains endemic.

Enlarge / A Pakistani health worker administers polio vaccine drops to a child during a vaccination campaign in Karachi on December 10, 2018. Pakistan is one of only two countries in the world where polio remains endemic. (credit: Getty | RIZWAN TABASSUM )

A crippling strain of polio virus is no more. Officials confirmed Thursday that global health efforts have wiped it out, moving humanity one step closer to completely eradicating the highly infectious virus from the planet.

The obliterated strain—wild poliovirus type 3 (WPV3)—is one of only three wild strains of polio. It is the second to be globally eradicated. Health officials declared WPV2 eradicated in 2015. That leaves only one wild strain remaining: WPV1.

This “historic” announcement falls on World Polio Day and is based on the recent conclusion of the independent Global Commission for the Certification of Poliomyelitis Eradication, set up in part by the World Health Organization. The announcement comes after years of careful and painstaking global surveillance to certify that WPV3 no longer exists anywhere in the world, apart from specimens preserved in secure containment. The last known case of WPV3 occurred in northern Nigeria in 2012.

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Posted in Infectious disease, outbreaks, polio, public health, science, vaccines, virus, WHO | Comments (0)

Juul halts sales of some flavors—but not the ones teens use most

October 17th, 2019
Extreme closeup photo of dessert.

Enlarge / Crème brulee getting torched. (credit: Getty | Anne Cusack)

Leading e-cigarette maker Juul on Thursday announced that it is immediately suspending the sale of some of its flavored products—Mango, Fruit, Creme (crème brulee), and Cucumber.

Notably, mint and menthol flavored products are not included in the pack of extinguished flavors.

The move is ostensibly to ease growing alarm over the spike of vaping among teens—who strongly prefer flavored products. About 25% of high school seniors reported recent e-cigarette use in a health survey this year, up from 11% in 2017. About 12% of students said this year that they used the products on a daily basis.

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Posted in addiction, adolescents, CDC, e-cigarettes, fda, nicotine, public health, science, smoking, tobacco, vaping | Comments (0)

To try to understand the youths, researchers snooped through their trash

October 11th, 2019
Peter Sellers as Inspector Clouseau is disguised as a mountain climber, while hiding in  a trash can, in a scene from the film 'The Pink Panther Strikes Again', 1976. (Photo by United Artists/Getty Images)

Enlarge / Peter Sellers as Inspector Clouseau is disguised as a mountain climber, while hiding in a trash can, in a scene from the film 'The Pink Panther Strikes Again', 1976. (Photo by United Artists/Getty Images) (credit: Getty | Michael Ochs Archives)

While the government may be considered Big Brother, a team of researchers in California are officially that parent.

The researchers resorted to snooping through high schoolers’ trash to get a better understanding of their vaping and smoking habits. The results of the “garbology” study appear in the October 11 issue of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

The gumshoes—Jeremiah Mock and Yogi Hendlin of University of California, San Francisco—scanned the parking lots and perimeters of 12 public high schools in the San Francisco Bay Area between July 2018 and April 2019. They picked up any trash related to e-cigarettes, combustible tobacco products, and cannabis products that they suspected litter-bug teens left behind.

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Posted in addiction, CDC, e-cigarettes, fda, juul, nicotine, public health, science, smoking, tobacco, vaping | Comments (0)

The fall of coal and its pollution-linked deaths is boosting the economy

September 10th, 2019
Image of a pig farm.

Enlarge / Livestock production has become one of the United States' largest sources of particulate pollution. (credit: Wikimedia Commons/Jessica Reeder)

Many economic activities create what are called "externalities": costs that aren't accounted for in their products but are paid for by society at large. Pollution is a major source of externalities, as it can lower the value of property, force people to spend money on medical costs, and even lead to early deaths.

Air pollution is estimated to have caused more than 100,000 early deaths in 2016. Most of these have come due to what are called fine particulates, which are small particles that can be readily inhaled and cause issues like stroke, heart disease, and lung ailments. So a group of researchers at Carnegie Mellon University decided to do an economic analysis of the issue for the United States. The researchers compared the costs of premature deaths from particulate pollution to the value added by the economic activity that produced the pollution to find out which polluting industries might provide a net benefit to the economy.

Their analysis showed that the plunge in coal use has caused electrical generation to shift from a net money sink to an economic positive. And that has left farming as the only major activity that generates more costs than it's worth.

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Posted in agriculture, death, Economics, electricity, particulates, pollution, power generation, public health, science, Transportation | Comments (0)

Juul gave presentations in schools to kids—and the FDA is fuming

September 10th, 2019
WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 25: A young man wears a shirt that reads DITCHJUUL while James Monsees, co-founder and chief product officer at JUUL Labs Inc., testifies before the House Economic and Consumer Policy Subcommittee, which is examining JUUL's role in the youth nicotine epidemic, on July 25, 2019 in Washington, DC.
 (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

Enlarge / WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 25: A young man wears a shirt that reads DITCHJUUL while James Monsees, co-founder and chief product officer at JUUL Labs Inc., testifies before the House Economic and Consumer Policy Subcommittee, which is examining JUUL's role in the youth nicotine epidemic, on July 25, 2019 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images) (credit: Getty | Mark Wilson)

The Food and Drug Administration on Monday came out swinging at e-cigarette giant Juul over a variety of its unproven safety claims and startling marketing practices—most notably saying without evidence that its products are safer than smoking traditional cigarettes and giving presentations directly to kids in schools—in at least one alleged case, without teachers present or parental consent.

“Regardless of where products like e-cigarettes fall on the continuum of tobacco product risk, the law is clear that, before marketing tobacco products for reduced risk, companies must demonstrate with scientific evidence that their specific product does in fact pose less risk or is less harmful,” acting FDA Commissioner Dr. Ned Sharpless said in a statement Monday. “JUUL has ignored the law, and very concerningly, has made some of these statements in school to our nation’s youth.”

In response, the agency sent Juul a warning letter over unauthorized marketing as well as a letter of concern (PDF), which included a request for reams of documents “regarding JUUL’s marketing, advertising, promotional, and education campaigns, as well as certain product development activity.”

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Posted in addiction, CDC, e-cigarettes, fda, juul, nicotine, public health, science, vaping, Youth | Comments (0)

Probe into vaping-linked illnesses turns up form of vitamin E from skin creams

September 6th, 2019
Some of the black-market vaping products that have been found to contain vitamin E acetate, according to the New York State Department of Health.

Enlarge / Some of the black-market vaping products that have been found to contain vitamin E acetate, according to the New York State Department of Health. (credit: Flicrk | New York State Department of Health)

Federal and state officials investigating the mysterious eruption of lung illnesses linked to e-cigarette use have turned up a vitamin in vape products that is normally found in supplements and skin creams.

The chemical is vitamin E acetate or alpha-tocopherol acetate, which is a less acidic, more shelf-stable form of vitamin E. It has an acetate group where an alcohol is usually found on the vitamin’s chemical structure. It’s used in a wide range of personal care products based on (largely unproven) health claims about vitamin E’s antioxidant effects. The more stable form of the vitamin appears in anti-aging wrinkle creams, shave gels, lip balms, shampoos, and soaps, as well as vitamin pills.

Vitamin E acetate is generally considered safe for ingestion and topical use. It’s unclear how the oily supplement might affect the lungs when inhaled from vape products. But, based on the latest evidence in the vaping investigations, officials are beginning to suspect the effects are not good.

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Posted in CDC, counterfeit, Counterfeit goods, e-cigarettes, fda, illnesses, lung, public health, science, vaping | Comments (0)

Vaping-illness investigations turn to contaminants, counterfeits: report

August 30th, 2019
A man smokes an e-cigarette.

Enlarge / A man smokes an e-cigarette. (credit: Getty | Picture alliance)

State and federal investigations into the puzzling burst of severe lung illnesses linked to e-cigarette use—aka vaping—are focusing in on black-market and counterfeit products, according to a report by the Washington Post.

Unknown adulterants and dubious solvents—such as oils and diluting “cutting agents”—in vaping liquids are now the prime suspects behind the illnesses, which have struck at least 193 people in 22 states since June 28 of this year. One person in Illinois has died. Investigators say that in many of the cases people bought suspect products on the black market or in “pop-up” shops.

Solvents in counterfeit and black-market vaping liquids “can vary a lot,” an unnamed official at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention told the Post. The official added that solvents sold for mixing home-made vaping liquids may also be mislabeled.

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Posted in CDC, e-cigarettes, fda, lung disease, outbreak, public health, science, smoking, vaping | Comments (0)