As Fentanyl Deaths Spike, States and CDC Respond

by Christine Vestal – ATLANTA — When Ohio tallied what many already knew was an alarming surge in overdose deaths from an opioid known as fentanyl, the state asked the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to investigate. The rash of fatal overdoses in Ohio — a more than fivefold increase in 2014 — was not an isolated outbreak. Fentanyl is killing more people than heroin in many parts of the country. And the death toll will likely keep growing, said CDC investigators Matt Gladden and John Halpin at the fifth annual Rx Drug Abuse and Heroin Summit here. Fentanyl, used in its legal pharmaceutical form to treat severe pain, represents the latest evolution of an epidemic of opioid addiction that began with prescription painkillers and moved to heroin, as users demanded cheaper drugs and greater highs. At least 28,000 people died of opioid overdoses in 2014, the highest...

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High School Students Come Up With Brilliant Way To Detect Sexually Transmitted Infections

By SAM P.K. COLLINS, ThinkProgress – Even with the availability of condoms, many young people unknowingly contract and spread sexually transmitted infections, creating what the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) warns may be a public health emergency in the making for millennials. But some young people are taking matters into their own hands. A group of high school students in the United Kingdom have invented a condom that changes color when it comes into contact with the bacteria associated with the presence of STIs. The trio — 14-year-old Daanyaal Ali, 13-year-old Muaz Nawaz, and 14-year-old Chirag Shah of Isaac Newton Academy in Iflord, Essex — said their invention, appropriately named the “S.T.EYE,” allows sexually active people quickly and privately address issues of sexual health in the privacy of their home without the awkwardness of a visit to the clinic. Colors include yellow for herpes, blue for syphilis, and purple for...

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“Breach of Protocol” Led to 2nd Ebola Infection

by Edgar Walters, The Texas Tribune – *Editor’s note: This story has been updated throughout. The top federal public health official said Sunday that a “breach of protocol” led a Dallas hospital worker to become infected with the deadly Ebola virus. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed Sunday afternoon that the worker tested positive for the virus, marking the first time that Ebola was transmitted from one person to another in the United States. Health officials have not identified what specifically went wrong at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital, said Tom Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But he said the caregiver had “extensive contact” with Thomas Eric Duncan, the first person diagnosed with Ebola in the United States, who died from the disease Oct. 8 during his second visit to the hospital. At a press conference, Frieden said the “deeply concerning” infection may have...

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Medicaid ADHD Treatment Under Scrutiny

by Christine Vestal – Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, or ADHD, affects one in every seven school-aged children in the U.S., and between 2003 and 2011 the number of children diagnosed with the condition rose by more than 40 percent. Doctors have considerable leeway in deciding the best course of treatment for a child with the condition, no matter who is paying the bill. But children covered by Medicaid, the joint federal-state health care program for the poor, are at least 50 percent more likely to be diagnosed with the disorder. Georgia alone spends $28 million to $33 million annually on these treatments out of its $2.5 billion Medicaid budget, according to the Barton Child Law and Policy Center here at Emory University. That is partly because of the toll poverty takes on kids and a lack of resources in poorer schools. But some states believe there are other factors at...

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Black Lung Disease Surges to Highs Not Seen Since the ’70s, Research Shows

By Chris Hamby, Center for Public Integrity – Black lung, the dreaded coal miners’ disease that had been on the decline, has roared back. The worst form of the illness now afflicts a higher proportion of miners than at any time since the 1970s, new research from U.S. government scientists shows. The likely culprit, researchers say, is a failure by coal mining companies to use readily available tools to control the dust that lodges in miners’ lungs and causes the disease. Each case of advanced black lung “is a tragedy, and represents a failure among all those responsible for preventing this severe disease,” the researchers from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, wrote in a letter published last week in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine. A spokesman for the National Mining Association said the trade...

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Why Don’t We Know How Many People Are Shot Each Year in America?

Has nonfatal gun violence increased or decreased over the past 10 years? No one really knows. by Lois Beckett,  ProPublica – How many Americans have been shot over the past 10 years? No one really knows. We don’t even know if the number of people shot annually has gone up or down over that time. The government’s own numbers seem to conflict. One source of data on shooting victims suggests that gun-related violence has been declining for years, while another government estimate actually shows an increase in the number of people who have been shot. Each estimate is based on limited, incomplete data. Not even the FBI tracks the total number of nonfatal gunshot wounds. “We know how many people die, but not how many are injured and survive,” said Dr. Demetrios Demetriades, a Los Angeles trauma surgeon who has been studying nationwide gunshot injury trends. While the number...

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