Archive | Human Health & Wellness

Cellphones Can Help Asthmatics Avoid Air Pollution

SAN DIEGO, Dec. 7 (UPI) — U.S. scientists say a network of sensors could help asthmatics avoid air pollution.

CitiSense, planned by the University of California, San Diego, is a wireless network in which hundreds or thousands of small environmental sensors are attached to the backpacks, purses and jackets of San Diegans going about daily life.

The sensors shuttle information via cellphones to central computers to be analyzed, “anonymized” and sent back out to individuals, public health agencies and San Diego at large.

The sensor-wearing people will have the option of also wearing biological monitors to collect basic health information — such as heart rate — making it possible for researchers to investigate the effect of particular environmental pollutants on human health.

“San Diego County has 3.1 million residents, 4,000 square miles and only five official Environmental Protection Agency air quality monitors. We know about the air quality in those exact spots but we know much less about the air quality in other places,” principal CitiSense investigator William Griswold said in a statement.

“Our goal is to give San Diegans up-to-the-minute environmental information about where they live, work and play — information that will empower anyone in the community to make healthier choices.”

The system will allow people to plot their outside exercise away from polluted air that might aggravate asthma, the researchers said.

Copyright 2009 by United Press International

Posted in Air Pollution, Human Health & Wellness, Other0 Comments

FDA Warns Against Consuming San Antonio Bay Oysters

WASHINGTON, Dec. 7 (UPI) — The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is advising people not to eat oysters harvested from San Antonio Bay on or after Nov. 16.

The FDA said it took the action because of reports of norovirus-associated illnesses in some people who eat oysters harvested from that area, which is located on the Gulf of Texas.

Officials from the FDA, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and North Carolina, South Carolina and Texas are investigating about a dozen reports of norovirus-related illnesses from South Carolina and North Carolina consumers who ate oysters recently harvested from San Antonio Bay.

“Consumers who purchased oysters on or after Nov. 16 that have a label showing they came from San Antonio Bay are advised to dispose of the oysters and not eat them,” the FDA said. “At restaurants, consumers can ask about the source of oysters offered as menu items.

“Restaurant operators and retailers should not serve or offer for sale oysters subject to this advisory,” the FDA said.

The Texas Department of State Health Services has ordered a recall of all oysters harvested from San Antonio Bay between Nov. 16 and Nov. 25.

The FDA said noroviruses are a group of viruses that cause gastroenteritis, with symptoms that can include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and stomach cramping. Affected individuals often experience low-grade fever, chills, headache, muscle aches and a general sense of tiredness. Norovirus usually is not life-threatening and does not generally cause long-term effects, officials said.

Copyright 2009 by United Press International

Posted in Effects Of Air Pollution, Human Health & Wellness, Services0 Comments

Home Fuel & Diesel Emissions Linked to Respiratory Symptoms in Children

NEW YORK, Nov. 30 (UPI) — Infant exposure to metals from residential heating oil combustion and diesel emissions are linked to respiratory symptoms, U.S. researchers found.

Researchers at the Columbia Center for Children’s Environmental Health at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health compared pollutant levels with respiratory symptoms of children between birth and age 2 living in Northern Manhattan and in the South Bronx.

Senior investigator Dr. Rachel L. Miller of New York-Presbyterian/Columbia University Medical Center and co-deputy director of at the Mailman School of Public Health and colleagues found the airborne metals nickel and vanadium, were risk factors for wheezing in young children.

Residual oil combustion for heating is a major source in New York City of these metals. Elemental carbon, in diesel exhaust, was associated with increased frequency of coughing only during cold and flu season — September through April, the researchers said.

“It appears that exposure to ambient metals and diesel-exhaust particles in our air may lead to several respiratory symptoms for young children living in urban areas,” Miller said in a statement.

The findings are scheduled to be published in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine in December.

Copyright 2009 by United Press International

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Animals at Center of New Health Curriculum at Purdue University

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind., Nov. 23 (UPI) — Purdue University scientists say they’ll use a $1.3 million grant to help further students’ understanding of the role animals play in keeping people healthy.

The five-year-grant from the National Institutes of Health was awarded Professors Timothy Ratliff and Sandra Amass of Purdue’s School of Veterinary Medicine to create a new health science curriculum for third-, sixth- and ninth-graders; start a faculty mentor program in Indiana schools; create fitness programs centered around animals, and develop a museum exhibit focused on the links between animal and human health.

The initiative is called “Fat Dogs and Coughing Horses: Animal Contributions Towards a Healthier Citizenry.”

“Animals play a large role in keeping people healthy,” Amass said. “A lot of conditions that affect humans affect animals. For example, horses get the heaves, which is just like asthma in kids, and dogs get the same cancers that people do.”

The School of Veterinary Medicine is working with Indiana teachers to develop a curriculum focused on filling the gaps in health science education. Officials said the curriculum will be available to Indiana schools, and, eventually, to schools nationally.

“We’re really interested in introducing people to science and the impact science has on their lives,” Ratliff said. “We felt that if people learn science at an early age, they will know better its impact on their lives.”

Copyright 2009 by United Press International

Posted in Animals, Education, Human Health & Wellness0 Comments

Support for Legalized Marijuana Grows

WASHINGTON, Nov. 23 (UPI) — Support for legalizing marijuana is growing rapidly in the United States and received a push when President Barack Obama said he once smoked it, advocates said.

“This issue is breaking out in a remarkably rapid way now,” Ethan Nadelmann, executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance, told The Washington Post in a story published Monday.

This month, Maine became the latest state to legalize marijuana for medical purposes and the American Medical Association is urging the federal government to remove marijuana from Schedule One of the Controlled Substances Act, which equates it with heroin and cocaine.

A recent Gallup poll suggested the majority of U.S. residents could favor legalization in as little as four years and 14 states have decriminalized possession of small amounts of marijuana, despite opposition from drug opponents who said it would increase crime and violence.

Obama this year halted federal prosecution of medical marijuana use where permitted by state law, and he gave the legalization movement a big push, advocates said, when he became the third consecutive president to acknowledge having smoked marijuana.

“As a kid, I inhaled. That was the whole point,” Obama said last year on the campaign trail.

Copyright 2009 by United Press International

Posted in Human Health & Wellness0 Comments

Nevada Senator Reid Speaks on Health Care Reform in Washington

Sen. Reid (D-NV) Speaks on Health Care Reform in Washington

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid speaks on the health care reform bill at a health care rally in Washington on November 19, 2009. Reid said that the Senate would hold a health care test vote this Saturday. Reid was joined by Sen. Chrid Dodd (D-CT). UPI/Kevin Dietsch

Date Taken: November 19, 2009

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New York Senator Schumer Speaks on Health Care Reform in Washington

Sen. Schumer (D-NY) Speaks on Health Care Reform in Washington

Sen. Charles Shumer (D-NY) speaks on the health care reform bill at a health care rally in Washington on November 19, 2009. Senate Majority Leader Reid said that the Senate would hold a health care test vote this Saturday. Schumer was joined by Sen. Chrid Dodd (D-CT) (2nd-L), Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) (2nd-R) and Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA). UPI/Kevin Dietsch

Date Taken: November 19, 2009

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Iowa's Senator Harkin Speaks on Health Care Reform in Washington

Sen. Harkin (D-IA) Speaks on Health Care Reform in Washington

Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA) speaks on the health care reform bill at a health care rally in Washington on November 19, 2009. Senate Majority Leader Reid said that the Senate would hold a health care test vote this Saturday. Harkin was joined by Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) (L), Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) (2nd-L) and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV). UPI/Kevin Dietsch

Date Taken: November 19, 2009

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2008 Murine Typhus Outbreak in Texas Atypical

ATLANTA, Nov. 19 (UPI) — An outbreak of murine typhus was confirmed in Travis County, Texas, last year, federal health officials said.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report said Thursday although murine typhus, a flea-borne disease often transmitted to humans through contact with rats, is endemic in southern Texas, only two cases had been reported in central Texas in the past 10 years.

This central Texas outbreak had 33 confirmed cases, 73 percent of whom were hospitalized, and was comparable to previous outbreaks of murine typhus, the report said.

However, the suspected vector — cat flea — and reservoir — an opossum — were atypical for a suburban setting, health officials said.

Clinicians and the public should be aware of the symptoms, appropriate treatment and prevention measures, and the importance of promptly notifying local or state health officials of suspected cases of murine typhus, health officials said.

Murine typhus symptoms include: abdominal pain, backache, dull red rash that begins on the middle of the body and spreads, extremely high fever of 105-106 degrees Fahrenheit, hacking, dry cough, headache, joint pain, nausea and vomiting.

Copyright 2009 by United Press International

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Canadian Healthcare Costs to Surpass $183B

OTTAWA, Nov. 19 (UPI) — The cost of healthcare in Canada is forecast to rise 5.5 percent to $183 billion this year, the Canadian Institute for Health Information said Thursday.

“This represents a forecast increase of $241 per Canadian, bringing total health expenditure per capita to an estimated $5,452 this year,” the report said.

Hospitals remain the top expense, followed by drugs and doctors, although the relative shares among them is changing, the report said.

Hospitals are expected this year to account for 27.8 percent, or $51 billion of total healthcare spending, down from 44.7 percent in 1975.

Spending on prescribed and non-prescribed medications is expected to make up an estimated 16.4 percent, or $30 billion of the total, which is nearly double from 1979.

“Spending on physicians is expected to grow at an estimated annual growth rate of 8.8 percent this year,” the report said. “This is higher than the forecast growth rates for hospitals and drugs, which are each estimated to grow by 5.1 percent.”

Copyright 2009 by United Press International

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