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Thursday, Dec 18th

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Polio Declared Emergency as Conflicts Fuel Virus Spread

Polio emergency worldwideThe spread of polio to countries previously considered free of the crippling disease is a global health emergency, the World Health Organization said, as the virus once driven to the brink of extinction mounts a comeback.

Pakistan, Cameroon and Syria pose the greatest risk of exporting the virus to other countries, and should ensure that residents have been vaccinated before they travel, the Geneva-based WHO said in a statement today after a meeting of its emergency committee. It’s only the second time the United Nations agency has declared a public health emergency of international concern, after the 2009 influenza pandemic.

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First Case of Deadly MERS Infection Found in U.S.

MERS infectionA deadly virus from the Middle East has been found in the U.S. for the first time, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said.

The patient, an American health-care provider who visited Saudi Arabia, flew from Riyadh to London to Chicago on April 24, and then took a bus to Indiana. The patient fell ill on April 27 and was admitted to a hospital the next day, federal officials said today. The CDC is now trying to determine who may have come into contact with the patient.

Now isolated, the patient is being “well cared for,” said Anne Schuchat, director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, in a briefing today. Schuchat would not say where the person is being treated or provide personal details such as age or gender.

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Antibiotic resistance a global crisis, could turn ailments into killers

Antibiotic use crisisBacteria resistant to antibiotics have now spread to every part of the world and might lead to a future where minor infections could kill, according to a report published Wednesday by the World Health Organization.

In its first global survey of the problem, the WHO report warned that antibiotic resistance was no longer an abstract threat to deal with in the future, but one that, “is happening right now in every region of the world and has the potential to affect anyone, of any age, in any country.”

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States where the most children go hungry

states where most children go hungryAccording to a report by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, 49 million people in the United States lived in households struggling to find enough food to eat. Nearly 16 million are children, who are far more likely to have limited access to sufficient food than the general population. While 15.9% of Americans lived in food-insecure households, 21.6% of children had uncertain access to food.

Feeding America — the largest hunger relief charity and network of food banks in the U.S. — created Map the Meal Gap, a study measuring food-insecurity among the general population and children at the state and county levels. While hunger remains a problem nationally, some areas of the country had nearly double the national rate. Food-insecurity rates among children were as high as 41% in Zavala County, Texas. At the state level, New Mexico led the nation with 29.2% of children living in food-insecure households.

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Why American Apples Just Got Banned in Europe

American apples banned in europeBack in 2008, European Food Safety Authority began pressing the chemical industry to provide safety information on a substance called diphenylamine, or DPA. Widely applied to apples after harvest, DPA prevents "storage scald"—brown spots that "becomes a concern when fruit is stored for several months," according to Washington State University, reporting from the heartland of industrial-scale apple production.

DPA isn't believed to be harmful on its own. But it has the potential to break down into a family of carcinogens called nitrosamines—not something you want to find on your daily apple. And that's why European food safety regulators wanted more information on it.

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3,000 types of bacteria found on U.S. $1 bills

one dollar bill bacteriaResearchers at the New York University's Dirty Money Project analyzed DNA on $1 bills and found some 3,000 types of bacteria -- many times more than studies using a microscope found.

Jane Carlton, director of genome sequencing at NYU's Center for Genomics and Systems Biology told the Wall Street Journal: "It was quite amazing to us. We actually found that microbes grow on money."

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Tamiflu: Millions wasted on flu drug, claims major UK report

TamifluHundreds of millions of pounds may have been wasted on a drug for flu that works no better than paracetamol, a landmark analysis has said.

The UK has spent £473m on Tamiflu, which is stockpiled by governments globally to prepare for flu pandemics.

The Cochrane Collaboration claimed the drug did not prevent the spread of flu or reduce dangerous complications, and only slightly helped symptoms. The manufacturers Roche and other experts say the analysis is flawed

The antiviral drug Tamiflu was stockpiled from 2006 in the UK when some agencies were predicting that a pandemic of bird flu could kill up to 750,000 people in Britain. Similar decisions were made in other countries.
Hidden data

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