Blog Archives

Meningitis outbreak in Los Angeles, three dead so far

By JC Sevcik, http://www.upi.com

MeningitisThree have died due to meningitis in Los Angeles, the L.A. County Department of Public Health said Thursday.

The department announced their have been eight cases of invasive meningococcal disease in the county so far this year, the L.A. Times reports.

Invasive meningococcal disease causes meningitis, an inflammation of the the meninges, the protective membrane surrounding the brain and spinal cord. It can be spread through exposure to sneezing and coughing and contact with saliva and mucous. Kissing, sharing beverages or cigarettes, and living in group settings can transmit the bacteria responsible for infection.

Symptoms usually onset within five days of exposure to the bacteria, and may include a high fever, stiff neck, aches, and an aversion to bright lights.

Read More

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Does Lead Poisoning Make You More Likely To Become A Criminal?

By Lecia Bushak, http://www.medicaldaily.com

 Image courtesy of Shutterstock

Image courtesy of Shutterstock

In the U.S., crime has been reduced significantly in the past several decades. Economists and researchers have hypothesized that this decline in crime is somehow linked to the removal of high lead levels from common things like gasoline or paint, and thus claim that lead poisoning at an early age may be cause for criminal activity later on.

Before Rudy Giuliani became the mayor of New York City in the early 1990s, the Big Apple was known for its high crime rates. Since the 1960s, rape, murder, and robbery rates had ballooned significantly. Giuliani came along with a plan to decrease crime with the “broken windows” theory, and it worked; crime dropped significantly. But it wasn’t just in New York City. Amazingly enough, it was happening all across the States during the last decade of the 20th century.

Why did the homicide rate decrease by over 40 percent by the end of the 1990s? Economists and criminologists have struggled to find a clear cut answer, and perhaps there is none. Some believe it’s because of an increase in police officers; others point to the fact that the number of criminals who are behind bars has risen. However, a fraction of researchers believe that the decline of crime is linked to lead.

Research has shown that having high levels of lead in blood could lead to decreased cognitive function, as well as aggressive or violent characteristics. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), having 5 micrograms per deciliter of lead in a child’s blood is considered abnormal. During the 1970s, the average U.S. resident had significantly higher levels of lead in their blood than the average person today.

So some economists have hypothesized that as the amount of leaded gasoline and lead paint increased during the 1970s, so did crime rates. Likewise, when lead levels began to drop, so did crime. Read More

Mold may set off asthma in middle-aged men

By Annie Rahilly-Melbourne, http://www.futurity.org

Reducing the presence of mold in the home may reduce asthma in middle-aged adults, according to new research.

In a follow-up of a longitudinal health study conducted in Tasmania, over 5,700 participants completed respiratory and home environment questionnaires and had skin-prick tests for allergies.

The results revealed that recent presence of mold in the home was associated with “non-allergic” asthma in middle age, particularly in men whose risk was about four times that of women.

Lead author John Burgess of the University of Melbourne and University of Tasmania says most studies of mold and asthma had concentrated on children and adolescents.

He adds that in this study, published in the Journal of Respirology, the asthma and related symptoms were more common as mold exposure increased. Read More

Halloween Costume Related Health Hazards

By Janelle Cabuco, http://www.neontommy.com

Some makeup may contain toxic chemicals that can be easily absorbed into the skin (Vancouver Film School / Flickr Creative Commons).

Some makeup may contain toxic chemicals that can be easily absorbed into the skin (Vancouver Film School / Flickr Creative Commons).

Halloween is a time for shrieks of horror, thrills, and laughter. It calls for celebration and superstition, and most importantly, costumes!

Unfortunately, there are some hidden health hazards that come with dressing up for Halloween that most people don’t think about. Some are even scarier than the scariest of Halloween costumes.

According to a 2008 study in Science of the Total Environment, fake teeth and paints used as Halloween props run high risks of lead contamination, a neurotoxin. Many Halloween products such as Halloween themed drinking cups, candy buckets, and fake teeth have been found to have an excess of six percent more lead than the US regulatory limit.

Many other children’s products have been contaminated with lead over the years. In 2007, Toys “R” Us had two recalls in a single month because their children’s products surpassed the legal limit. This is definitely a cause for concern, considering that all of us who buy fake teeth do put them in our mouths. Lead enters the body the fastest when ingested. Read More

More Mold In The Air Is Bad News For Allergy Sufferers

By Dr. Maria Simbra, http://pittsburgh.cbslocal.com

It’s not spring pollen season. It’s not fall ragweed season. If you’re sneezing and stuffy right now, it could be mold allergies.

“I would say it’s one of the top. It’s up there,” says Dr. James Deangelo, of Allergy and Immunology Associates.

Outdoors, mold is in hay, straw, grass and leaves. But it’s indoors, too.

“You can see it growing, for example on a tree bark, or perhaps see it indoors growing on the walls. It will be black, green, different colors,” Dr. Deangelo points out.

The allergy is from what you can’t see – the mold spores. So small you can’t see them, but you inhale them.

“If you have a very hot rainy day, and right after the rain you feel that nasal congestion,” he describes. Read More

 

Attack of the Killer Bacteria: Superbugs, Prepare to Die!

By Charles Choi, LiveScience.com

Predatory bacteria that devour microbes could help kill potentially lethal drug-resistant germs when antibiotics fail, researchers say.

Antibiotics currently help fight bacterial infections both in people and livestock, saving countless lives. However, constant use of these drugs has now bred germs resistant to many antibiotics — superbugs that some experts warn could lead to apocalyptic scenarios. Scientists at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have estimated that each year in the United States, nearly 2 million patients acquire infections in hospitals. Many of these infections are caused by these drug-resistant contagions.

Scientists are hunting for ways to overcome drug-resistant bacteria, such as viruses known as bacteriophages, which infect and kill only bacteria. Now investigators suggest predatory bacteria that eat other bacteria may serve as vital allies, too. Read More

 

Linking mold to respiratory problems

By Carl Bennett, http://www.hivehealthmedia.com

Molds are rather harmless little fungi, present in every single environment, all-year round. But when they find warm and humid conditions, they tend to turn into that matter-decomposing eye sore we all know and dread. Their aspect however is probably the least important characteristic we should worry about; molds can be the cause of many health issues, ranging from itchy eyes and a runny nose to serious respiratory infections. Read More