And a whole lot of Fukushimapoocalypse Now!, this being four years to the day since disaster struck.
First, from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the latest measles numbers for the U.S.:
Al Jazeera America has some Canadian numbers:
Health officials confirm 119 measles cases in Quebec
- Children from Lanaudiere, Quebec caught measles at Disneyland and spread the disease to other unvaccinated people
Canadian public health officials said Wednesday that there are 119 confirmed cases of the measles in Lanaudière, Quebec (PDF), a town about 50 miles north of Montreal.
The first case of measles in the region was reported to Lanaudière’s public health agency on Feb. 10, according to the Toronto Sun newspaper, but the infection spread to people who hadn’t been vaccinated for the disease.
The spread of measles to Lanaudière is the result of visits by two families to the Disneyland resorts in California, where they were exposed and brought the measles back with them to Quebec, according to the Montreal Gazette newspaper. The infected children as well as classmates and staff who came into contact with them have been ordered to stay home for two weeks, the newspaper said.
And from Outbreak News Today, good numbers in the Philippines:
Philippines reports 200 measles cases in January
After reporting more than 58,000 suspected and confirmed measles cases in 2014, including 110 fatalities, the Philippines saw only 201 suspected and confirmed cases during the first month of 2015, according to a recently published World Health Organization Measles-Rubella Bulletin.
The 33 lab-confirmed measles cases reported in January is a dramatic decrease compared to the 9,549 confirmed cases in January 2014. There were no deaths related to measles reported in January.
The measles outbreak in the Philippines last year was implicated in imported measles cases and outbreaks in a number of countries including the United States and Canada.
From Reuters, warnings of an outbreak to come:
Mutating H7N9 bird flu may pose pandemic threat, scientists warn
A wave of H7N9 bird flu in China that has spread into people may have the potential to emerge as a pandemic strain in humans, scientists said on Wednesday.
The H7N9 virus, one of several strains of bird flu known to be able to infect humans, has persisted, diversified and spread in chickens across China, the researchers said, fuelling a resurgence of infections in people and posing a wider threat.
“The expansion of genetic diversity and geographical spread indicates that, unless effective control measures are in place, H7N9 could be expected to persist and spread beyond the region,” they said in a study published in the journal Nature.
The Guardian covers a finding:
Homeopathy not effective for treating any condition, Australian report finds
- Report by top medical research body says ‘people who choose homeopathy may put their health at risk if they reject or delay treatments’
Homeopaths believe that illness-causing substances can, in minute doses, treat people who are unwell.
By diluting these substances in water or alcohol, homeopaths claim the resulting mixture retains a “memory” of the original substance that triggers a healing response in the body.
These claims have been widely disproven by multiple studies, but the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) has for the first time thoroughly reviewed 225 research papers on homeopathy to come up with its position statement, released on Wednesday.
“Based on the assessment of the evidence of effectiveness of homeopathy, NHMRC concludes that there are no health conditions for which there is reliable evidence that homeopathy is effective,” the report concluded.
From Medical Daily, a diabetes breakthrough hinted:
Diabetes Treatment May Soon Involve Psychedelic Ayahuasca; Chemical Harmine Triples Beta Cell Count
The role of psychedelics like LSD and magic mushrooms in modern medicine is being uncovered more than ever these days, with their uses ranging from easing anxiety to treating post-traumatic stress disorder. But, as a new study shows, their role isn’t only limited to psychiatric conditions but chronic diseases as well. In this case, a chemical in the Amazonian psychoactive brew ayahuasca may actually promote the growth of insulin-producing beta cells in people with diabetes.
Ayahuasca, which is also the name for the Banisteriopsis caapi vine it’s made from, is commonly associated with the indigenous tribes of the Peruvian Amazon, where shamans brew it with other psychedelic plants to induce an hour’s long trip full of spiritual revelations, often viewed as a reawakening. In the U.S., the drug is classified as a schedule 1 drug under the Controlled Substances Act of 1970, which defines it as having “no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse.” They’re considered “the most dangerous drugs of all the drug schedules with potentially severe psychological or physical dependence.”
The psychoactive chemical that makes ayahuasca a schedule 1 drug is dimethyltryptamine, more commonly known as DMT. Researchers from the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City believe that if they can figure out a way to bypass the effects of this chemical, they’ll be able to tap into the effects of another chemical in the ayahuasca plant called harmine. In their new study, published in the journal Nature Medicine, they found this chemical was the only one out of over 100,000 the ability to reproduce insulin-producing beta cells in diabetic mice, thus normalizing glycemic control.
From the San Jose Mercury News, the toxicology of beauty:
Santa Clara County targets ‘toxic trio’ used in nail salons
They’re known as the “toxic trio,” the worst of the bottled bad boys that can likely be found at any given nail salon, and Santa Clara County is hoping to run the gang out of town.
Supervisor Cindy Chavez led the charge to join a handful of local governments that are encouraging salon owners to switch away from products containing chemicals known to cause an array of health disorders, and with unanimous support from her colleagues, a Healthy Nail Salon Recognition Program was enacted on Tuesday.
“What’s key is that wherever people work, they should be safe,” Chavez said. “I’m looking at a group of women of childbearing age, working in shops that sometimes aren’t very well ventilated. This is good for them and good for the customer.”
In the gang of three, there’s the well-known carcinogen formaldehyde and the neurological agent toluene, which causes headaches, dizziness and nausea. Rounding them out is dibutyl phthalate — or DBP — a particular threat to pregnant women that’s been banned in Europe.
Big Agra flexes muscle, via the Associated Press:
INFLUENCE GAME: Meat industry fights new dietary proposal
The meat industry is seeing red.
Meat companies have tried to rehabilitate an image tarnished in recent years by health and environmental concerns. Now the industry is swiftly and aggressively working to discredit a proposal for new dietary guidelines that recommends people eat less red and processed meat.
The proposal last month by a government advisory committee also relegates the health benefits of lean meat to a footnote to the main recommendations.
“We’ve been put in a position over the years to almost be apologizing for our product, we’re not going to do that anymore,” said Barry Carpenter, the president and CEO of the North American Meat Institute.
So why keep whaling anyway?, via JapanToday:
Japan dumps Norwegian whale meat after finding pesticide
Whale meat imported into Japan from Norway has been dumped after tests found it contained up to twice the permitted level of harmful pesticide, the government said Wednesday.
The announcement came after Western environmentalists first exposed the issue, in the latest salvo of a battle that pits Japan against many of its usual allies, such as Australia and New Zealand.
An official at Japan’s health ministry said whale meat was subject to extensive routine tests before and after import. “We conduct strict checking because whales tend to collect contaminants in the environment such as pesticides and heavy metals,” he said.
From the McClatchy Washington Bureau, a call for help for an oceanic critter:
Massive starfish deaths prompt calls for emergency help
With millions of starfish dying all along the West Coast, Washington state Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives say it’s time for Congress to intervene and find out why.
The outbreak, first noticed in the state by rangers in Olympic National Park in June 2013, has hit 20 species of starfish, also known as sea stars.
After getting lesions on their bodies, the sea stars begin curling up and soon lose their legs, shriveling up and disintegrating into mush. Researchers fear the epidemic may be the result of a virus caused by climate change, with the disease showing its fastest progression in warmer ocean waters.
From the Ecologist, collusion coal-escing:
Coal industry setting its own air pollution standards
Coal is Europe’s biggest source of mercury and sulphur pollution, writes Kyla Mandel, killing tens of thousands of people a year. So how come more than half the members appointed by EU governments to set air pollution standards for coal plants are industry representatives?
The UK is one of several European governments allowing energy industry representatives to help draw up the European Union’s (EU) new air pollution standards, a Greenpeace investigation has found.
The EU is currently in the process of drafting new standards to limit pollution from coal-fired power stations. However, this “once-in-a-decade opportunity” has been captured by the coal industry Greenpeace claims and could result in “extremely lax” emission limits.
“Not only would most of the existing plants be allowed to pollute several times more than could be achieved by adopting the best clean technologies available”, the environmental NGO said, “but EU standards would also be significantly weaker than those imposed in other parts of the world, including China.”
From the Los Angeles Times, an admission of failure:
Agencies admit failing to protect water sources from fuel pollution
The agencies charged with overseeing oil production and protecting California’s ever-dwindling water sources from the industry’s pollution all fell down on the job, one state official told a panel of peeved lawmakers Tuesday.
During a testy two-hour oversight hearing, officials from the California Department of Conservation, the department’s Division of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources and the state Water Resources Control Board promised senators a top-down overhaul of their regulation of the disposal of oil field wastewater.
But after a handful of recent embarrassing revelations about the division’s history of lackluster regulation, lawmakers questioned how they could trust agency officials to follow through, characterizing longstanding agency practices as corrupt and inept.
After the jump, Koch brothers stonewall senators on climate skeptic funding, odds on the next Golden State megaquake jump, the grass-is-always-greener syndrome sends waterway fertilizer contamination soaring, seeking Dutch help for Olympian pollution in Rio, on to Fukushimapocalypse Now!, first with a warning from Japan’s top nuclear regulator, contaminated soil shipments to interim storage near, tons of ‘hot’ water escape into the soil awaiting an underground ice wall that might not work, yet another proposal to recover fuel that melted through the reactor, one Japanese in five leery of Fukushima-grown food, the government heads back to the reconstruction planning drawing board, questions surround the country’s other aging nuclear plants, the Angela Merkel/Shinzo Abe Fukushima response divide, meanwhile, aftershocks continue, Fukushima’s American-born reactor and plant construction, while the nation’s food supply was protected after the disaster, and Shinzo Abe’s pro-nuclear government holds applications to restart 21 plants. . . Continue reading