Study links dengue fever outbreaks with El Niño

New study can help tropical countries prepare


El Niño cycles can have public health impacts.

Staff Report

This year’s El Niño could bring a widespread dengue fever outbreak across Southeast Asia, scientists said after tracking a link between the disease and warmer temperatures.

The warning came after a team of international scientists found that an increase in dengue incidence swept through eight countries of Southeast Asia in 1997 and 1998 during a historically intense El Niño weather event.

“Dengue infects large numbers of people across the tropics each year, but incidence can vary dramatically from year to year in any setting,” said University of Florida biology professor Derek Cummings, senior author of the study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Continue reading

Study tracks spike in zipline accidents

Children under 10 tabbed as most susceptible to serious injury; researchers call for better safety standards

Staff Report

Popular zipline attractions should be subject to uniform safety standards across all jurisdictions to protect children from serious injuries, public health researchers said this week after documenting an alarming spike in injuries.

The Research Institute at Nationwide Children’s Hospital found that an estimated 16,850 non-fatal zipline-related injuries were treated in U.S. emergency departments from 1997 through 2012, with 70 percent of the injuries occurred during the last four years of the study period, indicating a growing problem.

In 2012 alone, there were more than 3,600 people treated in U.S. emergency departments for zipline-related injuries, nearly 10 per day. Children younger than 10 years of age accounted for almost half (45 percent) of the zipline-related injuries while youth, ages 10-19, accounted for an additional 33 percent of injured patients. Continue reading

Study eyes link between climate change and infant health


Does climate change have an effect on pregnancy and infant health?

Research in Africa suggests drought and heatwaves results in lower birth weight

Staff Report

A complex statistical analysis of health and climate data suggests there may be a link between climate change and birth weight, at least in parts of the developing world. The findings show that a pregnant woman’s exposure to reduced precipitation and an increased number of very hot days results in lower birth weight.

The two-year research project was led by University of Utah geography professor Kathryn Grace, who said the results are a clear warning that climate change may have a direct affect on public health. Continue reading

Study eyes global warming health threats to Gulf Coast

‘Unfortunately, we are now at a point where simply slowing climate change, while critical, is not enough.’


Sea level rise will swallow parts of the U.S. Gulf Coast. @bberwyn photo.


Tidal flooding near Venice, Louisiana. @bberwyn photo.

Staff Report

FRISCO — Global warming is likely to make the U.S. Gulf Coast less hospitable and more dangerous for residents, public health experts warned in a new study that focused on the region.

More extreme heat events, rising sea levels and the potential for intense tropical storms threaten the region’s population and infrastructure, and could spur large scale migration, scientists said in a new paper published this week in in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health

“The science of climate change and the threat to human and population health is irrefutable, and the threat is evolving quickly,” said to Dr. Irwin Redlener, director of the National Center for Disaster Preparedness at Columbia University’s Earth Institute. “Unfortunately, we are now at a point where simply slowing climate change, while critical, is not enough. We need to simultaneously develop and deploy ways of mitigating the impact and adapting to the consequences of this environmental disaster.” Continue reading

Study documents ubiquity of bee-killing pesticides


Can bees survive the age of pesticides? @bberwyn photo.

Findings suggest human health risks from inhaling pollen laced with neonicotinoids

Staff Report

FRISCO — Scientists with Harvard University’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health say their new study examining pollen and honey shows there’s a need to develop public policies that aims to reduce neonicotinoid exposure.

After working 62 Massachusetts beekeepers who volunteered to collect monthly samples of pollen and honey from foraging bees, the researchers found more that 70 percent of the samples contained at least one neonicotinoid, a class of pesticide that has been implicated the steep decline of honeybee populations, specifically colony collapse disorder, when adult bees abandon their hives during winter.

The study will be published online July 23, 2015 in the Journal of Environmental Chemistry. Not only do these pesticides pose a significant risk for the survival of honey bees, but they also may pose health risks for people inhaling neonicotinoid-contaminated pollen, Lu said. Continue reading

Showdown over GM foods looms in Congress

What's on your plate? @bberwyn photo.

What’s on your plate? @bberwyn photo.

GOP-sponsoroed House bill would preempt state and local restrictions on genetically modified products

Staff Report

FRISCO — Food activists say a possible House vote on HR 1599 — called the Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act of 2015 by its sponsors — could mark a huge turning point in the battle of genetically modified food. Some of the best coverage of the GMO debate is at Continue reading

Study tracks spike in fracking zone health problems


Study shows fracking health risks. @bberwyn photo.

Hydraulic fracturing linked to increases in hospitalization rates in  Marcellus Shale

Staff Report

FRISCO — People living near active fracking sites in northeastern Pennsylvania are much more likely to be hospitalized for heart conditions and neurological illness, according to a new study.

Hospitalizations for skin conditions, cancer, and urologic problems were also associated with the proximity of dwellings to active wells, as well as to the density of wells.

“This study captured the collective response of residents to hydraulic fracturing in zip codes within the counties with higher well densities,” said senior author Dr. Reynold Panettieri, Jr., a professor of medicine and deputy director of the  Center of Excellence in Environmental Toxicology at Penn’s Perelman School of Medicine. Continue reading


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