disease

Connecticut is stepping up efforts to prevent the spread of the Zika virus. State officials met Thursday to announce additional prevention measures. Meanwhile, it’s West Nile season.

Six Things to Know About Ticks and Lyme Disease

Jun 20, 2016
Fairfax County/Flickr / Creative Common

This year, 97 percent of blacklegged ticks -- commonly known as deer ticks -- survived the Connecticut winter, and are hungry for blood as temperatures warm.

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An antibiotic-resistant "superbug" gene was discovered in the United States recently, triggering a media frenzy. Across the world, newspaper and television headlines warned of "nightmare bacteria," "deadly" infections, and a looming "global health crisis." But was the response warranted? 

With his wife expecting a baby in October, American road racer Tejay van Garderen has withdrawn from consideration for the Rio Summer Olympics, citing the Zika virus that's been linked to birth defects.

From a statement released by USA Cycling on van Garderen's behalf today:

Harriet Jones / WNPR

A group of Connecticut investors is helping to fund the first human clinical trial of a new Alzheimer's treatment that its inventors believe could revolutionize the way we see the disease.

Since it came onto the scene in 1943, penicillin has made syphilis a thing of the past — almost. Now, the sexually transmitted disease is making a comeback in the U.S. and there's a shortage of the medication used to treat it.

Pfizer, the company that supplies it, says it's experiencing "an unanticipated manufacturing delay," and in a letter to consumers wrote that it would be providing just one-third of the usual monthly demand until July.

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New data show a surge in drug overdose deaths in Connecticut during the first three months of this year involving the opioid fentanyl.  The information was released on Friday by the State’'s Chief Medical Examiner Dr. James Gill.

Heather Brandon illustration / WNPR

As heroin and opiate addictions continue to spread among middle class communities, families who never thought they’d face this problem are finding out one simple truth: treating someone for an addiction can be really, really costly. 

Scientists and doctors say the case is clear: The best way to tackle the country's opioid epidemic is to get more people on medications that have been proven in studies to reduce relapses and, ultimately, overdoses.

Yet, only a fraction of the more than 4 million people believed to abuse prescription painkillers or heroin in the U.S. are being given what's called medication-assisted treatment.

A few weeks ago, Dr. James Bale saw a series of MRI images in a medical journal of MRI scans of babies infected with Zika in the womb.

They scans showed something Bale had seen only a few times in his 30-year career: a phenomenon called fetal brain disruption sequence.

As the fetus's brain starts to grow, it creates pressure, which pushes on the skull and causes it to grow. But if something stops brain growth — such as a virus — pressure on the skull drops. And the skull can collapse down onto the brain.

Amir Attaran, a professor in the School of Public Health and the School of Law at the University of Ottawa, isn't afraid to take a bold stand.

He has written a commentary for the Harvard Public Health Review, published this week, with the headline, "Why Public Health Concerns for Global Spread of Zika Virus Means that Rio de Janeiro's 2016 Olympic Games Must Not Proceed."

Chion Wolf / WNPR

Dr. Gail Christopher has been a crusader for better health outcomes in America, championing an idea that “place matters,” finding that the way people live in some communities puts them at a much higher risk for disease. 

Tom / Creative Commons

Governor Dannel Malloy joined state officials in Hartford on Friday to discuss the Zika virus.

Teen Forced to Undergo Cancer Treatment Suffers Setback

Apr 18, 2016
Jackie Fortin

A Connecticut teenager who was forced by the courts to undergo chemotherapy for her cancer says a new mass has been found in her lungs.

Connecticut public health and law enforcement departments this week are testing how the state responds to situations such as an infectious disease outbreak that require extensive coordination between local, state and federal agencies. Run by the Connecticut Department of Public Health, the exercise includes the Centers for Disease Control, hospitals and volunteers.

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Discovery in the biomedical sciences is running at a pace that challenges our ability to keep up, financially, ethically, and legally. And thinkers in the field are calling on policy makers to reconsider our response.

Monkey malaria is just a few steps away from becoming a major human disease. The big question is whether it will take those steps.

New research shows that Plasmodium knowlesi, a form of malaria common in monkeys in South East Asia, is capable of flourishing in people even though so far it rarely does.

Charles Williams / Creative Commons

With an opioid crisis still underway across the country, pain and how it’s treated is under scrutiny. The Centers for Disease Control in March came out with national standards for prescribing opioid painkillers, notably that clinicians should consider other options first.

Chion Wolf / WNPR

Radiologists and advocates are trying to persuade Connecticut lawmakers to reverse a cut made last year to the state Medicaid reimbursement rate for radiology services. 

When Kevin Polly first started abusing Opana ER, a potent prescription opioid painkiller, he took pills — or fractions of pills — and crushed them into a fine powder, then snorted it.

When Opana pills are swallowed, they release their painkilling ingredient over 12 hours. If the pills were crushed and snorted, though, the drug was released in a single dose.

"Just think about it," Polly says, "12 hours of medicine, and, 'BAM!' you're getting it all at once."

The World Health Organization says there is now scientific consensus that the Zika virus is connected with microcephaly — a condition in which babies are born with very small heads and brain damage.

Scientists have been working for months to confirm a link between Zika and microcephaly, ever since Brazil reported a startling increase in cases last fall.

Cornell Scott-Hill Health Center

New Haven is trying out a new pilot program to screen residents for type 2 diabetes at on e of the city's public housing developments. Mayor Toni Harp visited the complex this week to kick off the new program and talk with some of the residents and health officials. 

When a Connecticut woman who was HIV-positive died earlier this month, her family decided to donate her organs to others who needed them.

Doctors in Maryland announced Wednesday that they performed two landmark, successful surgeries with her kidney and liver — transplanting the organs to HIV-positive patients.

James Gathany / CDC/ National Climate Assessment

State public health officials keeping an eye on the Zika virus say they now have the ability to test for it in-state. 

Tom / Creative Commons

This hour -- from the outbreak of Zika virus to the spread of Lyme disease -- doctors and epidemiologists take our questions on some of the biggest public health stories to hit the news. We find out what we know, what we don’t know, and what the real risks are to Connecticut. 

The Zika virus is a health threat not just to Latin America, but also to parts of the U.S. It's already a problem in Puerto Rico where there are nearly 120 cases so far, including five pregnant women. That's a concern, because Zika may be involved in causing birth defects.

PORTLAND, Maine - The Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention has confirmed Maine's first case of the Zika virus.

A Hancock County resident over age 65 tested positive after returning home from one of the Zika-affected countries.

The virus is principally transmitted by a mosquito bite, so Maine epidemiologist Dr. Siiri Bennett says Mainers need not worry about catching the virus from the individual who tested positive.

A team of U.S. government disease detectives launched an eagerly anticipated research project in Brazil on Monday designed to determine whether the Zika virus is really causing a surge of serious birth defects.

A 16-member team of epidemiologists from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention began training dozens of Brazilian counterparts in Joao Pessoa, Brazil, in preparation to begin work on Tuesday. The researchers will gather data on hundreds of Brazilian women and their children.

Tom via Flickr / Creative Commons

Connecticut officials have prepared a plan to respond to the Zika virus that includes in-state testing for the virus, monitoring mosquitoes, and public education on how to avoid infection.

Connecticut plans to monitor mosquitoes for the Zika virus this summer.

Dr.Theodore Andreadis, Executive Director of the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station, said the species of mosquito that has been largely responsible for spreading the virus in the Caribbean and South and Central America has not been found in Connecticut.  He said another species of mosquito in the state, the Asian tiger mosquito, has also been shown to transmit the Zika virus.

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