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.

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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.

Until very recently it was thought that just one bacterium was to blame for causing Lyme disease in humans. But it turns out that a second, related bug can cause it too.

In 2013, during routine testing of bacterial DNA floating around in the blood samples of people suspected of having Lyme disease, researchers at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., realized they were looking at something different.

Lori Mack / WNPR

Several people quarantined in Connecticut after returning from West Africa during the Ebola epidemic in 2014 have filed a class-action lawsuit against state health officials, saying they were essentially imprisoned based on politics and not any legal or scientific reason. 

A patient acquired Zika virus in the U.S. through sex with a person who had traveled to a place where the virus is circulating, Dallas County, Texas, health officials and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported Tuesday.

This is not the first time that the virus has been sexually transmitted, and it most likely isn't the first time it's been sexually transmitted in the U.S.

Lori Mack

 The race is on to develop a vaccine for the Zika virus, which has been linked to severe birth defects. Because the World Health Organization declared the virus a global health emergency it will open the door to more resources and funding. 

The World Health Organization has declared the cluster of microcephaly associated with the spread of the Zika virus to be a public health emergency of international concern — a designation reserved for an"extraordinary event" that is "serious, unusual or unexpected."

Dr. Margaret Chan, the WHO's director-general, said during a press briefing Monday that an international coordinated response was needed to improve mosquito control as well as to expedite the development of tests that detect the Zika virus.

Keoni Cabral / Creative Commons

The Michigan Civil Rights Commission announced it will hold hearings to see whether discrimination played a role in the handling of Flint’s water crisis. The decision came early last week, amid allegations of environmental racism against the city’s largely black community.

This hour -- from Flint, Michigan to New Haven, Connecticut -- we learn about the environmental justice issues affecting America's low-income communities of color. 

Jeff Cohen / WNPR

With rising concern about the spread of the Zika virus, Connecticut Senator Richard Blumenthal is calling for more federal funding for research into a vaccine, and said avoiding travel to affected regions isn't enough.

A human study of Zika virus vaccine could begin as early as this year, U.S. health officials told reporters Thursday.

But the officials cautioned that it could be years before the vaccine is available for wide use.

The news came as the Zika virus continues to spread through the Americas. Still, a large outbreak is seen as unlikely in the U.S.

Novartis AG/flickr creative commons

President Obama called for urgent action against the Zika virus this week. Meanwhile, one Brazilian virologist at the University of Connecticut has been hard at work in the development of a vaccine. 

The outbreak of Zika virus in Brazil and other countries has raised concern that the pathogen could start spreading widely in the United States, as well. But federal health officials and other infectious disease specialists say so far that seems unlikely.