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Saturday, December 10, 2016

This Week In Health: Beware Of Brain-Eating Amoebas

This Week In Health: Beware Of Brain-Eating Amoebas

“This Week In Health” offers some highlights from the world of health news and wellness tips that you may have missed this week:

  • Naegleria fowleri — more memorably known as the “brain-eating amoeba” — is a rare, lethal swimmer’s affliction that has been in the news lately. The amoeba affects people who swim in contaminated pools and freshwater lakes and ponds — it crawls up their nose and causes an infection that destroys brain tissue. A California woman died last week of the infection; a Minnesota boy this week may be the latest victim, indicating that the amoeba — typically found in warmer climates — is inching north. To avoid infection, Centers for Disease Control advises swimmers “to avoid lakes, rivers and hot springs during heat waves or periods of low water levels.”
  • Screening for diseases could get a lot easier and lot less invasive soon. Researchers claim to have developed a “laserlyzer” (laser breathalyzer) that can analyze the contents of a cloud of gas (or breath) for disease and infection — essentially a device for “sniffing” out illness. Fittingly, the researchers are describing it as an “optical dog’s nose.”
  • According to both the FDA and the CDC, heroin addiction is up in the United States. A new report says “that 2.6 out of every 1,000 U.S. residents 12 and older used heroin in the years 2011 to 2013. That’s a 63 percent increase in the rate of heroin use since the years 2002 to 2004.” CDC Director Tom Frieden, MD, MPH, says the surge in heroin use is “driven by both the prescription opioid epidemic and cheaper, more available heroin.”

Photo: Iqbal Osman via Flickr

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