Your Weekly World News in Public Health

Well, the ceiling's been falling in on me so I haven't been able to update as much as I'd like to, which is even more depressing considering there has been hyperactivity in the world of public health. Here are some highlights:

The Kaiser Family Foundation is every health policy afficionado's bible. It's the first place I look to see if I can find information nicely analyzed and relevant. A couple of weeks ago, they posted KFF's Health'08 site, which details, as much as possible, the health plans of the candidates for the 2008 presidential election. If you don't get information overload just viewing the main page, there's a lot of worthwhile stuff on there.

There isn't a super lot of information available at this point, but I think it is interesting which candidates have come out swinging (John Edwards, Barak Obama) when it comes to health care, and which haven't (Hillary "Once Burned Twice Shy" Clinton, Rudy Guilliani).

In other news, as if avian flu wasn't enough, it looks like we're headed toward a much more prolific West Nile Virus epidemic, so says the New York Times. People tend to freak out nowadays when they hear a mosquito bite could cause a potentially fatal infection. I tend to wonder why West Nile should be so frightening. After all, we've been fighting another, vastly more dangerous kind of mosquito-borne encephalitis for quite a while in the US.

Now, when I was a kid, I vividly remember cleaning out my grandmother's pantry after she died. There were quite a few, very old, and very swollen cans in there--I remember the fruit cans especially were on the point of bursting. At the time I was already morbidly fascinated enough about diseases to know about botulism, and I recall throwing those swollen, seeping cans into the garbage. What I didn't realise is how close I might have come to becoming infected with this disease. So for all you people who have been on Mars this week...for G-d's sake, throw out your cans of Castleberry Chili Sauce.

And you'll never get this in American news outlets, (why I love BBC), but six American medical students have graduated from a special program in Cuba that is free of charge and requires, snidely or no, that the graduates return to their communities to serve the underpriviledged. The program is actually offered to other, more impoverished nations as well. It is kind of ironic that Cuba and the Congressional Black Caucus seem to consider the United States as bad as, oh I don't know, Costa Rica or something.

Oh wait a second... for African-Americans, at least, they're actually right.

And finally, McGruff was right. Just say no to drugs--or a few years later you might be relying on the kindness of strangers when you get older, so says a recent study on how marijuana use increases the risk of psychosis later in life by 40 percent.

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