Category: Health

82-year-old man missing for three-days — drone pilot finds him in 20 minutes

Drone

A search involving dogs, a helicopter and hundreds of volunteers came to a happy conclusion after a drone owner lent his gadget to the efforts.

The case for consumer drones got a boost after an amateur pilot ended a search-and-rescue effort last weekend by locating a missing ophthalmologist, who suffers from dementia, in a bean field in Wisconsin.

David Lesh, who normally uses the drone to make videos for his ski and snowboard business in Colorado, says he decided to try and help after learning of the search while visiting his girlfriend.

“I never thought that I would be using it to find somebody,” Lesh told NBC, saying he spotted 82-year-old Guillermo DeVenecia, who was found shoeless but unharmed, in 20 minutes after scoping a 200-acre field from the air.

The help from Lesh and his drone spared volunteers hours of trudging through a muddy field, and ended a three-day effort that had involved search dogs, a helicopter and hundreds of people.

The incident may also put additional pressure on the FAA to review its policy on the use of drones, many of which weigh under five pounds. The aviation regulator has so far taken a hard line on drones, banning their commercial use altogether, and ordering a well-known Texas-based search-and-rescue organization to ground its drones (the Texas group has since defied the order after a recent court ruling).

A significant portion of resistance to personal drone use is based on concerns for dangerous, intrusive or creepy use of the hardware and cameras. Like any reasonable geek, I think there are plenty of laws already on the books dealing with dangerous, intrusive or creepy behavior. No need for additional rules governing utilization of technology.

If behavior is unlawful — use existing law and make an arrest.

About these ads

The hardest places to live in the United States

Healthy & wealthy or struggling
Click for interactive map at article site

Annie Lowrey writes in the Times Magazine this week about the troubles of Clay County, Ky., which by several measures is the hardest place in America to live.

The Upshot came to this conclusion by looking at six data points for each county in the United States: education (percentage of residents with at least a bachelor’s degree), median household income, unemployment rate, disability rate, life expectancy and obesity. We then averaged each county’s relative rank in these categories to create an overall ranking…

We used disability — the percentage of the population collecting federal disability benefits but not also collecting Social Security retirement benefits — as a proxy for the number of working-age people who don’t have jobs but are not counted as unemployed. Appalachian Kentucky scores especially badly on this count; in four counties in the region, more than 10 percent of the total population is on disability, a phenomenon seen nowhere else except nearby McDowell County, W.Va.

Remove disability from the equation, though, and eastern Kentucky would still fare badly in the overall rankings. The same is true for most of the other six factors.

The exception is education. If you exclude educational attainment, or lack of it, in measuring disadvantage, five counties in Mississippi and one in Louisiana rank lower than anywhere in Kentucky. This suggests that while more people in the lower Mississippi River basin have a college degree than do their counterparts in Appalachian Kentucky, that education hasn’t improved other aspects of their well-being

At the other end of the scale, the different variations on our formula consistently yielded the same result. Six of the top 10 counties in the United States are in the suburbs of Washington…but the top ranking of all goes to Los Alamos County, N.M., home of Los Alamos National Laboratory, which does much of the scientific work underpinning the U.S. nuclear arsenal. The lab directly employs one out of every five county residents and has a budget of $2.1 billion; only a fraction of that is spent within the county, but that’s still an enormous economic engine for a county of just 18,000 people.

RTFA for details and differences. Poisonally, I think including Los Alamos is an anomaly. All it proves is the American way to achieve the highest per capita income is through a subsidy dedicated to death and destruction.

The broader implication of this study is that the end result of the ideology and bigotries of the Confederacy is poverty, ignorance and ill health. As expected.

Summertime – visit your favorite swimming hole, be attacked by brain-eating amoebas

Kansas health officials are urging swimmers to take extra care in warm freshwater, which could be home to millions of microscopic killers.

A 9-year-old Johnson County girl is the latest victim of Naegleria fowleri, a brain-eating amoeba that lurks in warm, standing water. The girl died July 9 from primary amoebic meningoencephalitis, an extremely rare but almost invariably fatal brain infection…

Naegleria fowleri enters the body through the nose, causing a severe frontal headache, fever, nausea and vomiting, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Early symptoms give way to seizures, confusion and hallucinations as the amoeba migrates through the nasal cavity to the brain.

“After the start of symptoms, the disease progresses rapidly and usually causes death within about five days,” the CDC website reads.

Of 132 people infected with Naegleria fowleri in the United States between 1962 and 2013, only three have survived, according to the CDC. One survivor, a 12-year-old girl infected in 2013, was diagnosed early and treated with “therapeutic hypothermia” and the experimental drug miltefosine.

“Her recovery has been attributed to early diagnosis and treatment,” the CDC website reads.

But spotting the signs of the infection is tricky, because tests to detect the rare infection are “available in only a few laboratories in the United States,” according to the CDC…

The infection is most common in 15 southern-tier states, “with more than half of all infections occurring in Texas and Florida,” the CDC’s website reads. Three-quarters of all U.S. cases have been linked to swimming in freshwater lakes and rivers, but infections have also been associated with slip-n-slides, bathtubs and neti pots, according to the agency.

The infection is not contagious and can’t be contracted from a properly chlorinated pool or saltwater, according to the CDC.

Eeoough!

Thanks, Mike

E.R. ready to open at site that used to offer a full-service hospital


Christopher Gregory/New York Times

Residents of the West Village will soon see something unusual arriving at the shiplike building on Seventh Avenue that used to house part of St. Vincent’s Hospital: ambulances.

Four years after St. Vincent’s closed, the hulking white building, between West 12th and West 13th Streets, is reopening in the coming days, not as a hospital, but as a free-standing emergency room.

“We’ve given back the community the No. 1 thing we think the community needed the most when St. Vincent’s Hospital closed,” said Dr. Warren B. Licht, the medical affairs director for the new emergency room, which will be run by the North Shore-Long Island Jewish Health System.

The new E.R., however, is part of a trend that has as much to do with a hospital’s bottom line as it does with providing acute care.

Free-standing emergency rooms — which are distinct from urgent care centers, which treat non-life-threatening illnesses and injuries at low cost — have sprouted up around the country in recent years, driven by competition to capture lucrative markets, like the neighborhoods around Greenwich Village.

They can bring in significant revenue, since they are allowed to charge the same high fees that hospitals charge while having lower overhead. And, since half of admissions come from the emergency room, free-standing E.R.s can funnel patient business to their parent hospitals…

Arthur Z. Schwartz, a local Democratic district leader who brought an unsuccessful suit to force the state to build a full-service hospital in the neighborhood, said that the HealthPlex “looks like a magnificent facility” but that he worried about its inability to treat the most acute cases.

“All it’s going to be capable of doing is attempting to stabilize someone while they stick them back in an ambulance and ship them off to a hospital,” he said…

Nationally, the first free-standing emergency rooms opened in the 1970s, mostly to serve rural areas that lacked access to emergency care. But the number of such emergency rooms has exploded in recent years, to more than 400.

“It used to be that just for-profit hospitals were starting this trend, but now academic medical centers are realizing that it is quite profitable, too,” said Dr. Renee Hsia, an associate professor of emergency medicine at the University of California, San Francisco.

Profits before people remains the watchword of American medicine, publicly-accessible healthcare.

My experience here in Santa Fe with the one urgent care facility I ever visited puts the lie to the concept of treatment at low-cost. Over $800 billing exceeded my Medicare + Medigap insurance at the time including a set of absolutely irrelevant X-rays for what turned out to be a sinus infection.

Forgive my skepticism; but, knowing a number of dedicated physicians who take their Hippocratic seriously says as little about the healthcare available in the United states as knowing a few ethical lawyers says about the American practice of law.

Hypocrite-of-the-week screams about unvaccinated migrants – opposes mandatory vaccination


Har!

Last week, Rep. Phil Gingrey wrote a letter to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention with a dire warning: Some of the child refugees streaming across the southern border into the United States might carry deadly diseases. “Reports of illegal immigrants carrying deadly diseases such as swine flu, dengue fever, Ebola virus and tuberculosis are particularly concerning,” Gingrey wrote. “Many of the children who are coming across the border also lack basic vaccinations such as those to prevent chicken pox or measles.”

Gingrey’s analysis carried an aura of credibility among conservatives, because, as Judicial Watch noted, the congressman is “also [a] medical doctor.” But his two-page letter is filled with false charges—there’s no evidence that migrants carry Ebola or that they’re less likely to be vaccinated—from an inconvenient messenger: The congressman has himself pushed legislation to discourage some kinds of mandatory vaccinations in the United States.

According to the World Health Organization, Ebola virus has only ever affected humans in sub-Saharan Africa. (It has been found in China and the Philippines, but has never caused an illness, let alone a fatality)…Gingrey’s misdiagnoses aren’t confined to Ebola. As the Texas Observer points out, when it comes to measles, children in Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras are more likely to be vaccinated than children in the United States. None of those countries have recorded an outbreak of measles in 24 years. Kids in Marin County are more at risk.

And in 2007, he wrote an amendment that would allow parents to block their children from receiving HPV vaccines, which are designed to combat cervical cancer.

Nothing new about today’s Republicans being as ethically corrupt as they are economically ignorant, socially and politically bigoted. Some – obviously including Congress-slime Gingrey – ignore conflicts between their record and their lies.

Geiger counters not discovering any terrorist dirty bombs – just radioactive goods from Japan!


300 radioactive Japanese cars stopped at Russian border

The Customs Department had detected radiation emanating from motor spare parts imported from Japan and the consignment was sent back to Japan.

Customs Media Spokesperson Leslie Gamini said that the radioactive chemical Caesium 137 was detected in the consignment at the Colombo [Sri Lanka] port…He said that equipment installed at the port to detect radiation materiel had detected the chemical emanating from the consignment.

The Customs spokesman said that residue of the chemical had been found from the spare parts and so the consignment was detained at the port and sent back.

He said the consignment had originated from a company operating from close proximity to the Fukushima nuclear power plant which was damaged in a massive earth quake in 2011.

The Customs Department said that while only a small amount of residue was found in the consignment, a major disaster was averted by ensuring the items did not enter the local market.

If you think this is a rare and unique happening, read on:

It certainly won’t be the first thing on the minds of Caribbean people when they wake up every day but there is clear evidence that radioactive material from the area in Japan where a nuclear power plant failed after a 2011 tsunami and earthquake is beginning to turn up among commercial imports to the region.

Last month, customs and other enforcement authorities in Jamaica intercepted and quarantined a 40-foot container of vehicle parts destined for the Caribbean trade bloc headquarter nation of Guyana after tests had shown elevated levels of contamination.

That the levels startled authorities into quarantining the container and preparing plans to return it forthwith to Japan is slowly beginning to bring regional customs officials to the reality that other contaminated imports might have slipped through their monitoring net in earlier months.

But that should not have been the case. In late 2012, Jamaican authorities also discovered a passenger mini bus with similarly high levels of radioactive material on a city pier and impounded it as well but that very incident has only now come to light after the transiting Guyana container made news headlines.

Health and customs officials in Guyana say they were only alerted to the fact that Jamaica had saved Guyanese car dealers and owners from actually and unknowingly handling contaminated parts when local Jamaican newspapers exposed the story in the past week.

That country has no Geiger Counter to measure or test imports from Japan or any other affected country for acceptable radiation levels…

Reflect upon the fact that paranoia over terrorists with imaginary superpowers convinced customs agencies around the world to raise capabilities for radiation detection. Those fearfilled delusions are now turning up real threats otherwise undetected because governments consider commercial goods free of danger.

Wonder how much radioactive crap from Chernobyl and other radioactive screw-ups ever crossed into the United States before Islamophobia prompted an upgrade in safety concerns?

Thanks, Mike

Desmond Tutu signals support for the right of people to assisted death


Tutu and Mandela — better days

Desmond Tutu has said he would support assisted dying for the terminally ill.

Writing in The Observer he said he reveres “the sanctity of life but not at any cost”…He also suggested that prolonging the life of Nelson Mandela had been an “affront” to his dignity.

His comments follow a U-turn by former Archbishop of Canterbury Lord Carey, who also said he would support assisted dying for the terminally ill…

In his column the 82-year-old retired Anglican Archbishop of South Africa said: “I think when you need machines to help you breathe, then you have to ask questions about the quality of life being experienced and about the way money is being spent.”

He also described as “disgraceful” how former South African leader Nelson Mandela was kept alive with intensive hospitalisation in the final stages of his life and was photographed with various visiting politicians.

He said: “You could see Madiba [Nelson Mandela] was not fully there. He did not speak. He was not connecting. My friend was no longer himself. It was an affront to Madiba’s dignity…

He said: “I have been fortunate to spend my life working for dignity for the living. Now I wish to apply my mind to the issue of dignity for the dying. I revere the sanctity of life – but not at any cost.”

His comments follow those of Lord Carey, who wrote in the Daily Mail that he had dropped his opposition to the Assisted Dying Bill – due for debate in the House of Lords on Friday – “in the face of the reality of needless suffering”…

In other countries, such as Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands, legislation has been introduced to allow assisted dying. France is considering a possible introduction of similar legislation, although there is opposition from its medical ethics council.

Campaign group Dignity in Dying predicts that a lot more countries will follow suit.

And, then, there is the United States. Caring for the almighty dollar supersedes all else.

We not only have a government lacking the courage to consider a critical question like this – we have barely been able to squeeze through a minimalist bill to care for the living. Tells you something about the definition of caring in our Homeland.

New Obamacare customers are happy


Click to enlarge

We’ve known for a few months now that lots of people signed up for health insurance this year in new marketplaces. A new survey shows that the people who did so are also pretty happy with their purchases.

The survey, from the Commonwealth Fund, a research group, came to similar conclusions as other surveys about the expansion of health insurance. It found that about 15 percent of adults younger than 65 now lack health insurance, down from 20 percent before the Affordable Care Act rolled out in January.

What was more surprising is that people who got the new coverage were generally happy with the product. Overall, 73 percent of people who bought health plans and 87 percent of those who signed up for Medicaid said they were somewhat or very satisfied with their new health insurance. Seventy-four percent of newly insured Republicans liked their plans. Even 77 percent of people who had insurance before — including members of the much-publicized group whose plans got canceled last year — were happy with their new coverage.

Larry Levitt, the senior vice president for special initiatives at the Kaiser Family Foundation, another research group that polls on the Affordable Care Act, said he wasn’t sure we’d see such high satisfaction so early

The Commonwealth poll appears to be the first national survey since the health-law passed to have gone beyond questions about insurance status and asked about satisfaction and usage.

Of course, since the article appears in the newest copout version of the NY TIMES, they meet the editorial requirement of stuffing the end of the article with beaucoup “what-ifs” just in case you might take a positive view – of a positive poll.

Perish the thought that changing times, a wee bit of change in politics as usual, might support even further movement in a population world-reknowned for ennui.

RTFA for more good news about legislation that benefits 99.9% of this nation.

Vials of deadly smallpox from 1950s found in federal storage

Stray vials of the deadly smallpox virus from the 1950s have been discovered at a federal lab near Washington, U.S. health officials said on Tuesday, the second lapse discovered in a month involving a deadly pathogen at a government facility.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that workers discovered the vials in a cardboard box on July 1 while clearing out an old lab on the National Institutes of Health campus in Bethesda, Maryland.

The six glass vials contained freeze-dried smallpox virus and were sealed with melted glass. The vials appeared intact and there is no evidence that lab workers or the general public are at risk…

The mishandling of smallpox follows the CDC’s recent mishap in which the agency believed it may have transferred live anthrax samples to a CDC lab that was not equipped to handle them, potentially exposing dozens of employees to the pathogen.

The CDC is testing the vials to see if the smallpox is viable and could make someone sick, said Skinner. After those tests, which could take up to two weeks, the samples will be destroyed, CDC spokesman Tom Skinner said…

The CDC said it has notified WHO about the discovery. If the specimens turn out to be viable, the CDC said it will invite the WHO to witness the destruction of the smallpox samples.

Skinner said the CDC is working with the Federal Bureau of Investigation to determine how and when the samples were prepared and how they came to be stored and forgotten in the FDA lab.

Infectious disease expert Dr. Michael Osterholm said the discovery of abandoned vials of smallpox is a reminder to labs globally to take stock of what is in their freezers.

I sense the plot for yet another less-than-stellar movie made for the SyFy Channel.

Thanks, Mike

Corneas regrown using adult stem cells


Shutterstock

Medical researchers working with human stem cells have discovered a way to improve regrowth of corneal tissue in the human eye. Using a molecule known as ABCB5 to act as an identifying marker for rare limbal stem cells, the researchers were able to use antibodies to detect ABCB5 on stem cells in tissue from donated human eyes and use them to regrow anatomically correct, fully functional human corneas in mice…

Up until now, the use of tissue or cell transplants to help the cornea regenerate have been used, but as it was both unknown whether there were actual limbal stem cells in the grafts, or how many, the outcomes were generally inconsistent.

As a result of this recent research, transplants have now been made in mice using human ABCB5-positive limbal stem cells that resulted in the restoration and long-term maintenance of normal, transparent corneas. Control mice that received either no cells or ABCB5-negative cells failed to have their cornea restored.

“Limbal stem cells are very rare, and successful transplants are dependent on these rare cells,” said Bruce Ksander, Ph.D., of Massachusetts Eye and Ear, co-lead author on the research. “This finding will now make it much easier to restore the corneal surface. It’s a very good example of basic research moving quickly to a translational application.”…one of the first known examples of constructing tissue from an adult-derived human stem cell.

Not only a potential boon for folks with diseases of the cornea – preventing blindness or restoring sight – I imagine this should aid folks with injury-damaged corneas.

Of course, the first question from an old fart like me is – when will this be covered by my medicare insurance? Don’t need it, yet – but, cataracts are pretty much inevitable. Only a question of how many, how fast are they growing? :)