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Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Morning Rounds by Megan Thielking

Good morning, folks, and welcome to the Morning Rounds. I'm here to get you ahead of today's news in science and medicine. 

GOP takes swing over Zika funding as Florida investigates a worrying case

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell took a swing at Democrats for failing to approve emergency funds to fight the Zika virus in his convention speech last night. But as STAT's David Nather points out, the Republican-controlled Senate failed twice to bring a bill to the table that would rally enough support to pass. 

McConnell's remarks come at a time of growing concern — health officials in Florida are investigating what could be the first case of Zika virus in the continental US to come from a local mosquito. There've been more than 1,300 cases of Zika virus in the US, but most of those were tied to travel to Zika-infected areas, Drew Joseph reports

Professor brings idea to eradicate Lyme disease to Martha's Vineyard

This morning, biochemist Kevin Esvelt brings his idea to eradicate Lyme disease by releasing genetically modified mice to Martha's Vineyard. It's also an experiment in getting a community involved in science that would have large effects on shared environments. The MIT professor will meet in the morning with health staff from the Vineyard's different towns. Esvelt will spend the afternoon with the public in a town hall, to see if they would be interested in participating in this project. Esvelt gave a similar presentation on Nantucket last month.

Are a star chef's classes changing fruit and veggie consumption?

Could the secret to a healthy diet be in the knife-calloused hands of a Food Network star? A new study to be published in Public Health Nutrition finds that participants in celeb chef Jamie Oliver’s cooking classes eat more fruits and veggies after having taken the class. Researchers surveyed 462 participants in the UK before they took the class and again six months out. Participants' daily servings of fruit and veggies jumped from 2.7 to 4.1 servings during that time. The study wasn’t funded by Jamie Oliver, though he’ll surely toast to the findings.

sponsor content by oliver wyman health

Paging Dr. Amazon: Personalized recommendation engines are coming  

What if consumers were as open to personalized recommendations from health companies as they are to those from Amazon? Healthcare companies are testing this – and the limits of digital engagement – by repurposing innovations of online retailers. The potential impact? More than $500 billion a year in healthcare savings, according to a new analysis from Oliver Wyman first published in Harvard Business Review online. Explore more on this topic in a new series at Oliver Wyman Health. Sign up for future digital health updates here.

Inside STAT: Even with a third round of cancer, I'll get to say goodbye

Steve Buttry is facing his third bout with cancer. First diagnosed with colon cancer in 1999, Buttry now has pancreatic cancer. But he doesn't want to steep in sorrow over his own illness. He's being given the chance to say goodbye to the people he loves, an opportunity that's not afforded to everyone, he says. Read his First Opinion on saving his anger and sorrow here

Newly studied mosquitoes aren't able to spread Zika 

A digitally-colorized micrograph of the Zika virus. (Cynthia Goldsmith/CDC)

Some good news on the Zika front: Scientists from the University of Wisconsin, Madison, have found that two mosquito species found throughout large swaths of the United States can’t pass the virus to people. Culex pipiens mosquitoes — which spread West Nile virus — weren't able to contract Zika after feeding on infected mouse blood, according to the report. The species Aedes triseriatus, on the other hand, was susceptible to infection but still wasn’t able to pass the virus on. Other mosquitoes need to be studied as potential vectors for Zika. 

Wave of new attacks hit Syrian hospitals

A series of attacks has devastated hospitals in Syria in the past week, pushing the total number of attacks on Syrian health care facilities to 40 just this year, the WHO says. Two hospitals in Aleppo and one in Idlib were attacked, killing at least four people and injuring a number of medical staffers. At this point, WHO officials say, 60 percent of public hospitals in the country have been partially or completely shuttered. For a picture of what it’s like to be one of the doctors left practicing in Syria, read this.

What happens when you're itching to scratch a bug bite

From an itchy nose to a scratchy sunburn, new research indicates that our various kinds of itch share common roots. Previously, scientists thought that two calcium channels — TRPV4 and TRPV1 — each controlled one type of itch sensation. But in a new study in mice they’ve discovered that’s not the case. “The interesting part is that two different channels work in concert to transmit itch information,” study author Zhou-feng Chen of Washington University in St. Louis told me. Chen and her colleagues hope that cutting back the function of either channel could provide a target for anti-itch therapies.

What to read around the web today

  • Millions of women are injured during childbirth. Why aren't doctors diagnosing them? Cosmopolitan 
  • A hospital is changing its menu after administrators ate the food for a week. Motherboard
  • A member of Theranos' advisory board on why he still believes in the company. The Hill

More reads from STAT

Thanks for reading! More tomorrow,

Megan

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