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Monday, April 16, 2018

Morning Rounds by Megan Thielking
Happy Monday, everyone! Here's what you need to know about health and medicine this morning. 

The agenda at this week's "disease detectives" meeting

The CDC’s “disease detectives” are getting together this week to talk about the most pressing issues in public health at the annual Epidemic Intelligence Service conference. And this year, four disease detectives are delivering the CDC’s version of TED Talks on their investigations. The topics they’ll touch on: using geographic information to carry out vaccination campaigns, preventing HIV in men who have sex with men in rural America, studying the lack of nutritious food for people in prison, and tracking and testing for Legionella, the bacteria that causes Legionnaires' disease.

Health officials struggle to pinpoint source of E. coli outbreak

Health officials are still searching for the culprit behind an E. coli outbreak that’s sickened 35 people in 11 states. The outbreak has been linked to store-bought bags of chopped romaine lettuce that was grown near Yuma, Arizona, but the CDC hasn’t been able to pinpoint a common supplier or distributor that’s to blame. Of the 35 people infected, 22 have been hospitalized, three of whom developed kidney failure. The CDC’s recommendations while the investigation continues: Throw away store-bought bags of chopped romaine at home and don’t order salads with romaine at restaurants unless you can confirm it wasn’t grown in the Yuma area.

New tools aim to accelerate cancer research

Researchers have unveiled two cool new tools that aim to accelerate cancer research. St. Jude Children's Research Hospital Hospital, Microsoft, and DNAnexus teamed up to create a new platform called the St. Jude Cloud that houses genomic data from more than 5,000 pediatric cancer patients and survivors. And at the Broad Institute, researchers have built an online portal that makes it easy for scientists to analyze data on the genetic characteristics and molecular features of cancer. They hope the Cancer Dependency Map can help scientists come up with new therapies that target the vulnerabilities of cancer cells. Researchers presented both platforms at this week’s American Association of Cancer Research conference.

Sponsor content by Cancer Research Institute

Breathing new life into lung cancer treatment, new research to be presented at AACR Annual Meeting

Global efforts to improve the immunotherapy landscape continue to reinvent cancer care. “Today’s upcoming “Immunotherapy Combinations” session is a prime example of how the oncology community is coming together to drive innovative science forward into transformational patient care,” explains Jill O'Donnell-Tormey, Ph.D., chief executive officer and director of scientific affairs, Cancer Research Institute. Learn more about CRI’s mission and the efforts they are taking to cure all cancers through immunotherapy research.

Inside STAT: Ebola vaccine appears to provide long-lasting protection

A woman receives an Ebola vaccination in 2015 at a health center in Conakry, Guinea. (CELLOU BINANI/AFP/GETTY IMAGES)

An international group of researchers says an Ebola vaccine seems to protect people against the virus two years after they received the injection. That's welcome news for both the vaccine's manufacturer, Merck, and for the public health community as a whole. A fast-acting, long-lasting vaccine that only requires a single dose would be a helpful tool when it comes to controlling dangerous Ebola outbreaks. "This is really good news because this vaccine is destined for places where logistics are very difficult," said Dr. Angela Hutter, the lead author of a new paper on the vaccine's long-term efficacy. STAT's Helen Branswell has more here

Fish oil supplements don't help dry eyes

Doctors often recommend fish oil supplements to combat dry eyes, but a new study finds they don’t do much to help. About 14 percent of adults in the U.S. have difficulty with dry eyes, a problem that’s linked to inflammation. Some physicians have assumed that if omega-3 fatty acids could reduce inflammation elsewhere in the body, they might be a good treatment for dry eyes, too. But in the new study, researchers gave 500 people a fish oil pill or a placebo each day and found that after one year, there wasn’t any difference in dry eye symptoms between the two groups.

Food poisoning cases can cost restaurants millions

An outbreak of foodborne illness can run up a million-dollar tab for restaurants, according to a new analysis. Public health researchers calculated the potential costs of legal fees, lost revenue, inspection costs, and staff training for different food poisoning scenarios. By their estimates, a single listeria outbreak could cost upwards of $2.5 million for a fast food restaurant or $2.6 million for a “fine dining” establishment. That suggests it might be worth it to take cheaper steps to prevent illness, like giving sick workers time off.

Even the perception of illness at a restaurant can cost restaurants money: Last week, stock prices for McDonald’s fell after health officials in Kentucky announced they were investigating a single case of hepatitis A in an employee who handled food. The health department said the risk to customers was “very low.”

What to read around the web today

  • How profiteers lure women into often-unneeded surgery. New York Times
  • Puerto Rico's slow-going recovery means new hardship for dialysis patients. Kaiser Health News
  • Abortion foes seize on chance to overturn Roe. Politico

More reads from STAT

The latest from STAT Plus

Thanks for reading! More tomorrow,

Megan

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