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Morning Rounds Megan Thielking

Attackers set fire to another Ebola treatment center

An Ebola treatment center in the Democratic Republic of the Congo was set on fire by gun-wielding attackers yesterday, just days after another facility was also torched. Both facilities were run by Doctors Without Borders, also known as MSF, which denounced the attack as "deplorable." The Congolese Ministry of Health said all the medical staff were safe and unharmed, as were all the patients who remained in the facility. But health workers are seeking four confirmed and 32 suspected cases who fled amid the attack. The Ebola outbreak is the second largest on record, with more than 875 people infected and more than 550 dead. 

Federal report faults New Jersey facility where viral outbreak killed 11 children

A federal report blames the leaders of a New Jersey long-term care facility for not responding quickly enough to a viral outbreak that killed 11 pediatric patients. According to the New Jersey Record’s review of the report, the administrators at Wanaque Center for Nursing and Rehabilitation didn't have a federally mandated plan for how to handle an outbreak. The report also found the pediatric medical director didn't know the requirements of his role and initially thought the state was “overreacting” until he learned the infections were caused by an adenovirus and had already killed four children. The facility's administrator Rowena Bautista claims the report is "riddled with factual inaccuracies" and says the center will appeal its findings. 

Psychologists push government to review research marijuana applications 

The American Psychological Association is urging the federal government to deal with the backlog of applications to grow marijuana for scientific research. The University of Mississippi has long been the only site allowed to grow marijuana for research, but the DEA announced in 2016 it would consider licensing new suppliers. It got more than two dozen applications — but the APA says those have been "languishing" at the Department of Justice. "Scientific research cannot hope to keep pace with the ever expanding recreational and medicinal cannabis marketplace" without access to more approved cannabis products, the APA writes in a letter to U.S. Attorney General William Barr.

Inside STAT: Progress on HIV in the U.S. has stalled

On the heels of President Trump's pledge to stem the U.S. HIV epidemic, a new federal report finds that the gradual declines in HIV infections have stalled. The number of new HIV infections each year has stayed steady at roughly 39,000 cases each since 2013, according to the CDC report. Before that, the numbers had dropped each year for about half a decade. The report comes as the Trump administration gears up for its plan to cut new HIV infections by 90 percent within the next decade. Among the steps health officials have said are key to that effort: diagnosing and treating people as early as possible. STAT's Andrew Joseph has the story here

Rare disease patients raise awareness at NIH

Patients with rare diseases are headed to the NIH today to raise awareness about their conditions among researchers and policymakers. An estimated 30 million people across the U.S. have a rare disease, which means it affects fewer than 200,000 people, according to the U.S. definition. One idea on the agenda at the NIH’s Rare Disease Day: tapping into data from patient registries. Collecting and analyzing data from as many patients as possible could help researchers better understand both the diseases and how they affects patients’ lives.

Scientists sequence Lil Bub's genome

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go cats. (Robin Marchant / Getty Images for Tribeca Film Festival)

Celebrity cat Lil Bub has published a book, helped raise money for animals in need, and racked up 2 million Instagram followers  — and now, she’s had her genome sequenced, Science reports. Lil Bub has short limbs, bonus toes, and a tongue that’s always sticking out. The people of the internet crowdfunded $8,000 so geneticists could figure out what, exactly, makes Lil Bub so special. They found two notable mutations, including one in a gene associated in mice and humans with osteopetrosis, which causes short stature and dense bones.

A potential new way to curb malaria's spread

New research points to a potential way to prevent the spread of malaria, which kills 400,000 people each year. Bed nets are often treated with insecticide to kill malaria-carrying mosquitoes, but the insects can grow resistant to the chemicals. So researchers came up with another approach: Coat the surfaces mosquitoes land on with a substance that stops them from developing the parasites that cause malaria. The researchers found the chemical, atovaquone, could be absorbed through a mosquito’s legs. They say that suggests coating bed nets with atovaquone could curb malaria’s spread, particularly in areas with high rates of insecticide resistance.

What to read around the web today

  • For Novartis, the Michael Cohen affair just won’t stay dead. STAT
  • 'Miraculous' stem cell therapy has sickened people in five states. Washington Post
  • New study finds no link between flu shots and miscarriages, allaying fears. STAT
  • Eli Lilly's hazy memory about its history of cannabis growing. Indianapolis Monthly
  • Storing health records on your phone: Can Apple live up to its privacy values? NPR

Thanks for reading! More tomorrow,

Megan

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Thursday, February 28, 2019

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