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Morning Rounds

The latest on the Ebola outbreak in the DRC

Health officials say they’ve documented 43 cases of Ebola — 13 confirmed and 30 probable — in the new outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. There have been 33 deaths, including two health care workers. The WHO and the country’s health ministry have deployed doctors, epidemiologists, and other experts to North Kivu and Ituri provinces, where cases have been reported. But the response will be challenging, since North Kivu province is home to more than 1 million displaced people and there’s ongoing conflict in the area. Last week, the WHO's Dr. Peter Salama told STAT that the outbreak will be "much more complex, I think, and much tougher than the last outbreak to contain."

More people sickened in outbreak linked to salads

The number of people sickened in an outbreak linked to salads sold at McDonald’s restaurants continues to climb. The CDC says 395 people in 15 states have fallen ill with cyclosporiasis, an intestinal illness caused by contaminated food. There have been 16 hospitalizations and no reported deaths. McDonald's says it has replaced its salad supplier in the affected states. The FDA analyzed an unopened package of Fresh Express salad mix with romaine and carrots — the type distributed at McDonald’s — and confirmed it contained Cyclospora. Now, the agency is looking into the distribution and supplier information to try to pinpoint the source. The FDA says there’s no evidence so far that the outbreak is linked to another Cyclospora outbreak tied to Del Monte vegetable trays.

Inside STAT: Hunting for ALS genes along a sprawling family tree

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Meghann Bruno Svec and Dr. K draw blood from Tinsley Keyes during the Keyes family reunion at Harrogate City Park. (ALEX SLITZ FOR STAT)

STAT's Eric Boodman is out with a compelling new story about a decades-long hunt in Appalachia to understand the genetic roots of ALS, a devastating neuromuscular disease that causes progressive paralysis. One corner of the region runs thicker with a particular form of inherited ALS than almost anywhere else. Neurologist Edward Kasarskis and genealogist Debby Taylor have traced those cases for years to create The Scroll, a sweeping family tree with roughly 6,700 names, eight generations, two intertwined families, and a lot of ALS. Eric and photographer Alex Slitz accompanied Dr. K and Taylor on a road trip from Kentucky to Tennessee for a family reunion, where the researchers hoped to collect blood for their research and add new names to The Scroll. Read the story here.

Smoke exposure among teens tied to respiratory trouble

Teens exposed to tobacco smoke are at an increased risk of experiencing respiratory trouble such as shortness of breath, according to a new study published in Pediatrics. Researchers analyzed health data from 7,389 teens who didn’t smoke or have asthma, but who lived with a smoker, were exposed at home to smoke, or had been exposed to smoke for an hour or more elsewhere within the past week. Smoke exposure was associated with a higher risk of shortness of breath, wheezing during or after exercise, and a dry cough at night. Those potential problems could affect a large number of teens — the researchers estimate that 35 percent of non-smoking, non-asthmatic teens have been exposed to smoke for an hour or more in the past week.

How can health care centers become more inclusive?

Diversifying the health care workforce is a critical goal in health care centers and schools across the country — and a new study points to ways for health care organizations to improve their own inclusivity. Researchers sent out a call for stories about inclusion — or a lack thereof — to hospitals, health sciences schools, and outpatient facilities in 2016. They got answers from staff, students, faculty, and even a handful of health care execs. Their findings echoed the importance of empowering both bystanders and victims to speak up about discrimination and incivility, educating health care professionals on unconscious biases, and diversifying leadership.

New tool captures cell activity with the help of heavy water

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Now you know what's going on inside a mouse's sweat gland. (Min lab / columbia)

Scientists have created a cool new imaging tool that aims to track changes in living cells. The tool relies on a substance called heavy water, which is, true to its name, a heavier version of water. It can be metabolized by cells and form bonds with the carbon in protein, lipids, and DNA. When those bonds are hit with light, they vibrate at a unique frequency, which allows researchers to identify whether something is a protein, lipid, or DNA. In new research published in Nature Communications, scientists say they gave mice and roundworms a sip of heavy water, aimed a laser at their tissue, and were able to watch lipids, proteins, and DNA in action.

What to read around the web today

  • Dear Atul Gawande: As you go on your listening tour, don’t forget about mental health. STAT 
  • Somebody added cow’s milk to Almond Breeze, FDA says, sparking a recall in 28 states. Washington Post
  • Juul built an e-cigarette empire. Its popularity with teens threatens its future. CNBC
  • Digital technologies hold the key to streamlining and improving clinical trials. STAT

Thanks for reading! More tomorrow,

Megan

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Monday, August 6, 2018

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