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Friday, February 9, 2018

Morning Rounds by Megan Thielking

Good morning, everyone. Here's what you need to know about health and medicine this morning. 

The merry-go-round of government shutdowns

While you were sleeping, the federal government shut down — but the whole thing is already over. The House just passed a sweeping budget bill, 240 to 186, following the Senate's vote to pass the bill earlier this morning. The Senate vote was pushed past midnight — which is when funding from the stopgap spending bill passed last month ran out — amid a protest over the budget deficits from Sen. Rand Paul, a Kentucky Republican. 

The bill, which keeps the government funded through March 23, includes money to combat the opioid crisis, improve mental health care, and provide aid to victims of last year's hurricanes and wildfires. It also funds the Children’s Health Insurance Program for 10 years and community health centers for two years. 

Everyone is trying to avoid norovirus at the Winter Olympics

The Winter Olympics are officially underway — as is a norovirus outbreak in sites around the sporting events in South Korea. There have been dozens of confirmed cases of the nasty stomach bug, which can cause vomiting, diarrhea, and stomach pain. Volunteers are doling out hand sanitizer. The New York Times reports that anyone looking to lunch in the athletes' village cafeteria has to take a pump of hand sanitizer before heading toward the buffet.

One interesting tidbit about health care at the Olympics: There's a crew of volunteer doctors that care for the world's elite athletes for free. 

Black men are disproportionately disqualified from prostate cancer trials

Black men are more likely to develop prostate cancer and die from the disease than their peers in other racial groups — but they’re vastly underrepresented in clinical trials for prostate cancer treatment and care. Now, a new study suggests that lab tests might be partly to blame. Researchers looked at 401 prostate cancer clinical trials and found that more than half used lab results from two tests — serum creatinine and absolute neutrophil counts — to determine a patient’s eligibility for a trial. The problem: Those results can vary by race. The study’s authors say researchers running trials need to adjust those results for race, or else they run the risk of disproportionately disqualifying black men from research.

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Inside STAT: Raising genetically modified mosquitoes in a trailer 

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A Biologist releases genetically modified mosquitoes in Piracicaba, Brazil. (VICTOR MORIYAMA/GETTY IMAGES)

From its gleaming, year-old factory in southeast Brazil, Oxitec has built a thriving business releasing tens of millions of genetically engineered mosquitoes to protect populations from illnesses like dengue, chikungunya, and Zika. But the company sees its future not just in big factories, but in a new business model centered on miniature labs. They're structures the size of shipping containers with all the equipment needed to raise and release mosquitoes. Oxitec has already deployed one, and in coming months hopes to finalize contracts with another handful of Brazilian cities — possibly making disease eradication more affordable nationwide. STAT’s Lev Facher visited the factory and has more details on Oxitec’s big plans — read here.

Please don't drink raw milk

This is your regular reminder to steer clear of raw milk. Health officials report that a 2016 outbreak of Campylobacter jejuni bacteria — which was resistant to several antibiotics — has been linked to raw milk from a dairy share in Colorado. At least 17 people who drank raw milk from the dairy share became sick, and 12 of those were confirmed to have that particular type of bacteria, which can cause gastrointestinal issues and in some cases, more severe illness. The CDC calls raw milk a “risky food.” (And that trendy "raw water" isn’t safe, either.)

How common are head injuries among kids?

More than 8 percent of boys and nearly 6 percent of girls have had a significant head injury at some point in their lives, according to new numbers released by the CDC. Researchers surveyed parents of kids age 3 to 17 in 2016 and found that the percentage of kids who've had a significant head injury climbs with age, with 12 percent of children ages 15 to 17 having had at least one in their lifetime. The majority of those kids have only had one significant head injury, but nearly 20 percent had experienced multiple, which is certainly cause for concern.

What to read around the web today

  • Sex harassment can make victims physically sick, studies show. Washington Post
  • Donald Trump wrongly suggests British don't love their health care system. Politifact
  • Bacteria-infected mosquitoes might be good thing for Miami. AP

More reads from STAT

The latest from STAT Plus

Thanks for reading! Back first thing Monday morning, 

Megan

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