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Morning Rounds Shraddha Chakradhar

N.Y. county ends monthslong measles state of emergency

Rockland County, N.Y., which famously placed an emergency ban on unvaccinated children in public spaces following a measles outbreak, is ending its state of emergency. In an announcement yesterday, the county officials said that emergency — which expired at midnight on Thursday after being in effect since March — was ending because cases have been steadily dropping over the past three months. But the county’s outbreak is not yet over: 283 measles cases were recorded since October last year, with the latest case added this week. A spokesperson for the county told me that the “outbreak itself cannot be declared over until 42 days after the last reporte[d] case.” Nationally, four states are dealing with measles outbreaks, and more than 1,100 cases have been reported this year. 

Juul CEO says its e-cigarettes were never intended for teens

All eyes were on James Monsees, e-cigarette company Juul’s co-founder and chief product officer, during a House Oversight and Reform subcommittee hearing yesterday on the sharp rise in teen vaping. Although Monsees said Juul’s goal is to help adult tobacco cigarette smokers quit, Juul’s flavor offerings and marketing on social media have been blamed for attracting large numbers of teens and other young people to e-cigarettes, a phenomenon that the subcommittee chairman called “an unparalleled and unprecedented challenge.” Monsees maintained that it was never Juul’s intention to target underage youth. Lawmakers also drew comparisons between Juul and tobacco company Philip Morris International, especially on product  labeling. “Juul Labs isn’t Big Tobacco,” Monsees said. “The last thing we want to do is be confused with any tobacco company.” 

More than 1 in 10 news websites promote unfounded health claims 

Roughly 1 in 10 news websites analyzed by NewsGuard, a project launched by longtime journalists Steven Brill and Gordon Crovitz, feature misinformation about health. NewsGuard analyzed nearly 3,000 websites that account for 96% of how Americans consume news, and found that 11% provided news with health misinformation, including references to the debunked link between vaccines and autism. NewsGuard also has a system of rating sites based on reliability, and of the sites considered somewhat unreliable, nearly 40% publish false or unfounded health claims. The findings are especially concerning because these sites accounted for more than 49 million social media engagements — higher than for more reputable news sources such as Forbes, NPR, or Business Insider.

Inside STAT: WHO makes plans for reduced doses of Ebola vaccine if needed

A man receives the Ebola vaccine in Goma in the DRC. (PAMELA TULIZO/AFP/GETTY IMAGES)

The WHO is working on contingency plans for how and when to lower the amount of Ebola vaccine being administered in the DRC, in case supplies run low. If the outbreak, which was recently declared a public health emergency of international concern, keeps up at its current pace, the half a million doses that are currently available will last long enough until the vaccine maker Merck can provide fresh stock early next year. But if the situation were to get significantly worse, supplies of the vaccine could tap out before the end of the year. STAT’s Helen Branswell has more here.

Genetics papers retracted at much higher rates than other life sciences papers

The retraction rate for scientific articles found on the life sciences studies database PubMed is around 0.02%, but a new study finds that the retraction rate for genetics studies is nearly eight times higher. Roughly 975,000 genetics papers were published between 1996 and 2017, but 1,476 genetics papers were retracted, for a rate of roughly 0.15%. Looking back at genetics studies from 1970 to 2018, the study authors also found that more non-medical genetics papers were retracted than medical genetics studies, although medical papers were more likely to be investigated. Research misconduct in the form of duplication was the major reason for retraction in the studies, and the authors suggest improvements in imaging technology could be one reason why it’s easier to create falsified images that are also difficult for journals to detect. 

More people dying from wasp and bee stings 

Here’s some interesting data from the CDC: The number of people dying from bee and wasp stings is on the rise. Between 2001 and 2017, the number of people who died from a sting doubled, from 43 to 89. Approximately 80% of these deaths were in males. Although the CDC data didn’t specify, most people who die as a result of bee and wasp stings are allergic to the poison released by the insect and go into anaphylaxis. The CDC report also didn’t delve into what could have caused this increase in stings, although some reports have suggested that a warming climate could mean that wasps, which usually don’t survive cold winters, could be sticking around for longer. All of which to say, be careful outdoors this weekend! 

What to read around the web today

  • Few medical journals disclose conflicts held by their own editorial teams. STAT Plus
  • The keto moment: The extreme diet phenomenon may offer clues on how nutrition can treat disease.. Vox
  • Curious cure: Human waste. Knowable Magazine
  • Soon there will be unlimited hair. The Atlantic
  • A doctor's deception: Greed, betrayal and medical misconduct at North York General. Toronto Life

Enjoy the weekend! See you Monday! 


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Friday, July 26, 2019


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