It’s that time of year again. The leaves are a-changing, there is a crispness in the air, and you’re finding it impossible to NOT purchase Halloween candy that you will inevitably eat and have to buy again anyway. Oh, and your local pharmacy, Facebook feed, tv, magazines, and just about any other media outlet are reminding you to go get your flu shot.
Just a day after reading about a woman in Nevada who died from a bacterial infection resistant to EVERY SINGLE antibiotic, I discovered that my sister had just finished a course of antibiotics for an upper respiratory infection known as pharyngitis. Not all that interesting until you consider that my sister had strep test-negative pharyngitis, meaning not caused by the bacteria Streptococcus. As my palm smacked my forehead in disbelief and I attempted to explain why taking antibiotics might not have been a great idea, I said to myself, “gosh darn it Heather, you’ve got a blog, go blog.” Continue reading Our Precious Antibiotics
It’s pretty safe to say that 2016 sucked a big one. Adding insult to injury, the worst day of the year for me (and likely many of you) just happened to fall on my birthday–November 9th. But, before we slam the door on this year (and look forward to next? ¯\_(ツ)_/¯), let’s reflect on some memorable science in the media in 2016. Continue reading Year-in-review
This NFL season should be full of intrigue. Will Ezekiel Elliot plow over all front lines? Will Jim Caldwell, Mike McCoy, and Gus Bradley still have their jobs at the end of the season? Will any AFC East team dethrone the 4-game Bradyless Patriots? Will Colin Kaepernick’s stance–or lack thereof–result in a season-long seat on the bench? Will mermaids rise from the ocean to cheer William Hayes and the newly relocated LA Rams?
I bet you thought this piece was going to be about concussions. Although that is an ever-present issue for football players, what I really want to discuss is Rams defensive end William Hayes’ anti-science diatribe on the HBO show Hard Knocks. Continue reading Hard knocks on science
National vaccination coverage statistics for adolescents (13-17 years old) were recently published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Wait, wasn’t this supposed to be a cancer blog? Oh, it is–the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine prevents infection by the HPV strains that cause cancer.
In 2015, 56% of adolescents had at least 1 dose of HPV vaccine, 45% had 2 doses, and 35% had all 3 doses required for maximal protection. In comparison for the same adolescent population, 87% had a Tdap vaccine and 81% had a meningococcal vaccine.
So why the low HPV vaccination rates? Continue reading Preventing cancer in our children
Epidemiologists say there’s little worry about the impact the Olympics will play in the spread of Zika virus. While that may be true–it is winter in Rio–the virus is not there for the Olympics. The growing number of locally acquired infections in Miami highlight how restricting our attention to big, flashy events like the Olympics does a disservice to curbing this epidemic.
The most significant clinical outcomes of Zika virus infection are birth defects in babies born to infected pregnant women. While a majority of the focus to restrain Zika virus involves travel restrictions for pregnant women or women planning to become pregnant, we need to remember that the virus doesn’t seek out pregnant women. We are all susceptible and we can all contribute to minimizing the spread of Zika virus and reducing its affect on the next generation of our world. Continue reading A socialist view of the Zika epidemic
It’s no secret that I’m an unabashed and staunch supporter of vaccines. Man’s most influential medical accomplishments: vaccines, antibiotics, and water purification have all contributed to lengthening human life by reducing infectious disease. The public health implications of vaccination aren’t questioned–epidemiological data clearly show that vaccines work. Continue reading Protecting kids who can’t be vaccinated
Chances are you’ve been hearing a lot about mumps lately. If you live in the greater Boston area, The Boston Globe reports that Harvard has been hit the hardest with 13 confirmed cases. The grand total for Massachusetts so far in 2016 stands at 26 cases (and all of the U.S. at 250 cases). As we barrel towards peak season for mumps, these numbers are alarming. So what’s with all the mumps? Continue reading What’s with all the mumps?