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Health

Just 82 children have confirmed cases of enterovirus-D68, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, but hospitals around the country say they are treating hundreds more children who have been sickened by the rare virus.

For those who find themselves sleeping through work — you may one day find yourself working through sleep.

People who are fast asleep can correctly respond to simple verbal instructions, according to a study by researchers in France. They think this may help explain why you might wake if someone calls your name or why your alarm clock is more likely to rouse you than any other noise.

Here are three words you don't often see in close proximity: Good. Death. Ebola.

Yet there they stand, united in the headline for an essay in the New England Journal of Medicine this month: "A Good Death: Ebola and Sacrifice."

Christian aid group SIM has identified the third American to catch the disease as Dr. Rick Sacra.

The 51-year-old family physician from Massachusetts has been working on and off in Liberia with his wife, Debbie, since 1995. He joined SIM in the late '80s and between 2008 and 2010 was the acting medical director at the group's ELWA Hospital in Monrovia. He had previously served as the group's Liberia director for several years.

More women are choosing to have bilateral mastectomies when they are diagnosed with early-stage breast cancer, even though there's little evidence that removing both breasts improves their survival compared with more conservative treatments.

The biggest study yet on the question has found no survival benefit with bilateral mastectomy compared with breast-conserving surgery with radiation.

New York City is launching the latest salvo in its never-ending war on rats.

City officials are ramping up efforts to teach regular New Yorkers how to make their streets, businesses and gardens less hospitable to rodents — in other words, to see their neighborhood the way a health inspector would.

Losing your sense of smell may not sound like a big deal, but it can increase your risk of injury, researchers say. Without the sniffer serving as early warning system, it can be hard to know if the pan is burning on the stove or the chicken has gone bad.

"When I wake up in the morning, I will pray to God to give me strength and focus," says 21-year-old Sorie Fofana.

The ALS ice bucket challenge continues to bring in huge donations this summer for efforts to cure and treat what's commonly known as Lou Gehrig's disease. As of today, the viral campaign has raised more than $94 million for the ALS Association. That's compared with $2.7 million raised by the group during the same time last year.

How Ebola Kills You: It's Not The Virus

Aug 26, 2014

Ebola has a nasty reputation for the way it damages the body. It's rightfully earned.

"At the end stage of the disease, you have small leaks in blood vessels," says Thomas Geisbert, an immunologist at the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston. "You end up with essentially no blood pressure. Your body temperature drops and you go into shock."

Tobacco control advocates disagree on whether e-cigarettes are a useful tool to get smokers off tobacco, or just a sleeker form of one of the world's deadliest addictions.

A lot of that discord comes from the fact that there's just not enough science to know the risks and benefits of e-cigarettes, which deliver nicotine in a vapor rather than through tobacco smoke. And it could take years to find out if vaping causes cancer and other deadly diseases.

How much leeway do employers and insurers have in deciding whether they'll cover contraceptives without charge and in determining which methods make the cut?

Not much, as it turns out, but that hasn't stopped some from trying.

People still write in regularly describing battles they're waging to get birth control coverage they're entitled to under the Affordable Care Act.

At age 4, many young children are just beginning to explore their artistic style.

The kid I used to babysit in high school preferred self-portraits, undoubtedly inspired by the later works of Joan Miro. My cousin, a prolific young artist, worked almost exclusively on still lifes of 18-wheelers.

Pittsburgh's dominant health insurance company and its largest healthcare provider are, essentially, getting a divorce.

It's almost 4 p.m., and police officers Ernest Stevens and Ned Bandoske have been driving around town in their unmarked black SUV since early this morning. The officers are part of San Antonio's mental health squad — a six-person unit that answers the frequent emergency calls where mental illness may be an issue.

The officers spot a call for help on their laptop from a group home across town.

"A male individual put a blanket on fire this morning," Stevens reads from the blotter. "He's arguing ... and is a danger to himself and others. He's off his medications."

Experimental Vaccine For Chikungunya Passes First Test

Aug 18, 2014

Scientists have taken the first steps to developing a vaccine for chikungunya — an emerging mosquito-borne virus that has infected more than a half million people in the Western Hemisphere this year. About 600 Americans have brought the virus to 43 states.

When it comes to deadly, contagious disease outbreaks like Ebola, the terms "quarantine" and "isolation" take on fresh relevance and urgency. Each has a distinct meaning in the public health context, though the words are often used interchangeably and both refer to protecting the public from communicable illnesses.

Many forces can drive a male college student to commit sexual assault. But one of the most important may be the company he keeps.

Emily Veltus, a health educator working in Sierra Leone, says her organization, Doctors Without Borders, is "maxed out" in dealing with Ebola and that more help is needed to control an outbreak that is still raging.

When you sign up for a reporting fellowship to learn about the health of newborns in Ethiopia, you expect things to be a little different from what you're used to in the U.S. To be perfectly honest, a little worse. But Ethiopia actually surprised me, even before I took off.

I did my research, and it turns out that Ethiopia's health care system is getting better — significantly better. It's meeting international goals, winning awards from the United States and, more important, babies are living longer and fewer mothers are dying in childbirth.

Vicki Hornbuckle used to play the piano at her church. But that was before her liver started failing.

"I had to give it up because I couldn't keep up," says Hornbuckle, 54, of Snellville, Georgia. "I didn't have the energy to do three services on Sunday. You're just too tired to deal with anything. And so, it's not a life that you want to live."

But Hornbuckle hasn't given up. She's fighting to stay alive long enough to get a liver transplant.

The campaign is called "Kick Back Ebola." But the posters pack a punch.

Sierra Leone has reported over 700 suspected Ebola cases, more than any other country this year. To help stop the outbreak, health workers have put up Ebola awareness signs all over Sierra Leone's seaside capital of Freetown.

Posters are pasted on hospital walls and outside clinics. Banners flutter along main streets. The goal of the campaign is to keep the reality of Ebola — and how to detect it — very much alive in people's minds.

The question of why the Ebola virus seems to so badly frighten so many people seems, at first, to have an obvious answer.

Ebola, after all, is an incurable hemorrhagic virus with a mortality rate that soars in some outbreaks to 90 percent of those infected. Symptoms in sufferers with advanced disease go beyond high fever and gastrointestinal misery to bleeding from the mouth, nose, ears and eyes.

Lots of high-performance athletes use interval training to maximize their fitness.

From runners to cyclists to boot-camp fanatics the strategy involves alternating between periods of high-intensity and lower-intensity aerobic training.

Now, a study published in the journal Diabetologia finds that interval training may help the millions of people with Type 2 diabetes and prediabetes who are trying to control their blood sugar.

When it comes to reining in medical costs, delivering more health care and bringing it right to the patient's home can, for a select group of patients, save money.

These particular patients are elders struggling with multiple chronic medical conditions, such as congestive heart failure, stroke, diabetes or dementia. They make up just 5 percent of the people on Medicare, but they account for about half of all Medicare spending.

Medicare spent more than $30 million in 2012 on questionable HIV medication costs, the inspector general of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services said in an investigation published Wednesday.

The possible fraud schemes were all paid for by Medicare's prescription drug program known as Part D. Among the most egregious:

  • In Detroit, a 77-year-old woman purportedly filled $33,500 worth of prescriptions for 10 different HIV medications. But there's no record she had HIV or that she had visited the doctors who wrote the scripts.

A Gallup poll released Tuesday suggests the Affordable Care Act is significantly increasing the number of Americans with health insurance, especially in states that are embracing it. It echoes previous Gallup surveys, and similar findings by the Urban Institute and Rand Corp.

Amelia Togba-Addy lives in Atlanta, but Ebola is always on her mind.

Like many Liberian Americans, she has family and friends in West Africa, where Ebola has killed nearly 900 people. In Liberia alone, the World Health Organization has reported almost 500 cases and more than 250 deaths so far.

So when Togba-Addy's aunt called early one morning last week, she panicked.

"The first thing I thought about was, 'Oh! A family member has come down with the virus,' " she says. "So I started crying."

Until this year, the world had recorded 1,640 deaths from Ebola since the virus was discovered in 1976.

Then Ebola appeared in West Africa.

So far this year, 887 people have died of Ebola in West Africa, the World Health Organization said Monday.

To put that into perspective, more than a third of all people known to have died from the Ebola virus have died in the current outbreak.

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

If you watched any TV news today, you probably saw images of an ambulance making its way to the streets of Atlanta. The ambulance pulls up to hospital carrying an American infected with the Ebola virus. The whole trip was narrated by CNN.

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