For the past nine months, Princeton University in New Jersey has been trying to halt an outbreak of bacterial meningitis in its students without success. So it's going to offer students a vaccine that's not yet approved for broader use in the US.
Since bacterial meningitis is a serious infection of the brain and spinal cord that can cause brain damage and death, having it on campus is no small matter.
Could the microbes that inhabit our guts help explain that old idea of "gut feelings?" There's growing evidence that gut bacteria really might influence our minds.
"I'm always by profession a skeptic," says Dr. Emeran Mayer, a professor of medicine and psychiatry at the University of California, Los Angeles. "But I do believe that our gut microbes affect what goes on in our brains."
LISTEN: The president's news conference and NPR coverage of it
President Obama announced Thursday that Americans who have had their health insurance plans canceled because of his Affordable Care Act can keep those plans for another year if they wish.
Those cancellations — most effective on Jan. 1 — have sparked intense criticism of the ACA, in part because the president pledged many times that if Americans liked the health plans they had, they wouldn't have to give them up under the terms of his program.
It's not just people who go on trial these days. It's their brains.
More and more lawyers are arguing that some defendants deserve special consideration because they have brains that are immature or impaired, says Nita Farahany, a professor of law and philosophy at Duke University who has been studying the use of brain science in court.
The new health care law will provide around $1 trillion in subsidies to low- and middle-income Americans over the next decade to help them pay for health insurance.
Johanna Humbert of Galien, Mich., was pleasantly surprised to discover that she qualifies for an insurance subsidy, since her current plan is being canceled. Humbert makes about $30,000 a year, so she'll get a subsidy of about $300 a month. The new plan is similar to her current one, but it will cost $250 — about half of what she pays now.
But where will the money come from to pay for subsidies like these?
Originally published on Wed October 30, 2013 10:41 am
A year ago, public health officials were scrambling to figure out why people across the country were suddenly coming down with life-threatening cases of meningitis.
The outbreak eventually was traced back to contaminated steroids produced by the New England Compounding Center. All told, 751 people contracted fungal meningitis and other infections from the tainted shots; 64 died.
A spokesman for the World Health Organization said Thursday that it was mistaken about the polio outbreak in Somalia spreading to South Sudan. The virus has been detected in Kenya and Ethiopia this year. But South Sudan has not recorded a polio case since 2009.
When the head of the agency responsible for the troubled Healthcare.gov went before Congress for the first time since its foibles became apparent Oct. 1, she probably didn't expect that many questions would be on something else altogether.
What a difference a day makes. Consumers who buy a health policy good for only 364 days might save hundreds of dollars in premiums, but they could also find themselves without important benefits and charged a penalty for not having insurance next year.
Monday was yet another troubled day for the Affordable Care Act.
Sunday night, the outside vendor that operates two key parts of the website that lets people browse and sign up for health insurance experienced a failure.
The failure took place at a vendor called Verizon Terremark and presumably affected other clients as well as HealthCare.gov, the federal website that people use to sign up for insurance under the Affordable Care Act.
Messiah United Methodist Church in Springfield, Va., is unusually busy for a Thursday morning. It's not a typical time for worship, but parishioner Stacy Riggs and her husband have come for something a little different: a medical screening.