NPR Health

When Ebola erupted in West Africa a few years ago, it was catastrophic.

But one good thing emerged from the outbreak: The development of an Ebola vaccine-- a powerful vaccine.

Doctors can save thousands of lives a year if they act promptly to identify sepsis, an often lethal reaction to infection. Sometimes called blood poisoning, sepsis is the leading cause of death in hospitals.

A 4-year-old regulation in New York state compels doctors and hospitals to follow a certain protocol, involving a big dose of antibiotics and intravenous fluids. It's far from perfect — about a quarter of patients still die from sepsis. But early intervention is helping.

Editor's note: This story has been updated to include information on how Sanofi Pasteur was chosen as the company to license the Zika vaccine.

The U.S. Army is planning to grant an exclusive license to the French pharmaceutical company Sanofi Pasteur, Inc. to manufacture and sell a Zika vaccine the Army developed last year.

And that has Rebekah Gee, Louisiana's secretary of health, worried about paying for it.

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Here's your guide to this day's news starting with one definition of democracy. It's a way for citizens to settle their differences without violence.

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Watch Women Shame Men Who Pee In Public

May 29, 2017

An ad that came out on Monday has gone viral this week in India. The topic? Open urination and defecation.

It goes like this. A group of guys heads out at the break of dawn to relieve themselves in the fields surrounding their village. But, as they start to undo their pajamas, they hear a metallic beat.

Dr. Mark Sklansky, a self-described germaphobe, can't stop thinking about how quickly microbes can spread.

"If I am at a computer terminal or using a phone or opening a door, I know my hands are now contaminated, and I need to be careful and I need to wash my hands," says Sklansky, a professor of pediatrics at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA.

Diagnosing attention deficit hyperactivity disorder can be difficult. The symptoms of the disorder, as defined by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, or DSM, have changed multiple times.

Even if you know what to look for, many of the symptoms are pretty general, including things like trouble focusing and a tendency to interrupt people. Discerning the difference between people who have a problem and those who are just distracted requires real expertise.

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Receiving a diagnosis in 2017 — at least one made at a medical center outfitted with the latest clinical gadgetry — might include a scan that divides your body into a bread loaf of high-resolution digital slices. Your DNA might be fed through a gene sequencer that spits out your mortal code in a matter of hours. Even your smartphone might soon be used to uncover health problems.

On a Saturday afternoon, 10 students gather at Genspace, a community lab in Brooklyn, to learn how to edit genes.

There's a recent graduate with a master's in plant biology, a high school student who started a synthetic biology club, a medical student, an eighth grader, and someone who works in pharmaceutical advertising.

"This is so cool to learn about; I hadn't studied biology since like ninth grade," says Ruthie Nachmany, one of the class participants. She had studied anthropology, visual arts, and environmental studies in college, but is now a software engineer.

There's a narrative about the methamphetamine epidemic in Montana that says the state tackled it in the 2000s, yet now it's back with a vengeance because of super labs and drug cartels in Mexico. But here on the Fort Belknap Indian Reservation, it never really went away.

"Getting high in your car in front of the store; that ain't a big deal," says Miranda Kirk.

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Impulsive children become thoughtful adults only after years of improvements to the brain's information highways, a team reports in Current Biology.

A study of nearly 900 young people ages 8 to 22 found that the ability to control impulses, stay on task and make good decisions increased steadily over that span as the brain remodeled its information pathways to become more efficient.

It may not be possible to imagine a more terrible crime.

Courtney Pieters, a 3-year-old girl from a suburb of Cape Town, went missing on May 4. Her body was found nine days later, buried in a shallow grave about two-thirds of a mile from her home. She had been raped twice.

"This is one of the saddest incidents I've come across," South African President Jacob Zuma said May 18.

A man sobbed in a New York emergency room. His elderly wife, who suffered from advanced dementia, had just had a breathing tube stuck down her throat. He knew she never would have wanted that. Now he had to decide whether to reverse the life-sustaining treatment that medics had begun.

May 25 is Red Nose Day in the United States.

And millions of people are probably going, "huh, what?"

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There's a rich body of evidence that links chocolate to heart health.

Now comes a new study that finds people who consume small amounts of chocolate each week have a lower risk of developing atrial fibrillation, a heart condition characterized by a rapid or irregular heartbeat.

The revised Republican bill to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act will leave 23 million more people uninsured in 2026 than if that act, also known as Obamacare, were to remain in place. The GOP bill would also reduce the deficit by $119 billion over 10 years.

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Between books and movies, you probably have a general idea of what a criminal psychopath looks like.

BARBARA BRADLEY HAGERTY: Psychopaths tend to be people who show no remorse, no empathy. They're very manipulative. Often they're very charming.

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Sleek, high-tech wristbands are extremely popular these days, promising to measure heart rate, steps taken during the day, sleep, calories burned and even stress.

The year was 1945, and 2-year-old Lindy Thomson had been given a few weeks to live. She suffered from diarrhea and projectile vomiting, and she was so thin and weak, she could no longer walk. Her parents had taken her from doctor to doctor. Finally, Dr. Douglas Arnold in Buffalo, N.Y., offered a most unusual prescription: She was to eat bananas.

"At least seven bananas a day," recalls the patient, who now goes by her married name, Lindy Redmond.

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What's the Consensus on Consent?

May 23, 2017

A recent paper from the Columbia Journal of Gender and Law on the nonconsensual removal of condoms — called stealthing — has pushed discussions on consent further into the national conversation. Saying yes or no to a sexual advance should be straightforward. How do we clarify the rules on sexual consent?

GUESTS

Health officials from more than 180 countries meeting in Geneva on Tuesday have elected a new leader for the World Health Organization.

A former health minister from Ethiopia takes over an agency that's struggled recently to find the funding and exert the political leadership it needs to tackle the world's health problems.

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Would the House Republican health care bill impact insurance provided by employers? And why don't people without insurance just go to an emergency room for regular care? Here are answers to those and other recent questions from readers.

Will employer-based health care be affected by the new Republican plan?

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