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Polluted water harms citizens

The Hall-Massey family in Charleston, W. Va., has experienced horrible scabs on their arms, legs, and chest from painful rashes, as well as decaying teeth. This is due to the tap water that runs in their home. Tests show that their tap water contains such chemicals as arsenic, barium, lead, and manganese. Chemicals like these at such high concentrations could contribute to damage to the kidneys or nervous systems, or even cancer.

The Hall-Masseys are currently suing nine nearby coal companies for putting dangerous toxins in the water. It seems that this incident is part of a rising number of violations of the Clean Water Act that began many years ago.

Source: The New York Times

Scientists find MRSA at beaches

For the first time, a dangerous staph bacteria has been discovered in the sand and water at five public beaches. Methicillin-resistant Staphyococcus aureus (MRSA) has been found along the coast of Washington, but scientists think that other states may also have this problem. MRSA infections are very difficult to treat and are usually rarely seen outside of hospitals. This bacterium causes skin infections and pneumonia, and is spread mostly through human contact. The fact that this germ exists at the beach must mean that people are picking it up and transmitting the bacteria at a higher level than scientists had originally thought.

Source: Associated Press

H1N1 spreads across the nation

Health officials, on Sept. 11, announced that swine flu has now spread to all 50 states and the District of Columbia. H1N1 now represents the cause of the majority of the nation’s flu. Anne Schuchat, head of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, says that 98 percent of the viruses circulating are this H1N1 strain, the highest percentage that health officials have seen this early in the season. She explains that widespread vaccination against the flu would reduce its spread. A single 15-microgram dose of the H1N1 vaccine is well-tolerated and could boost immune response in healthy adults. Around 45 million doses of this vaccine are expected to be delivered by mid-October.

Source: CNN.com

Gene for Alzheimer’s affects all differently

The gene variant known as APOE4, which increases the risk of Alzheimer’s disease, affects the brains of people in the mid-20s differently. In a study of 24 healthy adults, 12 of whom had the gene variation, both groups that had performed a series of memory tests achieved similar scores.
However, those with the gene variation have brains that are working harder or less efficiently. Co-author of the study, Jeffery Browndyke, director of the Functional Imaging Neurogenomics of Disease Lab at Duke University, believes this gene still needs further studies to determine its true effect on brain development and cognitive function of those who are at risk for Alzheimer’s.

Source: HealthDay News