Everything you need to know about bat flu; scientists at odds with new drug to prevent HIV; plus, the truth about statins. Those stories and more topping public health headlines today, Monday, March 12, 2012.

Get Ready blog – Swine flu, bird flu…Now bat flu?
You’ve probably heard of both swine flu and bird flu. But if you’ve been watching the news recently,  you may have heard of a new strain of the flu that was discovered in Guatemalan fruit bats. Yes, we said bat flu! This newly discovered flu virus is a type of influenza A virus, with a scientific name of H17. Scientists discovered the influenza while testing the bats for other types of viruses; they believe that H17 is distantly related to the strains of influenza A that are prevalent in humans today.

Wall Street Journal – Fight Over Use of HIV Drugs
Scientists are scrutinizing a new approach to preventing the spread of HIV that involves healthy people taking drugs to keep them from being infected by partners with the virus that causes AIDS. Early evidence from three clinical trials suggests that this method, involving antiretroviral drugs normally used to treat HIV infection, is effective when people take the drug properly. New scientific findings released this week also help explain why the method didn’t work in another study among women that had to be halted, and that prompted doubts about the approach.

TIME – Raising a Glass a Day to Lower Stroke Risk in Women
A new study offers good news for women who unwind with a cocktail at the end of the day: light to moderate drinking is associated with lower stroke risk. The new report by researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital involved 26 years of data on 83,578 women who were part of the long-running Nurses’ Health Study — a federally funded study of how such factors as diet, alcohol consumption and other lifestyle factors may influence women’s long-term health.

Boston Globe – Clearing the air at school
Wellesley officials said they are pressing forward with a plan to correct problems with the air quality at Schofield Elementary School that were raised in a report last month. The plan addresses 25 short-term and three long-term recommendations made by the state Department of Public Health to improve ventilation, and reduce water damage and mold problems at the school. They include revamping the ventilation system, replacing water-stained ceiling tiles, inspecting for mold, and insulating and waterproofing the wall of a wing built in 1993.

Boston Globe – Statins, Chronic Disease — and the Definition of Insanity
Two recent developments — an advisory from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and one new study — caught my attention over the past week. This involves cardiovascular disease (CVD), statin drugs, type II diabetes, patient education and empowerment, and more. Neither seemed to get much attention, and to my knowledge, no one connected the dots between them. So let me give a try.

The Public’s Health – Groundwater: It’s fracking important
Today marks the start of National Ground Water Awareness Week—sandwiched between National Sleep Awareness Week and National Poison Prevention Week. While such designations have perhaps become too ubiquitous in public health, this year’s National Ground Water Awareness Week may be the most important in its 13-year history. Clean, safe, ground water is essential for public health.  In fact, it’s essential to life and civilization as we know it.  Ground water is water that exists between soil and rock underneath the earth. Seventy-eight percent of public water systems in the United States use ground water as their primary source, supplying about 90 million Americans. Ground water also quenches the thirst and washes the dishes of the 16 million households in the U.S. who get their water from private wells.