Dallas in state of high alert after nearly 200 infections of West Nile virus; the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends hepatitis C shot for baby boomers; and why smoking remains a worldwide problem. Read these and other health stories headlining public news on Friday, Aug. 17, 2012.
Times of India — Male contraceptive pill comes closer to reality
Researchers have finally found a compound that may offer the first effective and hormone-free birth control pill for men. The new study shows that the small molecule makes male mice reversibly infertile without putting a damper on their sex drive. When the animals stop taking this new form of birth control, their sperm rebound and they are again able to produce perfectly healthy offsprings. “This compound produces a rapid and reversible decrease in sperm count and motility with profound effects on fertility,” James Bradner of the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, the lead author of the study, said.
New York Times — West Nile hits hard around Dallas, with fear of its spread
An outbreak of West Nile virus has engulfed Dallas County, with nearly 200 cases of human infection and 10 deaths, leading the mayor of Dallas to declare a state of emergency and to authorize the first aerial spraying of a pesticide in the city since 1966. The high number of infections and deaths from the mosquito-borne disease marks the nation’s worst outbreak of West Nile in a year that has already logged a record number of cases across the country. The virus has become endemic in the United States since the first outbreak in 1999.
Washington Post — CDC recommends one-time test for hepatitis C for all baby boomers to check for infection
All baby boomers should get a one-time blood test to learn if they have the liver-destroying hepatitis C virus, U.S. health officials said Thursday. It can take decades for the blood-borne virus to cause liver damage and symptoms to emerge, so many people don’t know they’re harboring it. Baby boomers account for about two-thirds of the estimated 3.2 million infected Americans.
Fox News — Worldwide smoking habit is ‘alarming,’ study says
Two-fifths of men in developing countries still smoke or use tobacco, and women are increasingly starting to smoke at younger ages, according to a large international study which found “alarming patterns” of tobacco use. Despite years of anti-smoking measures across the world, most developing countries have low quit rates, according to the study in The Lancet medical journal Friday. There are wide differences in the rates of smoking between genders and nations, as well as major disparities in access to effective anti-smoking treatments.
Kaiser Health News — Hospitals react to readmission penalties
This week, a KHN analysis of Medicare data showed that 2,211 hospitals will face penalties in October for having too many patients readmitted for care within 30 days of discharge. Hospital executives around the country have had something to say about those penalties and the new policy. Here’s a round-up of how the story played as it was picked up and localized by some of our reporting partners at NPR member stations around the country.