Mayor Bloomberg addresses gun violence as a public health issue; environmental factors being investigated for ties to breast cancer; and FDA increases oversight of cantaloupe industry after illness outbreaks. Read these public health news stories and more for Feb. 28, 2013.

NPR – For Bloomberg, guns (like big sodas) are a health issue
The victory of a pro-gun-control candidate in the Illinois Democratic primary race to replace Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. was also a political win for New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, whose superPAC backed the winner over a candidate it linked to the NRA.
But Robin Kelly’s victory Tuesday was, for Bloomberg, more than just another achievement on the gun control front. It was one more win in Bloomberg’s unique assault on what he views as the public health problems of our time.

Los Angeles Times – Flu-related deaths total 43 in San Diego County, a near-record
Three more influenza-related deaths in San Diego County have pushed the seasonal total to 43, the second highest on record, county health officials reported Wednesday.
But “on a positive note,” new lab-confirmed flu cases declined for the fourth consecutive week, said officials of the county Health and Human Services Agency. The highest mortality for a flu season was 2009-2010 when 58 persons in the county died.

CBS News – Experts lament cuts in funds for disaster preparedness
The United States is grappling with increased threats from catastrophic superstorms like Sandy due to climate change. An increasingly interconnected world means that a deadly contagious disease could spread to multiple countries before it has even been identified. Terrorism remains a serious threat, with many experts predicting that it is just a matter of time before the nation must grapple with another significant attack.

San Francisco Gate – Breast cancer ties to environment probed
Marika Holmgren will never be sure why she was diagnosed with breast cancer at 37. She was a devoted athlete and vegetarian. Cancer ran in her family, but not breast cancer.
Six years and many rounds of chemotherapy and surgeries later, Holmgren has for now won the battle. But she still wonders why the battle even began.

The Hill – Food safety regulators put US cantaloupe growers on notice after outbreak deaths
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is stepping up oversight of the cantaloupe industry following a pair of illness outbreaks linked to more than 400 illnesses and three dozen deaths.
In a letter issued this week to industry groups, FDA announced plans to initiate inspections at packinghouses during the 2013 growing season.