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Mosquito-Borne Brain Infection Found in Florida

July 29, 2019 — There’s an increased risk of a mosquito-borne virus that causes brain infection and swelling, Florida health officials warn.

Eastern equine encephalitis (EEE) has been detected in several sentinel chickens, according to the Florida Department of Health in Orange County, CNN reported.

Sentinel chickens are tested regularly for the West Nile virus and EEE.

After the positive tests for EEE virus in the sentinel chickens in Orange Couty, the health department said “the risk of transmission to humans has increased,” CNN reported.

Only about seven human cases of the EEE virus reported in the US each year. However, about one-third of people who contract it die, and many survivors have long-term neurological problems, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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But most teens have never sent or received a sex text, the new study found. It focused on about 5,600 students in American middle and high schools, ages 12 to 17.

By Kayla McKiski
HealthDay Reporter

FRIDAY, July 26, 2019 (HealthDay News) — Parents of budding teens can breathe a little easier: A new study says adolescent “sexting” is not an epidemic.

On the other hand, it’s not disappearing, either, despite campaigns to curb it.

“Sexting is perceived as an epidemic because the news highlights extreme cases that involve tragic outcomes, and because it goes against standards of morality and decency that are historically entrenched,” said study author Sameer Hinduja, a professor of criminology at Florida Atlantic University.

But most teens have never sent or received a sex text, the new study found. It focused on about 5,600 students in American middle and high schools, ages 12 to 17.

Of those, about 14% had ever sent a sexually or explicit image or had received one.

For this study, researchers defined sexting as the exchange of nude or semi-nude photos or videos via text or private messaging on social media.

Other researchers have included sexually suggestive or explicit texts. Hinduja said his team didn’t include those, because they can’t lead to sextortion, child pornography charges or related fallout.

About 11% of the students said they had sent a sext to a boyfriend or girlfriend — and about 64% did so when asked to, the study found. But only 43% complied with a request from someone who was not a current romantic partner.

Boys were much more likely to have sent and received a sext from a current partner, but boys and girls were equally likely to receive them from others.

About 4% said they had shared an explicit image sent to them with someone else, without permission — and about as many suspected this had happened to them.

Hinduja said though dishonest responses were removed from the findings, “it is possible that the frequency of sexting among middle schoolers and high schoolers across the United States may be underrepresented in our research.”

While teen sexting is not rampant, the numbers have remained steady over the years, prompting many to question the effectiveness of campaigns to prevent it.

Continued

“Teens sext for a variety of reasons — the most popular are sexual exploration, fun, flirtation and to communicate sexual intent,” said Michelle Drouin, a psychology professor at Purdue University-Fort Wayne in Indianapolis. “In some ways it is part of sexual exploration in a digital age. Many teens do it — it’s not a ‘bad kid’ issue.”

Nonetheless, sexting has been linked to psychological trauma among adolescents.

“The young adults I survey sometimes feel distress about the nude or nearly nude photos they have sent,” said Drouin, who wasn’t involved with the study. “I think the only way to curb teen sexting is through targeted education. Sexting should definitely be a standard component of sex education.”

Hinduja said efforts to discourage sexting should not aim to stifle sexual development. Instead, they should focus on the seriousness of potential consequences — legal, financial, reputational, social or otherwise, he said.

For future research, his team is interested in exploring the best ways to deter teens from sexting.

“Are there any messages that resonate more powerfully so that they second-guess taking and sending a nude?” Hinduja said. “Do the consequences they hear about concern them at all? Do they have an invincibility complex about these sorts of things?”

In the meantime, letting teens know that a relatively small proportion of their peers engage in sexting may be a deterrent, he said.

“It underscores that it is not as normal, commonplace, or widespread as they might believe,” Hinduja said in a Florida Atlantic University news release.

The study was published recently in the journal Archives of Sexual Behavior. It was co-authored by Justin Patchin, a professor of criminal justice at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire.

Patchin and Hinduja are co-directors of the Cyberbullying Research Center.

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Sources

SOURCES: Sameer Hinduja, Ph.D., professor of criminology and criminal justice and co-director of the Cyberbullying Research Center, Florida Atlantic University, Jupiter; Michelle Drouin, Ph.D., professor, psychology, Purdue University-Fort Wayne, Indianapolis, and senior research scientist, Parkview Research Center, Fort Wayne;Archives of Sexual Behavior, July 15, 2019

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High Arsenic Levels Found in 2 Bottled Water Brands

High levels of arsenic were found in two brands of bottled water sold at Whole Foods, Target and Walmart, the Center for Environmental Health in California says.

The nonprofit group found that the brands Penafiel, owned by Keurig Dr. Pepper, and Starkey, owned by Whole Foods, contain levels of arsenic that are higher than tap water and violate California guidelines, USA Today reported.

High levels of arsenic can cause reproductive damage and cancer, and products that violate recommended state levels of arsenic must carry a warning, according to California law.

Research also shows that arsenic can cause hormone disruption and organ damage, especially in children.

Earlier this year, Consumer Reports released findings that the same brands of bottle water contained nearly double the federal limit of arsenic in water, USA Today reported.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has not recalled either brand of bottled water.

Whole Foods and Keurig Dr. Pepper did not respond to requests for comment from USA Today.

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New Gene Variations for Type 2 Diabetes Found

By Robert Preidt

HealthDay Reporter

THURSDAY, May 23, 2019 (HealthDay News) — It has long been known that lifestyle affects a person’s risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Now, researchers report that they have identified rare variants of four genes that may also play a part.

For the study, an international team of scientists analyzed protein-coding genes from nearly 21,000 people with type 2 diabetes and 25,000 people without diabetes across a range of ethnicities. That included people of European, African American, Hispanic/Latino, East Asian and South Asian ancestries.

The genes identified in the study and the proteins they encode are potential targets for new diabetes medicines, and may help improve understanding and treatment of the disease, according to the study authors.

In addition, the data suggests that hundreds more genes linked with diabetes will be identified in the future, the researchers said.

“These results demonstrate the importance of studying large samples of individuals from a wide range of ancestries,” said senior study author Michael Boehnke. He is director of the Center for Statistical Genetics at the University of Michigan School of Public Health, in Ann Arbor.

“Most large population studies focus on individuals of European ancestry, and that can make it hard to generalize the results globally. The more diverse the cohort makes for better, more informative science,” Boehnke explained in a university news release.

Study first author Jason Flannick added, “We now have an updated picture of the role of rare DNA variations in diabetes.” Flannick is an assistant professor of pediatrics at Harvard Medical School, and the division of genetics and genomics at Boston Children’s Hospital.

“These rare variants potentially provide a much more valuable resource for drug development than previously thought. We can actually detect evidence of their disease association in many genes that could be targeted by new medications or studied to understand the fundamental processes underlying disease,” Flannick explained in the news release.

More than 400 million people worldwide have diabetes, and most of those cases are type 2, according to the World Health Organization. Diabetes is believed to be the seventh leading cause of death worldwide.

The study was published May 22 in the journal Nature. The findings are publicly available online through the Type 2 Diabetes Knowledge Portal, which means scientists worldwide can access and use them in their own research.

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Sources

SOURCE: University of Michigan, news release, May 22, 2019

Copyright © 2013-2018 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

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Beast from the east: Indian soldiers reckon they’ve found Yeti footprints

NEW DELHI (Reuters) – Mountaineers from the Indian army on a expedition in Nepal have found mysterious large footprints in the snow that they think belong to the Yeti, or the abominable snowman, the military said on Tuesday.

Footprints are seen in the snow near Makalu Base Camp in Nepal, in this picture taken on April 9, 2019 obtained from social media on April 30, 2019. Indian Army/via REUTERS

Largely regarded by the scientific community as a myth, the Yeti is part of Nepali folklore and is said to live high in the snow-capped Himalayas.

In a tweet accompanied by pictures, the Indian army said it had sighted footprints measuring 32 by 15 inches (81 by 38 cm) close to a camp near Mount Makalu on April 9.

“For the first time, an #IndianArmy Mountaineering Expedition Team has sited Mysterious Footprints of mythical beast ‘Yeti’” it said in a tweet, not explaining how a mythical beast could leave footprints.

Located on the border between Nepal and China, Makalu is among the highest mountains in the world and stands near the Makalu-Barun valley, a remote wilderness that has also been surveyed by researchers hunting for the Yeti.

Daniel C. Taylor, who has extensively explored the Makalu-Barun area and written a book on the mystery of the Yeti, said the footprints were likely those of bears.

“If that is the footprint of an animal or a single animal, it’s the size of a dinosaur,” he told Reuters, adding that repeated measurements of the footprints were required to ascertain their origin.

“One needs to really confirm those measurements of the footprint size because we know for sure that there are no dinosaurs living in the Barun valley.”

Tales of a wild hairy beast roaming the Himalayas have captured the imagination of climbers in Nepal since the 1920s, prompting many, including Sir Edmund Hillary, to go looking for the creature.

In 2008, Japanese climbers returning from a mountain in western Nepal told Reuters they had seen footprints, which they thought belonged to the Yeti.

And although they carried long-lens cameras, video cameras and telescopes, they hadn’t seen or taken any photographs of the creature.

But scientists have found little evidence of the Yeti’s existence so far. In 2017, a group of international researchers studied multiple purported Yeti samples collected from across the Himalayan region and concluded they belonged to bears.

In 2008, two men in the United States said they had found the remains of a half-man, half-ape, which was eventually revealed to be a rubber gorilla suit.

Reporting by Devjyot Ghoshal; Editing by Nick Macfie

Reuters: Oddly Enough

Cannabis Church Co-Founder Found Not Guilty in 4/20 Case From 2017

The fight between the International Church of Cannabis and the City of Denver may finally be over, but which side really won? Over two months after one of the church’s co-founders, Steve Berke, was found guilty of public pot consumption violations for his role in a 2017 4/20 party, another church co-founder was found not guilty of the same charges.

Lee Molloy — who, along with co-founders Berke and Briley Hale, was charged with allowing public pot consumption and violating the Colorado Clean Indoor Air Act during the church’s inaugural 4/20 party in 2017 — was found not guilty by Denver County Judge Johnny Barajas on Friday, April 19.

Earlier, a jury had found Berke guilty on the same charges; a judge denied his motion for a mistrial. After that, Hale accepted a plea that would dismiss the charges against her if she completes 24 hours of community service and complies with six months of unsupervised probation.

All of the charges stemmed from the church’s inaugural 4/20 event in 2017, during which undercover Denver police officers say they were able to freely enter the consumption-friendly portion of the celebration; the church’s co-founders and their attorneys argued that the consumption portion of the event was private and required an invitation to get inside. Although none of the founders themselves were caught smoking marijuana that day, the trio was charged with public consumption: The Denver City Attorney’s Office argued that they were complicit in allowing attendees to consume publicly under their watch.

After a juror in Berke’s case told him that she felt pressured to find him guilty (a conversation that occurred outside of the courtroom immediately following the trial), Molloy’s attorney, Warren Edson, thought that waiving the jury and instead asking the judge to determine the verdict would help his client’s chances.

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“There are very few times when I’ve waived a jury, but this time we were getting very specific about issues with the Colorado Clean Indoor Air Act, hemp versus marijuana, and issues and with their complicity defense,” Edson explains, adding that the details of Molloy’s case might have varied from those of Berke and Hale.

“The judge put a lot of emphasis on the fact that Lee himself appeared to take a lot of affirmative steps to make sure this was a private event,” Edson says. “Under the complicity statues, he didn’t find Lee had knowledge or intent to break the law, or let anybody inside who wasn’t abiding by the rules and regulations of the service.”

Although the maximum penalty that Molloy faced over the misdemeanor charges was $ 300 in fines and 24 hours of community service (Berke’s punishment, levied by Barajas, was a $ 50 fine and nothing more), Edson is still upset over the city’s use of resources. He believes that the Denver City Attorney’s Office was trying to make a point against the church over social pot use — an issue that’s been the focus of several fights between the city and venue owners and event organizers.

“This happened literally two years to date on April 20,” he noted after Molloy’s verdict came down on April 19. “I’ve been involved with this case for about twenty months. Even before our motions hearing, the city attorney spent over 100 hours on this case. Then we had more hearings, numerous trial appearances, a mistrial, and then we had more appearances. They had a full three-day trial with Steve, and now they had another trial today? They’ve got to be at 400 or 500 man hours right now. That’s an incredible amount of resources and police effort.”

Despite the long legal battle, Molloy was just happy to move on — and it wasn’t lost on him that his verdict came in the day before April 20.

“It’s just a wash of relief, really. Its 4/20, so now I get to go home, clean up and celebrate,” he said shortly after the verdict was handed down. “It’s a victory for our church, but it’s also a victory for Coloradans who supported cannabis legalization. Hopefully, this will start moving things in the right direction.”


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Memories made of this: USB stick found in frozen seal poo

(Reuters) – Scientists in New Zealand say they have found a USB memory stick containing holiday photos inside a frozen slab of seal poo.

The scat, valuable for studying the health of leopard seals, had been stored in a freezer for a year before it was thawed out for analysis, the researchers said.

“Concealed deep inside the scat was a USB stick,” the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA) said on its website.

The stick was in good condition, “considering where it had come from”, and the researchers let it dry out for a few weeks.

It contained photos of sealions at Porpoise Bay, on New Zealand’s South Island, and a video of a mother sealion and her baby frolicking in shallow waters.

“The only clue to who might have taken them is the nose of a blue kayak,” NIWA said, adding that the return of the USB stick comes with a price.

“The leopard seal researchers would like some more leopard seal scat please.”

Reporting by Darren Schuettler; editing by Nick Macfie

Reuters: Oddly Enough

Gum Disease Bacteria Found in Alzheimer’s Brains

Gum disease bacteria may play a role in Alzheimer’s disease, researchers say.     

They studied dead and living patients with diagnosed and suspected Alzheimer’s and found bacteria associated with chronic gum disease in the brains of people with Alzheimer’s, BBC News reported.      

Tests on mice confirmed the bacteria, Porphyromonas gingivalis could migrate from the mouth to the brain and that a toxic protein they secrete (gingipain) destroyed brain neurons.     

The bacteria also boosted production of amyloid beta, a component of brain plaques associated with Alzheimer’s, BBC News reported.     

Further tests on mice showed that drugs that block the toxic proteins produced by the bacteria stopped brain degeneration.

The study was published in the journal Science Advances.

The researchers said their findings could point to new ways to help people with Alzheimer’s. Currently there is no cure or effective treatment, BBC News reported.

The team developed a new drug and plan to test it later this year in a clinical trial with patients who have mild to moderate Alzheimer’s.

The study adds to evidence of a link between gum disease and dementia, but it’s still not clear if gum disease bacteria actually trigger Alzheimer’s, said scientists not involved in the study, BBC News reported. 

Previous studies linking gum disease with dementia include one published last year that found that people with chronic gum disease for 10 years or more had a 70 percent higher risk of Alzheimer’s than those without gum disease.

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Chirp perp: Finches found in luggage at NY airport

NEW YORK (Reuters) – A man was caught at New York’s JFK airport last weekend trying to smuggle dozens of South American finches into the country, a bird that Guyanese immigrants covet for chirping but officials fear could spread disease, officials said on Thursday.

About 70 finches were found hidden inside a shipment of hair rollers at John F. Kennedy International Airport on Saturday when a U.S. Customs and Border Protection agriculture specialist inspected the unidentified male passenger’s luggage. Some of the birds had died enroute.

The birds may have been destined for sale to Guyanese immigrants for a game that involves betting on how often the finches chirp per minute, said Customs spokesman Anthony Bucci.

“They may ultimately wind up as a pet, but within the Guyanese community that is the primary purpose,” Bucci said.

The passenger was not admitted into the United States and was sent back to Guyana, Bucci said.

The finches were quarantined and euthanized by the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) Veterinary Services, an agency of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Photos on the CBP’s Twitter page showed the birds squeezed into individual hair rollers with small nets covering each end.

The birds can spread infections such as avian influenza, commonly known as bird flu. A 2015 bird flu epidemic resulted in the culling of 50 million commercial turkeys and chickens and $ 850 million in damage, according to CBP officials.

Reporting by Gina Cherelus in New York; Editing by Frank McGurty and Leslie Adler

Reuters: Oddly Enough

Secondhand Pot Smoke Found in Kids’ Lungs