Progress Made, But ‘Superbugs,’ Remain a Threat

By Dennis Thompson

HealthDay Reporter

WEDNESDAY, Nov. 13, 2019 (HealthDay News) — The U.S. response to the threat of antibiotic-resistant germs has shown some progress, but these potentially deadly bugs still show no signs of stopping, a new government report warns.

Prevention efforts have reduced deaths from antibiotic-resistant bugs by 18% overall and by nearly 30% in hospitals, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention revealed Nov. 13 in an update of its Antibiotic Resistance Threats in the United States report.

“This data is exciting because it shows that we are not powerless against antibiotic resistance,” said Dr. Hilary Babcock, president of the Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America.

Hospital epidemiologists, infection prevention specialists, researchers and pharmacists “are running critically important infection prevention and antibiotic stewardship programs that save lives and help protect patients, making hospitals safer for everyone,” Babcock said.

But antibiotic-resistant bacteria and fungi still cause more than 2.8 million infections and 35,000 deaths in the United States each year, the CDC report found.

That means someone in the United States gets an antibiotic-resistant infection every 11 seconds, on average, and every 15 minutes someone dies, according to the CDC.

The CDC highlighted the ongoing dilemma by adding two new germs to its list of urgent threats — the fungus Candida auris and the bacteria Acinetobacter.

Both germs can cause serious invasive infections in hospitalized patients with compromised immune systems, and both have shown signs of developing resistance to the most powerful and often-used antibiotics and antifungals, the CDC said.

“To underscore the threat we’re facing, Candida auris emerged on five continents at the same time,” said CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield, who added that 1 in 3 patients infected with the fungus dies.

The two additions bring the list of urgent threats to five, joining three identified in 2013 — CRE (carbapenem-resistant enterobacteriaceae), Neisseria gonorrhoeae, and Clostridioides difficile.

C. difficile bacteria are not typically antibiotic-resistant, but are considered a threat because they opportunistically invade human digestive systems following antibiotic use and cause deadly diarrhea, the CDC said.


The report shows that health officials are in for a very long war against antibiotic-resistant germs, said Adriane Casalotti, chief of government and public affairs for the National Association of County and City Health Officials.

“The problem isn’t going away. As things evolve over time, certain bugs become more of a threat while others we get a better handle on,” Casalotti said. “There’s no end in sight for us having to deal with these challenges.”

However, the reduction in deaths shows that the strategies now being employed have put health care providers on the right path, said Michael Craig, a senior adviser with the CDC’s Antibiotic Resistance Coordination and Strategy Unit.

“Infection prevention and control in health care facilities works. Improving the use of antibiotics we already have works. Proper food handling works. Safe sex works. Vaccines and keeping hands clean works,” Craig said.

Still, the new report found that resistance to essential antibiotics is increasing in 7 of 18 germs on the CDC’s overall list of antibiotic-resistant threats.

The new report also revealed that the threat of antibiotic-resistant germs is much worse than thought when the alarm was first sounded.

There were nearly twice as many annual deaths from antibiotic-resistant infections as the CDC first reported in 2013, the new data showed.

Back then, the CDC estimated that 23,000 deaths each year were caused by antibiotic-resistant germs. Their new estimate holds that 44,000 people a year were dying due to these infections, Craig said.

People can help fight antibiotic resistance by not requesting the medications for every illness that comes their way, Casalotti said.

“Antibiotics are only for bacteria,” she said. “They’re not going to help you with a virus.”

If you are prescribed antibiotics, take them as directed for the full course of treatment, Casalotti added. Antibiotics are prescribed in a way to completely wipe out infectious bacteria so they don’t have a chance to survive and gain resistance.

“Just because you feel better on day three doesn’t mean you shouldn’t finish the whole course. Just because your kid’s sleeping through the night doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be continuing to make sure they get their medicine on time every day,” Casalotti said.

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Hilary Babcock, M.D., M.P.H., president, Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America; Robert Redfield, M.D., director, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; Adriane Casalotti, M.P.H., M.S.W., chief, government and public affairs, National Association of County and City Health Officials; Michael Craig, M.P.P., senior adviser, Antibiotic Resistance Coordination and Strategy Unit, CDC; Nov. 13, 2019, Antibiotic Resistance Threats in the United States, CDC

Copyright © 2013-2018 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

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Obesity Harming Strides Made Against Heart Disease

By Steven Reinberg
HealthDay Reporter

TUESDAY, Aug. 27, 2019 (HealthDay News) — Rising obesity rates, coupled with an associated jump in diabetes and high blood pressure cases, appears to be undoing decades of gains made against heart disease, a new study finds.

After 2010, the rate of deaths from heart disease continued to drop, but more slowly. Deaths from stroke leveled off, and deaths from high blood pressure (“hypertension”) increased, researchers report.

“These findings are surprising and alarming, because despite medical and surgical advances and public policy initiatives around cholesterol and blood pressure awareness, we are losing ground in the battle against cardiovascular disease,” said lead researcher Dr. Sadiya Khan. She is an assistant professor of cardiology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, in Chicago.

“The culprit may be the rise in obesity,” she added, though the study could not prove that definitively.

“One of the greatest success stories of the past century has been the marked reduction in cardiovascular disease death rates,” Khan said.

Despite this progress, heart disease continues to be the number one killer of American men and women. Moreover, the positive progress that was being made has slowed or stopped, Khan noted.

“The reversal of these trends is concerning,” she said. “Even more alarming is the fact that cardiovascular death rates for black Americans remain higher than those for white Americans.”

For the study, Khan and her colleagues used data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on deaths from heart disease, stroke, diabetes and hypertension from 1999 through 2017.

The findings highlight the urgency to address the obesity epidemic and the increasing deaths from heart disease, Khan said. “We need to come up with better ways to fight cardiovascular disease, and quickly,” she explained.

Heart disease is largely preventable. “We know that prevention of risk factors and aggressive management beginning early in life is critical,” Khan added. People should talk with their doctor about their risk factors and how to live a heart-healthy lifestyle, she suggested.

Targeting people early in life and focusing on prevention even in childhood and young adulthood can go a long way to prevent heart disease later, she said.


“To support individual lifestyle changes, policymakers need prevention strategies to support Americans in eating a healthy diet, having safe places to exercise in the neighborhood, and access to health care and medications,” she said.

The report was published Aug. 27 in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

The findings really emphasize the need to focus on prevention, said Dr. Richard Becker, an American Heart Association expert and chair of medicine at the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine.

The increase in deaths from heart disease is a public health challenge that involves health care providers, national organizations and the health care industry, Becker said.

Prevention needs to start early, he stressed. “Without early identification and early intervention, we will not be able to reverse these alarming trends,” he added.

Curbing the obesity epidemic, with its probable effect of reducing the prevalence of diabetes and high blood pressure, is needed, Becker suggested.

“But in all likelihood, if we started today with some initiatives, it may take five to 10 years before you’re going to see the fruits of these labors,” Becker said. “So, we could start seeing an increase in cardiovascular deaths before they start to go down again.”

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SOURCES: Sadiya Khan, M.D., assistant professor, cardiology, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, Chicago; Richard Becker, M.D., American Heart Association expert and chair and professor, medicine, University of Cincinnati College of Medicine; Aug. 27, 2019,Journal of the American Medical Association

Copyright © 2013-2018 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

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How a Hemp Flag From Denver Made U.S. History on July 4

It’s been six years since Colorado native Michael Bowman pulled off a monumental coup for hemp on the Fourth of July. With the help of Jared Polis — a Colorado congressman at the time — Bowman briefly raised a Denver-made American flag above the United States Capitol Building on July 4, 2013.

That flag was made from hemp fibers, which were federally illegal at the time. Six years later, hemp is now federally legal thanks to the 2018 Farm Bill, and Bowman has co-founded his own publicly held hemp venture.

But for Bowman, it all goes back to that historic moment in 2013.

“This, my friends, is what the beginning of the end looked like. We were winning the war,” he says. Still, it wasn’t easy to get his hands on a hemp flag; in fact, he had to rely on some quick work from his Colorado friends to get the job done.

At the time, Bowman was in Washington, D.C., lobbying for hemp and supporting then-U.S. Representative Polis with hemp policy reform. While he watched Polis debate a colleague over a hemp amendment one day inside the Capitol, Bowman spotted a flag flying overhead. Inspiration struck: Aware of a rule that allows members of Congress to request that flags be flown briefly over the Capitol building and returned to their owner, Bowman mentioned the idea to Polis. Polis was in, and Bowman was on the hook for a hemp-made American flag on quick order. So the man known among friends and industry peers as “Mr. Hemp” got busy creating one.

He first enlisted Adam Dunn, a Denver resident and founder of the hemp-based clothing company Hemp Hoodlamb; Dunn purchased the fiber in Manitou Springs and brought it to his showroom in Denver. Sheldon Reid of the Graffitee Factory screen-printing company imprinted the stars and stripes, and Dunn’s mother finished the job with her sewing skills.

Marijuana Deals Near You

Colorado hemp lobbyist Samantha Walsh, an influential figure in Colorado hemp legislation then and now, shipped the flag overnight to Bowman — just in time for Polis to hold it on the House floor as he advocated in favor of an amendment allowing institutions of higher education and state agricultural departments to produce hemp for academic research. Polis’s amendment passed on June 20, 2013, making history as the first federal hemp legislation passed in eighty years.

A few weeks later, Polis asked that the Colorado-made hemp flag be flown over the Capitol, and it was raised (fittingly) on the Fourth of July. Not everyone was thrilled with the moment, though. Michele Leonhart, head administrator of the Drug Enforcement Administration at the time, reportedly categorized the incident as the lowest day of her 33 years at the DEA while speaking to a sheriff’s group the following January.

Polis had a different outlook. “George Washington and Thomas Jefferson grew hemp. The first American flag was made of hemp,” he said at the time. “The U.S. Department of Agriculture produced a Hemp for Victory video in 1942. And today, I am proud that an American flag made of hemp will fly over our Capitol on the anniversary of our nation’s birth.”

Despite Leonhart’s objections, the writing was on the wall for hemp. In December 2018, it was no longer lumped in with marijuana as part of the Controlled Substances Act after the passage of the Farm Bill, a piece of agricultural legislation allowing all fifty states to farm and sell hemp. Although hemp is the same species as the marijuana plant, which is rich in intoxicating THC, hemp is grown to have 0.3 percent THC or less, and doesn’t get users high.

With hemp finally federally legalized, the industry is exploding, predicted to be worth well over $ 20 billion by 2025. Colorado is poised as a national leader in the new trade, leading the nation in farming acreage devoted to hemp in 2017 and 2018 combined, according to farming organization Vote Hemp. And the future has never looked brighter to Bowman.

“We have gone from having to sneak a flag over the Capitol building,” he notes, and “72 months later, we are the number-one state in hemp.”

Bowman, a fifth-generation Colorado farmer who planted his first hemp crop in 2014, is excited about the opportunities that hemp can provide to struggling small and mid-sized farmers and dying farm communities. He was recently invited to sit on two state committees as part of Governor Polis’s Colorado Hemp Advancement and Management Plan (CHAMP) to ensure Colorado’s position as a leader in the hemp industry.

His new company, First Crop, recently brought in $ 2.5 million during a round of public funding, but Bowman believes businesses like his could also help reinvigorate Colorado’s rural communities and save failing farms. “The small- to medium-sized farms, the ones that are really struggling right now, we think there is a real opportunity for them in the CBD oil space,” he says.

But Bowman thinks that hemp has far more potential than just the CBD market. “Hemp is not a one-trick pony; this plant has so much diversity,” he adds, pointing to hemp’s potential in the fiber, feed, seed and fuel markets. He even believes that when grown under sustainable farming methods, hemp could positively affect climate change, sucking CO2 out of the air, absorbing toxic metals and reducing pollution exposure.

These are thrilling times for Bowman, who has been advocating tirelessly on behalf of the plant for nearly twenty years. “Hemp is one of the oldest crops. We can trace this crop back 12,000 years. The last eighty years are an anomaly,” he says. “There have been a lot of people even five, six years ago who said, ‘You’re never going to get this. It’s never going to happen.’”

Since that now-famous Fourth of July in 2013, Bowman’s hemp flag has been utilized as a symbol of activism, touring the nation via Denver native Rick Trojan’s “Hemp Road Trip” and educating the public about the benefits of the hemp plant.

So as we celebrate our nation’s independence, let’s celebrate hemp’s newfound freedom, as well. After all, founding fathers George Washington and Thomas Jefferson both grew hemp, Betsy Ross’s first American flag is rumored to have been sewn on hemp, and the first drafts of the Declaration of Independence itself were likely written on hemp paper.

Toke of the Town

Vaping Is Erasing Gains Made Against Teen Smoking

By Dennis Thompson

HealthDay Reporter

MONDAY, Feb. 11, 2019 (HealthDay News) — E-cigarettes have obliterated past progress in reducing tobacco product use among teenagers, U.S. health officials said Monday.

About 4.9 million middle and high school students were current users of a tobacco product in 2018, up from 3.6 million in 2017, according to results from the annual National Youth Tobacco Survey.

All told, more than 1 in 4 high school students and about 1 in 14 middle school students used a tobacco product in 2018, according to U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data.

Researchers chalk this increase up entirely to e-cigarettes, noting that no significant change was found in the use in any other tobacco product — including traditional tobacco cigarettes.

“The skyrocketing growth of young people’s e-cigarette use over the past year threatens to erase progress made in reducing youth tobacco use. It’s putting a new generation at risk for nicotine addiction,” CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield said in a statement.

Kids who use e-cigarettes could be more likely to progress to smoking tobacco after becoming hooked on nicotine, according to previous research cited by the CDC.

The nicotine in e-cigarettes also pose other health hazards, said Dr. Anne Schuchat, the CDC’s principal deputy director.

“Nicotine is highly addictive and can harm brain development, including harmful effects on learning, memory and attention,” Schuchat said. Nicotine also primes the brain for addiction to other substances, she added.

Matthew Myers, president of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, called the survey results “deeply troubling.”

“These results are strong evidence that e-cigarettes are not helping to drive down youth cigarette use,” Myers said. “Indeed, if anything, the evidence to date indicates that e-cigarettes could increase the number of kids who smoke cigarettes.”

There were 1.5 million more young e-cigarette users in 2018 than 2017, and those who vaped did so more often, the CDC found.

E-cigarette use increased to nearly 21 percent among high schoolers and 5 percent among middle schoolers in 2018, up from about 12 percent and 3 percent in 2017, respectively.


The proportion of high schoolers who vaped at least 20 of the past 30 days increased to 28 percent in 2018 from 20 percent the year before, the CDC added.

The agency specifically cited the e-cigarette JUUL in its report, noting that the increase in youth vaping mirrored increased sales of JUUL.

The JUUL is shaped like a USB flash drive and is easy to conceal, the CDC noted. It uses liquid nicotine refills called “pods” that contain at least as much nicotine as a pack of cigarettes, and they are available in flavors that appeal to teens.

“JUUL entered the U.S. market in 2015 and since Dec. 2017 has held the greatest market share of any e-cigarette in the United States. We know JUUL devices are being used among kids in school, including inside bathrooms and classrooms,” said Brian King, deputy director at the CDC’s Office on Smoking and Health.

“JUUL also has a high nicotine content, among the highest of any e-cigarette on the U.S. market,” King continued. “The devices also use nicotine salts, which can allow high amounts of nicotine to be inhaled more easily and with less irritation than the free-based nicotine that’s used in most other e-cigarettes.”

For the fifth year in a row, e-cigarettes were the most commonly used tobacco product among high schoolers. Cigarettes (8 percent) were next most common, followed by cigars (7 percent), smokeless tobacco (6 percent), hookah (4 percent), and pipe tobacco (1 percent).

And many kids don’t limit themselves to one type of tobacco product, the CDC found.

Among current tobacco users, about 2 in 5 (1.7 million) high school students and 1 in 3 (270,000) middle school students used two or more tobacco products in 2018. The most commonly used tobacco product combination was e-cigarettes and tobacco cigarettes among both middle and high school students.

The findings were published Feb. 11 in the CDC publication Vital Signs.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is cracking down on e-cigarette marketing and sales aimed at teens, but more needs to be done, said Thomas Ylioja, clinical director of health initiatives at National Jewish Health in Denver.


“Vaping products successfully evaded the regulations that reduced youth tobacco initiation over the past 20-plus years, including age restrictions on purchases accompanied by retailer fines, advertising bans, taxes to increase the price, and the restriction on use of products indoors,” Ylioja said.

“Legislators and policy-makers are responding, but we need rapid action to ban advertising to youth including through social media outlets, restrict purchases including online, raise the age of purchasing nicotine products to 21, ban vaping in places where tobacco is prohibited, and ensure that nicotine vaping products are taxed like other tobacco products,” he continued.

WebMD News from HealthDay


SOURCES: Feb. 11, 2019, media briefing with: Anne Schuchat, M.D., principal deputy director, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and  Brian King, Ph.D., M.P.H., deputy director, CDC’s Office on Smoking and Health; Matthew Myers, president, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids; Thomas Ylioja, Ph.D., clinical director, health initiatives, National Jewish Health, Denver; Feb. 11, 2019,Vital Signs

Copyright © 2013-2018 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

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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

‘Compromise’ Medical Marijuana Bill is Made Into Law in Utah

Utah lawmakers approved a controversial medical marijuana bill in a special session Dec. 3, 2018. There’s your final vote on the medical marijuana “compromise.” #utpol — Robert Gehrke (@RobertGehrke) December 3, 2018 During the Nov. 6, 2018, election, Utah voters passed a separate medical cannabis initiative, Proposition 2, that would allow patients with certain […]

Rotten shark made you queasy? A vomit bag for every guest at the Disgusting Food Museum

MALMO, Sweden (Reuters) – The dead mouse in the Chinese wine sure looks nasty, and the maggots in the cheese tend to put people off. But nothing is more horrible to an unaccustomed palate than the Icelandic fermented shark. It’s the worst. Or so says the expert.

A visitor looks at the Chinese mouse wine, where baby mice are drowned and brewed in rice wine, at the Disgusting Food Museum in Malmo, Sweden November 1, 2018. REUTERS/Mikael Nilsson

“It tastes like chewing on a urine-infested mattress,” said Samuel West, who, as curator of the Disgusting Food Museum, knows a thing or two about unpleasant victuals.

“It’s a fermented sort of rotten Icelandic shark,” he says. “Anthony Bourdain, the late TV personality, called it the single most disgusting thing he’d ever eaten, and I totally agree with him.”

From spicy rabbit heads to fruit bat soup, the collection, now on display in the Swedish city of Malmo, aims to challenge perceptions of taste and help visitors contemplate why one culture’s abomination is another’s delicacy.

Some visitors have a hard time of it.

“Has anyone thrown up here at the museum? Yes twice,” West said. But, “it’s okay to vomit because our entry tickets are not really tickets — they’re printed on vomit bags.”

Grasshoppers, cooked animals’ skulls and other body parts, including an eyeball, are on display in pots or on boards.

European fare ranges from Iceland’s cured shark, Hakarl, to Sardinia’s Casu Marzu cheese, which is riddled with insect larvae. There is Scottish haggis, made from sheep innards, and Sweden’s smelly Surstromming fermented herring.

Asian foods include the strong-smelling Durian fruit and stinky tofu. The fruit bat soup comes from the sparsely populated Pacific Ocean archipelago of Palau. Latin American dishes include Mexico’s Menudo tripe soup as well as Peru’s roasted guinea pigs, known as Cuy.

North America is represented by sweet treats: Jell-O salad and root beer.

Australian visitor Nichole Courtney said she was surprised to come across Vegemite, her homeland’s sandwich spread of concentrated yeast extract which is known to divide opinion.

“Things like Vegemite which we find really normal at home, like we’d eat that every day for breakfast, are next to things like the shark that I couldn’t imagine tasting and I think it is revolting so it’s quite funny for us.”

Reporting By Reuters Television; Writing by Marie-Louise Gumuchian; Editing by Peter Graff

Reuters: Oddly Enough

Michiganders Want Weed to Be Legal, New York DA Wants Offenders to be Made Whole, but Congress Wants Veterans to Go Without Medical Marijuana

Marijuana policy typically makes progress and suffers setbacks in any given week. While some weeks are loaded with only encouraging news, for the week ending Sept. 15, 2018, was a mixed bag. The newest poll out of Michigan looks good for marijuana legalization, and Manhattan’s district attorney announces he’s dismissed more than 3,000 marijuana cases, […]

Poll Finds Parents Say A Restaurant Made Kids Sick

By Alan Mozes

HealthDay Reporter

MONDAY, May 21, 2018 (HealthDay News) — American moms and dads work hard to prevent food poisoning at home, but 10 percent say their kids have gotten sick after eating bad food elsewhere.

In a new poll by C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital at the University of Michigan, parents peg restaurants as the usual source of spoiled or contaminated food (68 percent). Surprisingly, though, just 1 in 4 parents pays attention to restaurant health ratings when they take the family out to eat.

Other places where kids got sick from bad food were school (21 percent), a friend’s home (14 percent) and potlucks (11 percent).

“In most cases children recover quickly from food poisoning, but in certain cases it can be debilitating,” poll co-director Dr. Gary Freed said in a hospital news release. For very young children, whose immune systems are not fully developed, there’s a higher risk of serious complications, he added.

Among parents of kids who got sick from food, only a third said it happened at home. That’s because most moms and dads work hard to keep their kitchens safe.

For example, 87 percent say they wash their hands before preparing a meal; 80 percent wash fruits and vegetables before serving; and 84 percent say they always check for expiration dates on refrigerated foods.

If a product is more than two days past expiration, 57 percent of parents say they smell or taste it to see if it is OK to eat, while 43 percent toss it.

Foodborne illness strikes more than 48 million Americans every year, most often caused by toxins, parasites, viruses and bacteria such as salmonella and E. coli, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Symptoms, which can start anywhere from an hour to three days after eating bad food, include diarrhea, vomiting and sometimes fever or muscle aches.

Rigorous hand washing, proper food storage and kitchen cleanliness help reduce the risk. Diligently checking restaurant inspection ratings also can help when dining out, the pollsters said.

WebMD News from HealthDay


SOURCE: C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital National Poll, news release, May 21, 2018

Copyright © 2013-2018 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

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German shoppers sample burgers made of buffalo worms

AACHEN, Germany (Reuters) – Supermarket shoppers in the western German city of Aachen have stepped out of their comfort zone to sample insect burgers made of buffalo worms.

Two burgers made of buffalo worms (Alphitobius Diaperinus) by a German food start-up “Bug Foundation” are placed during its premiere in a supermarket in Aachen, Germany, April 20, 2018. REUTERS/Wolfgang Rattay

The worms, highly nutritious due to their high protein content, are the larvae of buffalo beetles and are bred in the Netherlands.

Served in rolls with lettuce, onions and tomatoes, they are being offered to customers at a supermarket in Aachen where they have just been added to the stock range after proving successful in the Netherlands and Belgium.

Max Kraemer, a 32-year-old geographer of the start-up “Bug Foundation” bites into a burger made of buffalo worms (Alphitobius Diaperinus), that he created together with a business economist, during its premiere in a supermarket in Aachen, Germany, April 20, 2018. REUTERS/Wolfgang Rattay

One passerby who tried one of the burgers, Manfred Roedder, said he believed they were a good alternative to meat, adding: “I had reservations at first but I got a second serving because it tasted so good.”

Slideshow (5 Images)

Baris Oezel, one of the founders of the start-up called Bugfoundation that makes the burgers, said he spent four years working on the concept along with company co-founder Max Kraemer.

The pair got the idea after traveling together to southeast Asia, where it is not uncommon to eat insects.

“It’s quite simple. You have to create an aesthetic product that looks good and doesn’t show any insects,” Oezel said, adding that people were attracted by the smell of the burgers.

But not everyone is sure about them.

“We have people who are totally thrilled to find out about the whole thing and have been looking forward to it for days,” said Michael Reinartz, manager of a Rewe supermarket in Aachen where the burgers are now being sold. “And we have people who say: You’re not seriously doing that?!”

Reporting by Reuters Television; Writing by Michelle Martin; Editing by Gareth Jones

Reuters: Oddly Enough

Why Whooping Cough Has Made a Comeback

By Robert Preidt

HealthDay Reporter

THURSDAY, March 29, 2018 (HealthDay News) — Flaws in current whooping cough vaccines aren’t to blame for rising rates of the disease in the United States, a new study contends.

Researchers attribute a resurgence of the disease since the 1970s to factors that arose long before the latest vaccines were introduced in the late 1990s. Whooping cough, a respiratory disease also called pertussis, can be fatal to babies.

“Conventional wisdom is that the current vaccine is the problem, but that’s not consistent with what we see,” said Aaron King. He is an infectious disease ecologist and applied mathematician at the University of Michigan.

King and his colleagues concluded that the return of whooping cough has roots in the mid-20th century. It’s due to natural population turnover, incomplete vaccination coverage, and gradually weakening protection from a highly effective but imperfect vaccine, they said.

“This resurgence is the predictable consequence of rolling out a vaccine that isn’t quite perfect and not hitting everybody in the population with that vaccine,” explained King, who is also a professor of ecology and evolutionary biology.

Each year, whooping cough claims the lives of 195,000 babies worldwide, mostly in developing nations. In 2016, the United States had 17,972 reported cases, including six infant deaths, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The CDC recommends a series of five pertussis shots for children under 7 years of age. Boosters are recommended for older children and for some adults.

The study authors said most cases of whooping cough are spread when infected school-age children cough or sneeze while in close contact with other children.

“The overwhelming amount of transmission is happening in those age groups. So we have to make sure that kids are getting vaccinated before they go to school,” King said in a university news release.

The study was published March 28 in the journal Science Translational Medicine.

WebMD News from HealthDay


SOURCE: University of Michigan, news release, March 28, 2018

Copyright © 2013-2018 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

WebMD Health

McDonald’s to Offer Burgers Made With Fresh Beef

Tuesday, March 6, 2018 — Quarter Pounders made with fresh beef will be offered at about 3,500 McDonald’s restaurants across the United States, the company says.

The products will first be available in Atlanta, Miami, Salt Lake City and five other cities, and then in most McDonald’s nationwide by May, the Associated Press reported.

The company has relied on frozen beef patties since the 1970s.

The move to fresh beef is among a number of changes made by McDonald’s in response to a growing number of people wanting to avoid processed foods, the AP reported.

WebMD News from HealthDay

Copyright © 2013-2017 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

WebMD Health

Finland baker launches bread made from crushed crickets

HELSINKI (Reuters) – Finnish bakery and food service company Fazer launched on Thursday what it said was the world’s first insect-based bread to be offered to consumers in stores.

The first mass-delivered bread made of insects are seen at the Finnish food company Fazer bakery in Helsinki, Finland November 23, 2017. REUTERS/Attila Cser

The bread, made from flour ground from dried crickets as well as wheat flour and seeds, contains more protein than normal wheat bread. Each loaf contains about 70 crickets and costs 3.99 euros ($ 4.72), compared with 2 to 3 euros for a regular wheat loaf.

“It offers consumers with a good protein source and also gives them an easy way to familiarize themselves with insect-based food,” said Juhani Sibakov, head of innovation at Fazer Bakeries.

The demand to find more food sources and a desire to treat animals more humanely have raised interest in using insects as a protein source in several Western countries.

In November, Finland joined five other European countries – Britain, the Netherlands, Belgium, Austria and Denmark – in allowing insects to be raised and marketed for food use.

Sibakov said Fazer had developed the bread since last summer. It had to wait for legislation to be passed in Finland for the launch.

Flour ground from dried crickets and crickets in jars, for the first mass-delivered bread made of insects, are seen at the Finnish food company Fazer bakery in Helsinki, Finland November 23, 2017. REUTERS/Attila Cser

“I don’t taste the difference … It tastes like bread,” said Sara Koivisto, a student from Helsinki after trying the new product.

Due to a limited supply of crickets, the insect-bread will initially only be sold in 11 Fazer bakery stores located in Helsinki region hypermarkets, but the company plans to offer it in all 47 of its stores by next year.

Slideshow (3 Images)

The company buys its cricket flour from the Netherlands, but said it was also looking for local suppliers.

Fazer, a family business with sales of about 1.6 billion euros last year, did not give a sales target for the product.

Insect-eating, or entomophagy, is common in much of the world. The United Nations estimated last year that at least 2 billion people eat insects and more than 1,900 species have been used for food.

In Western countries, edible bugs are gaining traction in niche markets, particularly among those seeking a gluten-free diet or wanting to protect the environment because farming insects uses less land, water and feed than animal husbandry.

($ 1 = 0.8458 euros)

Reporting by Tuomas Forsell; Editing by Jussi Rosendahl and Edmund Blair

Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Reuters: Oddly Enough

Jeff Sessions Just Made a Big Concession on Marijuana

Attorney General Jeff Sessions, pictured above, just made a big concession on marijuana. He finally admitted, prepare yourself, that it’s not as dangerous as heroin.

“I reject the idea that America will be a better place if marijuana is sold in every corner store,” Sessions said during a speech in May. “And I am astonished to hear people suggest that we can solve our heroin crisis by legalizing marijuana—so people can trade one life-wrecking dependency for another that’s only slightly less awful.”

Well, it appears Sessions is ready to slightly change his tune on marijuana, because he was asked about that quote during a testimony before the House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday.

“Marijuana is not as dangerous as heroin — do you agree with that?” Rep. Steve Cohen, D-Tenn., asked Sessions.

“I think that’s correct,” Sessions replied.

That’s not all Sessions said. He was of course there to talk about Trump’s possible collusion with Russia during last year’s election, but there was more marijuana-related discussion as well. He was asked by Rep. Steve Chabot, R-Ohio, if the Justice Department is going to enforce federal law on states that legalize cannabis.

“Our policy is the same really, fundamentally, as the Holder-Lynch policy, which is that the federal law remains in effect and a state can legalize marijuana for its law enforcement purposes, but it still remains illegal with regard to federal purposes,” Sessions said.

He also said at another point that he believes the Justice Department is still bound to the Rohrbacher-Farr amendment of 2014, which prevents the Justice Department from using federal funds to go after states that legalize marijuana. Sessions has asked previously that that amendment not be renewed when the time comes this December. Take note of that.

It’s clear Sessions still doesn’t like marijuana and wants to fight the spread of marijuana, but at least he’s not ignorant enough to think it’s as bad as heroin anymore.

[Photo via GreyHawk/DailyKos]

The 420 Times