A summary of important health news from the past week.
Health care has been a topic of debates through the presidential primaries. Democratic candidates are debating the option of single-payer systems in which a single entity, usually the government, pays for all health care for the population. Like Medicare, this kind of system still allows for private clinics and facilities. Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders is in favor while candidate Hillary Clinton does not. While some argue that it will widen coverage, others argue it will result in higher taxes for the middle class.
Dole Listeria Outbreak
12 people have been hospitalized in the past six months, due to a listeria outbreak linked to Dole packaged salads. One Michigan resident died of listeria, according to the CDC. As a result, Dole has shut down its processing facility in Springfield, Ohio and withdrawn its packaged salads produced there. Currently, there is no indication that packaged salads from other Dole locations are contaminated.
After further investigation and growing concern, the C.D.C. has issued a travel alert for eight more destinations, including St. Martin, Barbados, and Samoa. The travel alert is especially important for pregnant women; Zika virus does not always show symptoms in those infected, but can result in severe birth defects on babies born to infected mothers. Brazil is currently experiencing a Zika outbreak that has affected hundreds of babies, and the bug borne illness is spreading.
One dead in listeria outbreak; salad suspected
Adding to the plethora of food recalls, the FDA and CDC recently announced an outbreak of listeria. The cases are proposed to be linked to packaged salads sold under different names, but originating from a facility in Springfield, Ohio run by Dole. Out of the 12 infected, the one death came from Michigan, while the others infected were located in Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, and Indiana. The CDC is warning against buying and eating salads packaged by Dole, or named, 'Fresh Selections,' 'The Little Salad Bar,' 'Simple Truth,' 'The Market Side,' or 'President's Choice.' If you have purchased Dole products, look for the 'A' pictured on the manufacturing code, and throw the item away.
Rules to make school lunches healthier are working, study finds
After much apprehension surrounding the 2012 federal school lunch standards, the data is out. Researchers have found that 46% of students are still eating school lunches compared to the 47% of students before the new school lunch legislation went into effect. Additionally, the foods really are healthier, even though they cost more than previous lunches. Researchers found increased vitamins and nutrients in the new meals and more fruits, vegetables and whole grains on students’ plates. Part of the pushback on healthier school lunches was the worry that the food would end up in the trashcan. However, school food waste levels have not changed, which presumably means that kids are eating the same amount of food as before but now including more healthy foods.
By: Leah Howard
With the rise of experimental research and curative procedures, it is inevitable that eventually we would start looking in some unique places for a way to relieve disease. This rings true as feces are becoming new area of research for treatment – this usually hushed subject is now quite possibly the next cure for infections. One of the newest form of treatment comes when patients are diagnosed with C. difficile, a bacterial infection that is passed through feces, and manifests when infectious subjects do not thoroughly wash their hands. It is spread through contact, and although it has no effect for some, for others it can be the cause of extreme diarrhea, dehydration, and colon inflammation to the point of being life-threatening. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has estimated that approximately 500,000 people in the United States were infected by the disease in 2011, with about 29,000 of these cases being fatal within the first 30 days of their original diagnosis.
For years, antibiotics such as Vancomycin, have been used to treat C. difficile. This is a very effective way of treating the disease, but can wipe out all of the good bacteria located in the gut. This side effect can be an extremely harmful and allow the disease to become recurring or even resistant. When this method fails, some patients may turn to alternative treatment in order to help treat this disease, including fecal transplantation.
Fecal transplantation, or more specifically, fecal microbiota transplant (FMT), is a procedure that has roots in the 4th century CD, but has only recently been applied to treat C. difficile. Present day, FMT is a procedure completed during a colonoscopy, in which the liquidized stool from the donor is delivered into the patients colon. Success rates from fecal transplants are much more effective than standard antibiotic treatment. However, this lifesaving procedure has come under extreme scrutiny and investigation.
For starters, fecal transplants are a very experimental procedure that is starting to be done at home. You can easily search ‘At-Home Fecal Transplants’ and find the steps, tools, and procedures for doing DIY fecal transplants in the comfort of your own home. The issue is that the benefits and downsides of the procedure are still widely unknown. The FDA is cautioning against the growing field of FMT and is only reluctantly allowing for research on the procedure. This is due to the procedure's immeasurability – there is no standard of what is being given to the patients and, as the field of human microbiome is also in its infant stages, there is no way for patients, doctors, and researchers to know what is beneficial and what is harmful in the gut microbiota.
In 2013, with fecal transplantation on the rise the FDA announced that all human feces would be considered an unapproved drug and that any research in the field would have to undergo Investigational New Drug (IND) approval. This means that research practices and outcomes must be tested for quality, usefulness, and ultimately worthiness of production on a large-scale basis. Over the past couple of years, the FDA has loosened their tight regulation on FMT research but is still hesitant on its use as a drug and as treatment for diseases such as C. difficil.
The new fields of fecal transplantation and the human microbiome are growing very rapidly as the Human Microbiome Project, an initiative that began less than 10 years ago, attempts to map the Human Microbiome. This work has opened doors for research on topics ranging from how the vaginal microbiome affects pregnancy to how the microbiome can influence the incidence of disease. With these exciting findings, there are sure to be new discoveries and breakthroughs in both fields very soon.
 Spector, T & Knight, R. (2015). Faecal transplants. British Medical Journal, 351, 5149.
 Ünal, CM & Steinert, M. (2015). Novel therapeutic strategies for Clostridium difficile infections. Expert Opin Ther Targets, 13, 1-17.
 Baron, Todd H. (2013). Fecal microbiota transplant: We knows its history, but can we predict its future? Mayo Clinic Proceedings, 88(8), 782-785.
 van Nood E, Vrieze A, Nieuwdorp M, et al. (2013). Duodenal infusion of donor feces for recurrent Clostridium difficile. N Engl J Med., 368, 407-415.
A summary of important news items from the previous week.
Average Age Of First-Time Moms Keeps Climbing In The U.S.
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