Flu Shot Still Left Off To-Do List For 40 Percent Of Adults Even After Last Year’s Deadly Season

At the heart of their decision are worries about the shot giving them the flu and suffering from other side effects. Public health officials warn about a repeat of last year when the virus killed 80,000 people, and they stress that side effects are mild. Other public health news focuses on the outcry over the first CRISPR babies; climate change and the rise of mosquito-born illnesses; a potential link between infections and mental illness; more raw beef recalls; the impact of childhood trauma on pain; the decrease in American life expectancy; and cuts to the SilverSneakers programs.

The New York Times:
Why Are Scientists So Upset About The First Crispr Babies?

A Chinese scientist recently claimed he had produced the world’s first gene-edited babies, setting off a global firestorm. If true — the scientist has not yet published data that would confirm it — his actions would be a sensational breach of international scientific conventions. Although gene editing holds promise to potentially correct dangerous disease-causing mutations and treat some medical conditions, there are many safety and ethical concerns about editing human embryos. Here are answers to some of the numerous questions swirling around this development. (Kolata and Belluck, 12/5)

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Climate Change Means A Rise In Mosquito-Borne Illnesses Like Eastern Equine Encephalitis

The number of people who got sick in the United States from an infected mosquito, tick, or flea tripled between 2004 and 2016. More than 640,000 cases over that time, according to the CDC. In Florida, changing climate and a lack of good diagnostic tools, make it easier for insect-borne diseases like Eastern Equine Encephalitis to spread. The personal and financial costs of even one case of this disease can be catastrophic. (Prieur, 12/5)

Infections May Raise The Risk Of Mental Illness In Children

Researchers have traced a connection between some infections and mental illnesses like schizophrenia, depression and bipolar disorder. New research from Denmark bolsters that connection. The study, published Thursday in JAMA Psychiatry, shows that a wide variety of infections, even common ones like bronchitis, are linked to a higher risk of many mental illnesses in children and adolescents. (Chatterjee, 12/5)

More Raw Beef Recalled After Nationwide Salmonella Outbreak

More than 2,500 tons of raw beef are being added to a recall in connection with a salmonella outbreak that federal officials say has sickened hundreds of people across 25 states. The Arizona-based JBS Tolleson processing plant initially recalled about 3,500 tons of potentially contaminated beef in October. JBS, the top global meatpacker that owns the plant, still maintains the move ensured all of the affected product had already been removed from store shelves. (Held, 12//5)

Doctors Look To Childhood Trauma For Roots Of Puzzling Chronic Pain

About one in five adults in the U.S. suffer from chronic pain, and in a lot of cases, there’s no clear reason why or treatment that works. As the dangers of opioids are becoming clearer, many doctors are looking at other ways to address pain, including addressing childhood trauma. … At a lab at the University of Kansas Medical Center, liquids stir in flasks, centrifuges whirl, and associate professor of anatomy and cell biology Julie Christianson leads researchers working to understand the links between stress and pain in mice. Christianson explains that pain generally works in two stages. First we have an injury and feel pain, then – just as importantly – our brains dial the pain back down. (Smith, 12/6)

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Dr. Halberg: Life Expectancy Drop In U.S. Could Be Partly From Diabetes

Life expectancy in the U.S. declined last year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Many factors contributed to the decline, and the increased rate of diabetes may be one of them. Diabetes remains one of the top 10 leading causes of death, but the disease can be managed, says Dr. Jon Hallberg of the University of Minnesota. (Crann and Shiely, 12/5)

Kaiser Health News:
Seniors Steamed Over Cuts To SilverSneakers Fitness Program

John Garland Graves was taken aback when he walked into his McKinleyville, Calif., gym in October and learned that his SilverSneakers membership was being canceled. Since 2014, Graves, 69, has enjoyed free access to the gym through SilverSneakers, the nation’s best-known fitness program for seniors. He was disturbed by the news, as are many other people who have recently learned they’re losing this benefit. (Graham, 12/6)

This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.

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