Top news of the day from across the health care landscape.
A mysterious and paralyzing disease that shares some similarities to polio could potentially be treated with existing polio drugs, according to The Washington Post. The condition is called acute flaccid myelitis (AFM), and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has confirmed 89 cases of the disease in the United States through the year. Furthermore, a 6-year-old boy who was suspected of having AFM died in Seattle on Sunday, making it the first death believed to be caused by the disease, the Post reported. During a 2014 outbreak, a drug currently in development called pocapavir was used briefly in a few patients under compassionate use. Researchers said that the drug had weak, but measurable impact on viral replication and that a larger study needs to be conducted. Current treatments for AFM have yet to show significant benefit in patients.
On Tuesday, individuals will vote on whether or not they want to tax sugary drinks, reported The New York Times. This vote is the latest in steps officials and nutritionists are taking to combat obesity, diabetes, and other health epidemics. The following cities and states are considering a tax, with many voting on penny-per-ounce soda tax: Albany and San Francisco, California; Alabama; Boulder, Colorado; Cook County, Illinois; Illinois; and Navajo Nation. While Arkansas; Berkeley, CA; Chicago; Oakland, CA; Philadelphia; and West Virginia already have some sort of tax in place.
The DNA in every cell in the lungs will acquire 150 new mutations for every year that smokers continue to smoke a pack a day. According to the Los Angeles Times, although some of the mutations may be harmless the more mutations there are, the greater the risk that one could end up causing cancer. Further findings from a new study revealed that after a year of smoking a pack-a-day, the cells in the larynx pick up roughly 97 new mutations, while those in the pharynx accumulated 39 new mutations, and cells in the oral cavity gain 23 new mutations, reported the LA Times. The findings get worse when researchers found that even organs not directly exposed to tobacco smoke are affected. Researchers discovered that about 18 new mutations in every bladder cell and 6 new mutations in every liver cell for each pack-year that smokers smoked.