Trending News Today: Four Unlicensed Tattoo Artists Arrested in Connection to HCV Spread

Top news of the day from across the health care landscape.

New research suggests that the risk of infant mortality among black babies in the first year of life is nearly 2.5 times higher compared with white babies, according to the Los Angeles Times. Overall, infant mortality in the United States dropped 15% over the last decade, but a substantial gap between black and white babies remains. In a new study, investigators found that 5.7 of every 1000 white infants died before their first birthday in 2005. By 2015, the figure dropped 16% to 4.8 deaths per 1000 white infants. The mortality rate among black infants in 2005 was 14.3 per 1000 births. By 2012, the rate dropped by 11.6 per 1000, and ultimately remained flat, reaching 11.7 per 1000 in 2015, the LA Times reported. The authors concluded that if black infants born in the United States received the same health and medical benefits as white infants, nearly 4000 fewer would die per year, equating to a nearly 60% decrease.

Scientists are beginning to re-explore the use of bacteriophages to treat serious, life-threatening infections, The Washington Post reported. Furthermore, infectious disease specialists believe that phage therapy shows promise in treating antibiotic-resistant bacterial diseases. “We desperately need something to treat infections resistant to antibiotics, so we are turning back to these viruses, but with new knowledge and new technology,” Carl Merril, a retired National Institutes of Health scientist who has studies bacteriophages for 50 years, told the Post. Currently, phage therapy is not licensed by the FDA for humans, but the agency has granted its use in at least 4 life-threatening situations and recognizes its potential. Bacteriophages are found in sewage and wastewater, soil, marine water, animal intestines, and the human gut. There are believed to be more than 10 million trillion trillion in existence, more than any other organism on earth.

As a result of the rise in hepatitis C virus (HCV) cases, 4 tattoo artists in southwest Virginia have been arrested for unlicensed tattooing. According to The Washington Post, additional individuals could be charged as the investigation continues. Pulaski, VA, Police issued a warning in May that HCV had been spread by unclean and unlicensed tattooing. Charging money for tattoos without a license is illegal in Virginia, and health departments are required to inspect tattoo shops.