Public Health News Roundup: September 27
Researchers to Study Yosemite Hantavirus Strain
Public health officials and researchers are using the recent hantavirus outbreak at Yosemite National Park to conduct further study into areas such as how it’s transmitted and why it is seems to be more likely to affect certain people. At least nine people were infected and three died because of the outbreak. Their efforts include whole-genome sequencing of the particular strain and voluntary screenings of more than 2,500 Yosemite employees. Read more on infectious diseases.
Study: Harmful “Social Bullying” Common on Kids’ Shows
A new study in the Journal of Communication shows that “social bullying” is common in television programs targeting children ages 2-11. Researchers found 92 percent of 150 episodes analyzed included mean behavior, insults or other forms of non-physical bullying. The popular shows included "Hannah Montana," "Suite Life of Zack & Cody," and "SpongeBob SquarePants." "Lots of attention has been paid to exposure to nudity and violence in the media, and rightfully so," said Nicole Martins, the study’s lead author and an assistant professor in the department of telecommunications at Indiana University. "But parents are largely unaware that programs could be teaching children to be cruel and mean to each other as well. Just because a show is low on physical violence doesn't mean it's harmless." Read more on bullying and violence.
Doctors Reporting Dangerous Drivers Cuts Crashes Dramatically
A new study in The New England Journal of Medicine found that reporting by doctors of drivers with alcoholism, epilepsy or uncontrolled high blood pressure helped cut the risk of automobile collisions by 45 percent. The study looked at the risks associated with 100,075 people who were told by their doctor not to drive. "It isn't just that it can save your patient's life, not just that (not reporting) imposes risks on others in the community as well," said Donald Redelmeier, MD, of the Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre in Toronto and the study’s lead researcher. "It's also that crashes are such a widespread cause of property damage that everybody pays, either through insurance premiums, or congested roadways, or the price of consumer goods." However, the study did note that reporting patients might make them less likely to return to their doctors. Read more on prevention.