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A Recap of Obamacare for those with A.D.D

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Obama Health CareIf you’re like  most people, you barely have enough time in the day to do anything, let alone keep up on the latest political news.  Worse yet, what if you’re A.D.D. and can’t seem to focus on a single thing? Have no fear – there’s an infographic for that.

The infographic, courtesy of medical-billing.com, shows both sides of the health insurance debate: Obamacare and NObamacare in an informative yet humorous way.  You know that one time you tried to read the bill online and kept taking YouTube breaks? It has those built-in A.D.D. moments for you, giving you a refreshing break from the same old political agenda that so many of these recent Obamacare infographics seem to have.

Each party’s views are looked at in the infographic, beginning with the fact that both sides agree that Obamacare will change the deficit by $1 trillion. However, the right believes the deficit will increase, while the left says it will decrease. By 2019, Obamacare will reduce the number of uninsured residents by 32 million. The left claims that it will also save employers $3,000 per employee. However, knowing this, the other side says that around 30% of employers will simply drop their existing health care coverage and pay the $2,000 penalty rather than dealing with their employees at all.

Medical Billing also included the Sandra Fluke-Rush Limbaugh exchange and discussed how Fluke wants contraception paid for by the government. This portion was timely and very humorous, and also talked about how Obamacare may affect Fluke’s proposal. They also discuss the need for “Doc Fix” if we want to sustain Medicare, however, this will cost $300 billion.

Regardless of what you believe, the infographic stays fairly unbiased by simply giving points from each side. However, it never states anything that both parties agree on. The overall concept is hard to grasp and you may not feel any closer to a verdict by the end on it, but if you were completely clueless about Obamacare, this will most likely help to catch you up, and the funny interludes were a nice touch.
America's Health Care Diagnosis [Infographic]
© 2012 Medical Billing

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Global Health Emergency: Ebola Outbreak In Congo

The Ebola epidemic in Congo is now being considered as a global health emergency after it spilled over to nearby country, Uganda, and a case confirmed in Goma.

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DFID - UK | Flickr | CC BY 2.0

The World Health Organization announced Wednesday that the deadly Ebola virus is now an outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Ebola is now a global health emergency after the confirmation of another case in Goma.

The WHO announcement of a global health emergency in Congo is the fifth declaration in history. Previous emergencies were declared for the devastating 2014-16 Ebola outbreak in West Africa that killed more than 11,000 people, the emergence of Zika in the Americas, the swine flu pandemic and polio.

Meanwhile, Goma is one of the most populated cities in the country, with a population of more than two million people. Goma sits just south of the epicenter of the outbreak, near the border with Rwanda. More particularly, Goma is in a regional crossroads in northeastern Congo on the Rwandan border and also has an International airport.

More than 1,600 people have died since August. Last month, the outbreak spilled across the Congo border for the first time when a family brought the virus into Uganda after attending the burial of an infected relative. There were also reports that a Congolese fish trader died from Ebola after traveling to Uganda and back.

However, the outbreak in Congo has been ongoing for almost a year, with 2,418 confirmed cases and 1,676 deaths. The WHO estimates 12 new cases are reported daily, making the situation the second deadliest Ebola epidemic ever.

In relation, the WHO only defines a global emergency as an “extraordinary event” that constitutes a risk to other countries and requires a coordinated international response. But a WHO expert committee declined on three previous occasions to advise the United Nations health agency to make the declaration for this outbreak, even though experts say it has long met the required conditions.

Although a global health emergency declaration significantly raises more awareness about the severity of the issue in Congo and can bring in more financial, technical, and medical support from nearby countries, it also raises apprehension and fear from an already tense country.

Congo is currently considered as a hostile area with armed rebels plaguing the country. The WHO reports there have been almost 200 attacks against health care workers and patients since January.

“The assassination of two Ebola workers demonstrates the continued risk to responders due to the security situation,” WHO emergency committee chair, Robert Steffen said.

Other than armed militia groups, mitigating the Ebola epidemic also faces another challenge regarding apprehension and raised fear from other countries that often result in borders closing and trade restrictions to and from affected countries.

Consequently, the declaration becomes counterproductive — as medical supplies and other valuable resources will be challenging getting to and from Congo in particular. Hence, the primary reasons why the WHO responded late regarding the global health emergency declaration.

Along with the declaration, the WHO adviced that countries should not close any borders. As of the moment, the WHO believes that the risk of the virus spreading beyond the region remains low.

“Our risk assessment remains that the risk of Ebola spread in the Democratic Republic of Congo and the region remains very high, and the risk of spread outside the region remains low,” WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said.

WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said after the announcement in Geneva that the international emergency “should not be used to stigmatize or penalize the very people who are most in need of our help.”

Ebola Virus | NIAID
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The Ebola virus is spread through contact with blood and other bodily fluids. It can cause massive internal bleeding, vomiting, diarrhea, and death. An outbreak often starts with a “spillover event,” meaning the virus is transmitted from an animal — usually, a fruit bat or monkey — to a human. Then, the virus can spread from person to person.

There is no cure for Ebola right now, and doctors can only use supportive fluids and electrolytes to help counter the side effects of high fever, vomiting, and diarrhea.

Fortunately, the West Africa outbreak spurred work toward a safe and highly effective Ebola vaccine that is being used to combat the spread of the virus, especially to health care workers and anybody who gets in contact with an infected person.

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Sexually Transmitted Disease ‘Syphilis’ Highest In Alberta Since 1948

Syphilis cases in Alberta jump at 1,546 cases in 2018, a sharp increase from 2014’s 161 cases, making it a provincial outbreak.

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Yale Rosen | Flickr | CC BY-SA 2.0

A total of 1,546 cases of infectious syphilis has been reported in 2018, according to a report published by the Alberta government, making it the highest number recorded since 1948. The numbers have prompted the province’s chief medical officer of health to declare a provincial outbreak.

Furthermore, the medical team from Alberta reported that the 2018 statistics is a sharp increase since there were only 161 cases back in 2014.

“This is not just a small fluctuation; this is a significant change in a single year. And it’s getting worse. We’re expecting even higher rates in 2019,” Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Alberta’s chief medical officer, said at a news conference Tuesday to address the outbreak.

In the Central Zone, there were 88 cases of syphilis in 2018, an increase of 266.7 percent compared to 2017.

Meanwhile, in the Edmonton area, there were a staggering 977 reported cases of infectious syphilis in 2018, an increase of 305 percent compared to 2017, which officers also deem as the center of the outbreak comprising over half of the total reported cases in the province, according to Alberta Health.

“It is vitally important that everyone who is sexually active in Alberta take responsibility for having safer sex and get tested, especially if you have new or multiple partners,” said Dr. Laura McDougall, senior medical officer of health at Alberta Health Services.

Planned Parenthood defines syphilis as a prevalent sexually transmitted disease. Moreover, it can spread through vaginal, anal, and oral sex. Syphilis causes sores on your genitals called chancres, in which is the disease’s way of transmission to an uninfected individual. The lesions are usually painless, but they can quickly spread the infection to other people.

Mainly, syphilis is a disease that is easily treated. In specific, primary and secondary syphilis are easy to manage with a penicillin injection. Penicillin is one of the most widely used antibiotics and is usually effective in treating syphilis. For people who are allergic to penicillin, a different medicine such as doxycycline can be administered. However, infectious syphilis that is remained untreated can lead to serious long-term health complications.

Another risk factor that people should watch out for is congenital syphilis. This can occur when a child is born to a mother with syphilis, which can result in severe, disabling, and life-threatening disease for the child.

While congenital syphilis cases were rare before the outbreak, there were 22 congenital syphilis cases between 2014 and 2018, one of which was stillborn. Of those, 13 were reported in the Edmonton area, eight in 2018 alone.

“We need to emphasize for all Albertans: sexually transmitted infections (STIs) are a risk to anyone [who is] sexually active, particularly people who have new sex partners and are not using protection,” said Hinshaw.

For syphilis, there are not always symptoms in the early stages; it can present as a painless ulcer, progress to general symptoms like a fever, and even lead to eye problems or dementia in late stages. That is why, if there is the slightest doubt that a person is infected, it is always wise to visit a doctor and get a test.

“Sexual health is an important part of overall health,” said Dr. Laura McDougall, said. “We are working with community partners to remove the stigma and increase awareness about STI testing services throughout Alberta. If you are sexually active, make regular STI testing part of your health routine.”

In general, young people between the ages of 15 to 29 are most at risk, but all ages are represented in rates of reported cases, said Hinshaw. Common challenges such as homelessness could also be risk factors, but the stigma following a positive test result for STI is also another problem that Alberta Health has noted.

As of the moment, a provincial outbreak coordination committee composed of Alberta Health, Alberta Health Services (AHS) and other rural health officials has been activated. The province says that over the next three months, the committee will develop a coordinated strategy and determine concrete actions to increase STI testing, promote public awareness and reduce the overall number of syphilis cases in Alberta.

“This is a trend that [we see] across Canada and the world. The question of exactly why – there’s not one single factor. When an infection gets into a network of people, it can spread quite quickly. It’s hard to understand why it is higher at the moment in Edmonton and the north than in Calgary,” said Hinshaw.

Health officials say correct and consistent condom use is essential in protecting against STIs. Health experts recommend sexually active people, regardless of gender, age, or sexual orientation, get tested every three to six months if they:

  • Have a sexual partner with a known STI
  • Have a new sexual partner or multiple or anonymous sexual partners
  • Have the previous history of an STI diagnosis
  • Have been sexually assaulted

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Drugs Flushed Down The Toilet Affect Wildlife — And Humans Too

Improper disposal of drugs and other medicinal paraphernalia down the toilet affect wildlife but, ultimately, humans too.

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Police officers from Tennessee are urging residents to put an end to flushing down their drugs in their toilets, as it may easily affect nearby wildlife once the sewer system meets animal habitats.

The warning came via a Loretto Police Department Facebook post after a suspected person was found trying to flush meth and several items of paraphernalia

The Loretto Police Department discovered the incident upon entering the suspect’s home on Saturday. The suspect reportedly tried to improperly dispose of 12 grams of meth and several items of drug paraphernalia via his lavatory.

The suspect was charged with drug possession with intent for resale, possession of drug paraphernalia, and tampering with evidence.

In light of the situation, police warn that if drugs make it far enough, it will end up being consumed by gators in Shoal Creek. “They’ve had enough methed up animals the past few weeks without our help,” police wrote in the post. They even jokingly added that “meth-gators” could be created in Tennessee and Alabama if the meth made it far enough downriver.

According to the post, the Tenessee government are doing their part in ensuring that they are processing the sewer system properly with great consideration to the nearby wildlife that greatly impacts from both the treatment pods and farther down the streamline.

“Now our sewer guys take great pride in releasing water that is cleaner than what is in the creek, but they are not really prepared for meth,” according to a Loretto Police Department post. “Ducks, Geese, and other fowl frequent our treatment ponds and we shudder to think what one all hyped up on meth would do.”

Particularly, the Loretto Police are not only raising awareness specifically on illegal drug disposal but in all drugs in general as they all contain potentially harmful ingredients that could disturb the natural habitats.

“When you send something down the sewer pipe it ends up in our retention ponds for processing before it is sent downstream,” police said. Instead, the Loretto Police urge residents to bring in any drugs, including prescription medication, into their offices for proper disposal instead of flushing.

Furthermore, the issue goes on to a much broader issue regarding improper drug disposal such as flushing them down the toilet. For example, a recent report last June said that the world’s rivers are found to have unsafe levels of antibiotics. For some, rivers exceed 300 times than the recommended level.

As a repercussion, Prof William Gaze, a microbial ecologist at the University of Exeter who studies antimicrobial resistance said that “a lot of the resistance genes we see in human pathogens originated from environmental bacteria.” He also said that even faint traces of antibiotics could have big effects on the development of resistance.

In other words, wildlife exposed to improper doses of antibiotics can easily develop resistance from various infections which they can easily transfer to the human population. This is a grave threat since antibiotics provide a safety blanket against most, if not all, infections that could easily cause life-threatening circumstances if untreated.

As of 2014, around 80% of aquatic pharmaceutical pollution comes from domestic medicines—those taken at home rather than the hospital. A large contributor of which is due to human excretion but it cannot be denied that deliberately flushing down these drugs also make a significant impact especially because they’re in larger doses as compared to those already processed by the human body.

Other than antibiotics and its risk of resistance in the wildlife, antidepressants in sewage are also known to disrupt the reproduction of molluscs and crustaceans. Meanwhile, anti-inflammatory painkillers such as diclofenac have contributed to the deaths of millions of vultures. In 2013, the EU added diclofenac and the hormones 17α-ethinylestradiol and 17β-estradiol to an environmental pollutant “watch list,” meaning that their levels in surface water are now being monitored – though not yet controlled, The Guardian reported.

In other cases, medicinal waste products flushed down the toilet also contribute to the rapidly growing pollution. Furthermore, these products can also affect their physiology in different ways as an example is from the contraceptive pills that skew sex ratios in fish.

In the end, people are not completely getting rid of their waste by simply flushing them down the toilet since they still find a way back to bite human society back.

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