Sheesh, there’s a lot of health news this week.
Let’s lead with the international disaster one: The current Ebola outbreak in West Africa has spread to several countries and killed 672 people so far, with around 1,200 cases total, today’s New York Times story says. Another story by the Times from a couple of days ago described how locals are growing leery of outside physicians, saying that anywhere Doctors Without Borders shows up, the disease appears, so even as these doctors are trying to gain access to communities to treat and contain the virus, they’re being threatened and run out of town by the people who live there. An American man who contracted the virus in Liberia died in Nigeria after potentially infecting people on the plane he took to get there. It’s all pretty scary, but the CDC still says the risk of Ebola spreading to the U.S. is very small and the virus has never been detected in a developed country.
Now that we’ve gotten all paranoid about infectious disease, here’s a more lighthearted story from Vox about how handshakes are disgusting and spread diseases like mad, while fist bumps are much safer from a germophobe perspective and spread 90 percent fewer germs. Huh. Maybe we’ll all be learning how to make a good first impression with a nice, solid fist bump someday soon.
My Twitter feed was abuzz today with posts about the Urban Institute’s latest report on the current state of the uninsured. According to the report, 13.9 percent of adults remain uninsured, and two-thirds of the uninsured fall at or below 138 percent of federal poverty level. It’s worth taking a look at the website — there’s a page of “quick takes,” showing factoids like 60 percent of the nation’s uninsured are living in states that refused to expand Medicaid, and the number of uninsured adults nationwide has dropped by 8 million since the onset of health reform, among many others. It’s a good snapshot of where things stand now, nine months after health reform was implemented.
Other things in the news, in brief: Congress actually compromised and came up with a $17 billion plan to address widespread problems in the VA; drug-addicted doctors are still not sanctioned as quickly or sternly as they perhaps ought to be; the looming “physician crisis” might not be so dire as commonly reported. I’m thinking I’ll do a story on that last one, since we so often hear about it in relation to our own rural, underserved area.