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Zika Fears, Opioid Abuse Crisis Top Health News for 2016

Zika Fears, Opioid Abuse Crisis Top Health News for 2016

By E.J. Mundell
HealthDay Reporter

THURSDAY, Dec. 29, 2016 (HealthDay News) — When information reviews first started to emerge of mysterious, extreme birth defects in Brazilian newborns, few might have imagined these remoted tragedies would explode into the main health information story of 2016: the Zika virus.

Soon, these few Brazilian instances of microcephalybabies born with abnormally small heads and underdeveloped brains — grew to develop into hundreds. Doctors shortly made the hyperlink between maternal an infection with mosquito-borne Zika in pregnancy, and toddler microcephaly and different neurological issues.

In the United States, officers on the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) went on excessive alert because the summer time mosquito season superior. Cases of an infection within the Miami space and the Texas-Mexico border led to journey alerts for pregnant women, together with recommendation for avoiding mosquito bites.

By autumn, the Zika panic had begun to subside — the CDC lifted its Miami advisory though one other for Brownsville, Texas, stays. In November, the World Health Organization declared Zika to be a continual menace — very similar to different mosquito-borne scourges — however not a worldwide health emergency. Progress towards efficient vaccines appears promising, scientists reported.

However, the menace stays actual, and simply final Thursday the CDC stated it had earmarked one other $184 million to assist forestall and struggle Zika.


When music icon Prince died in June from an overdose of the potent opioid painkiller fentanyl, his passing marked one other low level within the ongoing U.S. epidemic of opioid abuse.

According to the CDC, greater than 2 million Americans at the moment are addicted to those drugs, which additionally embrace Oxycontin, Vicodin and heroin. More than 14,000 individuals die annually within the United States from prescription opioid overdoses, the company stated.

Even the smallest youngsters aren’t protected: CDC statistics present a fourfold rise between 1999 and 2013 of infants born with opioid withdrawal signs.

Struggling to curb the epidemic, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in May authorised an implant aimed toward serving to addicts give up. And the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration in October mandated vital cuts within the manufacturing of opioid painkillers.


It was a troublesome yr for Obamacare, even if about 19 million Americans now have much-needed health insurance coverage protection beneath the controversial program. In late October, information arrived that premiums would rise by a mean of 25 % — whilst decisions of plans for shoppers shrank.

With the presidential victory of Donald Trump in November, the Affordable Care Act‘s long-term future appears unsure. However, a HealthDay/Harris Poll carried out simply after the election discovered that help for repeal of the regulation is waning — 43 % of respondents now need to see this system amended however not repealed, up from 30 % earlier than the election.


The previous yr noticed the recognition of e-cigarettes proceed to develop, particularly among the many younger. A CDC report issued in July discovered that three % of Americans now “vape” commonly, with use highest amongst these aged 18 to 24.

But, removed from being a “healthier” various to conventional cigarettes, teens who frequently vape usually tend to transfer on to frequent and heavy tobacco smoking, in response to a research launched in November.


Sticker shock over prescription drug pricing additionally rocked the American public in 2016.

Some examples: newly accredited hepatitis C medicine have been priced at $1,000 per capsule; the producers of the allergy-rescue gadget EpiPen boosted its worth sixfold; and Turing Pharmaceuticals sparked outrage when it raised the worth of a generic anti-infection drug, Daraprim, from $13.50 to greater than $750 per capsule.

Many Americans noticed these actions as little greater than price-gouging. A HealthDay/Harris Poll carried out in October discovered that 81 % of respondents stated they now favored worth controls or caps on medical medicine and units.


One longtime dinner-table staple, the salt shaker, additionally had a decidedly shaky yr in 2016. A Canadian research launched in May upset conventional knowledge, suggesting that a low-salt diet may include its personal health dangers.

But the FDA quickly repeated its warning that the majority Americans eat far an excessive amount of sodium than is sweet for them. And in October, a 25-year research supported that notion, linking reductions in day by day salt consumption to longer life span.

Other health information making headlines in 2016:

  • In May, the FDA launched its long-awaited revision to the “Nutrition Facts” label on packaged meals. The redesign shifted the main target to extra “realistic” portion sizes, in addition to an emphasis on added sugars.
  • The burgeoning reputation — and risks — of testosterone supplements have been within the highlight once more. One research launched in February discovered that the hormone does little for men’s health, outdoors of boosting some males’s flagging intercourse drive. And in October, the FDA warned that abuse of the supplements will help trigger heart attacks, character modifications and infertility.
  • Americans additionally discovered extra in 2016 concerning the long-term brain damage from concussions — typically linked to contact sports activities resembling soccer. One report in July discovered a doubling of reported concussions in U.S. youngsters, though higher analysis could also be behind the development. And in December, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld a $1 billion settlement in a concussion-related lawsuit that would profit 20,000 retired National Football League gamers. The settlement is meant for the long-term care of gamers with dementias and different issues linked to go accidents suffered throughout their careers.

Copyright © 2016 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

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