TIME

A Brain-Eating Parasite Has Killed a 21-Year-Old California Woman

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Mark Newman—AP 'Do Not Allow Water To Enter Your Nose' Amoeba (Naegleria fowleri) warning sign at thermal pool, Roger's Spring, Lake Mead, Nevada, U.S.A.

This is the second such fatality in the U.S. to occur in the last year

Public health officials have confirmed that a brain-eating amoeba caused the death of a 21-year-old woman in eastern California last month, the Los Angeles Times reports.

The woman contracted the parasite on private property in the town of Bishop, about 60 miles southeast of Yosemite National Park. She awoke from a nap last month with flu-like symptoms; physicians at Northern Inyo Hospital initially diagnosed her with meningitis. When her symptoms worsened, she was transported to a hospital in Reno, where she ultimately died of cardiac arrest.

Naegleria fowleri, as the amoeba is officially known, can thrive in warm freshwater and soil; infections result when contaminated water enters the nose, allowing the parasite to travel to the brain. It manifests itself first in flu-like symptoms — fever, vomiting, headaches — before inducing hallucinations, seizures, and, in more than 95 percent of instances, death.

This is the second naegleria fowleri-related fatality in the U.S. to occur in the last year. In July 2014, nine-year-old Hally Yust died from the infection after water skiing in a contaminated lake in Kansas. The majority of cases in the country have been in the southeast.

Health officials are eager to note, however, that the occurrences of the amoeba are rare and infections even rarer.

“I want to emphasize that there have been no evident cases of amoeba contamination in the U.S. in well-maintained, properly treated swimming pools or hot springs,” Richard Johnson, a public health officer in Inyo County, California, told the Times.

TIME Crime

Scientist Who Faked HIV Vaccine Research Sentenced to Prison

Dong-Pyou Han AIDS research
Charlie Neibergall—AP In this July 1, 2014 file photo, former Iowa State University researcher Dong-Pyou Han leaves the federal courthouse in Des Moines, Iowa.

He was sentenced to more than 4 ½ years in prison

(DES MOINES, Iowa)—A former Iowa State University scientist who altered blood samples to make it appear he had achieved a breakthrough toward a potential vaccine against HIV was sentenced Wednesday to more than 4 ½ years in prison for making false statements in research reports.

Dong-Pyou Han, 58, also must pay $7.2 million to a federal government agency that funded the research. He entered a plea agreement in February admitting guilt to two counts of making false statements.

Government prosecutors said Han’s misconduct dates to 2008 when he worked at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland under professor Michael Cho, who was leading a team testing an experimental HIV vaccine on rabbits. Cho’s team began receiving NIH funding, and he soon reported the vaccine was causing rabbits to develop antibodies to HIV, which was considered a major breakthrough. Han said he initially accidentally mixed human blood with rabbit blood making the potential vaccine appear to increase an immune defense against HIV, the virus that can cause AIDS. Han continued to spike the results to avoid disappointing Cho, his mentor, after the scientific community became excited that the team could be on the verge of a vaccine.

Iowa State recruited Cho in 2009, and his team — including Han — continue the research with NIH funding. A group of researchers at Harvard University found in January 2013 the promising results had been achieved with rabbit blood spiked with human antibodies.

Han’s attorney Joseph Herrold, a federal public defender, asked for probation instead of prison.

“Here, there is little reason to believe that Dr. Han has not already been deterred from any future criminal conduct. His conduct is aberrational in an otherwise admirable life,” Herrold wrote in a sentencing report filed Monday. “He regrets the hurt he has caused to his friends and colleagues, the damage he has caused to government funded scientific research, and the pain he has caused any members of the public who had high hopes based on his falsehood.”

Herrold said Han has lost the ability to work in his field of choice and is likely to be deported by immigration officials “and possibly never permitted to return,” separating him from his wife and two adult children who are U.S. citizens. Han, who was born in Seoul, South Korea, is a lawful permanent U.S. resident.

Government prosecutors sought prison time to serve as a deterrent to Han and others who might consider research fraud.

“It is important that we stand up not just for punishing the fraud committed against the United States government, but for the research that should be legitimately taking place on this devastating disease,” U.S. Attorney Nicholas A. Klinefeldt said in a statement.

Judge James Gritzner sentenced Han to 57 months in prison and three years of supervision upon release. Han must repay the National Institutes of Health $7.2 million.

Cho’s team continues to work on the vaccine at ISU and has subsequently obtained funding.

TIME medicine

FDA Approves New Cystic Fibrosis Drug

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Gregory Bull—AP In this March 4, 2015 photo, research scientist Tony Huang works in a laboratory at Vertex Pharmaceuticals Inc. in San Diego.

It will cost more than $250,000 a year

(WASHINGTON)—Federal health officials have approved a new combination drug for the most common form of cystic fibrosis, the debilitating inherited disease that causes internal mucus buildup, lung infections and early death. But it will come at a steep price — more than $250,000 for a year’s treatment.

The Food and Drug Administration cleared the twice-a-day pill from Vertex Pharmaceuticals Inc. for a variation of cystic fibrosis that affects about 8,500 people in the U.S. who are 12 years and older. The approval notice was posted to the agency’s website Thursday.

The new drug — to be sold as Orkambi — is Vertex’s follow-up to its breakthrough pill Kalydeco, which became the first drug to treat the underlying cause of cystic fibrosis in 2012. Orkambi combines Kalydeco with a new drug ingredient, lumacaftor.

Kalydeco is only approved for a cluster of rare cystic fibrosis forms that affect about 2,000 patients who are 2 years old and up.

About 30,000 Americans live with cystic fibrosis, which is caused by variety of genetic mutations passed from parents to their children. The disease causes sticky mucus to buildup in the lungs and other organs, which leads to infections, digestive problems and eventually death.

Vertex said Orkambi will cost $259,000 per year. That’s less than the $311,000 annual price tag for Kalydeco.

Dr. Robert Giusti of New York University’s Langone Medical Center noted that half of all U.S. cystic fibrosis patients have the form targeted by Orkambi, which occurs when a child inherits two copies of a certain genetic mutation — one from each parent. He expects the FDA will eventually expand the drug’s approval to patients as young as 6, increasing the number of people who could benefit.

“This is really exciting because this is a disease that causes a 1 to 2 percent deterioration each year in lung function of patients,” said Giusti, who directs the center’s cystic fibrosis program. “Now they have a therapy available to potentially reverse that effect.”

In the 1950s, children with cystic fibrosis seldom survived long enough to complete elementary school. Due to improvements in care, the typical cystic fibrosis patient today can expect to survive into their early 40s, according to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.

Prior to the approval of Kalydeco, drugs used to treat cystic fibrosis focused on controlling symptoms — such as opening up lung airways and breaking up mucus. Kalydeco was the first drug to target the underlying genetic defect that causes the disease.

Expectations for Vertex’s new drug have been tempered by study results that, while statistically significant, were not as dramatic as those first reported with Kalydeco. In company trials, patients treated with Orkambi for six months reported a 2.5 to 3 percent improvement in lung function, a key measure for cystic fibrosis patients. That improvement met the FDA’s standards for effectiveness, but did not equal results seen with Kalydeco, which improved lung function by about 10 percent.

Company officials have pointed out the differences in the forms of the disease targeted by the two drugs. Kalydeco was developed for patients who have a problem with a protein on their cell walls, which doesn’t properly balance the flow of water and salt from the cell. Orkambi targets patients with two problems — the protein does not reach the cell wall and, once there, does not work properly.

Shares of Vertex rose $5.07, or 4 percent, to close at $131.26 in trading Thursday. Its shares are up almost 34 percent over the past year.

Vertex’s cystic fibrosis drugs grew out of a long-term partnership with the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. Vertex Pharmaceuticals Incorporated received roughly $120 million in research and funding from the foundation, culminating in the 2012 approval of Kalydeco. The twice-a-day pill had sales of $464 million last year, according to the Cambridge, Massachusetts company.

Last November the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation sold its royalty rights to Kalydeco and Orkambi for $3.3 billion.

TIME Mental Health/Psychology

How Fireworks Can Trigger PTSD

Fireworks will be going off with a bang all weekend, but for some, they cause more anxiety than celebration

You may see the signs popping up around your neighborhood this July 4—red, white and blue notices that indicate the home of a vet with the request to “Please be courteous with fireworks.”

The signs are the work of a Facebook-launched nonprofit, Military With PTSD, begun by Shawn Gourley, whose husband, Justin, served in the Navy for four years and returned with post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Sudden and loud noises can trigger episodes of PTSD, bringing veterans back to traumatic experiences they have lived through during their service. According to the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs, up to 20% of military personnel who served in Iraq or Afghanistan experience PTSD each year.

The signs are posted on the lawns of veterans’ homes to alert people to be more considerate when setting off fireworks in the area. According to Gourley, who spoke to CNN, the group has mailed 2,500 signs, some of which were paid for by donations and others by the vets themselves, while 3,000 people remain on a waiting list.

The signs are not meant to quash any Fourth of July celebrations, but to raise awareness that the explosive sounds, flashes of light and smell of powder may trigger unwelcome memories for some. “If you are a veteran, on the one hand July 4th should be one of the most patriotic holidays that you feel a part of,” says Dr. John Markowitz, professor of psychiatry at Columbia University. “On the other hand, the rockets’ red glare and the bombs bursting in air are likely to evoke traumatic memories, and you might want to hide. It’s a tricky one.”

Having advanced knowledge of a fireworks display can help some people with PTSD to better prepare and cope with any symptoms they may experience. “A big component of the startle response and PTSD is the unexpected,” says Rachel Tester, program director of the Law Enforcement, Active Duty, Emergency Responder (LEADER) Program at Harvard Medical School’s McLean Hospital. “When people are able to anticipate, they are able to put into place mechanisms they have to cope ahead of time.”

That might include things such as relaxation techniques or being able to see the fireworks show and therefore know that they’re coming, as well as having headphones, music or other distractions at the ready.

Such strategies may not work for every PTSD patient, but being more aware that the explosive celebrations of the holiday might affect those with PTSD is an important step toward ensuring that everyone can enjoy the holiday without fear, anxiety or pain.

TIME public health

First Person Dies of Measles in U.S. Since 2003

The death is the first in Washington since 1990

(SEATTLE) — Washington state health officials say measles caused the death of a woman from the northwest part of the state in the spring — the first measles death in the U.S. since 2003 and the first in Washington since 1990.

The measles infection was discovered during an autopsy.

Washington State Department of Health spokesman Donn Moyer says the woman was hospitalized in Clallam County for several health conditions before being moved to the University of Washington Medical Center in Seattle, where she died. He says officials are withholding her age to protect her identity, but she wasn’t elderly.

Officials didn’t say whether the woman was vaccinated, but they did note she had a compromised immune system.

Moyer says the woman likely was exposed to measles at the Clallam County medical facility. Clallam County had an outbreak of five cases this year.

TIME Research

90% of Americans Eat Too Much Salt

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A new report sheds light on Americans' sodium habits

Consuming too much sodium can be a risk factor for heart problems, and new federal data shows more than 90% of Americans eat too much.

The findings show that from 2011 to 2012, the average daily sodium intake among U.S. adults was 3,592 mg, which is well above the public health target set by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) of 2,300 mg. The data comes from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) 2013 survey of 180,000 American adults in 26 states, D.C. and Puerto Rico. The findings were published Thursday in the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR).

Some Americans, however, are taking action to cut back, the report shows. About half of the U.S. adults surveyed said they were monitoring or reducing their sodium intake, and 20% said they had received medical advice to do so. People with high blood pressure were more likely to report they were doing something about their sodium consumption, and overall, people in Southern states were more likely to report such action or advice from medical providers.

Public health experts argue that people without high blood pressure could also benefit from cutting back. “Among adults without hypertension, most did not report taking action to reduce sodium intake, and an even smaller proportion reported receiving professional advice to reduced sodium,” the study authors write. “These findings suggest an opportunity for promoting strategies to reduce sodium consumption among all adults, with and without hypertension.”

Sodium intake recommendations have been the focus of controversy, with some researchers arguing that sodium levels are safe and that cutting back to very low recommended levels could be harmful. Others argue that high sodium consumption is related to serious health complications and contributes to millions of deaths every year. Some groups recommend limits that are even lower than the HHS; for instance, the American Heart Association recommends less than 1,500 mg a day.

In the new CDC report, researchers say that a high sodium habit doesn’t come cheap; medical costs for cardiovascular disease are predicted to triple from $273 billion to $818 billion between 2010 to 2030, and cutting back on sodium intake by 1,200 mg a day could save $18 billion in costs each year, they say.

TIME public health

Dermatologists Warn About the Dangers of Sunburn Art

Artistic sunburns are spreading through social media—and raise risk for melanoma, doctors say

Searching for a creative outlet? Some people are turning to sunburn art, the hottest bad idea for your health.

A few photos—but perhaps not enough to qualify as a trend—tagged #sunburnart have popped up on social media, showing people intricately burned by the sun with the help of a strategically placed pattern.

That awful sunburn actually turned out to be pretty badass but still hurts like a MF #sunburn #ouch #sunburnart

A photo posted by Brenden Eleen (@bbear430) on

Popularity of the practice is suspect, but it’s warranted enough media attention that Deborah S. Sarnoff, MD, the Skin Cancer Foundation’s senior vice president, released the organization’s official position on sunburn art today:

The Skin Cancer Foundation strongly advises the public to avoid sunburns at all costs. A sunburn is not only painful – it’s dangerous, and comes with consequences. Sunburns cause DNA damage to the skin, accelerate skin aging, and increase your lifetime skin cancer risk. In fact, sustaining five or more sunburns in youth increases lifetime melanoma risk by 80 percent. On average, a person’s risk for melanoma doubles if he or she has had more than five sunburns.

The Skin Cancer Foundation recommends adopting a complete sun protection regimen that includes seeking shade, covering up with clothing, including a broad-brimmed hat and UV blocking sunglasses, in addition to daily sunscreen use.

Neither dermatologist we talked to had seen sunburn art in the flesh—although people who intentionally burn themselves are probably not the most likely to book skincare appointments.

“I’ve definitely seen it advertised online, where they have little tracings and they just mark it out, the part that’s covered,” says Dr. Aurora Badia, a dermatologist at Florida Skin Center, who first learned about sunburn art years ago. “It definitely is not a good idea. Any time you get a sunburn, you’re at more risk for melanoma, but there’s no inherent difference between sunburn art and regular sunburn.”

MORE: This Is The Only Sunscreen Article You Need To Read

Dr. Melissa Piliang, a dermatologist at Cleveland Clinic, says she, too, has yet to see a patient with intentional sunburn art—but art, of course, is open for interpretation. “Certainly we see people who have what’s loosely termed a ‘farmer’s tan’, or when people apply their sunscreen and miss a spot,” she says. Other accidental sunburn artists include children who’ve forgotten to remove a sticker, a watch or a bracelet while playing in the sun, she says.

Sunburn art is treated the same way a normal sunburn is, both doctors agree, and it’s every bit as dangerous; sunburns, artistic or not, raise your risk for skin cancer.

“I’d encourage people to wear their sunscreen,” says Dr. Piliang. “Cover up, seek the shade, and really be safe in the sun over the Fourth of July weekend.”

TIME toxins

How Fireworks Pollution Could Be Hurting Your Health

Levels of tiny pollutants are 42% higher on the holiday than on a typical day, one study says

Fireworks on the Fourth of July dramatically increase air pollution, boosting exposure to potentially dangerous pollutants for millions of onlookers, according to a recent study in the journal Atmospheric Environment.

“When people think of air pollution, they think of other kinds of things—smoke stacks, automobile exhaust pipes, construction sites,” says study author Dian J. Seidel, senior scientist for climate measurements at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). “I don’t think most people think of fireworks.”

The level of particulate matter, or small pollutants like dust, dirt and soot present in the air, increased by 42% on average across the U.S. on the Fourth of July, according to the study. Air conditions are at their worst between 9 and to 10 p.m. on the day of the holiday. The researchers, who looked at data from 315 sites across the country, found that ten of the sites met a threshold deemed unsafe by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) when sustained for a prolonged period of time.

Extended exposure to particulate matter can lead to coughing, wheezing and even lead to an early death for people with pre-existing conditions like heart or lung disease, according to the EPA.

Not all fireworks are created equal, and a number of factors—including weather patterns, location of the fireworks and the size and number of shows—may determine levels of firework pollution, according to Seidel. One site in Ogden, UT, saw nearly a five-fold increase in particulate matter on the Fourth compared to an average day.

The researchers also found that many of the most-polluted sites coincide with the country’s most populous metropolitan areas. Los Angeles, Chicago and Seattle, for example, all experienced levels of particulate matter that exceeded the EPA’s safety threshold.

Avoiding firework pollution can be difficult, if not impossible, health experts say. People in the immediate vicinity of fireworks will experience the most pollution. From there, the particles will disperse throughout the area, hardly leaving any place untouched. People sitting downwind from the fireworks will receive the brunt of pollution, says Joel Schwartz, a professor of environmental epidemiology at Harvard University. Indeed, the EPA advises children and the elderly, along with people with heart disease, asthma and other lung diseases, to consider watching upwind from fireworks. But given how long particles linger, it may be difficult to avoid firework pollution altogether if you live in the vicinity of a fireworks show.

“Particles tend to stay suspended in the air for days,” says Schwartz. “They’re going to drift whichever way the winds goes, so it’s not just going to be the people sitting in the park watching the fireworks.”

But while the increase in pollution due to fireworks may sound frightening, most public health experts say those levels would need to be sustained for much longer before widespread health problems emerge. The EPA’s rules “discount” particulate matter from fireworks when evaluating dangerous pollution levels, according to a statement from an agency spokesperson. “It’s one day,” says Schwartz. “Your risk went up a little bit, but I don’t think it’s a major public health issue.”

In fact, even Seidel says she’s planning to watch the fireworks this year. “Yes, I will be watching,” she told TIME, “from a safe distance and upwind.”

Read next: Somebody Flew a Drone Into a Fireworks Display and This Is What Happened

TIME Exercise/Fitness

6 Ways to Get More Out of a Push-Up

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Getty Images

Pay attention to your breathing

The push-up is one of the most overlooked exercises in the metaphorical exercise book. Sure, it looks pretty easy and most of us know the basics: heels together, wrists underneath shoulders, bend and press your elbows, and voila, a move that works your entire body pretty much.

But there are certain tweaks you can make to take your push-up technique to the next level. Here are 6 key ways to perfect this exerciseand get the most out of it. All you have to do is follow these tips.

Press Your Hands Into The Floor

When performing a push-up, you want to press the palms of your hands firmly into the floor as if to push away from your wrists. Simultaneously, rotate the arms externally so that the elbows and biceps face forward. This pressure provides a natural tension in your arms, shoulders, and upper back, which will help you maintain stability in the upper body throughout the exercise, which helps keep you working hard in proper form.

Squeeze your lats

Another way to stabilize the upper body is to engage your lats. These muscles are found underneath your armpits and run along the sides of your body. By pressing your palms firmly into the floor you can start to activate them. Then, in addition, think of squeezing your armpits as tightly as possible, like you are holding something in between them. This will keep your upper body completely stable.

Draw your shoulder blades down and back

Keeping your shoulders shrugged up to your ears puts excess strain on the neck, and makes it harder to work the muscles you’re trying to tone: your arms, shoulders, and core. The body needs to move as one solid unit. Before you bend your elbows, check to make sure your shoulder blades are pulled down and back away from the ears, engaging your back muscles. To do this, act as if you are trying to squeeze your shoulder blades together.

Keep your neck in line with your spine

Dropping your head too far down or tilting it too far upward can put too much pressure on the spine and put you at greater risk for injurythe opposite of getting stronger. Find a neutral spine: Instead of tucking your chin completely or looking straight out in front, gaze about 6 inches or so in front of your fingertips and keep your eyes focused there as you push up.

Keep your core engaged

The core is made up of more than just your abdominal muscles. It’s the entire midsection of your body, basically everything but your extremities. Activating all of your core muscles, including your obliques, abs, and glutes, takes stress off the lower back in addition to stabilizing your hips so your body stays in one long line, even as you lower down. By actively squeezing your navel towards your spine, the push up becomes just as much of an abdominal workout as performing a plank.

Master the breath

If we were listing these in level of importance, this would probably be number one. As with any exercise, breath is always going to help improve your form. It is what drives the movement. Remember to always exhale on the effort of the movement. In this case, that means inhale when you go down and exhale when you press up. As you exhale, you are essentially trying to empty the lungs of as much air as possible to help contract the core and give more power to your movement.

Now that you know how to do the perfect push-up, you can try different variations with 7 Ways to Do a Push-Up

This article originally appeared on Health.com

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TIME Diet/Nutrition

Here’s What Happens To Your Steak When You Grill It

Nothing says the Fourth of July like juicy seared food, so here’s a quick lesson on the science behind grilling

It’s time to throw nearly everything you can think of—meat, chicken, fish, vegetables and even fruit—on the grill and give it a good sear. But what makes food cooked over a fire taste so good? Here’s the simple (we promise, it’s not that complicated) science behind what makes red meat red, when to take your food off the flame, and whether gas or charcoal is really better for that getting that smoky flavor, thanks to the experts at the American Chemical Society.

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