TIME public health

Why the Beach Is So Much Grosser Than You Thought

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Dirty sand can make you sick

With all the news reports—about everything from shark activity to “flesh-eating” bacteriathe ocean is getting a lot of nasty press this summer. But actually, it may be the sand that’s the ickier part of the beach, according to a new study in the journal Environmental Science & Technology. It harbors far more fecal bacteria (yes, that means poop) than the water.

“Beach goers should be aware of the health implications of contaminated beach sand, and should not assume that sand is always safe,” lead researcher Tao Yan, PhD, explained to Health.

It turns out that previous studies have shown that the sand is actually grosser compared to the water; it often has 10 to 100 times the fecal bacteria than the water, the study authors note.

For the most recent investigation, however, Yan and his team wanted to understand why.

In a lab, the researchers created a set up of three “microcosms” using samples from three Hawaii beaches, including sand and seawater normally found in those places, and then contaminated them with fecal bacteria commonly found on beaches. They then watched the samples to see how the bacteria populations changed over time. Ultimately they found that the decay process of harmful bacteria was much slower in the beach sand than in the water, which might explain why sand seems to be more of a hotbed.

But can this bacteria really hurt you? A 2012 study in the journal Epidemiology suggests that yep, it’s possible dirty sand can make you sick. The researchers analyzed sand samples from two beaches (one in Alaska and one in Rhode Island) within two miles of waste-water treatment facilities. Then, they surveyed nearly 5,000 visitors to those beaches, and found that those who played in the sand or got buried in the sand were more likely to develop diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, or other GI upset in the weeks after their visit.

Still, researchers insist their findings are no reason to quit the beach all togetherjust take the obvious precautions.

“The symptoms we observed are usually mild and should not deter people from enjoying the beach, but they should consider washing their hands or using a hand sanitizer after playing in the sand or water,” senior author Timothy Wade, PhD, said in a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency press release.

Also, rinsing off in the public access showers ASAP, and following that with a good shower at home after a day at the beach might not be a bad idea either. Just sayin’.

This article originally appeared on Health.com

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TIME public health

Kroger Recalls Spices Due to Possible Salmonella Contamination

Grocery stores in 31 states are affected

National supermarket chain Kroger Co. is recalling four of its house line of spices, which could be contaminated with salmonella.

The recall includes Kroger Ground Cinnamon, Kroger Garlic Powder, Kroger Coarse Ground Black Pepper and Kroger Bac’n Buds.

The FDA found traces of salmonella in spices at a store in North Augusta, S. Carolina. The recall affects not only stores in South Carolina but also locations in 31 states under other Kroger franchises, such as Fred Meyer, Food 4 Less and Foods Co., among others. A full list of store locations can be found here.

There have been no reports of illness related to the spices, according to the FDA.

TIME Healthcare

Hospitals Have Reduced Deaths, Hospitalizations, and Costs Among Medicare Patients

"It's a jaw-dropping finding"

American hospitals have reduced deaths, hospitalizations, and costs among people over the age of 65 in the past couple of decades, according to a new report released Tuesday.

“We didn’t expect to see such a remarkable improvement over time,” said Harlan Krumholz, a cardiologist at the Yale School of Medicine and lead author of the study, which appeared in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).

Krumholz and his colleagues looked at over 68 million Medicare beneficiaries between 1999 and 2013. The group was chosen for their “fee-for-service” structure, where doctors and hospitals would be paid per procedure or visit.

They found that hospitalization rates for this group plummeted 24%, saving more than 3 million people unnecessary hospital visits. Their chance of survival and recovery had improved from less than two decades ago: patients were 45% less likely to die during their stay, 24% less likely to die within a month of being admitted, and 22% less likely to die within the year.

Deaths among the group fell 16%, meaning 300,000 lives were saved in the 14-year span, according to the report. Patients who visited the hospital also saw a 15% drop in their bills compared to 1999.

Krumholz said that better training for hospital staff led to many of the improvements.

“There has been tremendous focus on making sure that our hospitals are safer and that treatments are more timely and effective,” Krumholz told USA Today.

People are also living healthier, longer lives—smoking less, breathing cleaner air, and able to take advantage of scientific breakthroughs in medicine.

Despite doing so well, Krumholz doesn’t think it’s time for hospitals to get lax.

“The things we’re trying to do to make things better are working,” Krumholz noted. “Rather than wave the victory flag, we want to see that trend continue. There’s no reason to take our foot off the pedal.”


TIME public health

6 Things Every Woman Should Know About Yeast Infections

So-called 'preventative' products may cause more harm than good

Sorry to be a downer, but if you haven’t had a yeast infection yet, you’ll probably get one eventually. Three out of four women will experience one sometime in her life—and half will have two or more. “These are so common because yeast normally lives on your skin and around your vagina,” says Melissa Goist, MD, an ob-gyn at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center. When something disrupts the vagina’s natural balance of healthy bacteria, yeast (aka the fungus Candida) can grow out of control. And then comes the telltale down-there itching and burning sensation that can drive you up a wall.

Whether you’ve been visited by a yeast problem once, a bunch of times, or not yet, you may be surprised by the truth about these frustrating infections. Here are the facts every woman should know.

The symptoms can mimic other problems

One study found that as few as 11% of women who have never had a yeast infection could identify the symptoms, while other research has found that only one-third of women who thought they had a yeast infection actually did. Why the confusion?

The signs are similar to other down-there problems. If you have a yeast infection, you might notice burning, itching, pain during sex, and a thick white odorless discharge.

But if it smells fishy, it may instead be bacterial vaginosis (BV), and if you have only burning and pain during urination, that suggests a urinary tract infection. Bottom line: It can be difficult to figure out.

First-timer? Go to the doctor if you think you have one

Now you know the signs, but remember: Just because you can buy over-the-counter treatment for a yeast infection doesn’t mean you always should. The first time you experience symptoms, it’s important to see your doctor (or hit up an urgent care center if you can’t score an appointment) because if it turns out you don’t have a yeast infection, at-home treatments can make inflammation worse or not provide any relief at all, Dr. Goist says.

A doctor will be able to correctly pinpoint the problem (yeast infection or something else) then give you personalized treatment, like an Rx for the oral antifungal fluconazole as well as a topical skin cream to reduce inflammation.

After that, you’ll know exactly what to watch out for, and your doc may give you the all clear to self-treat your next one with an over-the-counter antifungal, like Monistat or generic clotrimazole.

You don’t need products to prevent them

Gynecologists like to call the vagina a “self-cleaning oven.” That’s because it doesn’t need any help with douches, scented gels, perfumes, and other “feminine” products to stay clean. In fact, rather than helping prevent a yeast infection, these can cause an imbalance of the healthy bacteria in your vagina that makes you more susceptible to a yeast infection, explains Dr. Goist.

What to do if it happens after sex

A yeast infection is not technically a sexually transmitted infection (STI), but sex can throw off the bacterial balance in your vagina, upping your risk for a yeast overgrowth. That said, if you get what you think is a yeast infection after sex with a new partner, it’s a good idea to see your doctor, so you can rule out any potential new STIs, as well.

The truth about wet bathing suits

You’ve probably heard hanging out in wet clothes is a recipe for disaster. Doctors often say it’s a good idea to change out of a wet suit or sweaty exercise clothes because yeast thrives in warm, wet environments. And that’s true. But it’s mostly important for women who suffer from recurrent episodes rather than the general population. “Unless you know you’re prone to yeast infections, you won’t necessarily get one by hanging out in a wet suit,” Dr. Goist says. Make changing a priority if you get them frequently, otherwise, you’re probably fine.

Switching birth control pills may make you more susceptible

Anything that alters your hormone levels—like changing to a new hormonal birth control pill (that increases your estrogen levels) or too much stress (high cortisol) is a risk factor. Other things to watch out for: taking antibiotics, which kill healthy bacteria in the vagina, allowing yeast to thrive; or having uncontrolled blood sugar levels if you have type 2 diabetes (high blood sugar can feed yeast). If any of these sound like you and you get yeast infections, come up with a plan with your doc about how to control them.

This article originally appeared on Health.com

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TIME public health

These States Have The Biggest Drops In Teen Pregnancy

Connecticut leads the effort with the biggest 5-year decline in teen births

Teen pregnancy in the U.S. has been declining continuously over the past 20 years. According to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS), America’s average teen birth rate has dropped from 61.8 births for every 1,000 adolescent girls in 1991 to 26.5 in 2013. And this most recent 2013 stat is an impressive 10 percent drop from 2012.

Despite these encouraging statistics, unplanned teen pregnancy is still a major public health issue. Many health experts and economists argue that it is a principal driver of poverty and inequality, as well as high abortion rates and number of children put up for adoption.

Some states have worked to find ways to combat teen pregnancy more efficiently, though. Using data from the National Vital Statistics System (NVSS), HealthGrove mapped the change in teen births (girls 15-19 years old) over the last five years.

Why are some states making bigger strides than others? Colorado’s effort against unwanted pregnancy, for example, has been successful due to programs that offer adolescents and poor women long-acting birth control. After being given this choice, the birthrate among these women fell by 37.9%, and abortions plunged by 42%, according to Colorado’s Department of Public Health and Environment.

The correlation between early motherhood and poverty was pretty strong in Colorado’s case. Before women were offered intrauterine devices (IUDs) from the free program in 2009, 50% of births to women in low income areas happened before age 21. In 2014, that age jumped to 24. And according to Sabrina Tavernise of the New York Times, this difference “gives young women time to finish their educations and to gain a foothold in an increasingly competitive job market.”

Many of the states that have a low 5-year change—meaning they still haven’t reduced teen pregnancies—also have relatively high poverty levels. New initiatives like the one in Colorado may help states make progress on both goals.

HealthGrove ranked the top 10 states that are setting a good example for the rest of the country, ordered by the biggest 5-year declines in teen births.

  • 10. Wisconsin

    Teen birth rate in 2013: 1.96%
    Population: 5,706,871

    Wisconsin reduced adolescent pregnancies by 33.3% in five years.

  • 9. Oregon

    Teen birth rate in 2013: 2.16%
    Population: 3,868,721

    Oregon reduced adolescent pregnancies by 33.5% in five years.

  • 8. District of Columbia

    Teen birth rate in 2013: 3.21%
    Population: 619,371

    The District of Columbia reduced adolescent pregnancies by 33.8% in five years.

  • 7. Virginia

    Teen birth rate in 2013: 2.01%
    Population: 8,100,653

    Virginia reduced adolescent pregnancies by 33.9% in five years.

  • 6. North Carolina

    Teen birth rate in 2013: 2.84%
    Population: 9,651,380

    North Carolina reduced adolescent pregnancies by 35.0% in five years.

  • 5. Georgia

    Teen birth rate in 2013: 3.05%
    Population: 9,810,417

    Georgia reduced adolescent pregnancies by 35.1% in five years.

  • 4. Maryland

    Teen birth rate in 2013: 1.94%
    Population: 5,834,299

    Maryland reduced adolescent pregnancies by 36.8% in five years.

  • 3. Colorado

    Teen birth rate in 2013: 2.34%
    Population: 5,119,329

    Colorado reduced adolescent pregnancies by 37.9% in five years.

  • 2. Massachusetts

    Teen birth rate in 2013: 1.21%
    Population: 6,605,058

    Massachusetts reduced adolescent pregnancies by 37.9% in five years.

  • 1. Connecticut

    Teen birth rate in 2013: 1.29%
    Population: 3,583,561

    Connecticut reduced adolescent pregnancies by 39.2% in five years.

    This article originally appeared on FindTheBest


TIME public health

12 Germs That Can Cause Food Poisoning

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These stomach bugs can lead to various forms of misery

In most cases of food poisoning, a microbe in something you ate (or a pathogen that goes from your hand to your mouth) irritates your stomach and intestines—and the consequences aren’t pretty, with symptoms that range from a mildly upset tummy to vomiting and bloody diarrhea. Even though the United States has one of the safest food supplies in the world, one in six people suffer foodborne illness every year, according to government estimates.

Read on to learn about some of the most common bugs that might be lurking in your lunch.

How do you treat food poisoning?

As long as you’re otherwise healthy, most cases of gastroenteritis (inflammation in the intestines caused by a virus, bacteria, or parasites) don’t require treatment. Your body will (eventually) expel the bugs that are making you sick. There’s not much you can do aside from rest and sip plenty of fluids. (Electrolyte-rich liquids like broth and coconut water are best.) You may be tempted to pop an OTC anti-diarrhea product, but ask your MD first; it may interfere with the natural healing process. Once you’re keeping fluids down, slowly reintroduce solids, starting with bland, low-fiber food like the BRAT diet (bananas, rice, applesauce, and toast).

In more serious cases, you may want to get checked out by a doctor. Watch for any of these signs that warrant medical attention: Diarrhea with a fever above 101 degrees F; dizziness, lightheadedness, or intense thirst; an inability to keep anything down for 24 hours; diarrhea that lasts for five days or more.


Norovirus is the pathogen responsible for outbreaks of vomiting and diarrhea on cruise ships, but a 2014 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report found that you’re far more likely to pick up the bug in a restaurant or cafeteria. Norovirus is the most common cause of gastroenteritis in the U.S., infecting more than 19 million people a year.

What you need to know: It’s highly contagious: The number of virus particles that fit on the head of a pin would be enough to make more than 1,000 people sick. Symptoms should resolve within 60 hours, but you may continue to spread the pathogen for two weeks or more.

How to avoid it: Wash fruits and veggies well, and cook shellfish thoroughly. (Norovirus can survive temps as high as 140 degrees.) And be sure to wash your hands (like, really wash them). You can also get the pathogen from contact with an infected person, or by touching a contaminated surface.


Batter-covered spoon lickers, beware: the strain of Salmonella that causes most illnesses today infects the ovaries of hens, which then lay contaminated eggs. The bacteria are also found in as many as one in eight chickens raised for meat, according to the USDA. Each year,Salmonella causes four to seven days of misery (including cramps, diarrhea, and fever) for approximately 1.2 million Americans.

What you need to know:Salmonella can also contaminate other types of meat and seafood, cheese, unpasteurized milk and juice, and raw produce.

How to avoid it: Say no to sunny-side-up and soft-boiled eggs. Eggs with firm yolks and whites are safest to eat. Heat your poultry to 165 degrees, and ground beef to 160 degrees.


Spores of C. botulinum produce a neurotoxin that causes botulism—a rare but severe type of food poisoning that can lead to respiratory failure and death. Most of the 10 to 30 outbreaks of botulism reported each year can be traced to home-canned foods, according to the FDA.

What you need to know: Classic symptoms include double vision, slurred speech, difficulty swallowing, and muscle weakness. If you think you might have botulism, seek medical help immediately. Prompt treatment with an antitoxin can block the effects of the poison.

How to avoid it: The Mayo Clinic recommends boiling home-canned foods for 10 minutes before you eat them. Other tips: Eat baked potatoes wrapped in foil while they’re still hot (not at room temperature), and store oils infused with garlic or herbs in the fridge.

E. coli

E. coli naturally live inside humans and animals, and for the most part, the bacteria are harmless. But a few strains—including the notorious O157:H7— can wreak havoc on the lining of your small intestine when ingested. Expect bloody diarrhea, plus vomiting and severe stomach cramps.

What you need to know: Runoff from cattle farms can spread E. colito produce grown in nearby fields. Spinach and lettuce are especially susceptible to contamination.

How to avoid it: A 2015 report that examined 1,000 E. coli cases found that 80% were linked to vegetables or beef. Ground beef is a common source of infection because it contains meat from many cows—so order your burgers medium or well-done.


Responsible for an estimated 1.3 million cases of campylobacteriosis a year, this pathogen can come from unpasteurized dairy products (if a cow had a Campylobacter infection in her udder, for example). But most cases are linked to raw or undercooked meat or poultry. The good news: Symptoms usually resolve on their own. The bad news: The diarrhea, cramping, and fever last about a week.

What you need to know: Even one drop of juice from contaminated raw chicken meat can make you sick.

How to avoid it: While you’re cooking, use a separate cutting board for raw meat to avoid cross-contaminating veggies and other foods. And don’t skimp on the cleanup: Scrub the cutting board, countertops, and utensils with soap and hot water.


Pregnant women worry about this foodborne pathogen. It can cause listeriosis, which may lead to miscarriage or a serious illness for the newborn. But anyone with a weakened immune system is at higher risk for the infection, with symptoms ranging from a stiff neck to convulsions and loss of balance. An estimated 1,600 cases occur in this country annually.

What you need to know: Although pasteurization and high temperatures kill Listeria, cold cuts and deli meats are a common source of the bacteria because contamination may occur at the deli counter, or in the factory (after cooking but before packaging).

How to avoid it: According to the CDC, people at higher risk should skip ready-to-eat meats, unless they’re heated to steaming hot before serving. Other foods on the avoid list: Refrigerated pate or meat spreads from a deli counter, soft cheese made with unpasteurized milk, and refrigerated smoked seafood (like lox).


Many people have Staphylococcus aureus all over their skin, and the bacteria typically doesn’t cause any issues. Until, that is, it gets in our food. As the bugs multiply, they produce toxins that quickly trigger the classic symptoms of food poisoning—sometimes as soon as an hour later.

What you need to know: Handmade foods that don’t require further cooking are the likeliest suspects: Think prepared salads (from macaroni to tuna), sandwiches, and cream-filled bakery desserts.

How to avoid it: Practice good hand hygiene. Stay away from the kitchen when you have a nose or eye infection, or wounds or skin infections on your hands or wrists.

Clostridium perfringens

C. perfringens may live in your intestine without doing any harm. But when you ingest large numbers of the toxin-producing bacteria, cramps and diarrhea strike with a vengeance for up to 24 hours.

What you need to know: C. perfringens is one of the most frequent causes of food poisoning in the U.S. Outbreaks often occur in cafeterias and at catered events, because the bacteria’s spores can germinate in food that’s cooled or warmed at temperatures between 54 and 140 degrees F for long periods of time.

How to avoid it: To destroy C. perfringens on food that’s been sitting out or stored as leftovers, reheat it to 165 degrees F.


Disgusting but true: This highly contagious group of bacteria is spread through stool. You can pick up the bug in food contaminated by an infected person, or on produce grown in a field that contains (yikes) human sewage. The result: GI distress and tenesmus, the painful sensation of needing to go number-two even when your bowels are empty.

What you need to know: Shigella is a common cause of traveler’s diarrhea (a.k.a. Montezuma’s revenge and Delhi belly). Although it usually goes away on its own in five to seven days, docs often prescribe antibiotics for mild cases to speed the process. Now, drug-resistant shigellosis is on the rise in the U.S.

How to avoid it: When traveling in a developing country, order carefully. Steaming hot foods are generally safe, for example, and drinks that come in sealed containers. You can also download the CDC’s “Can I Eat This?” app, which has info tailored to different countries.

Bacillus cereus

This nasty little bug causes not one, but two kinds of food poisoning: A type associated with diarrhea and another with vomiting. Fortunately, both only last for about 24 hours. In the meantime, try to stay hydrated.

What you need to know: Rice that’s been sitting at room temperature is generally implicated in vomiting-type outbreaks. But the bacteria are found on a wide variety of foods and multiple rapidly at room temperature.

How to avoid it: Be careful not to let leftovers sit out for too long. Store them in the fridge in wide, shallow containers ASAP. Prepping ahead of a meal? If it’s more than two hours ’til chow time, keep cold items at 40 degrees or below, and keep hot foods at a minimum temp of 140.

Toxoplasma gondii

You might recognize this microbe as the reason pregnant women are told to stay away from cats’ litter boxes. But the single-celled parasite is also spread in undercooked, contaminated meat—especially pork, lamb, and venison. Most people who’ve picked up the bug (the CDC estimates 60 million people in the U.S.) don’t even know they have it. But in anyone with compromised immunity, it can cause the disease toxoplasmosis.

What you need to know: Symptoms of toxoplasmosis vary widely: Some people might think they have the flu for a month or more, while severe cases can cause brain damage.

How to avoid it: There’s not much you can do aside from following general food safety protocol.

Vibrio parahaemolyticus

Found in brackish waters, estuaries, and coastal bays, this bacterium thrives during the warm, summer months and is known to contaminate shellfish. Infection with V. parahaemolyticus is no fun. Watery diarrhea, cramps, vomiting, fever—you get the picture. These symptoms typically last up to three days.

What you need to know: Raw oysters are the usual culprit.

How to avoid it: Steer clear of the raw bar if you’re worried about getting sick. Cooking shellfish at home? Boil osyters, clams, and mussels for five minutes after the shells open, or steam until the shells open. (Toss any that don’t.) Boil shucked oysters for a minimum of three minutes, or fry in oil at 375 degrees for at least three minutes.

This article originally appeared on Health.com

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TIME Addiction

‘Very Light’ Smoking Is Increasing Among Young American Women

young woman smoking
Artem Furman / Getty Images A young woman smoking

But the habit isn't safe, the authors of a new study warn

For a large swath of young American women, light smoking is growing in popularity, according to a new study.

In new research published in Preventing Chronic Disease, researchers from the University of Texas at Austin were intrigued by other studies that noted a spike in casual smoking in recent years. To find out more about very light smokers, they analyzed a sample of 9,789 women between ages 18 and 25 from the 2011 National Survey on Drug Use and Health. The researchers asked the women if they had smoked part or all of a cigarette in the past 30 days; those who said they had were classified as current smokers, while those who hadn’t, but had smoked previously, were considered “former” smokers.

While heavy smoking—a pack a day—has decreased in the U.S., the researchers found that 27% of all people in the study—and 62% of the current smokers—identified as very light smokers, a habit of five or fewer cigarettes a day. It also can mean skipping smoking some days, then picking up a cigarette every so often. In fact, this kind of casual smoking—what many people often refer to as “only smoking when drunk”—has become predominant, particularly because of its perceived lack of health effects, the study authors note. Many light smokers consider smoking “only once in a while” as not harmful; while they understood smoking to be risky, the authors write, they did not consider the risk as high as non-smokers.

Interestingly, a specific group of women emerged as “light” and “very light” smokers: 18- to 20-year-old single women with some college education.

The research team thinks young women entering adulthood are at particular risk for smoking, perhaps because young adulthood is a time of stress and anxiety and because smoking fewer cigarettes is cheaper than a heavier habit.

But even a very light habit isn’t safe, the authors warn. Research has indicated repeatedly that picking up even one cigarette puts a woman at increased risk for health problems. The fact that the women who are smoking lightly tend to be young and of childbearing age is especially worrisome, they note, since smoking can not only affect conceiving and fertility but can also put women at higher risk for disorders such as cancer of the cervix.

Beyond pregnancy effects, very light smokers are susceptible to the same issues that affect heavier smokers, including depression, psychological distress, and dependence on other controlled substances, the study found. And while the research team did not correlate smoking with binge drinking, they found that heavy and light smokers were similar in their patterns of past alcohol bingeing.

“Social features of college life, including weekend partying, may promote smoking at a very light level among college women,” the authors write. “Emotional distress and multiple substance misuse may serve to both initiate and maintain very light smoking.”

The authors write that anti-smoking campaigns—which tend to focus on heavier smokers—still haven’t yet reduced the “cool” factor associated with taking a drag, even an occasional one.

“Advertising aimed at women attempts to associate smoking with independence, attractiveness, and sophistication,” the study notes. “To meet the challenge of the tobacco industry, smoking intervention programs and policies directed at emerging-adult women need to be based on an understanding of the diverse characteristics…associated with very light smoking in this population.”

TIME States

Happy Hour Is Legal Again in Illinois

A ban is overturned after more than 25 years

Happy hour is coming back to Illinois.

Gov. Bruce Rauner signed a bill Wednesday that nullified a ban on happy hour drink specials in the state, which had been in effect since 1989. The ban was meant to combat alcohol-related car accidents.

If you live in Illinois, you haven’t been able to grab a drink after work with buddies to blow off steam and snap up cheaper “happy hour” deals for more than 25 years. But discounts will now be allowed for up to four hours a day and up to 15 hours a week, so long as specials end before 10 p.m. “Volume” drink specials, like getting two for the price of one, will remain banned.

Reactions were mixed: While customers were jubilant, business owners opposed the bill. Some activists fear happy hour drink specials will lead to more alcohol related accidents.

TIME public health

Lyme Disease Has Surged 320% in America

Deer Ticks
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Climate change is among the reasons blamed

Lyme disease is not only becoming more rampant in its normal hotspot of the northeast United States, it’s spreading across the country, a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warns.

“Over time, the number of counties identified as having high incidence of Lyme disease in the northeastern states increased more than 320 percent,” researchers write in the report. They also note that the disease is appearing in states where its never been recorded before.

One big reason why Lyme disease is spiking, according to the CDC report: climate change.

Ticks tend to live in densely-forested areas and are preyed on by white mice. But forest clearing has killed off many mice, leaving ticks without a predator to keep them in check. With humans crossing this terrain, it means ticks have a fresh crop of victims to attack. And thanks to warmer temperatures, ticks are spreading their terrain into America’s heartland from their normal stronghold on the East coast.

Lyme disease is an infection caused by the Borrelia burgdorferi bacteria found on blacklegged deer ticks. The disease was identified in 1975. Symptoms include a high fever, headaches, fatigue, and a skin rash. If untreated, the infection can spread to joints, the heart and nervous system. In some instances, Lyme disease can be fatal.

New Jersey is typically considered the capital of Lyme disease in America, but it’s spreading across the Mid-Atlantic to the Midwest, with high-risk counties in Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Maine, Vermont, Pennsylvania, Virginia, New York, Iowa, Michigan, and Minnesota.

Click here to see what to do to prevent yourself against Lyme disease—and what to do if you have it.

TIME public health

This Powder Aims To Solve World Hunger

fopo food powder

The powder relies on nearly-expired produce

A team of grad students has teamed up to fight world hunger by spraying nearly-expired produce and turning it into powder to extend its shelf life by two years.

The people behind the product, called FoPo Food Powder, say they will buy produce that can no longer be sold in stores and turn it into a freeze-dried product to be sold as a nutritious offering to consumers. Governments may also want to use the product for disaster relief or military operations, the creators say.

“[We are] not into using a new product or new technology, [but] creating value out of the inefficiency of the food system,” FoPo co-founder Gerald Marin told Mashable. “The innovation of our business is that we are getting the expired fruits and vegetables.”

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