First US case of Wuhan coronavirus confirmed by CDC

First US case of Wuhan coronavirus confirmed by CDC

First US case of Wuhan coronavirus confirmed by CDC

The United States has its first confirmed case of a new virus that appeared in Wuhan, China, last month, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced Tuesday. The coronavirus has already sickened hundreds and killed six people in Asia.

CDC officials said the United States will be more strict about health screenings of airplane passengers arriving from Wuhan.
The patient, who is not being named, is in isolation at Providence Regional Medical Center in Everett, Washington. He is in his 30s and lives in Snohomish County, Washington, just north of Seattle. He had recently returned from Wuhan.

The United States has its first confirmed case of a new virus that appeared in Wuhan, China, last month, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced Tuesday. The coronavirus has already sickened hundreds and killed six people in Asia.

CDC officials said the United States will be more strict about health screenings of airplane passengers arriving from Wuhan.
The patient, who is not being named, is in isolation at Providence Regional Medical Center in Everett, Washington. He is in his 30s and lives in Snohomish County, Washington, just north of Seattle. He had recently returned from Wuhan.
He arrived at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport on January 15, before any health screenings for the Wuhan coronavirus began at US airports. He sought medical care on January 19. The CDC and Washington state are now tracing the people he was in contact with to see if he might have spread the disease to someone else.
“We believe the risk to the public is low,” said John Wiesman, secretary of health for the state of Washington.
The patient became ill four days after arriving in the United States and sought care. Based on the patient’s symptoms and travel history, doctors suspected the novel Wuhan coronavirus and sent specimens to the CDC in Atlanta, where tests Monday confirmed the virus.
The patient is faring well but is still being kept in isolation out of an abundance of caution, health officials said.

Health screenings at more US airports

Soon, passengers from Wuhan to the United States, whether on direct or indirect flights, will only be allowed to land at one of the five US airports doing health screenings. Screenings include a temperature check and observation for symptoms such as a cough and trouble breathing.

China is trying to stop the spread of a deadly new virus at the worst possible time of year

Last weekend, the CDC started health screenings for Wuhan passengers arriving at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York, Los Angeles International Airport and San Francisco International Airport.
Starting this week, Wuhan passengers will also be screened at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport and Chicago O’Hare International Airport.
The CDC raised its travel notice for Wuhan, China, from level 1 to level 2 of three possible levels, according to its website. As of Tuesday afternoon, the agency advised travelers to “practice enhanced precautions.” The highest level, “Warning – Level 3,” advises travelers to “avoid nonessential travel.”

Person-to-person transmission of Wuhan virus

The Wuhan coronavirus is in the same family as severe acute respiratory syndrome, or SARS, which killed more than 700 people in 2002 and 2003, and Middle East respiratory syndrome, or MERS.
To date, the Wuhan coronavirus has infected more than 300 people and killed six in an outbreak that has struck China, Thailand, South Korea, Japan and now the US.
Get CNN Health’s weekly newsletter


It’s not known how many of the cases became infected from animals and how many from another person.
On Tuesday, the CDC activated its emergency response system in response to the Wuhan coronavirus. The CDC activates this system on a temporary basis to centralize how the agency monitors, prepares for and responds to public health threats.
The outbreak started in late December at an animal market in Wuhan, about 700 miles south of Beijing. The virus can jump from animals to people.
While there’s much to learn about how easily the virus can be transmitted human-to-human, health officials said it appears that it’s not spread as easily as some other viruses.
“This isn’t anywhere near in the same category as measles or the flu,” Dr. Martin Cetron, director of CDC’s division of global migration and quarantine, told CNN.
3 steps to determine whether a medical study is newsworthy

3 steps to determine whether a medical study is newsworthy

3 steps to determine whether a medical study is newsworthy

Critics have long faulted U.S. medical education for being hidebound, imperious and out of touch with modern health-care needs. The core structure of medical school—two years of basic science followed by two years of clinical work—has been in place since 1910.

Now a wave of innovation is sweeping through medical schools, much of it aimed at producing young doctors who are better prepared to meet the demands of the nation’s changing health-care system.

This piece originally appeared here in Journalist’s Resource from the Shorenstein Center for Media, Politics and Pubic Policy at Harvard University.


Recently, Journalist’s Resource attended Health Journalism 2019, the annual conference of the Association of Health Care Journalists (AHCJ), in Baltimore, Maryland. One of the sessions we attended, titled “Begin Mastering Medical Studies,” offered pointers for deciding which research is worth covering.

This tip sheet summarizes key points made by during the session by Tara Haelle, an independent health journalist and AHCJ topic leader for medical studies.

So many options, so little time.

With the amount of research published on a daily basis, journalists have to work to discern what’s worth covering. We’ve broken the process down into three steps as a general guide.

Step 1: Consider the category of the study.

As a starting point, Haelle suggested considering the category of the study you’re thinking of covering.

Generally, studies testing a medical intervention fall into one of the following categories:

  • Pre-clinical studies: This early phase of research precedes the clinical study phase. The research is not conducted with human subjects, so the findings are limited. There are two different kinds of pre-clinical studies:
    • In vitro: These studies are conducted on cells grown in a lab.
    • In vivo: These studies are conducted on non-human animals.
  • Clinical studies: If research shows promise in the pre-clinical phase, it might move onto clinical studies, which involve humans and examine their responses to the intervention. Clinical studies can take two forms:
    • Epidemiological/observational studies: Observational research, as the name suggests, involves observing ongoing behavior and assessing outcomes over time. These studies are not randomized. Think of a study that looks at the relationship between smoking and developing cancer. It’s a real-world experiment that hinges on long-term observation. Researchers can find correlations between variables but they cannot, on the basis of a single observational study alone, claim causation. That’s because there could be other variables that aren’t being controlled that could explain the outcomes, such as weight, other medical conditions, genetics, or environmental exposure. For these reasons, epidemiological/observational studies stand in contrast to another key type of clinical study: randomized, controlled trials.
    • Randomized, controlled trials: These are studies in which a new intervention is randomly assigned to some participants in a trial and tested against a control group, which receives a standard treatment or a placebo, to determine its effects. These studies can provide evidence of causation. Randomized, controlled trials generally proceed through a number of stages:
      • Phase 0: This phase involves giving human subjects small exposures to the intervention in question. It aims to answer whether the intervention works in humans. “Is it worth moving forward?” is how Haelle summarized this phase of research.
      • Phase I: This phase tests the intervention to make sure it is safely tolerated in humans. The intervention is typically tested in healthy people who do not have the condition the intervention might treat.
      • Phase II: This is a larger trial that tests for effectiveness as well as safety. This can take from months to years.
      • Phase III: The new intervention is compared against other pre-existing options.
      • Federal Drug Administration Approval: Generally, after phase III, the intervention being studied can be approved (or rejected) to be brought to market.
      • Phase IV: This phase looks at the long-term effects of an intervention after FDA approval.

So which categories are worth covering?

Haelle provided some general guidelines: Later-phase, randomized, controlled clinical trials are often considered the gold standard of medical studies. But this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t ever cover other kinds of research, like pre-clinical studies.

Haelle offered the example of environmental exposures. An animal study of a certain chemical exposure and the associated effects could be worth covering if there’s human epidemiological evidence (like studies of people exposed to the chemical in drinking water) you could pair it with, too.

“I don’t ever report on it just by itself,” Haelle explained. “I report on it in context, with other research.”

(And don’t forget to specify “in mice!” if the study was conducted in mice!)

Step 2: Assess newsworthiness.

  • Compared with existing research, how new are these findings? “That’s important to know, because if you’re reporting something for the 70th time, then it’s not news,” Haelle said. Remember, the findings don’t have to be positive to be newsworthy — Haelle emphasized that there can be value in covering negative results (i.e., a failed intervention), too. Another question to consider: how different is this intervention from others?
  • How strong are the findings?
    • Are they clinically significant? That is, do they have a practical, noticeable effect in daily life?
    • What is the effect size? That is, how much of an effect does the intervention have? For context, you might compare the effect size of the intervention to that of the standard treatment.
    • Are the findings statistically significant? Statistical significance is generally determined by the p-value of the data. (A brief primer from an earlier JR tip sheet on statistics: “P-values quantify the consistency of the collected data as compared to a default model which assumes no relationship between the variables in question. If the data is consistent with the default model, a high p-value will result. A low p-value indicates that the data provides strong evidence against the default model. In this case, researchers can accept their alternative, or experimental, model. A result with a p-value of less than .05 often triggers this. Lower p-values can indicate statistically significant results, but they don’t provide definitive proof of the veracity of a finding.”)
    • Ideally, findings are both clinically and statistically significant, but depending on the sample size, an intervention could be clinically but not statistically significant. “You really need to consider not just whether it’s statistically significant — not whether the findings are real just as a result of coincidence but whether they actually have clinical relevance, whether this is going to change practice,” Haelle advised.

Step 3: Evaluate the methodology.

  • How big was the study? In a smaller sample, outliers — extreme data points at either end of the spectrum — have a bigger effect on the overall results. For example, an 11-foot beanstalk in a patch with two two-foot beanstalks would yield an average height of 5 feet per beanstalk. But if the 11-foot beanstalk is in a bigger patch of 20 two-foot beanstalks, the average height is 2.14 feet. Suddenly Jack’s patch of beanstalks is cut down to size.
  • How long did the study last? “If it’s a diet study and it only lasted five days, don’t even bother,” Haelle said.
  • How were effects measured? Haelle gave the example of a study measuring the effects of an intervention on stress levels – there are a number of measures that one could look at to gauge effects, such as blood pressure, cortisol levels and self-reported stress levels. Consider the nuances of the different measures and what they may or may not convey. “You want to think about when they say a drug is improving something or decreasing something, think about whether they’re actually measuring what’s important,” Haelle said.
  • Who participated in the study? Was there a control group? Were the groups randomized?
  • Who funded the study? Is a study claiming pasta helps people lose weight funded by a pasta manufacturer, for example? While industry-funded research can be unbiased, some studies have found that pharmaceutical industry-funded clinical trials were likely to have pro-industry results. So keep that in mind, and be sure note the funding sources in your writing if there could be conflicts.

If you think you’ve found a winner, get reporting! And if you’d like more guidance, check out our tip sheets on how to write about health research and how to conquer your fear of statistics. Also, we’ll spare you the learning curve with these 10 things we wish we’d known earlier about research.

Haelle recommended other resources, including the Association of Health Care Journalists’ resources for covering medical research, Health News Review’s toolkitThe Open Notebook, and Christie Aschwanden’s “Science Isn’t Broken” feature for FiveThirtyEight.

What Is Mindful Working, And How Can It Boost Your Mental Health And Your Career?

What Is Mindful Working, And How Can It Boost Your Mental Health And Your Career?


May is mental health awareness month. One in five people will be affected by mental illness over the course of their lifetime. And some of you reading this piece have struggled with anxiety and/or depression in the workplace. Addressing the stigma of mental illness is important, and mental health awareness month is the perfect time to do it.

The so-called Royal Fab Four (William, Kate, Harry and Meghan) took advantage of this month to launch a mental health service to those suffering, using texting as a modality to offer free help. Princes William and Harry have been open about their own mental struggles over the death of their mother, Princess Diana. I’m not a royal, and I don’t have the funds to offer a worldwide service, but in hopes of eliminating the stigma of mental illness, I would like to do my small part by sharing my own work struggles and how I overcame them.

My Story

After years of defining myself by my accomplishments and allowing my career to consume me, the flying buttress of work ceased to prop me up, and I fell apart. Mentally exhausted and spiritually dead, I slumped in my airplane seat. When the flight attendant asked if I needed anything, I waved her away. I had lost so much weight I looked like a refugee from Dachau. During liftoff, I didn’t care if the plane crashed. Nothing mattered. At the lowest point in my life, I had booked a sunny week in Jamaica to escape the pain of emotional stress and burnout. When you live mainly in the external world like I did—immersing yourself into your career, ignoring your inner Self—you’re bound to hit a bottom at some point. I call this “mindless working.” At my lowest point, I got help, stumbled into yoga and meditation and started my own mindful practices. I began the climb out of the work fog into a saner life. Today when I work, I’m constantly attuned to what’s going on inside me as I pace myself in the present moment throughout the workday. Without an internal compass, you rely on outer conditions to fix an internal feeling, and your spirits die. Could you be one of the spiritually dead in desperate search of an outside cure for your mental health work woes?

Mindless Working: The Real American Idol

In a society based on mindless working, my old unhealthy work habits had plenty of camouflage. Flextime, 24-hour Walmart’s, smartphones and Wi-Fi have vaporized the line that once kept the office from engulfing the sacred hours of Shabbat, Sunday and the family dinnertime. In a rapidly changing, turbulent world you, too, might be struggling to hold that line between calm and frantic work activity. The fast-paced, clever work gadgets infiltrate personal time, and a technologically driven work culture has spun our lives into a blur of constant doing and eclipsed our ability to be. According to Harvard researchers, if you’re like the average person, you’re lost in thought 47% of the time. And multitasking keeps you stuck there.

If you’re a mindless worker, you face the risk of losing touch with yourself, the present moment and the people around you. You see work as a haven in a dangerous, emotionally unpredictable world. You’re on automatic pilot and allow work tasks to engulf you, eclipsing other quarters of life. Commitments to self-care, spiritual life, family responsibilities, friends, partners and children are frequently made and broken to meet work pressures. Chances are, you seek an emotional and neurophysiological payoff from frantic working and get an adrenaline rush from meeting impossible deadlines. You’re preoccupied with work even when walking hand-in-hand at the seashore, playing catch with a child or fishing with a friend. Any kind of inner awareness is little more than a vague, if pleasant, backdrop. Work is the central connection of your life—the place where “life” really takes place, the secret repository of drama and emotion, as compelling as the one addicts experience with booze or cocaine.

Mindful Working And Your Mental Health

The practice of mindfulness brings about change from the inside out—not outside in—regardless of workplace circumstances or the nature of job problems. I call this simple solution to the mental health problems facing the American workforce mindful working—the intentional, moment-to-moment awareness of what’s happening inside you and immediately around you with self-attuned compassion as you move through daily work schedules and routines. It involves bringing your full non-judgmental attention to body sensations, thoughts and feelings that arise while working or thinking about your job. Instead of attacking yourself when things fall apart, a mindful, self-compassionate attunement eases you through work stress and burnout, business failures, job loss or worry and anxiety about career goals.

How chronic stress boosts cancer cell growth

How chronic stress boosts cancer cell growth

How chronic stress boosts cancer cell growth

Having conducted a new study in mice, researchers now have a much better understanding of how chronic (long-term, sustained) stress can accelerate the growth of cancer stem cells. They may also have found a way to prevent stress from doing its damage.

Chronic stress, which a person has consistently over a long period of time, affects mental and emotional well-being as well as physical health.

Studies have tied chronic stress to accelerated cognitive impairment, a higher risk of heart problems, and problems with gut health.

Previous research also suggests that exposure to stress could speed up the growth of cancerthrough its impact on gene activity.

Now, researchers from the Dalian Medical University in China — in collaboration with colleagues from across the world — have located a key mechanism, which chronic stress triggers, that fuels the growth of cancer stem cells that tumors originate from.

More specifically, the researchers have studied this mechanism in mouse models of breast cancer.

Their findings — which they report in The Journal of Clinical Investigation — point the finger at the hormone epinephrine, but they also suggest a strategy to counteract the effects of stress mechanisms on cancer cells.

“You can kill all the cells you want in a tumor,” notes co-author Keith Kelley, from the University of Illinois at Chicago, “but if the stem cells, or mother cells, are not killed, then the tumor is going to grow and metastasize.”

“This,” he adds, “is one of the first studies to link chronic stress specifically with the growth of breast cancer stem cells.”


Stress fuels tumor growth

To see how stress would impact cancer cell growth in the rodents, the researchers put all the mice in small, restrictive enclosures for a week. Then, they split the mice into two groups.

They put one group into large, comfortable enclosures to discontinue the stress; these mice acted as the control group. The other group stayed in the small enclosures for another 30 days; these mice acted as the experimental group.

Following their initial investigation, the scientists saw not only that the stressed mice exhibited changes in behavior that were indicative of depression and anxiety, but also that they had larger cancer tumors than their peers in the control group.

Also, these tumors were growing at a faster rate, and on the whole, the stressed mice also had a greater number of cancer stem cells than the other mice. Still, at this point, it remained unclear exactly how stress contributed to the progression of cancer.

According to principal investigator Quentin Liu, from the Institute of Cancer Stem Cell at Dalian Medical University, “The direct signaling network between stress pathways and a cancer-propagating system remains almost completely unknown.”

He adds, “A better understanding of the biochemistry that causes stress to increase the growth of cancer cells could lead us toward targeted drug interventions, one of which we discovered in this work.”

Blame epinephrine, not cortisol

When they looked into how various physiological factors changed in the mice that had experienced chronic stress, the researchers closed in on a hormone called epinephrine.

The stressed mice had much higher levels of this hormone than the mice in the control group. Also, in mice from the experimental group that had received a drug that blocked ADRB2 — which is an epinephrine receptor — cancer tumors were smaller and the numbers of cancer stem cells were also lower.

“When most people think of stress,” says Kelley, “they think it’s cortisol that’s suppressing the immune system.” However, he adds, “The amazing thing is cortisol was actually lower after a month of stress.”

How does epinephrine help cancer stem cells thrive? The authors explain that when this hormone binds to ADRB2, the interaction boosts levels of lactate dehydrogenase, an enzyme that normally gives muscles an “injection” of energy in a danger situation. This allows the person to either fight the threat or run away from it.

A byproduct of this energy boost is the production of an organic compound called lactate. In the case of people with cancer, the harmful cells actually feed on this compound; it allows them to acquire more energy.

This means that if a person has chronic stress, they will have too much lactate dehydrogenase in their system. This, in turn, will activate genes related to cancer growth and allow cancer cells to thrive.

The secret to a long, happy, healthy life? Think age-positive

The secret to a long, happy, healthy life? Think age-positive

The secret to a long, happy, healthy life? Think age-positive

By Nina Avramova

We’ve long been told to respect our elders. But now there is scientific evidence that respect can potentially save lives among the elderly and keep them both physically and mentally healthy.

An analysis by the global journalism network Orb Media found that countries with high levels of respect for the elderly recorded better health among older populations and lower poverty levels for over-60s.
As we enter a new phase of history — with 2.1 billion people predicted to live beyond 60 by 2050 — global attitudes toward older people have not kept up.
In a 2016 World Health Organization survey across 57 countries, 60% of respondents reported that older people are not respected.
A more recent report by the Royal Society for Public Health in the UK gauged the feelings of 2,000 British citizens and found some other bleak trends. Almost half — 47% — believed that people over 65 struggled to learn new skills. A quarter of 18- to 24-year-olds and 15% of the total respondents agreed that “it is normal to be unhappy and depressed when you are old.”
Becca Levy, professor of public health and psychology at Yale School of Public Health, believes that negative attitudes are due to “the growing medicalization of older adults” and “the growing anti-aging industry that promotes and actually profits from a fear of aging.”
But in the UK alone, older people made net contributions to the economy of nearly 40 billion pounds (US $52.64 billion) during 2011, according to a 2011 analysis.

The dangers of stereotypes

Negative stereotypes can be dangerous to older people in a number of ways, including shortening their lives.
Levy analyzed interviews with 660 people from Oxford, Ohio, that were conducted over more than two decades and matched these with mortality information. Her team found that those with a positive attitude toward aging lived on average 7.5 years longer than those who viewed it as something bad.
“We were very surprised at this difference,” said Levy, who believes that people with positive mindsets were able to live longer because positive attitudes can influence psychological, behavioral and physiological mechanisms in the body.
Positive thinking can better behavior by leading people to engage in healthier lifestyles such as exercise. A person’s positivity can also improve their psychology,making them better at coping with stress — a contributor to memory loss and brain shrinkage.
According to one of Levy’s studies, in Ireland over the span of 30 years, mental conditions such as depression and anxiety were more common among people with negative ideas about aging.
Dr. Luigi Ferrucci, geriatrician and director of the Baltimore Longitudinal Study on Aging, was skeptical at first when the idea of a link between someone’s health and their feelings about age was suggested.
The Baltimore team’s study, which started in 1958, also asked participants about their thoughts on aging, and expecting to find no connection between the two. But they soon discovered that people with a positive attitude toward aging had less cardiovascular disease, they produced less cortisol — a stress hormone — over time, and autopsy findings showed less frequent dementia.
“Using very, very objective measures, we found that they were much better compared to those that had a negative attitude,” Ferrucci said.
But he cautioned that, “while the evidence is really strong, whether we can we generalize this [finding] to the general population is not completely understood.”

Where are people most negative?

“High income countries are the highly industrialized countries and industrialization tends to devalue older people,” explained Erdman Palmore, professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Duke University, in an email, adding that traditional rural societies tend to have higher respect because older people can keep working longer and are more valuable to the economy.
Retirement policies make older people seem less valuable to society and a country’s economy, he said.
Japan, South Korea and Argentina are the three lowest-ranking countries when it comes to respect for the elderly, according to World Values Survey carried out between 2010 and 2014, despite their large elderly populations. These respect estimates — recorded in 2014 — paint a changing picture of perceptions.
In Japan, for example, middle-age men, who were traditionally valued, are now seen as having lost their honor and value in society.
The UK report found that most beliefs around age are formed by the age of 6. “Once prejudice has been learned it is often very hard to unlearn,” the report’s lead author, Toby Green, wrote in an email.
“For many people the stereotypes they absorb then persist into later life — at which point they begin to apply them to themselves. This means that negative age stereotypes are embedded among groups of all ages,” he said.

Where did the stereotypes come from?

In one study, they analyzed synonyms for the word ‘elderly’ in a database of 400 million words included in a range or print sources from the past two centuries and found that from 1810 to 1879, the concept of getting older was viewed positively in the United States.
Then, from 1880 onward — the midst of industrialization — people started seeing aging as something bad. The researchers suggest the rising number of people over the age of 65 was associated with the increase in negative beliefs around age.
Still, there remain many countries where the elderly are viewed as a valuable part of the population and deserving of respect.
Georgia, Uzbekistan and Qatar scored top places in the world value survey when asked about whether people aged over 70 are likely to be seen with respect.
Positive mindsets about age have very real impacts on the elderly.
2018 study found that the chances of dementia can be lowered by 49.8% if a positive outlook is maintained. Older people with happy thoughts have also been proven to recover faster from cardiovascular events, according to Levy’s work.

The need for integration

In 2016, WHO acknowledged the need for ageism to be globally addressed and highlighted that ageism is most likely more widespread than sexism and racism.
Green believes that one of the solutions to reducing ageism is integrating generations.
His report for the Royal Society of Public health found that 64% of Brits didn’t have a friend who is at least 30 years older than they are.
Integration is “really important — there’s so much evidence on the health and wellbeing benefits of this,” he said.
Starting with young children and encouraging workplace diversity to tackle ageism are other strategies Green recommends. “Making this progress in workplace settings would do a great deal of good for wider cultural change.”
Ferrucci believes that “we need to see our life as a trajectory. Every single period is important.”
People should prepare for aging and make changes to their lives now to expand the years spent in good health, he said. Physical exercise and nutrition were the most important factors in longevity.
“Our aging population is the strongest, most important change that will occur in the world over the next 20 years,” he added. “When aging comes, it’s not so bad if you have been planning for it.”
Article originally found on