health | KUOW News and Information


There's at least one thing Bill Gates and President Trump agree on: The media don't always get things right.

For Gates, the problem is with the foreign aid coverage.

"The nature of news is mostly to cover big setbacks," Gates says. "So if a little bit of money was spent improperly, that's what gets the news coverage, even though 99 percent of it was spent well."

This focus on failure leads to false impressions about the effectiveness of foreign aid, says Gates.

We don't usually think of adorable puppies as disease vectors, but they might actually be making people sick. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is investigating a Campylobacter outbreak in people and its link to puppies purchased from a chain of pet stores.

Two small-town hospitals in the Palouse have announced they plan to offer gender confirmation surgeries. The same surgeon would offer the procedure at Pullman Regional Hospital and Gritman Medical Center in nearby Moscow, Idaho.

Cancer drugs cost far less to develop than industry-backed research asserts, an analysis published Monday asserts. Research and development costs are a major reason that drug companies justify high prices, so this dispute has a direct bearing on the cost of medical care.

Almost one-third of people have stopped taking a prescription drug at some time without telling their health care provider, according to the latest NPR-Truven Health Analytics Health Poll.

Jonathan Guffey has chiseled youthful looks and, at 32, does not have the haggard bearing of someone who has spent more than half his life hooked on opioids. That stint with the drug started at 15 and ended — he says for good — 22 months ago. He has a job working with his family in construction, but his work history is pockmarked by addiction.

"I've worked in a couple of factories for a short amount of time, probably just long enough to get the first check to get high off of," Guffey says.

Of all the resources that hang in the balance as firefighters attempt to slow the growth of the Eagle Creek Fire, one stands out: the Bull Run watershed.

It’s 150 square miles of hemlock, fir and cedar trees just south of the Columbia River Gorge. The forest soaks up rain and fills the lakes and reservoirs that provide drinking water for close to 1 million people in Portland, Gresham, Beaverton and Tigard.

Climate Change Is Making Smoky, Unhealthy Air More Common

Sep 7, 2017

On Wednesday, as smoke blotted out the sun across the city of Portland, about a dozen people were hiding out from the smoky heat in the air conditioned Hollywood Senior Center – one of the county's designated cooling centers for those needing relief on the hottest days of the year.

Wearing an electronic air filter around her neck, Jennifer Young, who works at the center, flipped on the larger, high-efficiency particulate  filter she brought from home to purify her work-space air.

The top three nationally reported STDs are chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis and they are all on the rise in the Northwest and across the nation.

A smoky Seattle skyline is shown from N. Northlake Way on Tuesday, September 5, 2017.
KUOW Photo/Megan Farmer

With smoke from wildfires filling Seattle’s skies, Dr. Jeff Duchin has some advice for people with respiratory conditions, pregnant women, diabetics, old people, infants and children: Don’t go out.

As Dr. Ruth Berggren digests the calamity affecting her new home state of Texas, she admits to some PTSD.

In 2005, she was an infectious-disease doctor at Charity Hospital in New Orleans when Hurricane Katrina hit, and she became one of a small number of physicians left to care for 250 patients for six days, trapped by flooding and without running water or electricity.

Oregon is ablaze right now. With at least 25 active wildfires burning more than 282,000 acres, smoke inhalation is a major health concern for the Beaver State.

The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality and the Lane Regional Air Protection Agency have issued an air quality alert for Northeast Oregon until 6 p.m. Tuesday. Wildfires burning around the region are to blame, with smoke and ash creating unhealthy conditions in Portland, the north coast, the Columbia River Gorge, the Willamette Valley and beyond.

San Diego's homeless population has been hit hardest by the highly contagious hepatitis A virus.

The outbreak, which began in November, has spread after vaccination and educational programs in the city failed to reduce the infection rate. The virus attacks the liver.

Has Salt Gotten An Unfair Shake?

Sep 3, 2017

For such a simple compound, salt is complicated.

Sodium is a key element in table salt, and it's also essential for life. It helps regulate our blood volume. It shuttles nutrients into our bodies and brains. It allows our muscles to contract and our nerves to pulse with electricity. Yet for decades, we've been told to avoid it.

A disease that can be deadly to deer has been found for the first time in Washington. Wildlife managers are asking people to not give deer food or water — in hopes of minimizing the spread of the infection.

Adenovirus Hemorrhagic Disease — or AHD — is common in other western states. Washington’s first confirmed case was found in a herd east of Goldendale.

The disease is often fatal for fawns. It’s not a risk to people, pets, or livestock — it’s only transmitted from deer-to-deer.

Josh Hanagarne is a dad, a librarian and an author. He also has an extreme form of Tourette's syndrome. But he doesn't let it and his tics — his involuntary movements and sounds — stop him from living his life. He says he actually chose to work in a library because it was the quietest place he knew of.

Josh first started showing symptoms of Tourette's syndrome when he was in elementary school, about the same age that his son Max is now.

There's a health trend that researchers want the LGBT community to be aware of: Lesbian and gay adults over 50 are found to be in poorer health than heterosexuals, according to a University of Washington School of Social Work study.

BiliScreen is a new smartphone app that can screen for pancreatic cancer by having users snap a selfie.
Courtesy of the University of Washington/Dennis Wise

University of Washington researchers have created a smartphone app that could help users screen themselves for a range of diseases, including pancreatic cancer, by simply taking a selfie.

The Food and Drug Administration on Wednesday announced what the agency calls a "historic action" — the first approval of a cell-based gene therapy in the United States.

The FDA approved Kymriah, which scientists refer to as a "living drug" because it involves using genetically modified immune cells from patients to attack their cancer.

There is a lifesaving drug that owes its existence to moldy hay, sick cows and rat poison.

The Univeristy of Washington Medical Center in South Lake Union.
Angela Nhi Nguyen/KUOW Photo

Three patients at the University of Washington Medical Center have been diagnosed with Legionnaire’s disease this week. One of them died Friday and now officials are investigating the hospital.

Dan Fabbio was 25 and working on a master's degree in music education when he stopped being able to hear music in stereo. Music no longer felt the same to him.

The health insurer Aetna is facing criticism for revealing the HIV status of potentially thousands of customers after it sent out a mailer in which information about ordering prescription HIV drugs was clearly visible through the envelope's clear window.

For example, in a letter sent to a customer in Brooklyn, N.Y., the window revealed considerably more than the address. It also showed the beginning of a letter advising the customer about options "when filling prescriptions for HIV Medic ... "

Tanzania Gears Up To Become A Nation Of Medical Drones

Aug 23, 2017

Eight-year-old boy bitten by dog. Two-year-old child with severe anemia. Mother, age 24, bleeding severely at childbirth.

Entries like these popped up as Keller Rinaudo browsed a database of health emergencies during a 2014 visit to Tanzania. It was "a lightbulb moment," says the CEO and co-founder of the California drone startup Zipline.

At a campaign rally in Phoenix on Tuesday, President Trump made news by slamming Republican senators, praising controversial former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio and blasting the news media.

He also defended his initial, controversial remarks on recent violent protests in Charlottesville, Va. But in doing so, he left out the parts of the remarks that inflamed people's tempers the most, like his comment that there was violence "on many sides."

If you're in desperate need for some good news, look no further.

Scientists in the U.S. and India have found an inexpensive treatment that could possibly save hundreds of thousands of newborns each year.

And it turns out, the secret weapon was sitting in Asian kitchens all along: probiotic bacteria that are common in kimchi, pickles and other fermented vegetables.

Dr. Sapna Cheryan, Psychology Professor at the University of Washington
Courtesy of Nikki Ritcher

People who are chubby or fat often experience prejudice. 

But a recent study out of the University of Washington found that for Asian Americans, being fat correlates with being viewed as belonging in the U.S. Dr. Sapna Cheryan is a psychology professor at the UW. She talked to Kim Malcolm about the study's results.  

President Trump says he is ready to declare the nation's opioid crisis "a national emergency," saying it is a "serious problem the likes of which we have never had." Speaking to reporters at the entrance to his Bedminster, N.J., golf club, where he is on a working vacation, Trump promised "to spend a lot of time, a lot of effort and a lot of money on the opioid crisis."

A new study may prompt hand wringing among you tuna poke and sushi lovers. When it comes to pollutant levels, researchers now say where your tuna was caught matters.