health | KUOW News and Information


Most of the world didn't know anyone lived in the highlands of Papua New Guinea until the 1930s, when Australian gold prospectors surveying the area realized there were about a million people there.

When researchers made their way to those villages in the 1950s, they found something disturbing. Among a tribe of about 11,000 people called the Fore, up to 200 people a year had been dying of an inexplicable illness. They called the disease kuru, which means "shivering" or "trembling."

Top brass at PepsiCo has talked for months about the introduction of an organic line. And now, according to Bloomberg, the company is rolling out G Organic — yep, an organic version of the famously technicolored sports drink Gatorade. (Think crimson red, electric blue and neon green shades.)

Last year only 67 percent of toddlers in Washington state were fully vaccinated by age 3.
Flickr Photo/Gates Foundation (CC BY-NC-ND)

Emily Fox talks with Dr. Jeff Duchin, health officer for Public Health - Seattle & King County, about vaccination trends for students in King County. 

Teen pregnancy is way down. And a study suggests that the reason is increased, and increasingly effective, use of contraceptives.

From 2007 to 2013, births to teens age 15 to 19 dropped by 36 percent; pregnancies fell by 25 percent from 2007 to 2011, according to federal data.

Stephen Coning, a 26-year-old former Marine, took his own life this summer, leaving behind a wife and a 2-year-old son.

By chance, it was the same week the Department of Veterans Affairs released conclusive data showing that the rate of suicide for those who served is now much higher than for civilians.

Despite that connection, the VA does not presume all suicides to be "service connected."

We are running out of ways to treat gonorrhea, the World Health Organization announced today.

The U.N. health agency released new guidelines warning doctors that it no longer recommends an entire class of antibiotics, quinolones, because quinolone-resistant strains of the disease have emerged all over the world.

Instead, the health agency recommends using cephalosporins, another class of antibiotic. The new protocol replaces guidelines that had not been changed since 2003.

Alexander Rhodes stumbled on internet pornography accidentally at the age of 11. His initial curiosity soon became compulsion, and from there, addiction.

When a young African-American man dies in the city of Philadelphia, more than half the time there's one main reason why, says Scott Charles.

"It's because somebody pointed a gun at him and pulled that trigger. It's not because of cancer; it's not because of car accidents; it's not because of house fires. It's because somebody pointed a trigger," he says.

The main entrance of Western State Hospital in Lakewood, Wash.
KUOW Photo/John Ryan

Washington's largest psychiatric hospital has operated without national accreditation since June. It became clear Monday, though, that Western State Hospital did not notify staff, job applicants or the public.

Treatment for life-threatening allergic reactions is about to get a little cheaper.

Mylan, the maker of the EpiPen, said Monday that it will launch a generic version of the device for half the price of the brand-name product.

Adult Aedes aegypti mosquitoes, which can carry the Zika virus.
Flickr Photo/NIAID (CC BY 2.0)/

Testing blood donations for the Zika virus doesn’t make sense for places like Seattle.

That’s what Dr. James AuBuchon, president and chief executive of Bloodworks Northwest, told KUOW’s Kim Malcolm.

Flickr Photo/Vu Nguyen (CC BY 2.0)

One solution to the soaring price of EpiPens: Build a replacement that costs a fraction as much.

Jim Duren of King County Emergency Medical Services told KUOW’s Kim Malcolm that his agency did just that in 2013, building its own injection kit.

In Japan, you sometimes hear the term "village on the edge." What it means is "village on the edge of extinction."

Japan's population is declining. And the signs of that are easiest to see in rural areas, like the mountainous interior of the southern island of Shikoku. For example, the village of Nagoro used to have around 300 residents. Now it has 30.

Portland Public Schools said Thursday it's OK to eat vegetables grown in the dozens of community gardens on school grounds.

That reverses advice from last week telling Portlanders not to eat the school garden produce due to high levels of lead in school water used to irrigate the plants.

Author and illustrator Elisha Cooper
Courtesy of Elisha Cooper/Christopher Smith

In his new memoir, “Falling: A Daughter, A Father, and a Journey Back,"  author Elisha Cooper recalls how he and his family faced and survived his daughter Zoe’s cancer.

The act of reflection, some years after the events, is cathartic for Cooper. The result is the chronicle of a life-changing period, marked by terrifying uncertainty and resilience. He tells the story with humor and a palpable sense of awe.