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public health

When Alaska's first COVID-19 case was discovered in March, the director of the state's public health laboratory began scrambling to find enough technicians and microbiologists to confront the emerging pandemic.

State public health labs are the nation's first line of defense against an infectious disease because they handle the early diagnostic tests. But labs in Alaska and several other states were left short staffed after years of state budget cuts and inconsistent federal funding, according to an APM Reports analysis.

Matt Bloom / KUNC News

When the noise rattled through Valerie Stozki’s kitchen one recent evening, she’d finally had enough. The buzzing coming from outside was loud — so loud her son couldn’t concentrate on his homework. So, she got on the city of Broomfield’s website and started typing.

“Thankfully it just stopped,” Stozki wrote in a complaint filed with the city last month. “But at 9:30 at night, I want to be sleeping. Not trying to finish up homework.”

The culprit, Stozki noted, was a new oil and gas site situated just off the highway near hundreds of homes on Broomfield’s northeast side.

Anxiety thrives on uncertainty.

And, as the coronavirus spreads, our unanswered questions can make us feel vulnerable or fearful. "Will it come to my community" or "Am I at risk?'

"We've got national anxiety at the moment, a kind of shared stress, and we are all in a state of extreme uncertainty," says Catherine Belling, an associate professor at Northwestern University, Feinberg School of Medicine, who studies the role of fear and anxiety in health care.

If you live in the U.S., your risk of contracting the new strain of coronavirus identified in China is exceedingly low.

Amber Powell / U.S. Air National Guard

A group of chemicals called PFAS are common in firefighting foams, as well as household products like rain jackets, pizza boxes and non-stick pots and pans. They've been in use since the 1940s and have come to be known as "forever chemicals" because they persist in the environment.

PFAS, which stands for per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, have made their way into watersheds around the world, and as a recent study found, even into raindrops. Some are considered a threat to human health. 

Researchers including Jens Blotevogel, an environmental engineer at Colorado State University, are studying ways to get rid of the compounds. 

Thanksgiving leftovers are a distant memory, and December's extra travel, shopping and family commitments are already straining nerves, budgets and immune systems. It's officially "the holidays" — which also means we're well into a new flu season.

It's never too late to benefit from a flu shot, even into December and January, says Dr. William Schaffner, an infectious disease specialist at Vanderbilt School of Medicine in Nashville.

After decades of progress against one of the most contagious human viruses, the world is seeing measles stage a slow, steady comeback.

The World Health Organization and the CDC say in a new report that there were nearly 10 million cases of measles last year, with outbreaks on every continent.

An estimated 140,000 people died from measles in 2018, WHO says, up from an all-time low of 90,000 in 2016.

And so far 2019 has been even worse.

When it comes to global health, the world has made remarkable strides over the past two decades. There has been unprecedented progress vaccinating kids, treating diseases and lifting millions out of poverty. The childhood death rate has been slashed in half since 2000. Adults are living an average 5 1/2 years longer.

Childhood trauma causes serious health repercussions throughout life and is a public health issue that calls for concerted prevention efforts. That's the takeaway of a report published Tuesday from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Mountain West states have some of the lowest rates of youth obesity in the country, according to a new report from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

Utah's rate of 8.7% was found to be the lowest in the country, while Colorado and Montana, with rates of 10.7% and 10.8%, respectively, were also among the six states with obesity rates statistically significantly lower than the national average of 15.3%.

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