Skip to content

Posts from the ‘health science’ Category


West Nile Virus Notes


2014 budget is $30,097,170 than last year.  Failing to solve the problem means more money and resources (personnel) involved the next time there’s a spike in temperatures and drop in precipitation.

Current drought map

Drought monitor archive

CDC West Nile Virus stats (2002-2012) PDF archives

Mother Jones (2012) interactive maps

The middle class suburban areas appeared to support the appropriate combination of vegetation, open space, and potential vector habitat favoring WNV transmission. Wealthier neighborhoods had more vegetation, more diverse land use, and less habitat fragmentation likely resulting in higher biological diversity potentially protective against the WNV human transmission, e.g. the avian host “dilution effect” [45].

CDC WNV stats 2002-2012 by state


 TIME 2/28/2014

The biggest indicator of whether West Nile virus will occur is the maximum temperature of the warmest month of the year, which is why the virus has caused the most damage in hot southern states like Texas.

The UCLA model indicates that higher temperatures and lower precipitation will generally lead to more cases of West Nile



2012 Scientific American

A nearly frost-free winter followed by the summer’s drought has worsened the epidemic


West Nile Virus outbreak map

west nile virus


Science Newsfeed: Interim Report of the Committee on Geographic Variation in Health Care Spending and Promotion of High-Value Health Care: Preliminary Committee Observations

Interim Report of the Committee on Geographic Variation in Health Care Spending and Promotion of High-Value Health Care: Preliminary Committee Observations is designed to provide the committee’s preliminary observations for the 113th Congress as it considers further Medicare reform. This report contains only key preliminary observations related primarily to the committee’s commissioned analyses of Medicare Parts A (Hospital Insurance program), B (Supplementary Medical Insurance program) and D (outpatient prescription drug benefit), complemented by other empirical investigations. It does not contain any observations related to the committee’s commissioned analyses of the commercial insurer population, Medicare Advantage, or Medicaid, which will be presented in the committee’s final report after completion of quality-control activities.

This interim report excludes conclusions or recommendations related to the committee’s consideration of the geographic value index or other payment reforms designed to promote highvalue care. Additional analyses are forthcoming, which will influence the committee’s deliberations. These analyses include an exploration of how Medicare Part C (Medicare Advantage) and commercial spending, utilization, and quality vary compared with, and possibly are influenced by, Medicare Parts A and B spending, utilization, and quality. The committee also is assessing potential biases that may be inherent to Medicare and commercial claims-based measures of health status. Based on this new evidence and continued review of the literature, the committee will confirm the accuracy of the observations presented in this interim report and develop final conclusions and recommendations, which will be published in the committee’s final report.


Why Does Life Expectancy Vary So Much in High-Income Countries?

We’re living longer, but in part that depends on exactly where we’re living.  Life expectancy of those over age 50 in the United States has been rising since the 1980’s — but much more slowly than similar high-income countries, such as Japan and Australia — in spite of the fact that the United States spends more on health care than any other nation. The National Institute on Aging and the National Research Council teamed up to examine the evidence about the causes.

These causes are presented in Explaining Divergent Levels of Longevity in High-Income Countries.  Some of the aspects, such as current obesity levels, are not novel observations.  But two more unusual factors identify the United State’s history of heavy smoking as one big part of the picture and a lack of universal access to health care in the U.S. as a second factor.

However, the report shows evidence for the success of Medicare since the main causes of death at older ages — cancer and cardiovascular disease — show that cancer detection and survival appear to be better in the U.S. than in most other high-income nations, and survival rates following a heart attack also are favorable.

Explaining Divergent Levels of Longevity in High-Income Countries identifies many gaps in research. For instance, while lung cancer deaths are a reliable marker of the damage from smoking, no clear-cut marker exists for obesity, physical inactivity, social integration, or other risks considered in this book. Moreover, evaluation of these risk factors is based on observational studies, which — unlike randomized controlled trials — are subject to many biases.

Available as a free PDF here: