Public health

The big picture

America's deepening drinking habit

Pandemic-related spikes in drinking came after years of increasing alcohol consumption

Jul 7, 2021 - Health
America's poor health is jeopardizing its future

New studies underscore just how bad American health is compared to other rich countries, which has worsened the impact of COVID-19

Oct 24, 2020 - Health
How the world could monitor for potential pandemic viruses

Global monitoring is key to UN strategy for preventing future pandemics.

Jul 9, 2020 - Health
Saving the elderly from coronavirus

America and much of the world is aging rapidly and is in need of technologies to care for the elderly.

Jun 17, 2020 - Health
Pandemic re-emphasizes need for universal flu vaccine

There's been "promising progress" in the quest for the universal flu vaccine.

Jun 4, 2020 - Health
Chart: The mortality rate ranking for each state, by disease

Everything's deadlier in the South.

May 11, 2019 - Health

All Public health stories

Wildfire smoke can cause slew of health problems and COVID-19 risk

Wildfires burning out of control across the Western U.S. causes hazy skies throughout New York City and Washington D.C. Photo: Lokman Vural Elibol/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

New studies show the smoke from some wildfires like the 2018 Camp fire could be even more harmful than previously believed because its noxious fumes include elevated levels of chemicals such as lead, zinc and iron, Los Angeles Times reports.

Why it matters: Hazardous chemicals in the air are linked with serious health implications for blood pressure, reproductive systems and even cancer and neurological disorders, especially in children.

Dangerous fungus found spreading in U.S. care facilities for 1st time

A medical illustration of Candida auris from the CDC's "Antibiotic Resistance Threats in the United States, 2019." Credit: Stephanie Rossow/CDC

CDC officials are concerned about a strain of the Candida auris fungus that's resistant to all drugs and appears to have spread in small clusters in health care settings, rather than in individuals who had taken antifungals.

Why it matters: "The concern is that it could spread to any of the patients who are at high risk, not just the ones who've been treated before — and that the population who could acquire these potentially untreatable infections could be much larger," Meghan Lyman, medical officer in the CDC's Mycotic Diseases Branch, tells Axios.

Jul 22, 2021 - Health

Hospital systems to Congress: "Enough is enough" on gun violence

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

More than a dozen CEOs of major health systems sent a letter to Congressional leaders Wednesday calling for support of President Biden's proposal to fund $5 billion in hospital and community-based gun violence intervention programs.

Why it matters: The letter from some of the top health systems in the country — including CommonSpirit Health, RWJBarnabas Health, Sanford Health and Intermountain — comes as gun violence reaches critical levels.

  • In 2020, there were a record 43,559 firearms-related deaths and more than 39,000 additional injuries recorded. The country on pace to surpass records again this year.

Latinos still coping with the fallout of 1st nuclear explosion

The 1945 Trinity Test in New Mexico of the world's first atomic bomb explosion. Photo: Galerie Bilderwelt/Getty Images

Hispanics and Mescalero Apache tribal members in New Mexico this month are marking the anniversary of the 1945 Trinity Test — an experiment resulting in health problems for generations living near the site of the world's first atomic bomb explosion.

Why it matters: Descendants of those families use the July 16 anniversary to pressure lawmakers to compensate those who have suffered rare forms of cancer ever since the explosion.

Jul 14, 2021 - Health

CDC says drug overdose deaths hit record 93,300 in 2020

A couple attends Black Balloon Day, a day to honor those who have died due to accidental overdoses, Portland, Maine, March 6. Photo: Erin Clark/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

Deaths from drug overdoses in the U.S. soared by nearly 30% in 2020, reaching a record high of 93,331, according to provisional data released Wednesday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Why it matters: The shocking figures — which represent the sharpest annual increase in at least three decades — reflect the proliferation of the synthetic opioid fentanyl in the illegal narcotic supply and the pandemic's toll on the opioid crisis.

Jul 10, 2021 - Health

Uptick in severe respiratory virus cases among young children, CDC says

Scanning electron micrograph of human respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) virions (colorized blue) and labeled with anti-RSV F protein/gold antibodies (colorized yellow). Photo: IMAGE POINT FR/NIH/NIAID/BSIP/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Doctors are warning about the spread of respiratory syncytial virus, or RSV, among infants and young children, NBC reports.

Why it matters: RSV, which usually spikes during winter months, is unexpectedly spreading, particularly in Southern states. The virus can cause severe illness in kids and older adults and kills as many as 500 children under 5 each year, per NBC.

Updated Jul 9, 2021 - Politics & Policy

South Carolina governor rejects Biden's door-to-door vaccine advocacy plan

South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster speaking in November 2020. Photo: Sean Rayford/Getty Images

South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster (R) on Thursday rejected the Biden administration's plan to send people door to door to urge residents to get vaccinated against the coronavirus.

Why it matters: McMaster called on the state's board of health to issue a directive to prevent state and local healthcare organizations from knocking on people's doors to promote the vaccines.

Jul 9, 2021 - Health

FDA calls for independent review of Alzheimer's drug approval

FDA Acting Commissioner Janet Woodcock. Photo: Al Drago/Bloomberg via Getty Images

FDA Acting Commissioner Janet Woodcock on Friday formally asked the HHS' Office of Inspector General to "conduct an independent review and assessment of interactions between representatives of Biogen and FDA during the process that led to the approval of Aduhelm."

Why it matters: Aduhelm has been one of the most controversial drug approvals in recent memory. The rare move from the agency comes on the heels of a STAT News report that detailed how Biogen and FDA officials worked closely during the process, and possibly violated FDA rules with an "off-the-books" meeting.

Cancer mortality in U.S. declines overall as some disease persists

Reproduced from a National Cancer Institute report; Chart: Axios Visuals

Death rates for lung cancer and melanoma continued to drop for men and women in the U.S. between 2014 and 2018, according to an annual report with the National Cancer Institute.

Yes, but: For several other major cancers, however, like colorectal, breast and prostate, death rates increased — or saw previous improvements stall.

Jul 7, 2021 - Health

Moderna begins trial for mRNA seasonal flu vaccine

Moderna logo. Photo: Artur Widak/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Moderna announced Wednesday that the first participants have been dosed in an early trial of a seasonal flu vaccine that uses messenger RNA technology.

Why it matters: The blockbuster success of the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines for COVID-19 has brought new excitement to the promise of the mRNA platform, which may be adapted to train the immune system to fight many other diseases.

More Public health stories