Scientists have reconstructed the genetic code of a strain of bacteria that caused one of the most deadly pandemics in history nearly 1,500 years ago.
They did it by finding the skeletons of people killed by the plague and extracting DNA from traces of blood inside their teeth.
This plague struck in the year 541, under the reign of the Roman emperor Justinian, so it's usually called the Justinian plague. The emperor actually got sick himself but recovered. He was one of the lucky ones.
Originally published on Wed January 29, 2014 2:37 pm
It would have been hard to find a happier man than Erick Munoz on that Tuesday morning before Thanksgiving.
With a healthy and delightful son toddling around the house, and his beautiful and successful wife pregnant with their second child, the fire department paramedic had everything in life that's really important. So it must have been with a feeling of disbelief and horror that Munoz knelt across the nearly lifeless body of his wife, Marlise, on the kitchen floor at 2 a.m., his fingers linking across her heart, arms pumping away in vain.
It came as a surprise to many people when Vermont's governor recently devoted his entire 2014 State of the State address to what he called a "full-blown heroin crisis."
While it may not fit Vermont's bucolic image, the state's addiction problem has long been acknowledged. And as the state has expanded treatment, it's also been coming to grips with one of the most difficult and emotional aspects of the issue: addicted mothers.
Originally published on Tue January 28, 2014 5:12 pm
On Sunday, we told you about bartenders who are up in arms about a new California law that makes it illegal for culinary workers to touch uncooked food with their bare hands. Turns out, sushi chefs are ticked off, too.
For sushi chefs, crafting sashimi or a great roll is a lot like creating art. It requires skill and feel. Bare hands are essential.
Originally published on Tue January 28, 2014 1:20 pm
Drinking remains one of the biggest health risks for college students, with 80 percent of students drinking alcohol and more than one-third binge drinking.
This may seem like an inevitable part of student life. But there's actually a lot that schools can do to help students get their drinking under control if they're willing to offer more than generic online courses, a study finds.
Originally published on Tue January 28, 2014 10:27 am
As the enrollment period continues for health coverage on the state health insurance marketplaces, people continue to have many questions about buying a plan there.
What happens with premium tax credits if a couple gets divorced? If the premium tax credit is based on the previous year's income when the couple filed taxes jointly, many wouldn't qualify. But once someone is divorced, one individual might have little income. What is the subsidy based on in that situation?
This month, Rhode Island became the third state in the nation to offer workers paid family leave to care for a loved one. And on Tuesday, Newark, N.J., became the latest in a small wave of cities to mandate paid sick leave.
The policies cover both public and private sector workers, and a dozen more areas are considering some variation of them.
A vendor sells chickens at the Kowloon City Market in Hong Kong last month. As a precautionary measure against the deadly H7N9 virus, Hong Kong has temporarily stopped importing poultry from mainland farms.
Originally published on Tue January 28, 2014 12:56 pm
As China gets ready to usher in the Year of the Horse on Friday, millions of them will find it hard to buy chicken for traditional Lunar New Year feasts. That's a mark of the nation's growing anxiety about a poultry-borne flu virus called H7N9.
On Tuesday, Hong Kong agricultural workers will begin destroying 20,000 chickens. The bird flu virus H7N9 was found in a single live bird from a farm in neighboring Guangdong Province.
Originally published on Tue January 28, 2014 12:55 pm
The clinical definition for when a child has some form of autism has been tightened. And these narrower criteria for autism spectrum disorder probably will reduce the number of kids who meet the new standard.
But researchers say the changes, which were rolled out last May, are likely to have a bigger effect on government statistics than on the care of the nation's children.