Welcome to the weekend and to our usual roundup of news you may have missed from last week.
It’s become clear: Dengue fever has arrived and is making itself comfortable in Houston. Actually, apparently the disease has been in our city since 2003, according to a study lead by Baylor College of Medicine and Texas Children’s Hospital researcher Dr. Kristy Murray.
“There was dengue circulating, and we had no idea that it was here because we just weren’t looking,” she said in a blog post on Shots, the NPR blog.
What is dengue fever, exactly? It’s caused by a virus and spread by mosquito bites. Symptoms include a sudden high fever, rashes, fatigue, and nausea. Read more about symptoms and causes of dengue fever.
Currently, there’s no treatment for dengue fever, so Murray says the goal is to diminish the spread of it as much as possible.
Better together: Losing weight in a group approach
Trying to maintain a healthy lifestyle or lose some pounds? Have you found that it’s helpful to achieve your goals with support from a group? You’re definitely not alone.
A Baylor College of Medicine study has found that people were eight times likelier to lose five percent of their body weight after six months of participation in Weight Watchers, a group-based weight-loss approach, compared to participation in a self-help group.
The study also examined how the programs’ various tools, such as weekly community meetings, their website and mobile app, affected weight-loss success. It turns out that joining a weekly meeting was the most reliable way to predict successful weight loss. Baylor College of Medicine expert said that one key to this success could be the community aspect of the meetings.
Teledermatology: Helping patients abroad from home
Technology has allowed us to easily communicate and share experiences even while abroad. Why not use technology to help patients from afar, too?
Dr. Carrie Kovarik practices in Pennsylvania but she sees patients from all over the world every day. Health workers from all around the world send her images from their smartphones or digital cameras, and Kovarik uses the image to help diagnose complicated skin conditions.
Kovarik first became interested in helping medically underserved community while she was at medical school at Baylor College of Medicine, and early on in her career while working with several medical programs. Her teledermatology practice has been so successful that she’s developed an app called AccessDerm based on techniques she’s used in her practice.
Sweet dreams: Brains clear themselves of toxins while we sleep
A new study shows that while the brain sleeps, it clears itself of harmful toxins – a process that may reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s. The author of the study, Dr. Maiken Nedergaard, a professor of neurosurgery at the University of Rochester, compares the process to a dishwasher.
These findings could explain the link between sleep disorders and brain diseases, including Alzheimer’s.
-By Jordan Magaziner