Zika virus a global health emergency, WHO says | Navy, Marines' maternity leave shortened with new Pentagon policy | DOD announces fertility services policy
February 3, 2016
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Zika virus a global health emergency, WHO says
Mosquito control in the Dominican Republic.
Mosquito control in the Dominican Republic. (Erika Santelices/AFP/Getty Images)
Although Zika virus infections in pregnant women haven't been scientifically connected to birth defects in infants, anecdotal evidence was enough to prompt the World Health Organization to declare the virus and the birth defects associated with Zika a public health emergency. The move paves the way for a coordinated response to the outbreak and should advance work on diagnostics and vaccines. Researchers already are working on a vaccine based on progress toward a West Nile vaccine. The New York Times (free-article access for SmartBrief readers) (2/1), USA Today (2/1)
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Military Health System
Navy, Marines' maternity leave shortened with new Pentagon policy
The Pentagon's new policy on maternity leave will double time off for Army and Air Force mothers but will cut the amount of leave in the Navy and Marine Corps. Navy Secretary Ray Mabus last year expanded maternity leave to 18 weeks for sailors and Marines, but the new policy will allow for only 12 weeks. Military Times (1/28)
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Veterans Health Administration
Cost of VA's electronic claims system worries Congress
The Veterans Affairs Department has had great success at reducing its claims backlog thanks to its new electronic system, but Congress is balking at the mounting costs. The Veterans Benefits Management System is about to reach $1.3 billion in costs, more than twice what the VA estimated for the system in 2009. Costs will continue to grow because a quarterly software upgrade is built into the system and the VA is planning more updates for the program in 2018. Stars and Stripes (tiered subscription model) (1/31)
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National Health Care
Investigators find serious deficiencies at 2 S.D. Native American hospitals
Federal inspectors found severe deficiencies at hospitals serving the Pine Ridge and Rosebud Indian reservations, including broken sanitation equipment, record-keeping violations, uncredentialed medical staff and no immediate care in the emergency department. HHS officials promised swift action. U.S. News & World Report/The Associated Press (1/28)
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Health and Medical Research
Chemical exposure likely caused Gulf War syndrome, study finds
A review of studies on Gulf War syndrome showed a clear, consistent link between the illness and exposure to pesticides in troops taking pyridostigmine bromide. The researchers also found a link between illness and exposure to sarin, cyclosarin and emissions from flaming oil wells. The findings are published in the journal Cortex. HealthDay News (2/1)
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Peptide-based drug might be an alternative to opioids
An experimental peptide-based drug targeted the same pain-relief receptors as morphine but had fewer side effects and is unlikely to be addictive, researchers at Tulane University and Southeast Louisiana Veterans Health Care System reported in the journal Neuropharmacology. Science World Report (1/31)
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Military Medicine February Special Issue
Military Medicine
The February Special Issue of Military Medicine focuses on "The New Normal." It discusses state-of-the-art programs that currently exist and how various organizations collaborate and employ research to impact amputee care in the federal and civilian communities. It also highlights key original research that demonstrates the cost-effectiveness of the "New Normal" for service members and others with limb loss. Read more.
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Your days are numbered. Use them to throw open the windows of your soul to the sun. If you do not, the sun will soon set, and you with it."
-- Marcus Aurelius,
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