Health & Science

Health and Science news

NPR — along with seven public radio stations around the country — is chronicling the lives of America's troops where they live. We're calling the project "Back at Base." This is the first of a three-part series about veteran benefits (Part 2 / Part 3).

The bat disease known as white-nose syndrome has been spreading fast, killing millions of animals. But for the first time, scientists are seeing hopeful signs that some bat colonies are recovering and new breakthroughs could help researchers develop better strategies for helping bats survive.

Updated at 3:18 p.m. on Jan. 13.

Last week Southern California Public Radio reported that dozens of people became ill from a Rosca de Reyes, a Three Kings Day bread that is traditional in various Hispanic communities. The sick patrons of Cholula's Bakery in Santa Ana, Calif., and its retail outlets complained of heart palpitations and hallucinations.

Extracting medical care from the health care system is all too often an expensive exercise in frustration. Dr. Eric Topol says your smartphone could make it cheaper, faster, better and safer.

That's the gist of his new book, The Patient Will See You Now. Lots of people are bullish on the future of mobile health to transform health care, but Topol gets extra cred because of his major medical chops: Former head of cardiology at the Cleveland Clinic and present director of the Scripps Translations Science Institute in La Jolla, Calif.

Sometime in the next few weeks, we'll be hearing from the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee. The panel of nutrition experts is tasked with reviewing the latest science on nutrition and medicine and making recommendations on how to update the next version of the federal government's guidance on eating.

My Nintendo Wii character, my Mii, looks a lot like me. She has the same haircut, the same skin tone and even the same eyebrow shape. And while my Mii plays tennis slightly better than I do, I designed her to be a real, virtual me (albeit with balls for hands).

But it turns out I might not have needed to mimic my appearance to let people know what I'm like.

Des Moines, Iowa, is confronting the farms that surround it over pollution in two rivers that supply the city with drinking water. Des Moines Water Works says it will sue three neighboring counties for high nitrate levels in the Raccoon and Des Moines rivers. It's a novel attempt to control fertilizer runoff from farms, which has been largely unregulated.

This is the story of a man whose ideas could have saved a lot of lives and spared countless numbers of women and newborns' feverish and agonizing deaths.

You'll notice I said "could have."

The year was 1846, and our would-be hero was a Hungarian doctor named Ignaz Semmelweis.

Scientists in Scotland have found a prehistoric behemoth: a previously unknown species of reptile that lived in the oceans during the time of dinosaurs. And before you ask, no, scientists do not believe this new fossil has anything to do with the Loch Ness monster.

More than a dozen hospitals across Great Britain declared "major incidents" this past week, with non-emergency operations cancelled and extra staff called in to cope with overcrowded emergency rooms. Still, the backlog in waiting rooms keeps growing.

The horror stories just keep coming in: long lines outside emergency departments — just to get into the waiting room — and of hospitals locking their doors to keep new arrivals away.

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