Science

Science
3:44 pm
Fri January 21, 2011

Meteorologists bring you ... Weather Fest

You can handle a weather rocket, create a flooding torrent of mud, and learn how to make a cloud inside a one-gallon jar this Sunday. 

It’s all part of a one-day exhibition called Weather-Fest, which pops up once a year as part of the American Meteorological Society annual conference.  The meeting this year is in Seattle, from Sunday through Jan. 27th. 

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Medicine
4:07 pm
Thu January 20, 2011

Hospital courtship: UW Medicine proposes to Valley Medical Center

King County's major medical centers continue jockeying for position in the emerging new health-care world. 

U.W. Medicine and Valley Medical Center proposed this week what they call a "strategic alliance." Valley wants to retain its name, although the news release says Valley would become "part of U.W. Medicine."

Earlier this year, U.W. Medicine took over running Northwest Hospital (in north Seattle), without actually owning the hospital. 

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Science
1:59 pm
Fri January 14, 2011

Menu labels having no effect? Evidence from Taco Time

Being a pioneer in adding calorie and nutrition labels to menus at fast-food restaurants has made King County a good place for researchers to visit.

A team based at Duke-National University of Singapore has been watching consumers at Taco Time restaurants, both in King County and in other counties, and found that adding all that info to the menus appeared to have no impact on people's choices. They published their results today in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

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Public Health
1:41 pm
Thu January 13, 2011

State budget cuts fall on nurses, moms and infants

More than one-third of pregnant women get pre-natal and maternity care through a program facing cutbacks.
Photo by derekb/Flickr

If those cuts don't sound harsh enough, you can add "low-income" and "people of color" to the headline. 

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Disaster Preparedness
10:04 am
Fri January 7, 2011

Earthquake or volcano -- worst case natural disaster?

Snow-capped Mount Rainier looms behind cranes and stacked cargo containers at the Port of Seattle
AP

With massive flooding in Australia in the news, or earthquakes in South America, perhaps it’s no surprise that 2010 was the most deadly year in a generation for natural disasters around the globe.  What’s the worst we might face here in western Washington?

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Climate Research
2:47 am
Tue December 28, 2010

Coastal fog not following climate change script

A fog shrouds a Washington coast highway in 2008.
Flickr/Ravenelle

Ever had a summer beach vacation chilled by dense fog? Then you might be interested in new research at the University of Washington. A scientist there is looking at how fogginess along the coast has changed over time. 

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Health
5:04 pm
Wed December 22, 2010

Health history can be a gift to family members

Dr. Marius Laumans, right, examining Lynnette Drake, at a Group Health facility in Olympia, Wash.
Ted S. Warren AP Photo

Along with egg nog and presents, doctors say families should share their health histories this holiday season.  Health officials say family history is a leading predictor of illnesses and a big gift for loved ones. 

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Watching the Sky
2:30 pm
Mon December 20, 2010

Lunar eclipse tonight

This is a photo of a total lunar eclipse in 2007, as viewed from the nation of Macedonia. North and Central America will be in the best position to view tonight's total eclipse.
AP

Western Washington can look forward to an added gift of the Winter Solstice: a total eclipse of the moon. The heavenly event begins at 10:32 pm tonight, with the moon in full eclipse from 11:41 pm to 12:53 am, according to NASA.

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Smoking
11:06 am
Thu December 16, 2010

Electronic cigarettes considered a new public health threat

Galen Kipe holds an electronic cigarette. For the 34-year-old who has tried quitting a number of times, Kipe has swapped real smokes for an electronic cigarette.
Gerry Broome AP Photo

Just when you thought cigarettes were headed for obscurity, along comes the electronic cigarette.  The King County Board of Health is restricting these "e-cigarettes" in the name of protecting youth -- and keeping a stigma against smoking. 

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Public Health
3:40 pm
Tue December 14, 2010

Whooping cough hits Tacoma elementary school

A whooping cough outbreak at an elementary school in north Tacoma has sickened at least six children.  Investigators are looking into additional cases. 

The disease, also known as pertussis, can cause serious illness in young children, especially infants.  More than one-third of infants less than one year old who get the disease must be hospitalized, according to the Tacoma - Pierce County Health Department.  

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Weather
4:39 pm
Fri December 10, 2010

Pineapple Express brings flooding on Sunday

Forecast from the U.W. showing an "atmospheric river" bringing wet clouds from the tropical Pacific (in the lower left) to the Northwest coast
UW/Dpt. of Atmospheric Sciences (http://www.atmos.washington.edu/mm5rt/)

A big rainstorm is headed to western Washington this weekend.  Forecasters say Saturday should start out pleasant, with the rainstorm hitting south Puget Sound in the late morning, and the Seattle area by around noon.

It’s not supposed to be as bad as devastating storms a few years ago, but flooding is likely on some rivers. 

There are a few rivers in western Washington that flood regularly – such as the Skokomish and the Tolt.  This year, you can add one more to that list, a section of the Puyallup River in eastern Pierce County.

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Health Insurance
3:33 am
Wed December 8, 2010

Kreidler rejects Regence rate hike

Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler has rejected a new rate increase requested by one of the state’s largest health insurers.  It’s the second time in recent months Kreidler has sparred with Regence BlueShield. 

Regence is seeking a 3.7% increase for its Washington customers, including the Asuris subsidiary, starting January first, to cover the cost of new benefits required by the federal health law.  This applies to its individual insurance plans, not to plans provided through employers.

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Public Health
10:28 am
Fri December 3, 2010

MRSA study of fire station shows the deadly bacteria is everywhere

Firefighters and medics may be at higher risk for carrying methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) than the average person, according to results from a UW study.
UW / Marc Beaudreau

The drug-resistant strain of staph infection MRSA is known to be a problem for many hospitals.  A pioneering study from the University of Washington shows that it's also resilient enough to spread from medic units all the way into the living quarters of firefighters. 

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Humanosphere
4:05 pm
Wed December 1, 2010

Three things make this World AIDS Day different

Wikimedia.org

KPLU's Humanosphere blogger Tom Paulson has a great post today about why the Gates Foundation's director of HIV and tuberculosis programs feels this year's World AIDS day is different than it's dozens of predecessors. 

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AIDS
11:43 am
Wed December 1, 2010

HIV cases stay steady, predominantly gay

The number of people getting newly infected with HIV has stayed steady in Washington since 2005.  There are about 570 new cases a year.  Most of those – 63% -- are gay and bisexual men.  The Washington Department of Health says those numbers justify changes in how it distributes funding, starting in January. 

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