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Melissa Gansler

The Dixie Valley toad has just been discovered and it’s already endangered

(Mirror Daily, United States) – Scientists have recently discovered a new species of toad near the Dixie Valley. However, they noticed it is already threatened, and are now trying to take measures to get the toad on the endangered species list. They have already issued an emergency petition to save it from a project which might put it in danger.

Keeping the new toad species safe from extinction

Environmental activists have admitted the endangered status of the Dixie Valley toad, and are now fighting for it to enter the endangered species list. The toad lives quite near Las Vegas, in a quite small and isolated area around 400 miles away from the city fed by thermal springs.

Authorities were planning to develop an extensive project and produce geothermal energy from the springs. Now, scientists want to keep the project away from the toad’s habitat, and make sure it won’t go extinct so shortly after being discovered.

The Dixie Valley toad sets itself apart from other toads in the area

The toad measures around 2 inches in length, and can be easily recognized by the mottles on its back colored in brown, green, and black. Researchers from the University of Nevada-Reno discovered the species, and developed a study published in the journal Zootaxa.

They declared this toad had been the object of many studies since the beginning of the century. The extensive analysis of the species began in 2014, but only now where the researchers able to confirm it was a new toad species.

Although it resembles a Western toad, it has certain features which differentiate the two species. The Dixie Valley toad is about half the size of a Western toad, and is poisonous. What sets it apart are the placement of the poison glands, which are to be found on its back legs.

Now, scientists are trying to stop the company from building its geothermal power plants right next to the species’ habitat. The Bureau of Land Management will review this project, and might make a decision in favor of the environment.
Image Source: Max Pixel

Apple wants to help you make emergency calls without being seen

(Mirror Daily, United States) – On Tuesday, Apple filed a patent for a new technology which might allow you to be more discreet when making an emergency call. This new mechanism will only need your fingerprint to call 911, and no longer requires you to type the number and be seen by other people while doing so.

How to be stealthy when making an emergency call

Most phones today have the technology which allows you to make an emergency call without having to unlock your phone or type the number. However, it’s still not easy to do this without someone else seeing you do it, which can be a great inconvenience in some cases.

Apple thought of those cases when you need to hide to make a 911 call, and patented a technology which makes it easier for you to be stealthy. If they will embrace this mechanism in the future, you will be able to preset a touch code or use your fingerprint to make such a call.

The feature should allow you to set a touch pattern to make a 911 call

How should one use their fingerprint to do this? On a regular basis, let’s say the user in question uses their thumb to unlock the iPhone. For an emergency call, they might set the fingerprint of their index finger to alert the authorities, or choose a different fingerprint sequence. This would allow them to hide their action and make it look less obvious.

Since everything should stay stealthy, after the call is made, the phone will send its location and maybe provide audio or video live streaming. Also, users might be able to choose to have sensitive information deleted when they type the touch sequence.

However, we still cannot tell if Apple is going to use this technology on the next iPhones. Some sources claim the company will give up on fingerprint scanners. Instead, it might opt for replacing it with a facial recognition tool.
Image Source: Pixabay

Researchers created the first 3D printed heart made of a soft material

(Mirror Daily, United States) – Scientists are dreaming that, one day, we will be able to 3D print perfectly functional organs. So far, they haven’t been able to achieve much in the field, but a team of Swiss researchers were able to develop a functional 3D model of the most important organ in the body. This is one of the most well-developed replicas of a 3D printed heart ever created.

The model is made of silicone, but it doesn’t reproduce a 100 percent biologically accurate organ. Even so, the 3D printed heart could be used to maintain the vital functions of a person while waiting to receive a transplant.

A soft heart model solves the anticoagulation problem

Researchers developed their device as an alternative to typical heart support mechanisms. They are usually made of materials like plastic, titanium, or steel, which are much too hard. They might cause the blood to become less fluid and form clots, leading to other serious problems.

In fact, anticoagulation of blood is one of the most severe issues which might occur to people who had suffered a heart transplant. Therefore, creating a soft 3D printed heart might solve the thick blood problem, allowing the device to work without using any anticoagulants.

The 3D printed heart is not yet ready to sustain a patient

Therefore, scientists created a mold of the organ, which then was used to create the 3D printed heart made of silicone. They also used the mold to create silicone pumps, which then were fit to use the same pumping pattern of a real heart.

This is a huge progress, but the 3D model is not yet 100 percent stable. At the moment, the device is able to maintain only several thousand beats, which translates as 30 to 45 minutes. Therefore, it is not yet ready to be used in a patient, but researchers are working on another model to work for a few years.
Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

Mentally ill inmates are kept in conditions unsuitable for their mental state

(Mirror Daily, United States) – A report from the federal watchdog on prisons and inmates found out some disturbing details regarding the conditions offered to mentally ill prisoners. It seems these people are kept in solitary confinement for long periods of time, do not receive all the treatment they need, and risk that their condition should get worse.

The study analyzed the conditions offered by the Bureau of Prisons (BOP) for inmates and was released by the Justice Department on Wednesday. They discovered how mentally ill prisoners benefit are kept inappropriate conditions for their psychological state.

Not enough measures for mentally ill inmates

BOP has indeed taken some measures regarding the conditions for such inmates with delicate situations. Even so, they didn’t manage to solve all problems, and they still have to cope with inadequate restrictive housing and unhealthy treatments.

Inspector General Michael Horowitz assessed all the steps implements by BOP to deal with these prisoners’ mental illness. Also, he observed the areas which needed improvements and the issues which could lead to the worsening of these people’s mental state.

Solitary confinement makes things worse for prisoners with psychological problems

One of the main problems in these inmates’ housing was solitary confinement. They are being kept in isolation for several years, which is harmful even for a mentally healthy person. Also, this might lead to their behavior becoming worse, causing more aggression and recidivism.

Moreover, they do not receive enough medical assistance, and the history of their illnesses is not thoroughly documented. The staff is bad at supplying them with the needed treatment, and do not receive the needed care. In fact, BOP cannot even accurately identify all inmates in need of special supervision.

BOP claimed it didn’t subject any prisoners to solitary confinement but, after the investigation, the federal officials discovered several inmates who had been kept in single-cell isolation for a few years. The Bureau accepted the recommendations in the report, but refused to comment on any of the claims.
Image Source: Flickr

The woman underwent a heart transplant, but doctors don’t blame this for her death

(Mirror Daily, United States) – A woman from Nashville, Tennessee, died a few hours after she gave birth to her first baby. Despite having received a heart transplant 7 years ago, the woman showed no signs of illness. Also, doctors think her death was not caused by this transplant.

On Tuesday, at 2:40 a.m., Meg Johnson, aged 31, gave birth to a healthy baby girl in the Medical Center of Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee. Her husband, Nathan, sat at her side and helped her take care of little Eilee Kate. However, around 9 a.m., the woman started feeling sick. The doctors rushed immediately but, only a few minutes later, helplessly observed how they couldn’t do anything to save her.

Was the heart transplant to blame?

Seven years ago, Johnson underwent a heart transplant. This happened because the muscles of her heart became inflamed, and she developed myocarditis. Even so, doctors don’t think this was the cause of her death. However, myocarditis poses some risks during pregnancy.

Women who had suffered from this condition are at a higher risk of developing a different heart condition during pregnancy, namely peripartum cardiomyopathy (PPCM). This is a type of heart failure which occurs rarely during the last trimester of pregnancy. However, its symptoms are really similar to problems occurring often during this last trimester, so it is quite difficult to diagnose it.

Johnsons’ friends started a fundraiser for them

Doctors are now trying to find out what the cause of the woman’s death was. In the meantime, the Johnson family’s friends have started a GoFundMe account, and aim to raise $400,000 for Nathan and his baby daughter.

Only one day after this project was started, they managed to raise the impressive sum of $330,000. Nathan is a Christian musician, who raises money by touring and playing on the road, and who produces his own music. This fund will allow him to take some time off these activities to take care of his daughter, and even start a college fund for her.
Image Source: Pixnio

After the avian flu outbreak, all South African poultry products are banned in Zimbabwe

(Mirror Daily, United States) – An outbreak of avian flu shook the South African province Mpumalanga, as well as some other Free State provinces. This led to a ban issued by the authorities in Zimbabwe on all poultry imports coming from South Africa.

The ban will be lifted when the avian crisis passes

Dr. Josphat Nyika, the director of the country’s Department of Veterinary Services, revealed what poultry products are the subject of the ban. They include eggs, both for table and for hatching, frozen full-boned meat, as well as mechanically de-boned chicken.

The ban will be active for an indefinite period. They will reallow the import of poultry products from South Africa when the veterinary department of the country will report that the avian flu outbreak is over.

Two South African poultry farms became infected with avian influenza

This weekend, the Mpumalanga authorities reported of the avian flu outbreak. This determined the authorities to stop the commercialization of live hens all across the country, so as to avoid further contamination. Bomikazi Molapo, the spokesperson of the Department of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries, said they would lift the ban only when the crisis was over.

The outbreak was caused by an extremely pathogenic strain of avian flu (HPAI), namely H5N8. This virus spreads incredibly quickly, and can infect many species of birds. It can easily be transmitted after contact with the infected animals, as well as from their sources of water and food.

After the weekend report, a farm from Standerton announced a second case of avian flu infection. Experts discovered the same virus was responsible, but there’s no link between the two farms. Therefore, they decided the virus suffered a separate introduction, which made them put all the 25,000 birds into quarantine and issue bans on the sale of many poultry products.
Image Source: Pixabay

Both e-cigarette and tobacco use has decreased among teenagers

(Mirror Daily, United States) – A new CDC report states that teenagers use now less e-cigarettes than they used to. In fact, this is the first time in years when the number of vaping high school students drops. Fortunately, not only electronic smoking devices are concerned, but the consumption of all tobacco products has decreased.

Every year, high school students voluntarily participate to surveys, where they fill in questionnaires regarding their tobacco use. After comparing surveys from several years, they noticed how the number of teenagers who use e-cigarettes or other products containing tobacco is now smaller.

Less teen smokers than in previous years, but their numbers are still high

The report was published in CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. Brian King, the director of research for the Smoking and Health CDC office, said that the reports brings both good and bad news regarding tobacco consumption among teenagers.

The good news, as mentioned above, is the fact that the number of high schoolers who use both e-cigarettes and other tobacco products has significantly decreased over the last few years. On the other hand, the bad news is the number of underage smokers is still high. Around 3.9 million young people consume tobacco in the US.

CDC campaigns against smoking might have reduced tobacco consumption

Until 2016, many youths gave up smoking, but tobacco consumption remained quite constant. This happened because most of them switched to e-cigarettes. Therefore, only 20 percent of high school students and 7 percent of middle schoolers in the survey continued to smoke. Since officials started imposing stricter regulations on the commercialization of such products, the number of teen smokers has started dwindling.

Apart from limiting the access of teens to tobacco products in stores, CDC also launched a campaign called The Real Cost, where they presented the frightening effects that long-term cigarette use has on the body. They believe that this strategy also contributed to the declining numbers. Fortunately, teen smoking rates keep decreasing, and youths learn how harmful cigarettes can be.
Image Source: Flickr

Drones carrying defibrillators are quicker than ambulances in heart attack events

(Mirror Daily, United States) – An experiment put up by a team of Swedish scientists found a quicker alternative to intervene in case of a heart attack instead of an ambulance. A drone equipped with a defibrillator might reach patients more quickly and make it more likely for them to survive.

The defibrillator drone covered the area much quicker than an ambulance

To test the effectiveness of a drone in such cases, researchers picked 18 locations around Stockholm where actual heart attack events took place. Then, they launched the drone from a fire station in Norrtalje, a rural community situated close to the capital.

The drone had to fly to all these 18 locations, situated within 10 kilometers from the launching point. It scored a record average time that it took to deliver the defibrillator to the 18 places, namely 5 minutes and 21 seconds. This is quite an improvement from the average 22 minutes of the ambulance.

This is only an experiment for the moment, but it has already proved that a defibrillator-equipped drone is vital in the case of heart attack. Reports show that each minute spent by a patient without receiving medical assistance in a cardiac event reduces his chances of survival by 10 percent.

People need CPR training before using defibrillators

There are several types of drones available to do this task. For instance, those of DJI Phantom range can perform 20-minute flights and cover distances of several miles. However, the drone used in the experiment was much larger, weighed 5.6 kilograms, and had more rotors than the usual machines.

Also, people need to be trained on how to use a defibrillator. The equipment usually comes with instructions, and anybody, not only medical staff, should be able to use it. However, before resorting to such an alternative in case of heart attacks, doctors need to make sure everybody knows basic CPR procedures.
Image Source: Pixabay

Parasites have killed 80 ducklings in the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool

(Mirror Daily, United States) – Around 80 ducklings which populated the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool have recently been killed by a mysterious parasite. Since chemical treatment of the water is not enough, the pool is to be drained temporarily and thoroughly cleaned. As to the cause of the infection, it seems that snails are to blame.

The NPS performed necropsies on the ducklings and found the parasite they had been infected with. This parasite thrives on snails, which also lived in the pool. The authorities hadn’t revealed more information on the parasite yet, but we might make a guess.

Unending cycle of parasite infection from snails to ducks

It is probably the same invasive species living in faucet snails, which was responsible with the declining populations of ducks from the Upper Mississippi in both 2008 and 2016. Therefore, snails are not as harmless as we would think.

The parasite transmission process goes like this. Snails get infected, and then they are eaten by ducks. This is how the parasite reaches the intestines of the ducks, where they start gorging blood and then laying eggs. These eggs end up in the ducks’ feces, which are eaten by snails, and the cycle starts all over again.

The reflecting pool needs draining

However, the NPS officials couldn’t identify the cause of this massive spread of parasites, but they made some suppositions. During the 1990s, a three-day streak of unusually high temperatures ended in a high number of deaths among ducks, so this might have been one of the contributing factors.

The only way to get rid of the parasite is to drain the pool. This is the first time when the authorities will gurgle the pool water into the sewers, and the actions are to start on Tuesday. Everything should be cleaned up and ready for a refill until June 16th.
Image Source: Max Pixel

A bitter divorce weakens the immune system of a child

(Mirror Daily, United States) – A new study found that a bitter divorce might have a bigger impact on the child than it was previously thought. It seems that a permanent split between parents affects the child’s immune system. If parents maintain their relationship into more amiable terms even after divorce, then the child is less likely to suffer serious illnesses later in life.

A divorce can impact a child’s health even later in life

A divorce can leave serious psychological marks on a child, but a recent research shows that the split can also affect him physically. The stress of not growing up with both parents around can lead to the child developing asthma or heart disease later in life.

This adds to the previous studies which showed that children from broken marriages struggle with mental health issues, and are more likely to experience relationship problems when they grow older. However, there is still hope for those children whose parents remain on speaking terms even after divorce.

Dr. Michael Murphy, from Carnegie Mellon University, said that this is a huge step in identifying the effects of stress during early childhood. It is important to know that putting a lot of emotional pressure on your child might affect his health up to 20 or 40 years after.

“Early life stressful experiences do something to our physiology and inflammatory processes that increase risk for poorer health and chronic illness.”

Children have a weaker immune system if parents stop talking to each other after divorce

For the study, researchers looked at 83 women and 118 men, who had to stay in a hotel in quarantine, where they were infected with the virus which produces the common cold, rhinovirus. Of these people, 149 showed some symptoms, while 60 of them developed a cold.

Then, researchers discovered that those whose parents had separated and never spoke again were more likely to develop the infection. On the other hands, those with divorced parents who were still in amiable terms showed no difference from those with non-split families.

Therefore, when children suffer serious traumas during childhood, they are affected not only psychologically, but also physically. The higher degrees of inflammation related to these situations lead to the development of heart disease, cancer, and they might even suffer premature death.
Image Source: Flickr

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