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Science, Health, Tech

Delaware Public Media's coverage of stories involving, science, health, medicine, technology and the environment.

Quest for an Ebola vaccine proves difficult

Mar 23, 2015

A year ago, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared an Ebola outbreak in West Africa. Since then, the WHO estimates that almost 25,000 individuals in the region have been sickened and over 10,000 have been killed by this deadly virus. While political leaders have pressed for a vaccine to protect vulnerable civilians, there currently is no Ebola vaccine that is licensed for use in humans.

he Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has designated March as National Kidney Month.

Over 26 million Americans have kidney disease and most don’t know it since there are no symptoms.

Additionally, 1 in 3 Americans is at risk for kidney disease and one in nine American adults today is living with some level of kidney disease.


The auroras and “northern lights” that can be admired towards the North or South Poles are caused by a little-known phenomenon called magnetic reconnection or explosions.

Basically, magnetic fields break apart and rejoin, releasing large amounts of energy. These magnetic explosions play a huge role in space weather, which are patterns of radiation in outer space that can dictate whether space agencies can send astronauts into space or whether satellites should be shut off.

American Cancer Society Action Network

Cancer research advocates gathered on Tuesday in Washington to urge legislators to invest more in cancer research.

The American Cancer Society Action Network and Stand Up To Cancer teamed up to launch the “One Degree” campaign, based on the idea that all of us are connected to someone who has had cancer, to increase funding for cancer research. They demand that Congress put $6 billion dollars into medical research at the National Institute of Health over two years, including $1 billion dollars for the National Cancer Institute.

Adolescence is a time of critical development, when mental and physical needs grow more complicated and challenging. If help dealing with them can’t be found at home, the school environment can have a powerful impact on teenagers needing assistance to cope.  

That’s the idea behind building school-based health centers. When Middletown High School became the first Delaware school to open a health center in 1985, it was staffed with a clinical social worker, nurse practitioner and registered dietician. At the time, there were only 50 other school-based health centers in the country.

Karl Malgiero/Delaware Public Media

In 2012, following a wave of suicide attempts by young people that swept across Kent and Sussex Counties, Gov. Jack Markell took steps to bolster the mental health services available to teens and adolescents.

His administration helped increase tenfold the number of behavior health consultants placed in public middle schools, vastly improved intervention training and worked to address the shortage of qualified professionals. But faced with limited funds and resources, the Markell administration looked to outside organizations to play a role.

DNREC continues efforts to clean up oil spill

Mar 17, 2015

DNREC’s Emergency Response Team is continuing to oversee the cleanup Monday of a cargo-ship oil spill last week at the Port of Wilmington.

Environmental contractors under DNREC and U.S. Coast Guard supervision will conduct cleanup operations along 1,500 feet of shoreline in New Castle. The spill also affected smaller areas of the Delaware River north and south of Battery Park.

Eli Chen/Delaware Public Media

The Nature Conservancy presented the TEDx Wilmington talks at Winterthur Museum for its 25th anniversary last Friday.

One of the three speakers providing their perspective on conservation was Jim Borel, vice president of DuPont, who spoke about global food security.

Delawareans who missed the deadline to sign up for insurance under the Affordable Care Act Marketplace may still have a chance to avoid a penalty.

The state Department of Health and Social Services says residents who missed the February deadline to avoid a penalty have from March 15 to April 30 to sign up for health coverage.

If you venture along the hiking trails at White Clay Creek State Park in Newark, you come across a long vine with triangular leaves and stems covered with barbs.

This is the invasive mile-a-minute weed. In the 1930s, the vine traveled from Asia to a nursery in Pennsylvania, where in a matter of years, it broke loose and began to conquer the surrounding the environment. The weed has now has invaded 12 states in the Northeastern and Mid-Atlantic regions of the U.S.  In Delaware, the mile-a-minute weed has a patchy presence. In addition to White Clay Creek State Park, it can also be seen in tax ditches downstate.

Delaware Public Media

The state Division of Public Health reported a confirmed case of Vancomycin-resistant  Staphylococcus aureus, or VRSA, in New Castle County Thursday.

DPH says the 67-year old patient had extensive underlying conditions and is currently being treated on an outpatient basis. The patient is expected recover.

VRSA is extremely rare, and no human-to-human transmission has ever been documented in the U.S. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which confirmed the VRSA case, say it is only the 14th recorded case of the infection in the country.

Delaware Public Media

The FDA recommends that we limit our sodium intake to 2,300 milligrams a day. But the average American consumes a daily amount of 3,400 milligrams.

Physicians have long warned us that too much salt can be a lot of trouble when it comes to high blood pressure. But researchers at Christiana Care Health System and University of Delaware say that after reviewing over a hundred studies, the adverse effects of salt can also be seen in our organs.

Whether you’re someone who enjoys sunbathing down at Cape Henlopen, fishing in the Inland Bays or even walking your dog along the Christina River, chances are that you might care about the state of Delaware’s waterways.

Brenna Goggin, advocacy manager at the Delaware Nature Society, said that this is the idea behind a new clean water campaign that they’re launching with the Partnership for the Delaware Estuary and the Center for the Inland Bays. These local groups are looking to engage with recreationists and educate them about water quality.

Delaware Public Media

Delaware's state government Monday stepped up its plans to respond to climate change by publishing a wide-ranging and detailed action plan for state agencies.

The Climate Framework describes some 150 initiatives that will be undertaken by agencies including health, economic development, transportation and environment to help prevent the worst effects of climate change or to adapt to them.

Delaware Public Media

Environmentalists are seeking political support for a fresh attempt to give federal protection to water quality, fish stocks and recreational opportunities in the Delaware River Basin.

The Delaware River Basin Conservation Act, expected to be reintroduced to Congress in early March, would elevate safeguards on environmental quality in the region that stretches from upstate New York to the mouth of the Delaware Bay by requiring that the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service coordinates the work of an array of state and local environmental groups.

Photo Courtesy: Uwe Kils

If you’ve ever been swimming along the shoreline, chances are, you probably have come across zooplankton. Most are microscopic, but some are visible to the naked eye, like jellyfish.

“These might be the copepods that you might know from SpongeBob [Squarepants], the evil Plankton character," said Cohen. "Or they might be things that spend only a portion of their life in the plankton [stage] and that might be like the larval stage of barnacles or crabs.”

Delaware Public Media

Rushed to the emergency room, the infant had been vomiting greenish-colored material, which could indicate a possible bowel obstruction. “That’s a surgical emergency,” said Dr. Nicholas Slamon, a specialist in pediatric critical care at the Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children in Wilmington.

The emergency room swiftly requested a transport to the children’s hospital, part of the Nemours Health System. A specially trained nurse was dispatched to accompany the child.

Linwood Worthington’s parents always made sure he received regular dental care while he was growing up.  But when he became an adult, he discovered that the dental insurance that came with his job didn’t go very far. Moreover, when he became unemployed after relocating to Delaware in 2005, he learned that his Medicaid benefits excluded dental altogether.  His teeth suffered.  But then a friend told him about Hope Medical Clinic in Dover which offers free non-emergency treatment and consultations to low-income adults.