Health & Science

It started in December 2013. A 2-year-old boy in Guinea was running a fever. He was vomiting. There was blood in his stool.

He was most likely "patient zero" — the first case in the Ebola outbreak that swept across West Africa.

A new technology called CRISPR could allow scientists to alter the human genetic code for generations. That's causing some leading biologists and bioethicists to sound an alarm.

Sorry bacon lovers, we've got some sad news about your favorite meat.

To get those sizzling strips of pork on your plate each morning takes more antibiotics than it does to make a steak burrito or a chicken sausage sandwich.

Pig farmers around the world, on average, use nearly four times as much antibiotics as cattle ranchers do, per pound of meat. Poultry farmers fall somewhere between the two.

There's a researcher at the RAND Corporation who has been building a reputation as a curmudgeonly skeptic when it comes to trendy ways to fight America's obesity epidemic.

Whatever lands you in the hospital or nursing home also puts you at risk for acquiring an infection, possibly one that's resistant to antibiotic treatment.

Staph infections are common problems in health care facilities, and many Staphylcoccus aureus bacteria are now resistant to drug treatment.

Chances are you've heard of MRSA, which is the kind of staph that isn't susceptible to methicillin, the antibiotic that used to be a silver bullet.

#NPRreads is a new feature we're testing out on Twitter and on The Two-Way. The premise is simple: Correspondents, editors and producers throughout our newsroom will share pieces that have kept them reading. They'll share tidbits on Twitter using the #NPRreads hashtag, and on occasion we'll share a longer take here on the blog.

This week, we share with you four reads.

From Nina Totenberg, NPR's legal affairs correspondent:

The Department of the Interior has unveiled new regulations on hydraulic fracturing operations that take place on federal lands, requiring companies using the drilling technique to ensure wells are safe and to disclose chemicals used in the process.

The rules change follows a more than three-year review process and will affect the 90 percent of oil and gas wells on federal lands that now use so-called fracking to extract oil and gas.

People throughout Europe, as well as parts of the Middle East, Russia, Africa, Asia and South America, got a stunning view of a partial solar eclipse Friday. A very few lucky ones at sea and in the high Arctic caught a glimpse of the same event as a total eclipse, as the moon passed in front of the sun.

Sky and Telescope magazine wrote earlier this month:

It's hard to keep track of even the biggest health data breaches, given how frequently they seem to be happening.

Just Tuesday, health insurer Premera Blue Cross disclosed that hackers broke into its system and may have accessed the financial and medical records of some 11 million people. Premera's announcement comes weeks after another health insurer, Anthem Inc., announced that it too had been hacked—and that the records of nearly 80 million people were exposed.

Craig Mitchell is a judge in Los Angeles' criminal court, but he has an unusual sideline gig. He's one of the last people anyone would expect to find hanging out in Skid Row, known as a hub for LA's homeless community. But about four years ago, a man he once sent to state prison called him up and asked him to come down.

It's not a quiet place, even at six in the morning. People shuffle in and out of makeshift tents that line the sidewalks. A few yards away, about a half dozen men pass by doing something that would look perfectly normal almost anywhere else in LA: jogging.

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