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Ebola's Spread, Anti-Heroes, CA Divided, Genetics

The Morning Show
  • Aug 6, 2014
  • 01:43:30

UNDERSTANDING EBOLA’S SPREAD (This interview begins at 7:05 in the show) Ebola is spreading at an alarming rate in the West African nations of Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Nigeria. With the death toll near 900, the World Health Organization says the disease is outpacing efforts to contain it. BYU health sciences professor Gene Cole says, “In areas with very high population, it’s a disease that’s very difficult to contain.”  Another major problem with Ebola is that patients initially exhibit symptoms that can be mistaken for the flu or malaria, all the while infecting others with the disease, says Cole, who researches infectious diseases, including Ebola and other hemorrhagic fever viruses. “If Ebola is not recognized within 24 hours, individuals – and even health care workers – may not readily recognize the fact that it is Ebola,” says Cole.  That was the problem in West Africa, which has not seen a major Ebola outbreak before.  Lack of understanding about how Ebola is spread, limited the initial response, says Cole. “It’s going to be a long time before we have a suitable vaccine for Ebola,” says Cole. “Meantime, we tend to focus on appropriate treatment – something we currently lack for large numbers of affected people.” The current treatment is appropriate fluids and pain killers, but in the end “it’s the patient’s own immune system that has to fight the infection.”  Between 10 and 40 percent of people infected with Ebola can overcome the virus and survive, adds Cole. But even if someone survives, they can remain contagious for several weeks, shedding the virus in their body fluids – another poorly-understood fact about Ebola, says Cole. Containing the outbreak in West Africa “will be a monumental effort” that begins with education about how the disease spreads. And in this age of easy global travel, Cole says all nations need to be on the lookout. THE ANTI-HERO OF MARVEL (This interview begins at 29:33 in the show) The thugs and criminals of Marvel’s latest movie, “Guardians of the Galaxy” prove themselves heroic in the end.  “That makes them more relatable, since most of us don’t have super powers,” notes Kerry Bennett of Parent Previews. “Just because you’re green, doesn’t make you a superhero,” jokes Rod Gustafson, noting the misfits that make up the “Guardians” are not considered Marvel superheroes, despite the green skin of one character.  Even so, the film “obliterated the August box office record last weekend,” adds Gustafson. This is a film with a lot of humor and fun music, says Bennett. “But there’s still a fair amount of violence (albeit bloodless) in this film. The music and the humor lessen the impact of the violence.” ParentPreviews.com gives the PG-13 “Guardians of the Galaxy” a B- grade for family viewing. “There are some profanities, but not a lot,” says Gustafson. “For people really tired of hearing that one sexual expletive, we have one “near miss” and a “finger gesture” in this movie.” YOUR MOUTH IS THE WINDOW TO YOUR HEALTH (This interview begins at 45:38 in the show) Dentist Rick Leishman says he can look in a patient’s mouth and get a general assessment of the patient’s overall health with 80-percent accuracy.  In particular, Leishman says early signs of cancers like leukemia  can be seen in the mouth.  When Leishman speaks to school nurses, he encourages them to look in childrens’ mouths for signs of trouble. DIVIDED CALIFORNIA (This interview begins at 51:15 in the show.) In 2016, California voters will face a referendum asking if they want to split into six separate states. The effort is backed by billionaire Silicon Valley investor Tim Draper who has spent nearly $5 million of his own cash collecting some 800,000 signatures required to get the “Six Californias” initiative on the ballot. Why? BYU History professor Grant Madsen says supporters think dividing California into smaller states that would make more efficient, effective and vibrant communities.  “Assuming everything goes right with Draper’s plan and the vote passes, eventually it will fall to Congress to decide what to do,” says Madsen. “And the first question will be, ‘Which political party will benefit from this by gaining more representation in the House and Senate?’  The way the maps are currently drawn, neither party would have a major advantage.” The bottom line is Congress has not been friendly to petitions for creating new states, says Madsen. The history of ballot initiatives in the U.S. is topsy-turvy, continues Madsen. At first progressives embraced referenda as a means of direct democracy: voters could fight big business and skirt corrupt elected officials.  “A century later, liberals tend to reject ballot initiatives because the opposite appears to be true: people with deep pockets can just as easily capture public opinion,” says Madsen. THANK YOUR GREAT-GRANDMA (This interview begins at 1:18:36 in the show.) Eye color and skin tone aren’t the only things your grandma may have passed on to you. “What your great-grandmother was exposed to during pregnancy can make you more suspectible to developing certain disease,” says Michael Skinner, a professor in the School of Biological Sciences at Washington State University.  Skinner’s research has helped to upset the traditional view of genetic inheritance. “For a long time we thought the only genetic information passed from parent to child was that found in DNA,” says Skinner. But his research indicates mothers also transmit extra markers and chemicals that hitch a ride on the DNA of future generations.  The phenomenon is called “transgenerational epigenetic inheritance.” Skinner’s recent work exposed female rats to the pesticide methoxychlor, which was introduced in 1948 and commonly used in the U.S. until it was banned in 2003. The same epigenetic changes methoxychlor caused in those rats were  still evident in DNA of third and fourth generation offspring, says Skinner.  Specifically, he says the great-grandchildren of rats exposed to methoxychlor were much more likely to be obese. Skinner suggests human exposure to methoxychlor among people in the U.S. over the last 50 years may be part of the reason for increasing rates of obesity and disease. Show More...

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