Food Expiration Date Labels Are Confusing, Uninformative: NRDC Study

Green – The Huffington Post
Food Expiration Date Labels Are Confusing, Uninformative: NRDC Study
“The date labeling system in the U.S. is not a system at all. It is a mess,” says Dana Gunder, food and agriculture staff scientist for the Natural Resources Defense Council and the co-author of a new report about food expiration dates.

The NRDC and Harvard Food Law and Policy Clinic’s report, titled “The Dating Game: How Confusing Food Date Labels Lead to Food Waste in America” [pdf], details consumer confusion surrounding “best by,” “use by” and “best before” dates that adorn so many food products in the U.S. The confusion over when to eat or toss food leads to both unnecessary food waste and unsafe food consumption practices, the report argues.

According to a survey by the Food Marketing Institute, confusion over dates leads 9 out of 10 Americans to throw away food needlessly.

The report takes a firm stance:

The lack of binding federal standards, and the resultant state and local regulatory variability in date labeling rules, has led to a proliferation of diverse and inconsistent date labeling practices in the food industry. Open dates can come in a dizzying variety of forms, none of which are strictly defined or regulated at the federal level. This haphazard system is not serving its purpose well.

Gunder believes that the current dating system is a key, low-hanging fruit in reducing food waste, since people are throwing away food based on dates printed on the package. However, terms like “sell by” don’t actually indicate that there is anything wrong with the product; it is purely for use in retail stock rotation and not an indicator of freshness.

In addition to food waste, confusion about food’s expiration date also leads to safety issues, the report says.

Ted Labuza, professor of Food Science and Engineering at the University of Minnesota, echoes the sentiment of the study. On a call with reporters, Labuza estimated that approximately 80 percent of dates printed on food packaging are approximate rather than exact dates as to when food should no longer be consumed. He said that over-reliance on these dates can prompt further food safety concerns. People should focus more on how they store food and less on how soon it should be used, he argued. It isn’t true that past-date food is always unsafe to consume and, likewise, pre-date food isn’t always safe to consume.

The NRDC offers several recommendations to remedy the current system, such as establishing labels that indicate both quality- and safety-based dates. The authors suggest that current “sell by” dates should be made invisible to customers and labels should instead offer more information about handling food safely.

Read the full report here.

Creationist Ken Ham Slams Bill Nye: ‘Science Guy’ Doesn’t ‘Understand Science Correctly’ (VIDEO)
Bill Nye has built his career on making scientific concepts accessible to the public. But according to a well-known creationist, the beloved “Science Guy” doesn’t really get the subject.

“Bill Nye still doesn’t understand the difference between historical science and observational science — so he may be known as ‘Bill Nye the science guy’ — but he doesn’t understand science correctly,” Ken Ham wrote on Facebook. “[Bill Maher and Nye] don’t want the truth — they continue to ‘suppress the truth’ as the Bible states in Romans 1 about such people in rebellion against God.”

Hmm.

Ham, president/CEO and founder of Answers in Genesis-U.S. and the Creation Museum, made the comments on Tuesday while criticizing a recent appearance by Nye on Maher’s HBO show “Real Time with Bill Maher.”

As Raw Story noted, the Australian-born pastor was citing an argument creationists often make: science can only be proven if it has been “observed.” Creationist Georgia Purdom explained the concept in a 2012 video produced for the Creation Museum:

Do we start with man’s ideas about the past, who wasn’t here during the supposed billions of years of Earth history, or do we start with the Bible — the written revelation of the eyewitness account of the eternal God who created it all? Rather than being inconsistent as Bill Nye states, observational science confirms the literal history and genesis.

The creationists’ argument, however, fails to take into account studies showing that evolution can occur in a laboratory setting. The argument also has been roundly discredited by scientists, including Nye, who has addressed such criticisms repeatedly in the past.

“‘Creation Science’ is not useful, because it can make no successful predictions about nature or the universe,” Nye told The Huffington Post in an email last year. “So, it is reasonable to say the expression is an oxymoron, or simply: it’s not science. It has no process of observation, hypothesis, experiment, then predicted outcome. A useful theory about time and organisms would make no distinction between ‘observational’ and ‘historical’ science.”

Nye went on Maher’s program to talk about the need for a strong science curriculum in American schools. The pair also talked about creationism, a topic that is steadily becoming one of Nye’s favorite talking points.

“You have this situation in Texas, where people want creationism in textbooks,” Nye told Maher. “I don’t have a big deal about someone’s religion, but if you claim that the earth is 10,000 years old, it’s just wrong.”

View the segment in the video below:

Colorado Brewery On Banks Of Flooding St. Vrain River Survives With Help Of Malt Bags
Colorado’s devastating flood has resulted in the destruction or serious damage of nearly 20,000 structures, but one brewery right on the banks of one of the state’s overflowing rivers survived with a little help from some malt.

The St. Vrain River, normally one to two feet deep, spilled way over its banks for days during the catastrophic flooding in Colorado and caused extensive damage to area communities in the North. And although it sustained some damage, Longmont-based Left Hand Brewing Co. made it through by using malt bags, instead of sand bags, to shore up the brewery as the mighty St. Vrain roared just feet from its doorstep.

Left Hand posted this photo of the “maltbagging” on their Facebook page:

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“The past few days have been rough,” brewery spokeswoman Emily Armstrong told Westword. “All in all, looks like we’ve been extremely lucky given the endless possibilities.”

The brewery staff posted this photo showing the close proximity of the St. Vrain to Left Hand, illustrating Armstrong’s point:

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But on Tuesday, after days of flooding, the brewery proudly announced on Facebook that their tasting room would open again with a special offer for government employees who have helped with the flood relief efforts:

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United in Flooding, Colorado Congressmen Differ on Climate
This week’s massive flooding in Colorado shows that climate change doesn’t care whether you vote red or vote blue. The flooding, which the National Weather Service has described as “biblical,” has devastated towns represented by two members of Congress who seem to have diametrically opposed views when it comes to climate change.

First, let’s deal with the facts here. Colorado’s Front Range saw incredible amounts of rain in a very short time period during the last few days. For example, the city of Boulder received 17.16 inches of rain in a week. Five people have been killed so far and more than a thousand are still missing as I write this. Actual climate scientists are more qualified to talk about the detailed science that links the ruinous flooding with changes in climate (here and here, for example), but suffice it to say that experts have been warning us for quite some time that climate change will lead to more extreme (and more tragic) weather events. This certainly seems to qualify.

(Photo credit, Dennis Adams-Smith/Climate Central http://www.climatecentral.org/news/flood-ravaged-boulder-colorado-sets-annual-rainfall-record-16481)

Now, let’s look at the climate record of two congressmen who represent the hardest hit areas.

Republican Rep. Cory Gardner represents towns like Greeley, Evans and La Salle. Gardner is a climate denier, who has said, “I think the climate is changing, but I don’t believe humans are causing that change…”. Gardner is a Dirty Air Villain who has consistently opposed efforts to address climate change and has even said that he’d like to defund climate change research.

In contrast, Democrat Jared Polis represents towns like Boulder and Estes Park. You’d struggle to find someone more clearly committed to tackling climate change. Polis is Vice Chair of the Sustainable Energy and Environment Coalition in Congress and a Clean Air Hero. He has called climate change “undoubtedly the most challenging environmental issue of our time” and voted consistently for action to address this challenge. Polis’s congressional website presciently discussed “more intense storms” and “increased likelihood of flooding” in his district as likely outcomes of a changing climate.

Unfortunately for Polis, climate and weather don’t care that he’s right when it comes to climate science and his neighbor is wrong. Polis’s district wasn’t rewarded for his votes in favor of climate action. Gardner’s district wasn’t punished because he fails to acknowledge the science. And nothing we can do now can undo the damage done or bring back the loved ones lost in this flood. All we can do now is hope, pray and work hard to convince the Gardners of the world that it’s time to open their eyes to the world around them and change their minds.

GPS for the Soul – The Huffington Post
Our Children: Dazed and Confused
Imagine an innocent young boy. He’s inventive, open, durable, passionate, and friendly. He does well in school, art class, and athletics. Things come naturally to the boy; he has some ups and downs, but for the most part life is simple and carefree.

Yet as he grows, loved ones, teachers, and coaches start to teach him right from wrong, good from bad. They tell him who to trust, to wear a jacket when chilly, how to hold a pencil or paintbrush, that money has value, and the proper way to throw a ball. They also insist that he stand up for himself when someone makes him feel bad. And they make sure he apologizes when he makes others feel the same way.

Soon, the boy’s level of wonder and efficiency starts to decline. He becomes temperamental, blameful, and defensive. Often, his confidence appears shaken. Most of all, however, he just doesn’t seem happy.

This scenario is much more common than you might think. Indeed, every young child starts with the innate capacity to live freely and contentedly, to adjust to people and situations, and to self-correct when troubled. Then at some point, and to varying degrees, they lose these inherent gifts.

Why does this happen? Children are taught something that, deep down, they know is not true. They’re taught that a situation on the outside can affect how a person feels on the inside. And as children grow and additional outside-in directives are thrown their way, they become dazed and confused. Next stop: the diagnoses of an attention-deficit (or mental) disorder and the prescription of therapy and/or medication. This only adds more excuses and information into heads that now have way too much noise. The system gets jammed.

Grownups: When is enough going to be enough? When are we going to wake up?

You were once one of these children, so look around. Are you consistently cheerful? Passionate? Productive? Do you give back to others? What about the world we live in: Why is there hate? Why is there war? The reason is that the overwhelming majority of us have it wrong: One’s feelings cannot come from another person or situation. When a person’s head is clear, he feels good; when it’s cluttered, he doesn’t. Outside circumstances have no power over us. Our feelings come from the inside.

That’s the lesson we don’t teach our children. That’s why we lose the purity of our youth, and our natural propensity for peace of mind, compassion, and generosity. That’s also why, I believe, we must stop filling our children with personal judgments and opinions about how to conquer life. We’re creating victims and jeopardizing innate resilience. We’re thwarting our children’s free will and instincts. Guidance is far different than control; love beats discipline every time. If we don’t stop cramming the heads of our kids with external analysis and advice (thinking), they’ll end up just like us.

Here’s a different idea about what we can do: Let’s start setting examples of clarity and rising above. No, you can’t control your own level of anxiety, anger, or fear when they creep in — but you can reconsider the source of these sensations. Look inside to the degree your head is filled with thought at any given moment, carry on, and allow your mind to change. All of us (me too) need to stop buying into the false perceptions and judgments that spawn from a bound-up disposition, and acting — including preaching to our kids — when we feel this way. Children intuitively grasp that they feel their thinking and nothing external. When we tell them otherwise, or lash out at the world in order to manage our self-created insecurity in their presence, we confound and bind them to the point that they, too, are not capable.

Isn’t it time to admit that the current way of thinking just doesn’t work? Isn’t it time we stopped making outward excuses for how we feel on the inside, then coping, bullying, and forcing in order to feel better? The time has finally come to grasp it and then live it: Life works one way — from the inside-out. Remember, our children are watching.

5 Things I Wish I Knew Before My Mom Was Diagnosed With Cancer
When thinking back to September 2001, most people recall the tragic September 11 attacks on the United States. But when I look back 12 years, I recall a personal tragedy — the beautiful September day my mom was diagnosed with cancer.

I was just a teenager at the time, naively ignorant of how such a disease could wreak havoc on a person’s body, mind, and life. It took me years — almost a decade — to learn how to cope with my mom’s cancer and the unrelenting challenges of life-or-death uncertainty. My mom’s war on cancer is not over, but as I reflect on the struggle I’ve endured alongside her, five insights stand out.

1) Doctors don’t have all the answers — and that’s okay.

My mom was lucky to be in the care of some of the nation’s top oncology physicians, who initially seemed to have all the answers. They gave us treatment recommendations along with a roadmap to follow based on the best known standards of cancer care. But as one treatment after another failed to eradicate, or at least contain the cancer, the doctors became less and less confident in their recommendations. They began leaving ever more complex decisions in the hands of my mom — likely because they themselves were not sure of the direction my mom should take.

At the time, I was upset with my mom’s doctors for not telling her what to do. But in hindsight, I’m so thankful that they handed the reins, along with all pertinent information, over to my mom to make the decisions that best fit her needs and values. And in my mom’s case, that meant fighting for life no matter the toll it would take on her life.

2) Sometimes mom won’t want to talk about it — and that’s okay.

In trying to understand this life-altering, life-threatening disease, I dived into the research. I wanted to know the statistics, the risks and benefits associated with every treatment option, the side effects my mom would face, and the potential for alternative choices. For a long time, my mom’s cancer was top of mind, no matter what else was happening in my own life. But while immersion in the topic was my coping mechanism, my mom had a very different method of dealing: living her life as normally as possible, no matter the anxiety, pain or nausea.

She was superwoman. My mom thoughtfully scheduled all of her treatments — surgeries and chemotherapy — on Thursdays or Fridays so she could take the weekend to recover. Radiation therapy was always scheduled first thing in the morning so she could immediately head to work from the hospital. And though I know my mom suffered, trying to maintain her old lifestyle while battling against a life-or-death disease, I learned that she found hope in her ability to overpower the cancer. The best way to help my mom was not to focus on the elephant in the room, but rather, it was to focus on her, despite the elephant in the room.

3) The majority of people don’t know how to support someone facing such a tragedy — and that’s okay.

Following my mom’s diagnosis, I lost a lot of friends. Especially for teenagers, cancer is uncomfortable to talk about. Few of my friends knew what to say to me — whether to ask about my mom or avoid the topic for fear of upsetting me. Unfortunately, rather than simply express their support, many of those individuals faded out of my life. But even as some friendships diminished, those that were most valuable to me developed and grew.

4) Mom won’t be the same ever again — and that’s okay.

Twelve years ago, I loved my mom. She was my go-to partner in tennis and ping-pong. She was the world’s best paper editor. She was the ultimate sidekick for a shopping trip. And she ranked among my top five favorite chefs. But today, mom can’t handle all that activity. She’s weaker than she once was. Her body is fragile. But she’s also stronger than ever. Her spirit is resilient and her determination to live is steadfast. Mom is not the same person she was twelve years ago. She’s better.

5) I won’t be the same ever again — and that’s okay.

At some point in my life, I was carefree. I had a plan, and I knew exactly how I would wind up at my destination. But my mom’s diagnosis took me off my straightforward path and onto one full of detours and obstacles. Though I can’t say I’ve appreciated each twist and turn along the way, I can say that I appreciate each moment that has brought me to today.

There’s no doubt in my mind that I chose to join eFuneral, an Internet startup re-shaping the death care industry, at least in-part, because of my experiences on this journey with my mom. Prior to my mom’s diagnosis, death was something that happened to other people. Death was reserved for the old. But over the past 12 years, I’ve learned that death is just as much unavoidable as it is unpredictable. I can’t imagine that losing a loved one would ever be easy, but my hope in working with eFuneral is that I can help people through one of the most painful experiences of their lives.

I never in a millions years thought I would thank my mom’s cancer, but I am grateful for the perspective it’s enabled me to gain. My life will never be the same because I’ll be happier appreciating the blessings in my life — like my mom.

For more by Leah Yomtovian Roush, click here.

For more on love and relationships, click here.

Good News – The Huffington Post
Ex-NFL Player Brian Holloway Wants To Help Teens Who Caused $20,000 Worth Of Damage To His Home
ALBANY, N.Y. — Former NFL offensive lineman Brian Holloway initially thought the Twitter photos showing young people partying at his family’s second home in upstate New York were a hoax.

Then he saw pictures of teens standing on the dining room table he bought with his Super Bowl bonus. Holloway’s rural vacation home was trashed during a Labor Day weekend party attended by an estimated 200 to 400 teenagers. Holloway said the partiers caused at least $20,000 in damage, breaking windows and doors, punching holes in walls and spraying graffiti. He saw the whole thing unfold live on Twitter – and now he’s using the teens’ own posts to reveal their identities and to try to set them on a better path.

Holloway, who played offensive tackle for the New England Patriots and Los Angeles Raiders in the 1980s, said his 19-year-old son, a University of Southern Florida sophomore, alerted him to the party after receiving tweets about it the night of Aug. 31.

Holloway was at his home in Lutz, Fla., at the time and watched as more tweets about the party were posted, many of them accompanied by photos of young people drinking throughout his home in Stephentown, on the Massachusetts border 25 miles southeast of Albany.

“We were getting eyewitness reports of what was happening while it was happening. We couldn’t believe what was going down,” Holloway told The Associated Press.

Before he could call police, more tweets reported that officers had arrived, Holloway said. The partygoers scattered across his 200-acre property, which includes the main house and a guest house set amid rolling countryside in the foothills of the Berkshire Mountains.

Yvonne Keefe, spokeswoman for the Rensselaer County Sheriff’s Office, confirmed Wednesday that a “very large investigation” into the party was underway. Police believe 200 to 400 young people were at the party, but investigators aren’t commenting on the role social media is playing in the probe, she said.

No arrests have been reported.

Word of the party had spread via social media, and it attracted students at high schools from the Albany area and western Massachusetts, Holloway said. Holloway, who’s now a motivational speaker, said he gave anti-drug and alcohol talks at some of those same schools during his playing days, which included an appearance in Super Bowl XX, when the Patriots lost to the Chicago Bears.

Holloway said the partiers broke about 10 windows and glass doors, punched dozens of holes in the walls, dragged kegs of beer across oak floors and left behind an “enormous amount” of graffiti. He put the total damage at more than $20,000, not including personal items that were stolen.

Several teens who weren’t at the party but heard about it showed up this week and helped remove urine-soaked carpets and 10 large trash bags filled with liquor bottles, Holloway said, adding that drug paraphernalia was also found scattered about his property.

Holloway, a father of eight, said he used Twitter postings to compile 200 names of teens he said were at the party. He has been posting them on a website he created, , in an effort to get them to come forward, take responsibility for their actions and change their behavior. http://www.helpmesave300.com

“Any kids where this makes sense to go to a party like this and be a part of that, this kid’s in trouble,” he said.

The superintendent for a district where Holloway said some of the partiers go to school said one student had been confirmed as having been at the party. Averill Park Superintendent James Hoffman said the underage drinking party is a police matter but will be used to educate other students about personal behavior.

“It will be brought up in freshman seminar classes about kids making choices,” Hoffman said. “It’s definitely a topic that’ll come up in places like that.”

Compulsive Fall Disorder PSA Explains Why Everyone’s Freaking Out About Pumpkins
It starts with a few pumpkin spice lattes. Then, you instagram some leaves. Before you know it, you’re tweeting with the hashtag #sweaterweather. It all points to one thing: Compulsive Fall Disorder.

If you or someone you love is getting a little too excited about the temperature dropping or has an uncontrollable need to go apple picking, watch this important PSA. It’s not too late to get some help for your pumpkin spice addiction.

Healthy Living – The Huffington Post
Our Children: Dazed and Confused
Imagine an innocent young boy. He’s inventive, open, durable, passionate, and friendly. He does well in school, art class, and athletics. Things come naturally to the boy; he has some ups and downs, but for the most part life is simple and carefree.

Yet as he grows, loved ones, teachers, and coaches start to teach him right from wrong, good from bad. They tell him who to trust, to wear a jacket when chilly, how to hold a pencil or paintbrush, that money has value, and the proper way to throw a ball. They also insist that he stand up for himself when someone makes him feel bad. And they make sure he apologizes when he makes others feel the same way.

Soon, the boy’s level of wonder and efficiency starts to decline. He becomes temperamental, blameful, and defensive. Often, his confidence appears shaken. Most of all, however, he just doesn’t seem happy.

This scenario is much more common than you might think. Indeed, every young child starts with the innate capacity to live freely and contentedly, to adjust to people and situations, and to self-correct when troubled. Then at some point, and to varying degrees, they lose these inherent gifts.

Why does this happen? Children are taught something that, deep down, they know is not true. They’re taught that a situation on the outside can affect how a person feels on the inside. And as children grow and additional outside-in directives are thrown their way, they become dazed and confused. Next stop: the diagnoses of an attention-deficit (or mental) disorder and the prescription of therapy and/or medication. This only adds more excuses and information into heads that now have way too much noise. The system gets jammed.

Grownups: When is enough going to be enough? When are we going to wake up?

You were once one of these children, so look around. Are you consistently cheerful? Passionate? Productive? Do you give back to others? What about the world we live in: Why is there hate? Why is there war? The reason is that the overwhelming majority of us have it wrong: One’s feelings cannot come from another person or situation. When a person’s head is clear, he feels good; when it’s cluttered, he doesn’t. Outside circumstances have no power over us. Our feelings come from the inside.

That’s the lesson we don’t teach our children. That’s why we lose the purity of our youth, and our natural propensity for peace of mind, compassion, and generosity. That’s also why, I believe, we must stop filling our children with personal judgments and opinions about how to conquer life. We’re creating victims and jeopardizing innate resilience. We’re thwarting our children’s free will and instincts. Guidance is far different than control; love beats discipline every time. If we don’t stop cramming the heads of our kids with external analysis and advice (thinking), they’ll end up just like us.

Here’s a different idea about what we can do: Let’s start setting examples of clarity and rising above. No, you can’t control your own level of anxiety, anger, or fear when they creep in — but you can reconsider the source of these sensations. Look inside to the degree your head is filled with thought at any given moment, carry on, and allow your mind to change. All of us (me too) need to stop buying into the false perceptions and judgments that spawn from a bound-up disposition, and acting — including preaching to our kids — when we feel this way. Children intuitively grasp that they feel their thinking and nothing external. When we tell them otherwise, or lash out at the world in order to manage our self-created insecurity in their presence, we confound and bind them to the point that they, too, are not capable.

Isn’t it time to admit that the current way of thinking just doesn’t work? Isn’t it time we stopped making outward excuses for how we feel on the inside, then coping, bullying, and forcing in order to feel better? The time has finally come to grasp it and then live it: Life works one way — from the inside-out. Remember, our children are watching.

New Test Could Help Distinguish Between Viral And Bacterial Infections
WASHINGTON — It happens too often: A doctor isn’t sure what’s causing someone’s feverish illness but prescribes antibiotics just in case, drugs that don’t work if a virus is the real culprit.

Now Duke University researchers are developing a blood test to more easily tell when a respiratory illness is due to a virus and not a bacterial infection, hoping to cut the dangerous overuse of antibiotics and speed the right diagnosis. It works by taking a fingerprint of your immune system – how its genes are revving up to fight the bug. That’s very different from how infections are diagnosed today. And if the experimental test pans out, it also promises to help doctors track brand-new threats, like the next flu pandemic or that mysterious MERS virus that has erupted in the Middle East.

That viral “signature could be quite powerful, and may be a game-changer,” said Dr. Geoffrey Ginsburg, Duke’s genomic medicine chief. He leads the team that on Wednesday reported that a study involving 102 people provided early evidence that the test can work.

Today, when symptoms alone aren’t enough for diagnosis, a doctor’s suspicion guides what tests are performed – tests that work by hunting for evidence of a specific pathogen. Fever and cough? If it’s flu season, you might be tested for the flu virus. An awful sore throat? Chances are you’ll get checked for strep bacteria. A negative test can leave the doctor wondering what germ to check for next, or whether to make a best guess.

Moreover, rapid in-the-office tests aren’t always accurate and can miss infections. So patients may have blood or other samples sent to labs to try to grow any lurking bacteria and tell if it’s to blame, additional testing that can take days.

“This is something we struggle with every day,” said Dr. Octavio Ramilo, infectious disease chief at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, who wasn’t involved in the new study. Particularly with children, a respiratory virus and a bacterial infection “in the beginning look completely alike,” he added.

Hence researchers at a number of universities are trying to harness a fairly recent discovery: As your immune system detects an invading bug, different genes are activated to fend off a viral infection than to fight a bacterial or fungal one. Those subtle molecular changes appear to be occurring even before you feel any symptoms. And they form distinct patterns of RNA and proteins, what’s called a genomic fingerprint.

The Duke team discovered 30 genes that are switched on in different ways during a viral attack. The test essentially is a freeze-frame to show “what those genes are doing at the moment in time that it’s captured,” explained Duke lead researcher Dr. Aimee Zaas, an infectious disease specialist.

Small studies spotted that viral signature in people who volunteered to be infected with different influenza strains for science.

For a more real-world simulation, the researchers then analyzed blood samples stored from feverish people who had come to the emergency room – and who were eventually diagnosed, the old-fashioned way, with either some type of virus or a bacterial infection.

The genomic test proved 89 percent accurate in sorting out who had a virus, and did even better at ruling out those who didn’t, Zaas reported Wednesday in the journal Science Translational Medicine.

It took 12 hours to get results. The researchers hope to speed that up so that it might work as quickly as some in-office tests.

Still, “it’s a promising tool,” said Ramilo, an Ohio State University professor who is doing similar research. He called the Duke study an important step toward creating a commercial test, and predicts one might reach the market within five years.

Why would a doctor want to know merely that a virus is present and not which virus? That’s enough information to rule out antibiotics, Zaas said. Unnecessary antibiotic use is one factor in the growing problem of drug-resistant germs, which the government blames for more than 23,000 deaths a year.

Plus, if a dangerous new virus begins spreading, like MERS, this approach could help avoid quarantining people unnecessarily by telling right away which ones are virus-free, Ginsburg added.

In Ohio, Ramilo is exploring a more immediate need: When young infants have high fevers, they’re often hospitalized while doctors run a battery of tests to find the fraction who have a serious bacterial infection. He is leading a study involving 22 pediatric emergency rooms to see if a genomic fingerprint approach could separate which babies really need all that testing.

But the virus-or-not question is just the beginning, Ramilo said. His research suggests genomic fingerprints also can distinguish a flu strain from other common viruses. And the Duke team is analyzing a huge study of students living in dormitories, to see if the genomic test detected who was incubating the flu before their first sniffle – and thus might be useful in stemming outbreaks.

#alkalinity #alkalinitymovement #7.2 #sevenpointtwo

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