How People Get Hurt in All 50 States

Medical codes can get incredibly specific. When you go to the hospital, the doctor won’t just enter your diagnosis as “concussion” or “traffic accident”—you’ll go into the system as suffering from an “animal-drawn vehicle accident” or having been in an “unarmed fight or brawl.” The beauty of these medical codes is that you can track exactly how many people went to the hospital after crashing their horse-drawn buggy. The healthcare search site Amino recently did exactly that, finding out the causes of a disproportionate number of injuries in every state through health insurance claims.

Amino’s researchers combed through 244 million health insurance claims in its database between 2012 and 2016, looking for the injuries that stuck out in each state compared to the national average. Tennessee, for instance, sees 1.6 times more injury diagnoses related to motor vehicle crashes than the national average.

The data (larger image here) represents only injuries that were reported and recorded by doctors, so it’s possible that a ton of people get in fist fights in places other than New York but just don’t go to the doctor for it. The data is simplified so that the 3000 medical codes for physical injuries down are combined into 170 common terms, like calling all 38 types of contusions “bruising.”

Amino found that New York is home to over 10 percent of the medically documented fist fights (the aforementioned unarmed brawls). There were 35,000 New York fist fight injuries diagnosed during the period analyzed, compared to around 296,000 nationally. Indiana’s most disproportionately common injury is “struck by object.” Rural states like Montana, Wyoming, North Dakota, Idaho, and Nebraska were home to a disproportionate number of the 43,000 “animal-drawn vehicle accidents” across the country—with 1000 (two percent of the national total) taking place just in Nebraska. Hawaii sees far more patients after “near drowning” than other states, as you might suspect of a state surrounded by water.

The major question is, what’s happening to people’s faces in Louisiana? And why are Missouri’s animals so dangerous?

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New Test Can Differentiate Between Tick-borne Illnesses
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Time is of the essence in diagnosing and treating Lyme disease and other tick-borne illnesses. Fortunately, one new test may be able to help. A report on the test was published in the journal Science Translational Medicine.

Ticks and the diseases they carry are on the rise. One 2016 study found deer ticks—the species that carries Lyme disease—in more than half of the counties in the United States.

The two most common tick-borne illnesses in the U.S. are Lyme disease and southern tick-associated rash illness (STARI). Although their initial symptoms can be the same, they’re caused by different pathogens; Lyme disease comes from infection with the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi. We don’t know what causes STARI.

"It is extremely important to be able to tell a patient they have Lyme disease as early as possible so they can be treated as quickly as possible," microbiologist and first author Claudia Molins of the CDC said in a statement. "Most Lyme disease infections are successfully treated with a two- to three-week course of oral antibiotics." Infections that aren't treated can lead to fevers, facial paralysis, heart palpitations, nerve pain, arthritis, short-term memory loss, and inflammation of the brain and spinal cord.

But to date, scientists have yet to create an accurate, consistent early test for Lyme disease, which means people must often wait until they’re very ill. And it’s hard to test for the STARI pathogen when we don’t know what it is.

One team of researchers led by experts at Colorado State University was determined to find a better way. They realized that, rather than looking for pathogens, they could look at the way a person’s body responded to the pathogens.

They analyzed blood samples from patients with both early-stage Lyme disease and STARI. Their results showed that while all patients’ immune systems had mounted a response, the nature of that response was different.

"We have found that all of these infections and diseases are associated with an inflammatory response, but the alteration of the immune response, and the metabolic profiles aren't all the same," senior author John Belisle of CSU said.

Two distinct profiles emerged. The team had found physical evidence, or biomarkers, for each illness: a way to tell one disease from another.

Belisle notes that there’s still plenty of work to do.

"The focus of our efforts is to develop a test that has a much greater sensitivity, and maintains that same level of specificity," Belisle said. "We don't want people to receive unnecessary treatment if they don't have Lyme disease, but we want to identify those who have the disease as quickly as possible."

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Google Can Warn You When Your Allergies Are About to Go Haywire
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How much allergy medication are you going to need today? Google can tell you. Well, it can give you a forecast, at least, as The Verge reports.

Google announced on August 16 that the search engine will now auto-populate search results for pollen and allergy information with allergy forecasts from The Weather Channel. The integration will include the most recent pollen index and allergy forecast data, showing a 5-day forecast detailing whether you’re likely to feel seasonal allergy symptoms throughout the week.

An animation shows a scroll of Google’s search results for pollen with allergy forecasts.

If you have the Google app, you can set it to send push notifications when the pollen count is notably high that day, so you know to sequester yourself safely indoors. Hopefully you don't live in a city like Jackson, Mississippi, which in 2016 was named the worst city in the U.S. for allergy sufferers. There, your phone may be pinging every day.

While you can already find this information on sites like, having it show up immediately in search results saves you a few extra clicks, and frankly, it’s far more readable than most allergy and weather forecast sites.

Too bad a search engine can't cure our sneezes and watery eyes, though. Time to stock up on Kleenex, get a jumbo bottle of allergy meds, and maybe buy yourself a robot vacuum.

[h/t The Verge]


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