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‘It’s just a flu’? Think again – that flu can kill you

‘It’s just a flu’? Think again – that flu can kill you

You can certainly feel like death warmed over when you get the flu, which often lasts for a dreadfully feverish, snotty and cough-wracked week.

But in some rare cases, the flu can actually be fatal. Last year, influenza killed about 80,000 people, including 180 children, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Just what happens in the body when the flu turns fatal? How does a relatively common illness actually end your life?

The sad truth is that when the flu virus enters your body, it triggers your immune response – and in some lethal cases, that response pummels not just the virus but the body too.

The influenza virus hijacks human cells in the nose and throat to make copies of itself. This hoard of viral beasties triggers the immune system to send battalions of white blood cells, antibodies and inflammatory molecules to eliminate the threat.

Usually, that process works to heal the body. But sometimes the immune system’s reaction is so strong, destroying so much tissue in the lungs that they can no longer deliver enough oxygen to the blood, which in turn causes hypoxia and death.

It’s also possible to die from a secondary bacterial infection, such as pneumonia. Death from such secondary infections usually occurs about a week or so after a person first gets sick, because it takes time for the secondary infection to set in.

The flu can lead to death in other ways as well. In a particularly gruesome way to go, people with the flu can experience “multiple organ failure” throughout their bodies.

Other serious complications can set in, such as inflammation of the heart, brain or muscle tissues, or sepsis, all of which can be life-threatening, according to the CDC.

Perhaps the most terrifying part is that the flu likes to break its own rules. During the infamous 1918 epidemic, an estimated 500 million people, one-third of the world’s population, became infected, notes the CDC. There were about 50 million deaths worldwide.

The deaths were even more shocking because they tended to occur not in children or the elderly, whom we usually think of as most vulnerable, but in healthy people from ages 20-40, people in the prime of their life. – The Mercury News/Tribune News Service

Bill Cosby’s daughter Ensa has died at age 44 from renal disease — here’s what it is

Bill Cosby’s daughter Ensa has died at age 44 from renal disease — here’s what it is

  • Bill Cosby’s daughter Ensa, who came to his defense during his trial, has died at age 44.
  • Although details on her death have not yet been made public, a spokesperson said she died from renal disease, also known as chronic kidney disease.
  • Ensa also made an appearance on “The Cosby Show” in 1989.

Ensa Cosby, Bill Cosby’s daughter, has died at age 44 from renal disease, Reuters reported on Monday.

Ensa, who appeared in a 1989 episode of “The Cosby Show,” in the role of a girl at a party, came back into the spotlight recently when she publicly supported her father after he was repeatedly accused of sexually assaulting numerous women.

Ensa was the second-youngest of Cosby’s five children and the third of his four daughters.

Renal disease, also known as chronic kidney disease or chronic kidney failure, occurs when the kidneys begin to lose their function. Normally, the kidneys play a vital role in the body’s natural filtration system: they siphon off waste and excess fluid from the blood, which are then excreted in urine.

The disease can accelerate when dangerous levels of fluid and waste build up over time.

Many people have few symptoms of renal disease in its early stages, but the signs that your kidneys are not functioning properly may include nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, fatigue, changes in how much you urinate, swelling of feet and ankles, persistent itching, and high blood pressure, according to the Mayo Clinic.

Without dialysis, a treatment that involves artificially filtering the blood, the disease can progress to kidney failure and be deadly.

People who develop renal failure typically have another health condition that results in impaired kidney function, like diabetes, high blood pressure, or polycystic kidney disease.

It is unclear what caused Ensa’s kidney failure to progress, but USA Today reported that she suffered from a history of medical problems.

“The Cosby Family thanks many people for their prayers for their beloved and beautiful Ensa, who recently died from renal disease,” the Cosby spokesperson who confirmed Ensa’s death said in a statement.

Ensa Cosby made headlines in May 2017 when she released a statement with her older sister, Erinn, on the popular radio show, “The Breakfast Club,” proclaiming their father’s innocence against the multiple rape allegations lodged against him.

The daughters said they were faithful listeners of the show and wanted to use it as a platform to criticize the media’s portrayal of their father, who was best known for his television role as the wise, witty dad on the long-running situation comedy “The Cosby Show.”

“The accusations against my father have been one-sided since the beginning, and when he tried to defend himself he was sued in civil court,” Ensa said in an audio statement that was aired during the morning show. “I strongly believe my father is innocent of the crimes alleged against him and I believe that racism has played a big role in all aspects of this scandal.”

“My father has been publicly lynched in the media,” she added.

Cosby, 80, is scheduled to appear in a Pennsylvania court next week for a hearing on pretrial motions ahead of his scheduled retrial on April 2.

How likely is gun violence to kill the average American? The odds may surprise you

How likely is gun violence to kill the average American? The odds may surprise you

source
Shutterstock
  • A gunman killed 12 people and injured 15 others on Wednesday at a bar and grill in Thousand Oaks, California.
  • Nearly 13,000 people in the US were murdered with firearms in 2015 (the latest available data), not including suicides.
  • Gun violence is a leading cause of death in the US, according to the CDC.
  • In March, the US government moved to weaken a decades-old restriction on federal research into guns.

On Wednesday night at 11:20 p.m., a gunman that authorities have identified as Ian David Long entered the Borderline Bar & Grill in Thousand Oaks, California, and began shooting.

By early Thursday morning, the former US marine had killed 12 people, injured 15 others, and taken his own life.

The shooting is considered the 15th deadliest in recent US history, yet Long’s victims join a growing number of people killed by guns in the US.

Wednesday’s mass shooting follows the murder of 17 people at Stoneman Douglas High School in February and the killings of 11 people at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh in October.

This week’s attack also happened a little more than a year after the deadliest in America: the Las Vegas Strip shooting, which left 58 people dead and 850 others injured. By chance, dozens of people who had survived the Las Vegas attack were also present for this week’s shooting‘ and several of them were shot to death.

Read more: The NRA told doctors to ‘stay in their lane’ when it comes to gun deaths – and doctors are posting furious, devastating responses

Millions of people marched against gun violence this year, and Congress voted to loosen a restriction on the CDC’s research of gun violence, which has been in effect for about 22 years.

Below is some of the most recent data available on gun violence in the US (highlighted in red; suicides and accidents excluded), and how it compares to other causes of death over the lifetime of an average American.

Gun violence is a leading cause of death in America_BI Graphics

source
Skye Gould/Business Insider

According to this analysis, assaults by firearm kill about 13,000 people in the US each year, and this translates to a roughly 1-in-315 lifetime chance of death from gun violence. The risk of dying in a mass shooting is about 35 times lower than that, with a 1-in-11,125 lifetime chance of death.

The chance of dying from gun violence overall is about 50% greater than the lifetime risk of dying while riding inside a car, truck, or van (a category that excludes pedestrian, cyclist, and other deaths outside of a motor vehicle). It’s also more than 10 times as high as dying from any force of nature, such as a hurricane, tornado, earthquake, flood, or lightning strike.

These measures suggest Americans are more likely to die from gun violence than the combined risks of drowning, fire and smoke, stabbing, choking on food, airplane crashes, animal attacks, and natural disasters.

Where the data comes from

The chart above does not account for a person’s specific behaviors, age, sex, location, or other factors that could shift the results; it’s an average of the entire US population.

But it clearly shows that gun violence in the US is a leading cause of death, which is how the CDC describes firearm homicides in its National Vital Statistics Reports.

Most of the data comes from an October 2017 report by the National Safety Council and a November 2017 report by the National Center for Health Statistics on causes of death in the US, primarily those that occurred in 2015. (The NSC report uses 2014 data wherever newer data was unavailable.)

Mass shootings aren’t part of the data sets above, but the Gun Violence Archive project keeps a sourced tally, which we’ve independently counted. The organization considers any event where four or more victims were injured (regardless of death) to be a mass shooting.

In 2015, some 333 mass shootings left 367 people dead, according to their tally. The statistics rose in 2016 to 383 mass shootings that killed 456 people. In 2017, there were 346 mass shootings that led to 437 deaths, and so far this year, we’ve seen 307 mass shootings.

Foreign-born terrorism data comes from a Cato Institute terrorism report, and some natural-disaster data comes from Tulane University.

We calculated the lifetime odds of death by applying 2015 life expectancy and population numbers in the US, and our analysis assumes each cause of death won’t change drastically in the near future. (Mortality data from previous years suggests these rankings are relatively consistent, with the exception of skyrocketing accidental poisonings due to the opioid epidemic.)

You can view our full dataset and sourcing here.

A dearth of US gun-violence research

aiming gun american flag hand arms control regulation second amendment rights shutterstock_352729169

source
Shutterstock

Although gun violence is one of the leading causes of death in America, it is also one of the most poorly researched, according to a January 2017 study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

“In relation to mortality rates, gun violence research was the least-researched cause of death and the second-least-funded cause of death after falls,” the study’s authors wrote.

The study ascribed this dearth of research to restrictions – namely an addition to a 1996 congressional appropriations bill called the Dickey Amendment, which stipulated “none of the funds made available for injury prevention and control at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention may be used to advocate or promote gun control.”

This is the rule that Congress recently voted to weaken with its new funding bill, which Trump signed in March. The new provision gives the CDC explicit permission to research the causes of gun violence, though it maintains a ban on “using appropriated funding to advocate or promote gun control.”

Research into gun violence is the most poorly funded relative to other causes of death.

caption
Research into gun violence is the most poorly funded relative to other causes of death.
source
Dr. David E. Stark, Dr. Nigam H. Shah/JAMA

The previous lack of clarity on researching gun violence has hindered many scientists from better understanding the problem.

“The fundamental, foundational work of documenting the full scale of the health consequences of firearms has not been done,” Sandro Galea, an epidemiologist and the dean of the Boston University School of Public Health, told Mother Jones in January 2017. “It’s the kind of project that we do all the time. It just hasn’t been done with firearms because there haven’t been resources.”

Although the Dickey amendment has been weakened, Republicans in Congress are reportedly uninterested in restoring $2.6 million in annual funding for CDC research into gun violence.

“[T]op GOP appropriators say they have no interest in funding new federal research into gun violence,” The Hill wrote in April.

The research that has been conducted by private institutions like the Harvard Injury Control Research Center show a clear connection between gun ownership, gun availability, homicides, and violent death.

A roundup of gun-control and gun-violence studies by Vox shows that Americans represent less than 5% of the world population but possess nearly 50% of the world’s civilian-owned guns. The data also reveals that police are about three times more likely to be killed in states with high gun ownership, countries with more guns see more gun deaths, and states with tighter gun control laws see fewer gun-related deaths.

This story has been revised and updated. It was originally published on February 15, 2018.

The odds that a gun will kill the average American may surprise you

The odds that a gun will kill the average American may surprise you

A man reacts at a makeshift memorial outside the Tree of Life synagogue following a mass shooting.

caption
A man reacts at a makeshift memorial outside the Tree of Life synagogue following a mass shooting.
source
Cathal McNaughton/Reuters
  • A gunman used an assault weapon to kill 11 people and wound six others in a mass shooting at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on Saturday.
  • Police identified Robert Bowers as a suspect in what is reportedly the deadliest attack on Jewish people in US history.
  • Nearly 13,000 people in the US were murdered with firearms in 2015 (the latest available data), not including suicides.
  • In March, the US government moved to weaken a decades-old restriction on federal research into guns.

Eleven people are dead and six others wounded after Saturday’s mass shooting at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Police arrested Robert Bowers as a suspect and charged him after he reportedly fired on officers who arrived at the scene. He was carrying an AR-15 assault rifle and several handguns, according to the FBI.

Minutes before the attack, Bowers wrote online, “HIAS likes to bring invaders in that kill our people,” in reference to a Jewish refugee-resettlement agency. The post was shared on Gab, a social media service that does not police hate speech and has now been taken offline. “I can’t sit by and watch my people get slaughtered. Screw your optics, I’m going in,” Bowers wrote.

The Anti-Defamation League described the shooting in a statement as possibly “the deadliest attack on the Jewish community in the history of the United States.”

The mass shooting is one of many that have happened in the US in 2018 – so far, almost 300 others have occurred since January 1, according to the Gun Violence Archive. In August, five Capital Gazette newspaper employees were shot to death by a gunman. In February, a gunman entered Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida and killed 17 people using a legally purchased AR-15 assault rifle.

Millions of people marched against gun violence in the wake of February’s attack as Congress voted to loosen a restriction on the CDC’s research of gun violence, which has been in effect for about 22 years.

Below is some of the most recent data available on gun violence in the US (highlighted in red; suicides and accidents excluded), and how it compares to other causes of death over the lifetime of an average American.

Gun violence is a leading cause of death in America_BI Graphics

source
Skye Gould/Business Insider

According to this analysis, assaults by firearm kill about 13,000 people in the US each year, and this translates to a roughly 1-in-315 lifetime chance of death from gun violence. The risk of dying in a mass shooting is about 35 times lower than that, with a 1-in-11,125 lifetime chance of death.

The chance of dying from gun violence overall is about 50% greater than the lifetime risk of dying while riding inside a car, truck, or van (a category that excludes pedestrian, cyclist, and other deaths outside of a motor vehicle). It’s also more than 10 times as high as dying from any force of nature, such as a hurricane, tornado, earthquake, flood, or lightning strike.

These measures suggest Americans are more likely to die from gun violence than the combined risks of drowning, fire and smoke, stabbing, choking on food, airplane crashes, animal attacks, and natural disasters.

Where the data comes from

Men pray outside the Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Hall before a service to honor and mourn the victims of Saturday's mass shooting at the Tree Of Life Synagogue.

caption
Men pray outside the Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Hall before a service to honor and mourn the victims of Saturday’s mass shooting at the Tree Of Life Synagogue.
source
Jeff Swensen/Getty Images

The chart above does not account for a person’s specific behaviors, age, sex, location, or other factors that could shift the results; it’s an average of the entire US population.

But it clearly shows that gun violence in the US is a leading cause of death, which is how the CDC describes firearm homicides in its National Vital Statistics Reports.

Most of the data comes from an October 2017 report by the National Safety Council and a November 2017 report by the National Center for Health Statistics on causes of death in the US, primarily those that occurred in 2015. (The NSC report uses 2014 data wherever newer data was unavailable.)

Mass shootings aren’t part of the data sets above, but the Gun Violence Archive project keeps a sourced tally, which we’ve independently counted. The organization considers any event where four or more victims were injured (regardless of death) to be a mass shooting.

In 2015, some 333 mass shootings left 367 people dead and 1,328 injured, according to their tally. The statistics rose in 2016 to 383 mass shootings, 456 deaths, and 1,537 injuries. In 2017, there were 346 mass shootings that led to 437 deaths and 1,802 injuries.

Foreign-born terrorism data comes from a Cato Institute terrorism report, and some natural-disaster data comes from Tulane University.

We calculated the lifetime odds of death by applying 2015 life expectancy and population numbers in the US, and our analysis assumes each cause of death won’t change drastically in the near future. (Mortality data from previous years suggests these rankings are relatively consistent, with the exception of skyrocketing accidental poisonings due to the opioid epidemic.)

You can view our full dataset and sourcing here.

A dearth of US gun-violence research

In 2017, there were 346 mass shootings in the US that led to 437 deaths and 1,802 injuries.

caption
In 2017, there were 346 mass shootings in the US that led to 437 deaths and 1,802 injuries.
source
Shutterstock

Although gun violence is one of the leading causes of death in America, it is also one of the most poorly researched, according to a January 2017 study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

“In relation to mortality rates, gun violence research was the least-researched cause of death and the second-least-funded cause of death after falls,” the study’s authors wrote.

The study ascribed this dearth of research to restrictions – namely an addition to a 1996 congressional appropriations bill called the Dickey Amendment, which stipulated “none of the funds made available for injury prevention and control at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention may be used to advocate or promote gun control.”

This is the rule that Congress recently voted to weaken with its new funding bill, which Trump signed in March. The new provision gives the CDC explicit permission to research the causes of gun violence, though it maintains a ban on “using appropriated funding to advocate or promote gun control.”

Research into gun violence is the most poorly funded relative to other causes of death.

caption
Research into gun violence is the most poorly funded relative to other causes of death.
source
Dr. David E. Stark, Dr. Nigam H. Shah/JAMA

The previous lack of clarity on researching gun violence has hindered many scientists from better understanding the problem.

“The fundamental, foundational work of documenting the full scale of the health consequences of firearms has not been done,” Sandro Galea, an epidemiologist and the dean of the Boston University School of Public Health, told Mother Jones in January 2017. “It’s the kind of project that we do all the time. It just hasn’t been done with firearms because there haven’t been resources.”

Although the Dickey amendment has been weakened, a Republican-controlled Congress is reportedly uninterested in restoring $2.6 million in annual funding for CDC research into gun violence.

“[T]op GOP appropriators say they have no interest in funding new federal research into gun violence,” The Hill wrote in April.

The research that has been conducted by private institutions like the Harvard Injury Control Research Center show a clear connection between gun ownership, gun availability, homicides, and violent death.

A roundup of gun-control and gun-violence studies by Vox shows that Americans represent less than 5% of the world population but possess nearly 50% of the world’s civilian-owned guns. The data also reveals that police are about three times more likely to be killed in states with high gun ownership, countries with more guns see more gun deaths, and states with tighter gun control laws see fewer gun-related deaths.

Kelly McLaughlin contributed reporting to this post.

This story has been revised and updated. The original version was published on Feb. 15, 2018.

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