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Health

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Updated at 11:50 p.m. ET

Irma, once a powerful and longrunning hurricane, weakened to a tropical depression as it moved through Georgia on its way to Alabama. It continues to dump heavy rain but all surge warnings have been canceled.

Irma has left behind dangerous floodwaters, power outages for millions of people and the debris it has made of human possessions across Florida.

The huge storm remained a Category 1 hurricane through early Monday, before finally being downgraded to a tropical storm and then a tropical depression.

The Food and Drug Administration recently approved the first U.S. treatment for childhood cases of Chagas disease — a parasite-driven illness that, over time and unless treated early, can cause serious heart problems in about a third of the people it infects.

There are perhaps 300,000 cases in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; the illness is much more common in Latin America, where it affects millions.

How do you stop the world's worst cholera epidemic?

One way is to send volunteers door-to-door to tell people how they can avoid the disease and what to do if they suspect an infection.

That's what Faytha Ahmed Farj is doing. A 45-year-old mother of 9, Farj has never held a paying job but she's part of a nationwide campaign of volunteers fighting cholera.

The mid-August monsoon floods in South Asia were the worst in a decade. But for Rajdeep Bora, it's a familiar feeling.

"We suffer two to three floods a year," says the 29-year-old farmer, who lives in Gohpur, Assam, in northeastern India. Last month, his 2-acre rice crop was ruined and he lost two cows — worth about $800.

"The loss of livestock is heartbreaking enough," he says. "But the morning after a flood, there is no clean water to drink. Mobile services and transport shut down. In some parts of Assam, floodwaters don't recede for as many as two months."

This past year China had the largest outbreak of a deadly bird flu since the virus was first detected in March 2013.

For the past five years, China has had annual waves of H7N9 outbreaks that peak around January and February.

During the 2017 season, the country reported nearly the same number of cases as all four previous years combined, researchers at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report Thursday. The virus cropped up in more geographic regions. And it showed signs of evolving in ways that cause concern.

Romance films don't usually revolve around a toilet.

Last August we brought you the story of Lumbaram, a father in a village in Northern India who was on a quest to rescue his daughter Durga from a marriage that he had forced her into.

A few months after fleeing war in Syria for safety in Germany, Ahmad Chahabi was at Berlin's main bus station. As he waited for a friend, he saw a child get off a bus with her family. Suddenly, the girl dived to the ground, sobbing. When he looked up, Chahabi realized she had mistaken a passenger jet overhead for a bomber. "It's not enough to move from one place to another," Chahabi realized. "War follows you."

Three years ago, we published a story about a small start-up in Kigali, Rwanda's capital, that was seeking to make homes more sanitary by replacing dirt floors with sealed earthen floors, which are up to 80 percent cheaper than concrete.

When we first spoke to Khaled Khatib, he had just finished working on The White Helmets, a 41-minute Netflix documentary about a group of volunteer rescue workers who were helping those caught in the crossfire of Syria's bloody civil war.

The arrival of a new school year and cooler temperatures also means the arrival of flu vaccines in doctors' offices, pharmacies, clinics, work places, and school campuses. With flu season on its way, the American Academy of Pediatrics issued updated recommendations Monday for the flu vaccine — but without the needle-free option so many parents were hoping for.

Parents and pediatricians both may be dismayed to hear that the FluMist nasal vaccine is once again not recommended.

After signing up for Airbnb, Godwin Ndosi waited four months for his first guest. That was back in 2015. He went on to become a superhost, renting out his family's house in Arusha, Tanzania, for a bargain rate of $15 a night to tourists from around the world. Did he stick with it?

On Godwin Ndosi's Facebook page, photos from his adventures over the past year — his travels to Europe, wild animals from safari trips he's led to the Serengeti, selfies with tourists who's stayed at his home — fill his timeline.

In the past few years, there have been so many "superbugs" appearing in hospitals around the world that we here at Goats and Soda haven't had the time or resources to report on all of them.

But a new type of pneumonia emerging in China seems so important that we dropped what we were doing to write about it.

Doctors in Hangzhou in southeastern China have detected a a type of pneumonia that is both highly drug-resistant and very deadly. It also spreads easily.

Muhammad Taluli arrived from Gaza at Jerusalem's Hadassah Medical Center a few months ago and unwrapped the cloth from his hands to reveal gray and white growths that looked like tree bark. The doctors had never seen anything like it.

Thursday marks the start of Eid al-Adha, the holiest Muslim day of the year. It celebrates the biblical story of Abraham and his willingness to sacrifice his son for God. The moment before the sacrifice, God intervened and sent a goat to take the boy's place.

Muslims around the world celebrate the holiday by sacrificing a goat, then eating it together with family and friends. But for many Muslims in Karachi, Pakistan, that tradition will be harder to follow this year.

When we wrote about Dr. Forster Amponsah in 2016, he was eager to perform surgery but faced many obstacles. "The general electricity is out and our generator is broken down," he told NPR. Has a year made a difference?

Back in April, we published a story that garnered a huge response — and empathy — from readers.

Child marriage isn't just a practice that victimizes girls in poor countries. As this blog has previously reported, it's also long been an issue in the United States, involving girls from a wide range of backgrounds. Based on state marriage license data and other sources, advocacy groups and experts estimate that between 2000 and 2015 alone, well over 200,000 children — nearly all of them girls — were married. In nearly all cases the husband was an adult.

With a reported 50 inches of rainfall, flash flooding and high, murky waters, Hurricane Harvey in Houston has gripped America's attention. But halfway around the world, another flood has wreaked havoc on historic levels. Two weeks ago, record monsoon rains hit parts of Bangladesh, India and Nepal, bringing the worst floods the region has seen in years. Over 1,200 people have been killed and 24 million affected.

Salamatu Umar was abducted by Boko Haram in 2014, when she was just 15. She and five other girls were herded in the bush. She was forced to marry a Boko Haram fighter.

She and another girl eventually escaped, running away while they were collecting firewood for cooking. Umar was pregnant at the time.

Today, she is 18 and the mother of a 1-year-old son, Usman Abubakar. She survived her "hell" and lives in a displaced people's camp in Maiduguri, the main city in northeastern Nigeria and birthplace of Boko Haram.

Umar is free — and yet she is not really free.

What's Making These Dogs In Mumbai Turn Blue?

Aug 26, 2017

Five dogs turned blue in Mumbai.

It's a hot and humid day, but the kids are buzzing. As they pile out of a coach bus at a secluded retreat center surrounded by trees and open fields, one girl spins in circles and says, "No FGM, no FGM!"

So it's definitely not your typical camp.

The words "endangered species" often conjure up images of big exotic creatures. Think elephants, leopards and polar bears.

But there's another of type of extinction that may be occurring, right now, inside our bodies.

Tanzania Gears Up To Become A Nation Of Medical Drones

Aug 23, 2017

Eight-year-old boy bitten by dog. Two-year-old child with severe anemia. Mother, age 24, bleeding severely at childbirth.

Entries like these popped up as Keller Rinaudo browsed a database of health emergencies during a 2014 visit to Tanzania. It was "a lightbulb moment," says the CEO and co-founder of the California drone startup Zipline.

If a famine occurs, aid groups send food. If there's a war, they set up health clinics.

But what to do in event of a massive cyberattack? A new disease epidemic?

A July report has an alarming message for the aid community: adapt or be left in the dust.

Imagine the worst has happened to your family. You've been forced to flee your home.

You eventually make it to safety. But now you're living in a camp for displaced persons.

You don't want to just depend on handouts. So how do you make a living?

Many of the images we associate with the plague actually depict leprosy or smallpox. In fact, there are very few images of the Black Death from the time of the scourge.

A few weeks ago, I reported a story about three cases of the plague in New Mexico. The bacterial illness pops up fairly regularly around the globe but is now easily treatable with antibiotics, if caught in time.

Sierra Leone, a country that has been battered by Ebola, civil war and massive floods, suffered yet another tragedy this week. Government and international aid workers are racing the clock to find survivors after a mudslide struck capital city Freetown early Monday morning.

Some 600 people are still missing, and there are reports that some people are still alive, trapped in their homes underneath the mud.

If you're in desperate need for some good news, look no further.

Scientists in the U.S. and India have found an inexpensive treatment that could possibly save hundreds of thousands of newborns each year.

And it turns out, the secret weapon was sitting in Asian kitchens all along: probiotic bacteria that are common in kimchi, pickles and other fermented vegetables.

A few years ago in Zambia, hippos were dropping dead by the dozens. Soon after the hippos fell ill, people started getting sick, too.

Between August and September of 2011, at least 85 hippos died in a game management area along the South Luangwa River near the border with Malawi. It turns out the hippos were the victims of anthrax, the same bacteria used in a series of letter attacks that killed five people in the weeks after Sept. 11. The anthrax outbreaks in hippos and humans in Zambia however, weren't part of some sinister terrorist plot. Instead, they were driven by hunger.

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