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Vital Signs: More Mainers lack health insurance

The share of Mainers without health insurance rose from 2012 to 2013, making the state one of just two nationally to record an increase, new U.S. Census data show. Experts debated the reasons for the increase, but one analyst said the state’s decision to limit MaineCare eligibility may have contributed. Maine residents also may have […]

Vital Signs: Monthly shot prevents high from opiates

Men and women climbing out of the dark hole of opiate addiction are turning to a new hope for recovery: A monthly injection that prevents them from getting high. The shot, a medication called naltrexone — known by the brand name Vivitrol — blocks the brain’s opioid receptors, thwarting the euphoric effects of heroin and prescription […]

Hand, foot and mouth disease: Does your kid have it?

hand washing

If you’ve got a kid in daycare, you’re probably hearing a lot about hand, foot and mouth disease. The highly contagious summertime virus is making the rounds, cropping up where little ones congregate and share their germs more readily than their toys. (Not to be confused with foot-and-mouth or hoof-and-mouth disease, which affects cattle, sheep, and pigs. […]

Vital Signs: Maine records spike in tick-borne diseases

Many Mainers know about Lyme disease. But the deer tick that spreads the increasingly prevalent infection can also harbor several other diseases in its tiny eight-legged body. Maine has confirmed 103 cases of the bacterial infection anaplasmosis this year, already exceeding the 94 cases recorded in all of 2013. Anaplasmosis can lead to similar long-term effects as Lyme disease without a proper […]

Vital Signs: EMHS in talks to add Ellsworth hospital

Eastern Maine Healthcare Systems is again expanding its footprint, less than a year after adding Portland’s Mercy Health System of Maine to its collection of hospitals. Now, the Brewer-based health system is in talks to bring Maine Coast Memorial Hospital into the fold, a move that would mark the end of the Ellsworth hospital’s nearly 60 years […]

Don’t panic about Ebola patients stopping in Bangor

Plane carrying second ebola patient refuels at Bangor International Airport.

A second American aid worker who contracted the Ebola virus in West Africa landed at Bangor International Airport this morning, aboard a medical transport plane stopping to refuel.  Missionary Nancy Writebol, 59, the expected passenger, was on her way from Liberia to be treated by infectious disease specialists in a special isolation unit at Emory University Hospital […]

Vital Signs: 10 years of tracking prescription pills

Maine’s prescription monitoring program turns 10 years old this month. Upon its founding in July 2004, Maine envisioned the potential to identify patients who “doctor shop” — visiting multiple medical practices to score narcotics and other drugs — and prevent the diversion and abuse of painkillers. After a decade of monitoring in Maine, the program still has […]