Health Highlights: Jan. 8, 2019

Here are some of the latest health and medical news developments, compiled by the editors of HealthDay:

Airliner Crashes, Deaths Rose in 2018

Even though there was a sharp rise in the number of people killed in airliner crashes in 2018, it was still one of the safest years on record, aviation experts say.

There were 15 fatal airliner crashes in 2018, resulting in 556 deaths, compared with 10 crashes and 44 deaths in 2017, which was the safest year in aviation history, CNN reported.

The figures come from reports from the Dutch aviation consultancy To70 and the Netherlands-based Aviation Safety Network (ASN).

Of the crashes last year, 12 involved passenger flights and three were cargo flights, according to the ASN report. It said three of the 15 planes were operated by airlines on the European Union “blacklist.”

Despite the increase in deaths between 2017 and 2018, there has been a significant improvement in overall aviation safety, ASN Chief Executive Harro Ranter told CNN.

“If the accident rate had remained the same as 10 years ago, there would have been 39 fatal accidents last year,” he said. “This shows the enormous progress in terms of safety in the past two decades.”


‘Sonic Attacks’ on U.S. Embassy Staff in Cuba May Have Been Crickets

Crickets could be the cause of what’s been called sonic attacks on U.S. diplomats and their families in Cuba, according to scientists who analyzed an audio sample of the bizarre noises reported in 2016 and 2017.

The sample was obtained and released by the Associated Press in late 2017, but U.S. officials have not been able to pinpoint the source of the piercing noise that led to symptoms such as dizziness, vertigo and pain and ringing in the ears, CNN reported.

U.S. Department of State officials have said it may have been “acoustic attack” by sonic devices, but Cuban officials have denied any attack.

The noise could the echoing call of the Indies short-tailed cricket, according to an analysis of the AP recording. The findings were released Jan. 4 by an American and British scientist, CNN reported.

While the sound on that recording is from crickets, the finding does not rule out the “the possibility that embassy personnel were victims of another form of attack,” according to Fernando Montealegre-Zapata, professor of sensory biology, University of Lincoln, U.K., and Alexander Stubbs, University of California, Berkeley.

They also said the finding does not exclude the possibility that the symptoms suffered by the diplomats and their families were psychosomatic, CNN reported.

Posted: January 2019

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