Everybody hates heat waves. We hate them so much, in fact, that heat waves have a measurable detrimental impact on our society.

For starters, tempers tend to flare during heat waves. People become more aggressive and violent. As a result, crime increases as well. In general, people feel miserable and take their frustrations out on others.

Given these observations, it seems natural to wonder if people who suffer from mental illness have a more difficult time during heat waves. So a team of British researchers analyzed the literature and published a systematic review of the topic in the journal Public Health....

Unless they're eradicated smallpox-style, infectious diseases never disappear. Like an unlucky penny, they can show up at any time.

The reason is because most microbes can survive elsewhere, either in the environment or other animals or both, a concept known as a "reservoir." That is why prevention is the key to public health. And prevention is achieved primarily through practices such as vaccination, water chlorination, pasteurization, sanitation, and good personal hygiene (as well as common sense). If we take away any one of these practices, we can expect relatively rare infectious diseases to come back. Three stories serve to underscore this crucial lesson.

Rabies in Seattle

Recently, a bat was lying on the ground on the University of Washington...

I once asked a Seattle businessman what he thought of consultants. "They borrow your watch to tell you what time it is," he said coldly.

That's not an uncommon sentiment. Despite that, management consulting is roughly a $140-billion industry globally. And McKinsey is widely considered the gold standard. People who work for McKinsey receive a golden ticket to top jobs at nearly any firm in the world.

Given its reputation, one would expect that its reports are smart and insightful. But a recent analysis from McKinsey on homelessness in Seattle is jaw-dropping in its naivete and lack of sophistication.

McKinsey Concludes that Wealth...

A new CDC report says that, in 2017, there were 9,093 new cases of tuberculosis in the United States.

Like most other infectious diseases, tuberculosis never "went away." It's still with us, but it's mostly under control in developed countries. Elsewhere, it's a different story. According to the World Health Organization, tuberculosis is the #9 leading cause of death worldwide, killing an estimated 1.3 million people in 2016. That's worse than HIV/AIDS.

Tuberculosis has a very strange history, detailed nicely by Michael Barrett in an essay for Aeon. Because tuberculosis destroys the lungs...

For the vast majority of people who live in the developed world, infectious disease is an afterthought.

Sure, we still catch colds and (if we're old or immunocompromised) can die of influenza, pneumonia, or food poisoning. Antibiotic resistance is scary -- and directly responsible for about 23,000 deaths in the U.S. each year -- but it hasn't quite become the apocalypse we all feared. In general, the microbial world is just not something the average person has to think about very much.

That luxury of modern life is due to the strong defense provided by the "pillars" of our public health system. According to Dr. Michael Osterholm, these...

Homelessness has surged in some U.S. cities. According to the Wall Street Journal, from 2010 to 2015, homelessness increased 42% in New York City and 12% in Seattle.

A November 2015 report (PDF) by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) ranked the top 10 large cities and top 10 small cities by their homeless populations. These counts were conducted on a single night in January.

As shown, the top three large cities (or geographic areas) with the biggest...