Richard Knox

Since he joined NPR in 2000, Knox has covered a broad range of issues and events in public health, medicine, and science. His reports can be heard on NPR's Morning Edition, All Things Considered, Weekend Edition, Talk of the Nation, and newscasts.

Among other things, Knox's NPR reports have examined the impact of HIV/AIDS in Africa, North America, and the Caribbean; anthrax terrorism; smallpox and other bioterrorism preparedness issues; the rising cost of medical care; early detection of lung cancer; community caregiving; music and the brain; and the SARS epidemic.

Before joining NPR, Knox covered medicine and health for The Boston Globe. His award-winning 1995 articles on medical errors are considered landmarks in the national movement to prevent medical mistakes. Knox is a graduate of the University of Illinois and Columbia University. He has held yearlong fellowships at Stanford and Harvard Universities, and is the author of a 1993 book on Germany's health care system.

He and his wife Jean, an editor, live in Boston. They have two daughters.

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4:58am

Wed October 24, 2012
Shots - Health News

Meningitis From Tainted Drugs Puts Patients, Doctors In Quandary

Originally published on Wed October 24, 2012 10:58 am

Matthew Spencer receives intravenous infusions of a potent antifungal drug at home twice a day for an indefinite period to treat a suspected case of fungal infection linked to a contaminated steroid drug that came from New England Compounding Center in Massachusetts.
Richard Knox NPR

Two weeks after Matthew Spencer got a spinal injection for his chronic back pain, he felt "not quite right." Nothing too specific: worsening headache, nausea.

Then he saw a TV report on a recall of contaminated steroid medication used for back pain.

"I thought, well, I don't know if I had that medicine or not, but maybe I'd better go check it out," Spencer says.

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7:03am

Sat October 20, 2012
Shots - Health News

CDC: Meningitis Mold In Tainted Drug Can Incubate For Months

Originally published on Mon October 22, 2012 12:38 pm

Federal agents investigate the offices of the New England Compounding Center in Framingham, Mass., on Tuesday. The company's steroid medication has been linked to a deadly meningitis outbreak.
Barry Chin AP

As the caseload of fungal meningitis linked to a tainted steroid drug climbs, experts are learning more about this human-made epidemic. The signs indicate that cases could still be emerging until Thanksgiving or beyond.

The latest count is 268 cases of meningitis and three patients with fungal joint infections, spread across 16 states from New Hampshire to Texas and Idaho to Florida. Twenty-one people have died.

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12:29pm

Thu October 18, 2012
Shots - Health News

Old Drug Gets A Second Look For TB Fight

Originally published on Thu October 18, 2012 1:04 pm

Under the microscope, Mycobacterium tuberculosis bacteria. The germs that cause TB have become resistant to many drugs.
Janice Haney Carr CDC

A small study offers a bit of cautious optimism about the prospects for treatment of tuberculosis, one of humankind's most ancient scourges.

This week's New England Journal of Medicine has a report showing that adding a 12-year-old antibiotic called linezolid, brand name Zyvox, to existing treatments cured nearly 90 percent of patients with a form of tuberculosis resistant to both first- and second-line antibiotics.

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6:33pm

Fri October 5, 2012
Shots - Health Blog

Meningitis Outbreak Update: List Of Hospitals Released

The government has named 75 medical facilities that received a potentially contaminated drug suspected of infecting 47 patients with meningitis nationwide.

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5:27pm

Fri October 5, 2012
Shots - Health Blog

Arabian Coronavirus: Plot Thickens But Virus Lies Low

Different types of coronaviruses can cause a simple cold or a deadly respiratory illness, such as SARS.
BSIP UIG via Getty Images

It now appears that the new coronavirus found on the Arabian Peninsula is more widespread than initially thought, even though only two people are known to have gotten sick from it.

At first it seemed likely that the two known cases of illness from the new cousin-of-SARS virus may have been exposed in or near the Saudi Arabian city of Jeddah on the Red Sea coast.

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3:32am

Wed October 3, 2012
Shots - Health Blog

When New Diseases Emerge, Experts Are Faster On The Uptake

Originally published on Wed October 3, 2012 12:37 pm

A railway worker wearing protective clothing to ward off the SARS virus controls a line of travelers as they wait to enter Beijing's West Railway Station Tuesday in 2003.
Greg Baker AP

Scientists have recently discovered three new human viruses.

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5:35pm

Tue October 2, 2012
Shots - Health Blog

Vitamin D No Help For Colds

Originally published on Thu October 4, 2012 9:53 am

Sorry the vitamin D didn't help.
Michael Kemter iStockphoto.com

Should you take Vitamin D supplements to prevent colds and shorten the misery?

Like other theories about the benefits of vitamin D, it seems like a reasonably good idea. After all, some lab studies suggest vitamin D might enhance immunity. And as everybody knows, people are more prone to respiratory infections during winter, when they cover up and get less vitamin D-generating sunlight.

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5:56pm

Thu September 27, 2012
Shots - Health Blog

Disease Detectives Catch Deadly African Virus Just As It Emerges

New viruses are popping up all over these days – Heartland virus in Missouri last month, a new virus in the same family as SARS in Saudi Arabia this month. And now, a never-before-seen hemorrhagic fever virus in central Africa.

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4:43pm

Tue September 25, 2012
Shots - Health Blog

Mini-Counseling Sessions Can Curb Problem Drinking

Originally published on Tue September 25, 2012 10:10 pm

Just 10 to 15 minutes of counseling from primary care doctors can reduce the risk of "risky" drinking, a federal task force says.
iStockphoto.com

Brief counseling from primary care doctors reduces "risky" drinking, defined as having more than four drinks a day for men, three for women, a federal task force says.

About one in three Americans misuse alcohol, the panel says, with the vast majority falling in the "risky" category.

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5:54pm

Mon September 24, 2012
Shots - Health Blog

Scientists Parse Genes Of Breast Cancer's Four Major Types

Originally published on Wed November 28, 2012 10:46 am

Scientists say a new report in the journal Nature provides a big leap in the understanding of how different types of breast cancer differ.
iStockphoto.com

Scientists have known for a while that breast cancer is really four different diseases, with subtypes among them, an insight that has helped improve treatment for some women.

But experts haven't understood much about how these four types differ. A new report, published online in the journal Nature, provides a big leap in that understanding.

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