Workers wear protective gear at a Monrovia, Liberia, hospital handling Ebola cases in September.
Workers wear protective gear at a Monrovia, Liberia, hospital handling Ebola cases in September.
PHOTO: Dominique Faget/AFP/Getty

Story highlights

New inhalable Ebola vaccine shows success in protecting primates

Lyme disease spreads in outward direction in parts of the U.S., CDC report says

Funeral directors may be at increased risk of ALS due to formaldehyde exposure

(CNN) —  

Here’s the fascinating research we’re watching from around the world. CNN Health & Wellness has gauged these studies’ impact on our health:

Ebola vaccine shows success in protecting monkeys

A needle-free vaccine has proven to protect monkeys against the Ebola virus. According to The Journal of Clinical Investigation, researchers successfully vaccinated monkeys against the Zaire ebolavirus, responsible for the current outbreak in West Africa. It is the first published test of aerosol delivery for an Ebola vaccine, which uses a nebulizer to change liquid into a mist that’s inhaled into the lungs. While the vaccine was effective in protecting primates against Ebola, there’s no guarantee it will work as well in humans.

The next step? A clinical trial in humans, according to the study’s authors. Since training isn’t necessary for administering an inhaled vaccine, a successful version would be especially useful in remote areas that lack adequate health systems.

Lyme disease spreading in U.S.

Pop star Avril Lavigne isn’t the only person battling Lyme disease. This infection, which develops from a tick bite containing the bacteria Borrelia burgdorferi, is spreading across the Northeastern, mid-Atlantic and north-central United States, according to a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Looking at cases of Lyme disease from 1993 to 2012, researchers found the tick-borne illness is expanding geographically at a consistent rate in all directions outward. The exact cause of the expanding human infections isn’t known but might be due to changing weather patterns and the migration of birds or deer, which can unknowingly carry infected ticks.

Should you be worried? “Ticks love forests. If you live near forested areas or wildlife, you’re at an increased risk. Places like Manhattan – not so much,” said lead study author and CDC epidemiologist Kiersten Kugeler.

Here are four simple steps to beat tick bites from happening: Use repellent with DEET outdoors, check your body daily, shower after spending time outside and seek health care if you develop a fever.

Why young women light up

While pack-a-day smokers have been on the decline since the 1960s, light smoking is still popular among young adult women. A new report from the CDC’s Preventing Chronic Disease says that almost a fifth of nearly 10,000 women ages 18 to 25 surveyed were very light smokers. These women – who smoked no more than five cigarettes a day – were also more likely than other surveyed female smokers to be young, unmarried, part of a minority group and have some form of college education.

While the study said young women were aware of the health dangers of smoking, factors such as the high cost of cigarettes and weekend partying in college also were shown to influence light smoking.

Wildfires are also bad for your heart

Homes aren’t the only things to which wildfires pose a threat. You also need to be concerned about your heart, says a report in the Journal of the American Heart Association. While respiratory problems were a result of wildfire exposure previously, new research shows a nearly 7% increased risk for cardiac arrest after pollutant exposure.

Researchers in Australia conducted the study between December 2006 and January 2007 when wildfire smoke reached cities far from any blazes and air pollution levels exceeded recommended limits. As wildfires continue to wreak havoc on the U.S. West Coast and in other parts of the world, the study’s authors suggest watching pollution levels if you’re near fires.

Funeral directors may be at increased risk of ALS

Funeral directors are three times more likely to die from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS, than other types of workers, according to a recent study. Harvard researchers uncovered a link between occupational exposure to the preserving chemical formaldehyde and ALS, a progressive neurodegenerative disease.

Previous research has attributed formaldehyde to nerve damage, which is responsible for ALS symptoms. Those findings led researchers to compare deaths from ALS across different occupations that expose people to formaldehyde.

According to the new study, funeral directors are more susceptible because they’re exposed frequently to intense amounts of formaldehyde when preparing bodies for burial. Male funeral directors also died from ALS much more often than female funeral directors, researchers found. They believe this gender difference might be due to the fact that women funeral directors “are more likely to interact with bereaved clients and less likely to perform embalming,” the study said.