By Andrea Pyka

Autism continues to grow in California – Jan. 7 – According to researchers from the state’s Department of Public Health, the rate of autism in children dramatically increased from 1995 to 2007. During the 12-year period, researchers discovered that thimerosal, a mercury-based vaccine that was removed from childhood vaccinations in 2001, was no longer linked to the increase in autism.

Parrot Fever bacterium decreases bird sales – Jan. 5 – 775 PetSmart stores in 44 states stopped selling birds in December, after 23 cockatiels, a form of parrot, tested positive for Psittacosis. The bacterial infection is commonly referred to as Parrot Fever, which can spread from bird to bird and is also contagious to humans.

A new form of “Viagra” for women – Jan. 1 – The University of Virginia is currently testing a new drug called LibiGel, similar to the male equivalency drug, Viagra. LibiGel is a testosterone-based ointment intended to help increase a woman’s sexual drive.

New law for raw milk – Dec. 28 – A law was created to help set new standards for raw milk sold in supermarkets. The law went into effect on Jan. 1 and requires that raw milk contain no more than 10 coliforms, a form of bacteria, per millimeter. Raw milk does not undergo pasteurization, a process in which milk is heated, killing bacteria that is otherwise alive in raw milk.

UCSC receives $4.5 million for stem cell research – Dec. 13 – Faculty at UCSC received a five-year, $4.5 million grant from the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM). The money will help fund the research of Bin Chen, an assistant professor of molecular, cell, and developmental biology at UCSC.

UCSC joins new Science Education Alliance – Dec. 12 – UCSC was recently selected to become one of 12 inaugural members of the Science Education Alliance (SEA), a program that aims to enhance teaching science in the classroom.

_For more news on Health and Science, keep reading each week’s issue for new updates from around the nation._