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July 14, 2014

Last week, Aaron Carroll did a video on the "number needed to treat," a measurement of how many people need to receive a particular therapy in order for one of them to actually receive the benefit. Turns out that number is much higher than one might expect — meaning many treatments are less effective than is popularly supposed.

Now Dr. Carroll looks at the other side of the coin, the "number needed to harm," or NNH. This is a measurement of how many people need to receive a particular therapy in order for one of them to suffer one of the negative side effects. It turns out for many treatments, this number is much lower than you might expect. Ouch.

The good news is that these two numbers make it a lot easier to understand that in many cases, simple bed rest and a painkiller are the most sensible option. --Ryan Cooper

3:32 p.m. ET

An ultra-rare "werewolf cat" is believed to have been discovered by an animal rescue group in South Africa, ABC News reports. Dubbed Eyona, meaning "the one," the tiny kitten is thought to belong to the rare Lykoi breed — a natural mutation that occurs in domestic shorthair cats and makes them "resemble a werewolf."

Since 2011, there have only been 34 known natural Lykoi mutations in the world; Eyona would be the 35th. At this point, there is no DNA test available to confirm he is indeed a Lykoi, although tests have ruled him out of being similar breeds, like a Devon Rex or a Sphinx.

Veterinarian Johnny Gobble and his wife, Brittney, of Sweetwater, Tennessee, established the Lykoi breed and from photos, they think Eyona is one of the rare natural occurrences. "From the photos and the descriptions I have received, I think Eyona is a natural occurring Lykoi. All the Lykoi that started the breed occurred naturally. They came from shelters, off the streets, and rescues. That is why we call them the second chance breed. We have no genetic test for the Lykoi gene yet, but we have a genetic group working on it," Gobble said.

Lykois can cost $1,950, but the shelter says their main focus now is finding Eyona a loving home. Learn more about the strange little guy, below. Jeva Lange

3:04 p.m. ET
FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images

Sen. Bernie Sanders' request Tuesday for a recanvass of the results from the Kentucky Democratic presidential primary is apparently proof that he really is going to fight for every last vote he can get. Though results show a nail-bitingly close race between Sanders and Hillary Clinton, with Sanders losing by less than one-half of 1 percent of the vote, the review of voting tallies from each of Kentucky's 120 counties that Sanders' campaign has requested isn't likely to change the results much at all. The recanvass, which is different from a recount, is merely a review of voting tallies from voting machines and absentee ballots.

Both Sanders and Clinton have already won 27 delegates each from the primary contest. The only thing still up for grabs is one delegate, from the state's sixth congressional district. If the recanvass finds Sanders won that district, then he could win that last remaining delegate. However, current tallies show Clinton leading by about 500 votes in that district.

That one extra delegate is the best-case scenario for Sanders. If he isn't found to win the sixth district, but the recanvass wins him enough votes elsewhere to tip the state as a whole his way, then he'll still walk away from the recanvass in the exact same place he started: 766 delegates behind Clinton. Becca Stanek

2:51 p.m. ET
J.D. Pooley/Getyy Images

Researchers studying the spread of disease can have a difficult time getting reliable information about how populations of people travel between locations. Thankfully, said populations do tend to wander around with tiny electronic transmitters in their pockets. In other words, by tapping into cell phone records, researchers are at last beginning to explore how to make more accurate epidemic models in anticipation of when the next big disease outbreak hits.

Flavio Finger of the École Polytechnique Fédérale Lausanne in Switzerland put the cell phone data to the test in Senegal, Discover reports. Finger used records kept by the country's main service provider, which charts what tower a user's phone connects to when a call or text is sent, and when. Relying on that data, Finger was able to successfully chart the flow of religious pilgrims during a 2005 cholera outbreak:

Armed with the mobile phone records that showed the pilgrims’ routes home in 2013, the model reproduced the real-world spread of the cholera epidemic to ten of the country’s eleven arrondissements with returning pilgrims in 2005.

And according to the model, if authorities had managed to reduce contamination in Touba by just 10 percent during the 2005 Touba, they could have reduced the number of cholera cases by 23 percent in Diourbel and 18 percent across Senegal. [Discover]

Finger and his team are already at work on putting together a version of the model that could be rolled out quickly at the start of an outbreak. Jeva Lange

1:37 p.m. ET
Matt Rourke-Pool/Getty Images

Bill Cosby will go to trial over a sexual assault case dating back to 2004, a judge ruled Tuesday in a preliminary hearing. Cosby's team had argued that the case was based on hearsay and shouldn't be tried, but the judge ruled that there is enough evidence for the case to go to trial. The 78-year-old comedian faces three counts of felony indecent assault against Andrea Constand, an employee at his alma mater, Temple University. Constand was the first of more than 50 women to come forward and accuse Cosby of sexual assault over several decades of his career.

Cosby is due back for arraignment on July 20, when a trial date will be set. If convicted, he faces up to 10 years in prison. Becca Stanek

12:55 p.m. ET
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Late BMX legend Dave Mirra has become the first action sports athlete to be diagnosed with chronic traumatic encephalopathy, ESPN reports. The neurodegenerative brain disease, commonly known as CTE, is linked to dementia and depression and is thought to be caused by repeated trauma to the head.

Mirra died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound on Feb. 4, and his wife Lauren told ESPN that in the months and weeks leading up to his death, he "wasn't himself," becoming oddly distant or wildly emotional. "When I looked at him, I could see straight through him," she said. "He was lost, he was helpless."

Mirra's brain was examined by University of Toronto neuropathologist Dr. Lili-Naz Hazrati, who said there was evidence of abnormal tau protein deposits, the trademark indicator of CTE. In his BMX career, Mirra endured several concussions, and in addition to a fractured skull sustained at 19 in a car accident, he briefly tried boxing after he retired from biking. Hazrati said Mirra's brain was indistinguishable from those of CTE-diagnosed former hockey and football players. "The key is brain injury," Hazrati told ESPN. "Regardless of how you get it … you are at risk for this."

Lauren Mirra received her late husband's diagnosis in March, but her interview with ESPN published Tuesday is the first time she's spoken publicly on the subject. Read the whole thing here. Kimberly Alters

12:33 p.m. ET
Igo Estrela/Getty Images

Romera Jucá, the interim planning minister of Brazil, has stepped down in disgrace less than two weeks after taking office. The reason? Leaked recordings apparently show him plotting to remove President Dilma Rousseff from office in order to end the investigation into the "Car Wash" corruption scandal, Folha de São Paulo reports. The scandal involves alleged money laundering and kickbacks at Petrobras, the state-owned oil company, and in the recording Jucá speaks with former oil executive Sergio Machado. Both men are targets of the investigation.

Rousseff has been suspended from the presidency since May 12, when impeachment proceedings against her were initiated over a different scandal involving alleged manipulation of government accounts. Seven of the 24 people interim President Michel Temer appointed to his cabinet are subjects of the Car Wash investigation, and Temer himself was recently fined for violating campaign finance rules.

In the recordings, Jucá speaks of a "national pact," apparently involving both the military (which has surrounded Rousseff's house) and several members of Brazil's Supreme Court, which he says will quash the investigation as soon as she is removed from office. Ryan Cooper

12:27 p.m. ET
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Dave Eggers, Stephen King, Michael Chabon, Cheryl Strayed, Amy Tan, Stephen Elliott, and Jonathan Lethem are among hundreds of novelists, poets, and essayists to have signed a scathing "open letter to the American people" opposing the candidacy of Donald Trump.

"As writers, we are particularly aware of the many ways that language can be abused in the name of power," the letter begins, going on to list numerous objections to Trump. "Knowledge, experience, flexibility, and historical awareness are indispensable in a leader," the letter reads, while "the history of dictatorship is the history of manipulation and diversion, demagoguery and lies."

The letter has received more than 450 signatures and is calling for more:

So far the list includes 10 Pulitzer Prize winners as well as dozens of other award-winning authors. See the full list of signatories at LitHub. Jeva Lange

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