Showing: 1 - 10 of 11 RESULTS

Health systems, govt responses linked to virus tolls

BERLIN (AP) — Scientists say a comparison of 21 developed countries during the start of the coronavirus pandemic shows that those with early lockdowns and well-prepared national health systems avoided large numbers of additional deaths due to the outbreak.

In a study published Wednesday by the journal Nature Medicine, researchers used the number of weekly deaths in 19 European countries, New Zealand and Australia over the past decade to estimate how many people would have died from mid-February to May 2020 had the pandemic not happened.

The authors, led by Majid Ezzati of Imperial College London, then compared the predicted number of deaths to the actual reported figure during that period to determine how many likely occurred due to the pandemic. Such models of ‘excess mortality’ are commonly used by public health officials to better understand disease outbreaks and the effectiveness of counter-measures.

The study found there were about 206,000 excess deaths across the 21 countries during the period, a figure that conforms to independent estimates. In Spain, the number of deaths was 38% higher than would have been expected without the pandemic, while in England and Wales it was 37% higher.

Italy, Scotland and Belgium also had significant excess deaths, while in some countries there was no marked change or even — as in the case of Bulgaria — a decrease.


While the authors note that there are differences in the compositions of populations, such as age and the prevalence of pre-existing conditions that contribute to mortality rates, government efforts to suppress transmission of the virus and the ability of national health systems to cope with the pandemic also played a role.

Amitava Banerjee, a professor of clinical data science at University College London who wasn’t involved in the study, said it was well designed and had used standardized methods.

He noted that the comparison between death rates in the United Kingdom and New Zealand, where the age of the population and the rates of pre-existing conditions such as obesity are similar, supports the argument that other factors contributed to the differing mortality figures.

“Even if vaccines and better treatments for severe (COVID-19) infection are developed, the way to minimise excess deaths is to reduce the infection rate through population level measures,” said Banerjee.

These include lockdowns, protecting high risk groups,and establishing effective “test, trace and isolate” systems, he said.

Germany, which like the United States was not among the 21 countries examined in the study, has seen fewer deaths so far in 2020 than in some recent years, according to the head of the country’s disease control agency.

While the reasons for this are complex and may take time to fully understand, a decline in hospital infections and the absence of any reported measles cases in Germany since March indicate that social distancing, mask wearing and hand washing play a role.

“The measures that were introduced because of COVID have further effects, and they’re positive, that much is clear” Lothar Wieler, who heads the Robert Koch Institute, told

Study: Health Systems, Govt Responses Linked to Virus Tolls | World News

BERLIN (AP) — Scientists say a comparison of 21 developed countries during the start of the coronavirus pandemic shows that those with early lockdowns and well-prepared national health systems avoided large numbers of additional deaths due to the outbreak.

In a study published Wednesday by the journal Nature Medicine, researchers used the number of weekly deaths in 19 European countries, New Zealand and Australia over the past decade to estimate how many people would have died from mid-February to May 2020 had the pandemic not happened.

The authors, led by Majid Ezzati of Imperial College London, then compared the predicted number of deaths to the actual reported figure during that period to determine how many likely occurred due to the pandemic. Such models of ‘excess mortality’ are commonly used by public health officials to better understand disease outbreaks and the effectiveness of counter-measures.

The study found there were about 206,000 excess deaths across the 21 countries during the period, a figure that conforms to independent estimates. In Spain, the number of deaths was 38% higher than would have been expected without the pandemic, while in England and Wales it was 37% higher.

Italy, Scotland and Belgium also had significant excess deaths, while in some countries there was no marked change or even — as in the case of Bulgaria — a decrease.

While the authors note that there are differences in the compositions of populations, such as age and the prevalence of pre-existing conditions that contribute to mortality rates, government efforts to suppress transmission of the virus and the ability of national health systems to cope with the pandemic also played a role.

Amitava Banerjee, a professor of clinical data science at University College London who wasn’t involved in the study, said it was well designed and had used standardized methods.

He noted that the comparison between death rates in the United Kingdom and New Zealand, where the age of the population and the rates of pre-existing conditions such as obesity are similar, supports the argument that other factors contributed to the differing mortality figures.

“Even if vaccines and better treatments for severe (COVID-19) infection are developed, the way to minimise excess deaths is to reduce the infection rate through population level measures,” said Banerjee.

These include lockdowns, protecting high risk groups,and establishing effective “test, trace and isolate” systems, he said.

Follow AP’s pandemic coverage at http://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak

Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Source Article

Possible coronavirus outbreak linked to church’s 10-day prayer service

A New Hampshire church’s 10-day indoor prayer service is being linked to a possible COVID-19 outbreak after several people connected to the church tested positive for the coronavirus.

The state’s Department of Health and Human Services said it is investigating the cases at Gate City Church in Nashua, about 40 miles south of Concord.

The church held the multi-day prayer service from Sept. 19 to Sept. 28.

Nashua Public Health Director Bobbie Bagley told local station WMUR that the church required guests to wear face masks when entering and exiting and enforced social distancing but at one point some of the guests removed their masks while inside.

“One of the things that we did learn was during their singing, they took their masks off,” Bagley said. “And we know that when you sing you’re releasing respiratory droplets in the air, so that’s one of the high-risk activities that can occur that can cause exposure in a community.”

The health department said in a press release Wednesday that seven people connected to the church have tested positive for the coronavirus, but Bagley told WMUR that the number of infected is up to nine.

The health department asked that anyone who attended the service get tested for the virus.

The church did not immediately return a request for comment Friday. Pastor Paul Berube released a statement Thursday saying that the church did its best to follow CDC and state guidelines.

“We implemented strict social distancing, physically removing more than half the seats in our facility. We screened our attendees for fever, provided hand sanitizer, required masks when proceeding to or from seats, and posted advisory signs,” the statement read.

“Each and every seat, handrail, and doorknob in our facility was sprayed with disinfectant before and after each meeting. If these infections did occur in our facility, they did so notwithstanding the careful work of our staff, whose efforts likely mitigated even further spread of the infection.”

The church said services will move online for the next few weeks.

Source Article

Coronavirus cases linked to beer fest in North Carolina, attendees urged to get tested

Attendees of a recent beer fest in North Carolina should consider getting tested for COVID-19 after at least two coronavirus cases were connected to the event, according to a local report.

Those who attended “Mecktoberfest” at the Olde Mecklenburg Brewery in Charlotte from Sept. 25 to 27 may have been exposed to the virus, Mecklenburg County Public Health Director Gibbie Harris told county commissioners on Tuesday, the Charlotte Observer reported. 

“There were thousands of people there. Those folks need to be tested,” Harris said, according to the newspaper.

“There were thousands of people there. Those folks need to be tested,” Harris said, according to the newspaper.
(iStock)

The event, Harris said, involved “very few masks” and “very little social distancing.”

“There were thousands of people there. Those folks need to be tested,” Harris said, according to the newspaper.

CORONAVIRUS OUTBREAK AT VERMONT APPLE ORCHARD SICKENS DOZENS OF MIGRANT WORKERS

A video from local news station Fox 46 Charlotte shows a crowded beer garden, with few attendees wearing masks.

THE CORONAVIRUS CAN SURVIVE ON SKIN FOR THIS MANY HOURS, STUDY SUGGESTS

The Olde Mecklenburg Brewery “has always and will continue to work diligently to ensure that we comply with and adhere to all county, state and national health regulations and recommendations,” a spokesman for the establishment told the Charlotte Observer in a statement. He did not directly answer questions related to Harris’ warning, according to the newspaper.

“It is also perhaps the easiest place in town to enjoy a beer or a meal with friends while social distancing,” the spokesman added.

Source Article

Metformin Linked to Reduced Cognitive Decline, Dementia Risk

Older people taking metformin, the first-line treatment for type 2 diabetes, show significantly lower rates of dementia and cognitive decline compared to those with diabetes not receiving the drug, with the former having dementia rates that are, in fact, similar to people without diabetes, new research shows.

“After controlling for dementia risk factors that might promote cognitive aging, metformin appeared to mitigate the effect of diabetes on cognitive decline in older people,” first author Katherine Samaras, MBBS, PhD, told Medscape Medical News.

The findings are notable considering the increased risk of cognitive decline that is associated with diabetes, said Samaras, leader of the Healthy Ageing Research Theme at the Garvan Institute and an endocrinologist at St Vincent’s Hospital, Sydney, Australia.

“As they age, people living with type 2 diabetes have a staggering 60% risk of developing dementia, a devastating condition that impacts thinking, behavior, the ability to perform everyday tasks, and the ability to maintain independence,” she said in a press release issued by her institute.

And the results are particularly remarkable in that “few prior studies have controlled for multiple dementia risk factors, including the dementia susceptibility gene APOE4,” Samaras emphasized. 

As the front-line drug treatment for type 2 diabetes, metformin has been extensively studied and, with some other research also showing cognitive benefits, “these results are not surprising,” Mark E. Molitch, MD, told Medscape Medical News.

Nevertheless, “this reinforces the idea that metformin should be the first drug used to treat diabetes, and it should be continued if other drugs are added for blood glucose control,” said Molitch, of the Division of Endocrinology, Metabolism & Molecular Medicine, at the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago, Illinois.

Significant Differences in Global Cognition, Executive Function 

In the observational, prospective study, published online in Diabetes Care, Samaras and colleagues identified 1037 community-dwelling people without dementia between the ages of 70 and 90 who were enrolled in the Sydney Memory and Ageing Study in Australia.

Among the participants, 123 (12%) had type 2 diabetes, including 67 who were treated with metformin; 34 as a single medication and 33 in combination with other medications, most commonly sulfonylureas (70%).

Of the 56 patients with diabetes who did not receive metformin, 34 were treated with diet alone, while the remainder were treated with other glucose-lowering medications.

There were no significant baseline differences between the groups in cognitive performance at baseline, after a multivariate adjustment. Their mean age was about 79.

All participants received neuropsychological testing for cognitive function every 2 years, including memory, executive function, attention, speed, and language tests.

In terms of cognitive decline over the 6 years, those treated with metformin had a significantly lower decline in global cognition compared to those with diabetes not taking metformin (P = .032), and the rate of decline of metformin-treated participants was not different compared to those without diabetes.

There was also a slower decline in executive function in those treated versus not treated with metformin (P =

Bearded dragons linked to salmonella outbreak across 8 states, CDC says

Heads up, reptile lovers: Pet bearded dragons are linked to a salmonella outbreak across eight states, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently announced.

At least 13 people across eight states — Idaho, Illinois, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Washington — have been sickened by an outbreak of Salmonella Muenster, the CDC said.

At least seven people have been hospitalized as a result, and five people who are sickened are younger than 5 years of age.

At least seven people have been hospitalized as a result, and five people who are sickened are younger than 5 years of age.
(iStock)

At least seven people have been hospitalized as a result, and five people who are sickened are younger than 5 years old.

“Epidemiologic and laboratory evidence shows that contact with pet bearded dragons is the likely source of this outbreak,” the CDC said, noting that 77% of people interviewed said they had “contact with a bearded dragon” before falling ill.

SALMONELLA OUTBREAK SICKENS HUNDREDS, YIELDS WARNING FROM CDC: DON’T ‘KISS OR SNUGGLE’ THESE ANIMALS

“Ill people reported purchasing bearded dragons from pet stores in multiple states. A common supplier has not been identified,” the agency noted, adding, “The outbreak strain making people sick was identified in samples collected from a bearded dragon and its environment from the home of an ill person in Virginia.”

Salmonella is a bacteria that can infect humans when they consume contaminated water or food. However, bearded dragons “can carry Salmonella germs in their droppings even if they look healthy and clean. These germs can easily spread to their bodies, habitats, and anything in the area where they live,” the CDC said.  “You can get sick from touching your bearded dragon or anything in its environment and then touching your mouth or face and swallowing Salmonella germs.”

Symptoms of salmonella usually develop 12 to 72 hours after being exposed to the bacteria, with most people developing diarrhea, fever, and stomach cramps. The illness usually lasts four to seven days and most people recover without treatment.

“In some people, the illness may be so severe that the patient needs to be hospitalized,” according to the CDC. “Salmonella infection may spread from the intestines to the bloodstream and then to other places in the body.”

DRY SKIN AMID THE CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC, WINTER: TIPS TO AVOID MAKING IT WORSE

Federal health officials say that children younger than 5 years of age, pregnant women, adults 65 and older, and people with weakened immune systems are more likely to have a severe illness.

The CDC estimates salmonella causes about 1.35 million infections, 26,500 hospitalizations, and 420 deaths in the U.S. every year.

To prevent salmonella infections, bearded dragon owners should:

  • Wash hands after touching or feeding the reptile 
  • Play safely; “Don’t kiss or snuggle your bearded dragon, or eat or drink around it,” the CDC warns, adding that these animals should be kept out of food preparation areas
  • Keep things cleans; clean the reptile’s tanks, food and water containers and toys — preferably outside 
  • Pick the right pet; bearded dragons and other reptiles “are not recommended for children under

EPA faces decision on chemical linked to brain damage in children

When Claudia Angulo was pregnant with her son, she often felt nauseated and experienced vomiting and headaches. 

She didn’t think much of it, until after she learned her son had Attention Deficit Hyper Disorder and difficulties with language and learning. 

Angulo said she later discovered that a chemical she had been exposed to through her job — which involved taste-testing produce before it was washed — has been associated with health risks including brain damage in children. 

“At the time that I was pregnant, in the company there were like 10 women that were pregnant and of those 10 women, seven of their kids were born with [health] problems,” she told The Hill in an interview conducted in Spanish. 

And they’re not alone. 

Studies have linked prenatal exposure to the chemical, called chlorpyrifos, to neurodevelopmental issues including lower IQ and impaired working memory. 

Chlorpyrifos is used to prevent insects from affecting a variety of crops like berries, citrus fruits, vegetables and nuts. It’s currently banned for most residential uses but is still used in agriculture and there are several ways farmworkers can be exposed to it including through handling and applying it as well as experiencing drift from other nearby farms. 

In 2015, the Obama administration proposed banning its use on food and crops. However, in 2017, then-EPA Administrator Scott PruittEdward (Scott) Scott PruittAnother toxic EPA cookbook Juan Williams: Swamp creature at the White House Science protections must be enforceable MORE reversed course, saying that further study was warranted. 

“We are returning to using sound science in decision-making — rather than predetermined results,” he said at the time.

The EPA now is weighing whether to propose a ban. 

Last week, in assessing risks presented by the chemical, the EPA said that “despite several years of study, the science addressing neurodevelopmental effects remains unresolved.”

Advocates fear that this is a signal that the agency won’t ban the substance.

“It seems to signal that they’re going to not ban it because back in 2016 when they did a different risk assessment and found that there was risk, then they started the process to ban it,” said Iris Figueroa, an attorney with Farmworker Justice, a group currently suing in favor of a ban. 

“It logically follows, although it’s not for certain, the fact that they’re saying the stuff is unresolved means that they’re moving toward a different sort of decision than the one that they took just three years ago,” Figueroa added. 

An EPA spokesperson said in an email on Friday that its forthcoming proposal on what to do about chlorpyrifos “will outline potential risk management options to address any potential risks of concern” that were identified in the risk assessments.

The spokesperson said that the agency “has undertaken considerable efforts to assess the available chlorpyrifos data, providing a detailed discussion of the strengths and uncertainties associated with the epidemiology studies.”

The official particularly pointed to a major study from Columbia University’s Center for Children’s Environmental Health (CCCEH) saying that “although EPA

Report documents ‘very rare’ brain fluid leak linked to COVID-19 screening

Oct. 1 (UPI) — Researchers on Thursday described a “very rare” health complication linked with COVID-19 testing: brain fluid leak.

They documented what may be the first case — in a woman in her 40s — in a letter published by JAMA Otolaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery.

Those who have had sinus or skull-base surgery and those with known deformities of the skull base may be at risk for cerebrospinal fluid leak and should notify test takers of their history before getting screened for COVID-19, the researchers said.

“The good news is that this is a very rare event,” report co-author Dr. Jarrett E. Walsh, an ear, nose and throat specialist with the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, told UPI.

“From a patient standpoint, there may be some discomfort with nasal swabs, but you should not have symptoms of persistent clear nasal drainage or significant bleeding after a swab,” particularly if physicians and healthcare workers follow the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines for sample collection, he said.

During COVID-19 screening, test-takers stick a 6-inch-long swab — what looks like a long Q-Tip — up each nostril, stopping in the cavity between the nose and mouth.

Although people who have had the test complain of some discomfort, rumors that it causes brain damage that were circulating on social media over the summer were unfounded.

Cerebrospinal fluid, or CSF, is the clear fluid found in the brain and spinal cord that serves as a cushion and provides protection to the brain inside the skull.

Physical trauma to the brain or spine can cause leaks. If a patient loses large amounts of the fluid, that can lead to severe complications, including brain infection, paralysis and coma, according to the Spinal CSF Leak Foundation.

Symptoms of such a leak include headaches, neck stiffness and light sensitivity.

In the case reported by Walsh and his colleagues, the woman reported these symptoms, as well as a metallic taste in her mouth and severe runny nose, after undergoing COVID-19 screening.

She had a history of intracranial hypertension — elevated CSF pressure in the brain — and had undergone surgery to remove nasal polyps more than 20 years earlier.

MRI and CT scans confirmed that she had CSF leak and identified a pre-existing skull-base defect. The skull base is essentially the “floor” beneath the brain.

She was admitted to the hospital and underwent surgery to repair the leak and skull-base defect and has since recovered.

“I would certainly not want to discourage anyone from [COVID-19] testing, but it should be done correctly, according to the CDC protocols,” Walsh said.

“Those who have had prior skull base surgery, extensive sinus surgery or [are at risk] for spontaneous CSF leaks, like intracranial hypertension, should alert testers or consider alternative testing types if available.”

Irregular periods linked to a greater risk of an early death

A team of mostly US-based researchers found that women who reported always having irregular menstrual cycles experienced higher mortality rates than women who reported very regular cycles in the same age ranges. The study took into account other potentially influential factors, such as age, weight, lifestyle, contraceptives and family medical history.

The study assessed 79,505 women with no history of cardiovascular disease, cancer or diabetes. The women reported the usual length and regularity of their menstrual cycles at three different points: between the ages of 14 to 17, 18 to 22, and 29 to 46 years. The researchers kept track of their health over a 24-year period.

“This study is a real step forward in closing the data gap that exists in women’s health. It raises many interesting research questions and areas of future study,” Dr. Jacqueline Maybin, a senior research fellow and consultant gynecologist at the University of Edinburgh’s MRC Centre for Reproductive Health, told the Science Media Centre in London.

“These data will encourage future interrogation of menstrual symptoms and pathologies as an indicator of long-term health outcomes and may provide an early opportunity to implement preventative strategies to improve women’s health across the lifespan,” said Maybin, who wasn’t involved in the research.

Irregular and long menstrual cycles have been associated with a higher risk of major chronic diseases including ovarian cancer, coronary heart disease, Type 2 diabetes and mental health problems, the study said.

Fertility apps can be 'misleading' for women, review finds

In particular, the research, which published in the BMJ medical journal Wednesday, found that women who reported that their usual cycle length was 40 days or more at ages 18 to 22 years and 29 to 46 years were more likely to die prematurely — defined as before the age of 70 — than women who reported a usual cycle length of 26 to 31 days in the same age ranges.

The links were strongest for deaths related to cardiovascular disease than for cancer or death from other causes.

The authors were from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Harvard Medical School, Michigan State University and Huazhong University of Science and Technology in Wuhan, China.

No cause for alarm

Experts said that women who experience irregular or long menstrual cycles shouldn’t be alarmed by the findings of the study. Maybin said it’s important to remember that irregular menstruation is likely a symptom, not a diagnosis.

“A specific underlying cause of irregular menstruation may increase the risk of premature death, rather than the irregular bleeding, per se. We already know that women with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), a leading cause of irregular periods, have an increased risk of diabetes, high blood pressure and cancer of the womb. It is important that women with PCOS speak to their doctor to reduce these risks,” she said.

Just say it: Yes, I'm menstruating

The study was observational and can only establish a correlation, not a causal link, between an irregular or long menstrual cycle and premature death. Other unmeasured factors could have influenced the results.

Maybin noted that the participants in

Anxiety, Depression, and Women; Suicide Linked to ADHD

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, women were more likely to report symptoms of anxiety and depression versus men. However, Black and Hispanic women were less likely to receive treatment than white women. (ABC News)

But not surprisingly, stress and depressive symptoms have spiked during the pandemic, with one study linking media consumption to this rise. (ScienceDaily)

Dasotraline, a novel dopamine and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor, was both safe and effective at reducing the number of binge-eating days per week after 12 weeks of treatment. Although the FDA accepted Sunovion’s new drug application for this treatment in July 2019, the company withdrew the application in May 2020 citing a need for more clinical studies. (Journal of Clinical Psychiatry)

A new app aimed at diagnosing autism may soon be a new arrow in pediatricians’ quiver. (Digital Trends)

In similar news, apps aiding in eating disorder recovery have boomed during the COVID-19 pandemic. (Wired)

Janssen is in pursuit of a court order to block Mylan’s generic version of its extended-release injectable schizophrenia treatment paliperidone (Invega Trinza). (Bloomberg Law)

States with a higher rate of firearm ownership had an increased risk of adolescent firearm suicide, as well as a near 7% increased risk in all-cause suicide. (Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry)

Young adults with ADHD were more likely to attempt suicide than those without, a new study found. And this was particularly true among women. (Journal of Clinical Psychiatry)

  • author['full_name']

    Kristen Monaco is a staff writer, focusing on endocrinology, psychiatry, and dermatology news. Based out of the New York City office, she’s worked at the company for nearly five years.

Source Article