CDC Says Monkeypox Is Unlikely To Be Eradicated Anytime Soon

According to a report published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, domestic transmission of the monkeypox virus is unlikely to be eliminated anytime soon.

The CDC said the virus’s spread has slowed but is likely to continue for years. In August, daily infections peaked at more than 400 cases a day. Now the agency reports fewer than 150 cases a day.

The decline in cases is due to vaccines becoming more accessible and the public becoming more knowledgeable about how to avoid infection. Immunity has also likely increased within the most impacted group, which is men who have sex with other men.

The disease is spread between people during close contact, most commonly through sex. Monkeypox is usually not fatal, but it causes those infected to get painful blisters all over their body. At least two people have died from the disease.

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Lori Tremmel Freeman, chief executive officer of the National Association of County and City Health officials, told CNN that people with compromised immune systems should be most cautious.

“These few deaths – whether or not they’re fully attributable to monkeypox or people died with monkeypox – they likely wouldn’t have died if they didn’t have some of these underlying conditions or their bodies weren’t already compromised.”

We currently have the most monkeypox cases worldwide, with more than 24,000 cases reported across 50 states. The Biden administration declared a public health emergency earlier this August when cases were highest. The declaration helped allocate more resources to testing, vaccinations, treatment and community outreach to stop the spread of the virus within the U.S.

The Jynneos monkeypox vaccine has been administered to more than 684,000 people. The CDC believes the virus will continue to spread mainly among men who have sex with other men, but anyone can catch the virus through close contact with someone infected. So far, 29 children and 408 women have also caught the virus.

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Within the reported cases, 75% of patients reported having male-to-male contact, but that number has decreased over time. The CDC says the decline may be due to missing data rather than a change in the transmission pattern of the virus. However, more than 90% of infections are still among males.

The outbreak could start spreading among the U.S. population through other forms of contact, but no country with infected populations has found a significant spread outside men who have sex with other men.

Marc Lipsitch, director of science in the CDC disease forecasting center, told The Associated Press that the disease is still a continuing threat.

“It’s in many geographic locations within the country. There’s no clear path in our mind to complete elimination domestically.”

The virus is endemic in parts of West and Central Africa and was mainly transmitted through contact with infected animals until May. If the U.S. animal population gets infected, it could also spread quickly among people in the future. The CDC is still learning which species of animals can get monkeypox.

The agency cannot predict the number of people who may get infected with the virus. However, it believes the number of cases will continue to decline over the next several months.


Half Of America Will Be Obese Within The Next Decade, Study Says

America needs to collectively begin eating a lot healthier if it wants to avoid half of the country becoming obese within the next decade. According to a recent study published by the New England Journal of Medicine, over half of the nation will be obese by 2030 if a major change in lifestyle isn’t universally adopted. 

The study analyzed data from over six million American adults and their standing BMI, or body mass index. Your BMI is your weight in relation to your age and height and how it relates to others in your same demographic. The study’s results reported that 25% of Americans will be deemed as “severely obese” within the next decade, meaning they’ll have a BMI of 35, which roughly translates to being over 100 pounds over the average weight of your age group. The studies head authors are mainly concerned with the “severely obese” data as opposed to the projections for standard obesity, which is a lot more manageable. 

“What’s even more concerning is the rise in severe obesity. Nationally, severe obesity — typically over 100 pounds of excess weight — will become the most common BMI category, prevalence will be higher than 25% in 25 states. Currently, only 18% of all Americans are severely obese. If the trend continues, severe obesity would become as prevalent as overall obesity was in the 1990s.” said lead author Zachary Ward, an analyst at Harvard Chan School’s Center for Health Decision Science.

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Throughout the past fifty years, a major shift happened in America. Fast food products, processed and artificial foods and beverages grew in popularity, and cheapened in price. Class dynamics shifted, leaving the lower class to fend for themselves in regards to food. Why spend $50 on a day’s worth of groceries when you can buy all three meals for less than $20 at McDonalds? Additionally, sources for exercise and wellness, such as gym memberships or yoga classes, became more elitist and the price point matched, making it nearly impossible for someone making minimum wage to live a healthy and active life, even if they wanted to. So what’s the solution to a problem that has only gotten progressively worse?

“There’s no rosy picture here, but I don’t think we can throw in the towel. It will probably take lots of federal, state and local policy interventions and regulations to have a big impact. We can’t rely on individual behavior change in an environment that is so obesity promoting,” said Aviva Must, chair of Tufts University’s Public Health and Community Medicine, to CNN.

One solution, provided by the study, is to let public schools remain open on the weekends and during the summer to give the public access to their gyms and swimming pools. School grounds can act as a sort of community center, as a cheap way to keep the members of the community active and engaged without hurting their wallet.  

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Additionally, in regards to the school system, more schools should have access to healthier and more sustainable lunch options for the kids, and all vending machines should offer healthier options over processed chips and candy. These are obviously solutions that would require real systematic policies to be put in place, however, that change can start with you at the local level. Showing up to school budget meetings that are open for the parents and members of the community are important for raising your concerns and having your voice heard. 

According to a study done by researchers with Health Affairs, there are three major systematic interventions that have proven in the past to be successful at reducing the growing obesity rate in America. The first change is the elimination of the tax deduction that some businesses receive when they create advertisements for unhealthy food options. Basically, these businesses can write off their ads on their taxes, so it’s like they spend next to nothing on increased advertisements for these processed products.

Improving school snack nutritional standards is the next change, which again has also been slowly implemented in America’s school systems. After Michelle Obama’s policies regarding healthier food options in America’s schools, a real impact was made, and now it’s more a matter of keeping that momentum going. The final suggestion is imposing an excise tax on sugary drinks specifically. The study found that “the [sugary drink] tax saved $30 in health care costs for every dollar spent on the program.”

“If Americans could just keep their current weight instead of gaining, the trends could be reversed. It’s really hard to lose weight. It’s really hard to treat obesity. So prevention really has to be at the forefront of efforts to combat this growing epidemic,” Ward said.