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dengue fever

Public Health Emergency Declared In Puerto Rico Over Dengue Fever Outbreak

Puerto Rico’s hot and humid climate makes dengue fever an ongoing risk for its citizens. This year, however, “cases have exceeded historical figures,” according to Puerto Rico Health Secretary Carlos Mellado. 

Mellado has officially called a public health emergency this week as a means of decreasing the current rise in dengue fever cases. The declaration will help guarantee Puerto Rico has access to the resources they need in order to combat the current outbreak. The declaration is currently set to last for 90 days, and will be renewed if necessary. 

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Besides just Puerto Rico, Brazil, Peru, and other Latin American countries have also declared a state of emergency over dengue fever. 

The Puerto Rico Department of Health stated that they first noticed an increase in dengue fever cases at the end of 2023, according to NBC News. By the third week of January, there had been 146 cases reported, and the rates kept increasing. 

As of March 10th, there have been about 550 dengue fever cases reported in Puerto Rico since the beginning of the year. According to the Health Department, most of the cases are in the capital of San Juan. 

62% of patients have been hospitalized, according to reports, and only 29 cases have been considered severe so far. 

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Dengue fever is a mosquito-borne disease in which the most common symptom is fever, as well as serious headaches, nausea, vomiting, rash, and body pain, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The CDC also stated that most dengue fever patients recover in a week, but severe cases can be life-threatening and require hospitalization, as it can lead to shock, internal bleeding, and death. Individuals who have experienced dengue fever in the past are more likely to develop severe symptoms. 

The CDC, the Puerto Rico Health Department, and other local agencies are working together to implement a dengue fever prevention and control plan. The plan involves eliminating and cleaning up areas of stagnant water where mosquitoes breed. 

The plan also involved urging the public to use mosquito repellents and wire mesh panels to keep mosquitos out of their home. 

In a statement Monday, Mellado said “that all parts of Puerto Rican society must join forces to prevent contagion and the spread of this virus.”

measles

Ten Cases of Measles Confirmed in Florida Elementary School Outbreak

On Tuesday, the Broward County schools superintendent announced that seven children at Manatee Bay Elementary in Weston, Florida, have tested positive for measles. According to the Florida Department of Health, ten cases have been reported statewide.

Lawmakers and health officials are urging parents and state officials nationwide to take extra precautions to safeguard their children.

In a letter last week, Florida Surgeon General Dr. Joseph Ladapo said the health department is “deferring to parents or guardians to make decisions about school attendance.” The letter also stated that “up to 90% of individuals without immunity will contract measles if exposed.” However, “Individuals with a history of prior infection or vaccination who have received the full series of the Measles, Mumps, Rubella (MMR) immunization are 98% protected and are unlikely to contract measles.”

“Because your child may have already been exposed, you should watch your child for signs and symptoms of the disease, including a rash that often develops on the face and neck before spreading to the rest of the body. Other symptoms include high fever, which can reach 105°F, cough, runny nose, and red, watery eyes. All children presenting with symptoms of illness should not attend school until symptoms have fully subsided without medication.”

According to the most recent data from the Florida Department of Health, nine out of the state’s measles cases have been reported in Broward County, and all of those cases have involved children. Two of the children are younger than four years old.

The Florida Department of Health released a memo to healthcare workers, reminding them to report any suspected cases.

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The World Health Organization (WHO) lists measles as one of the world’s most contagious diseases, which spreads through respiratory droplets. The virus remains active and infectious in the air and surfaces for up to two hours.

“Measles is a highly contagious disease caused by a virus. It spreads easily when an infected person breathes, coughs or sneezes. It can cause severe disease, complications, and even death. Measles can affect anyone but is most common in children. Measles infects the respiratory tract and then spreads throughout the body. Symptoms include a high fever, cough, runny nose and a rash all over the body.”

Its complications include blindness, encephalitis (an infection causing brain swelling), severe diarrhea, ear infections, and pneumonia. “Measles itself also weakens the immune system and can make the body ‘forget’ how to protect itself against infections, leaving children extremely vulnerable.”

The organization also recommends that all children get the measles, mumps, and rubella MMR vaccine. Due to widespread vaccination efforts, the United States had eliminated measles in 2000. It is unclear what the vaccination status was for the children under four.

US Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Florida, who represents the city of Weston, urged Florida Surgeon General Ladapo to declare a public health emergency and make it a requirement that unvaccinated children stay home during the outbreak.

In contrast to US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendations, Ladapo’s advisory suggests that parents of unvaccinated children make their own decisions about whether or not to send them to school. The CDC advises unvaccinated individuals to remain home for at least 21 days after exposure, around the time it takes for symptoms to manifest.

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In addition to demanding that DeSantis do more to protect Floridians, Wasserman Schultz demanded that Ladapo resign or be fired.

“I would have thought he would have stepped in here or made sure there was some communication to ensure that irresponsible guidance isn’t issued by his surgeon general. And the fact that he hasn’t taken action to roll that back is representative of Ron DeSantis’s disinterest in keeping the public’s health safe.”

On Monday, the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials (ASTHO) Chief Medical Officer Marcus Plescia, MD, MPH, issued a statement responding to the outbreaks.

“Measles can be particularly serious for children and potentially deadly. At least 1 in 5 unvaccinated people in the United States who contract measles is hospitalized. Nearly 1 out of 20 children develop pneumonia, the most frequent cause of measles-related death in young children. Approximately 1 child out of every 1,000 with measles will suffer brain injury, potentially causing convulsions, deafness, or intellectual disability. For unvaccinated babies who contract measles, 1 in 600 can develop a fatal neurological complication.

Measles was declared eliminated in the United States in 2000, but is still the most easily transmitted human virus presently in circulation. Thankfully, by following established public health principles, Americans can make informed decisions, prevent outbreaks, and protect our communities.

Vaccination is the best and safest way to protect children. Two doses of measles vaccine are more than 97% effective in preventing the disease entirely, and vaccinated people may continue to engage in routine activities even if they are exposed to someone with the disease.”

A total of 58 cases were reported last year, and 35 measles cases have already been reported in several states this year. With just 91.7% of Florida’s kindergartners vaccinated against measles, mumps, and rubella, the state is falling short of the national 95% vaccination rate target.

measles

CDC Is Warning Healthcare Providers That Measles Cases Are On The Rise 

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is warning health officials across the nation that cases of measles are on the rise. The CDC sent out an email on Thursday after reports of nearly two dozen cases since December. They believe these outbreaks are mainly caused by children who were eligible for the vaccine but have not received it, according to reports from USA Today

The alert stated that healthcare providers should look for patients experiencing rash, fever, and pay attention to those who have recently traveled internationally. The CDC said that officials have tracked seven cases of measles that were brought into the nation from international travelers, and two outbreaks with more than five cases each. 

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Most of the cases were in children who have not been vaccinated for measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine even if they were eligible. 

“The U.S. is at a ‘canary in the coal mine’ moment with rising cases among children of the highly infectious, vaccine-preventable disease,” said Michael Osterholm, director of the University of Minnesota’s Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy. 

Federal data has also shown that there’s been a general decrease in vaccinations in young children, and there are currently record-breaking levels of vaccine exemptions in kindergartners specifically. 

“We’re going to start seeing more and more of these outbreaks. We’re going to see more kids seriously ill, hospitalized and even die. And what’s so tragic about this, these are all preventable,” Osterholm said to USA TODAY.

According to the CDC, around a fifth of people who get measles will be hospitalized, and one in 1,000 people who get the virus develop brain swelling that could lead to brain damage. They also warned that one to three in a thousand will die. 

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“The U.S. is seeing a growing body of parents who don’t want to comply with vaccine recommendations, coupled with lagging access to health care to get vaccinated amid the pandemic,” Osterholm said

The US has seen outbreaks in Philadelphia and Washington state, with also documenting exposures in the Washington DC area. Separate cases have been reported in Atlanta and New Jersey as well.

“Between Dec. 1 and Jan. 23, there were 23 cases in the U.S. There were 56 cases in all of 2023 and 121 cases in 2022,” the CDC said. 

Researchers from the CDC and the World Health Organization recently released a report that highlighted the increases in global measles cases and deaths within the last year. In 2022, according to the CDC and WHO, there were 9 million cases with 136,000 deaths, mostly in children. 

Europe has also seen a major rise in measles cases. 

“The increased number of measles importations seen in recent weeks is reflective of a rise in global measles cases and a growing global threat from the disease,” the CDC said Thursday.

covid

What Health Officials Are Saying About New Covid Variant JN.1

JN.1 is the newest fast-spreading variant of Covid-19, and is now the most widely circulating version of the virus, according to recent data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

According to reports from the Alabama Local News, JN.1 is an offspring of the Omicron variant, and currently accounts for 66% of the current positive cases of Covid-19; an increase from the 44% two weeks ago. 

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In a statement, the CDC said that “Covid-19 activity is currently high. Covid-19 infections, hospitalizations, and deaths have increased in recent weeks. JN.1 may be intensifying the spread of Covid-19 this winter.”

Covid-19 infections, however, are not causing severe disease as frequently as it was. The CDC’s recent report showed that while cases are up by 27% compared to this time last year, the number of Covid-related illnesses requiring emergency room visits are down by 21%. 

Overall Covid-19 hospitalizations are 22% lower when compared to 2023, and the total deaths associated with Covid is down by 38%. The CDC cited the immune protections provided by vaccines, prior infections, or the combination has led to these lower percentages. 

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“Over 97% of people have natural or vaccine-induced antibodies against the virus that causes COVID-19. This immune protection can fade over time but tends to last longer for preventing severe disease than for preventing infections.”

While the JN.1 specifically hasn’t caused more severe illness for those who contract Covid-19, the symptoms are similar. ALN reported that these symptoms include: sore throat, congestion, runny nose, cough, fatigue, headache, muscle aches, fever, chills, loss of taste or smell, shortness of breath, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.

NBC News reported that of these symptoms, healthcare facilities have reported more upper respiratory symptoms followed by congestion and cough. The symptoms that were more common in earlier Covid-19 cases, such as loss of taste or smell and diarrhea, are much less present. 

All diagnostic Covid-19 tests, including common rapid antigen tests and PCR tests, are effective at detecting the JN.1 variant, as well as other variants. The CDC also reported that the variants are impacted by antiviral treatments as well.

scientist

Scientists Develop New Antibiotic to Kill Drug-Resistant Bacteria

Scientists have developed a novel antibiotic to combat bacteria resistant to existing antibiotics. The bacteria, Acinetobacter baumannii, causes infections in the lungs, urinary tract and blood and has a high mortality rate.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report that it is resistant to a class of broad-spectrum antibiotics known as carbapenems, and it kills a significant number of people via invasive infection.

In 2017, the World Health Organization released a list of antibiotic-resistant “priority pathogens,” listing Carbapenem-resistant Acinetobacter baumannii (CRAB) in its critical category. The organization describes pathogens of this designation as “ multidrug-resistant bacteria that pose a particular threat in hospitals, nursing homes, and among patients whose care requires devices such as ventilators and blood catheters.”

Data from the CDC shows that the bacteria caused 700 fatalities and 8,500 infections in hospitalized patients in the US that year. Being a Gram-negative bacteria, protected by inner and outer membranes, makes CRAB incredibly difficult to treat. The US Food and Drug Administration has not authorized a new class of antibiotics to treat it in over 50 years.

However, Acinetobacter baumannii can be effectively killed with the new antibiotic Zosurabalpin, according to researchers from Harvard University and the Swiss healthcare company Hoffmann-La Roche.

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Dr. Kenneth Bradley, one of the researchers and global head of infectious disease discovery with Roche Pharma Research and Early Development, stated that the drug is in its own chemical class and has a unique method of action.

The study’s primary objective was to discover and optimize a molecule capable of penetrating bacterial double membranes and killing them. “These two membranes create a very formidable barrier for entry of molecules like antibiotics,” he said.

“This is a novel approach, both in terms of the compound itself but as well as the mechanism by which it kills bacteria.”

The research found that Zosurabalpin was effective against over 100 CRAB clinical samples. To develop the drug, the scientists researched 45,000 small antibiotic molecules known as tethered macrocyclic peptides to find those that could inhibit bacterial growth. Researchers spent years honing the effectiveness and safety of a select few compounds before settling on a single modified molecule.

By blocking the transport of lipopolysaccharides, which are big molecules essential for maintaining the integrity of the outer membrane and ultimately leading to cell death, Zolofalacpin inhibits the growth of Acinetobacter baumannii.

According to the study, the antibiotic significantly decreased bacterial levels in mice with CRAB-induced pneumonia. Additionally, it prevented the death of mice infected with bacterial sepsis.

“Drug discovery that targets harmful Gram-negative bacteria is a long-standing challenge owing to difficulties in getting molecules to cross the bacterial membranes to reach targets in the cytoplasm. Compounds typically must possess a certain combination of chemical characteristics.”

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Dr. Michael Lobritz, the global head of infectious diseases at Roche Pharma Research and Early Development and an associate participant in the study, stated that the continued absence of effective treatments for antibiotic resistance means that the public health risk of this phenomenon is still a major one on a global scale, regardless of the new finding.

According to CNN, an analysis published in the Lancet in 2022 estimated that antimicrobial resistance was directly responsible for the deaths of about 1.3 million people worldwide in 2019. When put side by side, that year, 860,000 people died from HIV/AIDS and 640,000 from malaria.

The CDC stated in its 2019 Antibiotic Resistance Threats Report that more than 2.8 million cases of infections resistant to antibiotics are reported annually in the United States. Over 35,000 of those individuals lose their lives.

More antibiotics have been developed to treat Gram-positive infections in the last few decades, according to Lobritz. Gram-negative bacteria are more resistant to antibiotics and generally more dangerous. “These  Gram-negative bacteria, they’ve been accumulating resistance to many of our preferred first-line antibiotics for a long time.”

“Innovations are hard to come by. It’s taken us ten years of effort on this project to get it to where it is now, and there’s still more clinical trials to go before it can be determined whether or not it’s a medicine.”

According to the researchers, the method that was used to limit the growth of Acinetobacter, blocking the creation or formation of the outer membrane, could be useful for other difficult-to-treat bacteria such as E. coli. The drug is now in phase 1 clinical trials to assess for safety in humans.

cdc

Cases of Leprosy Spike in Central Florida

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has reported an increase in leprosy cases across Central Florida. Growing evidence suggests that the region has become an “endemic location for leprosy,” accounting for one-fifth of all cases nationwide.

The report released by the CDC states the most recent data shows there were 159 new cases of leprosy across the country in 2020, significantly lower than the 216 reported in 2019. However, the number of cases in Southeastern United States has more than doubled over the last decade.

“Central Florida, in particular, accounted for 81% of cases reported in Florida and almost one-fifth of nationally reported cases. Whereas leprosy in the United States previously affected persons who had immigrated from leprosy-endemic areas, ≈34% of new case-patients during 2015–2020 appeared to have locally acquired the disease.”

According to the federal Human Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), most new cases have been found in Florida, California, Louisiana, Hawaii, New York and Texas. However, a travel advisory for Central Florida is included in the report due to a disproportional uptick in cases in the region. In the last year alone, the Florida Department of Health reported 19 cases.

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“Travel to this area, even in the absence of other risk factors, should prompt consideration of leprosy in the appropriate clinical context. By increasing local physician efforts to report incidence and supporting further research to assess routes of transmission, a congruent effort can be made to identify and reduce spread of the disease.”

The HRSA states, “95% of the human population is not susceptible to infection with M. leprae, the bacteria that causes Hansen’s disease (leprosy).” Treatment with antibiotic drugs is very effective in combating the disease, but an early diagnosis is critical.

Without treatment, leprosy can damage nerves and lead to permanent disabilities, but early treatment can prevent this. In the absence of nerve involvement, the HRSA states leprosy would only present as a “minor skin disease.”

Leprosy is spread through droplets “from the nose and mouth during close and frequent contact with untreated cases.” The CDC states that though uncommon, leprosy can also be contracted via contact between humans and armadillos.

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“In the Southern United States, some armadillos are naturally infected with the bacteria that cause Hansen’s disease in people, and it may be possible that they can spread it to people. However, the risk is very low, and most people who come into contact with armadillos are unlikely to get Hansen’s disease.”

Still, the HRSA advises that armadillos are “wild animals and should be treated as such, with all the proper precautions.” In the report, the CDC cited a recent case of a 54-year-old man who contracted the disease in Central Florida. The man “denied any domestic or foreign travel, exposure to armadillos, prolonged contact with immigrants from leprosy-endemic countries, or connections with someone known to have leprosy.”

He is described as having resided in Florida his entire life, working in landscaping and spending long periods of time outdoors.

“The absence of traditional risk factors in many recent cases of leprosy in Florida, coupled with the high proportion of residents, like our patient, who spend a great deal of time outdoors, supports the investigation into environmental reservoirs as a potential source of transmission.”

fungus

CDC Says a Deadly Fungal Infection Is Spreading in the US at an ‘Alarming’ Rate

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a warning that a drug-resistant and potentially deadly fungus is spreading rapidly at an “alarming rate” through U.S. health care facilities.

A study conducted by the CDC found that Candida auris has now been detected in more than half of U.S. states. Cases nationwide nearly doubled between 2020 and 2021 from 756 to 1,471 before increasing to 2,377 in 2022. The majority of cases tested were immune to antifungal treatment.

C. auris poses little threat to healthy people but can cause serious illness or death in those with compromised immune systems or those who use medical devices like ventilators or catheters.

The CDC has called the fungus an “urgent antimicrobial resistance threat.” It can spread from “contact with affected patients and contaminated surfaces or equipment.” Common symptoms include fever and chills that do not improve with treatment.

Dr. Meghan Lyman, chief medical officer of the CDC’s mycotic diseases branch and the report’s lead author, told NBC the increase in cases “in the most recent years, are really concerning to us.” She stated the CDC has “seen increases not just in areas of ongoing transmission, but also in new areas.”

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Identifying the fungal infection can be challenging because most patients present with advanced illness and confirmation of infection requires a laboratory test. Moreover, while a significant number of patients with invasive infections die, it can be difficult to assess the exact role C. auris played in these deaths.

According to the CDC data, which was published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, infection by C. auris was first reported in the United States in 2016. The most rapid rise in cases was observed from 2020 to 2021.

The growing number of cases resistant to echinocandins, the most widely prescribed antifungal medication for the infection, is raising the most concern.

Poor infection prevention in health care facilities and better screening efforts have contributed to the increase in reported cases, according to the CDC. The additional strain on health care and public health systems during the pandemic may have also exacerbated the spread of the fungus.

The Mississippi Department of Health has been fighting a growing outbreak of infections. A lead epidemiologist in the state, Dr. Paul Byers, told NBC there had been ongoing transmission at two long-term care facilities. Cases have also been identified at several other facilities in the state.

“Unfortunately, multi-drug resistant organisms such as C. auris have become more prevalent among our highest risk individuals, such as residents in long-term care facilities.”

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Dr. Byers told NBC in an email at least 12 people have been infected with C. auris since November, with four “potentially associated deaths.”

The CDC reports that the fungus can be found both on the skin and throughout the body. The healthy population is not in danger, but about a third of those infected with C. auris die.

The CDC examined information from state and local health departments on C. auris infections and asymptomatic but contagious “colonized” individuals from 2016 to 2021. Between 2019 and 2020, infections increased by 59%. The following year, there was a 95% increase. The number of people “colonized” increased by 21% in 2020 and 208% in 2021.

Dr. Waleed Javaid, an epidemiologist and director of infection prevention and control at Mount Sinai Downtown in New York, called the findings “worrisome.”

“But we don’t want people who watched ‘The Last of Us’ to think we’re all going to die. This is an infection that occurs in extremely ill individuals who are usually sick with a lot of other issues.”

One of the challenges in preventing the fungus spread in hospital ICU units is that C. auris can colonize not only people who come into contact with the fungus but also patient rooms.

“By its nature, it has an extreme ability to survive on surfaces. It can colonize walls, cables, bedding, chairs. We clean everything with bleach and UV light.”

norovirus

CDC Warns Stomach Bug Cases Are Up 30% 

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, cases of the norovirus, commonly referred to as the stomach bug, are rising across the country.

This flu season, there have been 225 reports of norovirus outbreaks in the US between August and January within the 14 states that provide norovirus data to the CDC. These outbreaks mark a 30% rise in cases when compared to last year’s 172 reported outbreaks. 

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Norovirus is defined as a contagious virus that causes painful stomach cramps, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. 

According to the CDC, “everyone is susceptible to the infection, whether by coming into contact with a sick person, consuming contaminated food or water, or touching contaminated surfaces and then putting hands in their mouth. Infections typically occur between November and April.”

“Norovirus can be found in your vomit or feces even before you start feeling sick. The virus can also stay in your feces for two weeks or more after you feel better.”

This is why we all should wash our hands for at least 20 seconds, which noted that hand sanitizer can be ineffective in killing norovirus,” CDC says.

“You can use hand sanitizers in addition to hand washing, but hand sanitizer is not a substitute for washing your hands with warm water and soap,” the CDC says.

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Young children, the elderly, and the immunocompromised are at the highest risk of infection. While infections can be deadly, cases of that extreme are pretty rare. Around 900 Americans are killed by the Norovirus every year; mainly amongst the elderly population. 

Norovirus is also responsible for around 465,000 emergency room visits every year; mostly in young children. 

The bathroom is a prime spot to contract the virus, as people often “get norovirus by accidentally getting tiny particles of feces or vomit from an infected person in your mouth,” the CDC says. 

“You can shed billions of norovirus particles that you can’t see without a microscope. Only a few norovirus particles can make other people sick.”

“People are most contagious when they are displaying symptoms — particularly when still vomiting and in the initial period after recovering from illness.

There is no treatment for norovirus infections. If sick, the key is hydration,” the CDC says.

“If you have norovirus illness, you should drink plenty of liquids to replace fluid lost from vomiting and diarrhea,” the CDC added.

monkeypox

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.

covid

Following Unanimous Vote, CDC Recommends Novavax COVID-19 Vaccine

On Tuesday, a panel of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) outside vaccine advisors voted to recommend the use of the Novavax COVID-19 vaccination for those 18 and older.

“Novavax’s COVID-19 vaccine, which will be available in the coming weeks, is an important tool in the pandemic and provides a more familiar type of COVID-19 vaccine technology for adults,” the CDC said in a statement.

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Novavax’s vaccine had previously been authorized by U.S. regulators last week, but the CDC’s approval was the final obstacle for it to become available. The agency stressed the importance of multiple options and flexibility for the public.

67.6% of the American population is fully vaccinated, with 79.1% having received at least one dose. However, the CDC stated there are still between 26 million to 37 million adults who have yet to receive a single dosage.

“If you have been waiting for a COVID-19 vaccine built on a different technology than those previously available, now is the time to join the millions of Americans who have been vaccinated,” CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said.

“With COVID-19 cases on the rise again across parts of the country, vaccination is critical to help protect against the complications of severe COVID-19 disease.” 

The Novavax vaccine is particularly interesting because of how it works in contrast to other COVID-19 vaccines. All vaccines are trained to recognize the virus’ outer coating, the spike protein. Vaccines like Moderna and Pzifer give the body genetic instructions on how to replicate the spike protein.

In contrast, instead of telling the body how to make spike protein copies, the Novavax vaccine delivers copies, made in a lab and packaged into nanoparticles, straight to the body that will help the immune system to respond to the vaccine.

One of the ingredients used in this process is adjuvant. The CDC noted vaccines using protein subunits “have been used for more than 30 years in the United States, beginning with the first licensed hepatitis B vaccine” and later with influenza and whooping cough.

According to a Food and Drug Administration (FDA) report, the vaccine was found to be 90% effective against mild, moderate, and severe disease in Novavax’s Phase 3 trial, which involved 30,000 participants.

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While that study was done before the Delta and Omicron waves, leaving the vaccine’s efficiency against the subvariants unknown, the company also possesses a COVID-19 Omicron vaccine that currently sits in Phase 3.

The hope is that the Novavax vaccine will present familiarity and assurance to those who haven’t received a dosage due to the mRNA technology utilized being unfamiliar.

It’s anyone’s guess as to if that play will work, but more vaccinations of any kind will undoubtedly help to continue curbing a pandemic that’s once again seeing surges in the warm summer months. The country is currently averaging 127,000 new cases per day.

The Novavax vaccine’s initial quantity will be scarce, the Biden Administration told states, which will be unable to start requesting shipments until next week. Additionally, not all providers will carry the vaccine. Given the timeline presented, the Novavax vaccine should start seeing use sometime in August.