Measles research


Roundup: CDC Issues Measles Alert as Cases Surge; Treating Obesity’s Link to ‘Social Isolation’; and More News

CDC Issues Measles Alert to Healthcare Providers Nationwide, Cites Rising Cases Globally

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is urging healthcare providers nationwide to be alert for patients who have fever and rashes that have spread -- consistent with symptoms of measles --  and those who have traveled abroad, following reports of at least 23 U.S. measles cases confirmed by the CDC since Dec. 1, 2023.

Measles is a threat everywhere because the virus, which is considered the most contagious known to scientists, can quickly spread to multiple communities and across international borders. Outbreaks can happen in areas where people may be unvaccinated or under-vaccinated, including the U.S., the CDC says.

Europe is seeing an “alarming rise” in measles cases, the World Health Organization (WHO) has warned. Measles can lead to serious and potentially life-threatening complications in some children and adults.

The CDC’s alert states: "Due to the recent cases, healthcare providers should be on alert for patients who have: (1) febrile rash illness and symptoms consistent with measles (e.g., cough, coryza, or conjunctivitis), and (2) have recently traveled abroad, especially to countries with ongoing measles outbreaks. Infected people are contagious from 4 days before the rash starts through 4 days afterwards."

A measles rash usually begins as flat red spots that appear on the face at the hairline and spread downward to the neck, trunk, arms, legs, and feet. Small raised bumps may also appear on top of the flat red spots, the CDC states.

More than 61 million doses of “measles-containing vaccine were postponed or missed from 2020 to 2022 due to COVID-19 related delays,” the CDC states. This elevates the risk of bigger outbreaks around the world, including the U.S.

Although measles was declared eliminated in the U.S. by public health officials in 2000, almost 1,300 cases of measles were reported in 31 states in the U.S. in 2019— the highest number since 1992.

“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 states. 

Study: Improving Social Isolation, Loneliness in Obese People Reduces Risk of Serious Health Complications

Treating social isolation and loneliness in people who have been diagnosed as obese may help prevent further serious health complications and even early death, according to a new study.

Researchers analyzed the link between improvement of social isolation and loneliness with mortality risk among 398,972 UK Biobank participants – with and without obesity. The study, iJAMA Network Open, found that -- as social isolation and loneliness improved -- the risk of all-cause mortality was reduced by 36 percent among participants with obesity and 9 percent among those without obesity.


Mounting evidence shows that people with obesity encounter markedly higher levels of social isolation and loneliness than those without obesity, the study states.


“To date, dietary and lifestyle factors are the major focus in preventing obesity related illness,” said Dr. Lu Qi, lead author of the study, in a statement to CNN. “Our study highlights the importance of taking social and mental health into account in improving health for people with obesity.” Dr. Qi is a professor and interim chair of the department of epidemiology at Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine in New Orleans.


More than 2 in 5 adults (42.4 percent) have obesity, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH). In the United States and worldwide, obesity is also associated with the leading causes of death, including deaths from diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and some types of cancer, states the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). 


The study states: “Obesity has been consistently related to excess risks of all-cause mortality and mortality due to cardiovascular disease (CVD) and cancer in various populations.2 Efforts to tackle the issues of social isolation and loneliness have been simmering for decades.” 


Diets Rich in Plant-Based Protein Linked to Healthier, Longer Lives in Women, New Study Finds

Women who regularly consume high amounts of protein from plant-based sources “develop fewer chronic diseases and are more likely to be healthier overall as they age,” states a study led by researchers at the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging (HNRCA) at Tufts University.

The study, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, based its findings on self-reported data from more than 48,000 women. Researchers found fewer cases of heart disease, cancer, and diabetes, and cognitive and mental health decline in those who included more protein in their diets from sources such as fruits, vegetables, bread, beans, legumes, and pasta, compared to those who ate less.


“Consuming protein in midlife was linked to promoting good health in older adulthood,” said Andres Ardisson Korat, a scientist at the HNRCA and lead author of the study, said in a news release. “We also found that the source of protein matters. Getting the majority of your protein from plant sources at midlife, plus a small amount of animal protein seems to be conducive to good health and good survival to older ages.”


The study determined that  each 3 percent increase in the amount of plant protein consumed was linked to a 38 percent higher probability of remaining healthy as the women in the study got older. They saw g fewer or no chronic diseases, improved physical mobility and little cognitive decline – compared to those who ate less plant proteins.


The study’s findings were derived from the seminal Harvard-based Nurses’ Health Study, which monitored female healthcare professionals from 1984 to 2016. The women were between the ages of 38 and 59 in 1984. They were deemed to be in good physical and mental health at the start of the study.

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