Roundup: CDC on Monkeypox: Be Informed But Not Alarmed; 1 in 5 U.S. Adults and 1 in 4 Seniors Suffer ‘Long COVID’; and More

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May 27, 2022

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CDC: Be Alert and Informed About Monkeypox, But There’s No Reason to be Alarmed

U.S. public health officials are closely monitoring and tracing confirmed and potential cases of monkeypox in the U.S., including at least two “presumptive” cases in South Florida.

In a briefing this week, officials with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said the risk to the general public remains low, confirming that only a handful of likely cases been detected in the U.S. so far.

Monkeypox is a rare disease that is most commonly spread by human-to-human interaction – but the virus is not considered as transmissible as COVID-19 or measles. That’s why public health officials are confident that a widespread outbreak is unlikely.

During a press briefing this week, Jennifer McQuiston, DVM, MS, the deputy director for the CDC’s Division of High Consequence Pathogens and Pathology, emphasized that monkeypox is not easily transmissible through airborne pathogens as in the case of COVID-19.

“People can become infected with monkeypox through close, sustained skin-to-skin contact with someone who has an active rash — or through respiratory droplets in someone who has lesions in their mouth and they’re around another person for an extended period of time,” explained Dr. McQuiston. “What we’re talking about here is close contact. It’s not a situation where if you’re passing someone in the grocery store, they’re going to be at risk for monkeypox.”

On Thursday, the CDC identified nine cases of monkeypox across seven U.S. states: California, Florida, Massachusetts, New York, Utah, Virginia and Washington. Although some of the U.S. patients have a history of travel to areas where monkeypox has been spreading recently, that’s not the case for all the patients, said CDC Director Rochelle Walensky, M.D. “We need to presume that there is some community spread,” she said. All of the cases “are within gay (and) bisexual men and other men who have sex with men,” said Dr. Walensky.

Monkeypox is part of the Orthopoxvirus family of viruses that includes the variola virus which causes smallpox. Monkeypox produces smallpox-like skin lesions but is generally considered milder than smallpox, which was deemed eradicated in the U.S. in 1980.  The CDC is working to acquire and distribute some doses of the smallpox vaccine from the Strategic National Stockpile for certain high-risk individuals who have been in contact with those diagnosed with monkeypox.

To learn more about monkeypox, go to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Major New Study: 1 in 5 U.S. COVID Survivors have Experienced ‘Long COVID’ Health Conditions

One in five adults who have COVID-19 under the age of 65 in the U.S. has experienced at least one health condition post-infection that could qualify as “long COID,” according to a major new study by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The rate is even higher for patients 65 and older who have had COVID — one in four has had at least one long COVID condition.

Long Covid is the term now widely used to describe a range of symptoms that can last for months or longer after the initial coronavirus infection.  Public health officials consider long COVID to be serious and pervasive. So much so that the authors of the new study, the C.D.C.’s COVID-19 Emergency Response Team — recommend that long COVID should be part of routine health assessments of older adults.

The CDC states: “Implementation of COVID-19 prevention strategies, as well as routine assessment for post-COVID conditions among persons who survive COVID-19, is critical to reducing the incidence and impact of post-COVID, particularly among adults aged 65 years (and older).”

The most common conditions in both age groups were respiratory symptoms and musculoskeletal pain. The researchers identified several long COVID conditions, affecting different organs, including the heart, lungs and kidneys. Other long COVID issues were linked to blood circulation, the musculoskeletal system and the endocrine system; gastrointestinal conditions, neurological problems and psychiatric symptoms.

The risk ratios for 10 conditions were significantly higher among those aged 65 years and older, compared to those aged 18–64 years; these conditions were renal failure, thromboembolic events, cerebrovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, muscle disorders, neurologic conditions, and mental health conditions (including mood disorders, anxiety, other mental conditions, and substance-related disorders).

Researchers May Have Found Biomarker for SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome)

A new study may provide new insight into solving the mystery of sudden infant death syndrome, or SIDS, referring to accidental suffocation in a sleeping environment. About 1,000 infant deaths per year in the U.S. are attributed to SIDs, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The study, led by researchers in Australia and published in the medical journal eBioMedicine, found that infants who died from SIDS carried lower levels of an enzyme known as Butyrylcholinesterase (BChE). This condition can result in the infant’s brain lacking the normal controls needed for unconscious breathing and the ability to wake up. Babies at risk for SIDS could potentially be identified through this biochemical marker, the researchers said.

Sudden unexpected infant death (SUID), which includes SIDs, is a term used to describe the sudden and unexpected death of a baby less than 1 year old in which the cause was not obvious before investigation, says the CDC.

The Australian researchers analyzed dried blood samples taken from newborns who died from SIDS and other unknown causes. Each sample was then compared with blood taken from healthy babies. They found the activity of the enzyme butyrylcholinesterase (BChE) was significantly lower in babies who died of SIDS, compared to living infants. BChE plays a major role in the brain’s arousal pathway, which may explain why SIDS typically occurs during sleep.

Because of the risk of SIDS, which usually occurs when an infant is asleep, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that parents and caregivers place infants to sleep on their back, practice room-sharing without bed-sharing, avoid any soft objects or bedding in a baby’s sleep area, and use only firm sleep surfaces.

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