Roundup: Flu Season Picking Up; Vaping-Linked Lung Injury Update; and Healthy ‘Green Spaces’

Flu Season is Picking Up in SomeStates, But Not Too Late to Get Flu Shot, CDC Says

Seasonal influenza (the flu) in the U.S. continues to increase, but the level of activity and the predominant influenza virus varies by state and region, according to the latest report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The CDC reported widespread flu in five states: Alabama, California, Louisiana, Nevada and South Carolina. This time last year, no states showed widespread activity. The CDC’s most recent update shows that 2.5 percent of patient visits reported nationally were due to influenza-like illness. This percentage is slightly above the national baseline of 2.4 percent.

High levelsof flu were reported in seven states — Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Mississippi,Nevada, South Carolina and Texas — as well as Puerto Rico. Last year, only onestate reported high levels of flu at this time.

However,it’s difficult to determine at this time how severe this year’s flu season willbe, the CDC says. During the recent severe 2017-18 influenza season, whichlasted an unusually long period with widespread high influenza activitythroughout the nation, there were higher rates of outpatient visits andhospitalizations, compared with other recent seasons.

In the U.S.,the typical flu season runs from October through May, usually peaking inFebruary.

It’s not toolate to get a flu shot, the CDC emphasizes. The flu vaccine “is always thebest way to prevent flu and its potentially serious complications.”

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Vaping-Linked Lung Illnesses Increaseto 2,290 Cases Nationwide

There were2,290 cases of lung illnesses linked to vaping as of Nov. 20, according to thelatest updated from the U.S.Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Thatrepresents an increase of 118 cases from the previous update a week earlier.The vaping-related injuries have been reported in 49 states, the District ofColumbia, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Alaska remains the onlystate without any vaping-related injuries, the CDC.

The agencyhas confirmed 47 deaths in 25 states, including Florida, and the District ofColumbia.

The CDCrecommends that people not use e-cigarette products that contain THC, thepsychoactive ingredient in marijuana. While it appears that vitamin E acetate,is associated with the nationwide outbreak of lung injuries, the CDC says itcannot rule out other chemicals at this time.

Many of thevaping products used by those who became ill were illegally obtained fromfriends or the street, the CDC said.

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‘Green Spaces’ in Urban Settings canHelp Prolong Your Life, Study Finds

Nature canbe good for your health, especially if you live in an urban setting, accordingto a new study.

Urban residents who live close to “green spaces” — such as a park or an urban garden or a backyard — are less likely to die before their life expectancy, according to a new Lancet Planetary Health study.

“Interventionsto increase and manage green spaces should therefore be considered as astrategic public health intervention,” researchers concluded.

Researchersreviewed several studies that monitored more than 8 million people worldwide,including the U.S. “Green spaces are associated with more physicalactivity, physical or mental restoration and reduced stress,” among otherbenefits, researchers found.

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