Roundup: Polio-like AFM 'Peaks'; Too Much Sleep Unhealthy; and Hepatitis-A Advisory

CDC: Cases of Polio-like Illness has ‘Peaked’ for This Year

The cases of the polio-like illness AFM (acute flaccid myelitis) “appears to have peaked” for 2018, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said this week.

The rare disease that the CDC has desribed as a “mystery illness” may cause arm or leg weakness and paralysis, particularly in children. In its weekly update on AFM cases, the agency said there have been 134 confirmed cases in 33 states this year. In addition, there are 165 patients under investigation as possibly having AFM. The CDC did not provide more specifics on the cases.

Since 2014, reported cases of the rare illness has mostly peaked in the fall. That year, the CDC started tracking AFM cases. Every other year since then, the number of cases spike. In 2014, there were 120 confirmed cases between August and December; in 2015, there were 22 confirmed cases; in 2016, there were 149 confirmed cases; and in 2017, 35 confirmed cases were reported.

AFM affects a person’s nervous system, particularly the spinal cord. It can cause weakness in one or more limbs. AFM or neurological conditions like it have a variety of causes such as viruses, environmental toxins, and genetic disorders, the CDC says. Most of the patients — more than 90 percent — had a mild respiratory illness or fever consistent with a viral infection before they developed AFM, the CDC says.

The CDC says that more than 95 percent of the patients with AFM this year have been children younger than 18, and the average age of those infected was 5.

An AFM task force created by the CDC last month consists of12 experts and will convene in Atlanta this week. “I want to reaffirm to parents, patients, and our nation CDC’s commitment to this serious medical condition,” said Robert R. Redfield, M.D., CDC Director, in a statement. “This Task Force will … provide important answers and solutions to actively detect, more effectively treat, and ultimately prevent AFM and its consequences.”

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Too Much Sleep Could Raise Your Risk for Heart Disease, Researchers Say

People who regularly sleep for more than the recommended six to eight hours per day – including naps during the day – increase their risk of developing cardiovascular disease and possibly early death, a new study has found.

Published in the European Heart Journal, the study monitored 116,632 people, aged 35 to 70, from 21 countries over nearly eight years. The conclusion: those who slept for eight to nine hours per day had a 5 percent increased risk of developing detrimental health conditions, compared to people who slept for the recommended six to eight hours.

The risk increased for those who had the most sleeping hours. Those slept between nine and 10 hours had an elevated risk of 17 percent. People who slept more than 10 hours per day, including naps, developed a 41 percent increased risk of heart disease or other chronic conditions.

The research also found that napping during the day was linked to an increased risk of health problems for those who slept more than six hours per night. Napping was not a problem for those who slept less than six hours a night, the study found. Regular napping during the day was common among people from the Middle East, China, Southeast Asia, and South America, the study said. Thee naps typically lasted between 30 minutes and one hour.

Over the eight years of the study, 4,381 people died and 4,365 people suffered from heart attacks or strokes.

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Florida Health Officials Issue Advisory on Rising Hepatitis A (HAV) Infections

The Florida Department of Health (FDOH) has issued a public health advisory regarding the spread of the hepatitis A (HAV). That’s because nearly 400 cases of HAV infection have been reported in Florida since January. That’s more than three times the previous five-year average of 126 cases.

The advisory emphasizes the importance of the hepatitis A vaccination.The increase in hepatitis A cases has been predominantly in the Tampa Bay and Orlando metropolitan areas. Most of the cases do not involve international travel exposures.

“Infections have occurred across all demographic groups, approximately 68 percent of the recent cases are among males,” states the FDOH in a statement. “The median age of cases is 37 years and the highest rates of disease are among persons 30-49 years.” Common risk factors include injection and non-injection drug use, homelessness, and men having sex with men, the FDOH says.

HAV is transmitted person-to-person through “fecal-oral route,” says the CDC. That’s when an uninfected person ingests food or water that has been contaminated with the feces of an infected person. Transmission is also through some types of sexual contact, and poor hand hygiene after going to the bathroom or changing diapers, health officials say. While most patients with HAV infections will fully recover, 77 percent of recent cases in Florida have required hospitalization, officials say.

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