Listeria outbreak may be linked to Florida, CDC says

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A listeria outbreak that has sickened at least 23 people across 10 states may be linked to Florida, the CDC said this week. 

Of the 22 people who health officials have been able to track down, 20 of them reported living in Florida or traveling to the state in the month before they got sick, but the CDC noted that “the significance of this is still under investigation.”

An electron micrograph of a Listeria bacterium in tissue is seen in a 2002 image from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

An electron micrograph of a Listeria bacterium in tissue is seen in a 2002 image from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
(Reuters/Elizabeth White/CDC/Handout via Reuters)

Listeria, a foodborne illness, is usually caused by contaminated dairy, produce, deli meats, or smoked fish. 

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Symptoms, which include fever, fatigue, and muscle aches, typically start within one to four weeks of eating food contaminated with listeria. 

In the current outbreak, 22 people have been hospitalized and one person has died. Five of those who got infected were pregnant at the time, with one person reporting the loss of the fetus. 

Vials of raw sheep's milk are seen with bottles of substances used to check the milk for strains of Listeria and Salmonella before the milk is developed into roquefort cheese.

Vials of raw sheep’s milk are seen with bottles of substances used to check the milk for strains of Listeria and Salmonella before the milk is developed into roquefort cheese.
(Pascal Pavani/AFP via Getty Images)

The true number of illnesses is likely much higher, according to the CDC, as some people recover before seeking medical attention. 

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Health officials are still trying to identify the food that is the source of this outbreak. 

A listeria outbreak stemming from deli meats sickened at least 10 people and killed one in 2020. Another outbreak caused by precooked chicken put three people in the hospital and killed one last year. 

What is pancreatitis: symptoms, causes, and treatment

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Earlier this week, Travis Barker, the longtime Blink-182 drummer and husband to Kourtney Kardashian, was carried out of his Los Angeles mansion on a stretcher to a local hospital after being diagnosed with pancreatitis. Barker’s pancreas became inflamed following a colonoscopy procedure.

The musician’s health scare has left many wondering what pancreatitis is and how to treat it. According to the Mayo Clinic, pancreatitis occurs when the pancreas, a flat gland behind the stomach in the upper abdomen, is inflamed. The pancreas is vital for the body to process sugar through digestion and hormones. The pancreas becomes inflamed when these digestive fluids attack the organ instead of regulating the body’s blood sugar levels. 

Acute pancreatitis is a mild form of the condition that occurs suddenly and only for a short time. However, chronic pancreatitis is long-lasting and can lead to death without proper medical attention. Chronic may appear randomly over the course of many years while causing severe discomfort to the body. 

What are the symptoms?

Symptoms for individuals differ based on the type of pancreatitis. The acute version causes pain in the upper abdominal, abdominal pain throughout the back, tenderness when touching the abdomen, fever, rapid pulse, nausea, and vomiting. 

It's important to consult with your doctor about the best treatment after being diagnosed with pancreatitis.

It’s important to consult with your doctor about the best treatment after being diagnosed with pancreatitis.
(iStock)

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However, chronic pancreatitis is more life-threatening and can cause more severe damage to the body. Common symptoms include upper abdominal pain, abdominal pain that increases after digestion, unexplained weight loss, and oily, smelly stools, according to Mayo Clinic. It is recommended that individuals make an appointment with their doctor for acute or chronic abdominal pain and seek immediate attention if the pain caused by pancreatitis makes it impossible to sit or stand still.

What are the causes?

When digestive enzymes are triggered, pancreatitis occurs from irritated cells in the pancreas, causing the organ to inflame. Some habits and conditions that cause pancreatitis include alcoholism, abdominal injury, obesity, high levels of triglyceride in the blood, and gallstones. Moreover, untreated acute pancreatitis may become chronic and lead to digestion problems and diabetes. 

Excessive alcohol consumption may cause pancreatitis.

Excessive alcohol consumption may cause pancreatitis.
(iStock)

Other factors such as a family history of pancreatitis, excessive cigarette usage, and alcohol consumption may increase an individual’s risk of pancreatitis. 

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How do you treat it? 

Depending on an individual’s condition, medical professionals will ovulate and treat the underlining cause of pancreatitis differently in some cases. However, some early treatments include slimming down your daily diet to allow your body to recover. Doctors may also prescribe patients suffering from pancreatitis pain medication if the condition is severe. If an individual is admitted to a hospital, intravenous (IV) fluids will be injected through a vein in the arm to avoid dehydration until the pancreas recovers.

Seek immediate medical attention if the pain becomes severe. 

Seek immediate medical attention if the pain becomes severe. 
(iStock)

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Cannabis users are at greater risk for emergency and inpatient care: study

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People who used cannabis visited emergency rooms or were hospitalized 22% more often than those who did not use cannabis, according to a recent study published in the BMJ Open Respiratory Research.

“Our research demonstrates that cannabis use in the general population is associated with heightened risk of clinically serious negative outcomes, specifically, needing to present to the ED or be admitted to hospital,” said lead author Dr. Nicholas Vozoris, a lung specialist at St. Michael’s and an associate scientist at the hospital’s Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute.

“Unlike tobacco, there is some uncertainty or controversy regarding the adverse health impacts of cannabis. Some individuals may perceive that cannabis has some health benefits and is otherwise benign. Our research highlights to those using – or considering to use – cannabis, that this [behavior] is associated with important negative health events.”

Cannabis use is associated with "heightened risk of clinically serious negative outcomes."

Cannabis use is associated with “heightened risk of clinically serious negative outcomes.”
(iStock)

The study was led by researchers at Unity Health Toronto and ICES, an independent, non-profit research institute formerly known as the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences in Canada. 

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Serious physical injury and lung reasons were the two leading causes of emergency departments visits and hospitalizations among cannabis users.

“Marijuana – which can also be called cannabis, weed, pot, or dope – refers to the dried flowers, leaves, stems, and seeds of the cannabis plant. The cannabis plant contains more than 100 compounds (or cannabinoids),” the CDC said.

One of these compounds is tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which is mind-altering, often referred to as a “high,” per the CDC.

The Canadian researchers conducted a retrospective study in Ontario residents aged 12-65 between January 1, 2009, to December 31, 2015, noting Ontario is Canada’s most populous province with approximately 14.7 million people, which is an estimated 40% of national population and also is culturally diverse. 

Marijuana refers to the dried flowers, leaves, stems, and seeds of the cannabis plant.

Marijuana refers to the dried flowers, leaves, stems, and seeds of the cannabis plant.
(Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

The Canadian researchers first collected data from a survey of individuals who self-reported cannabis use and then linked it with health data from multiple databases. 

Those participants who self-reported cannabis use within the past year were matched one of three control groups: people who never reported using cannabis, used cannabis only once or used more than 12 months ago while also adjusting for many confounding variables, including physical and mental health diseases, tobacco alcohol and illicit drug use.   

The study’s goal was to see if there was an association between marijuana use and hospitalizations or emergency room visits that were related to lung issues. 

The researchers didn’t find a strong association with marijuana use and emergency department visits or hospitalizations specifically related to respiratory issues or death from any cause.

But they did find emergency room visits or hospitalizations for any reason increased by an estimated 22% among those who used marijuana, which suggests marijuana may be associated with adverse health outcomes.

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Previous research shows only cannabis smokers who have more than 20 joints per year exposure history have a decline in lung function, so the researchers suggest their results might be explained by users having too little cannabis smoke exposure in the study.

Some study participants also did not smoke cannabis, but instead had non-inhalational type exposure, which would be less likely to cause lung-related illness than inhaled cannabis.

And possible secondhand cannabis smoke exposure among the control participants could have “contaminated” the control group. 

“Smoked marijuana, regardless of how it is smoked, can harm lung tissues and cause scarring and damage to small blood vessels,” the CDC said.

Many of same toxins and carcinogens, which are chemicals that cause cancer, in tobacco smoke are also in smoke from marijuana, per the agency.

Marijuana is the most used "federally illegal drug" in America, according to the CDC.

Marijuana is the most used “federally illegal drug” in America, according to the CDC.
(iStock)

Smoking marijuana can also lead to a greater risk of respiratory issues, like bronchitis and mucus production, but these symptoms generally improve after marijuana smokers quit, per the CDC.

Recreational marijuana is illegal in the U.S. under federal law, but at least 19 states have enacted legislation to allow the drug to be sold, according to The Hill. 

It is the most commonly used “federally illegal drug” in the United States, according to the CDC.

Approximately 48.2 million people used it in 2019, per the CDC.

But almost every single state in the country, except for Idaho, Nebraska and Kansas, has legalized some form marijuana for medicinal or recreational purposes, The Hill said.

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“More research is needed to understand the specific effects marijuana smoking may have on lung cancer and other respiratory diseases like emphysema (lung condition that causes shortness of breath) and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD),” the CDC said.

The results of our research support that health care professionals and government should discourage recreational cannabis consumption in the general population. Given the context of cannabis decriminalization in Canada, which has very likely facilitated the broader use of this product in the population, more efforts need to made from our health and political leaders to educate and remind citizens about the harmful impacts of cannabis on health,” Dr. Vozoris said in a press release. 

WHO warns sustained transmission of monkeypox risks vulnerable groups

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The World Health Organization says “sustained transmission” of monkeypox worldwide could see the virus begin to move into high-risk groups, such as pregnant women, immunocompromised people, and children.

WHO said on Wednesday it was investigating reports of infected children, including two cases in Britain, as well as following up reports in Spain and France. None of the cases in children have been severe.

The virus has now been identified in more than 50 new countries outside the countries in Africa where it is endemic. Cases are also rising in those countries, said WHO, calling for testing to be ramped up.

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“I’m concerned about sustained transmission because it would suggest that the virus (is) establishing itself and it could move into high risk groups including children, the immunocompromised and pregnant women,” said WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus in an online briefing from Geneva on Wednesday.

A logo is pictured at the World Health Organization building in Geneva, Switzerland, on Feb. 2, 2020. 

A logo is pictured at the World Health Organization building in Geneva, Switzerland, on Feb. 2, 2020. 
(Reuters/Denis Balibouse)

There have been more than 3,400 cases of monkeypox, and one death, since the outbreak began in May, largely in Europe among men who have sex with men, according to a WHO tally. There have also been more than 1,500 cases and 66 deaths in countries this year where it more usually spreads.

Last week, the WHO ruled that the outbreak did not yet represent a public health emergency, its highest level of alert. However, Tedros said the WHO was tracking the outbreak closely and would reconvene the committee “as soon as possible” to assess whether this was still the case. [L1N2YE0YM]

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The U.N. agency said it was also working on a mechanism to distribute vaccines more equitably, after countries including Britain and the United States suggested they were willing to share their stockpiled smallpox vaccines, which also protect against monkeypox.

Turkey records first case of monkeypox, according to health minister

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Turkey has detected its first case of monkeypox in a 37-year-old patient who is in isolation, Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said on Thursday.

The virus has been identified in more than 50 new countries outside the countries in Africa where it is endemic. The World Health Organization says cases are also rising in those countries, calling for testing to be ramped up.

“Monkeypox has been detected in one of our patients. The patient is 37 years old and has an immune system deficiency,” Koca wrote on Twitter.

WHO SAYS MONKEYPOX RISK ASSESSED AS ‘MODERATE’

He said the patient was in isolation and contact follow-up had been conducted, with no other case found.

The monkeypox virus has been identified in more than 50 new countries outside the countries in Africa where it is endemic.

The monkeypox virus has been identified in more than 50 new countries outside the countries in Africa where it is endemic.

There have been more than 3,400 cases of monkeypox, and one death, since the outbreak began in May, largely in Europe among men who have sex with men, according to a WHO tally. There have also been more than 1,500 cases and 66 deaths in countries this year where it more usually spreads.

WHO: MONKEYPOX BECOMING ‘ESTABLISHED’ IN NON-ENDEMIC COUNTRIES IS ‘REAL’ RISK

Last week, the WHO ruled that the outbreak did not yet represent a public health emergency, its highest level of alert.

Where things stand with COVID-19 in Canada now


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COVID-19: Should we be worried about rising case numbers in the UK?


Sky’s Kay Burley asks the World Health Organisation’s Dr David Nabarro about how worried we should be at the rising case numbers of COVID in the UK.

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White House says 1.6 million monkeypox vaccines will be available by the end of the year

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About 56,000 doses of the Jynneos monkeypox vaccine are being sent to clinics around the United States right now, and another 240,000 will be on the way in the coming weeks, the Department of Health and Human Services announced Tuesday. 

“While monkeypox poses minimal risk to most Americans, we are doing everything we can to offer vaccines to those at high-risk of contracting the virus,” HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra said in a statement. “This new strategy allows us to maximize the supply of currently available vaccines and reach those who are most vulnerable to the current outbreak.”  

Another 750,000 doses will be made available over the summer, followed by another half a million doses later this year, HHS said. 

Bavarian Nordic is the only one in the world to have approval for a smallpox vaccine called Jynneos in the U.S. and Imvanex in Europe, which is also effective against monkeypox.

Bavarian Nordic is the only one in the world to have approval for a smallpox vaccine called Jynneos in the U.S. and Imvanex in Europe, which is also effective against monkeypox.
(REUTERS/Lukas Barth)

The vaccines will initially be available to those most at risk, including men who have sex with men and individuals who have recently had close contact with someone who has monkeypox. 

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New York City and Washington, D.C., were the first two big cities to start offering monkeypox vaccines in recent days, but health officials said they were already out of supply

The U.S has reported 306 monkeypox infections since the first case this year was found in Massachusetts last month. California has the largest outbreak with 66 cases, followed by New York with 63 and Illinois with 45, according to the CDC. 

In this Centers for Disease Control and Prevention handout graphic, symptoms of one of the first known cases of the monkeypox virus are shown on a patient's hand.

In this Centers for Disease Control and Prevention handout graphic, symptoms of one of the first known cases of the monkeypox virus are shown on a patient’s hand.
(CDC/Getty Images)

The Jynneos vaccine requires two doses administered four weeks apart. The U.S. also has 100 million doses of the older ACAM2000 vaccine, but it is not recommended for everyone due to potentially serious side effects. 

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The CDC also said Tuesday that it is activating the Emergency Operations Center in response to the outbreak. 

“This action stands up the CDC’s command center for monitoring and coordinating the emergency response to monkeypox and mobilizing additional CDC personnel and resources,” the CDC said. 

What to do if you get Monkeypox: Symptoms, vaccinations, and treatments

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Over the last few months, the Monkeypox disease has spread across the world prompting government health agencies and hospitals to fear the worse as the world emerges from the Covid-19 pandemic. 

Monkeypox is a rare infectious disease in the same virus family as smallpox and can be transmitted to humans and animals. The disease was first discovered in 1958 when two African colony monkeys began to develop pox-like symptoms. Despite its namesake, the exact source of this disease is not known, and various non-human primates may infect people with the virus. 

The virus is typically found in tropical environments in central and West Africa where the animals who carry the disease live. The 2022 global outbreak has been linked to the resurgence of international travel to countries where the disease is present. 

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What are the symptoms?

Monkeypox symptoms in humans include fever, swollen lymph nodes, and a blister rash that typically dries out the skin, according to the World Health Organization. Individuals may experience mild symptoms but the ability to carry the virus without symptoms is not known at this time. These symptoms typically last between 2 and 4 weeks from the initial exposure. 

A Monkeypox lesion on a woman's hand. 

A Monkeypox lesion on a woman’s hand. 
(CDC/Getty Images)

The WHO notes that signs of a rash usually start within 24 to 72 hours after the start of the fever and lesions may have filled with clear or yellowish fluid. The rash typically is concentrated on the face, palms, and soles of the feet but may also spread to the genitals, eyes, and mouth. 

Does a vaccine exist for Monkeypox?

Several vaccines used to treat smallpox add protection against Monkeypox and those who have been vaccinated against smallpox may have some protection as well, according to the WHO. Imvanaex is a vaccine developed for smallpox and was approved in 2019 to help prevent monkeypox, but the drug is not accessible to most of the public. 

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The WHO notes that the vaccines used to treat smallpox in 1980 are not available because it became the first disease to be fully eradicated. Health agencies are working to make newer smallpox vaccines more widely available to the public. 

What are the treatments?

Most symptoms of Monkeypox typically resolve by themselves without the need for extensive treatment or medical care. However, the WHO and CDC recommend you avoid scratching or touching sores on the mouth or eyes. 

In severe cases, the WHO recommends the use of vaccinia immune globulin (VIG), an antiviral made to treat smallpox that was approved for the treatment of Monkeypox back in January. Patients should also stay hydrated and eat food to maintain their nutritional status. 

Monkeypox cases may be more severe in children, pregnant or individuals who have compromised immune systems.

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How many cases?

Since the start of the outbreak in 2022, confirmed cases of Monkeypox across the world totals to 4,106 confirmed cases in 47 different countries as of June 23, according to data compiled by the CDC. Moreover, the number of cases in the US stands at 173 cases in more than 20 states.