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Two People In China Got The Black Death Plague But Chances Of Another Pandemic Are ‘Close To Nil’

Plague disease positive

Topline: One of the deadliest pandemics in human history, the Black Death plague, has cropped up again with two cases recently reported in China—although chances of another global pandemic are slim to none, according to medical experts.

  • Two people from the Chinese province of Inner Mongolia are reportedly being treated for the plague—the same disease that caused the Black Death, which wiped out around 50 million people in Europe during the 14th century—according to state officials.
  • It’s not the first time the disease has been reported this year: Earlier in 2019, a Mongolian couple died from bubonic plague after eating a raw marmot kidney, while over the summer, plague-infested prairie dogs shut down parts of a Denver suburb in Colorado.
  • Human infections continue to occur primarily in rural areas, sometimes in the western U.S., but more frequently in parts of Asia, South America and primarily Africa, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
  • In recent decades, an average of seven human plague cases in the U.S. have been reported each year, with the last deaths occurring in 2015, according to CDC data.
  • Plague can be transmitted through flea bites and infected animals, primarily wild rodents like rats, prairie dogs, squirrels and rabbits—although human pets like cats and dogs can also get infected.
  • While today we have modern antibiotics to effectively treat infections and prevent death if caught early enough, there is currently no vaccine to protect individuals from the plague.

Crucial quote: “The risks of a global plague pandemic such as the 14th century Black Death are close to nil,” says Dr. James Shepherd, an associate professor of internal medicine (infectious diseases) at the Yale School of Medicine. “It is a zoonosis—an infection with a wild animal reservoir—transmitted by flea bites and so it doesn’t have the capacity to rapidly spread from person to person. … There are sporadic cases in the U.S. annually, often in hunters, so we see it occasionally.”

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Key background: During the Middle Ages, the Black Death plague wiped out around 50 million people and 60% of Europe’s population at the time. Plague is caused by the bacterium Yersinia pestis, and can arise in three forms: Bubonic plague is most common, marked by swollen lymph nodes on the body. If not treated early enough, that can cause septicemic plague, which infects the blood, and worse yet, pneumonic plague, which infects the lungs.

What to watch for: Despite its associations with historical pandemics, the disease is still around today. More than 3,248 cases were reported worldwide from 2010 to 2015, including 584 deaths, according to the World Health Organization. With close to 50,000 human cases of the plague in the last two decades, according to CNN, the WHO now classifies it as a reemerging disease. The three countries where the plague is most endemic are Peru, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Madagascar—where a 2017 outbreak saw 2,348 reported cases and 202 deaths.

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I am a New York—based reporter for Forbes, covering breaking news—with a focus on financial topics. Previously, I’ve reported at Money Magazine, The Villager NYC, and The East Hampton Star. I graduated from the University of St Andrews in 2018, majoring in International Relations and Modern History. Follow me on Twitter @skleb1234 or email me at sklebnikov@forbes.com

Source: Two People In China Got The Black Death Plague—But Chances Of Another Pandemic Are ‘Close To Nil’

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The Black Death pandemic swept across Europe in the mid-14th century killing about half the population. It was caused by a bacterium called Yersinia pestis. This strain of bacteria is still around today, but intriguingly it causes far fewer deaths. To find out why, researchers reconstructed a medieval Yersinia pestis genome — and compared it to the genomes of contemporary strains. The team, led by German scientist Johannes Krause, made use of recent technological advances in DNA recovery and analysis to examine DNA from the skeletons of four individuals buried in East Smithfield in London, a well-known medieval burial site for victims of the Black Death. Read the original research paper here: http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/nature10549 And read the feature here: http://www.nature.com/news/2011/11102…

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Maintaining a Daily Rhythm Is Important For Mental Health,Study Suggests

Setting an alarm might be the only thing that helps you get up in the morning, but try setting one at night to remind you when it's time to go to bed. Click through our gallery for other tips for better sleep.

The study, published Tuesday in the journal The Lancet Psychiatry, looked at disruptions in the circadian rhythms — or daily sleep-wake cycles — of over 91,000 adults in the United Kingdom. It measured these disruptions using a device called an accelerometer that is worn on the wrist and measures one’s daily activity levels. The participants were taken from the UK Biobank, a large cohort of over half a million UK adults ages 37 to 73.
The researchers found that individuals with more circadian rhythm disruptions — defined as increased activity at night, decreased activity during the day or both — were significantly more likely to have symptoms consistent with bipolar disorder or major depression. They were also more likely to have decreased feelings of well-being and to have reduced cognitive functioning, based on a computer-generated reaction time test.
For all participants, activity levels were measured over a seven-day period in either 2013 or 2014, and mental health proxies such as mood and cognitive functioning were measured using an online mental health questionnaire that participants filled out in 2016 or 2017.
“It’s widely known that a good night’s sleep is a good thing for well-being and health. That’s not a big surprise,” said Dr. Daniel Smith, professor of psychiatry at the University of Glasgow and a leading author on the study. “But I think what’s less well-known and what comes out of this work is that not only is a good night’s sleep important, but having a regular rhythm of being active in daylight and inactive in darkness over time is important for mental well-being.”
The findings were found to be consistent even when controlling for a number of influential factors including age, sex, lifestyle, education and body mass index, according to Smith.
“I think one of the striking things that we found was just the consistency in the direction of our association across everything we looked at in terms of mental health,” Smith said.
Daily circadian rhythm is controlled by a collection of neurons in an area of the brain called the hypothalamus. The hypothalamus helps regulate a number of important behavioral and physiological functions such as body temperature, eating and drinking habits, emotional well-being and sleep, according to the National Institute of General Medical Sciences.
The findings are consistent with research indicating a link between sleep disruptions and mood disorders. A 2009 study, for example, showed that men who worked night shifts for four years or more were more likely to have anxiety and depression than those who work during the day.
However, the new study is the first to use objective measurements of daily activity and is among the largest of its kind, according to Aiden Doherty, senior research fellow at the University of Oxford, who was not involved in the research.
“This study is the first large-scale investigation of the association of objectively measured circadian rhythmicity with various mental health, well-being, personality and cognitive outcomes, with an unprecedented sample size of more than 90 000 participants,” Doherty wrote in an email.
“Previous studies have been very small (in just a few hundred people), or relied on self-report measures (asking people what they think they do). … However, this study used objective device-based measures in over 90,000 participants; and then linked this information to standard measures of mood disorders, subjective well-being, and cognitive function,” he added.
The findings have significant public health consequences, particularly for those who live in urban areas, where circadian rhythms are often disrupted due to artificial light, according to Smith.
“By 2030, two-thirds of the world’s population will be living in cities, and we know that living in an urban environment can be pretty toxic to your circadian system because of all the artificial light that you’re exposed to,” Smith said.
“So we need to think about ways to help people tune in to their natural rhythms of activity and sleeping more effectively. Hopefully, that will protect a lot of people from mood disorders.”
For those who struggle to maintain a consistent circadian rhythm, certain strategies — such as avoiding technology at night — have proven to be an important part of good sleep hygiene.
“Not using your phone late at night and having a regular pattern of sleeping is really important,” Smith said. “But equally important is a pattern of exposing yourself to sunshine and daylight in the morning and doing activity in the morning or midday so you can actually sleep properly.”
Based on the observational nature of the study, the researchers were unable to show causality, meaning it is unclear whether the sleep disturbances caused the mental health problems or vice versa.
“It’s a cross-sectional study, so we can’t say anything about cause and effect or what came first, the mood disorder or the circadian disruption,” said Kristen Knutson, associate professor of neurology at Northwestern’s Feinberg School of Medicine, who was not involved in the study.
“And it’s likely they affect each other in a circular fashion,” she added. The researchers also looked exclusively at adults between age 37 and 73, meaning the results may not apply to younger individuals, whose circadian rhythms are known to be different than those of older adults, according to Smith.
“The circadian system changes throughout life. If you’ve got kids, you know that very young kids tend to be nocturnal,” Smith said. “My suspicion is that we might observe even more pronounced effects in younger samples, but that hasn’t been done yet, to my knowledge.”
But the study adds more credence to the idea that sleep hygiene — including maintaining a consistent pattern of sleep and wake cycles — may be an important component of good mental health, according to Smith.
“It’s an exciting time for this kind of research because it’s beginning to have some real-world applications,” Smith said. “And from my point of view as a psychiatrist, I think it’s probably under-recognized in psychiatry how important healthy circadian function is, but it’s an area that we’re trying to develop.”

 May 15, 2018

Psychology – If You Know Someone Who’s Depressed

“If you know someone who’s depressed, please resolve never to ask them why. Depression isn’t a straightforward response to a bad situation; depression just is, like the weather. Try to understand the blackness, lethargy, hopelessness, and loneliness they’re going through. Be there for them when they come through the other side. It’s hard to be […]

via “If You Know Someone Who’s Depressed…..” — Fighting for a Future

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