Moderna COVID Vaccine May Pose Higher Heart Inflammation Risk

Source: Moderna COVID vaccine may pose higher heart inflammation risk – U.S. CDC

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What To Know About How Monkeypox Spreads—And Whether You Should Wear A Mask

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention sparked confusion over monkeypox this week after deleting a recommendation for travelers to wear face masks to protect against the disease, a u-turn that shed light on the different ways the virus spreads amid escalating outbreaks across Europe and North America—here’s what to know about how the disease is transmitted.

Monkeypox does not spread easily between people and is transmitted through prolonged close contact with an infected animal or person or objects contaminated by someone with an infection like towels, clothes or bedding.The virus mainly spreads via direct contact with infectious monkeypox sores, scabs or bodily fluids, though it can also be transmitted via respiratory droplets, the kind of large particles produced when people breathe, talk, cough or sneeze.

These respiratory droplets do not travel very far and drop to the ground quickly, Dr. Jake Dunning, an infectious disease researcher at the University of Oxford, told Forbes. It’s not clear whether or not monkeypox can also spread via aerosol—tiny liquid particles that can linger in the air—a mode of transmission often used to designate a disease “airborne.”

Dunning called the term “unhelpful” as many people use it to describe different things, though said it is possible that short-range aerosols could be involved in transmitting monkeypox. More research will be needed to know for sure, he said, adding that he would be “surprised” if research showed long-range aerosol transmission, given current evidence suggesting long-range transmission is unlikely.

If monkeypox can be transmitted sexually. A significant portion of the monkeypox cases identified in Europe and the U.K. have been among men who identify as gay or bisexual or have sex with other men with no history of travel to parts of Africa where monkeypox is endemic. While the virus is not known to be sexually transmitted—though a degree of close physical contact can be assumed—the pattern had scientists wondering if other modes of transmission were involved and experts have cautioned against stigmatizing members of the community.

Experts stress the risk from monkeypox is not limited to men who have sex with men and note the pattern could be explained by other factors. These could include health officials searching for, and thus finding, more cases within this group, members of the community being more proactive about their sexual health and more likely to visit clinics or the disease spreading thorugh sexual and social networks.

Researchers in Europe recently detected monkeypox virus in the semen of several patients, however, suggesting direct sexual transmission may be possible. Further research will be needed to determine whether this is the case, Dunning said. It’s not clear how the virus came to be in the seminal fluid or whether it was “added” at some point after ejaculation, he explained.

On Monday, the CDC raised its alert on monkeypox to Level 2—the level below advising against non-essential travel—updating its guidance and encouraging travelers to “practice enhanced precautions.” The guidance, which stressed the risk to the general public is “low,” advised those traveling to areas where there’s a monkeypox outbreak to avoid contact with sick people, contaminated materials and wild animals.

It also suggested travelers wear masks to help protect against monkeypox, though the agency quietly removed this recommendation, stating it had “caused confusion.” The agency does still recommend face masks, alongside other protective gear, for those who may be in close contact with a confirmed monkeypox patient and health workers caring for monkeypox patients. Dr. Hugh Adler from the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine and Oxford’s Dunning both told Forbes masks are worn in clinical settings as part of a standard set of protective equipment for dealing with diseases like monkeypox.

On their own, masks may not be that useful in protecting against monkeypox given the multiple ways the disease can spread, they added. Given the very low risk of the general public coming into contact with someone with monkeypox, Adler said wearing masks doesn’t make a lot of sense. Dunning said the debate over masks is similar to discussions going on around the world with several other emerging infections and is “heavily influenced” by the Covid-19 pandemic.

45. That’s how many cases of monkeypox have been confirmed in the U.S. as of Thursday, according to the CDC. More than 1,300 cases have been confirmed in nearly 30 countries outside of Africa, according to public health data compiled by Global.Health, a team of researchers and technologists tracking the outbreak. The majority of these are in Europe—the U.K. has identified 321 cases, Spain 198, Portugal 191 and Germany 113—with a notable cluster of 110 cases in Canada. More cases are suspected but not confirmed.

Orthopoxviruses like monkeypox are “hardy and stable” and can survive for weeks or months in shed skin flakes and dust if the conditions are right, Oxford’s Dunning told Forbes. This means items like contaminated bedding or towels used by monkeypox patients could theoretically pose an infection risk for a long time. “Clouds” of skin flakes or dust that might form when changing the bed of an infected person could, for example, pose a risk of infection, Dunning added, though more research will be needed to examine the possibility.

Monkeypox gaining a foothold. Monkeypox is not a new virus and is a well-known entity that has been circulating in parts of Central and Western Africa for decades. It’s typically mild and goes away on its own in a month or so—though it can be lethal and is more dangerous for children and pregnant people—and there are several useful vaccines and treatments available designed to tackle smallpox, a similar virus that has been eradicated.

Experts, including WHO chief Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, say the sudden and unexpected appearance of monkeypox in multiple countries at once suggests the virus may have been circulating undetected in non-endemic countries for some time, though it’s unclear for how long. While Tedros said it’s not too late to contain the outbreaks at the moment, he warned there is a “real” risk of the virus “becoming established in non-endemic countries.”

It’s possible the virus could spread to wild animal populations and gain a foothold outside of Africa that way, several researchers studying how viruses spread from animals to humans told Forbes. Rodents—which are suspected of harboring the virus in Africa—and squirrels are the most likely animal reservoirs in the U.S., University of Minnesota virologist Matthew Aliota said, and Georgetown University’s Ellen Carlin said the animals should be an “important planning consideration” for officials tackling the outbreak.

I am a London-based reporter for Forbes covering breaking news. Previously, I have worked as a reporter for a specialist legal publication covering big data and as a freelance

Source: What To Know About How Monkeypox Spreads—And Whether You Should Wear A Mask

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Monkeypox: Here’s What You Need To Know About The Rare Virus Found In The U.S., U.K. And Europe

Monkeypox is a new global threat. African scientists know what the world is up against

Monkeypox vaccination begins — can the global outbreaks be contained?

“Signs and Symptoms Monkeypox”.

Transmission Monkeypox”

“2003 U.S. Outbreak Monkeypox”

Human monkeypox”

“Treatment | Monkeypox | Poxvirus | CDC”.

Smallpox Vaccine Supply & Strength”. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases

“FDA approves first live, non-replicating vaccine to prevent smallpox and monkeypox”.

Treatment | Monkeypox | Poxvirus

Multi-country monkeypox outbreak in non-endemic countries”. World Health Organization.

Monkeypox cases reported in these countries so far. Check full list here”.

“Monkeypox cases investigated in Europe, the United States, Canada and Australia”

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Monkeypox Likely Spread By Sex at 2 Raves In Europe

This 2003 electron microscope image made available by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows mature, oval-shaped monkeypox virions, left, and spherical immature virions, right, obtained from a sample of human skin associated with the 2003 prairie dog outbreak.

A leading doctor who chairs a World Health Organization expert group described the unprecedented outbreak of the rare disease monkeypox in developed countries as “a random event” that might be explained by risky sexual behavior at two recent mass events in Europe.

A leading adviser to the World Health Organization described the unprecedented outbreak of the rare disease monkeypox in developed countries as “a random event” that might be explained by risky sexual behavior at two recent mass events in Europe.

In an interview with The Associated Press, Dr. David Heymann, who formerly headed WHO’s emergencies department, said the leading theory to explain the spread of the disease was sexual transmission among gay and bisexual men at two raves held in Spain and Belgium. Monkeypox has not previously triggered widespread outbreaks beyond Africa, where it is endemic in animals.

“We know monkeypox can spread when there is close contact with the lesions of someone who is infected, and it looks like sexual contact has now amplified that transmission,” said Heymann. That marks a significant departure from the disease’s typical pattern of spread in central and western Africa, where people are mainly infected by animals like wild rodents and primates and outbreaks have not spilled across borders.

To date, WHO has recorded more than 90 cases of monkeypox in a dozen countries including Britain, Spain, Israel, France, Switzerland, the U.S. and Australia. Madrid’s senior health official said on Monday that the Spanish capital has recorded 30 confirmed cases so far. Enrique Ruiz Escudero said authorities are investigating possible links between a recent Gay Pride event in the Canary Islands, which drew some 80,000 people, and cases at a Madrid sauna.

Heymann chaired an urgent meeting of WHO’s advisory group on infectious disease threats on Friday to assess the ongoing epidemic and said there was no evidence to suggest that monkeypox might have mutated into a more infectious form.

Monkeypox typically causes fever, chills, rash, and lesions on the face or genitals. It can be spread through close contact with an infected person or their clothing or bedsheets, but sexual transmission has not yet been documented. Most people recover from the disease within several weeks without requiring hospitalization.

Vaccines against smallpox, a related disease, are also effective in preventing monkeypox and some antiviral drugs are being developed. So far, public health agencies in Europe have confirmed cases in the UK, Spain, Portugal, Germany, Belgium, France, the Netherlands, Italy and Sweden.

In a statement on Friday, the WHO said that the recent outbreaks “are atypical, as they are occurring in non-endemic countries”. It said it was “working with the affected countries and others to expand disease surveillance to find and support people who may be affected”.

It is not yet clear why this unusual outbreak is happening now. One possibility is that the virus has changed in some way, although currently there is little evidence to suggest this is a new variant. Another explanation is that the virus has found itself in the right place at the right time to thrive.

Monkeypox may also spread more easily than it did in the past, when the smallpox vaccine was widely used. WHO’s Europe regional director Hans Kluge warned that “as we enter the summer season… with mass gatherings, festivals and parties, I am concerned that transmission could accelerate”.

He added that all but one of the recent cases had no relevant travel history to areas where monkeypox was endemic. The first case of the disease in the UK was reported on 7 May. The patient had recently travelled to Nigeria, where they are believed to have caught the virus before travelling to England, the UK Health Security Agency said.

There are now 20 confirmed cases in the UK, Health Secretary Sajid Javid said on Friday. Authorities in the UK said they had bought stocks of the smallpox vaccine and started offering it to those with “higher levels of exposure” to monkeypox. Spanish health authorities have also reportedly purchased thousands of smallpox jabs to deal with the outbreak, according to Spanish newspaper El País.

Australia’s first case was detected in a man who fell ill after travelling to the UK, the Victorian Department of Health said. In North America, health authorities in the US state of Massachusetts confirmed that a man has been infected after recently travelling to Canada. He was in “good condition” and “poses no risk to the public”, officials said.

By:

Source: Expert: Monkeypox likely spread by sex at 2 raves in Europe

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What We Know About Long COVID So Far

While the World Health Organization says long COVID starts three months after the original bout of illness or positive test result, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention sets the timeline at just after one month.

Among the many confounding aspects of the coronavirus is the spectrum of possible symptoms, as well as their severity and duration. Some people develop mild illness and recover quickly, with no lasting effects. But studies estimate that 10% to 30% of people report persistent or new medical issues months after their initial coronavirus infections — a constellation of symptoms known as long COVID.

People who experience mild or moderate illness, as well as those without any underlying medical conditions, can nonetheless experience some debilitating long-term symptoms, including fatigue, shortness of breath, an erratic heart rate, headaches, dizziness, depression and problems with memory and concentration.

Such lingering medical issues are so varied that one study by a patient-led research group evaluated 203 symptoms that may fluctuate or even appear out of the blue after people seem to have recovered.

As Dr. Ziyad Al-Aly, the chief of research and development at the VA St. Louis Healthcare System and a clinical public health researcher at Washington University in St. Louis, said, “If you’ve seen one patient with long COVID, you’ve seen one patient with long COVID.”

How doctors currently diagnose long COVID

There is little consensus on the exact definition of long COVID, also known by the medical term PASC, or post-acute sequelae of COVID-19. While the World Health Organization says long COVID starts three months after the original bout of illness or positive test result, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention sets the timeline at just after one month.

Some researchers and health care providers use other time frames, making efforts to study and quantify the condition more difficult, said Al-Aly, who has conducted many studies on long-term post-COVID issues.

When patients experiencing persistent symptoms go to their doctors, tests like electrocardiograms, chest X-rays, CT scans and blood work don’t always identify physiological problems, Al-Aly said. Researchers are working to pinpoint certain biological factors, called biomarkers, that correlate with persistent COVID symptoms. These could include signs of inflammation or certain molecules produced by the immune system that might be measured by blood tests, for example.

Long COVID is defined as symptoms that cannot be explained by an alternative diagnosis and last at least two months following an initial COVID-19 infection. It is usually after three months (12 weeks) of persistent symptoms when a patient is suspected of having long COVID.

Long COVID can affect anyone of any age, including children and adolescents. Even if you had mild or no symptoms when you were first infected, you can be impacted by long COVID.

For some, long COVID symptoms can be more severe than the acute COVID-19 infection itself. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), symptoms can persist from the initial illness or begin after recovery, and they may come and go or improve over time.

Long COVID can interfere with a person’s ability to perform normal, everyday activities, like work and household chores. With children, it can affect their ability to do their schoolwork. While it cannot be predicted how long a given patient may experience long COVID, some research has shown that patients can get better over time.

Long COVID Symptoms

Long COVID symptoms are different from acute COVID symptoms. Conditions can include, but are not limited to:

  • Persistent cough
  • Loss of (or changes in) taste and smell
  • Depression
  • Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
  • Sleeping problems
  • Lightheadedness
  • Diarrhea
  • Fatigue
  • Anxiety
  • Chest pain
  • Palpitations
  • Headache
  • Joint and muscle pain
  • Poor appetite

How Does Long COVID Affect Children?

Some common symptoms seen in children include fatigue, headache, trouble sleeping and concentrating, muscle and joint pain, and cough. As with other medical conditions, young children may have trouble describing the problems they are experiencing.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), information on long COVID in children and adolescents is limited, so it is possible other symptoms may be likely in younger age groups.

If your child is suffering from long COVID and is unable to complete their normal school assignments, it might be best to ask school administrators about accommodations such as extra time to complete tests and assignments, rest periods throughout the school day and modified class schedules, says the CDC.

What Causes Long COVID?

It is unknown why people experience long COVID. The cause is still an active area of research. Some experts believe the cause is potentially due to the body’s hyper-inflammatory immune response to a new germ.

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Source: What We Know About Long COVID So Far

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Future COVID Variants Will Likely Reinfect Us Multiple Times a Year, Experts Say

For more than a year now, the original COVID-19 vaccines have held up remarkably well — even miraculously so — against a Greek alphabet of new variants: Alpha, Beta, Gamma, Delta.

But now experts say something is changing. Since the start of 2022, the initial version of Omicron, known as BA.1, has been spinning off new sublineages — BA.2, BA.2.12.1, BA.4, BA.5 — at an alarming pace.

Earlier variants did this too. But it never really mattered, because their offshoots “had no functional consequence,” according to Eric Topol, founder of Scripps Research Translational Institute. “They did not increase transmissibility or pathogenicity.”

Today’s rapidly proliferating Omicron mutants are different, however. They all have one worrisome trait in common: They’re getting better and better at sidestepping immunity and sickening people who were previously shielded by vaccination or prior infection.

The virus, in other words, is now evolving faster — and in a more consequential way — than ever before. Given the increasing speed of immune evasion, and what this pattern portends for the future, experts warn that the time has come to rethink our reliance on the vaccine status quo and double down on next-generation vaccines that can actually stop infection.

“As difficult [as] it is to mentally confront, we must plan on something worse than Omicron in the months ahead,” Topol wrote on May 15. “We absolutely need an aggressive stance to get ahead of the virus — for the first time since the pandemic began — instead of surrendering.”

The brewing storm of BA sublineages isn’t all bad news. COVID cases have been rising nationwide since the beginning of April, nearly quadrupling over the last six weeks to more than 90,000 per day on average. Yet both COVID deaths (about 300 per day) and ICU patients (about 2,000 total) are still at or approaching record lows — even though other countries with bigger gaps in previous exposure or vaccination have been hit hard, and even though new research shows that Omicron and its spinoffs are not, in fact, intrinsically less severe or deadly than prior variants, contrary to early assumptions.

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Source: Future COVID variants will likely reinfect us multiple times a year, experts say — unless we invest in new vaccines

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The new variants have not altered the fundamental usefulness of the Covid vaccines. Most people who have received three or even just two doses will not become sick enough to need medical care if they test positive for the coronavirus. And a booster dose, like a previous bout with the virus, does seem to decrease the chance of reinfection — but not by much.

At the pandemic’s outset, many experts based their expectations of the coronavirus on influenza, the viral foe most familiar to them. They predicted that, as with the flu, there might be one big outbreak each year, most likely in the fall. The way to minimize its spread would be to vaccinate people before its arrival.

Instead, the coronavirus is behaving more like four of its closely related cousins, which circulate and cause colds year round. While studying common-cold coronaviruses, “we saw people with multiple infections within the space of a year,” said Jeffrey Shaman, an epidemiologist at Columbia University in New York.

If reinfection turns out to be the norm, the coronavirus is “not going to simply be this wintertime once-a-year thing,” he said, “and it’s not going to be a mild nuisance in terms of the amount of morbidity and mortality it causes.”

Reinfections with earlier variants, including Delta, did occur but were relatively infrequent. But in September, the pace of reinfections in South Africa seemed to pick up and was markedly high by November, when the Omicron variant was identified, Dr. Pulliam said.

Reinfections in South Africa, as in the United States, may seem even more noticeable because so many have been immunized or infected at least once by now.

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