As August approaches, the CDC is asking health care professionals to be on the lookout and report any suspected cases of AFM (Acute Flaccid Myelitis), a paralyzing illness resembling polio, as cases may peak during this time.
Last year a total of 233 cases were confirmed in 41 states. This year 11 have been reported and an additional 57 cases are being investigated. Cases have been reported in California, Maryland, Nebraska, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Texas, Utah and West Virginia this year.
IMAGE ABOVE FROM CDC
Last year, California, Colorado and Texas appeared to be the worst hit with 15, 16 and 31 cases respectively. Experts are urging states to report any cases of suspected AFM as the above map could be an under-representation of true numbers.
On their website, the CDC reports the following:
The “48 states” refers to cases since 2014. 90% of the cases occurred in children under the age of 4.
The age range of children affected appear to be 3-14. A 6-year-old boy in Washington State died in 2016 and was the first death to be linked to this mysterious illness. His parents reported he had felt ill, became dizzy and within hours suffered swelling in the brain and paralysis. Despite medical efforts, he passed.
In 2018 parents of two children who died from AFM accused the CDC of hiding their deaths.
Although the exact cause of AFM is unknown, health experts are considering a variety of possibilities. They have actually been investigating this since 2014 when reports of AFM began to surface across the United States.
AFM stands for Acute Flaccid Myelitis. It’s a condition that occurs suddenly, causing inflammation of the brain and spinal cord, causing loss of muscle tone and reflexes. Although limb weakness is the primary symptom, patients could also exhibit slurred speech, facial drooping, and in serious cases inability to breath due to paralysis of the respiratory muscles. Mild cases appear to resolve but serious cases can cause residual paralysis or death. Children appear to be more affected than adults.
Although health officials do not know for certain, due to its rapid onset, a pathogen such as a virus seems highly likely. With the 2013-2014 outbreak, some of the cases tested positive for enterovirus (EV-D68), but it is not conclusive whether this was the exact cause or just coincidentally found in the patients tested.
Some postulate a combination of viruses may be a factor or an autoimmune disease. Although Guillain-Barre syndrome causes acute limb weakness and paralysis when the immune system begins attacking the nervous system, the report that many individuals feel feverish or ill prior, seem to point to a pathogen as the primary cause although the latter is not being ruled out. Virus families such as enterovirus (including polio and nonpolio enterovirus), adenovirus (causing respiratory and GI illness) cocksackieviruses and flaviviruses (including West Nile) have been suspected.
Per the CDC, acute flaccid myelitis is rare (less than 1 in a million cases) however currently they report 570 cases have been confirmed since the outbreak began in August 2014.
Medical professionals look at a variety of factors.
Medical professionals look at a variety of factors.
History: how the paralysis/loss of muscle tone began and which limbs did it affect first
Laboratory tests and CSF (cerebrospinal fluid) testing: to look for signs of infection
MRI of the brain: which may show gray matter involvement in a case of AFM.
There is no standard treatment that has been proven effective, however depending on the severity of the symptoms, health professionals can consider a variety of options including steroids, IVIG, interferon, antivirals and supportive measures. Some physicians are using “nerve transfers”, similar to a transplant, to help children regain control of their limbs.
No. Until they can identify the exact cause, or causes, health officials cannot create a vaccine.
If we assume it’s a pathogen causing the illness, avoiding contact with sick individuals, being up-to-date on one’s vaccines and good hand-washing are imperative. Although we do not know if AFM is caused by a mosquito-born illness, avoiding mosquitoes would be wise as well. More therefore needs to be researched to determine why and how those individuals with AFM were infected.
A Hepatitis A outbreak has now been declared in Clark County Nevada.
According to the Southern Nevada Health District, 37 cases have been reported since the start of this year.
Drugs and homelessness have contributed to the outbreak but it can be spread by eating contaminated food.
Per the CDC, 20,133 cases, with 11,595 hospitalizations have been reported in multiple states including Ohio, Tennessee, West Virginia, Kentucky, Indiana, Florida and Arizona to name a few. According to the CDC, California and Utah have declared their outbreaks’ over. 191 deaths have been reported since the outbreak began in 216.
Hepatitis A is a disease that affects the liver. Its caused by a virus (Hepatitis A virus) that is most commonly ingested. Poor hand washing and/or contaminated food are likely culprits. It’s transmitted by the fecal-oral route, where food or drink contaminated by fecal matter enters another person’s GI tract. Sexual transmission of Hepatitis A has been reported during activities involving oral-anal sex.
Hepatitis A can live outside the body for months, so unclean dining areas can be contaminated and transfer to food.
Those who are immunosuppressed run the risk of dying from the infection.
Symptoms of Hepatitis A include:
There is no specific treatment for hepatitis A. Most hepatitis A infections resolve on their own.
We usually recommend rest, fluids, and offer medications to help with nausea and vomiting.
For liver injury we avoid medications and alcohol that can worsen liver damage. The liver will usually recover within months after hepatitis A infection.
There are vaccines for Hepatitis A included in the childhood vaccination schedule. Those older who weren’t vaccinated as a child can get the vaccine from their local provider or health department. Many states require all health care and food workers to be vaccinated.
The best form of prevention however is good hand washing, dining area hygiene, and cooking food thoroughly.
This week the CDC reported their findings of thousands of children being enrolled in school without any waiver for vaccine exemption.
As states aim to limit parental choice to limit vaccination based on religious objections, the country is fighting multiple outbreaks, including Measles, Mumps and Hepatitis A, which are potentially preventable with vaccination.
When the CDC looked at data submitted by 27 states, the majority of unvaccinated or under-vaccinated children in 10 states lacked waivers.
Which brings to question, are other reasons at play when a child is not vaccinated rather than religious or medical objections?
When a family adheres to the vaccination regimen, office visits are need at 1 month, 2 months, 4 months, 6 months, 12 months, sometimes 15 months of age, and 4 years old – 6 years old, in addition to any other follow ups deemed necessary by the medical provider.
Most medical offices that provide vaccines are only open during the weekday, hence a parent who cannot take off work to bring their child in the doctor may have difficulty adhering to the vaccination schedule.
And then when asked why their child wasn’t vaccinated, it may be less embarrassing to cite “religious reasons” rather than fear of losing income or one’s job when taking off for the doctor’s visit.
I suggest weekend or night “vaccination clinics” at schools to make parents aware of alternative times to vaccinate and increase access to those who may not be able to leave their job during the weekday.
Mexican researchers had a major breakthrough in treating HPV (Human Papillomavirus), the most common sexually transmitted disease. In fact, the CDC states that almost 80 million Americans are infected with HPV with approximately 14 million people becoming newly infected per year. Those are just the numbers in the U.S. alone.
What exactly is HPV?
HPV is a group of more than 150 related viruses, named for the warts (papillomas) some HPV types can cause. Some other HPV types can lead to cancer. According to the CDC website:
“In most cases, HPV goes away on its own and does not cause any health problems. But when HPV does not go away, it can cause health problems like genital warts and cancer.
Genital warts usually appear as a small bump or group of bumps in the genital area. They can be small or large, raised or flat, or shaped like a cauliflower. A healthcare provider can usually diagnose warts by looking at the genital area.
HPV can cause cervical and other cancers including cancer of the vulva, vagina, penis, or anus. It can also cause cancer in the back of the throat, including the base of the tongue and tonsils (called oropharyngeal cancer). Cancer often takes years, even decades, to develop after a person gets HPV. The types of HPV that can cause genital warts are not the same as the types of HPV that can cause cancers.”
According to, El Universal, a popular Mexican newsite, a research team at Mexico’s National Polytechnic Institute led by Eva Ramon Gallegos, was able to eliminate HPV in dozens of patients using a non-invasive photodynamic therapy. Which makes us all ask, what is photodynamic therapy? Well, according to cancer.gov:
“Photodynamic therapy (PDT) is a treatment that uses a drug, called a photosensitizer or photosensitizing agent, and a particular type of light. When photosensitizers are exposed to a specific wavelength of light, they produce a form of oxygen that kills nearby cells.”
Sounds like science fiction to me but whatever works! Anyway, according to Ramon’s study, the team was able to eliminate HPV in 100 percent of patients that had no premalignant lesions and in 64.3 percent of subjects with lesions.
Now, I know that viral headlines all across the internet screamed the HPV has been cured but, um - not so fast. There are over 100 different kinds of HPV. Some cause health problems, some do not. Some, but not many, cause cancer. One of the reasons cancer is so hard to cure is because each type of cancer will require a completely different cure. Something that cures cervical cancer, for example, will probably not cure breast cancer. And something that cures type 6,11,16 and 18 (most of the problematic HPV types) types of HPV might not work on other types of HPV.
As pointed out by Liz Highleyman, the editor in chief at www.cancerhealth.com in her A Cure for HPV, not so fast…, there are too many forms of HPV to claim they have all been cured. Highleyman notes the Mexican research only focused on two types of HPV. So, while the research is good news, it’s not exactly a full cure. From her article:
“It’s not clear how photodynamic treatment might eliminate HPV infection, which would seem to require some type of antiviral therapy. But there’s clearly something going on.
Despite the unanswered questions raised by the recent reports, the findings from the Mexican study are good news for people with HPV-associated dysplasia. Photodynamic therapy is well tolerated and noninvasive. Using PDT instead of surgery to remove precancerous tissue could help preserve function in people with anal lesions and the ability to carry a pregnancy in women with cervical lesions.
The news also presents an opportunity to promote HPV vaccination. The new Gardasil 9 vaccine protects against several of the most common cancer-causing HPV types (16, 18, 31, 33, 45, 52 and 58) and two wart-causing types (6 and 11). It is recommended for girls and boys around age 11 or 12, before they become sexually active. However, the FDA recently approved the vaccine for women and men up to age 45, meaning people who were not vaccinated as teens or young adults may still be able to benefit.”
Okay. So perhaps “cures HPV” is too strong a statement. But things seem to be heading in the right direction!
A recent study published in the Lancet finds Millennials to be at much higher risk for cancer than their parents and grandparents ever were.
Those born between 1981 and 1997 appear to be at increased risk of cancer of the:
Study authors cite obesity as the main culprit.
The CDC reports the prevalence of obesity was 35.7% among young adults aged 20 to 39 years.
In 2016 the International Agency for Research and Cancer listed multiple cancers in which obesity plays a role. They include the above as well as breast, ovarian, and esophageal cancer.
Studies have found obesity to alter hormone levels which could incite cells to rapidly divide. Fat acts as if it's another organ, inducing signals that can affect insulin, sugar and fat metabolism and can induce inflammation when it accumulates around other organs.
Moreover it could be an associative relationship in which those who are obese may have poor diets and exercise habits which are linked to cancer as well.
In the above study, non-obesity related cancer, such as lung, appears to be at less risk for millennials as many are saying no to tobacco products.
However, other causes could be at play such as radiation exposure. The verdict is not yet out on vaping either.
Study authors state:
This week, the CDC issued a general warning that Romaine lettuce is not safe to eat.
32 people from 11 states have become ill due to this recent outbreak of E. coli.
The Shiga toxin-producing E. coli O157:H7 sickened 32 people between the dates October 8-31, 2018 and caused 13 hospitalizations, one of whom went into kidney failure.
No deaths have been reported.
On Tuesday they issued the following tweet:
Outbreak Alert: Do not eat any romaine lettuce, including whole heads and hearts, chopped, organic and salad mixes with romaine until we learn more. If you don’t know if it’s romaine or can’t confirm the source, don’t eat it. https://go.usa.gov/xPAy5
On their website, the CDC reports the following:
CDC is advising that U.S. consumers not eat any romaine lettuce, and retailers and restaurants not serve or sell any, until we learn more about the outbreak. This investigation is ongoing and the advice will be updated as more information is available.
Symptoms of E. coli poisoning can occur anywhere from 1-10 days after ingestion.
Diarrhea, may be bloody
And if progresses, can cause
Shortness of Breath
Exposure to E. coli may occur from exposure to contaminated foods (from human or animal waste) or undercooked meats.
Currently 5.7 million people in the US suffer from the debilitating cause of dementia and the CDC estimates close to 14 million will be affected by the year 2060.
As we’re surviving other illnesses that could take our lives sooner, such as heart disease and cancer, we as a population are living to an age where brain changes can occur.
Alzheimer’s is the 5th leading cause of death and scientists still struggle to find a cure or means to stave it off.
The average age of symptom revelation is 65, but researchers believe the disease may set in sooner. Over 200,000 currently suffer from early onset Alzheimer’s, or onset before age 65.
I believe nightly oxygen or CPAP therapy (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) might be worth researching as its been postulated that lack of oxygenation can accelerate dementia.
Alzheimer’s, a progressive disease in which the brain loses function, is most commonly associated with memory loss. As abnormal proteins build up in the brain (beta-amyloid and tau), the plaques and neurofibrillary tangles within the nerve cell (neuron), disrupt communication between nerve cells, so memory can easily start to falter. Many people affected with Alzheimer’s lose newer memories first and then progressively lose old ones.
However, since the brain is such a dynamic and brilliantly complex organ, a disease that alters its tissue could manifest in a variety of symptoms, beyond memory loss.
These can include:
Hence if a family member appears to lose his way driving home, has difficulty dressing himself appropriately, avoids family gatherings, appears to get angry for no apparent reason, or even offers a young baby an object for a much older individual, these may be signs of a dementia such as Alzheimer’s.
Although Caucasians comprise the majority of cases overall, the CDC found among those over 65, African-Americans have the highest rate at nearly 14%, and Hispanics at 12%.
In a recent study, researchers from Northwestern University’s Cognitive Neurology and Alzheimer’s Disease Center found four additional symptoms that may be early signs of Alzheimer’s. These include:
The study authors state these signs may be overlooked and could be very telling of one’s early disease progression.
To diagnose Alzheimer’s, the medical provider may employ a variety of testing measures including basic history and physical, blood tests to rule out thyroid and vitamin deficiencies, lumbar puncture, CT Scans to rule out bleeds, masses, or stroke, MRI Brain scans, neuropsychological tests, and amyloid PET scans.
Although currently a cure for Alzheimer’s does not exist, there are many medications being researched to slow down the progression of the disease and a variety of environmental and behavioral interventions could allow the patient to navigate easier with their challenges.
How to prevent Alzheimer’s remains up for debate, but healthy diet, weight, exercise, and control of one’s blood pressure and blood sugar have been suggested.
The earlier Alzheimer’s is diagnosed, the easier it may be to manage, hence family members need to learn and look out for the above symptoms.