MEDFORD, Mass. — More than nine in 10 American adults may want to think about skipping the summertime barbecues. A new study finds that less than seven percent of the nation’s adult population have what health experts consider good cardiometabolic health.
Researchers from Tufts University say this measure includes five key components of health: blood pressure, blood sugar, blood cholesterol, adiposity (being either overweight or obese), and the presence or absence of cardiovascular disease.
Weight and blood sugar spiraling out of control
Using information on roughly 55,000 people over the age of 20, the results show just 6.8 percent of American adults reached optimal levels of health in all five categories in 2018. Moreover, the study found American health has been in steep decline over the last 20 years.
In 1999, one in three adults had healthy levels for adiposity, meaning they had a healthy weight and were not overweight or obese. By 2018, that number fell to just one in four Americans.
At the same time, three in five people were free of diabetes and prediabetes in 1999. By 2018, however, more than six in 10 adults had one of these conditions!
At least one person has died and nearly two dozen others have been hospitalized by a new listeria outbreak, health officials said Thursday, as they investigate the source of the contamination.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Thursday that cases have been reported in 10 states. Colorado, Minnesota, Georgia, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Kansas, Illinois and Georgia have all reported one case each, while New York and Massachusetts have both received two reports. Florida, meanwhile, has reported the vast majority of the cases, with 12.
The CDC said it has not identified a food that might be spreading the deadly bacteria, but the majority of people who have fallen ill live in or traveled to Florida about a month before they got sick.
One person in Illinois died after contracting the disease, according to the CDC, and five of the cases were reported in pregnant women, with one of whom lost the fetus.
Listeria is one of the most dangerous forms of food poisoning, and it is especially dangerous to pregnant women, newborns, the elderly and those with compromised immune systems.
The true number of sick people in an outbreak is likely higher than the number reported, and the outbreak may not be limited to only the states with known illnesses because most people who are infected suffer mild symptoms and recover without seeking medical attention.
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Emotionally, the second year of the pandemic was an even tougher year for the world than the first one, according to Gallup’s latest annual global update on the negative and positive experiences that people are having each day.
As 2021 served up a steady diet of uncertainty, the world became a slightly sadder, more worried and more stressed-out place than it was the year before — which helped push Gallup’s Negative Experience Index to yet another new high of 33 in 2021.
As it does every year, Gallup asked adults in 122 countries and areas in 2021 if they had five different negative experiences on the day before the survey — and compiled the results into an index. Higher scores on the Negative Experience Index indicate that more of a population is experiencing these emotions.
In 2021, four in 10 adults worldwide said they experienced a lot of worry (42%) or stress (41%), and slightly more than three in 10 experienced a lot of physical pain (31%). More than one in four experienced sadness (28%), and slightly fewer experienced anger (23%).
Already at or near record highs in 2020, these experiences of stress, worry and sadness ticked upward in 2021 and set new records. Worry rose two points, while stress and sadness increased one point each. The percentage of adults worldwide who said they experienced pain also rebounded two percentage points, matching levels more in line with previous years’ estimates.
However, there was one bright spot: Reports of anger did not increase in 2021, dropping a single point from 24% in 2020.
Positive Experience Index Drops for First Time in Years
On top of the increase in negative experiences, fewer people reported that they had positive experiences the previous day. After several years of stability, the Positive Experience Index score in 2021 — 69 — dropped for the first time since 2017.
(CNN) – Omicron subvariants BA.4 and BA.5 appear to escape antibody responses among both people who had previous Covid-19 infection and those who have been fully vaccinated and boosted, according to new data from researchers at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, of Harvard Medical School.
However, Covid-19 vaccination is still expected to provide substantial protection against severe disease, and vaccine makers are working on updated shots that might elicit a stronger immune response against the variants.
The levels of neutralizing antibodies that a previous infection or vaccinations elicit are several times lower against the BA.4 and BA.5 subvariants compared with the original coronavirus, according to the new research published in the New England Journal of Medicine on Wednesday.
“We observed 3-fold reductions of neutralizing antibody titers induced by vaccination and infection against BA4 and BA5 compared with BA1 and BA2, which are already substantially lower than the original COVID-19 variants,” Dr. Dan Barouch, an author of the paper and director of the Center for Virology and Vaccine Research at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, wrote in an email to CNN.
“Our data suggest that these new Omicron subvariants will likely be able to lead to surges of infections in populations with high levels of vaccine immunity as well as natural BA1 and BA2 immunity,” Barouch wrote. “However, it is likely that vaccine immunity will still provide substantial protection against severe disease with BA4 and BA5.”
The newly published findings echo separate research by scientists at Columbia University.
LONDON (AP) — The World Health Organization convenes its emergency committee Thursday to consider if the spiraling outbreak of monkeypox warrants being declared a global emergency. But some experts say the WHO’s decision to act only after the disease spilled into the West could entrench the grotesque inequities that arose between rich and poor countries during the coronavirus pandemic.
Declaring monkeypox to be a global emergency would mean the U.N. health agency considers the outbreak to be an “extraordinary event” and that the disease is at risk of spreading across even more borders, possibly requiring a global response. It would also give monkeypox the same distinction as the COVID-19 pandemic and the ongoing effort to eradicate polio.
The WHO said it did not expect to announce any decisions made by its emergency committee before Friday.
Many scientists doubt any such declaration would help to curb the epidemic, since the developed countries recording the most recent cases are already moving quickly to shut it down.
Last week, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus described the recent monkeypox epidemic identified in more than 40 countries, mostly in Europe, as “unusual and concerning.” Monkeypox has sickened people for decades in central and west Africa, where one version of the disease kills up to 10% of people infected. The version of the disease seen in Europe and elsewhere usually has a fatality rate of less than 1% and no deaths beyond Africa have so far been reported.
“If WHO was really worried about monkeypox spread, they could have convened their emergency committee years ago when it reemerged in Nigeria in 2017 and no one knew why we suddenly had hundreds of cases,” said Oyewale Tomori, a Nigerian virologist who sits on several WHO advisory groups. “It is a bit curious that WHO only called their experts when the disease showed up in white countries,” he said.
Until last month, monkeypox had not caused sizeable outbreaks beyond Africa. Scientists haven’t found any mutations in the virus that suggest it’s more transmissible, and a leading adviser to the WHO said last month the surge of cases in Europe was likely tied to sexual activity among gay and bisexual men at two raves in Spain and Belgium.
To date, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has confirmed more than 3,300 cases of monkeypox in 42 countries where the virus hasn’t been typically seen. More than 80% of cases are in Europe. Meanwhile, Africa has already seen more than 1,400 cases this year, including 62 deaths.
David Fidler, a senior fellow in global health at the Council on Foreign Relations, said the WHO’s newfound attention to monkeypox amid its spread beyond Africa could inadvertently worsen the divide between rich and poor countries seen during COVID-19.
“There may be legitimate reasons why WHO only raised the alarm when monkeypox spread to rich countries, but to poor countries, that looks like a double standard,” Fidler said. He said the global community was still struggling to ensure the world’s poor were vaccinated against the coronavirus and that it was unclear if Africans even wanted monkeypox vaccines, given competing priorities like malaria and HIV.
“Unless African governments specifically ask for vaccines, it might be a bit patronizing to send them because it’s in the West’s interest to stop monkeypox from being exported,” Fidler said.
The WHO has also proposed creating a vaccine-sharing mechanism to help affected countries, which could see doses go to rich countries like Britain, which has the biggest monkeypox outbreak beyond Africa — and recently widened its use of vaccines.
To date, the vast majority of cases in Europe have been in men who are gay or bisexual, or other men who have sex with men, but scientists warn anyone in close contact with an infected person or their clothing or bedsheets is at risk of infection, regardless of their sexual orientation. People with monkeypox often experience symptoms like fever, body aches and a rash; most recover within weeks without medical care.
Even if the WHO announces monkeypox is a global emergency, it’s unclear what impact that might have.
In January 2020, the WHO declared COVID-19 an international emergency. But few countries took notice until March, when the organization described it as a pandemic, weeks after many other authorities did so. The WHO was later slammed for its multiple missteps throughout the pandemic, which some experts said might be prompting a quicker monkeypox response.
“After COVID, WHO does not want to be the last to declare monkeypox an emergency,” said Amanda Glassman, executive vice president at the Center for Global Development. “This may not rise to the level of a COVID-like emergency, but it is still a public health emergency that needs to be addressed.”
Salim Abdool Karim, an epidemiologist and vice chancellor at the University of KwaZulu-Natal in South Africa, said the WHO and others should be doing more to stop monkeypox in Africa and elsewhere, but wasn’t convinced that a global emergency declaration would help.
“There is this misplaced idea that Africa is this poor, helpless continent, when in fact, we do know how to deal with epidemics,” said Abdool Karim. He said that stopping the outbreak ultimately depends on things like surveillance, isolating patients and public education.
“Maybe they need vaccines in Europe to stop monkeypox, but here, we have been able to control it with very simple measures,” he said.
Ever since monkeypox started to sicken thousands of people worldwide this spring, two big questions have loomed: Why is a virus that has never managed to spread beyond a few cases outside Africa suddenly causing such a big, global outbreak? And why are the overwhelming majority of those affected men who have sex with men (MSM)?
A long history of work on sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and early studies of the current outbreak suggest the answers may be linked: The virus may have made its way into highly interconnected sexual networks within the MSM community, where it can spread in ways that it cannot in the general population.
An epidemiological modeling study posted as a preprint last week by researchers at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) supports that idea. It suggests the outbreak will keep growing rapidly if the spread isn’t curtailed. It also has implications for how to protect those most at risk and limit spread, while suggesting the risk for the wider population remains low.
But there are still many uncertainties, and communication is fraught because of the risk of stigmatizing MSM—and because communicating frankly about sexual behavior is hard. “I think we have to talk more about sex,” says Yale School of Public Health epidemiologist and former HIV activist Gregg Gonsalves. “Everybody has been very clear about stigma, and saying it over and over again. The point is that you still have to address the risk of infection in our community.”
Since early May, more than 2000 monkeypox cases have been reported in more than 30 countries where the virus is not normally seen. (Outbreaks are more common in at least a dozen countries in West and Central Africa, where the virus has animal reservoirs. More than 60 cases and one death have been confirmed there this year.)
The vast majority of cases in the current outbreak have been in MSM. Researchers at the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA), for example, asked patients to fill out questionnaires. Of 152 who did, 151 said they were MSM, the team wrote in a technical briefing published on 10 June; the remaining patient refused to answer. Other countries have seen similar patterns.