Articles Posted in Infections

cash-150x150Editor’s note: The blog will shift in the days ahead to more episodic publishing.

Members of Congress raced at the year’s end to avoid the consequences of a brutal snowstorm battering huge swaths of the country. Before hitting the holiday exits, lawmakers approved a whopping $1.7 trillion bill to fund the federal government through the fiscal year and until next fall, spending giants sums on guns over butter.

Those who drill down on military budgets will be better positioned to determine the wisdom of the $858 billion appropriation by Congress for the Pentagon. The 4,000-plus pages that detail the measure’s allocations included $772 billion for domestic spending, including, of note for those focused on health care, items such as:

kmccarthy-150x150The nation’s military defense understandably takes a leading priority in public spending. But congressional Republicans have managed to put plenty of unpalatable elements into a Brobdingnagian appropriations bill that affirms an extreme view, undercutting the value of service personnel protecting themselves from deadly infections.

Over the objections of Pentagon brass and the White House, GOP members threatened to torpedo an $858 billion military spending bill unless the nation rolled back a requirement for U.S. troops to receive the coronavirus vaccine to serve.

The New York Times quoted Kevin McCarthy, the aspiring next House speaker and a California Republican (shown above), as saying this about GOP efforts to eliminate the vaccine mandate:

fluill-150x150The coronavirus pandemic may not hold the iron grip it once held on newspaper front pages and lead stories on broadcast and online news outlets.

The infection, however, keeps inflicting major harms — taking a disproportionate and lethal toll now on older Americans, wreaking sustained havoc on the credibility of public health information and medical expertise, and debilitating as many as 15 million people with the perplexing problems of long Covid.

Hospitals across the country are warning the public that they are teetering on the brink of getting overwhelmed yet again as they battle a “tripledemic” — an unusually early wave of RSV cases, an early and virulent seasonal flu, and a rising and still challenging number of coronavirus illnesses.

condoms1-150x150In some not-so-great news for the nation’s sexual well-being, the rubber has hit the road for too many guys.

The familiar and oft-ridiculed prophylactic could play a significant role in battling an epidemic of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) that has engulfed the nation, the Washington Post reported. But condom use has declined significantly, for example, as a leading means for family planning, falling in opinion surveys from 75% in 2011 to 42% among men polled.

Public health experts confront multiple challenges in trying to slash the soaring tide of chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis, partly because medical advances with HIV-AIDS mistakenly have the sexually active, especially young men, believing that they can forgo condoms and be safe, the newspaper reported:

tksgiving-300x177Millions of us will have much to give thanks for during the annual holiday, which, like several of its recent versions, again will be a time of health wariness and uncertainty, too.

The seasonal feast — which brings so many the joy of not only a grand meal but also the pleasure of gathering with friends, family, and other loved ones — will be more costly than any in recent memory due to economic inflation and supply chain problems, the Associated Press reported:

“Americans are bracing for a costly Thanksgiving this year, with double-digit percent increases in the price of turkey, potatoes, stuffing, canned pumpkin, and other staples. The U.S. government estimates food prices will be up 9.5% to 10.5% this year; historically, they’ve risen only 2% annually. Lower production and higher costs for labor, transportation and items are part of the reason; disease, rough weather and the war in Ukraine are also contributors.”

agedhands-150x150The Biden Administration is encountering stiff industry opposition but is forging ahead with plans to announce in coming months major regulatory reforms that advocates hope finally will force nursing homes to meet minimum staffing guidelines to care for some of the nation’s most vulnerable.

The tragic devastation of long-term care facilities and their residents by the coronavirus pandemic demonstrated the dire need for federal regulators to set baseline standards for nursing and other front-line resident care, critics say.

Their arguments have been bolstered by lawsuits against nursing homes and their subsequent disclosure of harms done to seniors, the sick, and injured — those who are so debilitated that they require substantial living assistance but too often do not get it due to substandard staffing and profit-driven decision-making by facilities’ owners and operators.

ACEP-300x98Almost three dozen leading groups representing a range of doctors, specialists, and other health workers have called on the Biden Administration to deal urgently with the long-running but increasing and dangerous practice of hospitals allowing their emergency care facilities to be overwhelmed because they also are parking patients waiting for rooms and treatment.

This “boarding” crisis, already at breaking points for many exhausted ER staffs, will worsen and imperil patients even more if the nation gets hit — as growing indicators suggest is occurring — with a “tripledemic,” a choking load of coronavirus, flu, and other respiratory infections serious enough to require hospitalization.

The American College of Emergency Physicians (38,000 members), has been joined by the American Medical Association, the American Nurses Association, American Academy of Emergency Medicine (8,000 members) and groups representing family doctors, allergists, anesthesiologists, radiologists, osteopaths, psychiatrists, and many others in a recent letter to the administration, reporting:

pulseoximeter-150x150Until the coronavirus pandemic struck, few regular folks knew about pulse oximeters, much less had one on hand for urgent use. The devices, which fit over a finger, are supposed to give fast readings on the levels of oxygen in patients’ blood — a key measure of their respiratory wellness.

But the devices, whether in relatively inexpensive consumer versions or in medical-grade units used in doctor’s offices, clinics, and hospitals, are far from perfect. They suffer major inaccuracies when used by those with darker skin.

Federal regulators have known about this flaw for years. But at a time when patients, families, doctors, and hospitals relied on the devices routinely to make critical treatment decisions affecting those struggling with likely coronavirus infections, an information chasm opened. Doctors urged people to pop by drug stores and other retailers to pick up the devices, saying that they could be helpful in letting them know when their oxygen levels were dipping in concerning enough fashion that they should seek emergency treatment.

candidaauris-150x150People around the planet must be more wary of the fungus among us, because the too often overlooked pathogens are becoming “increasingly widespread, resistant to treatment, and deadly.”

That’s the view of the World Health Organization, as reported by the New York Times and other media organizations. WHO has sought to heighten awareness about an array of fungal infections because fewer of them can be treated well with familiar therapeutics, the newspaper reported:

“The health agency listed 19 invasive fungal diseases, including four it described as a ‘critical priority,’ that collectively kill 1.3 million people and contribute to the death of five million others each year. Many of those deaths occur among people with HIV, cancer, tuberculosis, and other underlying health conditions that leave them vulnerable to infection. Health officials say the death toll from fungal infections is likely much higher because many hospitals and clinics, especially in poorer countries, lack the diagnostic tools for detecting them. ‘The bottom line is that invasive fungal infections are becoming more prevalent, but frequently they are not recognized in patients and not correctly treated,’ Dr. Carmem L. Pessoa-Silva, a WHO official focused on disease surveillance and control, said at a news conference …’We do not have a real sense of the size of the problem.’”

flusick-150x150The damage that seasonal flu causes can be difficult to forecast. But doctors, hospitals, and public health experts already are seeing the illness hit “hard and early,” especially in the Washington, D.C., area.

The indicators are shaping up that this will be the most severe flu year in the last 13. This is exponentially concerning, as hospitals also struggle with spiking pediatric cases of various respiratory illnesses, especially respiratory syncytial virus, or RSV, the Washington Post reported and other news organizations have reported.

Chilly weather is starting to grip much of the country, forcing people indoors, and the coronavirus pandemic persists.

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