Severe cases of strep A appear to be climbing in parts of the world outside of the UK, where the surge was first reported. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as well as several children’s hospitals in the U.S. have documented an increase, while doctors in Montreal, Canada recently reported a possible rise in the area as well, along with two child deaths. These surges are likely linked to a lack of a population immunity to the bacteria, as well as a concurrent rise in respiratory viral infections such as influenza, health officials have said.
Strep A infection can cause a variety of conditions, such as scarlet fever and strep throat. Most of the time, these illnesses are mild and self-limiting or can be treated easily with antibiotics. Severe strep A, also known as invasive group A streptococcus (iGAS) disease, is much rarer but can be life-threatening, leading to complications like septic shock and organ failure.
The strep A surge in the UK is believed to have begun in September. There have been nearly 30,000 reported cases of scarlet fever in the country this fall and winter, along with at least 24 suspected pediatric deaths, according to the latest update this week from the UK Health Security Agency. Though the UK has experienced large peaks of strep A and iGAS in recent years prior to the pandemic, these current cases are occurring outside of the typical season early in the spring.
Other countries and health agencies throughout the world have since been on the lookout for similar surges. On Thursday afternoon, the CDC confirmed a reported rise of severe strep A cases in children in some places of the country, while local health departments and hospitals in Minnesota, Missouri, Arizona, Texas, and Colorado have reported higher-than-usual numbers of strep A cases. Last week, Montreal health officials released a public alert following the local deaths of two children from the infection.
Officials in the UK have so far ruled out the possibility that more virulent strains of strep A are to blame for the increased severity of these outbreaks, though they are studying the genetics of strains collected from patients to make sure. The reduced exposure to strep A infections among the population in recent years is a major factor in these unusual waves of illness, UK officials have said. These cases are also happening against the background of other infections resurging lately, such as influenza and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), as well as the ongoing covid-19 pandemic. And since co-infections with germs like flu can raise the risk of severe illness from strep, that may be playing an important role as well.
Severe strep A does still appear to be a very rare complication during these peaks. And the potential risk of co-infections may be decreasing in places like the U.S. Flu activity remains high in much of the country, according to the CDC’s latest update, but may be declining in some areas. RSV activity is on the downswing as well. Reported cases of covid-19 have been increasing in recent weeks, but deaths and hospitalizations are much lower than they were during the previous two winters. At the same time, it’s likely to take weeks or months before these infections completely level off, so people should remain cautious.
Suspected cases of scarlet fever can be treated with antibiotics before they become more severe, for instance. Masking and avoiding contact with others while sick with respiratory symptoms will help tamp down the spread of many infections this winter. And the flu shot and covid-19 boosters will significantly reduce the risk of severe illness if you’re unlucky enough to catch either.
Many good health reasons to eat an apple every day – Delta Optimist
Apples are one of the oldest cultivated fruit, dating back at least 6,500 years, and have some of the greatest health benefits. There is truth behind the old adage “An apple a day keeps the doctor away.”
They are high in soluble fibre, low calorie, low on the glycemic index, and contain beneficial vitamins like Vitamin C, quercetin, pectin and potassium. They are a good antioxidant (especially the peel) and are the number one fruit to help prevent diabetes, cancer and heart disease. They help lower cholesterol as the soluble fibre in apples binds with saturated fat (preventing it from entering the bloodstream).
To aid weight loss, it is beneficial to eat an apple prior to a meal, as they curb your appetite. Apples encourage more saliva production, which protects your teeth. Some studies show mental health benefits of increased intellectual capabilities and a slowing down of mental aging and Parkinson’s (due to their antioxidant properties). The fibre and quercetin (a plant polyphenol) builds immunity to combat virus and bacteria, especially when one is stressed. The antioxidant properties help regulate ocular muscles and nerves, helping to preserve one’s eyesight.
Apples also speed up liver regeneration. The pectin in apples binds with heavy metals in the gut (aluminum and lead) and helps eliminate them. Heavy metal poisoning is one of the leading causes of Alzheimer’s disease. Apples are also proven to reduce anxiety when eaten regularly. The soluble fibre pectin aids IBS symptoms and ulcerative colitis.
Apple cider vinegar (fermented apple juice) has become a health rage and has its own set of health benefits including aiding digestion and weight loss, lowering inflammation and boosting energy.
Consuming it before a meal is said to help reduce blood sugar spikes afterward. It also helps with the absorption of the following nutrients: protein, calcium, iron, carbohydrates, fats, Vitamins A,B,C and E and magnesium. Apple cider vinegar is an antifungal, antibacterial and antiviral helps with absorption of calcium and other minerals. Even though it is acidic, once absorbed in the gut it is slightly alkaline. As it is acidic before digestion, it shouldn’t sit on the teeth as it may soften enamel. It is best to drink apple cider vinegar through a straw or rinse your mouth out afterwards with water.
These are some (proven and unproven) folk remedies using apple cider vinegar. Here are several but not all: removes age spots, as a soak for arthritic hands and feet or for athlete’s foot, soften foot corns, prevents asthma, heals bruises, fights cancer, helps prevent cataracts, eliminates cold sores, soothes a sore throat, eliminates cramping, treats dandruff, lowers blood sugars, kills diarrhea causing bacteria, soothes eczema and itching due to rashes, bites or stings, eliminates fatigue, increases stomach acid for those with gallbladder issues (associated with low stomach acid), aids hay fever, reduces headaches, dissolves the glue that holds nits (head lice eggs) onto the hair, treats hiccups, lowers blood pressure, aids osteoporosis by aiding calcium absorption, stops nose bleeds, aids absorption of all vitamins and minerals, treats smelly feet and warts.
As with any alternative remedy, it is important to talk to your naturopath and doctor beforehand to make sure there are no contra-indications with existing medicines, but there doesn’t seem to be any doubt that apples and apple cider vinegar contribute to healthy living. There are also many beauty aids but space prevents me from covering them in this article.
I personally use apple cider vinegar in a wonderful salad dressing with our Lemon-Honey Elixir, crushed garlic, avocado oil and a pinch of dried mustard.
Claire Nielsen is a health coach, author, public speaker and founder of www.elixirforlife.ca. The information provided in the above article is for educational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional health and medical advice. Please consult a doctor or healthcare provider if you’re seeking medical advice, diagnoses and/or treatment.
Hospitalizations fall at North Vancouver’s Lions Gate – North Shore News
COVID-19 infections haven’t gone away on the North Shore.
But serious illnesses from respiratory diseases of all types are on the decline.
That’s the latest information this week that can be teased from statistics from both B.C.’s Centre for Disease Control and the Ministry of Health.
One of the biggest indicators of serious illness – hospitalizations – are thankfully on the decline.
Number of people in Lions Gate Hospital drops over 7%
Between Jan. 6, when Health Minister Adrian Dix first raised the alarm about high numbers of hospitalizations, the number of people in hospital at Lions Gate on the North Shore has fallen 7.2 per cent, according to the Ministry of Health. The number of people in hospital at Lions Gate went from 319 on Jan. 6 to 296 on Jan. 26.
A similar trend was seen at most major hospitals in B.C.
In Vancouver Coastal Health, hospitalizations fell 10.6 per cent in Richmond, 6.5 per cent at St. Paul’s and 4.2 per cent at Vancouver General. The only hospital where that didn’t happen was B.C. Children’s, where numbers remained stable.
As of Jan. 26, there were 42 people hospitalized who had tested positive for COVID-19 in VCH, two of those in critical care. There were also three new deaths in VCH among people who recently tested positive for COVID-19.
According to the B.C. Centre for Disease Control, flu – which peaked early in November – has now fallen to low levels. RSV infections – which have hit children hardest – remain high but have continued to decline. COVID cases have remained relatively stable.
North Shore sewage plant data shows small COVID uptick
According to recent data from wastewater sampling, levels of COVID-19 measured on the North Shore rose slightly from early January, although levels of virus being shed in sewage water were still not as high as they were over the Christmas period. Levels of the virus in most other Lower Mainland plants had declined as of Jan. 16.
Numbers of people vaccinated haven’t changed much on the North Shore. Between 92 and 95 per cent of adults 18 and over received at least two doses of the vaccine. But those numbers fell with each subsequent booster shot. Only 47 per cent of adults on the North Shore have received two boosters. There is also a relatively small uptake for children. Between 52 and 64 per cent of children age five to 11 have received two doses of vaccine, while under 20 per cent of the youngest children have received two doses.
Monday marks the third anniversary of the World Health Organization declaring COVID-19 as a global public health emergency.
On Friday, a committee of WHO voted on whether to maintain that designation. A final decision will be announced on Monday, but it isn’t expected to change anything in practical terms in Canada.
COVID-19 outbreak declared at Seaforth Community Hospital – My Stratford Now
A COVID-19 outbreak has been declared at the Seaforth Community Hospital.
Huron Perth Healthcare Alliance officials say it’s in the hospital’s Inpatient Unit which is now closed to admissions until further notice.
Outbreak status refers to two or more confirmed positive COVID-19 cases among patients or team members that could have possibly been acquired in the hospital.
HPHA is working with Huron Perth Public Health and patents, family/caregivers and team members impacted by the outbreak are being notified with necessary contact tracing
Family and caregiver pesence on the unit has been restricted with the only exception is for palliative patients at end of life.
Power Crisis Triggers Water Cuts in South Africa’s Economic Hub – BNN Bloomberg
Russian teen faces years in jail over social media post criticizing war in Ukraine – CTV News
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