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Toxoplasmosis continued: Cats can be source of human disease –



For the past two weeks, I have been telling you about the possible effects of toxoplasmosis on eyes and appearance. There is also accumulating evidence linking Toxoplasma gondii infection with schizophrenia.

While there are other sources of Toxoplasmosis, it is most commonly associated with cats. So, I will start with some information about cats.

There are about 90 million cats owned as pets in the U.S. with three-fourths of them allowed to sleep on the beds of their owners. These cats may be a substantial source of human disease. Researchers at the University of Liverpool have identified 273 infectious agents carried by cats, of which 151 are known to be shared with humans. The most widely known of these agents are Lyssavirus, the virus that causes rabies; Bartonella henselae, the bacteria that causes cat scratch disease; and Toxoplasma gondii, the parasite that causes toxoplasmosis.

Though human Toxoplasma infection is typically asymptomatic or produces minor, flu-like symptoms, there is some evidence that implicates a link between Toxoplasma and psychosis.

Globally, approximately one-third of the human population is infected with Toxoplasma, though this varies widely by country and is dependent on dietary habits and exposure to cats. A 2014 survey reported that 11% of Americans (approximately 40 million people) have been infected, as evidenced by the presence of antibodies in their blood.

Toxoplasma begins its life cycle when a cat becomes infected, usually as a kitten. Most infected cats have no symptoms, but for approximately eight days they excrete up to 50 million infectious oocysts in their feces daily. Depending on the temperature, these oocysts can live for two years or longer. It is thought that a single oocyst can cause human infection. Since cats like loose soil for defecation, the infective oocysts commonly end up in gardens, uncovered sandboxes, or animal feed piles in barns. After 24 hours, the oocysts dry out and may become aerosolized. For this reason, cat owners are advised to change their cat’s litter daily.

Farm animals can become infected from contaminated feed, which in turn may cause human infection if meat is undercooked. This and infective oocysts occasionally getting into the water supply may also cause outbreaks of Toxoplasmosis. More than 200 such outbreaks have been described. Family outbreaks have also been described that involve multiple children who played in an infected sandbox or dirt pile. Multiple other possible modes of transmission are being investigated, including sexual transmission.

Until recently, cerebral infections, congenital infections, and eye disease were thought to be the main clinical problems associated with toxoplasmosis. However, accumulating evidence suggests that psychosis should be added to this list.

Five lines of evidence support this:

• Toxoplasma can cause delusions, auditory hallucinations, and other psychotic symptoms.

• People with schizophrenia who are infected with Toxoplasma have more severe psychotic symptoms according to at least seven studies.

• Compared with controls, patients with psychosis are significantly more likely to have antibodies against Toxoplasma, indicating previous infection.

• Compared with controls, individuals with schizophrenia or bipolar disorder are significantly more likely as a child to have lived in a home with a cat.

• Epidemiologically, there is a close time correlation between the rise of cats as pets and the rise of psychosis.

In 2014, a researcher concluded that 21% of cases of schizophrenia might have been caused by Toxoplasma. In the U.S., this would mean more than 10,000 new cases of schizophrenia each year might be attributable to this parasite.

Some researchers have also suggested links between Toxoplasma and epilepsy, brain cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, and possibly even motor vehicle accidents (since Toxoplasma is known to decrease motor reaction times in humans).

Cats that are kept exclusively indoors are relatively safe pets. However, cats that are allowed to go outdoors may not be safe, especially for children and young adults.

What is needed is an effective vaccine that could be given to newborn kittens to prevent infection, but development of this type of vaccine has never been prioritized.

On a personal level, we can decrease Toxoplasma infections by not eating undercooked meat. Pregnant women and individuals who are immunocompromised should not change cat litter. When gardening, we should wear gloves because cats favor loose soil for depositing their feces. We should also protect children by covering sandboxes when not in use and by not allowing children to play in uncovered public sandboxes.

Toxoplasmosis typically is treated with pyrimethamine, usually in combination with a sulfa drug. However, pyrimethamine does not cross the blood brain barrier and thus is ineffective when Toxoplasma infects the brain. So, a drug that will effectively treat Toxoplasma in the brain is still needed.

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Rapid Polio Spread In New York: All You Need To Know – TheHealthSite



Poliovirus is found in the sewage of New York; know why this disease is spreading so rapidly.

Polio is a disease that causes children to be crippled early. The polio virus detection in New York City’s sewage indicates that the disease is secretly spreading among people who are not vaccinated. The New York State Health Department and city said the poliovirus detection in its wastewater noted that it was likely to spread locally. Provincial Health Commissioner Dr Mary T. Bassett said the poliovirus discovery in wastewater samples in New York City was terrifying but not startling.

Different Polio Strains

  • There are mainly two strains of the polio virus. One highly lethal and contagious variant has now disappeared, while the other vaccine-derived polio (vaccine-derived polio) has been reported to be rare. This second strain has been found in the wastewater of the UK capital London and the US city of New York. In Israel’s Jerusalem, a genetically similar virus has been found in London and New York.
  • In places like London and New York, cases of vaccine-derived polio have not been reported in the past. However, it is widespread in other countries. In 2021 alone, 415 cases infected with this variant have been reported in Nigeria. The live virus, which reached the body of children as a vaccine, comes out through their faeces after a few weeks. In countries where vaccination has been reduced, this virus can spread again and mutate to become harmful.

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The vaccine containing this live virus is no longer used in countries like Britain and America. Especially now that after covid-19, the restrictions related to travel are over again.

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Why Is Polio Spreading Now?

Derek Ehrhardt, global polio lead at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the US, says experts agree that vaccine-derived and wild polio strains are still present among low-vaccination populations. According to the United Nations, 1081 vaccine-derived polio cases were reported in 2020, compared to three times fewer cases in the previous year, i.e. 2019. However, even in the year 2022, 177 cases have been reported so far.

This is a matter of even more concern, especially for developing countries like India, because our neighbouring countries, Pakistan and Afghanistan, are still battling polio infection.

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B.C. drug death toll passes 10,000 since declaration of emergency in 2016: coroner



VICTORIA — British Columbia’s chief coroner says the province has lost more than 10,000 lives to illicit drugs since the province declared a public health emergency in April 2016.

Lisa Lapointe says the province is on track to lose another record number of people to the toxic drug supply this year, with the number of deaths in the first half of 2022 surpassing those of the same period in 2021.

New data from the coroner’s service says at least 1,095 residents are believed to have died from January to June this year, at an average of six deaths per day.

The report found more than three-quarters of the those who died this year have been male, and most were between the ages of 30 and 59.

The province says illicit drug toxicity is the leading cause of unnatural death in B.C.

In June, Ottawa approved a three-year exception to federal drug laws, and from next year, B.C. will become the first province where people won’t be arrested or charged for possessing up to 2.5 grams of certain illicit drugs.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 16, 2022.


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Why it’s crucial to say that monkeypox is predominately affecting gay and bisexual men – Broadview Magazine



This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Monkeypox virus, or MPXV, is an emerging threat to public health. The World Health Organization recently declared the current outbreak a global public health emergency.

For decades, several African countries have experienced ongoing outbreaks of MPXV, driven primarily by contact with animals and transmission within households. However, before last year, most people in Europe and North America had never even heard of the disease. That was until the current outbreak among gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men.

Debates over the epidemiology of MPXV

Over the past several months, a controversy has raged about whether it’s OK to say that the current MPXV outbreak is primarily affecting gay and bisexual men, and that it is primarily being spread through close personal contact, such as sex.

As a social and behavioural epidemiologist working with marginalized populations, including gay and bisexual men, I believe it’s important that people know that sexual and gender minority men are the primary victims of this MPXV outbreak. I believe this knowledge will help us end the outbreak before it bridges into other communities.

For reference, more than 90 percent of cases in non-endemic countries have been transmitted through intimate sexual contact, and the vast majority of cases are among gay men. Very few cases are linked to community transmission.

While these statistics are undisputed, some have feared that identifying sexual behaviour as the primary cause of current MPXV transmission would dampen the public health response. Others have warned that connecting MPXV to an already stigmatized community will worsen stigma towards gay sex.

Non-sexual transmission is possible, and a considerable threat

It is true that MPXV can transmit through more casual contact and through fomites (inanimate objects on which some microbes can survive, such as bed linens, towels or tables).

However, months into the current outbreak, we have not seen these routes emerge as important pathways of transmission. This may be due to changes in the fundamental transmission dynamic of MPXV or due to enhanced cleaning procedures implemented in response to COVID-19 in places such as gyms and restrooms.

Why it’s crucial to know MPXV affects gay and bisexual men

Informing the public about MPXV is important because public opinion plays an important role in shaping public health policies, such as who gets access to vaccines and what interventions are used to stop disease transmission.

A recent study conducted by my team aimed to demonstrate the importance of public health education by asking Canadians to participate in a discrete choice experiment.

We asked participants to choose between two hypothetical public health programs across eight head-to-head comparisons. Descriptions for each hypothetical program identified the number of years of life gained by patients, the health condition it addressed and the population it was tailored for.

From our analyses of this data, we learned a lot about how the public wants public health dollars to be spent and how their knowledge and bias shapes these preferences. There were five major takeaways:

  1. People preferred interventions that added more years to participants’ life expectancy. In fact, for one year of marginal life gained, there was a 15 per cent increase in the odds that participants chose that program.
  2. We found that people tended to favour interventions that focused on treatment rather than prevention. While this approach is emotionally intuitive, large bodies of evidence suggest that it is more cost-effective to prevent disease than to treat it. As the old saying goes: An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
  3. People generally preferred interventions for common chronic diseases — such as heart disease, diabetes and cancer — and were less likely to favour interventions for behaviour-related conditions, such as sexually transmitted infections.
  4. People generally preferred programs focused on the general population as opposed to those tailored for key marginalized populations. In fact, people were least likely to prefer interventions tailored for sexual and gender minorities.
  5. The bias against behavioural interventions and those tailored for key populations was overcome when the programs addressed a health condition that was widely understood to be linked to the population the program was tailored to. For example, people were more likely to support interventions for sexually transmitted infections when these interventions were tailored for people engaged in sex work or for gay and bisexual men.

This study highlights why it is important to educate the public about health inequities. People are smarter, more pragmatic, and more compassionate than we give them credit for. If we take the time to share evidence with them about the challenges that stigmatized communities face, they will be more willing to support policies and efforts to address these challenges.

Ending MPXV quickly is critical, especially since the virus has the potential to evolve in ways that could make the disease more infectious. Protecting gay and bisexual men first, protects everyone.

We should, of course, always be aware of the potential harms and the corrosive effects of stigma. However, in public health, honesty really is the best policy.


Kiffer George Card is an assistant professor in Health Sciences at Simon Fraser University.

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