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Growing number of whooping cough infections in the US and Europe raises concerns among medical professionals

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Cases of whooping cough, also known as pertussis, are increasing in the US and Europe. Experts claim they don’t know why. Health professionals throughout the European continent began to notice something strange in the winter of 2023. Pertussis, another name for whooping cough, was becoming more common. Furthermore, it wasn’t limited to Europe. Additionally, US health officials started to record an increase in instances of whooping cough. Furthermore, the number of cases in the UK has reached its highest level in twenty years.

The number of cases in Europe had increased by March 2024 compared to the previous ten years (the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) did not issue numbers before to 2011). In Europe, reports of 32,000 instances were received between January and March of 2024. The ECDC estimates that 38,000 cases of pertussis are reported annually on average throughout Europe. Whooping cough incidences could tenfold rise in 2024 compared to a normal year if the current trend persists.

The bulk of instances in Europe occurred among newborns, a population for which whooping cough can be fatal, according to data from the ECDC’s most recent study on the matter. Ten to fourteen-year-olds accounted for the second-highest reported case group.

Paul Hunter, an English professor of medicine at the University of East Anglia, said DW that these numbers should be regarded cautiously. He indicated there might be more cases than were recorded. Babies are significantly more likely than other demographic groups to be diagnosed with whooping cough because they are at such a high risk of contracting it. It’s possible that a large number of elderly people suffer undiagnosed whooping cough as well.

However, Hunter added that there’s a chance that a similar spread is occurring. According to him, doctors may be more inclined to diagnose cases now that they are aware of whooping cough than they were in the past, which could further skew the statistics.

Use of vaccines during pregnancy

The symptoms of whooping cough initially resemble a cold. A low-grade fever, runny nose, sneezing, and sporadic coughing are possible symptoms for patients. However, after a few weeks of having pertussis, coughing fits that sound like a high-pitched “whoop” may begin. While minor cases might not have the accompanying whoop, the sickness is most severe in youngsters and newborns. Up to ten weeks may pass during this phase.

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Say experts, they have no idea why there is a spike in instances. Like most infectious illness outbreaks, this one might be caused by a number of unrelated events happening all at once. It might be the outcome of the consistent drop in pertussis vaccinations given to expectant mothers throughout Europe, in addition to a general reduction in infant vaccination rates. This would provide some insight into the newborns’ situation. If their mothers did not receive a vaccination throughout their pregnancies, the newborns have no defence against whooping cough.

“​​You only start vaccinating children against whooping cough at about eight weeks,” Hunter stated. “And the majority of the most serious illnesses typically occur earlier than that.” The May ECDC report states that rates of pertussis immunisation during pregnancy vary greatly around the European continent. In 2023, 88% of expectant Spanish citizens received a pertussis vaccination. Just 1.6% of people in the Czech Republic, where instances of pertussis have sharply increased, had received the vaccination in the same year. Pregnant women’s uptake in the UK has decreased over the last ten years, going from over 70% in 2016 to roughly 60% in 2023.

The role of COVID
Furthermore, the increase may have resulted from a decline in population-wide immunity following the COVID-19 pandemic, as reported by health experts. The pandemic’s stringent measures to prevent SARS-CoV-2, such as mask use, hand washing, and limiting social interaction in public areas, resulted in historically low levels of flu and strep infections.

Cases have resumed growing since the pandemic’s termination. However, according to Hunter, that is insufficient to account for the sharp rise in whooping cough cases. This is because, before to the pandemic, whooping cough was not a serious illness in the general population. It was uncommon, but it was there. Not the flu, though. In the years after the pandemic, the number of flu cases may have doubled.

vaccination against pertussis

According to specialists, the whooping cough vaccines themselves may be the third potential aggravating reason. Midway through the 20th century, developed nations including the US, Canada, and portions of Europe saw the introduction of the first pertussis vaccination. It has unfavourable side effects despite being incredibly powerful. The ensuing dramatic decline in uptake resulted in outbreaks during the 1970s and 1980s.

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Countries started rolling out second-generation pertussis vaccines in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Instead of using a full cell, this new version used an acellular shot. It was somewhat less successful than the first vaccine, providing immunity for a shorter duration, even though it did not cause the side effects.

What should I do next?
According to Andrew Preston, a professor and whooping cough expert at the University of Bath in the UK, the increase in instances raises challenging questions for medical professionals treating whooping cough, as reported by DW. He stated that while using boosters to reduce spread would be a possibility, “it’s not entirely clear how often you can boost without losing effectiveness.”

Or are we content with the current state of affairs, where everyone else only has to occasionally deal with a persistent cough as long as we can prevent newborns from being seriously sick and dying? Preston mentioned that there are pertussis vaccinations available now, some of which have the potential to confer “far superior” immunity in comparison to the two now in use.

But he said that it would be difficult to include these doses into the present immunisation regimen. In the UK and much of Europe, the pertussis vaccination is given in combination with five other vaccines in a single shot; therefore, adding a new vaccine would need redesigning the existing combination vaccine. “You’d have to reformulate all those other vaccines, and that’s just a monstrous task,” Preston added.

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World Blood Donor Day 2024: 5 reasons to give blood and information about its health advantages

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World Blood Donor Day 2024: Donating blood is a noble task, and it also comes with multiple health benefits. Blood transfusion is done to treat multiple health disorders such as anemia, cancer, etc. People are urged to donate healthy blood as it helps in a steady supply of blood for the healthcare industry. Every year, World Blood Donor Day is celebrated on June 14 to establish the importance of donating blood and how it helps in patient treatment. However, donating blood is a double bonanza–it helps the one donating blood, as well as the one receiving it. As we celebrate the important day today, here are a few things that we should know.

Unexpected health advantages of blood donation:
Promotes heart health:
The act of giving blood improves cardiovascular health. It also lessens blood viscosity, which helps to lower the risk of strokes and heart attacks. Donating blood contributes to maintaining a healthy blood supply, which lessens cardiac strain.

decreases iron stores:

Hemochromatosis, a disorder that can harm organs like the liver and heart, is brought on by an excessive amount of iron in the blood. Regular blood donation reduces extra iron, which is beneficial to general health.

Creation of new blood cells:

The body attempts to make up for blood lost after donating. This promotes the body’s ability to create new cells and carry out tasks efficiently in addition to aiding in the development of new blood cells.

Free health screening:

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It is required to undergo a basic health examination, which includes measuring blood pressure, body temperature, pulse, and haemoglobin levels, prior to donating blood. This can assist us in better understanding our bodies and, if necessary, addressing any health issues that may arise.

enhances mental health
We get a psychological lift and feel better when we know that the blood we have donated may save a life or aid someone in need.

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Women are more vulnerable than men to gonorrhea due to rising antibiotic resistance.

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Don’t engage in sexual activity. It is “the only way to completely avoid STIs,” according to public health organizations. Avoid engaging in any oral, anal, or vaginal sex.

It is a sobering piece of wisdom. However, it also makes perfect sense when you look at the most recent data on the spread of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) and bacterial STIs, such as gonorrhea, from the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC).

Antibiotics including azithromycin, ceftriaxone, and cefixime are frequently used in medicine to treat gonorrhea, but their efficacy is declining. And that might be a factor in the rise in gonorrhea infections and STI cases in general throughout Europe, if not the world.

In a study released on June 10, 2024, the ECDC stated that there were 70,881 confirmed cases of gonorrhea in 28 EU/EEA (European Union/European Economic Area) nations in 2022, a 48% increase from the previous year.

AMR is one reason why antibiotics across the board — whether it’s for STIs or an earache — are failing public health efforts. Either we use them too much, or we don’t bother to take all the pills, with the result that bacteria are able to build up a resistance to many of our “go-to” drugs of the past 100 years.

Gonorrhea: What is it?
The Neisseria gonorrhoea bacteria is the cause of gonorrhea. It may impact the esophagus, rectum, or genitalia. Infections are common in young persons (ages 15 to 24).

Women are more likely than males to get an infection since diagnosis is more difficult for them. Women also frequently don’t have symptoms, and when they do, they are typically minor and can be confused for another vaginal or bladder infection. particularly expectant mothers, who may transmit STI infections to their fetus. Undiagnosed sexually transmitted infections can cause pregnancy problems in women or cause infertility.

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However, men do experience symptoms, such as painful or enlarged testicles, a burning feeling when peeing, and a discharge that can be white, yellow, or green.

However, this is less common in women than it is in them. Teodora Elvira Wi, who oversees the global HIV, hepatitis, and STI programs at the World Health Organization in Geneva, stated that women must be given priority because they are asymptomatic.

“We need opportunities for women to be screened for STIs, and especially people at higher risk, people who have multiple partners and sexually active adolescents,” stated Wi.

Concerning’ antimicrobial resistance to popular medications for gonorrhea
In the ECDC paper, 4,396 gonorrhea samples (also known as “isolates”) from 23 different nations were analyzed. These samples were taken in 2022.

They discovered that “isolates resistant to azithromycin increased significantly to 25.6%, compared to 14.2% in 2021.”

Since azithromycin and ceftriaxone are frequently used together, the ECDC deemed this result to be “particularly concerning.”

Ciprofloxacin resistance rose as well, though not as dramatically: in 2022, 65.9% of isolates showed resistance, up from 62.8% in 2021.

Cefixime resistance remained “low at 0.3%.”

All things considered, the World Health Organization’s data from other regions—Africa and Asia, for example—reflects the ECDC figures.

According to Wi, 73 countries worldwide have reported antimicrobial resistance data in gonorrhea. “Antimicrobial resistance is not the only cause [there], but in countries where antimicrobial resistance is even higher than in Europe, it is contributing to the increase in bacterial STIs,” Wi added.

Pharyngeal (throat) gonorrhea was on the rise in 2022, according to ECDC data, although genital and anorectal gonorrhea cases stayed steady.

How to reduce STI transmission
According to WHO data from 2020, 374 million new cases of syphilis, gonorrhea, chlamydia, and trichomoniasis among individuals aged 15 to 49 occur worldwide each year. The increasing incidence of STI cases was attributed by the WHO to the following factors:

An increase in risky sexual conduct, such as the usage of fewer condoms and a rise in the number of casual and committed relationships

Socioeconomic factors and asymptomatic infections; biological considerations

Due to underfunding of services, there is a paucity of STI services, poor access to STI services, and a shortage of diagnostic test instruments.

Stigma: As a result of stigma, STI services and research are underfunded, and patients are less likely to seek treatment.

In public health initiatives to limit STIs, addressing and/or reversing these variables would be a smart place to start.

Wi advised against quitting entirely, saying that having sex should be accompanied by education. “Have sex, have pleasure in sex, make it a voluntary thing, do it for your sexual well-being and protect yourself the way you protect yourself from other infections,” she stated.

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Kidney cancer: 7 lifestyle choices that harm your kidneys and increase your risk of developing the disease

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Without any obvious symptoms, kidney cancer can begin to grow silently in the cells of your vital organ. Age is a risk factor for this malignancy, and lifestyle choices have a significant impact on its development. In 2023, there were about 4,600 new cases of kidney cancer, with an average age of 65 at diagnosis.

The risk of kidney cancer is twice as high for smokers as it is for non-smokers. As you age, you are heavily at risk for kidney cancer even if you do not smoke or drink and you do not lead an active lifestyle or eat poorly. Renal cell carcinoma (RCC) is the most prevalent kind of kidney cancer, making up roughly 90% of cases.

Without any obvious symptoms, kidney cancer can begin to grow silently in the cells of your vital organ. Age is a risk factor for this malignancy, and lifestyle choices have a significant impact on its development. In 2023, there were about 4,600 new cases of kidney cancer, with an average age of 65 at diagnosis.
The kidneys are organs that function to control blood pressure, preserve electrolyte balance, and filter waste and extra fluid from the blood. However, a number of factors, such as medical disorders and lifestyle decisions, might impair kidney health. Kidney cancer is one such issue, which is typified by the aberrant proliferation of kidney cells. Kidney cancer can progress quickly if treatment is not received, offering major health hazards, even though it may not necessarily show symptoms in its early stages. Dr. Raghunath S.K., Senior Consultant and Director of Uro-oncology and Robotic Surgery, HCG Cancer Centre, KR Road, Bangalore, adds that fortunately, there are actions you may do to enhance kidney health and lower the chance of kidney cancer and other related issues.

Without any obvious symptoms, kidney cancer can begin to grow silently in the cells of your vital organ. Age is a risk factor for this malignancy, and lifestyle choices have a significant impact on its development. In 2023, there were about 4,600 new cases of kidney cancer, with an average age of 65 at diagnosis.

“Smoking, obesity, and genetic predisposition are among the factors that are frequently associated with kidney cancer. Urine with blood in it, back discomfort, exhaustion, and weight loss are some of the symptoms. Imaging examinations are part of the diagnosis. According to the patient’s condition and the cancer’s stage, treatment options include immunotherapy, surgery, targeted therapy, and clinical trial participation, says Dr. Raghunath.

A better prognosis requires early detection. It is necessary to take some preventative steps in order to reduce the risk of kidney cancer.

Lifestyle errors to prevent kidney cancer
In order to protect your kidneys from cancer, you should avoid the following lifestyle faults, as advised by Dr. Raghunath SK:

1. Not eating a balanced diet: Make fruits, vegetables, and whole grains your top priorities and cut back on processed meats, sugar-filled drinks, and harmful fats. These foods are rich in nutrients and include vital vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that promote healthy kidney function and lower the risk of kidney cancer.

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2. Excess weight: Make conscious eating choices and frequent exercise your way to a healthy body weight. Being overweight raises the risk of cancer and renal disease as well as puts strain on the kidneys. To promote weight management and general health, concentrate on eating a range of nutrient-rich meals in sensible portions.

3. Not drinking enough water: Drinking enough water is crucial for healthy kidney function as well as the body’s removal of waste and pollutants. To maintain optimal kidney health, strive for at least 8 glasses (or 2 litres) of water throughout the day. Keep an eye on the colour of your urine; pale yellow pee denotes sufficient hydration.

4. Alcohol and smoking: Excessive alcohol intake and smoking are important risk factors for kidney cancer. You can lower your chance of developing cancer and preserve your kidneys by giving up smoking and drinking in moderation. If you need help reducing or quitting drinking or smoking, get in touch with support groups or medical specialists.

5. Not controlling blood pressure: High blood pressure raises the risk of renal disease and cancer by causing gradual damage to the kidneys. Regularly check your blood pressure and make lifestyle changes (balanced diet, regular exercise, stress reduction, medication if needed) to maintain it within a healthy range. Seek advice from your healthcare provider for specific recommendations.

6. Elevated blood sugar: Diabetics are more likely to develop renal problems and cancer. Keep your blood sugar under strict control with a healthy diet, regular exercise, medication, and monitoring. To reduce the risk of kidney issues, keep an eye on your carbohydrate intake, get regular exercise, and follow your diabetes treatment plan.

7. Abusing a lot of painkillers: Overuse of several over-the-counter painkillers can be harmful to the kidneys. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs) have to be taken with caution and under a doctor’s supervision. Think about complementary and alternative methods of treating pain, like heat therapy, acupuncture, or physical therapy. Never exceed the stated dosage limits, and do not use NSAIDs for an extended period of time without a prescription.

By implementing easy-to-use yet powerful techniques into regular routines, individuals can take proactive steps towards protecting their kidneys and maintaining optimal health.

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