Health Highlights: Oct. 9, 2018
Polio-Like Condition in Children on Rise Again in U.S. Flea-Borne Typhus Outbreak in Los Angeles County Mental Health Problems Increase With Global Warming: Study
Here are some of the latest health and medical news developments, compiled by the editors of HealthDay:
Polio-Like Condition in Children on Rise Again in U.S.
A rare, polio-like condition in children is on the rise again in the United States, with 38 confirmed cases in 16 states so far this year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says.
The condition, acute flaccid myelitis (AFM), was first identified in 2014, when there were 120 cases, NBC News reported.
AFM is a weakening of the nerves that causes partial paralysis in children. Symptoms include weakness in the arms or legs, drooping facial muscles, and difficulty moving the eyes.
There's no cure. Some children have total or near-total recovery, while other have long-term disabilities. A few require ventilators to breathe, NBC News reported.
The condition has been linked to viruses, including one called EV-A71,a common cause of hand, foot and mouth disease.
The CDC says the number of cases appears to increase and decrease from one year to the next. After the 120 cases in 2014, there were 22 in 2015, 149 in 2016, and 33 last year, according to the agency.
Of the 38 reported cases so far this year, 14 have been in Colorado, and six are under investigation in Minnesota, NBC News reported.
Flea-Borne Typhus Outbreak in Los Angeles County
An outbreak of flea-borne typhus in Los Angeles County has so far resulted in 57 cases, including 20 in Pasadena and nine in downtown LA, public health officials say.
Symptoms of the bacterial disease include high fever, chills, headache, body aches and rash.
"Typhus fever is a disease that can cause serious complications requiring lengthy hospitalization, and rarely, death," said Dr. Ying-Ying Goh, Pasadena's health officer, CNN reported.
She advised residents to take precautions to prevent fleas in and around their homes, such as keeping yards debris-free and well-trimmed, not leaving pet food outdoors, not giving food or water to wild animals, keeping garbage containers tightly covered, sealing crawlspaces under the home and regular treatment of pets with flea control products.
"Since the disease is spread by fleas, it is possible that endemic typhus could be transmitted year-round. Right now, it's hard to speculate on why we are seeing more cases. There is an ongoing investigation by the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health that seeks to answer this question," said Anne Rimoin, an associate professor of epidemiology at University of California School of Public Health, CNN reported.
She added that, "a thorough public health investigation will provide clues as to whether or not we should expect a rise in cases elsewhere."
Mental Health Problems Increase With Global Warming: Study
Mental health problems will increase as temperatures rise due to climate change, a new study warns.
The researchers said that over five years, a 1 degree Celsius (1.8 degree Fahrenheit) increase in average temperature is associated with higher rates of mental health issues, CNN reported.
The study was published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
"We don't exactly know why we see high temperatures or increasing temperatures produce mental health problems," lead author Nick Obradovich, a research scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Media Lab, told CNN.
"For example, is poor sleep due to hot temperatures the thing that produces mental health problems? We have a lot of work to do to figure out precisely what is causing what," Obradovich said.
For the study, the researchers compared self-reported mental health data from nearly 2 million Americans with daily weather data from 2002 and 2012, CNN reported.
In the study, those most vulnerable to mental health problems caused by rising temperatures included people with existing mental health conditions, those with lower incomes, and women.
The findings are consistent with recent work by other scientists, Dr. Jonathon Patz, a professor and director of the Global Health Institute at the University of Wisconsin-Madision who was not involved in the study, told CNN.
He noted that people may be experiencing "stress and despair" occurring "as governments and industry fail to react at the pace recommended by multiple scientific assessments."