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Exclusive: Diseases suppressed during Covid are coming back in new and peculiar ways

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Diseases suppressed during Covid are coming back in new and peculiar ways

#Diseases #suppressed #Covid #coming #peculiar #ways

Dowell | Moment | Getty Images

The Covid-19 pandemic has abated in much of the world and, with it, many of the social restrictions implemented to curb its spread, as people have been eager to return to pre-lockdown life.

But in its place have emerged a series of viruses behaving in new and peculiar ways.

Take seasonal influenza, more commonly known as the flu. The 2020 and 2021 U.S. winter flu seasons were some of the mildest on record both in terms of deaths and hospitalizations. Yet cases ticked up in February and climbed further into the spring and summer as Covid restrictions were stripped back.

“We’ve never seen a flu season in the U.S. extend into June,” Dr. Scott Roberts, associate medical director for infection prevention at the Yale School of Medicine, told CNBC Tuesday.

“Covid has clearly had a very big impact on that. Now that people have unmasked, places are opening up, we’re seeing viruses behave in very odd ways that they weren’t before,” he said.

And flu is just the beginning.

We are seeing very atypical behaviors in a number of ways for a number of viruses.

Dr Scott Roberts

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associate medical director for infection prevention, Yale School of Medicine

Respiratory syncytial virus, a cold-like virus common during winter months, exhibited an uptick last summer, with cases surging among children in Europe, the U.S and Japan. Then, in January this year, an outbreak of adenovirus 41, usually responsible for gastrointestinal illness, became the apparent cause of a mysterious and severe liver disease among young children.

Elsewhere, Washington State has been experiencing its worst flare-up of tuberculosis in 20 years.

And now, a recent outbreak of monkeypox, a rare viral infection typically found in Central and West Africa, is baffling health experts with over 1,000 confirmed and suspected cases emerging in 29 non-endemic countries.

Viruses behaving badly

At least two genetically distinct monkeypox variants are now circulating in the U.S., likely stemming from two different spillover infections from animals to humans, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said last week.

The World Health Organization noted earlier last week that the virus, whose symptoms include fever and skin lesions, may have been going undetected in society for “months or possibly a couple of years.”

A section of skin tissue, harvested from a lesion on the skin of a monkey, that had been infected with monkeypox virus, is seen at 50X magnification on day four of rash development in 1968. 

CDC | Reuters

“The two strains probably indicate this has been going on longer than we first thought. We’re at a concerning time right now,” said Roberts. He noted that the coming weeks will be telling for the course of the virus, which has an incubation period of 5 to 21 days.

It is not yet clear whether the smallpox-like virus has mutated, though health experts have reported that it is behaving in new and atypical ways. Most notably, it appears to be spreading within the community — most commonly through sex — as opposed to via travel from places where it is typically found. Symptoms are also appearing in new ways.

“Patients are presenting differently than we were previously taught,” said Roberts, noting that some infected patients are bypassing initial flu-like symptoms and immediately developing rashes and lesions, specifically and unusually on the genitals and anus.

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“There’s a lot of unknowns that do make me uneasy. We are seeing very atypical behaviors in a number of ways for a number of viruses,” he said.

Restrictions reduce exposure, immunity

During the Covid pandemic, access to primary care, including childhood vaccinations, was unavailable to many children.

Jennifer Horney

professor of epidemiology, University of Delaware

Now, as pandemic-induced restrictions have eased and usual habits resumed, viruses that were in retreat have found a fertile breeding ground in newly social and travel-hungry hosts.

The recent monkeypox outbreak is thought to have stemmed, at least in part, from two mass events in Europe, a lead adviser to the WHO said last month.

Meantime, two years of reduced exposure have lowered individual immunity to diseases and made society as a whole more vulnerable. That is especially true for young children — typically germ amplifiers — who missed opportunities to gain antibodies against common viruses, either through their mother’s womb or early years socializing.

Missed childhood vaccinations

Morsa Images | Digitalvision | Getty Images

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has also expressed concern that lockdowns may have caused many children to miss childhood vaccinations, potentially raising the risks of other vaccine-preventable illnesses such as measles and pertussis.

“During the Covid pandemic, access to primary care, including childhood vaccinations, was unavailable to many children,” Jennifer Horney, professor of epidemiology at the University of Delaware, told CNBC.

“To prevent increases in these diseases, catch-up vaccination campaigns are needed globally,” she added.

Beware surveillance bias

That said, there is also now greater awareness and surveillance of public health issues in the wake of the pandemic, making diagnoses of some outbreaks more commonplace.

“Covid has raised the profile of public health matters so that we are perhaps paying more attention to these events when they occur,” said Horney, adding that public health systems set up to identify Covid have also helped diagnose other diseases.

Professor Eyal Leshem, infectious disease specialist at Sheba Medical Center, agreed: “The general population and the media have become much more interested in zoonotic outbreaks and infectious diseases.”

It’s not that the disease is more prevalent, but that it gets more attention.

Professor Eyal Leshem

infectious disease specialist, Sheba Medical Center

However, he also warned of the role of “surveillance bias,” whereby individuals and medical professionals are more likely to report cases of diseases as they grow more high profile. That suggests that some viruses, such as monkeypox, may appear to be growing when in fact they were previously underreported.

“It’s not that the disease is more prevalent, but that it gets more attention,” Leshem said.

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Still, the increased monitoring of infectious disease outbreaks is no bad thing, he noted. With the increased spread and mutation of infectious diseases — as seen with Covid-19 — the more awareness and understanding of the changing nature of diseases, the better.

“The public and media attention will help governments and global organizations direct more resources into surveillance and protection of future pandemics,” Leshem said, highlighting research, surveillance and intervention as three key areas of focus.

“These investments have to occur globally to prevent and mitigate the next pandemic,” he said.

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Exclusive: If You Answer Yes to Any Of These 7 Questions, Your Workplace Is Probably More Toxic Than You Think – TalkOfNews.com

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If You Answer Yes to Any Of These 7 Questions, Your Workplace Is Probably More Toxic Than You Think

#Answer #Questions #Workplace #ProbablyMore #Toxic

The year was 1944, and the Allies were at war. In Washington, the precursor agency to the CIA had an idea on how to help.

Their plan: Write and publish a how-to guide to toxic workplaces, and smuggle it to sympathetic workers behind enemy lines who hoped to sabotage the Axis from within. 

Not everyone could carry a gun or blow up train tracks and military installations, the thinking went, but they could make their workplaces so inhospitable and inefficient that they might slow down the Nazi war machine.

The guide was called the Simple Sabotage Field Manual. You can read the whole thing online, today. 

What’s most fascinating is how many of the things that we complain about in business today were almost the exact same things that Allied spies advised doing to create toxic workplaces eight decades ago.

In fact, if you’re running a business, it’s worth asking whether any of your employees seem to practice these behaviors regularly. 

Do they insist on holding meetings when less-intrusive means of discussion will do?

“Hold conferences when there is more critical work to be done … When possible, refer all matters to committees, for ‘further study and consideration.’ Attempt to make the committees as large as possible–never less than five.”

Do they talk on and on and on, at length?

“Make ‘speeches.’ Talk as frequently as possible and at great length. Illustrate your ‘points’ by long anecdotes and accounts of personal experiences. Never hesitate to make a few appropriate ‘patriotic’ comments.”

Do they insist on revisiting things that have already been decided?

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“Haggle over precise wordings of communications, minutes, resolutions. … Refer back to matters decided upon at the last meeting and attempt to re-open the question of the advisability of that decision.”

Do they treat colleagues and the people who report to them unfairly?

“To lower morale and with it, production, be pleasant to inefficient workers; give them undeserved promotions. Discriminate against efficient workers; complain unjustly about their work.”

Do they seem to have constant excuses for not working?

“Contrive as many interruptions to your work as you can: when changing the material on which you are working, as you would on a lathe or punch, take needless time to do it. If you are cutting, shaping or doing other measured work, measure dimensions twice as often as you need to. When you go to the lavatory, spend a longer time there than is necessary. Forget tools so that you will have to go back after them.”

Do they seem paralyzed and unable to act?

“Advocate caution. Be ‘reasonable’ and urge your fellow-conferees to be ‘reasonable’ and avoid haste which might result in embarrassments or difficulties later on. … Be worried about the propriety of any decision–raise the question of whether such action as is contemplated lies within the jurisdiction of the group or whether it might conflict with the policy of some higher echelon.”

Do they have a hard time working with colleagues?

From the sabotage guide: 

“Never pass on your skill and experience to a new or less skillful worker. Give lengthy and incomprehensible explanations when questioned. When training new workers, give incomplete or misleading instructions.”

Do they set fires at work, or else call in false police reports to send emergency workers to the wrong parts of the city?

OK, obviously this one would go beyond just creating a toxic workplace, and the fact that they’re on the list is a reminder that the sabotage guide was in fact intended for warfare. 

But, if some of the other items on this list seem a little familiar, maybe it’s worth an investigation. You might realize your workplace is more toxic than you think.

The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.


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Exclusive: Spirit delays shareholder vote on merger hours before meeting to continue deal talks with Frontier, JetBlue – TalkOfNews.com

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Spirit Airlines says it will decide on competing JetBlue, Frontier bids before the end of June

#Spirit #delays #shareholder #vote #merger #hours #meeting #continue #deal #talks #Frontier #JetBlue

A Spirit Airlines plane on the tarmac at the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport on February 07, 2022 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

Joe Raedle | Getty Images

Spirit Airlines on Wednesday delayed shareholder vote on its proposed merger with Frontier Airlines until July 8, hours before a meeting scheduled for Thursday so it can further discuss options with Frontier and rival suitor JetBlue Airways.

It is the second time Spirit has delayed a vote on its planned combination with Frontier and extends the most contentious battle for a U.S. airline in years.

Spirit originally scheduled Thursday’s vote for June 10 but had delayed that for the same reasons.

Both Frontier and JetBlue have upped their offers in the week before the scheduled vote approached.

“Spirit would not have postponed tomorrow’s meeting if they felt they had the votes,” said Henry Harteveldt, a travel industry consultant and president of Atmosphere Research Group. Spirit didn’t comment on whether that is the case.

“We compliment the Spirit Board for listening to their shareholders, who clearly were not supportive of the Frontier transaction, and adjourning the Special Meeting,” JetBlue CEO Robin Hayes said in a statement later Wednesday.

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“It’s clear that Spirit shareholders have now handed the Spirit Board an undeniable mandate to reach an agreement with JetBlue.”

“This is like the end of a soap opera episode,” Harteveldt added.

Frontier and Spirit first announced their intent to merge in February. In April, JetBlue made an all-cash, surprise bid for Spirit, but Spirit’s board has repeatedly rejected JetBlue’s offers, arguing a JetBlue takeover wouldn’t pass muster with regulators.

Either combination would create the United States’ fifth-largest carrier.

JetBlue has fired back at Spirit, saying it did not negotiate in good faith, setting off a war of words between the airlines as they competed for shareholder support ahead of the vote.

Frontier didn’t immediately comment about the postponed vote.

Spirit shares were up about 2% in afterhours trading, while Frontier was up more than 1% and JetBlue was down 1%.

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Exclusive: Get hype for the first images from NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope – TalkOfNews.com

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Get hype for the first images from NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope

#hype #images #NASAs #James #Webb #Space #Telescope

Very soon, humanity will get to view the deepest images of the universe that have ever been captured. In two weeks, the $10 billion James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) — NASA’s super expensive, super powerful deep space optical imager — will release its first full-color images, and agency officials today suggested that they could just be the beginning.

“This is farther than humanity has ever looked before,” NASA Administrator Bill Nelson said during a media briefing Wednesday (he was calling in, as he had tested positive for COVID-19 the night before). “We’re only beginning to understand what Webb can and will do.”

NASA launched James Webb last December; ever since, it’s been conducting a specialized startup process that involves delicately tuning all 18 of its huge mirror segments. A few months ago, NASA shared a “selfie” marking the successful operations of the IR camera and primary mirrors. Earlier this month, the agency said the telescope’s first images will be ready for public debut at 10:30 AM ET on July 12.

One aspect of the universe that JWST will unveil is exoplanets, or planets outside our Solar System — specifically, their atmospheres. This is key to understanding whether there are other planets similar to ours in the universe, or if life can be found on planets under atmospheric conditions that differ from those found on Earth. And Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, confirmed that images of an exoplanet’s atmospheric spectrum will be shared with the public on July 12.

Essentially, James Webb’s extraordinary capacity to capture the infrared spectrum means that it will be able to detect small molecules like carbon dioxide. This will enable scientists to actually examine whether and how atmospheric compositions shape the capacity for life to emerge and develop on a planet.

NASA officials also shared more good news: The agency’s estimates of the excess fuel capability of the telescope were spot on, and JWST will be able to capture images of space for around 20 years.

“Not only will those 20 years allow us to go deeper into history and time, but we will go deeper into science because we will have the opportunity to learn and grow and make new observations,” NASA deputy administrator Pam Melroy said.

JWST has not had an easy ride to deep space. The entire project came very close to not happening at all, Nelson said, after it started running out of money and Congress considered canceling it entirely. It also faced numerous delays due to technical issues. Then, when it reached space, it was promptly pinged by a micrometeoroid, an event that surely made every NASA official shudder.

But overall, “it’s been an amazing six months,” Webb project manager Bill Ochs confirmed.

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