Health in the news

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Flurona symptoms and protections

The first case of Flurona has been reported in the United States. Doctors say the co-infections are a mix between Influenza and Covid, where patients will show positive results for both viruses. Health care professionals say the best defense is the vaccine, in addition to wearing masks and social distancing. Doctors recommend surgical masks, like an N-95, which provides the best protection, unlike cloth masks that don’t guard against the transmission of respiratory fluids. Flurona symptoms include fever, cough, fatigue, runny nose, body aches and sore throat. “Every year we get the annual Flu shot and it is still important this year, especially when we know that we have a very super-infectious variant circulating and we don’t want to get co-infections with Flu and Omicron,” said Wayne State University professor of infectious diseases Dr. Teena Chopra, MD, MPH. “Respiratory viruses have a very similar way of transmission. You know influenza transmission is through droplet infections, whereas Omicron, which is coronavirus, we know to be airborne and highly infectious.”  
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State awards WSU $4.3M to increase readiness to fight infectious diseases

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services has awarded $4.3 million to the Wayne State University Center for Emerging and Infectious Diseases. The funds will increase lab facilities to collect and analyze genomic data to address emerging infectious disease threats and enhance the state’s ability to respond to those threats. The funding, part of $18.5 million provided to WSU, Michigan Tech University, Michigan State University and the University of Michigan, will increase infectious disease sequencing capacity in the state, beginning with the COVID-19 virus. “COVID-19 has clearly demonstrated that we need more lab capacity in the state, and specifically in southeast Michigan,” said Marcus Zervos, M.D., co-director of the WSU Center for Emerging and Infectious Diseases and COVID-19 advisor to the City of Detroit. “We must be prepared for the next mutation or the next disease.” 
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‘It’s not letting up’: Omicron fuels the number of Michigan hospitalizations

As omicron COVID-19 cases skyrocket in Michigan, hospitalizations are increasing as well – although at a far slower rate – and prompting concerns about capacity. Even though the variant is mild for most, the wave has increased hospital admissions statewide by 400 in one week, a 10% rise, while forcing hundreds of critical health care workers to quarantine. Just a few weeks after hospitalizations dropped from a peak of nearly 4,800 patients, the health care system is girding again for another COVID-19 crunch, which may be less lethal but could tax its ability to provide care. On Monday the state reported 61,235 new infections for the past five days, an average of 12,247. For the past week, the daily average of 12,442 is up 65% from the previous week’s average of 7,533 daily cases. Dr. Teena Chopra, director of the Center for Emerging and Infectious Diseases and a professor at Wayne State University School of Medicine works with local hospitals and said that although a smaller fraction of those who get infected are requiring hospital care, the previously unseen scale of infections is still leading to hundreds of people sick enough to require a hospital visit, especially in Detroit which has one of the lowest vaccination rates in the state. “The sheer numbers are so huge, the hospitals are getting overwhelmed,” Dr. Chopra said.

Michigan research communities need more mental health support

The Wayne State University College of Nursing has received a $1.6 million grant from the state Department of Health and Human Services to educate more mental health and psychiatric nurse practitioners. Umeika Stephens, graduate specialty coordinator for psychiatric mental health nurse practitioners at Wayne State University and a psychiatric nurse practitioner in Detroit, said it is important to have providers who can assess patients’ mental health needs holistically.  “Our goal is to make sure that when patients are able to come in, that they’re able to see a psychiatric nurse practitioner,” Stephens said. “They’re able to see somebody who can not only do therapy, but also prescribe medication for them if they needed it.”  
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Youth-led groups reach out to Oxford students to ‘grieve, heal, grow’

By Hani Barghouthi  Gun violence survivors, educators and students gathered on Sunday at a community healing event in downtown Oxford. The event, which was focused on offering mental health resources and resources to the Oxford community and others who were affected by the shooting, was organized by the Michigan chapter of March for Our Lives, a youth-led organization dedicated to gun violence prevention, and the Detroit Area Youth Uniting Michigan, a youth-led social and economic justice organization. Some the support comes from the Mental Health and Wellness Center and the Family and Mental Wellness Lab at Wayne State University, which has been providing in-person and telehealth therapeutic services to people in Metro Detroit who have been affected by the Oxford High shooting. “The kids we’ve spoken to are having a very wide range of feelings, and their feelings are changing all the time,” said Dr. Erika Bockneck, a professor of educational psychology at Wayne State University. “They’re experiencing grief and loss, then the next day they might be feeling really angry. And then there are some days where they’re kids, and I think they’re just not sure what to feel.” In addition to direct counseling, Bocknek and other counselors at the center are working with the Mala Child and Family Institute in Plymouth to develop a free text service where they send out messages of support and information about trauma response.  
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Jail vending machine provides naloxone to discharged inmates

A jail in southeastern Michigan has a vending machine that dispenses kits designed to reverse the effects of opioid overdoses. Naloxone nasal rescue kits are available free of charge to inmates being discharged from the Oakland County Jail in Pontiac. As part of the release process, deputies advise discharged inmates they can take the kits for personal use or for a family member who may be dependent on opioids. The narcan project is through Wayne State University’s School of Social Work and its Center for Behavioral Health and Justice.   
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How public health shifted away from the public, and why it might be shifting back

These days, public health crises are common. The Flint water crisis made global news, highlighting how attempts to cut costs on basic services like clean water led to high levels of led in the water. Crisis lead levels in water, breathing unclean air and not having access to safe areas to play are a daily reality for many. And when the COVID-19 pandemic first hit, many public officials were caught off guard. According to some recent scholarship, public health programs once focused more on public infrastructure and the health of the most vulnerable in society. Tricia Miranda-Hartsuff, a public health associate professor at Wayne State University, says the public health field is now changing to focus on larger structural issues, including institutional racism and poverty that can help create trauma. “What we saw with COVID was this exaggeration of health disparities that had already been prevalent,” she said. “We already knew that certain populations had less access to care, had poorer quality of care.”
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7 tips to stay healthy over the holidays

It’s the most wonderful time of the year – and, perhaps, the most stressful. For some reason, the impending holidays may only conjure anticipation of family, fun, and good fun, but for others, it also brings trepidation about staying healthy when routines are upended, treats beckon around every corner, and the pandemic is still around. Local experts shared their best tips on juggling the season’s demands while keeping your mental and physical health intact. “Be thoughtful about how you spend your time and where you put your energy,” said Erika Bocknek, a professor of counseling psychology at Wayne State University. “Meaningful interactions are more important than box-checking…Try not to let your investment in the holidays detract from being a healthy, whole person.”
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Everything you need to know about newly available COVID-19 vaccines for kids

Dr. Paul Kilgore, associate professor and director of research in the Eugene Applebaum College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences at Wayne State University, joins Stephen Henderson on Detroit Today in a conversation about the availability of the COVID-19 vaccine for school-age children. "The availability of the vaccine for children is really, really good news. It's definitely a game-changer...Parents have been patient and now is the time that they can actually go in to get their kids vaccinated...the reactions we see include things like soreness after the injection, systemic signs like headache, malaise, and joint and muscle aches - that resolve relatively quickly. Kids are very resilient. In fact, we see very, very few kids needing to follow up at a pediatrician as a result of any adverse events..." said Dr. Kilgore. "I always weigh the risks and benefits of anything, including vaccinations. One of the things we can tell parents is that overall, over the last several months, we've had a relatively conservative rollout of the vaccines. We started with the older adults, working our way down to younger adults and teenagers. And through that experience, we've been able to learn that the mRNA vaccines and the J&J vaccine have been safe for adults, and now we have a lot of additional real-world experience with hundreds of thousands of older children who have been vaccinated with the Pfizer vaccine. What this is all telling us is that we haven't seen any unusual signals that would make us worry as we start to vaccinate children ages 5 to 11. The risks of not getting vaccinated are substantial." 

New type of nerve cell discovered in the retina

Scientists at the John A. Moran Eye Center at the University of Utah have discovered a new type of nerve cell, or neuron, in the retina. The discovery marks a notable development for the field as scientists work toward a better understanding of the central nervous system by identifying all classes of neurons and their connections. The research team named their discovery the Campana cell after its shape, which resembles a hand bell. The published research study, “An uncommon neuronal class conveys visual signals from rods and cones to retinal ganglion cells,” was authored by Tushar Ganjawala, a Ph.D. student in the Wayne State University School of Medicine, and co-authors Brent K Young, Charu Ramakrishnan, Ping Wang, Karl Deisseroth, and Ning Tian. The work was supported by an NIH Core Grant, and an Unrestricted Grant from Research to Prevent Blindness, New York, NY, to the Department of Ophthalmology & Visual Sciences, University of Utah, and the Department of Ophthalmology of Wayne State University School of Medicine; additional support was provided by the Ligon Research Center of Vision, Kresge Eye Institute, and the Dryer Foundation. 
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New guidelines help doctors diagnose chest pain – but only if you act

Chest pain is about more than pain in the chest. But when it comes on suddenly, experts behind new guidelines on evaluating and diagnosing it don’t want you pondering nuances. They want you to act – now. “The most important thing people need to know about chest pain is that if experience it, they should call 911,” said Dr. Phillip Levy, a professor of emergency medicine and assistant vice president for research at Wayne State University. “People shouldn’t waste time trying to self-diagnose. They should immediately go to the nearest hospital. And if they’re going to go to the nearest hospital to get evaluated for chest pain, ideally it should be by ambulance.” Levy helped lead the committee that wrote the new guidelines from the American Heart Association and American College of Cardiology.  
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Health experts explain why drinking a gallon of water a day is too much

Hydration is important for health, but drinking a gallon of water a day is unnecessary. “Just like caloric intake and energy expenditure, there is no magical ‘one size fits all’ when it comes to the daily water requirements that everyone needs to ‘stay healthy,’” says Tamara Hew-Butler, associate professor of exercise and sport science at the College of Education, Wayne State University. “Although ‘Gallon Challenges’ and ‘8 x 8’ glasses per day recommendations are widely touted by both lay people and health professionals alike, the science behind these recommendations is largely mythical but widely propagated through clever marketing — think bottled water, oxygenated water, vitamin water, alkaline water, etc. — rather than clinical evidence.” 

Fast food burgers, fries, and pizza may leave you full of phthalates

By Huanjia Zhang   As Americans devour a fast-food burger in the car or gobble up a chicken burrito in front of the TV, some may bite into phthalates, according to a new study in the Journal of Exposure Science and Environmental Epidemiology. This is the first study to directly measure the amount of phthalates present in common fast foods in the U.S. and adds to mounting evidence linking phthalate exposure to fast food consumption. Phthalates are a group of synthetic chemicals widely used to make plastic more flexible, and are ubiquitous in a host of plastic products, ranging from toys to personal care products. Phthalates have been shown in human and animal studies to disrupt the endocrine system. Although the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission banned the use of eight phthalates in children’s toys and child-care products in 2017, the plastic industry is able to replace the prohibited phthalates with slightly tweaked plasticizer chemicals. “A chemical isn’t a problem until it’s proven dangerous,” said Douglas Ruden, a toxicologist who studies phthalates at Wayne State University, who noted the ongoing tug-of-war between scientists trying to assess the health and safety of potentially harmful new plasticizers and their evolving successors. 

How Wayne State's medical school became the first in the U.S. to require plant-based nutrition education

By Megan Edwards  Wayne State University School of Medicine in Detroit is the first college in the United States to introduce a mandatory plant-based nutrition unit into their curriculum for first-year medical students. The four-week “Rooting for Wellness” learning module, launched in 2019, utilizes recorded lectures, online quizzes, cooking demonstrations, guest lecture panels, and a vegan community fair to teach students about the critical connection between nutrition and disease prevention. The curriculum’s creators recently published a report in the International Journal of Disease Reversal and Prevention about the success of the program and how other universities can follow their lead.  “I’ve always been passionate about community advocacy, nutrition, and the promotion of preventive medicine, but was disappointed by how sparingly these topics were covered in med school,” said Lakshman Mulpuri, a co-founder of Rooting for Wellness and student at the university. “I was in awe of the incredible stories of patients who had empowered themselves with a whole-food, plant-based diet. I knew that these stories and the science behind them needed to be shared with my fellow fledgling physicians.” 
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The serious consequence of exercising too much, too fast.

Every 365.25 days, when the Earth completes a full orbit around the Sun, we humans have the opportunity to hit the reset button and become fitter, finer versions of ourselves. As usual for January, social media is humming with advice on how to eat better, exercise regularly, lose weight and remain healthy. We feel particularly invincible at this time of year, armed with renewed vigor and motivation to purge ourselves from previous indulgences and our couch-potato ways. The New Year is also the time when our overzealous, instant-gratification selves emerge, and we do too much exercise too soon to make up for lost time. Exhaustive muscular work, especially following a period of inactivity, can cause mechanical and chemical disruptions to muscle cell membranes which trigger the muscle cells to burst. 
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Air and noise pollution linked to increased heart failure

Exposure to air pollution and road traffic noise over several years may increase the risk of heart failure, according to new research from a large observational study. The study examined more than 22,000 female nurses based in Denmark, aged 44 and older, over a period of 15 to 20 years to evaluate the impact of exposure to small particulate matter and nitrogen dioxide, as well as road traffic noise. The results showed that increased exposure to these pollutants after just 3 years was tied to a substantially increased risk of new heart failure. With emissions standards now in place to combat pollution, it is interesting that the researchers thought to explore air pollution as a heart failure risk, says Ileana L. Piña, MD, a heart failure transplant cardiologist and professor of medicine at Wayne State University. "You think of respiratory illness in cities where there is a high level of pollution, but you don't think of heart failure," says Piña, who was not a part of this study. "Next I think we need to link up what it was in that polluted air that actually caused the trauma." 
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Crain's Saturday Extra: Health care needs help, how to spend $6B and some Lewis College of Business backstory

Health care disparities in Black, Brown and impoverished populations are well documented, but the outcomes have never been as obvious as during the pandemic. For instance, in 2020, Black people were 2.1 times more likely than white people to die from COVID-19 in the U.S. In Michigan last year, roughly 30 out of every 1,000 Black people living in Michigan could expect to die from COVID-19, according to data published by Brookings Institution last March. To improve access to health care, the system must go mobile, said Dr. Philip Levy, professor of emergency medicine at Wayne State University and chief innovation officer for Wayne Health. Levy's practice is attempting to reinvent the model by putting primary preventive care on wheels and meeting patients where they live in an attempt to overcome systemic problems by treating chronic conditions like high blood pressure. The pandemic has also led to the most critical staffing crisis the industry has ever faced. Nationally, roughly 30 percent of nurses have either quit or been terminated during the pandemic. 
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Diet changes and a 10-hour daily eating window can bring health benefits

Avoiding fast foods, soda pop and processed foods can help prevent a condition called metabolic syndrome, or MetS for short. Diet changes often are far more powerful for preventing disease than the treatments we get when problems such as obesity, diabetes mellitus, high blood pressure, heart attacks and strokes are fully developed. The old saying is true: An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. A syndrome means we diagnose a condition by a constellation of findings without a single definitive test. These are factors for MetS: Abdominal obesity Low HDL cholesterol High triglycerides Elevated fasting blood levels of glucose Elevated blood pressures This syndrome is present in an estimated 30 percent of the U.S. population. and probably more than that among Detroiters. Those with MetS have a fivefold increase in the risk of developing type 2 diabetes mellitus (DM2) and twice the risk for heart disease over five to ten years. While there are obese individuals who don't show MetS, the diagnosis has become more common with a rise in the percentage of people worldwide who are overweight or obese.
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Long COVID now has a formal definition from the WHO: What to know 

Long COVID now has a formal definition from the WHO: What to know  On Oct. 6, 2021, the World Health Organization (WHO) announced the first official definition of what constitutes long COVID. The medical community has been aware that while most people recover from COVID-19 within a matter of weeks, some will experience lingering symptoms for four or more weeks after developing COVID-19.  Until now, there has not been a formal definition for this condition. Referring to it as “post COVID-19 condition,” the document says that long COVID “occurs in individuals with a history of probable or confirmed SARS-CoV-2 infection, usually 3 months from the onset of COVID-19, with symptoms that last for at least 2 months and cannot be explained by an alternative diagnosis.” The definition further states that common symptoms may include fatigue, cognitive dysfunction, and several others that can impact daily functioning. Joseph A. Roche, BPT, Dip. Rehab. PT, PhD, associate professor in the Physical Therapy Program at Wayne State University and member of the American Physiological Society who has performed research into the effects of long COVID, said the case had been made that long COVID may resemble a condition known as “myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS),” which can affect some individuals after other viral illnesses.  “What makes post COVID-19 condition more concerning than ME/CFS,” said Roche, “is that there is not just physical and mental fatigue, but also persistent and recurrent problems that affect the lungs, heart, blood vessels, and other organs and tissues.”