US declares monkeypox a public health emergency; Here’s what that means
The White House has declared monkeypox a public health emergency, a move that gives the federal government more resources to mobilize treatments and other necessary medical supplies to combat a growing number of cases nationwide.
“We stand ready to take our response to the next level in fighting this virus, and we urge every American to take monkeypox seriously,” US Secretary of Health and Human Services Xavier Becerra told reporters during a briefing on Thursday.
Rochelle Walensky, MD, director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said the statement will provide resources, improve access to care and expand the CDC’s ability to share data. The statement also allows the CDC to access the Rapid Infectious Disease Response Reserve Fund “to prevent, prepare for, or respond to an infectious disease-related emergency.”
More than 6,600 cases have been identified in the US, but that’s likely a minority, experts say. Most cases in the US are centered in the gay community, primarily among men who have sex with men. However, it is possible for the virus to spread through personal interactions with someone or by touching a contaminated surface or material.
Governors in California, New York and Illinois have already declared states of emergency in response to the monkeypox outbreak. Last week, the World Health Organization declared monkeypox a public health emergency, with cases reported in more than 70 countries.
Declaring a public health emergency allows the federal government to provide grants and other resources to contract for treatments and any materials and equipment needed. This includes support for emergency hospitals. Public health emergencies last 90 days but can be extended by the US Department of Health and Human Services.
The CDC states that monkeypox can spread to anyone through close, often skin-to-skin contact, including:
- Direct contact with a monkeypox rash, scabs, or bodily fluids from a person with monkeypox.
- Touching objects, fabrics (clothes, sheets, or towels), and surfaces used by someone with monkeypox.
- Contact with respiratory secretions.
Here’s more from the CDC on the monkeypox outbreak and general signs and symptoms.
Exceeding minimum US exercise guidelines may help you live even longer, says major study
Combining US guidelines for minimal weekly physical activity with a healthy diet is a surefire path to better health. But can life be further extended if you exceed these exercise recommendations? A large new study published by the American Heart Association (AHA) says yes.
The US government and AHA recommend at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity per week, or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity per week—or a combination of both, preferably spread out throughout the week. Add in moderate-to-high-intensity muscle-strengthening activity (like resistance or weights) at least 2 days per week, the guide says.
Doubling to quadrupling the minimum recommended weekly amount of physical activity for US adults can “significantly reduce the risk of dying from cardiovascular disease and other causes,” according to a press release on the study, published in the journal Circulation published by the American Heart Association.
Researchers emphasized the importance of starting with the minimum recommended amount of exercise. Those people who followed the minimum level of moderate or vigorous physical activity reduced their risk of dying from any cause by up to 21 percent. But adults who exercised two to four times the minimum could reduce their risk of death by up to 31 percent, the study found.
“Our study provides evidence to guide individuals to choose the right amount and intensity of physical activity throughout their lifetime to maintain their overall health,” study author Dong Hoon Lee said in a press release. Lee is a research associate in the Department of Nutrition at Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health in Boston.
“Our results support current national physical activity guidelines and further suggest that maximum benefit can be achieved when engaging in moderate to high levels of moderate or vigorous activity, or a combination thereof,” study author Dong Hoon Lee said in a statement press release. Mr. Lee is a Research Fellow in the Department of Nutrition at Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health in Boston.
The researchers reviewed 30 years of medical records and mortality data from more than 100,000 adults who participated in two large studies: the all-female Nurses’ Health Study and the all-male Health Professionals Follow-Up Study. The data used included self-reported measures of physical activity, including intensity and duration. The average age of the participants was 66 years.
In the study, moderate physical activity was defined as walking, low-intensity exercise, weight lifting, and calisthenics. Intense activities included jogging, running, swimming, cycling, and other aerobic exercise.
Here’s how many COVID-infected patients still struggle with loss of smell or taste
About 5 percent of those who have recovered from initial COVID-19 infections — about 27 million people worldwide — still struggle with a loss of smell or taste, a new review of the data has found.
In the new analysis published in The BMJ (the medical journal of the British Medical Association)., Researchers reviewed 18 previous studies on smell and taste loss across multiple countries and across a range of demographic groups. The vast majority, about three quarters, of people affected by a loss of taste or smell after COVID regained these senses within 30 days.
However, about 5 percent of people reported “persistent dysfunction” six months after being infected with the coronavirus. The study’s authors conclude that the loss of smell and taste could be an ongoing problem that requires more research and healthcare resources for patients struggling with long-term symptoms.
Of most concern, according to the study’s authors, there is still much unclear about the duration of these symptoms and “exactly what proportion of patients develop persistent dysfunction.” Additionally, more studies are needed to determine precise risk factors — and how much role age, gender, and specific underlying health issues play in the potential risks of loss of taste or smell.
“These factors raise important clinical questions relevant to patients and physicians, as persistent smell and taste disturbances could be considered a focal neurological deficit and can impact quality of life and overall health long after recovery from COVID-19.” , according to the study .