Tidbits #1

2012 May Be Worst Year Yet for West Nile

According to the CDC, Americans are facing what may be the largest outbreak of West Nile virus since the disease was first detected in 1999. So far, 1118 cases with 41 deaths have been reported. This is a marked change compared to the 25 cases and 0 deaths reported the previous month. So far most of the cases were reported from just three states: Texas, Oklahoma and Mississippi. 

From the CDC: The incubation period (time from infection to onset of disease symptoms) is usually 2 to 15 days.  80% of people infected with West Nile virus will be asymptomatic — in other words, not develop any type of illness. Approximately 20% of people will develop West Nile fever; symptoms include: fever, headache, tiredness, body aches, occasionally skin rash on the trunk of the body and swollen lymph nodes. The illness can last anywhere from a few days but may persist for several weeks. Approximately 1 in 150 persons will develop a more severe, neuroinvasive form of disease with symptoms that include: headache, high fever, neck stiffness, stupor, disorientation, coma, tremors, convulsions, muscle weakness and paralysis. 

The CDC reminds people to take protective steps against West Nile and other mosquito borne infections including: wearing long sleeves and pants when outdoors at dawn and dusk, using insect repellent and emptying pools of standing water which can serve as a breeding ground for mosquitos.

Gonorrhea Near Complete Drug Resistance

Gonorrhea is a a very common infectious disease (estimated 700,000 cases/year) and is a cause of major reproductive complications in women and facilitates HIV transmission. The CDC now reports that, cephalosporins, the primary antibiotics used to treat gonorrhea and becoming progressively less effective. The new treatment recommendations involve combining ceftriaxone with either azithromycin or doxycycline, however this will just delay the emergence of complete cephalosporin resistance. The hope is that the combination will buy time for researchers and developers to develop new treatments for gonorrhea.

Chocolate May Boost Brain Power in Seniors

 A recent study from the University of L’Aquila in Italy found that elderly patients with mild cognitive impairment who consumed moderate to high levels of cocoa flavanols had significant improvement in certain cognitive tests compared to those who only consumed small amounts.  The researchers also found decreases in insulin resistance and blood pressure. 

posted by: Sarah Yousuff, MD

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