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Big Changes Are Coming to U.S. Health Care as Pandemic Emergencies Expire

Americans received unprecedented access to health care during the pandemic, including hassle-free public insurance and free tests, treatments and vaccines for COVID-19.

Now, they need to prepare for most of that to unwind, experts say.

“Essentially, Congress and the administration moved to a model of universal health coverage for COVID vaccines, treatments and tests” during the ...

Surge in Severe Strep Cases in Kids Was Really a Return to Normal: CDC

WEDNESDAY, Feb. 8, 2023 (HealthDay News) – While a health alert warned doctors late last year about rising cases of severe strep in children, U.S. officials now say those numbers were actually a return to normal.

“Based on preliminary 2022 data, iGAS [invasive group A streptococcal] infections in children ha...

Hispanic, Black Americans on Dialysis Face Higher Risks for Dangerous Infections

Kidney disease patients on dialysis are 100 times more likely to contract a dangerous blood infection than people not receiving the treatment -- and that risk is borne primarily by Hispanic and Black Americans, U.S. government health officials say.

Hispanic patients are 40% more likely than white patients to develop a staph bloodstream infection while on dialysis, according to a new

Deer Carry COVID Variants No Longer Seen in People

While COVID-19 variants Alpha, Gamma and Delta are no longer circulating among humans, they continue to spread in white-tailed deer.

The animals are the most abundant large mammal in North America. Scientists aren’t sure whether the deer could act as long-term reservoirs for these obsolete variants.

In a new study, researchers at Cornell University, in Ithaca, N.Y., collected 5,...

Sepsis Raises Odds for Heart Failure After Hospital Discharge

Having sepsis -- a life-threatening response to infection -- may put patients at risk for future heart failure and rehospitalization, according to a new study.

Sepsis is an extreme immune response to an infection in the body. It can cause that infection to spread throughout the body and lead to organ failure and possibly death.

“We know that infection may be a potential tr...

Pandemic at a Tipping Point: WHO

The pandemic has reached a “transition point,” the World Health Organization (WHO) said Monday.

Still, that doesn’t mean the public health emergency of international concern (PHEIC) designation declared by the WHO in January 2020 is over yet.

The organization’s International Health Regulations Emergency Committee met last week to discuss COVID-19, saying in a

  • Cara Murez HealthDay Reporter
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  • January 30, 2023
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  • Troubling Signs TB Is Gaining Resistance Against Combo Antibiotics

    New drugs may be needed to fight the deadliest form of tuberculosis, because it may no longer respond to current treatments.

    An animal study by Johns Hopkins University researchers found that an approved antibiotic regimen may not work for TB meningitis due to multidrug-resistant str...

    Updated Boosters Cut Risk of XBB Variant Infection by Nearly Half

    In a finding that suggests the updated bivalent COVID booster shots are worth getting, new government data shows they cut the chances of infection with the new XBB variant by nearly half.

    While those ages 49 and under saw a 48% reduction in risk, the shots were slightly less effective in older individuals -- about 40% in adults ages 50 to 64 and 43% in those 65 and up. Effectiveness was s...

    Home Drug Infusions Can Be Dangerous, But Many Home Care Staff Aren't Trained

    Intravenous (IV) lines are generally associated with medical centers — picture a patient in a hospital bed, an IV drip-dropping needed fluids, nutrients and medicines into their arm.

    But millions now are receiving IV treatments at home, and a new study warns that not enough people are being ...

    Omicron Silver Lining: Fewer, Milder Cases of MIS-C in Kids

    The COVID-19 Omicron variant caused fewer cases of a rare but sometimes deadly complication for children than the earlier Delta variant did, new research shows.

    “Our study is one of the first to show that during the change to Omicron, MIS-C has become milder and increasingly rare,” said senior researcher

    A Probiotic May Equal Antibiotics in Fighting Staph Infection

    A probiotic supplement appears to clear the body of a type of bacteria that can cause serious antibiotic-resistant infections, a new study finds.

    More research is needed, but experts said the work could lead to a way to prevent infections with the bac...

    What to Know About XBB, the New COVID Variant

    The new coronavirus continues to dodge, duck, dip and dive, mutating again and again to find its way past people’s immune defenses.

    The latest COVID variant to gain a foothold in America is called XBB.1.5, which has rapidly started to crowd out other competing variants.

    XBB.1.5 is the first recombinant COVID variant expected to become dominant in the United States, according to th...

    Plane Wastewater Study Shows How COVID Travel Restrictions Failed

    Wastewater research isn't for the squeamish, but it can get to the bottom of questions about such things as the effectiveness of COVID-19 air travel restrictions.

    Tests of toilet tank water from flights entering the United Kingdom helped Welsh scientists determine that steps meant to keep the virus from traveling among countries appear to have failed.

    "Despite all the intervention m...

    Kids' COVID More Dangerous When Co-Infected With RSV, Colds

    As colds, flu and COVID continue to circulate this winter, a new U.S. government study finds that young children infected with COVID plus a second virus tend to become sicker.

    While severe COVID is rare among children, kids can and do fall ill enough to end up in the hospital.

    During the pandemic's first two years, young U.S. children who were hospitalized with COVID tended to be mo...

    Getting COVID in Pregnancy Greatly Raises a Woman's Odds for Death

    COVID-19 infection in pregnancy raises a woman's risk of death sevenfold and significantly elevates her odds for needing intensive care, a new study finds.

    Getting the virus during pregnancy also ups the likelihood of pneumonia, according to researchers at George Washington University in Washington, D.C.

    "This study provides the most comprehensive evidence to date suggesting that CO...

    U.S. Mails Out Some COVID Tests That are About to Expire

    WEDNESDAY, Jan. 11, 2023 (HealthDay News) – If you ordered COVID-19 tests through the federal government recently, you might want to check the expiration dates.

    Although the actual expiration had already been extended by six months for the iHealth COVID tests, some will still expire soon, CBS News reported.

    Nora Boydston, of Douglas County, Colo., was among those who ord...

    Study Pushes Back Smallpox Origins Another 2,000 Years

    While the origins of smallpox has remained a mystery for centuries, researchers now believe that it dates back 2,000 years earlier than previously thought.

    Until recently, the earliest genetic evidence of smallpox, the variola virus, was from the 1600s. And in 2020, researchers found evidence of it in the dental remains of Viking skeletons, pushing its existence 1,000 years earlier.

    Adults May Be Losing Immunity to Mumps. Are Boosters Needed?

    Despite routine use of a childhood vaccine, the United States still sees outbreaks of mumps. Now, a new study reinforces the belief that it's due to waning immunity post-vaccination.

    Mumps is a viral infection best known for causing puffy cheeks, a swollen jaw, fever and general misery. While it's usually relatively mild, mumps occasionally causes serious complications like brain inflamma...

    U.S. to Require Negative COVID Test For Chinese Visitor Entry

    All travelers flying from China to the United States will soon be required to produce a negative COVID test or show proof of recovery if they've had a recent COVID infection, U.S. health officials announced Wednesday.

    The new rule, set to go into effect on Jan. 5, was created in response to a surge in COVID cases in China and the “lack of adequate and transparent epidemiological and vir...

    Science Reveals Cause of Smell Loss in COVID-19

    One of the hallmarks of a COVID-19 infection has been a lost sense of smell after the infection ends.

    In a new study, researchers blame an ongoing immune assault on the olfactory nerve cells — cells found at the top of the nasal cavity — and a decline in the number of those cells. The study was led by a team at Duke Health in Durham, N.C.

    “One of the first symptoms that has ty...

    Flu, RSV, COVID: Shield Yourself From the 'Tripledemic' This Holiday

    Public health experts have been warning of a “tripledemic” of respiratory viruses this fall and winter, so the American Lung Association has some tips for breathing easier this holiday season.

    Flu, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) and COVID-19 are all spreading throughout the United States, overwhelming health care systems.

    One way to make holiday or seasonal gatherings safer ...

    U.S. to Release Flu Meds From National Stockpile to Ease Shortages

    Having trouble finding influenza meds at your local pharmacy? You're not alone. Now, flu-infected patients will have better access to prescription medicines as the U.S. government releases doses of Tamiflu from the Strategic National Stockpile.

    The Biden administration announced Wednesday it will release an unspecified number of doses to U.S. states as the country deals with an early an...

    America Facing Shortage of Infectious Disease Doctors

    The COVID-19 pandemic. Dangerous antibiotic-resistant bacteria. The current waves of influenza and RSV ripping through schools and workplaces.

    America has had ample examples in recent years of the importance of infectious disease doctors.

    Despite this, the United States is facing a shortage of doctors choosing to specialize in infectious disease, according to the Infectious Diseases...

    White House 'Winter Preparedness Plan' Revives Free At-Home COVID Test Program

    With cases of the flu, RSV and COVID-19 rising and hospitals filling up nationwide, the Biden Administration on Wednesday announced a "winter preparedness plan" for what could be a tough season ahead.

    One step towards protecting Americans from spreading infection: Restarting a program where every household in the country is eligible to receive four free COVID-19 nasal swab testing kits, t...

    Patients' Genes Raise Odds for Rare Brain Infection When Using Certain Meds

    For some people, dozens of U.S.-approved drugs can lead to a rare but often fatal brain infection.

    Researchers have now confirmed a strong link between four genetic mutations and this illness, called progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy (PML).

    A new study found that in people ta...

    Seniors Urged to Get Flu Shots as U.S. Cases Rise

    Experts are asking seniors to get their flu shots ASAP as an exceptionally nasty flu season unfolds across the United States.

    Already, 8.7 million flu cases have been reported, with 78,000 hospitalizations and 4,500 deaths, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In the last week alone, the nu...

    U.S. to End Mpox Public Health Emergency in January

    Mpox cases are down significantly in the United States, prompting the federal government to plan not to renew an emergency designation for the virus when it expires late next month.

    “Given the low number of cases today, HHS does not expect that it needs to renew the emergency declaration when it ends on January 31, 2023,” Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra said i...

    Bacteria Risk Spurs Recall of 8 Million Laundress Products

    The Laundress, a laundry and cleaning products company, has recalled nearly 8 million of its products over concerns they may be contaminated with various bacteria.

    The bacteria include Burkholderia cepacia complex, Klebsiella aerogenes and multiple different species of Pseudomonas. So far, testing has identified these bacteria in certain recalled products, inclu...

    First FDA-Approved Fecal-Based Treatment Helps Fight a Tough Superbug

    The U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Wednesday approved the first fecal microbiota treatment, aimed at helping adults battling tough-to-treat Clostridium difficile (C. diff) infections.

    "Today's approval of Rebyota is an advance in caring for patients who have recurrent C. difficile infection [CDI]," said

  • Cara Murez HealthDay Reporter
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  • December 1, 2022
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  • CDC Will Test New Areas for Polio in Wastewater

    U.S. health officials will begin testing wastewater for poliovirus in select locations around the country, including possibly at sites in Michigan and Pennsylvania.

    The testing will happen in communities that have low polio vaccination rates or those with possible connections to New York communities that are linked to a recent

  • Cara Murez HealthDay Reporter
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  • December 1, 2022
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  • Long COVID Often Brings Another Issue: Stigma

    People with long COVID deal with months or years of punishing fatigue, mind-numbing brain fog or a frightening fight to take each and every breath.

    But they can also face the skepticism of others, a new study finds -- employers and doctors questioning whether they're really sick, friends avoiding them, family losing patience.

    About 95% of people living with long COVID say they've ex...

    Monkeypox Renamed MPox Amid Racism Concerns

    Monkeypox still exists, but its name is being phased out over racism concerns.

    For the next year, the terms monkeypox and the new name mpox will be used interchangeably before the virus is permanently renamed mpox, the World Health Organization

  • Cara Murez HealthDay Reporter
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  • November 28, 2022
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  • New COVID Variant XBB Is Gaining Ground Among Americans

    U.S. health officials are tracking a new COVID variant that's a combination of two earlier Omicron subvariants.

    Known as XBB, this latest subvariant now represents 3.1% of new COVID cases throughout the U.S. and 5% of cases in the Northeast.

    Based on preliminary estimates from the U.S. Cente...

    COVID Vaccine Boosts Protection, Even After Prior Infection: Study

    Even if you've already had COVID-19, you can still benefit from a vaccine that can help prevent another infection, a new study shows.

    Danish patients gained between 60% and 94% protection against reinfection, depending on the COVID variant wave, the researchers found.

    The findings were published Nov. 22 in the open-access journal PLOS Medicine.

    "In our study, we find...

    Protecting Wildlife Key to Preventing the Next Big Pandemic

    Research in wild bats is reinforcing a notion crucial to stopping future pandemics: When wildlife populations stay healthy, the odds of "crossover" viruses infecting humans subsides.

    In Australia, deforestation has caused a deadly respiratory virus to pass from fruit bats to humans, by forcing the two species into closer contact, a

  • Dennis Thompson HealthDay Reporter
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  • November 22, 2022
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  • Bacterial Infections to Blame for 1 in Every 8 Deaths Worldwide

    Bacterial infections are to blame for 1 in 8 deaths and are second only to heart disease as the world's leading cause of death, a new report reveals.

    About 7.7 million people died in 2019 from infection with one of 33 common types of bacteria, according to the report published Nov. 21 in The Lancet. That's nearly 14% of deaths for that year.

    More than 75% of bacteria-relate...

    Flu Has Started Early and With a Punch: CDC

    Flu season has struck the United States hard and early, burdening hospitals that are also coping with a surge in other respiratory viruses, including RSV and COVID-19.

    The nation has seen at least 4.4 million cases of flu so far this season, with 38,000 hospitalizations and 2,100 deaths from flu, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported Friday.

    While typically f...

    Many U.S. Parents Avoid Vaccine Talks With Child's Doctor

    Vaccines have become a hot topic in the past few years, but a new survey finds many parents aren't discussing immunization with their child's doctor.

    Though a child's pediatrician has often been the go-to resource on vaccines, the University of Michigan Medicine poll found that 1 in 7 parents have not discussed vaccines with their child's doctor during the pandemic.

    While 80% of p...

    Fungi in Soil Can Cause Illness, With Range Expanding in U.S.

    Fungi found in the soil are causing lung infections nationwide, even in places that doctors aren't aware are at risk.

    The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has not revised maps for environmental fungi since 1969, according to a

    There Might Be a Perfect Indoor Humidity to Curb COVID Spread

    It's sort of like the Goldilocks principle — a room that's either too dry or too humid can influence transmission of COVID-19 and cause more illness or death, Massachusetts Institute of Technology researchers say.

    Maintaining an indoor relative humidity between 40% and 60% is associated with lower rates of COVID-19 infections and deaths, they reported Nov. 16 in the

  • Dennis Thompson HealthDay Reporter
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  • November 18, 2022
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  • Dangerous Parasite That Can Infect People Now Found in U.S. Foxes

    A rare parasitic disease that has long been documented in Europe seems to have taken root in the United States.

    Researchers in Vermont are reporting on two human cases of the disease, called alveolar echinococcosis (AE), which were caused by a European strain of the parasite E. multilocularis.

    They also found evidence of the strain in two red foxes in Virginia.

    Until...

    CDC Warns of Rare Bacterial Infections From Dentists' Water Lines

    The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is warning that a number of U.S. children have picked up a serious infection from contaminated water lines at the dentist's office.

    Although rare, outbreaks of nontuberculous Mycobacteria (NTM) infections have been reported in kids treated at the dentist, one cluster in 2015 and another in 2016, the CDC says. A third cluster ide...

    Paxlovid Lowers Risk of Long COVID

    The antiviral pill Paxlovid not only reduces hospitalization and death after catching COVID-19: New research shows it also cuts the chances of long COVID by roughly 25%.

    The drug, which combines a newer antiviral called nirmatrelvir with an older medication known as ritonavir, del...

    Can Adults Get RSV?

    As health experts warn about RSV infections in infants and toddlers, adults should know that they, too, can become severely ill from the virus.

    Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) is not always the mild respiratory illness people think it is but can lead to symptoms as serious as seen with influenza, according to an expert from Baylor College of Medicine in Houston.

    The risks are part...

    New Type of Antibiotic Could Fight Tough-to-Treat UTIs

    The world desperately needs new antibiotics to fight infection as bacteria become resistant to existing options.

    GSK has developed a new antibiotic to treat urinary tract infections (UTIs) that appears to be so effective the pharmaceutical company stopped testing early on the recommendation of independent monitors and plans to submit data to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration soon,

    Simple Nose Swab Test Might Gauge Severity of Child's RSV

    While it isn't possible to tell parents how long their child will need to remain in intensive care with a serious case of RSV, new research has unearthed clues that may make it easier to predict which kids will require a longer stay.

    To study the issue, researchers from the Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago used nose swabs from children with RSV in the pediatric intensi...

    Monkeypox Can Be Passed On Even Before Symptoms Appear

    Monkeypox spreads even before a person shows any telltale lesions or other symptoms, a new study suggests.

    More than half of monkeypox transmission in the United Kingdom occurred in the pre-symptomatic phase, the researchers said.

    The new findings — published online Nov. 2 in the BMJmay exp...

    Monkeypox in Kids, Teens Is Rare and Seldom Severe: CDC

    Out of the more than 25,000 U.S. cases of monkeypox reviewed in a new study, just 0.3% occurred in people under the age of 18, new government data shows.

    Most of the kids and teens who contracted the virus -- 89% -- "were not hospitalized, none received intensive care unit [ICU]-level care, and none died," reported a team led by Ian Hennessee, with the Monkeypox Pediatric Working Group at...

    FDA Warns of Amoxicillin Shortage

    It could be harder to fill a prescription for the widely used antibiotic amoxicillin because of a shortage that appears to be linked to an ongoing surge in RSV infections across the United States.

    Supplies of amoxicillin oral solution, which is typically used in children, are low, the U.S. Food and Drug Admin...

    Doctors Answer Your Questions About RSV

    While a potential COVID winter surge and the impending flu season get a lot of attention, doctors are worried about another virus.

    This one is RSV -- short for respiratory syncytial virus -- and hospitals across the country are seeing a surge of cases in infants and young children. The virus can...

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