Emerging Infectious Disease Headlines
US cases of liver inflammation among children have remained flat, but UK cases seem to have risen, leading some to suggest a coronavirus contribution. In the months since UK physicians sounded the alarm about mysterious cases of hepatitis that seemed to be striking young children, researchers have been scrambling to determine the cause — and a possible connection to the coronavirus pandemic has been among the leading hypotheses.
The recent outbreak of monkeypox virus has called into question the capabilities of these kinds large DNA viruses to evolve, adapt and change their biology. Compared with small RNA viruses such as coronavirus, monkeypox virus and other large DNA viruses are thought to evolve slowly. Yet there’s clear evidence that this really isn’t a hindrance to these viruses. In fact, they can adapt to new environments like us.
On June 13, a man in New York began to feel ill. “He starts to experience swollen lymph nodes and rectal discomfort,” says epidemiologist Keletso Makofane, who’s at Harvard University. The man suspects he might have monkeypox. He’s a scientist, and knowledgeable about the signs and symptoms, Makofane says. So the man goes to his doctor and asks for a monkeypox test. The doctor decides, instead, to test the man for common sexually transmitted diseases. All those come back negative.
Pediatric infectious diseases expert Shirley Delair, MD, MPH, is excited about this milestone. “The moment that so many of us have been waiting for – to finally have all of our children six months of age and up get vaccinated – has finally arrived.”
COVID-19 vaccines are due for an upgrade, scientists say, but emerging variants and fickle immune reactions mean it’s not clear what new jabs should look like. As countries brace for another Omicron wave driven by the variants BA.4 and BA.5, calls to update COVID-19 vaccines are growing louder.
Scientists had high hopes for a new coronavirus vaccine that combines the existing formulation with one targeting Omicron, but many are not impressed by the results.
The population of post-COVID, long COVID, has changed over time. I think that one of the most significant changes is that the population is more aware of these chronic conditions, and I think that the uncertainties are still there.
During pregnancy, a mother’s body suppresses parts of the immune system to help tolerate the growing fetus. This means pregnant women are at an especially high risk of contracting disease, including Covid-19. The risk they face is two-fold: first, towards their own health, and second, towards the health of their unborn child. Still, not much is known about the impacts of SARS-CoV-2 infection during pregnancy.
The following is a summary of some recent studies on COVID-19. They include research that warrants further study to corroborate the findings and that has yet to be certified by peer review.
Nearly 18 months after getting the coronavirus and spending weeks in the hospital, Terry Bell struggles with hanging up his shirts and pants after doing the laundry.
Women are significantly more likely than men to experience long COVID, with symptoms that follow a distinct clinical pattern, researchers reported today. They said more efforts are needed to explore sex differences in outcomes, including greater risks of exposure for some jobs. The researchers from the Johnson & Johnson Office of the Chief Medical Officer reported their findings yesterday in Current Medical Research and Opinion, a peer-reviewed journal.
The virus that causes COVID-19 undertakes a massive takeover of the body’s fat-processing system, creating cellular storehouses of fat that empower the virus to hijack the body’s molecular machinery and cause disease. Link to study
Scientists from the Josep Carreras Leukemia Research Institute and the Bellvitge Biomedical Research Institute (IDIBELL), say they have identified an epigenetic signature associated to the development of the Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children (MIS-C) after a SARS-CoV-2 virus infection. The signature has been named EPIMISC, in line with previous studies on the epigenetics of COVID-19 from the same team, which published this recent study, “Epigenetic profiling linked to multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C): A multicenter, retrospective study,” in eClinicalMedicine.
Official Reporting for June 28, 2022
World Health Organization
Weekly Epi Update June 22, 2022(latest release)
New Cases: 183,475 ⬇︎
Confirmed Cases: 540,923,532
Confirmed Cases: 544,671,601
Total cases: 86,855,517 (+100,674 New Cases) ⬆︎
Total deaths: 1,011,232 (+290 New Deaths) ⬆︎
Science and Tech
Being inches away from one of the world’s deadliest viruses can give you a new perspective on things. Kyle Loh, PhD, assistant professor of developmental biology, can attest to that. He works with the Nipah virus, which is so dangerous it kills roughly 59% of the people it infects — a whopping 100 times more than does SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.
Levels of a stringy, spongy substance soar in the sputum of COVID-19 patients requiring intubation, accounting for at least some of their breathing trouble. Development of an off-patent drug may prevent it.
Michigan State University is developing artificial intelligence to help forecast the future impacts of the coronavirus, its variants and other evolving viruses. The National Institutes of Health have awarded Michigan State University researchers $2.7 million to continue developing artificial intelligence algorithms that predict key features of viruses as they evolve.
The model, which uses machine learning to track the fitness of different viral strains, accurately predicted the rise of Omicron BA.2 and Alpha. Despite having only been around for fewer than three years, the COVID-causing virus SARS-CoV-2 is perhaps the most studied and genetically sequenced pathogen in history. Disease surveillance teams around the world have uploaded millions of viral sequences to public databases that allow researchers to track how the virus spreads.
Psychological and Sociological Impact
Severe SARS-CoV-2COVID-19 illness in pediatrics is less common in children than in adults. Here we report an unvaccinated 16-year-old male, normally fit and well with no previous personal or family history of mental illness who developed moderate respiratory illness related to SARS-CoV-2 infection that was followed by acute psychosis. Neuropsychiatric manifestations are well documented in adults with SARS-CoV-2 infections; however, there are few reports in the pediatric population. This case illustrates that acute psychosis is a possible complication in children with mild SARS-CoV-2 illness and highlights the need for vigilance.
Improving COVID-19 vaccine immunogenicity by interrupting methotrexate treatment – The Lancet
SARS-CoV-2 Infection in Patients with a History of VITT – NEJM
Long-COVID in children and adolescents: a systematic review and meta-analyses – Nature
Long COVID symptoms in SARS-CoV-2-positive children aged 0–14 years and matched controls in Denmark (LongCOVIDKidsDK): a national, cross-sectional study – The Lancet
A global lipid map reveals host dependency factors conserved across SARS-CoV-2 variants – Nature
How long does SARS-CoV-2 stay in the body? – BMJ
Misinformation, Disinformation, and Conspiracy Theories
Dr. Vinson Diep is used to dealing with parents who have concerns about routine childhood vaccinations. The Honolulu-based pediatrician views it as a red flag if parents want to refuse vaccines entirely, but he’s always willing to show parents safety data and try to get to the source of their hesitation.
Coping with COVID
This is the last issue of Tulane Outbreak! Thank you subscribers! Hope to hear from you when I get started at University of Nebraska Medical Center, Global Center for Health Security