Connect with us

Health & Wellness

Japan Faces Rising Cases of Serious Bacterial Infection

Anne lise Sylta

Published

on

Japan is witnessing a steep growth in the dangerous bacterial infection called streptococcal shock syndrome (STSS The official figures have hit an alltime high, but are still uncertain about the reason behind the upsurge.

New High in Infection Rate

On June 2, Japan’s Health Ministry recorded 977 cases of STSS, exceeding last year’s record high of 941 cases. The National Institute of Infectious Diseases announced that the infection has caused 77 deaths between January and March this year.

  • The death rate for STSS can reach up to 30%.
  • The past year saw 97 deaths due to STSS, marking the secondhighest count over six years.

About STSS

STSS is a scarce but critical bacterial infection mainly led by group A streptococcus (GAS). This bacteria can infiltrate deep tissues and bloodstream causing symptoms like fever, muscle pain, vomiting. In extreme situations, it can lead to low blood pressure, swelling, multiple organ failure and even death.

“Even with treatment, STSS can be fatal. Three out of every ten people infected with STSS may die,” observes the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Infections Rising Globally

The surge in STSS has not only occurred in Japan. In December 2022, five European countries reported a growth in invasive group A streptococcus (iGAS) infections to World Health Organization. During the same time span, CDC observed a similar increase in the United States.

  • Group A Streptococcus could cause necrotizing fasciitis, a fleshconsuming disease that result in loss of limbs.
  • The majority of necrotizing fasciitis occur along with other health issues such cancer or diabetes.

Effect of COVID19

Invasive group A streptococcus infections declined due to COVID19 preventive measures such as wearing masks and social distancing. But the easing up of such measures has triggered a rise in infections again across different nations.

Present Scenario in Japan

The Japanese health authorities issued an alert in March over the growing cases of STSS. The National Institute has reported significant growth in STSS instances resulting from iGAS, notably among people below 50 years old.

“We can boost our immunity if we are continuously exposed to bacteria. But we never encountered this option during the coronavirus pandemic,” says Ken Kikuchi, a professor at Tokyo Women’s Medical University while suggesting that lower immunity after COVID could be influencing this increase.

Fighting Infections

CDC recommends that older individuals with open wounds, or those recently operated on are more prone to STSS. Hand cleanliness and immediate treatment of any open wound are essential preventive ways.

A View into the Future

With an evergrowing rate of STSS cases, experts remain alert. If it continues like this, Japan might record as high as 2500 cases by yearend with a suggested “frightening” 30% mortality rate. If you observe rapid swelling and pain, get immediate medical aid.

Note – The unexpected sharp rise in STSS cases across Japan has escalated concerns for public health safety. Even though the precise reason for this surge is still unknown, its potentially alarming effects are clear. The health authorities and experts encourage all to stay alert and abide by the preventive measures to halt the spread of this lethal infection.

Continue Reading

Health & Wellness

A New Protein, Which May Worsen Alzheimer’s Disease, Has Been Discovered

Jonas Muthoni

Published

on

A New Protein, Which May Worsen Alzheimer's Disease, Has Been Discovered

If current trends continue, by 2050, more than 100 million people worldwide will suffer from Alzheimer’s disease—a disease that currently does not have any cure.

Researchers are currently focusing on two key neurotoxic proteins named amyloid beta (Aβ) and tau. Research has shown that though these proteins are associated with Alzheimer’s Disease, they don’t necessarily correlate to the cognitive decline experienced by those who have been diagnosed with the disease. In order to find out other proteins that may directly impact Alzheimer’s Disease (AD), researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital conducted an experiment. They exposed laboratory neurons to human brain extracts collected from approximately 40 people who either had Alzheimer’s Disease, were minimally affected by Alzheimer’s Disease despite having high levels of Aβ and tau, or showed no signs of Alzheimer’s Disease with little or no Aβ and tau in their brains.

A new protein, which may worsen Alzheimer’s Disease, has been discovered. Researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital have found that ganglioside GM2 activator (GM2A) is a protein that reduces neuronal firing and causes a loss of neurite integrity. These characteristics of the protein may contribute to Alzheimer’s Disease or, at least, worsen the symptoms of those who have already been diagnosed.

The senior author of the study, Tracy Young-Pearse from the Department of Neurology, said, “Our data helps identify a new and potentially important protein that may be associated with the pathogenesis of Alzheimer’s disease.” She continued that GM2A has been mentioned as a possible reason for a lysosomal storage disorder similar to Tay-Sachs disease, another condition that destroys neurons like AD. The presence of elevated levels of ganglioside GM2 activator (GM2A) in human brain tissue has been shown to reduce neurite integrity and spontaneous neuronal activity.

Researchers are still working to understand exactly how GM2A contributes to Alzheimer’s disease, but this discovery provides new insights that could eventually lead to better treatments for the disease.

Alzheimer’s Disease Research News

Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is a major global health problem, but progress in developing new treatments has been slow. Experimental systems that monitor neuronal function in conditions similar to the AD brain could be helpful for identifying new therapeutic strategies.

Methods:

During the research, they used laboratory neurons and exposed them to human brain extracts collected from over 43 human beings across a wide range of AD pathology. To study the individual effects of neuronal firing and neurite integrity, the researchers used live-cell imaging and multi-electrode arrays (MEAs) following the treatment of rat cortical neurons (MEA) and human iPSC-derived neurons (iN) with extracts from human brains.

Result of the research:   

The researchers found a connection between the Aβ42:40 levels and spontaneous activity, between oligomeric Aβ and neurite integrity, and, similarly, a connection between neurite integrity and tau levels present in the brain extracts. Although Aβ and tau are commonly linked with adverse effects, they don’t explain all of the observed problems.

Proteomic profiling uncovered more potential proteins connected to neurodegeneration and neuronal structure. Toxicity in MEA and NI assays was tied to proteins that are usually found in lysosomal storage disorders, while neuroprotection correlates with the WAVE regulatory complex that oversees actin cytoskeleton movement. When ganglioside GM2 activator (GM2A) is at an elevated level, it causes a drop in both NI and MEA activity. Additionally, cell-derived GM2A by itself causes neurite damage and decreased neuronal firing rates.

Bottom Line:

The study provides new insights into potential mechanisms and proteins that may contribute to the development of Alzheimer’s disease.

Continue Reading

Health & Wellness

Lifestyle Choices and Cancer: Understanding the Risks and Taking Action

Ashley Waithira

Published

on

Recent studies have highlighted a startling correlation between lifestyle choices and the incidence of cancer, with a significant portion of cancer cases being linked to behaviors that individuals can control. This revelation underscores the need for greater awareness and proactive measures to mitigate these risks. The findings are particularly crucial as they point to specific behaviors that, if addressed, could dramatically reduce the prevalence of cancer.

Key Findings

Approximately 40% of all cancer cases are attributed to lifestyle choices, which include smoking, poor diet, alcohol consumption, and lack of physical activity. These behaviors collectively contribute to a significant burden on public health, emphasizing the need for targeted interventions. Among these factors, smoking emerges as the leading cause, responsible for a substantial number of cancer cases.

Smoking as the Primary Culprit

Smoking is identified as the single most significant contributor to cancer, accounting for a large percentage of the cases. The carcinogenic properties of tobacco are well-documented, with smoking being directly linked to cancers of the lung, throat, mouth, and several other organs. The statistics are staggering: smokers are at a markedly higher risk of developing cancer compared to non-smokers. This highlights the critical importance of smoking cessation programs, which have proven effective in reducing the incidence of cancer among former smokers. These programs not only help individuals quit smoking but also provide support systems to prevent relapse, thereby contributing to long-term health benefits.

Other Risk Factors

While smoking is a major culprit, other lifestyle choices also play a significant role in cancer development. Poor dietary habits, characterized by high intake of processed foods and low consumption of fruits and vegetables, have been linked to various cancers. A balanced diet rich in nutrients can help reduce this risk.

Alcohol consumption is another significant factor, with excessive drinking being associated with cancers of the liver, breast, and other organs. Reducing alcohol intake can lower these risks considerably.

Physical inactivity contributes to cancer by promoting obesity and metabolic disorders. Regular physical activity, on the other hand, has been shown to reduce the risk of several types of cancer, including colon and breast cancer.

Preventive Measures

Addressing these risk factors requires a multi-faceted approach. Smoking cessation programs are essential, and they need to be accessible and well-promoted. Public health campaigns can play a crucial role in educating people about the dangers of smoking and providing resources to help them quit.

Dietary changes can also have a profound impact on reducing cancer risk. Encouraging the consumption of a balanced diet that includes plenty of fruits and vegetables while limiting processed foods and red meat is vital. Public health initiatives can help by promoting healthy eating habits through education and community programs.

Regular physical activity should be encouraged as part of a healthy lifestyle. Communities can support this by providing safe and accessible spaces for exercise, such as parks and recreational facilities. Workplace wellness programs can also promote physical activity among employees.

Reducing alcohol consumption is another critical preventive measure. Public health campaigns that raise awareness about the risks of excessive drinking and offer support for those trying to cut down can be highly effective.

Health Policy Implications

The role of public health policies in addressing these lifestyle factors cannot be overstated. Governments and health organizations need to implement and enforce policies that discourage smoking, promote healthy eating, and encourage physical activity. Examples of successful initiatives include smoking bans in public places, taxation on tobacco products, and subsidies for healthy food options.

Future policy recommendations could include further restrictions on advertising for unhealthy foods and alcohol, increased funding for public health campaigns, and greater support for community-based health programs. These measures can create an environment that supports healthy choices and reduces the overall burden of cancer.

Conclusion

The significant link between lifestyle choices and cancer cases highlights the urgent need for both individual and collective action. By addressing the main risk factors – smoking, poor diet, alcohol consumption, and physical inactivity – we can make substantial progress in reducing the incidence of cancer. It is imperative that individuals take responsibility for their health while policymakers create supportive environments that facilitate healthy choices. Together, we can work towards a future with fewer cancer cases and better overall health.

Continue Reading

Health & Wellness

Understanding the New COVID-19 Variant LB1: What You Need to Know

Ashley Waithira

Published

on

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to evolve, new variants of the virus emerge, each with unique characteristics and implications. The latest variant to gain attention is LB1. Understanding this new variant is crucial for maintaining public health and safety.

What is the LB1 Variant?

The LB1 variant, a newly identified strain of the COVID-19 virus, has emerged as a point of concern for health authorities worldwide. This variant has unique mutations that distinguish it from previous strains, raising questions about its transmissibility, severity, and potential impact on public health. Originating from specific regions, LB1 is being closely monitored by virologists and epidemiologists to understand its behavior and implications fully.

Symptoms of the LB1 Variant

One of the critical aspects of the LB1 variant is its symptom profile. While it shares many symptoms with earlier COVID-19 variants, such as fever, cough, and fatigue, there are also unique symptoms that have been reported. Some patients have experienced more pronounced gastrointestinal issues, such as nausea and diarrhea, as well as intensified respiratory symptoms. Understanding these symptoms helps in early detection and management, preventing further spread.

Transmission and Spread

The LB1 variant appears to have a higher transmission rate compared to some of its predecessors. This heightened transmissibility means that the variant can spread more rapidly within communities, potentially leading to larger outbreaks. Currently, LB1 has been detected in multiple regions, prompting health authorities to increase surveillance and testing efforts. Understanding the transmission dynamics of LB1 is essential for implementing effective containment measures.

Prevention and Protection

Preventing infection with the LB1 variant involves adhering to established health guidelines. Wearing masks, practicing social distancing, and maintaining good hand hygiene remain crucial. Additionally, vaccination and booster shots are vital tools in combating this new variant. Health authorities recommend that individuals stay up-to-date with their COVID-19 vaccinations to ensure optimal protection against LB1 and other variants. Booster doses, in particular, are being emphasized to enhance immunity and reduce the risk of severe illness.

Impact on Healthcare Systems

The emergence of the LB1 variant has the potential to strain healthcare systems already burdened by the ongoing pandemic. Increased transmission rates could lead to a surge in hospitalizations, requiring additional resources and personnel. Healthcare providers are being urged to prepare for potential increases in patient numbers by ensuring adequate supplies of medical equipment and reinforcing staff support. Proactive measures, such as expanding testing and vaccination efforts, are essential to mitigate the impact on healthcare facilities.

Conclusion

Staying vigilant and informed about the LB1 variant is crucial in our ongoing battle against COVID-19. By understanding its symptoms, transmission patterns, and preventive measures, we can better protect ourselves and our communities. Continued adherence to health guidelines and prompt vaccination efforts remain our best defenses against this new variant. As the situation evolves, staying updated with reliable information from health authorities will ensure we are prepared to face any challenges that arise.

Continue Reading