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US backs Study Of Safe Injection Sites, Overdose Prevention

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For the first time, the federal government will fund comprehensive research to determine whether so-called safe injection facilities, where people can use heroin and other illegal substances and be revived if they take too much, will prevent overdoses.

The funding grants more than $5 million over four years to New York University and Brown University to examine two sites in New York City and one in Providence, Rhode Island, which will open next year.

Researchers plan to enlist 1,000 adult drug users to examine the sites’ effects on overdoses, estimate expenditures, and assess possible savings for the healthcare and criminal justice systems.

The universities revealed the grant on Monday. According to the universities, the funds will not be utilized to run the sites.

With opioid overdose deaths in the United States expected to reach over 107,000 by 2021, supporters argue that safe injection sites, also known as overdose prevention centers, can save lives and connect people to addiction treatment, mental health services, and medical care.

Opponents are concerned that the sites would increase drug use and deteriorate the nearby neighborhoods.

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The governors of California and Vermont vetoed safe injection site legislation.

“There is a lot of discussion about overdose prevention centers, but ultimately, we need data to see if they are working or not and what impact they may have on the community,” Dr. Nora Volkow, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, which awarded the grant, said.

According to the Drug Policy Alliance, a nonprofit that advocates for decriminalization and safe drug use legislation, sites are operational in 14 countries, including Canada, Australia, and France.

In the United States, New York City will open the first publicly recognized safe injection site in 2021, and Rhode Island will be the first state to do so that year.

Colorado, Nevada, and New Mexico have all proposed legalizing them. Last year, the governors of California and Vermont vetoed safe injection site legislation, and the Pennsylvania Senate voted last week to prohibit them.

The award is yet another step by the Biden administration towards harm reduction, which focuses on reducing death and sickness in drug users while assisting them in getting therapy rather than punishment.

The White House’s drug-control plan is the first to emphasize harm reduction, and the Justice Department has indicated that safe injection sites will be permitted.

The National Institutes of Health launched a harm reduction research network in December to examine programs that provide services and supplies like as naloxone, a medicine that can reverse overdoses, and tools to test substances for fentanyl, a strong opioid that is responsible for a record number of overdoses. The new study will be included in that initiative.

SOURCE – (AP)

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2023 China: WHO Seeks Data On ‘Pneumonia Clusters’ In Children

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The World Health Organization (WHO) has requested more information from China regarding “clusters of undiagnosed pneumonia” that are reportedly increasing among children in the country’s north.

According to non-state media reports, pediatric hospitals in several parts of China are overcrowded with unwell children.

Chinese officials blamed the lifting of Covid restrictions for an increase in flu-like symptoms this winter.

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The WHO is advising Chinese citizens to take preventative steps.

The UN health agency said in a statement that it requested further information on allegations of “clusters of undiagnosed pneumonia in children in northern China” in the media and from ProMed, a worldwide outbreak tracking system.

Pneumonia is a broad medical word for an infection and inflammation of the lungs. Various viruses, bacteria, or fungi can cause it.

Following the release of the WHO statement, the state-run Xinhua news agency published an item on Thursday in which officials from China’s National Health Commission (NHC) stated that they were paying particular attention to diagnosing and treating children with respiratory infections.

While talks of China and a wave of infection can make people nervous, recalling the Covid-19 pandemic, it’s an excellent procedure for the WHO to seek clarification. But the only way of understanding why this outbreak of illnesses has occurred is if Beijing responds.

It is also uncommon for the WHO to request further information from countries regarding a cluster of illnesses. They do it nearly every day.

Daily, a WHO professional staff sifts through hundreds of media reports and internal surveillance data on circulating diseases from countries. Experts then assess whether more information is required if it becomes a public health emergency of international concern.

However, it is unusual to request additional information public. Previously, this was done through private channels between the WHO and national health officials.

pneumonia

China: WHO Seeks Data On ‘Pneumonia Clusters’ In Children

The UN agency is undoubtedly concerned that people may be more wary of viruses reported in China after COVID-19. In the aftermath of the pandemic, the WHO is likewise attempting to be more transparent.

The UK’s Health Security Agency (UKHSA) stated it was carefully monitoring the situation.

According to the WHO, Northern China has recorded an “increase in influenza-like illness” since October, compared to the same period in the previous three years.

The Chinese NHC reported last week that various respiratory infections were rising nationwide, including influenza, COVID-19, mycoplasma pneumonia (a frequent bacterial infection affecting younger children), and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV).

Officials attributed the increase to the removal of COVID-19 limitations.

Other nations, like the United Kingdom and the United States, had similar increases in flu-like symptoms when pandemic restrictions were relaxed.

“China is likely experiencing a major wave of childhood respiratory infections now because this is the first winter after their lengthy lockdown,” said Prof Francois Balloux of the University College London Genetics Institute.

pneumonia

China: WHO Seeks Data On ‘Pneumonia Clusters’ In Children

Prof Paul Hunter of the University of East Anglia (UEA) stated that there is now insufficient data to establish a definitive diagnosis of what is causing the diseases.

“Overall, this does not sound like an epidemic caused by a novel [new] virus,” he continued. If that’s the case, I’d expect many more adult infections. The rare illnesses documented in adults point to pre-existing immunity from previous exposure.”

The WHO says it is unclear whether the reported pneumonia outbreak and the overall increase in respiratory diseases reported by Beijing are linked and has issued a formal request for more information.

It has encouraged Chinese citizens to take basic precautions such as getting vaccinated, wearing masks, and washing their hands.

SOURCE – (AP)

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Dogs Are Coming Down With An Unusual Respiratory Illness In Several US States

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Veterinary laboratories in multiple states are looking into an odd respiratory ailment in dogs and urging consumers to take simple precautions to keep their pets healthy while vets strive to figure out what’s wrong.

Oregon, Colorado, and New Hampshire have all experienced the infection, which has caused long-term respiratory problems and pneumonia and is resistant to medications. Coughing, sneezing, nasal or ocular discharge, and lethargy are all respiratory infection symptoms in dogs. Some cases of pneumonia advance quickly, causing dogs to become quite ill within 24 to 36 hours.

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Dogs Are Coming Down With An Unusual Respiratory Illness In Several US States

Since mid-August, the Oregon Department of Agriculture has reported more than 200 disease cases. It has urged pet owners to contact their veterinarian if their dog becomes ill and directed state vets to report cases as quickly as possible.

The agency is collaborating with state researchers and the United States Department of Agriculture’s National Veterinary Services Laboratory to determine the source of the infections.

According to Kurt Williams, director of Oregon State University’s Oregon Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory, dogs have died. However, without a precise definition of the sickness or a test for it, he said it’s difficult to estimate how many people died from a severe form of the virus.

Williams’ message to dog owners was simple: “Don’t panic.” He also advised dog owners to keep their pets’ immunizations up to date, including those that protect against certain respiratory infections.

As they try to identify the culprit, labs around the country have been sharing their findings.

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Dogs Are Coming Down With An Unusual Respiratory Illness In Several US States

David Needle, senior veterinary pathologist at the University of New Hampshire’s New Hampshire Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory, has been researching the unusual ailment for nearly a year.

His group and colleagues at the university’s Hubbard Center for Genome Research have examined samples from canines in Rhode Island, New Hampshire, and Massachusetts, and more will be arriving from Oregon, Colorado, and probably other states shortly.

He stated that his team has not witnessed a significant increase in the number of dogs dying from the sickness, but he nonetheless advised pet owners to “reduce contact with other dogs.”

SOURCE – (AP)

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A New RSV Shot For Infants Is In Short Supply

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NEW YORK – A new RSV vaccine for infants is in low supply, and US health officials have advised doctors to give the medicine first to babies most at risk of serious sickness.

According to a Monday evening recommendation from the Centers for Illness Control and Prevention, infants under 6 months old with chronic lung illness or other underlying disorders should be prioritized.

RSV, or respiratory syncytial virus, is a common cause of cold-like symptoms in young children that can be fatal. It is a seasonal virus widely reported in the southern United States and is predicted to spread further over the next month or two.

The new one-time shot contains a lab-created antibody that aids the immune system in fighting the virus. The medicine, known as Beyfortus, was developed by AstraZeneca and Sanofi.

rsv

A New RSV Shot For Infants Is In Short Supply

The FDA authorized it in July, and the CDC recommended it for newborns born immediately before or during the RSV season and those less than 8 months old when the season begins. They also suggested a dose for those 8- to 19-month-olds at higher risk of serious illness.

It is available in 50-milligram and 100-milligram prefilled syringes. The higher doses are intended for larger, heavier newborns.

In a recent letter to state immunization administrators, the CDC stated that orders for shots placed through a programme that pays for vaccines for impoverished and uninsured children would be halted. The CDC issued a more general warning to clinicians in the United States on Monday.

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Sanofi said that demand, particularly for greater doses, “has been higher than anticipated.”

According to health experts, there needs to be more to safeguard all children eligible for the larger shots. According to CDC officials, smaller doses may also be in short supply during the current RSV season. According to the CDC, doctors should not use two smaller doses on larger infants to protect the supply of such vaccines.

According to agency authorities, certain youngsters may be eligible for palivizumab, an earlier RSV treatment. This medication necessitates monthly injections.

Doctors are also being asked to try to persuade pregnant women to receive a new RSV vaccine aimed at protecting babies. When this occurs, the baby does not require the antibody medication.

SOURCE – (AP)

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