Wasp Bite Gives Man a Heart Attack


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Wasp Bite Gives Man a Heart Attack

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Wasp Bite Gives Man a Heart Attack

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A sting from a yellow jacket is typically a minor annoyance, but a wasp bite turned into a major medical problem for a 45-year-old British man: He had a severe allergic reaction to the bite and, as a result, suffered a heart attack, according to a recent report of the man’s case.

The man was diagnosed with Kounis syndrome, or “allergic myocardial infarction,” in which a severe allergic reaction is accompanied by symptoms of chest pain (known as angina) that may progress to a heart attack.

Although Kounis syndrome is rare, there are medical case reports of the syndrome that have been linked to allergic reactions to foods, insect stings and certain drugs. [27 Oddest Medical Cases]

In this man’s case, he was stung by a yellow jacket on his left arm as he got into his van. Minutes later, he began to feel dizzy and itchy all over, and a rash appeared on his body, according to the case report.

The man’s left hand began to feel heavy and achy, and hours later, this pain became more frequent and spread to his left arm, shoulder and back. He called for an ambulance, and on the ride to the hospital, he suffered a heart attack, the case report said.

Paramedics were successful at resuscitating him, but doctors were initially unsure what caused this life-threatening emergency.

The man had been stung by insects multiple times in the past, but he experienced no reaction to these bites, according to the case report’s lead author, Dr. Benjamin Cross, who, at the time of the case, was a medical student at Blackpool Victoria Hospital in Blackpool, England.

The man has a genetic tendency to develop allergic diseases, including a medical history of asthma and eczema, Cross said. However, the man had never had a severe allergic reaction, Cross said.

But there were some reasons to be concerned about the man’s heart heath. The 45-year-old had been smoking a pack of cigarettes a day for more than 30 years, Cross told Live Science. (Smoking has been linked with an increased risk of heart disease.) Prior to this incident, the man had some buildup of plaque in his arteries, which also put his heart at risk, Cross said.

But why would an insect sting trigger a heart attack in a middle-age man?

The wasp bite most likely caused a type of white blood cell, known as mast cells, to react, which, in turn, caused the plaque in his artery to burst, Cross said. When plaques burst, it causes a clot, which blocks the artery and reduces blood flow. A loss of blood flow to an area of the heart causes heart cells to die, which results in a heart attack, Cross explained.

To repair the man’s blocked artery, doctors inserted a stent. After he went home from the hospital, his allergist recommended that he receive allergy shots containing small doses of the wasp venom that initially triggered his severe allergic reaction, Cross said. This treatment will sensitize his immune system and reduce the chance that another yellow-jacket sting will cause an allergic reaction, he added.

But as a precaution, the man was advised to carry an EpiPen, which can deliver a quick dose of the hormone epinephrine, to help prevent another severe allergic reaction, Cross said.

The case report was published online Sept. 7 in the journal BMJ Case Reports.

Original article on Live Science.

What Is Norovirus?


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What Is Norovirus?

What Is Norovirus?

Credit: Royal International Caribbean

Norovirus is a very contagious virus that causes gastrointestinal illness in humans. It is the most common cause of illnesses from contaminated food in the United States — an estimated 20 million Americans get sick with the virus each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and it is blamed for as many as 800 deaths in the United States each year.

Norovirus is named for Norwalk, Ohio, where the first confirmed outbreak was recorded, in 1968. People sometimes refer to a norovirus infection as “stomach flu,” even though the virus is not related to influenza.

The notoriety of norovirus comes from the ease with which it spreads from one person to another: You can catch it by ingesting food or drink that’s been contaminated, or by touching any contaminated surface, then touching your nose, mouth or eyes. The virus is also aerosolized, or sprayed into the air, when an infected person vomits or flushes a toilet, and can spread when a person inhales the aerosolized virus.

And it does not take much to get a person sick — as few as 18 virus particles on a person’s hands or in their food can make them sick, according to the CDC. (The number of norovirus particles that fit on a pinhead would be enough to infect more than 1,000 people, the CDC said.)

Norovirus is well-known for causing outbreaks on cruise ships. Indeed, the close quarters of a cruise ship make it easy for the virus to spread from person to person.

But outbreaks on cruise ships actually account for only 1 percent of all norovirus outbreaks, according to the CDC. Most of the outbreaks of foodborne illness from the virus get started in restaurants, the CDC said. And CDC research has found that, of the norovirus outbreaks involving contaminated food, 70 percent are caused by infected food workers. This can happen when a food service worker is sick with the virus and prepares food for customers.

Norovirus symptoms generally begin within a day or two of exposure. The effects include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and stomach pain and cramps. In some cases, victims also suffer fever, chills, headache, weight loss and fatigue.

Though these symptoms can be severe, they are usually short-lived, and most people recover within two days. Only particularly severe cases, usually involving young children, the elderly or people with compromised immune systems, require hospitalization.

Though the symptoms may end quickly, an infected person can continue to shed the virus, or infect other people with it, for up to three days after recovery, according to the CDC. This is another factor that makes a norovirus outbreak so tough to control.

There isn’t a specific treatment for norovirus infection — most cases usually resolve on their own in a few days And because it’s a virus, you can’t treat it with antibiotics.

Sports drinks and rehydration drinks can help replace fluids lost by diarrhea and vomiting. Though a vaccine for norovirus is in development, it has not yet been approved.

The best way to prevent a norovirus infection — on a cruise ship or elsewhere — is through careful handwashing and good general hygiene. Eat only foods that have been properly handled and prepared, and avoid raw shellfish and undercooked seafood.

If you have been infected with norovirus, do not prepare food for others for at least two days after you recover, the CDC recommends. Carefully wash any potentially contaminated laundry; clean toilets, other bathroom surfaces and all kitchen areas with a bleach-based solution.

Original article on LiveScience.

Apocalypse Now? Doomsday Predictions Are Just Recycled Bogus Theories


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Apocalypse Now? Doomsday Predictions Are Just Recycled Bogus Theories

Apocalypse Now? Doomsday Predictions Are Just Recycled Bogus Theories

Credit: Igor Zh./Shutterstock

Old doomsday predictions never die. They just get recycled.

Just six years after radio preacher Harold Camping promised the apocalypse, and five years after the end of the Mayan calendar was supposed to extinguish life on Earth as we know it, new doomsday predictions have arrived. This time, they come via YouTube and a man named David Meade, who claims that the first spiritual sign of the apocalypse will arrive tomorrow (Sept. 23).

Meade’s theories meld biblical prophecy with astronomy. He claims that on Sept. 23, there will be a rare alignment of the sun in the constellation Virgo — with the moon just to the east — with nine stars and three planets (Mercury, Venus and Mars) clustering around the constellation’s head, like a crown. This is supposed to be the sign foretold in the beginning of Revelation 12, which reads, in the New International Version of the Bible: “A great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet and a crown of twelve stars on her head. She was pregnant and cried out in pain as she was about to give birth.” [Doomsdays: Top 9 Real Ways the World Could End]

The date, Sept. 23, is 33 days after the total solar eclipse that crossed the United States in August. That number is meaningful to Meade becauseJesus Christ is said to have been 33 when he died.

This astronomical sign, Meade said, is evidence that the end is near. In October, he said, the mysterious Planet X will pass close to Earth, which will mark the beginning of seven years of Tribulation — a period of time that some say will be full of hardships before the second coming of Christ — followed by the rapture of true believers to heaven and a millennium of peace. [Oops! 11 Failed Doomsday Predictions]

Meade’s theories echo a lot of ideas that have been floating around conspiracy and doomsday circles for years. Planet X, sometimes known as Nibiru, was supposed to have crashed into Earth during the Mayan apocalypse of 2012 or maybe in 2011, or was it 2003? The problem with this idea is that a rogue planet hurtling toward Earth just doesn’t exist. The hysteria over the mythical planet got so pitched in 2011 that NASA scientist David Morrison made a YouTube video to explain that Nibiru isn’t real, and that if a giant planetary object were zooming through the solar system, it would be easily visible from Earth and easily detectable from gravitational changes in the orbits of planets in our solar system. (Confusing matters,there is a possible “Planet X” beyond Pluto, but astronomers have not proved its existence yet. If it exists, it orbits far at the outskirts of the solar system. “Planet X” is what scientists call possible planets that have yet to be identified.)

Eclipses, too, have long been associated with the end. According to the writings of 16th-century Franciscan friar Bernardino de Sahagún, Aztecs made human sacrifices during a total solar eclipse, fearing that if they did not, the darkness would never lift. “It was thus said: ‘If the eclipse of the sun is complete, it will be dark forever! The demons of darkness will come down. They will eat men,'” de Sahagún wrote.

The Vikings, too, felt they had to do something to prevent perpetual darkness — in their mythology, a wolf named Skoll was eating the sun, and they had to make noise to scare the monstrous beast away, lest the sun vanish forever.

Total eclipses, though, are visible from someplace on Earth roughly every 18 months. The alignment of the sun in Virgo is not particularly rare, either — it happens once a year, every September. Earth’s view of the sun’s relationship to the stars simply changes as it moves through its yearly orbit. That’s why astrologers developed the concept of the 12-month zodiac.

Nor are the other stellar alignments around Virgo on the 23rd that unusual, according to EarthSky. The moon passes through every constellation of the zodiac throughout the month, so it’s regularly just east of Virgo. The crown of 12 stars upon Virgo’s head on the 23rd is an arbitrary designation, according to EarthSky, because there are more than nine stars in the constellation Leo, which is supposed to make up the stellar portion of the crown. [Monsters of the Night Sky: Strange Constellations to See in Fall]

What’s more, this exact arrangement of stars and planets has happened before, EarthSky found. In the past 1,000 years alone, it occurred in 1827, 1483, 1293 and 1056.

Repetition doesn’t appear to faze Meade. When asked by Live Science whether the failed Planet X predictions of recent years gave him any pause in his own prognostications, he responded by email, “There’s never been a year like 2017. Read my book.”

In fact, there’s plenty of evidence that failed doomsday predictions don’t do much to forestall future “prophets.” Nineteenth-century preacher William Miller, founder of the group that would eventually become the Seventh-day Adventists, predicted doomsday in 1843, then in 1844, and died five years later, still thinking the end was nigh. Camping, who took out billboards to advertise the supposed coming apocalypse in 2011, had previously promised the end of the world in 1994. (Camping died in 2013.) In one famous 1954 case, a woman named Dorothy Martin convinced her followers that although the end of the world was coming, a UFO would drop by to save them. When nothing happened on the appointed date, Martin and her followers decided not that they’d been wrong, but that their faith had saved the world from doom. A psychologist who had infiltrated the group wrote about their reaction in the book “When Prophecy Fails” (Harper-Torchbooks, 1956).

“The real tragedy of this kind of thinking is that many people do take it seriously,” said Allen Kerkeslager, a comparative religion professor at St. Joseph’s University in Philadelphia. Sometimes a mythical apocalypse really does become the end of the world, at least for believers. Between A.D. 66 and 73, the Jews of Judea revolted against their Roman occupiers, Kerkeslager said, bolstered by prophecies that promised that their struggle was part of a great End Times battle and that God would rescue them at the last minute. God did not, and tens of thousands died.

“There are so many past cases showing that no amount of contrary evidence or failed prophecies will ever deter some of the people who believe that the Bible has codes about an apocalyptic end that will leave their own group triumphant,” Kerkeslager told Live Science in an email. “For such people, there is no need to negotiate or compromise indelicate international political crises and arms races, no need to work out peaceful resolutions with countries deemed somehow part of an ‘axis of evil,’ and no need for concern with environmental problems such as the impact of human-caused climate change on a planet that is going to be destroyed and recreated anyway. So all of this does have very real and very dangerous negative social implications.”

For most people, it’s easy to dismiss Meade, and certainly the idea that the world will enter its last throes tomorrow has no more to back it up than the umpteen failed predictions that came before it. But apocalyptic thinking is everywhere, said Robert Joustra, a political scientist at Redeemer University College in Ontario and co-author of the book “How to Survive the Apocalypse:Zombies, Cylons, Faith, and Politics at the End of the World” ( Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing, 2016).

Postapocalyptic shows like “The Walking Dead” or “The Leftovers” are a secular way of dealing with the same questions that the Book of Revelation would have been written to answer, Joustra said: What is the point of all this suffering? What is the meaning of life? How should we live now, in the midst of all our struggles?

The symbolism in the apocalyptic Book of Revelation would have had a very different meaning to the early, badly persecuted Christians who read it compared to people of the 21st century, Joustra said. They would have taken certain numbers, like 7, to represent perfection and completion, not as an invitation to start pulling out the calculator to predict the date of the rapture. For them, Revelation would have offered a measure of comfort, promising that their suffering under Roman rule would eventually amount to victory and eternal peace.

A more individualistic approach to the apocalypse dominates today’s pop culture, Joustra said. Ever since the invention of the atomic bomb, he said, mainstream apocalypse narratives have shifted from something that God will do to something humans will cause. The question then becomes what sort of person an individual will be once you strip away laws, institutions and social mores, he said. [Doom and Gloom: 10 Post-Apocalyptic Worlds]

It’s a concept that would have flummoxed the ancients, Joustra said. For example, the ancient Greek philosopher Aristotlebelieved that humans were defined by their relationships, institutions and communities. Stripping those things away and then asking what was left would be almost nonsensical, Joustra said.

“It’s a much more individualistic way of thinking about human nature and the apocalypse that I think is different from anything else in human history,” he said.

Original article on Live Science

Liposuction Nearly Turns Deadly for One Woman


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Liposuction Nearly Turns Deadly for One Woman

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Liposuction Nearly Turns Deadly for One Woman

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A liposuction procedure turned nearly deadly for a 45-year-old woman in England,  according to a new report of her case.

The woman developed a condition called fat embolism syndrome, a rare but dangerous complication that can arise from the operation, according to the report, published today (Sept. 25) in the journal BMJ Case Reports.

Fat embolism syndrome refers to a condition in which a globule of fat gets into a person’s bloodstream and blocks off blood vessels, thus preventing blood flow, the authors wrote in the report. The condition is “notoriously difficult” to diagnose, and symptoms usually don’t begin until 24 to 72 hours after the initial event. If left untreated, it can lead to inflammation throughout the body and organ failure. [27 Oddest Case Reports]

In the woman’s case, she underwent liposuction on her knees and lower legs. The goal of the surgery was to remove some of the bulk from her legs so that it would be easier for her to walk, the authors wrote. The surgery was uneventful, and afterward, she was transferred to another unit of the hospital to be monitored while she recovered.

Within 40 hours of the surgery, however, doctors noticed that something was amiss: The women’s heart started racing, she became drowsy and her breathing slowed, causing a buildup of carbon dioxide in her blood, according to the report.

The woman was transferred to the intensive care unit, where doctors performed a battery of tests to figure out what was wrong, the authors wrote. But “currently, there are no gold standard nor validated diagnostic criteria for [fat embolism syndrome],” according to the report. In other words, there’s no clear way to diagnose the condition. Indeed, recognizing the condition “remains a significant clinical challenge for most physicians even though it was first recognized as early as 1873,” they wrote.

The doctors who treated the woman wrote that diagnosing fat embolismsyndrome often depends on ruling out other problems. In addition, certain risk factors can increase a patient’s likelihood of developing the condition, they wrote. In the woman’s case, a high body mass index, swelling in the legs and the removal of a large amount of fat were all risk factors, according to the report.

Fat embolisms caused by liposuction are rare, the doctors wrote in the report; only a few cases have been documented in the medical literature, none of which took place in the U.K., where the woman was treated. Instead, fat embolisms are most commonly linked to bone fractures and major traumas, such as serious car accidents. Liposuction is “generally a safe procedure,” the doctors added.

The woman was kept in the intensive care unit for 12 days, where she was placed on a ventilator to help her breathe for the first eight days, according to the report. The doctors noted that there aren’t any specific treatments for fat embolism syndrome; instead, patients are given supportive care until the body recovers on its own.

The woman was sent home two days after being moved from intensive care to a less intensive ward, according to the report. When the doctors checked in on her two months later, she was doing fine and had recovered well, they said.

Originally published on Live Science.

Some Vaginal Bacteria May Raise Risk of STDs


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Some Vaginal Bacteria May Raise Risk of STDs

Chlamydia, the most common sexually transmitted disease in the world, is caused by the bacteriaChlamydia trachomatis.

Credit: Sebastian Kaulitzki | Shutterstock

Certain types of vaginal bacteria may increase a woman’s risk of contracting chlamydia, a new study from the Netherlands suggests.

The study involved 115 healthy women ages 16 to 29 years; they were screened for chlamydia yearly for two consecutive years at a clinic in Amsterdam. Participants gave vaginal swab samples that were analyzed not only for chlamydia, but also for other bacteria that naturally live in the vagina and are generally not thought to be harmful — the so-called “vaginal microbiota.”

Sixty women tested negative for chlamydia on their first visit but positive at their second visit, a year later. Their vaginal microbiota results were compared to those of 55 women who tested negative for chlamydia at both visits. [7 Facts Women (And Men) Should Know About the Vagina]

Regardless of their chlamydia test results, most of the women had a vagina microbiota that was dominated by Lactobacillus, a group of “friendly” bacteria that consists of many different species. Lactobacillusbacteria are commonly found in the urinary, digestive and genital tracts, but they do not cause disease, according to the National Institutes of Health.

However, the study found that women who had a vaginal microbiota that was dominated by the species Lactobacillus iners were at increased risk for chlamydia infection, compared to women whose vaginal microbiota was dominated by a different type of Lactobacillus.

The findings suggest that “specific ‘signatures’ of vaginal microbiota could” indicate a woman’s risk of acquiring sexually transmitted infections (STIs), the researchers wrote in their paper, published online today (Sept. 25) in the journal Sexually Transmitted Infections.

Previous studies suggested that Lactobacillus bacteria generally helped protect against sexually transmitted diseases. However, the new study suggests that Lactobacillus is not necessarily protective. Rather, “the specific species … of Lactobacillus is also of great importance to determine whether the vaginal microbiota can contribute to susceptibility to or protection against STIs,” the researchers said.

The scientists noted that their study was relatively small, and so the findings should be confirmed in a larger group of women. In addition, future studies should ideally collect vaginal samples more than once a year, to examine changes in the vaginal microbiota in greater detail, the researchers said.

Chlamydia is one of the most common sexually transmitted infections in industrialized countries, the researchers said. An estimated 2.8 million chlamydia infections occur each year in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Although chlamydia usually doesn’t cause symptoms, it can lead to serious complications in women, such as pelvic inflammatory disease and infertility, the CDC says.

Original article on Live Science.