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Lyme Disease and Buggy Summer After a Mild Winter

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Lyme Disease Tick

The warmer winter this past year means more ticks and an increased threat of Lyme disease cases. While it was nice not to have to shovel and have less weather-related issues like on the roads, it’s going to be a bad year for bugs.

Dr. William Schaffner, director of preventive medicine at Vanderbilt University Medical Center says, “We anticipate that this is going to be a very buggy summer, and infectious disease doctors are prepared to see an increase in people with tick-related illnesses.”

David Roth, co-chairman of the Tick-Borne Disease Alliance, a newly formed group of organizations that promote advocacy and awareness of Lyme disease and other conditions caused by ticks told ABC News, “It’s going to be a really bad season, and it’s been almost the perfect storm. Part of it is the warmth and the fact that normally, they’re just coming out at this time of year, but they’ve been out now for a while, and so have people.”

In 2010, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated that around 22,000 cases of Lyme disease and 8,000 more probable cases were reported nationwide.

What is Lyme disease? Lyme disease is transmitted when a deer tick, blacklegged tick, feeds off a mammal. It’s caused by a bacterial infection that spreads and damages cartilage in the joints of dogs and humans.

According to the American Lyme Disease Foundation, the signs of Lyme disease include the red rash that appears about one or two weeks after a tick bite and around the site of the bite. You’ll experience a fever, joint pain, fatigue and chills. As the bacteria continues to invade the body, people can also experience a stiff neck, tingling and severe headaches.

Lyme Disease Treatment is usually from one of these three Doxycycline, amoxicillin and ceftin oral antibiotics and are the most highly recommended.

How to protect yourself from ticks according to The Richmond Register:

• Avoid wooded, bushy or grassy areas whenever possible.

• Wear light-colored clothing with long sleeves and long pants. Ticks are easier to see against a light background.

• Check yourself carefully after you’ve been outdoors. Ticks wander on the body for some time before settling to feed. Those attached to visible areas are easy to see but they also will settle in armpit, groin and scalp, areas that are more difficult to examine thoroughly.

• Remove ticks promptly: If you find a tick, use narrow-tipped tweezers to grasp it as close to your skin as possible and pull upward slowly and steadily. Then, wash your skin and hands with soap and warm water. Never crush or squeeze an attached tick.

Jennifer Reid, community coordinator for the Ridgefield-based tick-borne illness prevention group B.L.A.S.T explains another way to rememeber how to protect yourself from Lyme disease. Simply by remembering the name of the organization she works with. Each letter stands for an important method of tick-bite prevention.

“B” stands for “bathing soon after spending time outdoors.” “L” stands for “look your body over for ticks daily and remove them properly.” “A” stands for “apply repellent to skin and clothes.” “S” stands for “spraying your yard to prevent ticks abundance” and “T” stands for “treat your pets to protect them from ticks and to prevent the spread of illness.”

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Teen Activists Secure New State Law That Will Allow Students To Take ‘Mental Health Days’

Mental health bill in Oregon aims to curb its high suicide rate and take the issue of mental health seriously

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Jessica Adamson / Providence Health & Services via AP file

Teen activists from the state of Oregon received secure backing from lawmakers and will implement a new law that will allow students to take ‘mental health days’ similar to sick days from school. The measure aims to curb rising suicide rates in teens.

Mental health has been making waves in topics of conversation as the issue is significantly on the rise. Mainly, suicide—one of the deadly side effects of declining mental health—is seen more in the younger generation as compared to other ages, based on global statistics.

Significantly, suicide has long been linked to depression. Depression is a common mental disorder that causes people to experience a depressed mood, whereas it can include a loss of interest or pleasure, feelings of guilt or low self-worth, low energy, and poor concentration. In worse cases, people suffering from severe depression tend to isolate themselves from others such as friends, family, and even people who can help alleviate the illness–ultimately making the situation even worse.

More often than not, severe depression tends to lead people into having disturbing thoughts on ending his or her life.

In the state of Oregon, suicide is the leading cause of death among those ages 10 to 34 years old, according to data from the state Health Authority. Nearly 17% of eighth-graders reported seriously contemplating taking their lives within the past 12 months.

Although the state does have a suicide rate that’s 40% higher than the national average, the national suicide rate has also been on the rise and recently hit a 50-year high, climbing more than 30% since 1999, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

To curb the rising death toll caused by poor attention directed to mental health, the state of Oregon is implementing a new measure that recognizes the issue and will treat it the way it does with other physical ailments.

Oregon’s mental health bill was signed by Gov. Kate Brown last month. The bill was an effort of student activists Sam Adamson, Lori Riddle, Hailey Hardcastle, and Derek Evans.

Now, under state law, students can have up to five absences excused in three months. Anything more requires a written excuse to the principal.

Debbie Plotnik, executive director of the nonprofit advocacy group Mental Health America, said implementing the idea in schools was an important step in challenging the way society approaches mental health issues, the Associated Press reports.

“The first step to confront this crisis is to reduce the stigma around it,” Plotnik said. “We need to say it’s just as OK to take care [of] mental health reasons as it is to care for a broken bone or a physical illness.”

In the past, mental health has been brushed off as a temporary feeling and an experience that most teenagers go through as a part of “growing up” or puberty. This mentality has significantly affected how older generations react and address the issue.

In more recent years, mental health advocates have been working to change that mentality and encourage more conversations that it is a severe matter, and necessary steps have to be taken to curb the rising numbers.

Fortunately, people have started listening and are now chiming in on the topic, but it’s not just the adults who are creating waves with mental health.

Haily Hardcastle, an 18-year-old from the Portland suburb of Sherwood who helped champion the mental health bill, said she and other student leaders were partly motivated by the national youth-led movement that followed last year’s Parkland, Florida, school shooting.

“We were inspired by Parkland in the sense that it showed us that young people can totally change the political conversation,” she said. “Just like those movements, this bill is something completely coming from the youth.”

Related: Ketamine Drug To Lower UK Suicide Rate

Though the bill received little to no opposition from lawmakers, parents say that the law will only give students more excuses to not attend school. The state also suffers from one of the worst absenteeism rates in the nation. More than 1 in 6 children missed at least 10% of school days in the 2015-2016 school year, according to state data.

Furthermore, some parents said that students could lie and use the flu or some other related reason as an excuse to not attend school on days that they are going through their mental health episodes.

However, parents seem to miss the point of the bill, Hardcastle noted. “Why should we encourage lying to our parents and teachers?” she said. “Being open to adults about our mental health promotes positive dialogue that could help kids get the help they need.”

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Woman Underwent Chemotherapy And Breast Surgery For Cancer She Didn’t Have

The mother of two from England was left traumatized after being told that her experience after receiving several rounds of chemotherapy and a double mastectomy was unnecessary.

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Source: South West News Service

Sarah Boyle, 28, is a resident of Staffordshire, England, and is a mother of two adorable children. Her doctor, Sankaran Narayanan from Royal Stroke University Hospital, misdiagnosed her of having breast cancer. This time, Boyle fights to end misdiagnosis.

Normally, people rejoice with the announcement of a cancer misdiagnosis, but for it to come six months after already receiving multiple rounds of treatment, it’s a nightmare.

“Being told I had cancer was awful, but then to go through all of the treatment and surgery, to then be told it was unnecessary was traumatizing.”

Boyle’s traumatic experience began when she was 25 years old, three years ago, in late 2016. She noticed that her firstborn son, then six months old, was having trouble when she breastfed him. Boyle said that his son was “very distressed” as she attempted to feed him from her right breast.

At the hospital, Boyle underwent a biopsy and scan. Doctors then diagnosed her with triple-negative breast cancer and immediately sent her for chemotherapy treatment.

Boyle also underwent a double mastectomy and reconstructive surgery that was supposedly meant to combat her cancer, but by July 2017, doctors told Boyle that there was an error with the prior diagnosis and that she did not have cancer, to begin with.

However, she was also told that aggressive cancer treatments have already caused the potential to harm her chances with fertility in the future.

The England native’s lawyers also noted that there are suspicions over the breast implants used for her reconstruction surgery that they could potentially lead to a rare form of cancer.

“As if that wasn’t bad enough, I am now worried about the possibility of actually developing cancer in the future,” Boyle said.

Sarah Sharples, a legal expert representing Boyle, said: ‘This is a truly shocking case in which a young mother has faced heartbreaking news and a grueling period of extensive treatment, only to be told that it was not necessary. The entire experience has had a huge impact on Sarah in many ways.”

Other than the physical toll that Boyle underwent from the unnecessary treatment, her lawyers also noted that she also experienced impacts on her mental health and continues to go through the psychological trauma of the whole ordeal.

In a statement to The Telegraph, a spokesperson from the University Hospital of North Midlands NHS Trust, the company that owns Royal Stokes Hospital, apologized and revealed that the misdiagnosis was due to a “human error.”

“A misdiagnosis of this kind is exceptionally rare, and we understand how devastating this has been for Sarah and her family,” the NHS Trust added. “Sarah continues to be in regular contact with the clinical team who treated her, and they are always available to discuss any ongoing concerns she may have.”

Since the misdiagnosis, Boyle has welcomed another child, a son named Louis, with her husband Stephen, 31.

“The past few years have been incredibly difficult for me and my family,” Boyle told The Telegraph. “While I was delighted when I gave birth to Louis [born Dec. 2018], it was really heartbreaking when I couldn’t breastfeed him.”

Today, Boyle and her family are pursuing legal action against the hospital not only because of the medical negligence that caused her so much suffering but also to ensure that others will not have to go through the same experience.

“While nothing will change what I’ve been through, I really need some answers on what is being done to make sure nobody else suffers in the same way I have,” Boyle said.

Her lawyers told The Telegraph that while “the NHS has admitted to the clear failings, we are yet to hear if any improvements have been put in place to prevent something like this happening again.”

Currently, the NHS trust said that they recognize the error and, from now on, will place “an extra safeguard, a second pathologist now reviews all invasive cancer diagnoses.

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Germany Will Make Measles Vaccine Mandatory Through New Law

Germany aims to pass a new law to increase immunity coverage to 95% all throughout the country

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Photo by Artem Beliaikin on Unsplash

Germany is well on its way with establishing a new law that will compulsorily make parents give their children the needed measles vaccine — aiming to combat the resurging of the disease in the country.

Chancellor Angela Merkel’s cabinet decided Wednesday, July 17, that they will pass the Measles Protection Act, which was adopted July 19.

“Whether in kindergarten, at the childminder or at school, we want to protect all children against measles infection,” Jens Spahn, Germany’s Health Minister, said in a statement.

“Measles is extremely contagious and can take a very nasty, at times deadly, turn,” the Minister added.

The new law will require all German children to take the recommended vaccine shots before admission to kindergarten or school next year or before March 1, 2020.

The law is also mandatory over adults or staff working in daycare centers or other educational institutions.

Source: DPA

Furthermore, parents will have to prove that their children have been vaccinated before entering school or kindergarten through a vaccination certificate called “Kinderuntersuchungsheft,” which is a special booklet that parents fill out, documenting their child’s vaccines or by a medical certificate that shows that the child already had measles.

Reluctance or violating the law will receive a fine of up to 2,500 euros ($2,800) under the bill that is expected to pass quickly through the Bundestag lower house of parliament.

“We want to protect as many children as possible from measles infection,” said Health Minister Spahn, who is aiming for at least 95 percent coverage.

While 97 percent of German children had their first dose, the percentage that received the second dose dropped to 93 percent. Furthermore, some regions fall short on the desired quota at the federal level. The vaccination rate against measles in Germany is currently at 92.9 percent, but it has been falling in recent years.

Through this new law, German authorities hope to bump their coverage well above 95 percent, the level recommended by the World Health Organization to achieve a sturdy “herd immunity” against measles.

Furthermore, the new law also applies to doctors and other adults working in a community or medical facilities. In accordance, they too will also need to prove that they have had the required vaccinations. On top of that, the bill will also require asylum seekers and refugees to prove their vaccination status if they move into community accommodation.

The UN World Health Organization (WHO) has warned that global efforts to increase immunization coverage against deadly diseases are stagnating and is significantly contributing to the resurgence of measles worldwide.

Last year, 350,000 cases of measles were reported, more than double the number for 2017. In the same year, the most recent year for which estimates are available, measles killed close to 110,000 people.

In the first quarter of 2019, the number of reported measles cases globally increased fourfold as compared to the same period last year. The WHO has deemed vaccine hesitancy — the reluctance or refusal to vaccinate despite the availability of vaccines — a top 10 threat to global health this year.

The resurgence of the disease also relates to the hesitation and fear in developed countries, with the United States taking the lead on the highest rate of reported cases.

Particularly for Europe, who saw a large influx in measles cases, witnessed 82,596 new cases of measles in 2018 — a staggering 15 times the record low in 2016.

Germany was among the worst affected countries, with around 651 new measles cases being reported to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), and in the first months of this year, there are already more than 400 cases that have been reported. 

The report comes after Germany’s efforts of making vaccinations compulsory at a regional level in the state of Brandenburg. Today the country is making a full swing against the disease by enforcing the law throughout the country.

The law will still need the approval of the German parliament. But the large government majority is seemingly supportive of the move and is expected to pass without difficulty. However, the law is criticized by the Greens, who felt the vaccines should be encouraged, but not mandatory.

Related: New York Moves To Rule Out Religious Exemption For Vaccines

The resurgence of the disease in some countries has been blamed on the so-called “anti-vax” movement, which is largely based on a 1998 publication linking the measles vaccine and autism that has since been debunked.

Also faced with an increasing number of measle outbreaks, a handful of other countries around the world have introduced mandatory vaccinations, including France, Italy, and Australia. 

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