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News Scan for Sep 17, 2021

News Scan for Sep 17, 2021

Kids’ BMI increased at double the rate during pandemic, study says

Since March 2020, children’s body mass index (BMI) has increased at almost double its prepandemic rate, according to a study today in Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR).

The researchers looked at 432,302 US children aged 2 to 19 years. Prepandemic (Jan 1, 2018, to Feb 29, 2020), the increase rate of BMI was 0.052 kilograms per square meter per month (kg/m2/month), but after the pandemic began (Mar 1 to Nov 30, 2020), the rate of change was 0.100 kg/m2/month. Overall, obesity prevalence went from 19.3% in August 2019 to 22.4% in August 2020.

Children who were above healthy weight before the pandemic or who were younger experienced the largest increases. Among children who were overweight or had moderate or severe obesity, BMI rates more than doubled compared with prepandemic rates (2.00 to 2.34), while those who had a healthy weight had a BMI rate change of 1.78.

Children ages 6 to 11 years experienced the largest BMI rate change (2.50 times higher), while those 3 to 5 years old showed different rates depending on BMI classification. For instance, those who were healthy had 0.03 kg/m2/month increases, while those who were at least overweight had increases of 0.06 to 0.18 kg/m2/month.

“Obesity prevention and management efforts during and following the COVID-19 pandemic could include health care provider screening for BMI, food security, and social determinants of health, and increased access to evidence-based pediatric weight management programs and food assistance resources,” write the researchers.
Sep 17 MMWR study

 

Long COVID linked to age, comorbidities, women

Long COVID-19 was more likely to occur in those 40 and older, women, and those with at least one underlying health condition, according to an MMWR study today.

The researchers looked at a random selection of 366 adults in Long Beach, California, who had COVID-19 from Apr 1 to Dec 10, 2020. Two months later, 35.0% said they still experienced an average of 1.30 symptoms. Then at a median of 202 days after the initial diagnosis, 31.4% still had symptoms, with the most common being fatigue (13.7% of total cohort), shortness of breath (10.4%), and a distorted sense of smell (9.6%).

Women (adjusted odds ratio [aOR], 2.83), those with at least one health condition (aOR, 2.17), Black people (aOR, 1.95), and older participants (40 to 54 years versus 18 to 39, aOR, 1.86) were more likely to have long COVID-19 at 2 months. Black people were also associated with a greater number of symptoms, particularly shortness of breath and weakness, compared with White people (incidence rate ratio, 1.95).

The cohort was made up mostly of Hispanic or Latino people (66%) and women (57%), with 39% being between 25 and 39 years old. About 46% had a pre-existing chronic condition prior to COVID-19. Five percent were hospitalized because of their COVID-19 illness.
Sep 17 MMWR study

Pneumonic plague case identified in Wyoming

One pneumonic plague case in Fremont County, Wyoming, was reported to the Wyoming Department of Health (WDH) Sep 15, according to a WDH notice. This marks the seventh human case in Wyoming since 1978, with the most recent being an imported case in 2008.

The patient was in contact with sick pet cats and is reported to have serious illness.

Plague, which includes bubonic, septicemic, and pneumonic types, is usually spread from infected fleas or animals to humans and treated with an antibiotics regimen. Pneumonic plague is the only type that can be spread person to person via inhaled droplets, and as such, WDH is notifying people involved so they can receive post-exposure treatment.

Symptoms of pneumonic plague include fever, headache, weakness, and rapidly developing pneumonia.

While the WDH says human plague risk is low in Wyoming, the agency has documented plague in domestic and wild animals throughout the state. “It’s safe to assume that the risk for plague exists all around our state,” said Alexia Harrist, MD, PhD, state health officer and state epidemiologist, in the notice. “While the disease is rare in humans, it is important for people to take precautions to reduce exposure and to seek prompt medical care if symptoms consistent with plague develop.”

The WDH says people can reduce risk by cleaning out potential rodent habitats in their living environment, wearing gloves if working with potentially infected animals, using flea repellent on them or their pets as needed, bringing sick pets to the veterinarian, and keeping free-roaming pets out of human beds.
Sep 15 WDH notice

H5N6 avian flu sickens another in China

China this week reported another H5N6 avian flu case, its 19th of the year, according to a statement today from Hong Kong’s Centre for Health Protection (CHP).

The latest illness involves a 40-year-old woman from the city of Youngzhou in Hunan province, which is in southern China. She had visited a live-poultry market before her symptoms began on Sep 8. She was admitted to the hospital the next day, where she is listed in serious condition.

Since the first case was detected in 2014, China has now reported 43 cases.

H5N6 is known to circulate in poultry, mainly in Asia. Human infections typically occur in people who had poultry exposure and are often severe or fatal. China and Laos are the only countries to report human cases.
Sep 17 CHP statement

Guinea declares end to Marburg virus outbreak

Guinea 2 days ago declared an end to its Marburg virus outbreak, given that two incubation periods have passed since any new illnesses were detected, according to a statement from the World Health Organization (WHO) office in Guinea.

On Aug 6, the country’s health ministry confirmed its first Marburg virus case, involving a man who was diagnosed after he died. Official monitored more than 170 high-risk contacts and found no other cases.

The case surfaced in Gueckedou in N’Zerekore region, which is the same area in southern Guinea where the country’s most recent Ebola outbreak occurred and where West Africa’s massive outbreak of 2014-2016 began.

Marburg virus causes a viral hemorrhagic fever illness transmitted through body fluids, similar to Ebola. The virus is thought to jump to people through fruit bats. A large outbreak in Angola in 2004 and 2005 resulted in 252 cases, along with 27 deaths.

Matshidiso Moeti, MBBS, the WHO’s African regional office director, said in the statement that, without an immediate response, highly infectious diseases like Marburg can get out of hand. “Today we can point to the growing expertise in outbreak response in Guinea and the region that has saved lives, contained and averted a spill-over of the Marburg virus.”
Sep 15 WHO statement
Aug 9 CIDRAP News
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