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Growing Concerns Over Vole Fever Virus with Ebola-like Symptoms

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There’s growing concern among scientists as a potentially lethal virus, capable of jumping from rodents to humans and causing Ebola-like bleeding, is spreading across northern Europe. The pathogen has been discovered within rodent populations in Sweden.

The term ‘vole fever’ is used to denote a rare illness known as nephropathia epidemica, caused by the Puumala virus carried by bank voles. Haemorrhagic fevers, which this virus can potentially cause in humans, are a group of often severe and life-threatening diseases caused by various viruses. They encompass yellow fever, Ebola, and Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever.

In an unexpected turn of events, a case of vole fever was diagnosed far south in Sweden’s Scania County in 2018, over 500 kilometers from where the disease had previously been detected. A second case surfaced in the same county in 2020. Intriguingly, in both instances, the patients hadn’t traveled and contracted the infection in their home area.

The patients exhibited symptoms typical of hemorrhagic fever with renal syndrome (HFRS), such as fever, general malaise, nosebleeds, and poor kidney function. While both patients managed to recover, these unusual cases prompted scientists from Uppsala University to investigate why this rare disease was materializing far from its typical habitat.

In an effort to unravel this mystery, the researchers conducted genetic testing on bank voles from Scania county, specifically those living near the patients’ homes. They were looking for any signs of hantavirus, a family of viruses commonly found in mice, rats, and voles. Certain hantaviruses can infect people, leading to diseases like HFRS and hantavirus pulmonary syndrome (HPS).

The Uppsala University scientists noted that both HFRS and HPS are notifiable under the Communicable Diseases Act due to their potential seriousness, possibly leading to death. Typically, in northern and central Europe, a variant of the virus, the Puumala hantavirus, causes a relatively mild form of HFRS. Yet, this hantavirus can also trigger severe HRFS which, in the worst cases, can be fatal.

In Sweden, between 100–450 cases of vole fever necessitate hospital care each year, primarily originating in the northern part of the country. However, when the researchers analyzed the bank voles from Scania county, they found that nine out of 74 carried hantavirus genes. Remarkably, the strain they were carrying wasn’t the same as the one prevalent in northern Sweden.

Instead, the virus infecting the southern voles bore close resemblance to Puumala viruses from Finland or Russian Karelia, hundreds of miles away. Somehow, this strain had emerged in southern Sweden’s bank vole population, most likely within the last decade or so, causing concern about potential threats to public health.

Elin Economou Lundeberg, a study author and infectious diseases doctor at Kristianstad Central Hospital, commented, “We were surprised that such a high proportion of the relatively few voles that we caught were actually carrying a hantavirus that makes people ill.”

Scientists are now eager to discover the origins of this strain and map its distribution in southern Sweden. Professor Åke Lundkvist of Uppsala University, a co-author of the study, asked, “If the virus has existed in the area for a long time and has simply not been discovered, why haven’t more people become ill?”

Europe has been on high alert concerning haemorrhagic fevers before, with outbreaks of Crimean-Congo haemorrhagic fever reported in places like Balkans, Turkey, Russia, and even popular holiday destinations like Spain. The rapid global spread of diseases emphasizes the importance of swift investigation when infectious diseases appear in new geographical regions.

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Heart Health Alert: Cardiac Surgeon Reveals 4 Foods He Never Eats

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Focusing on heart health has never been more critical, as heart disease remains a leading cause of death worldwide. A renowned cardiac surgeon, Dr. Jeremy London, recently shared his advice for those looking to improve their cardiac health. Using his professional experience and knowledge, he revealed four foods that he “absolutely avoids” for the sake of his heart. So, let’s delve deeper into Dr. London’s video and the dietary choices that can affect our heart health.

1. Fast Food

Fast food may be convenient and tasty, but it’s a category that Dr. London firmly advises against. “The name says it all, right? Most of what’s available in fast food chains is ‘edible food product,’ it’s not even real food,” asserts the cardiac surgeon.

2. Soft Drinks

Dr. London cautions against the consumption of soft drinks as well – both regular and diet. Regardless of the low-calorie or no-sugar alternative, these beverages pose threats to heart health.

3. Milk Products

It’s not just junk food and fizzy drinks that are on Dr. London’s avoid-list, but also milk products. He shares, “We are the only mammals that drink milk outside of infancy, and we drink it from a different species. Think about it.” He is in line with the American Heart Association’s recommendation to only consume low-fat or fat-free milk, as they contain less saturated fats compared to whole milk options. As they explain, “Saturated fats tend to raise the level of LDL-C cholesterol in the blood. High LDL-C cholesterol is one of the six major risk factors for heart disease that can be changed, treated or modified.”

4. Alcohol

Lastly, Dr. London recommends avoiding alcohol, including the occasional glass of wine with dinner. “Alcohol is absolutely toxic to every cell in our bodies. Even moderate or occasional use is, in fact, detrimental,” warns Dr. London.

It’s important to remember that while these dietary suggestions are valuable, they aren’t the only factor when it comes to heart health. Incorporating regular exercise, adequate sleep, and stress management practices also play significant roles. And, as always, seek professional guidance for personalized health advice. As Dr. London’s recommendations show, every step you take towards healthier dietary choices can make a significant difference for your heart’s well-being.

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Dietitian Reveals the Top Beverage Choice to Support Healthy Digestion

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No one wants to experience the discomfort of constipation, a common condition that can bring on symptoms like bloating, gas, and abdominal pain. Should you find yourself in such an unpleasant predicament, have no fear – there are certain foods and beverages that can help to alleviate your discomfort and get your digestive system back on track.

Constipation is often caused by inadequate fiber intake, dehydration, or the overconsumption of processed foods. Being mindful to hydrate and bulk up on fiber can help in preventing constipation. However, even the most vigilant among us might find ourselves needing fast relief from constipation. To this end, you can turn to certain foods such as prunes, raisins, sweet potatoes, chia seeds, and black beans.

Apart from food, did you know that certain drinks can also lend a helping hand? Apart from the ubiquitous water, which keeps you hydrated, coffee is a choice beverage for relieving constipation, as suggested by Lauren Manaker, MS, RDN. And for the non-coffee drinkers out there, she recommends prune juice as a commendable alternative.

Why does coffee, particularly the morning cup, send many of us to the bathroom? Manaker explains,

“It stimulates the gastrointestinal tract, which increases peristalsis—the movements your intestines make to push content toward the exit.”

Simply put, coffee causes the muscles in your colon to contract, stimulating a bowel movement.

Moreover, coffee’s natural acidity may aid digestion by increasing stomach acid production. Both caffeinated and decaffeinated varieties of coffee contain acids that enhance the production of a particular hormone, gastrin, leading to the muscle contractions that stimulate bowel movements.

Manaker adds that for many individuals, even “the mere act of drinking a warm liquid in the morning can stimulate bowel movements.” However, she also highlights that individual reactions to coffee can differ significantly.

If coffee isn’t your beverage of choice, don’t worry – prune juice is another drink that can relieve constipation effectively. While not everyone can handle prune juice, its high dietary fiber and sorbitol content make it an excellent natural remedy for constipation.

“Prune juice is often hailed as a natural remedy for constipation due to its dietary fiber and sorbitol,” explains Manaker. “The fiber in prune juice adds bulk to the stool, which helps to promote bowel movements. Sorbitol, a natural sugar alcohol found in prunes, works as a laxative by drawing water into the intestines, softening the stool, and making it easier to pass.”

This combination creates an effective and gentle method to address constipation and encourage regular bowel movements. Manaker underscores the fact that staying hydrated is crucial to promoting good digestive health and regular bowel movements.

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Oncologist Reveals Top 5 Cancer Prevention Tips You Shouldn’t Ignore

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In the complex world of cancer, experts often struggle to pinpoint a single cause for this life-altering disease. However, certain risk factors can increase your likelihood of developing it, many of which are preventable. Renowned oncologist Waqqas Tai, DO, recently provided insights into the habits he personally avoids to maintain a low risk level. Drawing upon his extensive knowledge and experience, he shared five things that he “would never do as a cancer doctor.”

1. Tobacco Usage

Dr. Tai’s first advice pertains to tobacco. He warns against the usage of tobacco products and vaping due to their carcinogenic properties.

“Smoking tobacco, using any tobacco products, and vaping—all that is carcinogenic. The tobacco products, the tobacco itself has carcinogenic properties,” he alerts.

The American Cancer Society (ACS) validates this, stating that tobacco smoke contains thousands of chemicals, 70 of which are known to be carcinogens. Dr. Tai also flags the harmful combustion aspect of smoking, and the resultant tar buildup in the lungs, which can lead to cancer.

2. Alcohol Consumption

Another substance Dr. Tai recommends avoiding is alcohol. He notes that even a single glass of wine at dinner can be carcinogenic.

“Any level—even one glass of red wine at dinner—is carcinogenic,” he explains.

This aligns with the recommendation from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) which advises against drinking to lower cancer risk.

3. Consuming Certain Meats

The next item on Dr. Tai’s avoidance list is specific types of food.

“All red meats and deli meats are carcinogenic,” he shares. According to him, the processes of salting, curing, and smoking these meats produce numerous carcinogenic byproducts, posing a serious health risk.

4. Neglecting Sunscreen

Regular application of sunscreen is a habit that the oncologist strongly advocates for.

“Any skin that’s going to be exposed to the sun has to be covered, especially if you’re going to be driving for a long time to work or you’re a commuter,” he advises.

It’s not a one-time solution, however. Dr. Tai stresses the need to reapply sunscreen every few hours for continued protection against harmful UV rays.

5. Avoiding Obesity

Lastly, Dr. Tai emphasizes the link between obesity and cancer risk.

“If you are overweight, you are at a higher risk of cancer,” he explains. To lower this risk, he advises engaging in rigorous exercises for at least 150 minutes per week.

For those struggling with weight loss, the oncologist suggests considering professional medical assistance, such as bariatric surgery or medications like Ozempic or Mounjaro.

Navigating the vast ocean of cancer-related information can be overwhelming. However, key insights from professionals like Dr. Tai offer valuable guidance on preventable risks. Remember, every little step counts in the journey toward a healthier life. Remember, though valuable, this information should not replace the professional advice from your healthcare provider. Always consult with them regarding your medication or any other health concerns.

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