Maggie ONeill

Jif Peanut Butter Products Recalled Following Salmonella Outbreak

Jif Peanut Butter Products Recalled Following Salmonella Outbreak

The parent company for Jif peanut butter, the J.M. Smucker Co., has issued a voluntary recall of multiple products following a salmonella outbreak. The contaminated peanut butter has been distributed nationwide in retail stores and other outlets, according to a statement from the company posted by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Among the list of recalled products were the creamy, crunchy, reduced fat, and natural varieties, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).The outbreak has caused 14 illnesses and two hospitalizations and has so far affected the following states, per the CDC: Washington, Texas, Missouri, Arkansas, Illinois, Ohio, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, New York, and Massachusetts. The outbreak has been traced to a manufacturing facility in Lexington, Kentucky, and hasn’t affected other facilities the company uses to produce peanut butter, according to a statement provided to TODAY.The CDC recommends checking any Jif products on your shelves to see if they’ve been recalled. A full list of recalled products can be found in the FDA statement, including sizes and types. To see if your product was recalled, you’ll need to check the lot code number on the packaging. Lot code numbers 1274425 through 2140425 (with “425” at the end of the first seven numbers) were recalled, per the CDC.The shelf life for peanut butter products can be long, so the CDC encourages you to check your products even if you didn’t buy them recently. If you do find a recalled product in your home, you should throw it out immediately, per the CDC. You should also use hot, soapy water to clean surfaces and containers that may have come in contact with the peanut butter. If you consumed some of the peanut butter and you start experiencing any of the following symptoms, you should contact your health care provider, per the CDC: diarrhea and fever higher than 102 degrees Fahrenheit, diarrhea for more than three days, bloody diarrhea, vomiting to the point that you can’t keep liquids down, or dehydration (which might manifest as decreased urine output, dry mouth and throat, or feeling dizzy when you stand up).Salmonella refers to a group of bacteria found in raw poultry, beef, eggs, and unwashed vegetables and fruit, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine (NLM). Symptoms include diarrhea, fever, abdominal cramps, nausea, vomiting, headache, and loss of appetite, and symptoms can last four to seven days. Salmonella can be more severe for certain people, including children younger than five, adults 65 and older, and those with weakened immune systems, per the CDC. Some people recover without treatment, but health care providers sometimes prescribe antibiotics to kill the bacteria causing salmonella, according to the Mayo Clinic. Additionally, since salmonella can cause dehydration, fluids may have to be administered through an I.V. in severe cases.Related

Brian Austin Green Opens Up About Living With Ulcerative Colitis

Brian Austin Green Opens Up About Living With Ulcerative Colitis

Brian Austin Green, 48, opened up about living with ulcerative colitis in a new interview with Good Morning America. The actor said that his body wasn’t absorbing nutrients properly and that he’d lost 20 pounds during a recent flare-up. “I would eat food, and my body didn’t process any of it. So, then, you start playing catch-up with trying to stay on top of being hydrated–it’s such a battle,” Green said during the interview.Last month he spoke about his condition in an Instagram video, explaining why he hadn’t been posting recently: “I disappeared from Instagram for a while–I had ulcerative colitis for about six-and-a-half weeks, which wasn’t very fun.” Green went on to say that he was bedridden and that his girlfriend, Sharna Burgess, 36, had to care for him while seven months pregnant. On GMA, Burgess, who was interviewed alongside Green, said watching him struggle with ulcerative colitis was distressing. “I didn’t realize how debilitating it was until I saw him, and I watched weight drop off him,” the Dancing With the Stars performer said. “I was scared, not having experienced this type of thing before and still learning. I was supportive and loving, [but] internally fearful: How long does this go on for?”Green said that his most recent struggle wasn’t his first ulcerative colitis flare-up and that for his specific treatment plan, he avoids gluten and dairy, when possible. “It’s really just dietary,” he said. “As long as I can keep things within my system that my body doesn’t think I’m poisoning it with then it doesn’t fight back.” Green said he has recovered and is looking forward to his first child with Burgess, who is currently 33 weeks pregnant. “I’m feeling good, thank goodness,” Green said. “It was a terrible experience. I’m glad it’s over.”Ulcerative colitis causes inflammation and ulcers in the lining of the colon and rectum; it belongs to a group of diseases known as inflammatory bowel disease, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine (USNLM). In addition to weight loss, it can cause abdominal pain and cramping, blood and pus in stool, diarrhea, and fever, per the USNLM. In severe cases a person may need to be hospitalized and given nutrients through an IV, though treatment options can help people with the condition manage symptoms and prevent flare-ups. Though Green manages his symptoms by avoiding certain food groups, that course of treatment isn’t recommended for every patient. However, your doctor may advise certain lifestyle changes, per the USNLM, including eating small amounts of food throughout the day (as opposed to three big meals) and avoiding high-fiber and fatty foods. An ulcerative colitis diagnosis doesn’t necessarily mean any dietary changes are encouraged, though, and you should speak with your doctor about the best options for your symptoms. Certain medications, among them corticosteroids, can be used to manage ulcerative colitis, as can therapies that restore the immune system, per the USNLM. Symptoms and treatment plans can look very different depending on the individual patient and the severity of their symptoms.The symptoms of ulcerative colitis are mild for about half of people diagnosed with the condition, according to the USNLM. Those living with ulcerative colitis may find support groups helpful; the USNLM directs patients to the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America (CCFA) for more information on social support programs.Related:

What to Know About the Monkeypox Case in Massachusetts

What to Know About the Monkeypox Case in Massachusetts

A case of monkeypox has been confirmed in Massachusetts, following reports of nine cases in the U.K. since early May. The Massachusetts Department of Public Health (MDPH) released a statement on the case, claiming it’s the first case in the U.S. this year. The affected individual had recently traveled to Canada, and MDPH and the CDC are identifying those who may have been in contact with the person while he was infectious, the statement said.Monkeypox is a rare disease caused by infection with the monkeypox virus, according to the CDC. Experts don’t know exactly where monkeypox virus comes from, but African rodents and monkeys “may harbor the virus and infect people,” per the CDC. Humans can get the virus after coming into contact with another human or an animal contaminated with it. The virus can enter the body via broken skin (such as a cut), mucous membranes (the eyes, nose, or mouth), or the respiratory tract. Human-to-human transmission is thought to happen mainly through “large respiratory droplets,” the CDC says. Those can be stopped by surgical masks, Patricia Bartley, MD, an infectious disease physician at Cleveland Clinic, tells SELF. One characterizing symptom of monkeypox is a rash that usually starts on the face, Dr. Bartley says. It progresses into scabs, which fall off and may leave pitting scars. Other symptoms include headache, fever, chills, muscle aches, swollen glands (such as lymphatic nodes), exhaustion, sore throat, and cough, Dr. Bartley adds. Illness from monkeypox can last up to four weeks, and the incubation period—the time between infection and the first symptoms—is one to two weeks. In other words, it may take 14 days for infected individuals to start experiencing symptoms.Though the symptoms may look dramatic, the fatality rate for monkeypox is thought to be around 3 to 6%, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). The virus can present itself similarly to smallpox, and antiviral treatments and vaccines against smallpox have been used to treat and prevent monkeypox in some parts of the world, per the WHO, which adds that monkeypox causes less severe illness than smallpox.To handle this current case, contact tracing is the most appropriate approach, the statement read, “given the nature and transmission of the virus.” Talk of contact tracing and transmission may sound reminiscent of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, though the MDPH statement stressed that the public shouldn’t be worried right now: “The case poses no risk to the public, and the individual is hospitalized and in good condition.” In addition to the U.K., there have recently been cases in Spain and Portugal, Dr. Bartley says. “We have recently seen an increase in limited locations and populations, but the risk to the community remains low.”The new case doesn’t mark the first time monkeypox has occurred in the U.S. In 2003, there were 47 “confirmed and probable cases” across 6 states. Those affected by the outbreak became ill after contact with pet prairie dogs that had recently been housed near small mammals from Ghana, the CDC says. This outbreak was the first time human monkeypox was reported outside Africa, per the CDC. There have been subsequent travel-associated cases in the U.S. Last year in July, a case was recorded in Texas, and a second case was identified in Maryland in November. In both cases, the affected individual had recently traveled to Nigeria.There is no treatment or vaccine currently available for monkeypox specifically, Dr. Bartley says, though as we mentioned, the course of treatment can be similar to how smallpox is addressed in some countries. She adds that a vaccine is being evaluated but isn’t currently available for clinical use in the U.S.If you suspect you’ve been in contact with an individual who has the virus and you start experiencing symptoms, you should contact your doctor remotely to make an appointment to come in, Dr. Bartley says. It’s important to let them know about your potential exposure via phone or email so they can take the necessary precautions to keep themselves and other patients safe when you arrive. In spite of the cases in Europe and the new case in Massachusetts, experts aren’t recommending any safety precautions right now. “There is no reason to panic,” Dr. Bartley says.Related

FDA Approves Pfizer-BioNTech Booster Dose for Children Ages 5 to 11 as Cases Rise

FDA Approves Pfizer-BioNTech Booster Dose for Children Ages 5 to 11 as Cases Rise

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authorized Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 boosters for children ages five to 11 Tuesday. The administration said in a statement that kids in that age range can get a booster five months after completion of the Pfizer-BioNTech primary vaccination series. “While it has largely been the case that COVID-19 tends to be less severe in children than adults, the omicron wave has seen more kids getting sick with the disease and being hospitalized, and children may also experience longer term effects, even following initially mild disease,” FDA Commissioner Robert M. Califf, MD, said in the statement.Getting vaccinated and boosted is the best protection we have against severe COVID-19, which can lead to hospitalization or death. “Children are not bulletproof against COVID,” Thomas Russo, MD, infectious disease expert at the University of Buffalo Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, tells SELF.Getting a booster dose could also help prevent potential long term effects from COVID-19 (known as long COVID), Kimberly Giuliano, MD, a pediatrician at Cleveland Clinic, tells SELF. She says it’s helpful to think of the booster as “another layer of protection” for children who have received the primary vaccination series.In addition to keeping children safe from severe COVID-19, the booster dose could serve the community as a whole. “Getting the COVID-19 [booster] protects children and those around them–particularly those like grandparents or older relatives who may be more vulnerable to COVID-19,” Dr. Giuliano says. “The more people who are vaccinated, including children, the better chance we will have of slowing the spread of COVID-19.”The booster dose is especially important for children who may be spending significant amounts of time with unvaccinated individuals–such as in classrooms or sporting events–Dr. Giuliano adds: “In areas with lower vaccination rates, the booster is even more important as the spread of disease will likely be greater.”That said, a booster dose won’t necessarily prevent infection 100% of the time, as we’ve seen over the last several months since omicron emerged, says Dr. Russo. If parents are unsure about whether they should vaccinate their children, they should turn to their health care providers, experts say. “It’s understandable that parents may have questions or concerns about COVID-19 vaccination and boosting for their children,” Dr. Giuliano says. Pediatricians–or other trusted providers–can help parents understand why vaccination is crucial for children (and those around them). “It’s critical for parents to remember the benefit-risk ratio heavily favors vaccination and subsequent boosting when appropriate,” Dr. Russo says.Part of the reason the booster dose was authorized, Dr. Russo adds, comes down to what scientists and doctors are currently seeing: a large number of people infected with omicron even after vaccination and a booster dose. “We are seeing another increase in COVID-19 cases across the country,” Dr. Giuliano adds.On Tuesday, the Biden administration announced that families can now order a third round of free at-home tests from this website. Also this week, the FDA authorized an at-home sample kit that detects COVID-19, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), or the two most common strains of influenza (A and B). The test can be purchased online or in-store without a prescription; people then send their sample to the maker of the test kits, Labcorp, to be analyzed. Easily determining which (if any) virus they’re suffering from will help people follow the necessary safety protocols, the FDA statement said: “This will enable consumers to more easily determine whether they may be infected with COVID-19, flu, or RSV, which can aid in determining if self-isolation (quarantine) is appropriate.”Related:

Here’s What You Need to Know About the Ongoing Baby Formula Shortage

Here’s What You Need to Know About the Ongoing Baby Formula Shortage

Bearing all of that in mind, we’ve rounded up several ideas about what to do if you run out of baby formula—and a few options that should be avoided.Talk to your pediatrician first.If you run out of the formula you usually give your baby, your first call should be to your child’s pediatrician, Andrea L. Deierlein, PhD, an associate professor of public health nutrition at the NYU School of Global Public Health, tells SELF. Depending on a number of factors—your infant’s age, weight, and other developmental details—your pediatrician can help you determine what to do next.Consider switching formulas, if that’s an option for you.While certain babies might face restrictions that limit their formula choices, others might be able to switch to a different but similar formula, Richard So, MD, a pediatrician at Cleveland Clinic Children’s Hospital, tells SELF. “While there are many different formulas on the market, many of them are very similar to each other with only small changes made by the manufacturer,” he explains. However, keep in mind that even a slightly different recipe could cause changes in certain infants, Dr. Wasser says.For instance, if you’ve been giving your baby a formula with “bonus” ingredients, such as probiotics that may help support gastrointestinal (G.I.) health, you may notice G.I. distress after starting them on a new formula, she explains. However, “their basic nutrition needs to support growth, and development will be met,” Dr. Wasser says. Before making any such decisions, though, parents should check with their pediatrician, as we’ve mentioned.There’s also a chance your baby won’t even notice they’re trying something new, Dr. So adds: “If you stick with the same type of formula but switch the brand, you and your baby aren’t likely to notice a difference.” Your pediatrician can help you find a new formula with a similar ingredient profile, Dr. Deierlein says.Contact your local WIC office.The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) is a good place to start if you need assistance buying baby formula right now, Dr. Wasser says. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) released a fact sheet on the shortage, which also advised parents to contact their local WIC office for help locating or obtaining baby formula.Find a local food bank.In addition to the WIC program, food banks and breast milk banks may be able to help families struggling to locate or afford baby formula their child needs now, per the HHS. It points to four organizations that parents should check in with if they need formula.The first is Community Action Agency (CAA). The HHS says your local CAA may be able to provide you with formula or connect you to an agency that has it in stock. The second is United Way’s 2-1-1 resource. Per the HHS, dialing 211 will connect you with a United Way agent who can help you locate food pantries and other sources of baby formula. Parents should also try their local Feeding America food bank to see if they have any baby formula, the HHS says.Reach out to a breast milk bank, if that’s an option for your baby.Breast milk banks accredited by the Human Milk Banking Association of North America (HMBANA) are distributing donated breast milk to mothers in need, per the HHS. That said, the milk banking system in the U.S. is very small, Dr. Wasser says. “Most banked milk is reserved for preterm infants in the [neonatal intensive care unit] and requires a prescription,” she adds.

What to Know About the Mysterious Rise in Pediatric Hepatitis Cases, According to a Doctor

What to Know About the Mysterious Rise in Pediatric Hepatitis Cases, According to a Doctor

Cases of acute hepatitis in children have been showing up over the past several months around the globe, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). The first to appear in the United States occurred in Alabama, but cases have now appeared in at least 25 states, per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Hepatitis occurs when the liver is inflamed; the children in Alabama had “significant liver illness, including some with liver failure, with no known cause,” according to the CDC. As of May 5, there were 109 known cases and five deaths, the CDC said. More than 90% of cases required hospitalization and 14% required liver transplants.As of right now, officials don’t know what’s causing the cases, Joseph DiNorcia, MD, special director of pediatric liver transplantation at Mount Sinai, tells SELF. The cases haven’t been linked to any known environmental factors or exposures, and they haven’t been connected to one geographical area. While the cause hasn’t been confirmed, experts have been investigating whether a specific type of adenovirus could be to blame, Dr. DiNorcia says.Adenoviruses cause a range of illnesses, including the common cold, per the CDC. The adenovirus that could be responsible for the pediatric hepatitis cases is called adenovirus type 41, Dr. DiNorcia says. The virus has been identified in blood samples from some, but not all, of the children affected. Researchers still don’t know whether the relationship is causal—meaning adenovirus type 41 is resulting in severe hepatitis—or whether it’s a coincidence that some of the children suffering from hepatitis also had adenovirus type 41, according to Dr. DiNorcia.While adenovirus type 41 is the leading theory right now, Dr. DiNorcia says some are questioning whether COVID-19 could be related to the cases. Most of the children affected are within the two to five years age range, he explains, adding that, since vaccines haven’t been cleared for children under five yet, some think SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, could be responsible.Though SARS-CoV-2 could be related, experts say the vaccines that prevent severe illness and death from COVID-19 are not to blame, Dr. DiNorcia says. “Most of the cases are occurring in children who are not vaccinated. There’s no connection to the vaccine,” he explains.While the number of cases is still relatively low, Dr. DiNorcia says, it can’t hurt for parents to be aware of the symptoms of hepatitis, which include fever; fatigue; gastrointestinal symptoms like nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain; loss of appetite; jaundice that causes yellowing of the skin and eyes, dark urine, or light feces; joint aches; and muscle aches. Since these symptoms can be caused by any number of illnesses—some serious and some not—Dr. DiNorcia recommends paying attention to a couple key determinants that might signal the need for a doctor’s appointment. “If the child isn’t able to hydrate and eat—that would definitely indicate you’ve got to talk to a health care provider,” he says. He recommends paying attention to your child’s energy level and seeking help if they seem especially fatigued.It’s also worth making sure your child is up-to-date on all their vaccines, some of which prevent hepatitis, Dr. DiNorcia says. If you’re unsure whether your child has received all the recommended vaccines for their age group, contact your pediatrician.And if a case of severe hepatitis in a child is confirmed, health care providers need to report it to the local department of health, Dr. DiNorcia says, to help experts better understand what could be behind the cases.Right now, parents should monitor their children’s health and make sure they’ve received all recommended vaccines, but experts are not recommending keeping kids home from school or any other precautions. Dr. DiNorcia emphasizes that the cases are still few and far between: “It’s still so rare. Parents shouldn’t be overly worried, but should just be aware,” he says. “It’s not very satisfying, but awareness is key.”Related:

Drug Overdose Deaths Hit an All-Time High in 2021, CDC Data Show

Drug Overdose Deaths Hit an All-Time High in 2021, CDC Data Show

There were an estimated 107,622 drug overdose deaths in the U.S. in 2021, according to new data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The death rate is the highest on record for overdose fatalities, and it was up 15% from the 2020 rate of 93,655 deaths—a number that was 30% higher than the 2019 rate. The data highlight a surge in overdose deaths during the COVID-19 pandemic.Pandemic disruptions—including restricted access to rehabilitation facilities, naloxone (a drug that can reverse symptoms of an opioid overdose), and medication-assisted therapy—may have played a part in the increased death rate, Jules Netherland, director of the department of research and academic engagement at the Drug Policy Alliance, tells SELF. However, the rate was climbing before the pandemic took hold. “Unfortunately overdose deaths were going rapidly up before COVID, but the increase during COVID has certainly escalated,” Netherland says. She adds that communities of color are being hit harder and that strategies need to be implemented quickly to reverse the current trend.Alaska saw the biggest increase in the overdose death rate in 2021, rising 75.3% from the 2020 rate. Other states that saw steep increases include Vermont, South Dakota, Kansas, and Oregon, per the new data. Wyoming saw a 0% change, while overdose deaths in Hawaii went down by 1.81%.Among the 107,622 deaths, 80,816 involved opioids, according to the data. In addition to opioids, overdose deaths from synthetic opioids (primarily fentanyl), cocaine, and psychostimulants (like methamphetamine) also increased in 2021 compared to 2020.Drugs contaminated with fentanyl, a synthetic opioid that’s up to 100 times stronger than morphine, per the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), may have contributed to the spike in the overdose death rate, Netherland says. “We do know fentanyl has contaminated a lot of the drug supply and is driving” overdose deaths, she explains. But eliminating fentanyl won’t solve all the crisis and bring the rate back down, Netherland warns. Instead, experts need to focus on harm reduction strategies. “Until we really scale up harm reduction and treatment services, I don’t think we’re going to turn this around,” she explains.Netherland points to a number of different measures that could slow the overdose death rate’s climb, widespread access to naloxone and fentanyl test strips among them. The test strips would reveal if a product has been contaminated with fentanyl, 2 milligrams of which can be lethal, depending on a person’s size. Overdose prevention centers, which have been established in New York City, could also bring down the death rate, Netherland says. These allow people who use drugs to do so in a controlled setting, where trained staff can supervise and assist if they overdose. Additionally, until states decriminalize possessing small amounts of currently illegal drugs—which Oregon did in 2020—people who buy them won’t be able to tell whether their supply has been contaminated with a dangerous substance. “Criminalizing and prohibiting the purchase and sale—it means people aren’t going to know what they’re getting,” Netherland adds.Related:

COVID-19 Cases Are Steadily Rising, Raising Concern for Possible Winter Surge

COVID-19 Cases Are Steadily Rising, Raising Concern for Possible Winter Surge

The Biden administration estimates the United States could see 100 million COVID-19 infections and a wave of deaths during the coming fall and winter of 2022, according to the Washington Post. The projection comes as the U.S. teeters on the brink of 1 million COVID-19 deaths: The latest count from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) totals 995,371 known fatalities at the time of publication. A senior administration official shared the prediction for next fall and winter on Friday, according to the Post, and said it underscored the need for more funding for vaccines, tests, and treatments. The official didn’t present new data with the prediction, per the Post.The news raises questions about what’s ahead in the coming months, with more transmissible subvariants circulating and case counts continuing to steadily rise. The most dominant variant in the U.S. as of the end of April was BA.2, a subvariant of omicron, which made up nearly 62% of cases, per the CDC. The second most dominant variant, a subvariant of BA.2, is BA.2.12.1, which made up 36.5% of cases. As the virus evolves, it’s getting better at spreading, experts say. “Each subsequent variant is more transmissible,” Daniel Culver, DO, a chair of the department of pulmonary medicine at Cleveland Clinic, tells SELF. “BA.2.12.1 seems to be even more transmissible than BA.2,” which is even more transmissible than the original omicron variant and delta as well, Dr. Culver says.Rising case counts highlight the transmissibility: In the U.S., the average positive test rate was 2.5% at the beginning of April; as of May 7th it was 7.8%, according to data from Mayo Clinic. And the stats are probably even higher than we know, due to the way most are getting tested now, Dr. Culver says. Instead of going to a clinic for a PCR test, the result of which is then logged so that public health experts can monitor community spread, many people are testing themselves at home and never sharing their results with a government body or research organization that can track COVID-19 cases. “The numbers are very underestimated right now,” Dr. Culver says. “So many are doing home tests that are never reported to any public health authority.”Before widespread immunization efforts, the above factors might have resulted in a lockdown, similar to those implemented during the early days of the pandemic. However, experts advise against jumping to the conclusion that we’re headed for another shutdown, and they stress the crucial differences between early 2020 and now. Namely, many Americans have received safe and effective vaccines that help prevent severe disease and hospitalization for many people. Plus, many people have already been infected with SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, providing them with some level of immunity, Jennifer Lighter, MD, a pediatric infectious disease specialist at NYU Langone, tells SELF. The Biden administration’s prediction that the fall and winter could bring 100 million COVID-19 infections was likely based on vaccination rates and the threat of future variants, Dr. Lighter (who is not connected to the Biden administration) says, but “it doesn’t mean we’re going back to two years ago. We do have the tools now to prevent severe disease.” That said, we can minimize the toll COVID-19 will take in the future by using those tools (or, in other words, getting vaccinated when eligible), Dr. Lighter says: “There’s an underutilization of these tools.” Getting vaccinated can lower the future death toll and help keep hospitals functioning, she explains. “If we want to thwart off another big wave, the one way to do that is through increasing our vaccination gaps.”Related:

Common Symptoms of the BA.2.12.1 Subvariant, According to Experts

Common Symptoms of the BA.2.12.1 Subvariant, According to Experts

A new subvariant, called BA.2.12.1, is steadily becoming more prominent in the United States, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). BA.2.12.1 is a subvariant of BA.2, and both descended from the original Omicron variant, which was first recorded in the Botswana and South Africa regions in November 2021. Shortly after, Omicron cases soared worldwide.As of right now, BA.2 is still the dominant variant in the U.S., but BA.2.12.1 is steadily taking over the percentage of reported COVID-19 infections in the U.S. In mid-March, it caused only 1.5% of cases, but as of last weekend, it was responsible for 42.6%, per the CDC.BA.2.12.1 spreads easily, experts say. It’s is believed to be up to 27% more transmissible than BA.2, according to a statement from the New York State Department of Health. For context, BA.2 is believed to be up to 50% more transmissible than the original Omicron variant, Thomas Russo, MD, infectious disease expert at the University of Buffalo Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, tells SELF. “These new variants are really infectious,” Dr. Russo says, noting that BA.2.12.1 can spread through communities rapidly thanks to its high transmissibility. As a growing number of BA.2.12.1 cases emerge, it’s important to keep track of the symptoms associated with the subvariant so you can get tested if you think you might have contracted it. While any coronavirus symptoms could show up in a person infected with BA.2.12.1, certain ones might be more common than others, depending on your personal health history. The known symptoms of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, include fever and chills, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, cough, fatigue, muscle and body aches, loss of taste, loss of smell, headache, sore throat, runny nose, congestion, nausea, and diarrhea, per the CDC. But the symptoms commonly associated with BA.2.12.1 are typically akin to those of a head cold, Dr. Russo says, explaining that sore throat, runny nose, headache, or cough should definitely prompt you to get tested for COVID-19. No new symptoms have been reported with the emergence of BA.2.12.1, Amesh Adalja, MD, a senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, tells SELF.The symptoms doctors are seeing now aren’t necessarily different from those that have been showing up over the past few months since Omicron emerged. “It’s important to remember BA.2.12.1 is still part of the Omicron lineage of COVID-19,” Dr. Adalja says. And not every possible COVID-19 symptom listed above is a definite indicator of the disease, he adds. For this reason, when you’re deciding whether or not to get tested, consider your overall health instead of one individual symptom. “Those symptoms are all a constellation,” Dr. Adalja says. For instance, if you’re only experiencing a gastrointestinal symptom, such as nausea, and you haven’t been exposed to COVID-19 to the best of your knowledge, you may not need to test immediately. But if you’re feeling nauseated in addition to experiencing other cold-like symptoms, such as runny nose and sore throat, you should probably get tested.

Kourtney Kardashian Provides Update on Her IVF Journey on ‘The Kardashians’

Kourtney Kardashian Provides Update on Her IVF Journey on ‘The Kardashians’

Kourtney Kardashian gave an update on her in vitro fertilization (IVF) journey on Thursday night’s episode of The Kardashians. “We are super excited because it’s the first time that Travis and I have made it to an egg retrieval in six months of doing fertility treatments,” she said.The episode showed Kardashian, 43, and her husband Travis Barker, 46, visiting their fertility specialist for an update. During this appointment the couple received good news: An ultrasound showed the doctor a follicle, a fluid-filled ovarian sac in which eggs form, per Mayo Clinic.“That is exactly, precisely what we wanted to see. Right now, [the follicle] is around 19 millimeters,” the doctor said. He saw only one viable follicle but clarified that one follicle can result in multiple babies. “Hopefully, it’ll be high quality and be a normal embryo,” he said.“I feel like it’s a blessing that we’re here and able to be doing this. Because the last two times we tried we weren’t able to get to this phase,” Kardashian said. “One follicle–the fact that we have any just gives me a lot of hope.”After the ultrasound, the doctor prepared Kardashian for the next step, known as egg retrieval. During this process, eggs are extracted from the follicle through a thin needle inserted into an ultrasound guide. Patients are sedated and given pain medication for this procedure, according to Mayo Clinic. Barker’s sperm retrieval also occurred during the doctor’s visit. After both sperm and egg retrieval, fertilization occurs, the goal of which is a healthy embryo.“So after they retrieve the egg today, hopefully then they make an embryo, which takes six days, and then they test the embryo and then they implant the embryo, and then it hopefully becomes a pregnancy,” Kardashian said. She added that she was cautiously optimistic, due to the number of steps in the IVF process that have to go right in order for a successful pregnancy to occur. “Yes, we are super excited and grateful to be here, but I think we also don’t want to feel too attached or too happy before we know because there are so many steps.”Kardashian also said she looks forward to hopefully parenting with Barker: “I do love being a mom. I think having that experience with Travis would just be incredible. I know he’s a really, really amazing father.”Related:

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