Plus, antibiotics and cholera
Hey Health Deskers,
Monkeypox is spreading in the West, and that’s leading some researchers to call for a new name for the virus. Scientists say the name monkeypox is both inaccurate and stigmatizing.
“The prevailing perception in the international media and scientific literature is that MPXV is endemic in people in some African countries…In the context of the current global outbreak, continued reference to, and nomenclature of this virus being African is not only inaccurate but is also discriminatory and stigmatizing. The most obvious manifestation of this is the use of photos of African patients to depict the pox lesions in mainstream media in the global north.”
We have an explainer on the disease for you this week, plus the latest on more emerging science topics. First, here’s a look ahead:
Are new antibiotics on the horizon?
The Global Antibiotic Research and Development Partnership (GARDP) is working with Indian pharmaceutical company Bugworks on a new antibiotic compound. The compound could hopefully tackle bacteria that are resistant to other antibiotic treatments. We need new antibiotics to prevent the spread of drug resistance across the globe. Superbugs are one of the main challenges to the future of global health. The GARDP and Bugworks are also testing whether or not their compound can treat multiple conditions, including bloodstream, urinary, and abdominal tract infections, in addition to pneumonia. We are hopeful for their early phase trials, because the need for new antibiotics is high.
Cholera in Mariupol
After months of relentless attacks, Mariupol is now facing a potential cholera outbreak. The fears are due to the impacts of decomposing bodies and garbage contaminating drinking water. Russian occupiers are allegedly considering quarantining the area in order to avoid the potential viral outbreak. To obtain clean water for drinking and cooking, residents of the city may wait in line for hours, with water available every two days at most. The city's mayor noted that the water issue may cause more than 10,000 people to die by the end of the year. Ukraine's chief sanitary doctor Ihor Kuzin noted that all the prerequisites for a disease outbreak are currently in place, so the World Health Organization's Ukraine office has positioned treatment and vaccination supplies in the region. We expect some kind of viral outbreak in Mariupol due to numerous risks including contaminated water, tightly packed houses, warmer weather, and a lack of basic sanitation and hygiene supplies as a result of the recent Russian attacks.
Now, here’s what our scientists are unpacking this week:
What do we know about monkeypox?
Monkeypox is a disease caused by a virus that is mainly transmitted to humans from animals. Diseases that are transferred from animals to humans are called zoonotic diseases (or zoonosis). As a result, monkeypox is classified as a viral, zoonotic disease. Symptoms initially include fever, intense headaches, back and general muscle pains, and swelling of the lymph nodes. In most cases, symptoms of monkeypox resolve on their own, and the body can clear the infection in 2 to 4 weeks. Severe cases can occur, and are most commonly seen in children and people with reduced immunity because of an existing condition (like HIV/AIDS or those on chemotherapy).
“The virus was first identified in 1958 in macaques being used for research in Denmark. It is part of the same family of viruses as smallpox. This family is called poxvirus, and both of these viruses have somewhat similar symptoms to each other, including pox-like lesions on the skin. Monkeypox tends to cause less severe symptoms than smallpox. However, despite the eradication of smallpox in 1980 due to the use of the smallpox vaccination, monkeypox continues to appear, primarily in Central and West Africa.”
What is Sudden Adult Death Syndrome?
Sudden adult death syndrome, also known as SADS, occurs when a person under the age of 40 years old suffers a sudden death without a known cause after an autopsy and toxicology screen (drug test). SADS causes a cardiac arrest when the heart rapidly stomps pumping, and the body loses heart function, breathing, and consciousness.
SADS is often referred to as sudden arrhythmic death syndrome. It is also known as sudden death syndrome, though the events themselves are not always the same.
Most of the time, SADS occurs when the heart develops an abnormal rhythm, otherwise known as an arrhythmia. This can usually cause the heart to beat at an irregular rhythm that is too fast or too slow. If the arrhythmia is not diagnosed and treated, it can lead to cardiac arrest.
“Vaccines have not been associated or linked to sudden death in adults or children in general. Myocarditis, inflammation of the heart muscle, has been associated in extremely rare cases following some vaccination efforts but cardiac issues following a COVID-19 diagnosis are common.”
What is misoprostol and how is it used for abortions?
Misoprostol is a medication that is frequently used with mifeprex, another medication, to terminate pregnancies up to 70 days after the first day of a person’s last menstrual cycle. However, misoprostol has many uses including inducing labor, treating postpartum hemorrhages, preventing blood loss in surgeries for uterine fibroids, birth control placements, completing miscarriages if the body is unable to expel a fetus or embryo on its own, in biopsies, and other applications.
“Misinformation about misoprostol and medication abortion in general has been increasing in the wake of the leaked draft of the U.S. Supreme Court opinion on Roe. v Wade, which upholds abortion rights in the U.S.
One of the misinformation narratives being spread about misoprostol has been falsely comparing misoprostol to drug ivermectin.
While neither medication should be acquired outside of medical guidance for appropriate use, the difference between these two drugs is that there is strong data that misoprostol is effective at ending pregnancy and approved for this use by health bodies such as the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, whereas there is strong data showing that ivermectin is not effective at treating COVID-19, and is not approved by health bodies for this use.”
That’s all for today folks. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to get all your health and science reporting questions answered on-demand and on-deadline.