New data shed more light on source of coronavirus clusters around Mass.

Of the 28 COVID-19 clusters linked to child care from Sept. 27 through Oct. 24, just 70 confirmed infections were identified, along with 253 close contacts that required additional tracing and testing.

Similarly, just 70 confirmed cases were identified from 19 clusters in restaurants and food courts, the data show.

In posting the new data, Massachusetts joins a handful of other states that are sharing such information.

Health departments in some states, including Louisiana, post reports from their contact-tracing programs that specify the businesses, schools, or other facilities where outbreaks are occurring. Others, such as Vermont and Colorado, post the occupations, industries, or settings — such as bars, casinos, or food processing plants — with the highest number or percentages of infections in their states.

Massachusetts’ new data show 2,707 clusters involving 6,830 new cases linked to households. That accounts for about a third of all the new infections in the past month.

“A large amount of transmission is occurring in households, a place where people let their guard down and feel safe,” said Tory Mazzola, a spokesman for the state’s coronavirus command center. ”It’s critical that residents are aware of this and — especially those living in multi-generational homes or with family members who have underlying conditions — take precautions even in their home, such as wearing a mask, washing hands and not sharing utensils, as a few examples.”

Carlene Pavlos, executive director of the Massachusetts Public Health Association, said the household data leaves too many unanswered questions.

“What we really want to understand is how is the spread getting into the community,” she said. “Residents living in the same household, we know they are likely to spread it to each other.”

Earlier this week, Governor Charlie Baker said workplace infections are not driving the state’s surge in cases, but the new data suggests that’s an open question.

The data do not identify whether the cases and clusters identified in nursing homes, hospitals, and other health care settings are among workers or patients. But it does show that about 16 percent of the confirmed cases linked to clusters in the past month are from various sites, including health care, restaurants, retail stores, and other settings.

As the holidays approach, Baker has urged residents to be cautious about social gatherings, but the new data suggest those gatherings are not necessarily fueling the latest surge in coronavirus infections.

The new numbers show 11 new clusters traced to social gatherings in the last month. Yet those clusters accounted for just 67 new confirmed cases, along with 50 other people considered close contacts who may have been infected.

“Clearly that is not what is driving this latest spike of over 1,000 new cases a day,” Pavlos said.


Kay Lazar can be reached at [email protected] Follow her on Twitter @GlobeKayLazar.

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‘I’m an Psychologist and These Are The Light Therapy Treatments I Recommend for Seasonal Affective Disorder’

If you’re finding yourself cursing the reality of darker mornings and even darker, longer nights, you could be dealing with the pangs of seasonal affective disorder (SAD), a very real type of depression that becomes more severe as winter approaches.



a man that is standing in the dark: Chances are you're not the only one experiencing the blues as the mercury drops. Here's how you can push back


© Mint Images – Getty Images
Chances are you’re not the only one experiencing the blues as the mercury drops. Here’s how you can push back

Despite how it may feel, you’re not the only one — it’s thought that around 10-20 per cent of people in the UK experience “mildly debilitating” symptoms of seasonal affective disorder as the weather gets colder and six per cent of adults will experience “recurrent major depressive episodes with seasonal pattern”. Currently, the average age at which seasonal affective disorder symptoms present themselves is 27-years-old in both men and women. Both genders are equally affected.

Despite enjoying an extra hour in bed, most of us will, especially at this time, be spending the majority of daylight hour indoors. For many, this could impact mental health — a 2019 YouGov poll found that 29 per cent of UK adults will experience some kind of depressive symptoms this winter, while six per cent of us will suffer seasonal affective disorder to the point where they’re unable to work or to function properly.

Worried about SAD? Don’t be. We’re here to help with our digestible guide on seasonal affective disorder including expert advice, study commentary, actionable advice, product information and more.



a sunset over a grass field: Cold Dawn Sunrise


© George W Johnson
Cold Dawn Sunrise

What Causes Seasonal Affective Disorder?

A form of depression that’s directly related to the changing of the seasons, seasonal affective disorder is experienced most commonly when summer transitions into winter. As it’s as seasonal issue, seasonal affective disorder is often experienced every 12 months. “Patients often begin experiencing symptoms of depression during autumn and often do not feel an improvement in mood until the spring,” explains Dr. Chun Tang, general Practitioner at Pall Mall Medical.

But how is seasonal affective disorder caused?

The research is sporadic, but one cause, it’s believed, is the correlation between the reduced exposure to sunlight and shorter days in winter. That’s because the hormone melatonin, responsible for controlling our sleep cycles, becomes “phase delayed” by people experiencing seasonal affective disorder, leading us to feel sluggish, tired and irritable — regardless of how many espressos have bene imbibed. Stress levels will rise, too, thereby impacting our mental wellbeing, immunity and overall health.

Similarly, serotonin, a neurotransmitter that regulates anxiety, happiness and mood, could have a bigger impact than previously thought. Due to winter having shorter days and darker weather, there typically isn’t enough natural daylight, which causes a drop in serotonin levels in our brains. On a biological level, this increases the likelihood of someone experiencing a depressive episode.

Seasonal Affective Disorder: What Are The Symptoms?

According to the NHS, symptoms of SAD can include:

  • A persistent low mood
  • A loss of pleasure or interest in normal everyday activities
  • Irritability
  • Feelings of despair, guilt and
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Doctors urge flu shots in light of COVID-19. Here’s what you need to know.

Health experts have urged Americans to get their flu shots this year to help ward off a “twindemic.”

“There’s considerable concern as we enter the fall and the winter months and into the flu season that we’ll have that dreaded overlap” of COVID-19 and the flu, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, said earlier this month. 

The U.S. is battling a fresh surge of new coronavirus cases as winter approaches, and hospitals in some western and Midwestern states are filling up with COVID patients. The new rise follows an outbreak of COVID-19 cases that hit the Northeast hard earlier this year, followed by a rise in cases in the South over the summer. 

“We far surpassed what we’re used to with the flu with COVID this spring,” said Dr. Stephanie Sterling, chief of infectious disease at NYU Langone Hospital–Brooklyn, in New York. “And to consider COVID plus flu together, this kind of pandemic would be devastating for communities and for healthcare systems.” 

She said we need to do everything we can to prevent the flu. 

“We don’t want a bad influenza season coinciding with a second wave of COVID,” Sterling said. “Flu shots are safe. They do help prevent illness.”

Why is getting a flu shot so important this year? 

“One is to prevent flu illnesses and it’s complications, but the benefit in this current season are resources that would otherwise be needed to care for patients with the flu that would become scarce, could be directed toward the pandemic,” said Dr. Ram Koppaka, a medical officer for the CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases.

The CDC estimates that last flu season, there were 38 million flu illnesses, 400,000 flu hospitalizations and 22,000 flu deaths. Koppaka said there were also 188 pediatric deaths from influenza. 

An estimated 48% of U.S. adults and 64% of children received a flu vaccine during the same season. Koppaka said the number of flu vaccinations had been increasing prior to COVID-19, but there was still a need for improvement. 

Sterling said that despite communities having a good amount of flu vaccinations, emergency rooms and hospital beds are often overwhelmed during a normal flu season.

This could be a great concern for hospitals in rural areas. Many rural hospitals have limited beds and ventilators, and rural Americans may be at higher risk of getting severely ill from COVID-19 due to a range of factors, according to the CDC.

Additionally, the body does not do well fighting two infections at the same time, according to Dr. Jacqueline P. Cooke, a hospitalist at Jefferson Health in New Jersey. 

“The danger with COVID-19 is that the viral infection leads to overwhelming pneumonia and that type of viral pneumonia is what is causing the vast majority of people to need respiratory assistance and ventilation,” she said. 

Who should get a flu shot?

The CDC encourages people six months of age and older to get an annual flu shot. There are different types of vaccines that

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Artificial Light May Make Aedes Aegypti Mosquitoes ‘Abnormally’ Active At Night, Study Shows

KEY POINTS

  • Aedes aegypti mosquitoes are more active when there is natural light
  • A study found that Aedes aegypti mosquitoes bite twice as much at night when there is artificial light 
  • The study highlights how increasing levels of light pollution could impact transmission of diseases like dengue

Aedes aegypti mosquitoes, which are carriers of dengue and Zika viruses, are known to be active biters during the daytime, but a team of researchers has found that artificial lights can “abnormally” increase their biting behavior even at night.

Aedes Aegypti mosquitoes transmit various mosquito-borne diseases such as dengue fever, chikungunya, yellow fever and Zika fever. The species mostly bite in the early morning and in the afternoon hours when there is light, but what happens when they are exposed to artificial lights at night?

To find out, a team of researchers conducted an experiment wherein the study’s first author, Samuel S. C. Rund of the University of Notre Dame’s Department of Biological Sciences, let mosquitoes bite him under certain conditions including during daytime, at night, and at nighttime while exposed to artificial light. They then measured the mosquitoes’ blood-feeding behavior.

As expected, the mosquitoes fed more during the daytime and less at night. However, mosquitoes that were exposed to artificial light at night were actually twice as likely to bite compared to those not exposed, a news release from the University of Notre Dame said.

This shows that mosquitoes that feed during the daytime tend to bite more at night when there is artificial light.

Aedes aegypti mosquitoes Aedes aegypti mosquitoes are seen at the Laboratory of Entomology and Ecology of the Dengue Branch of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in San Juan, Puerto Rico, March 6, 2016. Photo: Reuters

“This is potentially a very valid problem that shouldn’t be overlooked,” study co-author Giles Duffield, also of the University of Notre Dame’s Department of Biological Sciences, said in the news release. “They live and breed in the vicinity of houses, so the chances of Aedes aegypti being exposed to light pollution are very likely.”

Aedes aegypti mosquitoes are considered “container-inhabiting” mosquitoes, the University of Florida (UF) explains, because they often breed in items that are commonly seen in or around a house, such as spare tires, drainage ditches, untreated swimming pools and unused flower pots. 

“They thrive in urbanized areas, in close contact with people making them an exceptionally successful vector,” the university in a feature.

The Notre Dame team said their study “highlights the concern that globally increasing levels of light pollution could be impacting arboviral disease transmission, such as dengue fever and Zika, and has implications for application of countermeasures for mosquito vector control.” 

The researchers are studying the relationship between artificial light and Aedes ageypti and trying to understand whether there is a genetic factor to the mosquitoes’ biting behavior since not all of them are willing to bite at night even with the lights, the news release said. 

The study is published in The American Journal of

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