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Deadly Black Fungus ‘Mucormycosis’ in parts of India

Black Fungus Virus Alert

The authorities in India are raising the alarm over a rise in a rare and potentially fatal fungal infection called mucormycosis among recovered but still vulnerable Covid-19 patients.

The condition is caused by a group of molds called mucormycetes that are found in the soil and the air. Spores can enter the bloodstream through a cut or abrasion, and thereby spread to the eyes, spleen, heart, and brain. They can also be inhaled via the nose, entering the mucous glands, sinuses, and lungs, generating a respiratory infection.

Mucormycosis often strikes the immunocompromised, including diabetics or those on medication to reduce an overactive immune response. It also appears to be affecting these vulnerable groups even harder after they have overcome Covid-19 infections.

An increasing number of Covid-19 patients across India are presenting with the potentially fatal fungal infection. In the state of Maharashtra, where Mumbai is located, more than 200 recovered Covid-19 patients have caught mucormycosis, and at least eight have subsequently died from the infection, according to local media.

The authorities in the state of Gujarat have ordered 5,000 doses of the powerful anti-fungal agent amphotericin B to cope with the rise in cases, and ordered hospitals to create special treatment wards for those who are infected.

Last week, India’s Health Ministry released an advisory warning that, if not treated, the disease might prove fatal. “We have heard that, in some areas, people who are Covid-infected or recovered suffer from mucormycosis,” Dr. V.K. Paul, the head of the country’s Covid-19 task force said, speaking to local media. However, he cautioned that there was “no big outbreak” yet, and that he and his team would continue to monitor the situation.

Medical experts on the ground suspect the rise in cases may be the result of a confluence of factors, including the use of steroids to help fight off Covid-19, and the less than sanitary domestic conditions to which Covid survivors return after hospitalization.

Dr. Akshay Nair, a Mumbai-based eye surgeon, told the BBC that he had treated dozens of recovered Covid-19 patients for the black fungus in April, 11 of whom needed to have an eye surgically removed to stop the infection from spreading to their brain.

Courtesy of rt.com

https://tinyurl.com/7xy4b9n2

Mysterious deadly brain disease in Canada

A fresh outbreak of a mysterious illness has been making headlines in Canada. A neurological disease dubbed the New Brunswick Syndrome has affected dozens and killed six people in recent months in the region that gave it its name.

At least 48 people aged between 18 and 85, almost equally men and women, have been suffering from an inexplicable illness that has caused their health to swiftly deteriorate. Visual and auditory hallucinations, memory loss, difficulty walking and balance issues are among the symptoms of the mysterious condition, which is reported to have killed six patients thus far.

This week, the government of the mainly affected New Brunswick province, located on the Atlantic coast, stepped up its efforts to deal with the outbreak, which had, until recently, been overshadowed by the coronavirus pandemic. An expert committee has been set up to expedite the investigation into what is being referred to as the New Brunswick Cluster of Neurological Syndrome of Unknown Cause.

“The discovery of a potentially new and unknown syndrome is scary,” New Brunswick Health Minister Dorothy Shephard told a news conference on Thursday, adding that locals have been “concerned and confused” about the new disease.

While people in the province have been suffering from alarming symptoms that appear to stem from the same unknown brain-damaging illness for the past few years, no certain cause has yet been identified. Health officials have been looking into potential environmental and animal exposure, but uncertainty prevails.

“At this point in time, we don’t know. Everything is on the table. We’re going to look at every possibility, and, hopefully, we’ll … develop a good understanding,” one of the committee co-chairs, Dr. Edouard Hendriks said. The other, Dr. Natalie Banville, admitted no advice can be given to people as to how – or whether – they can protect themselves from the disease, as the experts haven’t determined its derivation.

“We’re researching. We have no environmental causes, we have no genetic causes, we have no medication causes – we have no cause established,” Banville said.

All possibilities are being studied, including contamination through toxins, bacteria, or a virus.

To try to figure out the mystery, an extensive questionnaire has been drafted by health officials. Aimed at both patients and their families, it can take up to four hours to complete. A special clinic to diagnose and treat suspected patients has also been opened.

“It’s still a big shock,” Luc Leblanc, who has been diagnosed with the unknown syndrome, told Canada’s CTV News. “I never got any answers that I was looking for, or how to cope, or how to extend my life,” the 41-year-old man said. He is suffering from concentration problems and memory loss, and described his condition as “a ticking bomb.” “You don’t know how long you have,” he said.

Another patient’s life has also been upturned by the mysterious brain disorder. Gabrielle Cormier, whose neurological symptoms include vision problems, and sudden walking and standing inabilities, was diagnosed at the age of 20. “I can’t read, which is a shame because I love to read. I can’t move … I was very active before,” she explained to CTV News.

People living in the region have been “frustrated” for months, officials admitted this week. There have been complains of a lack of communication and transparency from health officials, with locals now demanding regular public briefings on the troubling issue.

The disease was first observed in New Brunswick in 2015 by local neurologist Dr. Alier Marrero. Over the years, more patients have emerged, exhibiting similar symptoms of dementia and strange muscle movements, among other disorders. When the number of people affected began to grow, the doctor concluded he was dealing with something that hadn’t been observed before in the medical world and sounded the alarm.

Courtesy of rt.com

https://tinyurl.com/c7695x4w

COVID-19: Strict national lockdown imposed on France as Emmanuel Macron warns ‘the numbers are charging away from us

France will widen strict lockdown restrictions – which have already been in place in several areas including Paris – to the whole country to combat a third wave of coronavirus sweeping Europe.

In a televised address to the nation, President Emmanuel Macron said the measures will come into effect on Saturday and be in place for at least a month.

He warned the country would “lose control if we do not move now”, introducing restrictions including closing non-essential shops, and shutting schools for three weeks after Easter.

He said timetables will be adapted to allow for one week of online lessons, followed by a two-week holiday.

There will be a month-long domestic travel ban, and a nationwide 7pm-6am curfew will remain in place.

Mr Macron said “the numbers are charging away from us” and France is now faced with “a race against the clock”.

The extended measures mark a departure from the government’s policy in recent months, which has focused on regional restrictions.

School closures in particular had been seen as a very last resort, with the president appearing reluctant to bring in the measure and saying children’s education was “non-negotiable”.

His announcement comes after doctors warned that hospitals are on the brink of being overwhelmed by the number of sick people needing treatment.

Daily new infections hit 59,038 on Wednesday, up from around 20,000 in February.

And on Tuesday, the number of COVID-19 patients in intensive care breached 5,000, exceeding the peak hit during a six-week long lockdown in the autumn.

Mr Macron revealed worrying new data had been seen in recent days, including figures showing 44% of patients in French ICUs are now under the age of 65.

Sky’s Europe correspondent Adam Parsons said of the president’s address: “This really was a classic bit of Emmanuel Macron rhetoric. It was a speech laced with care, with politics and also with a little grain of self-aggrandisement.”

He said that the measures announced are “pretty much the pillars of the lockdown of last year”.

Mr Macron had been holding off another national lockdown since the start of the year, hoping to steer France out of the pandemic while giving the economy a chance to recover from a deep slump.

However, in recent weeks, options have narrowed as the highly contagious and virulent coronavirus variant first detected in Britain has swept across France and much of Europe.

Ten days ago, the government shut non-essential stores and limited people’s movements in Paris and other regions ravaged by the virus.

The president defended his choice not to introduce stricter measures earlier, saying he believes the government “acted rightly” to trust the public.

But he did admit to having “made mistakes” in his handling of the pandemic which he had “learned” from.

“At every stage of this epidemic, we could tell ourselves that we could have done better, that we made mistakes. All of this is true,” he said.

“But I do know one thing: we held on, we learned, and we got better every time.”

Following the news, Labour’s shadow home secretary said it is now “even more urgent” stricter border controls are imposed on France.

“It’s reckless and unacceptable for only 1% of international arrivals to quarantine in a hotel,” said Nick Thomas-Symonds.

Courtesy of Sky News

https://tinyurl.com/fesnkkxn

Ebola warning: WHO increases risk level to ‘very high’ – world on alert

Ebola Virus

The WHO Africa Region division tweeted as we speak: “So far there have been 18 instances, 9 deaths, 523 contacts, 82 % monitored and 1604 individuals vaccinated.” An outbreak has additionally been recorded within the Democratic Republic of Congo. The WHO has warned international locations neighboring Guinea weren’t ready for outbreaks or for future vaccination campaigns.

However, at current the worst-hit nation of the newest outbreak is Guinea.

It is the primary outbreak of the lethal virus there since a 2013-2016 outbreak, which was thought of the world’s worst.

The 2013-2016 outbreak unfold all through a number of West African international locations.

The lethal pathogen killed hundreds of individuals throughout its final outbreak and the WHO is fearful in regards to the newest resurgence, particularly amid the coronavirus crises.

The WHO’s Regional Emergency Director Abdou Salam Gueye mentioned: “There are six neighboring international locations to Guinea and we carried out an evaluation of readiness.

“Two of the international locations aren’t prepared and one is borderline and there are three international locations kind of prepared.”

The international locations that border Guinea are at the moment not ready to roll-out mass Ebola vaccination programmes.

Mr Gueye added: “Those neighboring international locations agreed on cross-border cooperation and coordination to management the outbreak.”

The nation has the present capability to inoculate 100 individuals per day.

This would be the first time an Ebola vaccine has been distributed within the nation.

Currently, 1604 individuals had been vaccinated in Guinea.

Bachir Kanté, an official on the well being ministry, mentioned: “In the approaching days, we will likely be in a position to vaccinate extra individuals so as to include this pandemic correctly.”

Courtesy of today-india.in

https://tinyurl.com/ftp9etm8

31 people die after BUBONIC PLAGUE outbreak in Democratic Republic of Congo

A bubonic plague outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo has seen several dozen people succumb to the long-feared disease, which caused Europe’s Black Death pandemic in the 14th century.

Multiple cases of the plague were identified in the Biringi area of Ituri Province in northeastern DR Congo between November 15 and December 13, Anne Laudisoit of New York-based NGO, Ecohealth Alliance, told AFP.

At least 520 people have become ill and “more than 31” of them have died, Ituri Health Minister Patrick Karamura told the outlet.

The vast majority of cases involved bubonic plague, with the exception of five instances of pneumonic plague and two instances of septicemic plague, which occur when the disease spreads to the lungs or blood, respectively.

Younger people were most affected, with the average age of patients being only 13. Among those infected was a three-month-old baby, according to Laudisoit.

The plague, which is caused by Yersinia pestis bacterium, is endemic to the province where it was first confirmed in 1926. Outbreaks occur regularly, with the World Health Organization (WHO) also issuing an alert over spiking cases of the disease in Ituri’s Rethy region in July last year.

The latest outbreak began with mass deaths among rats, which had been infected by germ-carrying fleas in their fur. Those fleas then started to look for new hosts and shifted onto humans, infecting them through their bites.

Bubonic plague is the most common form of the disease, which occurs after the bacillus travels through the blood and attacks the nearest lymph node. Those swollen and painful lymph nodes that can sometimes break open are known as ‘buboes’. Other symptoms include fever, headaches and vomiting.

The so-called Black Death, which according to various estimates killed between a third and a half of Europe’s population in the mid-14th century, while also heavily hitting North Africa and Asia, was the largest pandemic in human history and was caused by bubonic plague.

The fearsome disease is now curable with several types of antibiotics. However, without proper treatment, the plague can cause death in between 30 to 90 percent of those infected.

However, getting proper medical attention in DR Congo is often difficult as its health system suffers from lack of funding and is hampered by the activity of various militant groups. Besides the plague, the Central African country is also challenged by episodic Ebola outbreaks, malaria, cholera, HIV and other diseases.

Courtesy of rt.com

https://tinyurl.com/2efwg3pz

7 die at Spanish care home after getting Pfizer Covid-19 jab as ALL residents test positive for virus, second doses still to come

COVID-19 Alert

All 78 residents at a nursing home in central Spain have tested positive for Covid-19 after being given their first dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, and at least seven people have died, staff confirmed on Monday.

Most of those who succumbed to the virus had existing conditions, according to Spanish news agency EFE, while four residents are currently hospitalized, and 12 staff have also been infected.

The huge outbreak is at the Lagartera Residence for the Elderly in the Toledo area, southwest of the capital Madrid.

The home’s 33 staff must now present a negative PCR test before they start work, and a spokesperson said that health measures to contain the spread of the virus are in place “at all times.”

“On January 13, all residents, including nursing home staff, were vaccinated with the first dose of the Pfizer vaccine, and after six days the first symptoms began to appear in ten of the residents,” they said in a statement.

Some members of staff began to go off sick with the virus five days after being inoculated.

On January 21, management approved the decision to test all residents of the home and quarantine them to their rooms, with families informed of the move.

The testing results, on January 25, showed that all the residents had caught the virus apart from one, who then also tested positive at a later date.

In December, Spain’s Supreme Court ordered an investigation into deaths at nursing homes, which were a disturbing feature of the early pandemic, making up 69 percent of all Covid-19 fatalities between April 6 and June 20.

The Lagartera Residence for the Elderly insisted the current outbreak was its first of the pandemic, having remained virus-free during the first two waves of infections.

The next doses of the vaccine are to be administered at the home on February 3, and the next round of PCR tests will be carried out on February 5.

Across Spain, almost 1.5 million people have been injected with either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine.

More than 58,000 people have died from Covid-19 in Spain and the country has registered more than 2.7 million cases of the virus in total.

Courtesy of rt.com

https://tinyurl.com/2fdnwem8