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Sunday, Nov 27th

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Battle against RSV in schools recalls COVID-19 fight

RSV in schools

Schools are preparing for another winter marked by mass sickness, as the respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) continues to spike among children, prompting precautions that mirror those seen during COVID-19.

Facilities with younger children such as day cares and pre-K programs face a potential “tripledemic” of RSV, COVID-19 and the flu this season.

For the majority of adults and older children, RSV causes cold and flu-like symptoms that resolve themselves in about a week. However, younger children, particularly infants and toddlers who have not been exposed to the virus, are at a high risk of developing severe illness.

Day cares and classrooms are known to be vectors of transmission for pathogens like RSV, a virus for which there is currently no vaccine.

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Deadly Bird Flu Outbreak Is The Worst In U.S. History

Turkeys in danger of bird flu

An ongoing outbreak of a deadly strain of bird flu has now killed more birds than any past flare-up in U.S. history.

The virus, known as highly pathogenic avian influenza, has led to the deaths of 50.54 million domestic birds in the country this year, according to Agriculture Department data reported by Reuters on Thursday. That figure represents birds like chickens, ducks and turkeys from commercial poultry farms, backyard flocks and facilities such as petting zoos.

On farms, some birds die from the flu directly, while in other cases, farmers kill their entire flocks to prevent the virus from spreading after one bird tests positive. Such farmers have occasionally drawn condemnation from animal welfare advocates for using a culling method known as “ventilation shutdown plus,” which involves sealing off the airways to a barn and pumping in heat to kill the animals.

 

‘Immunity debt’ is a misguided and dangerous concept

Immunity debt is a misguided and dangerous conceptRespiratory syncytial virus is a little-known and hard-to-spell seasonal scourge that, like flu, most seriously affects children and older people. It usually triggers coughs and colds but can cause serious breathing difficulties in a small minority of infants.

RSV is so common that more than 80 per cent of UK children are infected by their second birthday — but case numbers plummeted during the Covid-19 pandemic. Measures such as masking, plus school and nursery closures, intended to slow the spread of Covid, also put the brakes on infection rates. Now the virus is resurgent, particularly in the US, with the wave hitting earlier than expected.

That has fuelled speculation that pandemic mitigations, including lockdowns, created a harmful “immunity debt”, with children left vulnerable through a lack of exposure to the usual cut and thrust of viral infections. But scientists have dismissed the concept, as applied to individual immunity, as misguided.

The discussion swirling around immunity debt shows how easy it is for a plausible-sounding theory to circulate as misinformation. In this case, misinformation risks promoting the unfounded assertion that infections are clinically beneficial to children, as well as feeding the revisionist narrative that Covid measures did more harm than good.

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Parents File Wrongful Death Suit Against Stanford In Soccer Goalie's Suicide

Parents file wrongful death suit against Stanford

The heartbroken parents of Stanford star goalie Katie Meyer have filed a wrongful death suit against the university and officials over her suicide, according to Sports Illustrated and USA Today, which obtained copies of the suit.

Meyer, 22, was facing a formal disciplinary charge at the time for allegedly spilling coffee on an unidentified Stanford football player who had been accused of sexually assaulting another female soccer player. Meyer’s father had previously said that the teammate was a minor at the time, and his daughter was defending her.

The football player faced no “real consequence” for the accusation against him, according to the complaint.

The lawsuit, filed Wednesday, reportedly states that the night Meyer died in February, Stanford “negligently” and “recklessly” sent her the formal disciplinary notice in a lengthy letter that “contained threatening language regarding sanctions and potential ‘removal from the university.’”

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China expands lockdowns as COVID-19 cases hit daily record

China expands lockdownPandemic lockdowns are expanding across China, including in a city where factory workers clashed this week with police, as the number of COVID-19 cases hits a daily record.

Residents of eight districts of Zhengzhou, home to 6.6 million people, were told to stay home for five days beginning Thursday except to buy food or get medical treatment. Daily mass testing was ordered in what the city government called a "war of annihilation" against the virus.

During clashes Tuesday and Wednesday, Zhengzhou police beat workers protesting over a pay dispute at the biggest factory for Apple's iPhone, located in an industrial zone near the city. Foxconn, the Taiwan-based owner of the factory, apologized Thursday for what it called "an input error in the computer system" and said it would guarantee that the pay is the same as agreed to and in official recruitment posters.

In the previous 24 hours, the number of new COVID cases rose by 31,444, the National Health Commission said Thursday. That's the highest daily figure since the coronavirus was first detected in the central Chinese city of Wuhan in late 2019.

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An art exhibit on the National Mall honors health care workers who died of COVID

Art Project honors medical workers who died of COVID

Susannah Perlman remembers her mother Marla's smile, a big, beaming smile that covered "a couple of ZIP codes."

Marla died from COVID-19 last year. She was retired and had served as director of volunteers at a hospital in Pennsylvania.

As part of the Hero Art Project, emerging and established artists from around the world have now eternalized the smiles of more than 100 other U.S.-based first responders and health care workers killed by a pandemic they tried to stave off.

NPR caught up with Perlman on the National Mall, where the portraits rotate through digital flat screens in an energy-efficient "tiny home" in the shadow of the Washington Monument and the Capitol building. There are paintings, drawings and digital pieces, some multicolored, others monochrome.

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More than 110 experts raise alarm over WHO’s ‘weak’ PFAS limits for drinking water

110+ experts raise alarm over WHO 's wweak limits on PFAS

More than 110 scientists and regulators worldwide are raising a public alarm over what they label “weak” PFAS drinking water limits proposed by the World Health Organization, which they charge used shoddy science and “arbitrarily” dismissed hundreds of studies linking the “forever chemicals” to serious health problems.

Some further alleged the process of developing the guidelines was corrupted by industry-aligned consultants aiming to undercut strict new PFAS limits proposed in the US, and weaken standards in the developing world. The chemicals have been called “forever chemicals” due to their longevity in the environment.

The limits would allow far more PFAS in drinking water than what is allowed or proposed by the US Environmental Protection Agency, most US states, and some agencies within the EU. WHO’s guidelines and justification are “inexcusable”, said Linda Birnbaum, a former head of the US National Toxicology Program and EPA scientist.

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