Cases of rare tick-borne disease on the rise in 8 states, CDC says

Cases of rare tick-borne disease on the rise in 8 states, CDC says

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) – Tick-borne illness cases in the United States are up 25% since 2011, according to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, including a rare disease now spreading in the U.S. Northeast.

The CDC says cases of babesiosis, which can cause illness ranging from asymptomatic to severe, have increased significantly in Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island and Vermont. The disease is already considered endemic in Connecticut, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island and Wisconsin.

The tick-borne disease, which is growing in cases but still rare, is transmitted from the bites of black-legged ticks. 

Babesiosis infections can be asymptomatic or cause mild to severe illnesses that can be fatal. Symptoms, which can last for several weeks, typically show up between one and four weeks after a bite. The most common symptoms include fever, chills, sweating, fatigue, and myalgias. They also include hepatosplenomegaly, or an enlarged liver, and hemolytic anemia, a disorder that causes red blood cells to be destroyed faster than they can be created.

Yale scientist Goudarz Molaei told Nexstar’s WTNH one of the factors that could be causing the increase in tick-borne diseases could be shorter winters. 

“Understandably because of climate change and other environmental conditions we are seeing increases in tick abundance and tick activity,” Molaei said. 

The CDC states on its website:

Because warmer average temperatures can mean longer warm seasons, earlier spring seasons, shorter and milder winters, and hotter summers, conditions might become more hospitable for many carriers of vector-borne diseases.

Molaei said that, in Connecticut, for example, one in two ticks on average is infected with at least one disease agent. 

“We have to be aware of the areas that might be infested with ticks, so wooded areas, tall grasses areas, try to avoid those areas at any costs,” he said. 

Molaei says if you have no other choice, you’ll have to consistently perform a tick check on yourself and your pets, as they can often bring home ticks with them.

The CDC is urging anyone spending extended time outdoors to use tick repellents and wear long sleeve shirts and pants if they can. 

If you are bitten by a tick, the CDC recommends the following:

  • Use fine-tipped tweezers to grasp the tick as close to the skin as you can.
  • Pull upward with steady, even pressure. Don’t twist or jerk the tick.
  • After removing the tick, clean the bite area and your hands with rubbing alcohol or soap
    and water.
  • Dispose of the tick by flushing it down the toilet. If you would like to bring the tick to your healthcare provider for identification, put it in rubbing alcohol or place it in a sealed

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SUNY Schenectady, Ellis Medicine create nursing pipeline program

SUNY Schenectady, Ellis Medicine create nursing pipeline program

SCHENECTADY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — SUNY Schenectady and Ellis Hospital have partnered on a new employment program. It offers opportunities for qualified graduates, who are interested in entering the healthcare field.

The program establishes a pipeline for students to further their education in nursing at the Belanger School of Nursing at Ellis and develops paths to employment at the hospital. Participating students will have the opportunity to participate in co-op learning initiatives and/or internships through Ellis Medicine.

Officials said similar programs can help alleviate the state’s healthcare worker shortage.

“We are setting students and graduates up for success and filling a need for qualified healthcare professionals in the community at the same time,” Dr. Steady Moono, President of SUNY Schenectady, said in-part. “Ellis Medicine is known for excellent care, compassion, and a commitment to serving patients and their families. SUNY Schenectady is proud to collaborate with them on this new program.”

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World on 'thin ice' as UN climate report gives stark warning

World on 'thin ice' as UN climate report gives stark warning

BERLIN (AP) — Humanity still has a chance, close to the last, to prevent the worst of climate change ’s future harms, a top United Nations panel of scientists said Monday. But doing so requires quickly slashing nearly two-thirds of carbon pollution by 2035, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change said.

The United Nations chief said it more bluntly, calling for an end to new fossil fuel exploration and for rich countries to quit coal, oil and gas by 2040. “Humanity is on thin ice — and that ice is melting fast,” United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said. “Our world needs climate action on all fronts — everything, everywhere, all at once.”

Stepping up his pleas for action on fossil fuels, Guterres called for rich countries to accelerate their target for achieving net zero emissions to as early as 2040, and developing nations to aim for 2050 — about a decade earlier than most current targets. He also called for them to stop using coal by 2030 and 2040, respectively, and ensure carbon-free electricity generation in the developed world by 2035, meaning no gas-fired power plants either.

That date is key because nations soon have to come up with goals for pollution reduction by 2035, according to the Paris climate agreement. After contentious debate, the U.N. science report approved Sunday concluded that to stay under the warming limit set in Paris the world needs to cut 60% of its greenhouse gas emissions by 2035, compared with 2019, adding a new target not previously mentioned in six previous reports issued since 2018.

“The choices and actions implemented in this decade will have impacts for thousands of years,” the report, said calling climate change “a threat to human well-being and planetary health.”

“We are not on the right track but it’s not too late,’’ said report co-author and water scientist Aditi Mukherji. “Our intention is really a message of hope, and not that of doomsday.’’

With the world only a few tenths of a degree away from the globally accepted goal of limiting warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius—or 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit—since pre-industrial times, scientists stressed a sense of urgency. The goal was adopted as part of the 2015 Paris climate agreement and the world has already warmed 2 degrees Fahrenheit.

This is likely the last warning the Nobel Peace Prize-winning collection of scientists will be able to make about the 1.5 mark because their next set of reports may well come after Earth has either breached the mark or is locked into exceeding it soon, several scientists, including report authors, told The Associated Press.

After 1.5 degrees “the risks are starting to pile on,” said report co-author Francis X. Johnson, a climate, land and policy scientist at the Stockholm Environment Institute. The report mentions “tipping points” around that temperature of species extinction, including coral reefs, irreversible melting of ice sheets and sea level rise on the order of several yards.

“1.5 is a critical critical limit, particularly for small islands and mountain (communities) which depend on glaciers,” said Mukherji, who’s also the climate change impact platform director at the research institute CGIAR.

“The window is closing if emissions are not reduced as quickly as possible,” Johnson said in an interview. “Scientists are rather alarmed.”

Many scientists, including at least three co-authors, said hitting 1.5 degrees is inevitable. “We are pretty much locked into 1.5,” said report co-author Malte Meinshausen, a climate scientist at the University of Melbourne in Australia. “There’s very little way we will be able to avoid crossing 1.5 C sometime in the 2030s ” but the big issue is whether the temperature keeps rising from there or stabilizes.

Guterres insisted “the 1.5-degree limit is achievable.” Science panel chief Hoesung Lee said so far the world is far off course.

“This report confirms that if the current trends, current patterns of consumption and production continues, then … the global average 1.5 degrees temperature increase will be seen sometime in this decade,” Lee said.

Scientists emphasize that the world, civilization or humanity won’t end suddenly if and when Earth passes the 1.5 degree mark. Mukherji said “it’s not as if it’s a cliff that we all fall off.” But an earlier IPCC report detailed how the harms – from Arctic sea ice absent summers to even nastier extreme weather – are much worse beyond 1.5 degrees of warming.

“It is certainly prudent to be planning for a future that’s warmer than 1.5 degrees,” said IPCC report review editor Steven Rose, an economist at the Electric Power Research Institute in the United States.

If the world continues to use all the fossil fuel-powered infrastructure either existing now or proposed Earth will warm at least 2 degrees Celsius since pre-industrial times, the report said.

Because the report is based on data from a few years ago, the calculations about fossil fuel projects already in the pipeline do not include the increase in coal and natural gas use after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. It comes a week after the Biden Administration in the United States approved the huge Willow oil-drilling project in Alaska, which could produce up to 180,000 barrels of oil a day.

The report and the underlying discussions also touch on the disparity between rich nations, which caused much of the problem because carbon dioxide emissions from industrialization stay in the air for more than a century, and poorer countries that get hit harder by extreme weather. Residents of poorer climate vulnerable nations are “up to 15 times more likely to die in floods, droughts and storms,” Lee said.

If the world is to achieve its climate goals, poorer countries need a three-to-six times increase in financial help to adapt to a warmer world and switch to non-polluting energy, Lee said. Countries have made financial pledges and promises of a damage compensation fund.

The report offers hope if action is taken, using the word “opportunity” nine times in a 27-page summary. Though opportunity is overshadowed by 94 uses of the word “risk.”

“The pace and scale of what has been done so far and current plans are insufficient to tackle climate change,” IPCC chief Lee said. ”We are walking when we should be sprinting.”

Lee said the panel doesn’t tell countries what to do to limit worse warming, adding “it’s up to each government to find the best solution.”

Activists also found grains of hope in the reports. “The findings of these reports can make us feel disheartened about the slow pace of emissions reductions, the limited transition to renewable energy and the growing, daily impact of the climate crisis on children,” said youth climate activist Vanessa Nakate, a goodwill ambassador for UNICEF. “But those children need us to read this report and take action, not lose hope.”

Peter Thorne, a researcher at the National University of Ireland in Maynooth and one of the report’s authors, said the responsibility for action rests with everyone. “The reality is we at all levels — governments, communities, individuals — have made climate change somebody else’s problem,” he said. “We have to stop that.”

Associated Press climate and environmental coverage receives support from several private foundations. See more about AP’s climate initiative here. The AP is solely responsible for all content.

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Woman bitten twice by deadly blue-ringed octopus, sent to Australia hospital

Woman bitten twice by deadly blue-ringed octopus, sent to Australia hospital



SYDNEY, Australia (WJW) – A woman swimming by a beach near Sydney, Australia, was taken to the hospital Thursday afternoon after she was bitten twice by an extremely venomous blue-ringed octopus, according to local reports.

The woman, who is in her 30s, picked up a shell while swimming at Chinamans Beach in Mosman, according to The Australian newspaper. The octopus, which was inside the shell, fell out and bit the woman in the stomach.

Paramedics quickly jumped into action to help the woman, who was experiencing abdominal pain around the bite. She was taken to a Royal North Shore hospital for treatment, according to The Australian, which obtained photos of the small octopus after capture.

According to the Australian Institute of Marine Science, blue-ringed octopus venom is extremely dangerous and stings have led to at least three known human deaths. Its venom is 1,000 times more potent than cyanide and could kill 26 humans within minutes, according to the Ocean Conservancy.

However, since death is usually the result of oxygen loss, experts say victims given mouth-to-mouth resuscitation normally survive.

Blue-ringed octopi only show off their iridescent blue markings when they’re about to dispense the deadly toxin. The Australian Institute of Marine Science says the golf ball-sized creatures will only bite if they are bothered or feel threatened.

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HHS announces more funding for low-income Americans for heating, cooling bills

HHS announces more funding for low-income Americans for heating, cooling bills

WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) — More assistance is on the way for low-income Americans who need help with their heating and cooling bills.

“It allows our families to have a bit of breathing room,” Office of Community Service Director Dr. Lanikque Howard said.

Dr. Howard says more than $500 million are being made available to cover the low-income home energy assistance program known as LIHEAP.

“LIHEAP makes home energy more affordable for those individuals who may be struggling to make ends meet,” Dr. Howard said.

The funds are in addition to the one billion awarded last month to help with crisis assistance and weatherization services, to make these homes energy efficient.

“To bring down those bills, but to reduce our energy consumption as well,” Dr. Howard said.

Dr. Howard says the money can also be used by communities to better prepare for unexpected weather events, like noreasters and heat waves.

“To really support households who might be in need after these kinds of natural disasters,” Dr. Howard said.

In the past year, LIHEAP served more than six million U.S. households.

“There’s just been a significant increase and uptick and the amount of applications that our grant recipients are receiving all across the country,” Dr. Howard said.

Dr. Howard says the new funds still won’t be enough to help all the eligible households, but she says she’s confident the administration and congress will continue to dedicate resources to the program.

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Damar Hamlin 'has every intention to play' this season, Bills GM says

Damar Hamlin 'has every intention to play' this season, Bills GM says

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — Bills safety Damar Hamlin is “dialed in” and intends to play this coming season, Bills general manager Brandon Beane said Thursday, two and a half months since Hamlin suffered cardiac arrest during a game against the Cincinnati Bengals.

Hamlin said around the time of the Super Bowl that he would like to return to football “eventually.” Beane’s comments were the strongest to date indicating Hamlin could suit up for the Bills in 2023.

“Had a great visit with him a couple days ago and he’s in great spirits,” Beane said. “He’s off the ‘world tour’ that he and I laughed about with all the sporting events [Hamlin was invited to] and everything else. He’s dialed in. He definitely has every intention to play.”

Hamlin was taken by ambulance to University of Cincinnati Medical Center after collapsing during the first quarter of a Jan. 2 game against the Bengals. The game was canceled.

Hamlin was held in intensive care for a week while “Prayers for 3” and donations to his charity poured in. He was deemed healthy enough to be transferred to a Buffalo hospital seven days after the incident; two days after that, he was released and allowed to continue recovering at home.

Beane said Hamlin still needs to be cleared by doctors, but is “trending in the right direction.”

“He’s got, I know of one more [doctor] visit,” Beane said. “I think they’ll get wrapped up some time in April, as it stands now — that could always change if he sees someone in April who says, hey, I want you to come back in May. But everything has checked out to this point so it’s trending in the right direction. But we’ll get him through all those and we’ll make sure all of our medical people are hearing all of those opinions on each visit and make sure that we’re all on the same page of what it would look like.

“But were rooting for him. He wants to do it and we want to see him do it. That’s probably where it’s at today.”

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