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3 dead in listeria outbreak, plus what we’re still learning about COVID

The Executive Briefing - Tuesday, July 25th

Health News:

  • 3 people died in a listeria outbreak in Washington state, with two more hospitalized. They have not identified the food source. All five were over 60 and immunocompromised. (NY Times)
  • Persistent exposure to heat can cause chronic health problems. (Washington Post)
  • One in six kids with COVID had persistent symptoms 3 months after they got infected. (Pediatrics)
  • Vaccine politics led Republicans to have a “significantly higher” rate of excess COVID deaths in Florida and Ohio than Democrats, a new study found. (Axios)
  • Congressional Democrats are asking OSHA to issue new heat safety standards for indoor and outdoor workplaces. (Reuters)
  • Heart attack risk is much higher on days with extreme heat and days with extreme air pollution. (WSJ)
  • Trader Joe’s issued recalls for two types of cookies that could contain rocks. (NPR)
  • Hep C infection during pregnancy rose sharply after the opioid epidemic began. (CIDRAP)
  • The White House launched a permanent pandemic preparedness program. (STAT)
  • A new study from Harvard and NYU found that a new pandemic could easily start in the US, given how humans, livestock, and wild animals interact here. (USA Today)
  • Long COVID patients performed worse on cognitive tests for up to 2 years. (CIDRAP)

Mental Health News:

  • The Biden administration proposed new rules to push insurers to increase mental health treatment coverage. (AP)
  • Heat waves affect mental health, linked to more ER visits for certain types of mental health crises. (Vox)
  • San Francisco saw a 30% increase in calls after the new 988 helpline went live. (Axios)

If you or someone you know may be considering suicide or need help, call 988 or message the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741741.

Best Questions

We have restaurants in the Puget Sound, WA area near the Listeria cases. What should we know?

There have been five confirmed cases of Listeria, leading to three deaths. The cases are pretty spread out, from late February through late June, though genome sequencing indicates that they had the same source of infection from food. It can take weeks for symptoms to develop after eating contaminated food. Previous outbreaks of listeria in the US have been tied to deli meats and cheeses, ice cream, and leafy greens. For now, there’s nothing specific identified, so the best bet to prevent Listeria is to follow standard food safety guidelines to prevent cross-contamination, ensure proper hot and cold holding temps, and focus on handwashing. There are certain foods that are more likely to have Listeria, including hot dogs, cold cuts, unpasteurized milk and soft cheeses (feta, queso fresco, brie, etc.), pâtés and meat spreads, smoked seafood, and enoki mushrooms. If you’re local in the Puget Sound area, you may consider cutting unnecessary high-risk items from your menus until the source is identified, but we don’t think that’s a requirement.
Sources: NY Times, CDC, WA DOH

Who should get the new RSV vaccine or treatment?

The exciting new RSV vaccine is recommended for adults 60 years and older. That will be available in the fall, and we recommend that you get the RSV, flu, and updated COVID vaccines before the holidays. Almost at the same time, the FDA approved a new antibody drug to prevent RSV in babies in their first year, with the option to give another dose in their second RSV season for babies at particularly high medical risk for RSV. And in even more good news, an RSV vaccine to protect newborns that’s given to mothers is expected to go up for FDA approval in August. We’ll share more on that if it’s approved. If you have a newborn, talk to your pediatrician about the new RSV drug this fall. If you’re 60 or older, add RSV to your list of annual fall shots.
Source: NPR, FDA

I can’t find my own vaccination records. Do I need a polio booster if there are cases in my area?

The short answer is: probably not. If you have kids, make sure they’re vaccinated for polio as part of their routine vaccination schedule. Adults who believe they are unvaccinated for polio should complete a primary series with IPV. But most adults who were born and raised in the US can assume they were vaccinated as kids. The CDC has said that adults who received any childhood vaccines can assume they were vaccinated for polio. Adults who have received a primary series of polio vaccination and are at increased risk can talk with their doctor and may choose to get a single booster dose (the only one they’ll need in their lifetime). Increased risk for polio generally means traveling to an area where it’s endemic or being a lab or healthcare worker.  
Source: CDC

Best Read:

Could the Next Pandemic Start at the County Fair? | The New York Times

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Disclaimer: This post is meant for general information and educational purposes only and does not constitute, and is not intended as, any form of medical, legal or regulatory advice or a recommendation or suggestion regarding the same.  No recipient of this information should act or refrain from acting on the basis of this information without first seeking legal advice from counsel in the relevant jurisdiction.