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DAILY DOSE: Monkeypox traced to raves; How to make cities healthier living spaces.


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Public health officials believe they are inching closer to determining how monkeypox managed to spread from parts of Africa where it is endemic to Europe and North America. According to the Associated Press, “In an interview with the Associated Press, Dr. David Heymann, who formerly headed WHO’s emergencies department, said the leading theory to explain the spread of the disease was sexual transmission among gay and bisexual men at two raves held in Spain and Belgium. Monkeypox has not previously triggered widespread outbreaks beyond Africa, where it is endemic in animals.” The current outbreak marks a significant departure from the disease’s typical pattern of spread in central and western Africa, where people are mainly infected by animals like wild rodents and primates and outbreaks have not spread across borders.


On the other hand, the cause of another global public health problem – the spike in serious hepatitis cases in children – continues to elude public health officials. At this point, it appears the closest explanation centers around the presence of a certain adenovirus strain in many, but notably not all, cases. Per the AP, “Conventional causes of liver inflammation in otherwise healthy kids — the viruses known as hepatitis A, B, C, D and E — didn’t show up in tests. What’s more, the children came from different places and there seemed to be no common exposures. What did show up was adenovirus 41. More than half of the U.S. cases have tested positive for adenovirus, of which there are dozens of varieties. In a small number of specimens tested to see what kind of adenovirus was present, adenovirus 41 came up every time. The fact that adenovirus keeps showing up strengthens the case for it playing a role, but it’s unclear how, Dr. Jay Butler, the CDC’s deputy director for infectious diseases, told The Associated Press.” This is very small consolation to parents out there who have spent the past two and a half-years shielding their children from Covid-19 and now have to add hepatitis to that list.


As wonderful as they may be, cities also carry significant downsides. One such downside is the potential unhealthiness aspects of city life presents its inhabitants. The latest issue of The Lancet Global Health addresses some of those problems. According to the introduction to the issue, “Ensuring and protecting health and wellbeing through improvements in the design of urban environments can only be achieved through the application of an integrated and multisectoral, multi-stakeholder approach, guided by policy frameworks that ensure that human and environmental health go hand in hand. Interventions on urban design and transport have the potential to provide large, long-lasting, and immediate benefits for health, and hence are key to healthy and sustainable urban environments for all. If designed with this perspective in mind, urban design and transport policies (along with other interventions) can provide multiple benefits, including: reducing the upward trajectory of greenhouse gas emissions, protecting the environment, fostering equity and intergenerational solidarity, and improving our resilience to future potential pandemics.”


Economist Joseph Stigletz has thrown his hat into the Covid-19 vaccination arena with an opinion piece in PLOS Global Public Health. In it, he makes the case for increased effort in the global Covid-19 vaccination drive. According to Stigletz, “Not only is our health at risk, but our economy is also at risk]. The economic losses from the pandemic have been, literally, in the trillions of dollars. And the International Monetary Fund (IMF) estimates that if the pandemic continues, we lose more trillions of dollars. This is an example of what I would call a “no brainer”. The benefit-to-cost ratio of ensuring that everybody in the world has access to the vaccine is enormous. The OECD estimates that it would cost us 50 billion dollars to ensure that everybody is vaccinated. The benefit would be in the trillions of dollars. And yet the richest countries in the world seem paralysed. They can’t provide the small amounts of money that are required to vaccinate the world.”


Consumer Artificial Intelligence apps are power-hungry monsters that can sap the energy out of a device in the blink of an eye (Okay so we’re exaggerating a little here, but you get the point). Never fear, Big Tech is on the problem. According to Science, they are working on a different type of microchip that can potentially solve the energy problem. According to the article, “Intel, IBM, and other chip makers have been experimenting with an alternative chip design, called neuromorphic chips. These process information like a network of neurons in the brain, in which each neuron receives inputs from others in the network and fires if the total input exceeds a threshold. The new chips are designed to have the hardware equivalent of neurons linked together in a network. AI programs also rely on networks of faux neurons, but in conventional computers, these neurons are defined entirely in software and therefore reside, virtually, in the computer’s separate memory chips.”

Thanks for reading. Let’s be careful out there.

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