From the race to roll-out coronavirus vaccinations around the world, to other concerns such as mental health and measles, BBC Health Reporter Smitha Mundasad looks at the health challenges facing the world in the next year.
The common cold is the most common human disease in the world. So, why haven’t we found a cure yet?!
Called human rhinoviruses, these respiratory viruses measure between 15 to 30 nanometers in diameter, making them some of the smallest types of viruses out there. And it’s partly thanks to the viruses’ genetic makeup that they’re so good at replicating.
Human rhinoviruses travel like most other respiratory viruses via nasal secretions, which can be released through sneezing, or through contact with fomites, which are surfaces like a keyboard or a doorknob that can help spread the virus from one person to another. From there, all it takes is for a hand to touch one of the body’s mucous membranes like the eyes, nose, or mouth and bam — the virus has gained entry.
Soon after infection, coughing, sneezing, headaches, a mild fever and body aches can soon follow. And these symptoms may easily be confused with those of the flu. But unlike the flu, where symptoms start quite suddenly, it can take a couple of days for cold symptoms to fully develop. And they usually last anywhere from 7 to 14 days.
Our skin is home to billions of microorganisms, the vast majority of which are bacteria. Much like the microbiome in our gut, these microbes play a crucial part in keeping us healthy. They are part of a finely balanced ecosystem of friendly or ‘commensal’ bacteria, which protect our skin by creating an inhospitable environment for would-be invaders, bolstering the physical integrity of the skin, and training the immune system to distinguish commensal inhabitants from pathogens. A number of skin conditions are now understood to be influenced by a breakdown of this microbial ecosystem. Researchers are working out whether restoring the balance can treat these conditions. Understanding the ecology of this rich community is likely to be an important part of both dermatology and the study of the microbiome. Read more in https://www.nature.com/collections/sk…
Screening testing is one tool the University of Pennsylvania is using to help reduce the risk of COVID-19 spread within the University community. That’s why we’re performing saliva-based viral testing for students, faculty, postdocs, and staff who are on campus.
Statins are a type of medication used to lower the level of bad cholesterol in the blood and reduce build-up in arteries that can cause a heart attack or stroke. This short animated video explains the importance of statins, how they work, and why your doctor may prescribe them.
Health experts say having a vaccine is just one front in a two-front battle against COVID-19. The other is effective treatments for those who are already sick with the disease. WSJ breaks down the three most promising types in development. Photo Illustration: Jacob Reynolds/WSJ.
Do you have good or bad microbiome? Or do you have the microbiome you deserve?
Gut Microbiome, the new Open Access journal from Cambridge University Press and The Nutrition Society has published its first papers, including the animated abstract above from the paper: Hill, C. (2020) “You have the microbiome you deserve,” Gut Microbiome, Cambridge University Press, 1, p. e3.
Access the paper here: https://bit.ly/3bFOjc7
Public health organizations track the spread of coronavirus and use graphs and charts to visualize the data. WSJ’s Brianna Abbott explains what to look for in the data to understand how the virus is impacting your community.
Photo illustration: Laura Kammermann/WSJ