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New Study Confirms Its Much Safer to Get Vaccinated Than to Catch Covid-19

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A vial of the Pfizer/BioNTech covid-19 vaccine

A vial of the Pfizer/BioNTech covid-19 vaccine
Photo: Jack Guez (Getty Images)

New research from Israel offers some unsurprising but reassuring news on the safety of covid-19 vaccines. The study found that the Pfizer/BioNTech mRNA vaccine was not associated with a higher risk of most potential adverse events. And for rare suspected complications such as myocarditis, the risk was still substantially higher in those who got covid-19.

When symptoms show up after taking a drug or vaccine, they’re known as adverse events. These events may be true side effects of a treatment, but they may have happened regardless of the drug. One key way to determine the risk of a potential side effect is to see how often a population of people who received the treatment experience these symptoms compared to those who didn’t take the treatment, the latter being a real-world control group. And that’s what these researchers did, combing through data from the largest health care system in Israel from the start of the vaccination campaign late last year. The study collectively involved more than a million people.

The researchers compared the rate of adverse events documented in vaccinated people to unvaccinated people matched up in age and other demographics. Ultimately, they found that the vaccine wasn’t associated with a higher risk of most adverse events in the 42 days after vaccination. There were some events with a stronger link to vaccination, though. These included appendicitis, swollen lymph nodes, and myocarditis (heart inflammation). But when the researchers then looked at people with confirmed covid-19 and compared them to vaccinated people, the difference was stark.

Potentially severe adverse events much more common in the infected than in the vaccinated. For instance, the rate of myocarditis in the vaccinated was 2.7 cases documented in every 100,000 people, but it was 11 cases per 100,000 in the infected—a fourfold difference. There were also other conditions that vaccinated people didn’t have any added risk of experiencing, but that were more likely to show up in people who contracted covid-19, such as heart attacks, kidney damage, and pulmonary embolisms.

“[O]ur results indicate that SARS-CoV-2 infection is itself a very strong risk factor for myocarditis, and it also substantially increases the risk of multiple other serious adverse events,” the authors wrote in their study, published Wednesday in the New England Journal of Medicine.

While it may seem obvious that taking a vaccine to gain immunity to a disease will be safer than catching the disease itself, it’s always important to keep an eye out for any major side effects that might have gone unnoticed in clinical trials.

Since their authorization last year, scientists have found that vaccinated people can have a higher risk of some adverse events that weren’t documented in the original clinical trials, including myocarditis in those who get an mRNA vaccine like the Pfizer or Moderna shot. And there have been cases of serious illness and even deaths linked to vaccines, such as the death of BBC journalist Lisa Shaw in May following a rare blood clotting condition tied to the AstraZeneca vaccine. But so far, all of the real-world data has shown that these sorts of serious events remain very rare, while covid-19 deaths and long-term complications are far more common. In the U.S. alone, vaccines may have prevented up to 140,000 deaths by early May. In other words, the benefits of covid-19 vaccination continue to vastly outweigh any risks.

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Number of People With Hypertension Has Doubled Since 1990, Stressful Report Finds

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A doctor taking a patient’s blood pressure measurement.

A doctor taking a patient’s blood pressure measurement.
Photo: Joe Raedle (Getty Images)

More and more people around the world are living with high blood pressure, new research this week finds. The study, based on data from nearly 200 countries, estimates that more than a billion adults globally had hypertension in 2019—double the number estimated in 1990. What’s more, more than half of these cases are going untreated, and few people are keeping it well-controlled.

High blood pressure is usually defined as consistently having systolic blood pressure 140 mm Hg or greater (the top number in a blood pressure reading) and diastolic blood pressure 90 mm Hg or greater (bottom number). Though it typically doesn’t cause any visible symptoms on its own, chronic hypertension can stress and damage the body, particularly the cardiovascular system, over time; this then raises the risk of other conditions like heart attack, stroke, and kidney disease. In the U.S. alone, hypertension was estimated to contribute to nearly 500,000 deaths in 2018.

The new research, published Tuesday in the Lancet, is the work of researchers from the NCD Risk Factor Collaboration (NCD-RisC), a network of scientists looking into the prevalence of major contributors to non-communicable diseases across the world. The group works closely with the World Health Organization and is coordinated by researchers from Imperial College London. Their study is intended to provide the first estimates of hypertension and how it’s being diagnosed, treated, and controlled in every country.

The team reviewed 1,201 studies of more than 100 million people between the ages of 30 and 79, spanning back 30 years in 184 countries—studies that had a nationally representative sample of participants. People were defined to have hypertension if they had a 140/90 and over blood pressure reading or if they were taking blood pressure medication. This data was then used to estimate rates of hypertension in 200 countries and territories throughout those years.

All told, they estimated that 1.27 billion people between ages 30 and 79 fit the bill for hypertension in 2019, up from 650 million in 1990. After adjusting for age (older people are more likely to have hypertension and people are generally living longer now than three decades ago), though, the global prevalence of hypertension didn’t significantly change during those years, with around a third of men and women estimated to have it back in 1990 as well as in 2019.

A diet high in sodium as well as a lack of exercise can contribute to high blood pressure, while other conditions, like diabetes, are risk factors. Aside from lifestyle changes, there are readily available drugs that can help control it. But the authors estimate more than half of all cases (720 million) currently go untreated, while only around 20% of people had their blood pressure well-controlled. Poorly managed or untreated hypertension only further raises the risk of health problems.

There were some local successes, with countries such as the UK, Spain, Canada, and Switzerland experiencing a sharp drop in their prevalence of hypertension since the 1990s. But many other countries worsened or stayed the same. In two countries, Paraguay and Tuvalu, more than 50% of women had hypertension in 2019, while over 50% of men had hypertension in nine countries, including Argentina, Hungary, and Paraguay. Just over a billion people with hypertension are thought to live in low- to middle-income countries.

The U.S. ranked 38th on the list of countries with the lowest prevalence of hypertension in 2019, with no major change in prevalence since 1990. In 2019, 29% of women and 34% of men were estimated to have hypertension. But it ranked 4th in actually treating it, with 73% of people getting some amount of care. In 2017, it should be noted, new guidelines from leading organizations in the U.S. recommended that hypertension be defined as having a minimum 130/80 reading, not 140/90. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, using these recommendations, instead estimates that 45% of American adults over 18 have hypertension.

“Despite medical and pharmacological advances over decades, global progress in hypertension management has been slow, and the vast majority of people with hypertension remain untreated, with large disadvantages in low- and middle-income countries,” said senior author Majid Ezzati, a researcher at Imperial College London, in a statement released by the Lancet.

Because some countries have been able to improve their high blood pressure problem during these years, with some middle-income countries now doing better than most wealthier countries, the authors do hold out hope that much more can be done to reduce its threat globally. But many of the best ways to combat hypertension will depend on sweeping structural changes within these countries, as well as ample financial resources.

“Policies that enable people in the poorest countries to access healthier foods—particularly reducing salt intake and making fruit and vegetables more affordable and accessible—alongside improving detection by expanding universal health coverage and primary care, and ensuring uninterrupted access to effective drugs, must be financed and implemented to slow the growing epidemic of high blood pressure in low- and middle-income countries,” Ezzati said.

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Anti-Vax Nurse Allegedly Injects 8,600 People With Salt Water

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People attend a protest rally in Berlin, Germany, Saturday, Aug. 29, 2020.

People attend a protest rally in Berlin, Germany, Saturday, Aug. 29, 2020.
Photo: Michael Sohn (AP)

A nurse in Germany has been accused of giving at least 8,6000 people saline solution when she was supposed to be administering the covid-19 vaccine, according to a report from the Guardian. The nurse reportedly posted anti-vaccine conspiracy theories on social media around the same time she was working for the Red Cross in March and April of this year.

The fake vaccine recipients are from the northern German district of Friesland and primarily elderly, a segment of the population which is most at risk of serious disease and death from covid-19.

Saline solution, which amounts to little more than salt water, isn’t harmful when injected in small doses, but being unvaccinated during a pandemic carries a large number of risks. Health officials are urging anyone who got vaccinated at the Roffhausen Vaccination Center to get vaccinated again.

According to some reports, the nurse is refusing to cooperate with police, which makes it even more difficult to determine how widespread her alleged deception was occurring.

“Since she remains silent with police, we do not know whether and to what extent she was manipulated during this period,” Claudia Schröder, a local public health official in Germany, said according to the New Zealand Herald.

The unnamed nurse has admitted to just six cases of tampering with the vaccines she was supposed to be giving up, but authorities believe it’s many more.

From the Washington Post:

The nurse, who has not been publicly identified, had initially admitted to giving six patients shots of saline solution after suspicions were raised in April. She said she did so to cover up the fact that she had dropped a vial of the Pfizer vaccine, German television channel NDR reported.

However, since antibody testing was carried out, a much wider group of people is suspected to have been affected. Police have also discovered that the woman, who worked with the Red Cross, had shared vaccine-skeptical posts on social media, NDR said.

The nurse reportedly posted anti-vaccine content to WhatsApp right around the time when she was working at the vaccination center.

“We then found three or four of her WhatsApp chats from April 21, right before the act, so we suspect that she did it,” Wilhelmshaven police officer Peter Beer told Euronews.

It’s not clear if the nurse has been arrested or charged with any crime.

Germany has fully vaccinated 55.61% of its population against covid-19, according to Johns Hopkins University, the 23rd best rate in the world. But there are still large pockets of anti-vaccine activists in Germany who stage protests against any restrictions put in place to mitigate spread of the virus. The U.S. has vaccinated 50.91% of its population, putting it at 30th in the world.

Germany has announced a handful of new measures this week in an effort to get more people vaccinated. The government will stop offering free rapid covid-19 tests on October 11, forcing the unvaccinated to pay for their own tests out of pocket. But who knows how that’s going to work out.

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Facebook News Consumers Are More Anti-Vaccine Than Fox Viewers

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Image for article titled Facebook News Consumers Are More Anti-Vaccine Than Fox News Viewers, Study Finds

Photo: At Washington, DC Facebook headquarters, activists [the Real Facebook Oversight Board] lay body bags and call for Facebook to stop disinformation that leads to Covid deaths on Wednesday, July. 28, 2021 in Washington. (Eric Kayne/AP Images for All the Citizens Ltd.) (AP)

Joe Biden might want to consider re-backpedaling after backpedaling his accusation that social media companies [Facebook] are “killing people” by spreading vaccine conspiracies and bunk. A new study suggests that Facebook’s news consumers are inordinately unwilling to get the covid-19 vaccine.

Facebook fired back at President Biden’s comment earlier this month with a blog post and a study from Carnegie Mellon University’s Delphi Group. It reported that, of millions of Facebook users, 85% of U.S.-based users were vaccinated or planned to get vaccinated. “President Biden’s goal was for 70% of Americans to be vaccinated by July 4,” they sniffed. “Facebook is not the reason this goal was missed.” Biden later clarified that misinformation is killing people.

But the study didn’t account for people who consume news through Facebook, potentially exposing them to its massive disinformation mill and targeting them with the content that Facebook believes will get the most engagement. The new study of that user group nudges Facebook off its high horse.

Researchers from numerous universities, specializing in various public health and political science-related fields, surveyed 20,669 people from all 50 states and D.C., between June and July 2021. They found that 25% of people who only got news from Facebook in the previous 24 hours say they won’t get vaccinated, putting it above only Newsmax (41%) and slightly below Fox (23%).

Image for article titled Facebook News Consumers Are More Anti-Vaccine Than Fox News Viewers, Study Finds

An alarmingly high portion of people got their news (“news”) through Facebook. About a third (31%) had consumed news from Facebook over the past 24 hours, ranking Facebook as the second-largest news provider below CNN. Researchers didn’t define Facebook “news,” which could range from anything from user-generated content to Tucker Carlson to the New York Times.

Image for article titled Facebook News Consumers Are More Anti-Vaccine Than Fox News Viewers, Study Finds

As researcher David Lazer, political science and computer science professor at Northeastern University, pointed out to Gizmodo, Facebook’s numbers simply align with overall population data. “The 85% figure, depending on the threshold [the Delphi Group] used, roughly matches our numbers for the general population for being ‘potentially’ willing to get vaccinated,” he wrote. “Indeed, most surveys find about 15% of the population that is really hardcore that says they will never get the vaccine.”

Facebook and Delphi’s numbers (including people probably willing to get vaccinated) gel with the CDC’s report that nearly 70% of the U.S. adult population has received at least one dose of the vaccine and the Kaiser Family Foundation’s finding that 16% of U.S. residents don’t plan to get the vaccine unless forced to. Facebook’s estimate of 85% of users who got vaccinated or are willing to get it matches up.

Facebook could clean up the site, and activists and researchers have been telling it, for a year, about the culprits. And if it really wants to place the blame on users, it could stop algorithmically recommending the most “engaging” content, be it from Ben Shapiro or Aunt Charlene. Facebook will never be able to say it’s done everything it can to fight misinformation as long as it continues recommending content as a business practice. A March 2021 report by the Center for Countering Digital Hate found that 73% of vaccine disinformation originated from just twelve people. Today, the activist group Real Facebook Oversight backed up those findings with a report that over 83% of posts with the most engagement this quarter came from five disinformation spreaders.

That group also dropped a bunch of body bags at Facebook’s door this morning, pictured above. Facebook’s policy communications director Andy Stone tweeted that they’re out for “cheap stunts” and linked to the insubstantial blog post stating that 85% of U.S. Facebook users are vaccinated.

There’s no way to prove that people are dying specifically because of pieces of information they read on Facebook, but associating a primary vaccine disinformation source with death is not a performative exaggeration. As covid-19 case rates are doubling and tripling, especially in states with paltry vaccination rates like Louisiana and Mississippi and Alabama, we’re reading daily reports of sufferers who wished they’d gotten the vaccine on their deathbeds. Doctors are pleading with the public to reconsider.

A pastor told Dallas-Fort Worth’s Fox News affiliate that he regretted believing disinformation after a brush with death. A 27-year-old who suffered a severe case said he’d believed he didn’t need the vaccine because he was young and fit. One mother who nearly died told ClickOrlando.com that she let disinformation-spreaders influence her with government conspiracy theories. A grieving mother recounted her 28-year-old son’s dying words to the Washington Post: “This is not a hoax, this is real.”

Facebook has historically chosen to sweep criticism under the rug with broad statistics about disinformation it’s removed and its number of moderators and pledges to change and add labels, but none of that translates to meaningful responsibility as a leading news source.

So Facebook’s hands-off attitude has reached Executive Branch intervention time. Earlier this month, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki told reporters that, fine, the Biden Administration will do the job. She said they’re tracking covid-19 misinformation on Facebook and are making a series of recommendations for the company, and days later, Facebook told Biden to quit “finger-pointing.”



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FDA Backpedals on Aduhelm Approval, Now Says Only Early Alzheimer’s Patients Should Get It

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A doctor pointing to PET scans of people’s brains.

A doctor pointing to PET scans of people’s brains.
Photo: Matt York (AP)

The Food and Drug Administration is altering its recent and controversial approval of a new drug for Alzheimer’s disease. The agency is now recommending that the drug, called Aduhelm and developed by Biogen, only be given to people in the earliest stages of the ultimately fatal neurodegenerative condition. The decision will greatly influence insurance coverage of the treatment, which is expected to cost $56,000 a year.

The move comes barely a month after the agency first approved the drug against the recommendations of an outside panel that reviewed the clinical trial evidence. Since then, researchers and lawmakers have criticized the FDA, with some calling the approval the worst decision of its kind made in recent history.

Among other things, critics have pointed to the lackluster data supporting Aduhelm’s benefits, with only one trial finding statistically significant evidence of slower cognitive decline in patients, and only in those who took the highest dose (the second trial didn’t find an overall slower decline but possibly some nonsignificant effect in high-dose patients).

Another major criticism of the FDA approval concerned the eligibility of the drug. Despite only being tested for people with mild cognitive impairment or early suspected Alzheimer’s, the FDA originally indicated it would be recommended for any patient, no matter how far along their disease was. The language fueled worries that broad use of the possibly ineffective drug would overwhelm public payers like Medicare, which provides health coverage for the majority of the estimated 5 million Americans currently living with Alzheimer’s. Now, the FDA is pulling back on its blanket endorsement.

“Since the agency approved Aduhelm, prescribers and other stakeholders have expressed confusion regarding the intended population for treatment,” FDA spokesperson Michael Felberbaum told the New York Times.

In its now updated label on prescribing the drug, the FDA recommends that Aduhelm be “initiated in patients with mild cognitive impairment or mild dementia stage of disease, the population in which treatment was initiated in clinical trials.” According to the NYT, the FDA sought the change, with Biogen agreeing to submit revised language. Previously, the company claimed that it would only market the drug to patients with early Alzheimer’s.

Doctors are allowed to prescribe drugs off-label, meaning that patients with more advanced Alzheimer’s disease may still gain access to Aduhelm. But the new labeling is almost certain to be widely adopted by insurance companies and payers like Medicare in determining coverage for Aduhelm.

This decision won’t settle the controversy over the drug’s approval, which some scientists fear will discourage research into other, potentially more effective treatments. More recently, STAT News has reported on a longstanding collaboration between certain FDA officials and Biogen before and during the approval process, which included discussions to submit the drug through a less rigorous pathway for approval. In response, lawmakers such as Rep. Katie Porter (D-CA) have called for a formal investigation into the FDA by the Office of the Inspector General, a government watchdog agency.



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Minnesota Offers Free State Fair Tickets and More to Vaccinated

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Illustration for article titled Minnesota Offers Most Minnesotan Prizes Ever During Vaccine Drive

Photo: AP Photo/Jim Mone (AP)

The governor of Minnesota has announced his state is offering free fishing licenses, free tickets to the State Fair, and plenty more to the first 100,000 residents who get vaccinated for covid-19 between now and June 30. The complete list of freebies is the most Minnesotan thing you’ve ever seen, don’tcha know.

Ohio was the first state announce a big prize giveaway earlier this month—a lottery with five $1 million prizes available for any lucky residents who get vaccinated against covid-19 and have their name drawn. Ohio announced the winner of the first drawing on Wednesday, and still has $4 million more to give away, along with four more college scholarships for vaccinated kids 12 to 17 years old.

Ohio saw a huge surge in vaccinations after the lottery was announced, inspiring states like Oregon and Colorado to offer their own cash prizes, but states like Minnesota have decided to go a different route with their incentives. And what Minnesota’s prizes lack in cash they make up for in pure Minnesota-ness™.

“We’ve had great success in our state so far with more than 2.5 million Minnesotans fully vaccinated, and we want to build on that success and get the broad community protection needed for everyone to have the fun, safe summer they want,” Minnesota Governor Tim Walz said in a press release on Thursday.

“Whether it’s fishing, exploring our state parks, taking the family to a ball game or the Minnesota State Fair, we want to help get you there safely. So roll up your sleeves, make that vaccine appointment, and pick your reward, Minnesota—this is your shot to summer,” Walz continued.

The list of freebies, according to the governor’s website, are available to any Minnesota residents 12 years old and up who get their first vaccination shot between now and June 30. Minnesotans can register for the rewards online after getting the vaccination.

The complete list really is the pinnacle of Minnesota recreational activities, from Valley Fair amusement park and the Minnesota Zoo to the Mall of America and fishing licenses.

The full list of possible freebies is below:

Great Lakes Aquarium Pass

  • Eligible for one entrance to the Great Lakes Aquarium in Duluth. Valid until July 1, 2023. The Minnesota Department of Health will provide recipients’ contact information to the Aquarium which will mail tickets to Minnesotans who select this option.

Mall of America Nickelodeon Universe Pass

  • Eligible for a 30-point ride pass at Nickelodeon Universe that can be redeemed through September 1, 2021. The Minnesota Department of Health will provide recipients’ contact information to Mall of America who will send information to redeem the pass.

Minnesota Fishing License

  • Eligible for one individual Minnesota resident annual fishing license effective through February 2022. Must be redeemed by July 30, 2021. Recipient must be eligible to hold a Minnesota fishing license. The Minnesota Department of Health will provide recipients’ contact information to the Department of Natural Resources which will reach out to Minnesotans to complete their fishing license application.

Minnesota State Parks Pass

  • Eligible for one Minnesota State Parks annual pass. Minnesotans will receive the pass in the mail from the Department of Natural Resources. The Minnesota Department of Health will provide recipients’ contact information to the Department of Natural Resources which will mail the State Parks pass.

Minnesota Zoo Admission

  • Eligible for one adult admission at the Minnesota Zoo through September 8. The Minnesota Department of Health will provide recipients’ contact information to the Minnesota Zoo which will email information in order for Minnesotans to redeem their admission.

Northwoods Baseball League Tickets

  • Eligible for one reserved ticket to attend a Northwoods League baseball game during the 2021 season. The Minnesota Department of Health will provide recipients’ contact information to the Northwoods League and Minnesotans will call the ticket office of the team they select and provide their full name and address for verification to reserve their ticket. Tickets are based on availability at the time of calling. Participating teams include the Rochester Honkers, Willmar Stingers, Mankato MoonDogs, St. Cloud Rox and the Duluth Huskies.

State Fair Tickets

  • Eligible for two admission tickets to the 2021 Minnesota State Fair. The Minnesota Department of Health will provide recipients’ contact information to the State Fair which will email tickets no later than July 16, 2021.

Valleyfair Single-Day Admission

  • Valid for one Valleyfair admission ticket and the chance to purchase additional tickets for the same date at a discounted rate during the 2021 season. The Minnesota Department of Health will provide a unique code via email in order for Minnesotans to redeem this offer.

Visa Card

  • Eligible for a $25 Visa Card to be used anywhere Visa is accepted. Minnesotans will receive the cards by mail or email from the Minnesota Department of Health or a State of Minnesota Vendor.

Minnesota currently ranks 11th in the country for covid-19 vaccinations, with 44.86% of the eligible population fully vaccinated. The best performing state is Vermont, with 53.59% of the population vaccinated.

Minnesota hopes to get 70% of Minnesotans over the age of 16 vaccinated with at least one shot by July 1, according to Governor Walz. And if you only count Minnesotans 16 and over and include everyone who’s gotten just one shot, about 64% of Minnesotans have been vaccinated, according to Minnesota Public Radio.

If you’re in Minnesota and haven’t gotten vaccinated against covid-19 yet, now’s your time to shine. Aside from not potentially dying a painful death, you can even get some freebies out of it.

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More Evidence Links ‘Cat Scratch’ Bacteria and Schizophrenia

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Illustration for article titled More Evidence Links 'Cat Scratch' Bacteria and Schizophrenia

Photo: Christopher Furlong (Getty Images)

New research is the latest to find evidence of a link between mental illness and infections caused by a group of bacteria commonly found in cats and other animals. The small study found that people with diagnosed schizophrenia and schizoaffective disorder were more likely to carry Bartonella bacteria in their bloodstream than a control group of patients. More research is needed to definitively show whether these infections can indeed contribute to mental illness, however.

Acute infections involving Bartonella bacteria can be especially serious for people in poor health or with weakened immune systems. In most people, it’s thought they only cause mild and short-lasting illness. For years, though, Ed Breitschwerdt and his fellow researchers at North Carolina State University have theorized that the health effects of these infections can run deeper in at least some unlucky people.

Their previous work has highlighted the case of a 14-year-old boy who suddenly developed schizophrenia-like symptoms and was later found to carry a species of Bartonella known for causing cat-scratch fever. In that case, the boy’s severe psychiatric problems seemed to clear up once his chronic Bartonella infection was treated with antibiotics. Last year, they published research finding that other people with similar neuropsychiatric symptoms often carried these bacteria, along with physical symptoms of an ongoing infection that appeared around the same time, such as distinct skin lesions.

For this new research, the NC State researchers worked with researchers from the University of North Carolina. Their study, published last week in Vector-Borne and Zoonotic Diseases, compared 17 people with diagnosed schizophrenia or schizoaffective disorder to a control group of 13 healthy people, in what’s known as a case-control study.

According to the study, both groups were given a comprehensive examination. This included the use of more sensitive PCR testing, which looks for the DNA presence of pathogens in our blood. Bartonella are somewhat odd among bacteria, since they’re capable of infecting and then hiding inside our body’s cells (red blood cells, in the case of Bartonella). This disappearing trick allows them to survive undetected from the immune system, and it also makes conventional tests worse at spotting an active infection. Last year, Breitschwerdt and his colleagues published research showing that this newer testing technique, called droplet digital, or ddPCR, testing, could be more accurate at identifying Bartonella than older tests.

In 11 of the 17 people with schizophrenia or schizoaffective disorder, traces of Bartonella DNA could be found, while the same was only true for one of the 13 control patients. Though cats, dogs, and even the fleas they carry can possibly be vectors for Bartonella transmission, the team didn’t find any link between a higher chance of infection and reported pet ownership or flea exposure.

The team is careful to describe their work as a pilot study, solely meant to prove that further investigation into this link is worthwhile. But coupled with their earlier research, Breitschwerdt believes the case for this theory is only getting stronger.

“Our research to date continues to support a role for Bartonella species as a cause or co-factor in neuropsychiatric illness,” Breitschwerdt told Gizmodo in an email.

However, he added: “There is a lot of work that needs to be accomplished to clarify these preliminary results.”

The team is already working on validating ddPCR testing for other groups of bacteria that can invade the bloodstream and may be harder to find with standard testing. With more funding and cooperation with other research centers, they also hope to carry out a larger study comparing people with and without schizophrenia.

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Medical Confessions with Philip DeFranco



During my latest LA trip I hit up Philip Defranco to collab and I thought of no better game to play than medical confessions! This is a spin on the game true confessions from late-night TV. This one’s full of guaranteed laughs!

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If you have an idea of something you want me to cover in-depth, please let me know because I take your requests seriously. We will be back with more Medical Drama Review/Responding to comments Series in a couple of weeks, so please submit more names of shows/questions you’d like for me to watch/answer. I love you all! – Doctor Mike Varshavski

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