FILE PHOTO: A computer image created by Nexu Science Communication in association with Trinity College in Dublin shows a structurally representative model of a betacoronavirus, a type of virus associated with COVID-19, associated with the Wuhan outbreak Known as Coronavirus, shared with Reuters on February 18, 2020. NEXU VIA SCIENCE COMMUNICATIONS / REUTERS / FILE PHOTOS
COVID-19 often occurs inadvertently in frontline hospital workers.
A high proportion of COVID-19 infections appear to be disproportionately among US health workers, according to a report on Monday, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s weekly morbidity and mortality report. Between April and June, among more than 3,000 frontline workers in 12 states, 1 in 20 had antibody evidence of roughly previous COVID-19 infection, but 69% of those infections were never diagnosed. Among those with antibodies to the novel coronavirus, about one-third did not remember symptoms in the preceding months, about half did not suspect they were infected, and some two-thirds had never tested positive COVID-19. Infections among frontline healthcare personnel may be undesirable, the study authors say, because some infections may be only minimally symptomatic or asymptomatic, and also because personnel with symptoms may not always have access to the test. COVID-19 antibodies were common among fewer workers who reported a face covering for all patient encounters and more common among those reporting a lack of personal protective equipment. Researchers call for more frequent testing of health workers and universal use of face coverings in hospitals. (Bit.ly/2DizVKk)
Virus can worsen heartbeat, contractions
Following recent reports that new coronoviruses may attack heart muscle cells, it is revealed that infected cells show impairment in function. In test tube experiments, researchers infected “myocytes” or heart muscle cells with new coronoviruses and found that before the infected cells died, they progressively lost their “electrophysiological and contractile properties.” This means that they have trouble transmitting electrical impulses that control the heartbeat and shorten or lengthen their fibers to contract to expand the heart and pump blood. In a research posted online on Sunday on biorexives ahead of peer review, researchers noted that their test tube experiments likely do not reveal what happens to cells in the body, and to confirm their findings More research is needed. Nevertheless, he says, their results suggest that the cardiovascular symptom virus has a direct effect in COVID-19 patients and warns that “long-term cardiac complications may be possible in patients recovering from the disease.” (Bit.ly/31KM0Ba)
Eye symptoms are common in children with COVID-19
Children with COVID-19 often have symptoms such as eye itching, discharge, or pink eye, a study in China suggests. Doctors found that 216 children were hospitalized with COVID-19 in Wuhan. Eye problems were higher in children with other symptoms such as cough or fever. In all cases, eye problems were mild and eventually went away without treatment or with “minimal” eye drops, researchers reported in JMA ophthalmology. It is reassuring that most children previously had other symptoms, with the head of pediatric ophthalmology at Mount Sinai Health System in New York City, Drs. Said Douglas Fredrick, who was not involved in the study. If conjunctivitis, or pink eye, were always among the first symptoms, “we would be more concerned that children could spread it from one child to another with pink eye,” he told Reuters. Nevertheless, he said, the study does not completely rule out that type of broadcast. (Bit.ly/3gtuZjn)
Cell phone activity can predict COVID-19 prevalence
Cell phone usage patterns suggest that when people stay indoors, the rate of coronovirus infection decreases, researchers say. For a study published Monday in JAMA Internal Medicine, they analyzed publicly available day-identifiable cell phone activity and location data in 2,740 counties across the United States between January and May. After mid-February, when the outbreak of coronovirus began, cell phone activity declined significantly at workplaces, shops and restaurants, and mass transit stations and increased homes – in areas with high rates of COVID-19 The biggest initial changes were seen. Two weeks after relocating away from workplaces and retail locations, counties with the most obvious changes had the lowest rates of new COVID-19 cases. The researchers stated, “While perhaps reassuring, cell phone activity at grocery stores and in areas classified as parks was not strongly associated with growth rates in COVID-19 cases. They speculate that publicly available cell phones Location data can help to better predict the growth rate of COVID-19 and to inform decisions about implementing shutdown and reopening. (Bit.ly/32EBdYB)
Open tmsnrt.rs/3a5EyDh in an external browser for a Reuters graphic on treatments in vaccines and development.
Reporting by Nancy Lapid and Linda Carroll; Editing by Bill Burcott