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Covid-19

Can Dogs Detect the Coronavirus?

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An innovative way to test the coronavirus could include trained dogs sniffing out those possibly infected with the virus. Last month a new study was announced in the U.K. by a team of researchers from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (LSHTM), the registered charity Medical Detection Dogs, and Durham University, to study the possibility of dogs to sniff out the coronavirus for screening efforts.

Due to the keen sense of smell from canines, this could help them detect the virus with high accuracy. A dog has around 125 to 300 million scent glands, while a human has about 5 million scent glands. This means a dog’s sense of smell is approximately 1,000 to 100,000 times more sensitive than a human’s.

Previous research has proven that dogs can identify lung cancer faster than doctors in clinical samples. Dogs can detect lung cancer in patients better than physicians’ “most advanced technology”. Other studies conducted by the same team stated that dogs are great at sniffing out infectious diseases, especially malaria, according to Prof. James Logan, head of the Department of Disease Control at LSHTM. Researchers are crowdfunding their study efforts to train medical detection dogs to screen individuals for COVID-19.

Scientists addressed the uncertainty if the virus is at all detectable through body odors, but prior knowledge of other respiratory illnesses, professionals hypothesize that it could be.

“It’s early days for COVID-19 odor detection. We do not know if COVID-19 has a specific odor yet. Still, we know that other respiratory diseases change our body odor, so there is a chance that it does,” explains Prof. Logan.

The researchers suggest that specially trained medical detection dogs could supplement the effort to screen for COVID-19 in the future. Trained dogs may be able to sniff up to 250 people an hour, rendering a quick and noninvasive screening process.

Researchers explained that the dogs’ would undergo training, including sniffing out odor samples from individuals with COVID-19 and teaching them to recognize the smells linked with the disease.

Dogs can distinguish who is ill because they can sense small differences in skin temperature, which can help to detect who has a fever. If successful in training, researchers believe that medical detection canines may be capable of screening for the infectious disease after just six weeks of training

In the future, scientists discussed that specially trained dogs could provide services in airports where they could “sniff out” travelers who may be infected with SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, according to Prof. Steve Lindsay from Durham University. Lindsay believes this could help prevent the re-emergence of the disease after establishing control over the virus. 

Regarding the new initiative, Claire Guest co-founder and CEO of Medical Detection Dogs commented on the future of the effort “In principle, we’re sure that dogs could detect COVID-19. We are now looking into how we can safely catch the odor of the virus from patients and present it to the dogs.”  Guest stated that the goal of the initiative is to have dogs identify the disease in those who are asymptomatic and notify officials if they need to be tested.

The initiative could provide a noninvasive screening process to help detect the coronavirus and reserve testing resources for those who need to be tested. 

Do you think this could help identify COVID-19 cases? Let us know in the comments below!

Sources: 

  1. https://www.medicaldetectiondogs.org.uk/
  2. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/could-dogs-help-detect-covid-19#Dogs-could-revolutionize-diagnostics

Covid-19

Disinfecting Medical Masks and N95 Respirator Masks

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The use of the protective medical gear is essential for healthcare professionals to keep them safe, considering the novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) spreads primarily via droplets

Respiratory viruses are spread through droplets that are dispersed by infected individuals through coughing and sneezing. Due to the current coronavirus pandemic and using protective equipment, there has been a significant shortage of masks. The lack of face masks makes it difficult for healthcare professionals to remain protected against the infectious disease. 

How can masks be disinfected and re-used?

To conserve face masks, healthcare workers are currently extending face masks use to more than one patient encounter though they are considered ‘single-’use’ items. This method may increase the risk of infection due to the constant face mask touching, which may become contaminated after prolonged use. Frequent use increases the chances the masks’ surfaces could become infected with virus particles, which can lead to infection if the user touches these surfaces and then touches their face

The possibility of disinfecting and reusing masks as a method of prolonging their use has recently been considered. Systematic scientific research is necessary to clearly define the best possible methods to decontaminate the masks while maintaining the masks’ integrity to ensure they stay effective each use. 

Using steam and heat for decontamination

A recent study reported that wrapping N95 masks in protective peel pouches and then steam sterilizing them may be a successful disinfection method. Another study tested the sterilizing masks process, where N95 respirator masks and medical masks were placed in plastic bags and steamed on a pot of boiling water for five minutes

This disinfecting process keeps the masks dry, ensuring they remained effective while the researchers found a total inactivation of avian coronaviruses that were used to simulate contamination. Furthermore, researchers investigated whether a rice cooker could be used to steam-sterilize masks, comparing this with dry-heat decontamination

The steam treatment took 15 minutes max, which included five minutes of active steaming. Dry heat contamination was conducted in an oven by exposing the masks to 100-degree heat for approximately 15 minutes. The researchers found the steam treatment to be a preferred method of decontaminating the masks compared to the dry heat. Researchers reported that the steaming method was more effective than UV light decontamination. This study did not evaluate the effectiveness of the masks following decontamination.

Decontamination using UV irradiation has been used before for drinking water and air. A recent study found that using a UV-C disinfection cabinet effectively decontaminated N95 masks by using a 31-minute decontamination cycle.

Another study utilizing a UV-C germicidal lamp, researchers found that this method could achieve the decontamination of masks with SARS-CoV-2 particles. Researchers reported that the decontamination of masks took longer than hard surfaces. It may also depend on how contaminated the masks are, to begin with.

Sources: 

  1. https://medicalnewsbulletin.com/can-masks-be-disinfected-and-reused/
  2. https://wordofhealth.com/2020/03/27/3d-printing-to-help-with-surgical-mask-shortage/
  3. https://wordofhealth.com/2020/06/17/how-to-fix-this-type-of-n95-mask-to-limit-the-spread-of-the-coronavirus/
  4. https://wordofhealth.com/2020/04/04/do-i-need-a-face-mask/

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Covid-19

Pink Eye Symptom of COVID-19

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Those diagnosed with COVID-19 can experience mild to moderate symptoms. Just recently, Canadian scientists have come across new information and have identified pink eye as a primary symptom of COVID-19

Internationally there have been over 8.5 million cases of COVID-19 recorded and more than 465,000 deaths. In January, when the first cases were reported, the World Health Organization compared the virus to other respiratory illnesses such as SARS and MERS. Symptoms, including fever, cough, fatigue, headache, and diarrhea.

One symptom not widely reported is conjunctival congestion, which has been found in 0.8% of COVID-19 patients. One Chinese expert in the early investigation of Wuhan COVID-19 patients contracted the virus even though he wore an N95 mask. However, he did not wear protective eye gear. Before displaying any respiratory signs of COVID-19, he developed a red-eye.

Researchers from the University of Alberta Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry published a case study recently that discovered pink eye is an early symptom of COVID-19. The study was published in the Canadian Journal of Ophthalmology.

The study focused on a young woman who came back from a one-month vacation to the Philippines in February. A day after she returned, she started experiencing congestion, a runny nose, and pink eye symptoms in her right eye, but no fever. She went to her family physician the first day symptoms began and was referred to an ophthalmologist. When she visited the ophthalmologist, her pink eye symptoms had worsened and tested negative for strep. She was given a prescription to treat her pink eye.

Her symptoms were still not improving, and her physician tested her for other diseases that can result in pink eye and returned negative. Health authority recommendations testing for COVID-19 had been updated to include any out of country travel which prompted her to be tested. The young woman tested positive for COVID-19

This case study highlights the potential risk for healthcare professionals for increased chances of infection not only through established pathways of air and person to person contact but including transmission through the eyes. The study also presents evidence of pink eye as a symptom of COVID-19.

Authors of the study advise that all healthcare practitioners wear appropriate eye protection and other forms of personal protective equipment. Proper disinfecting methods should also be followed for any patient presenting symptoms of pink eye. 

Sources: 

  1. https://wordofhealth.com/2020/05/14/how-does-covid-19-affect-the-lungs/
  2. https://medicalnewsbulletin.com/pink-eye-a-symptom-of-covid-19/
  3. https://www.cdc.gov/conjunctivitis/about/symptoms.html
  4. https://www.canadianjournalofophthalmology.ca/article/S0008-4182(20)30305-7/fulltext
  5. https://www.ualberta.ca/medicine
  6. https://wordofhealth.com/2020/06/17/how-to-fix-this-type-of-n95-mask-to-limit-the-spread-of-the-coronavirus/

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Covid-19

Orange County Update: COVID-19 Cases and Downtown Disney Reopening

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On Thursday, July 9, the Orange County Health Care Agency reported 1,292 new coronavirus cases. The total number of cases reached 21,517 since testing began in March. There were twenty-six new deaths reported in Thursday’s update as the death toll climbed to 402

The California Department of Health announced 94 COVID-19 deaths in Orange County in the last fourteen days. The state department reports 814 hospitalized patients in the last 14 days suspected and positive in 33 hospitals across Orange County. The state’s COVID-19 tracking dashboard also shows the county has at least 40% of its ICU beds still available.

The estimated number of those recovered from the virus within the county is approximately 9,452 in Thursday’s report. Countywide,288,996 tests have been reported since testing began, with data through July 4. The state’s coronavirus dashboard gave a 12.4% test positivity rate for the county.

Though Orange County hospitals are preparing to activate crisis care strategies, Downtown Disney is beginning their first stage of reopening. The first stage reopening of Disneyland begins this week as the Downtown Disney outdoor shopping mall returns after a four-month closure due to the coronavirus pandemic.Downtown Disney is scheduled to reopen on Thursday, July 9

Downtown Disney, along with Disney’s two Anaheim theme parks and three hotels, has been closed since mid-March amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The theme parks and hotels remain closed indefinitely. Temperature checks will be conducted before visitors pass through the metal detectors and bag check areas at the security checkpoints. 

Mandatory face masks must be hands-free and cover the nose and mouth. Disney’s new Guest Experience Team will be available across Downtown Disney to outline the new safety and health protocols, answer questions, and encourage visitors to follow the new provisions.

Restaurants in Downtown Disney will have additional outdoor seating and will provide digital or single-use menus. Reservations will be available for some table-service restaurants through the Disneyland app or the virtual waitlist.

Ground markings for restaurant and store queues will help visitors practice proper physical distancing. Plexiglass barriers will be installed at some registers and cashless purchases will be encouraged.

Downtown Disney hours of operation will be limited to 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Sources: 

  1. https://occovid19.ochealthinfo.com/coronavirus-in-oc
  2. https://covid19.ca.gov/roadmap-counties/#track-data
  3. https://wordofhealth.com/2020/07/08/orange-county-update-covid-19-cases-and-hospitals-preparing-for-crisis-care/
  4. https://www.ocregister.com/2020/07/08/disneyland-reveals-full-list-of-reopening-downtown-disney-shops-and-restaurants/

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