Medical Notes this week…

Patients often ask their doctor for an antibiotic when they’re sick even if it might be a virus causing the illness. Viruses aren’t touched by antibiotics… and using them in such a case only contributes to antibiotic resistance. But now scientists have come up with a test that can tell in less than an hour whether you’re sick with a virus or bacteria. Their study in the journal Critical Care Medicine shows that the test is 80 percent accurate in identifying bacterial infections… and 87 percent accurate for viral infections. Respiratory infections that could be caused by one or the other are the biggest reason for people to go to the doctor. 

Obstetricians today aren’t all that good at predicting when a pregnant woman will actually deliver her child. Due dates usually fall within a five week window. But a study in the journal Science Translational Medicine finds that there are changes in the blood that can predict the due date more accurately. When those changes occur, it means the woman will go into labor in two to four weeks. Researchers say they expect the test will become even more accurate as it’s perfected. 

Here’s more evidence that Covid symptoms can drag on and on for months. A study in the Journal of the American Medical Association shows that among healthy young people who experienced a mild case of Covid, 26 percent had at least one moderate to severe symptom lasting more than two months… and 10 percent still had symptoms eight months later. The most common lingering symptoms were loss of taste and smell, fatigue, and breathing difficulties.

And finally… the impact of COVID-19 may be felt on the environment for centuries to come. Scientists at Johns Hopkins University say that discarded masks and gloves have already been washing up in remote places… and since those items are at least partially made of plastic, they can persist for hundreds of years. We’ve also been using far more disinfectants during the pandemic… and researchers say those chemicals end up in the water, sometimes lasting for centuries.


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