Connect with us

Government

After coronavirus, another hidden respiratory disease lurks in the buildings we left behind

After coronavirus, another hidden respiratory disease lurks in the buildings we left behind

Published

on

Charlotte Raboff/Shutterstock

Global outbreaks of coronavirus have forced the closing of schools, gyms, offices and other buildings at a scale never seen before. Now, as countries start reopening after lockdown, those previously abandoned buildings could have become a breeding ground for another infection – Legionnaires’ disease.

Legionnaires’ disease is caused by inhaling water droplets that contain the Legionella pneumophilia bacteria. It’s quite rare, but the long periods of inactivity in buildings during lockdown greatly increases the risk of outbreaks.

What is Legionnaires’ disease?

Legionnaires’ disease causes severe pneumonia. In fact its symptoms could easily be mistaken for COVID-19. They include fever, dry cough, shortness of breath and muscle pain. This means the potential for increased incidence of Legionnaires’ due to missed diagnosis cannot be overstated.

Unlike COVID-19, Legionnaires’ does not spread from person to person but causes large community outbreaks through contaminated airborne water droplets from sources including showerheads, taps, cooling towers, air-conditioning systems, spa pools, hot tubs and water fountains.

The disease can be deadly, and infects multiple people at once. A recent outbreak in North Carolina saw 124 people contract the disease and four people die after walking past a infected hot tub display.

The bacteria live in warm environments, surviving in biofilm – clusters of microbial life that gather on surfaces – and feeding on pipework sludge and sediment.

Factors that lead to Legionella growth in biofilm, CDC

All water systems are at risk of this foreseeable and preventable contamination, but dormant and decommissioned buildings are especially at risk. That’s because intermittent use of buildings and equipment and the interruption of cleaning regimes increase the likelihood of water stagnation, which in turn increases the likelihood of a Legionella outbreak.

What is the risk?

The end of lockdown could not come at a worse time for potential Legionnaires’ outbreaks. The Legionella bacteria flourishes in summer months, as the optimum range for the bacteria is between 20-45°C.

Even more worryingly, countries that have had some of the most stringent lockdowns – and which as a result will have large numbers of disused buildings – are the countries where this disease is most common. France, Germany, Italy, Spain, the UK and Netherlands accounted for 70% of all cases reported in Europe in 2017. Of those, 10-15% of cases report a fatal outcome.

Meanwhile, the US, which has had widespread lockdowns, has experienced an 800% increase in reported cases over the past 20 years, probably because environmental impacts such as increased rainfall and warmer temperatures benefit the growth of Legionella.

Distribution of Legionnaires’ disease cases in the EU/EEA, 2016. European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control

As well as the risk in public buildings, there is also potential for increased domestic exposure as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

Consumer buying trends report hot tub sales are surging – one online seller reported a 1600% increase in demand during lockdown. As the North Carolina example shows, hot tubs can become a breeding ground for Legionnaires’ when they are not cleaned or disinfected properly.

COVID-19 vs Legionnaires’ disease

At-risk groups for Legionnaires’ disease are largely the same as for COVID-19 – 90% of cases affect people over 45, and two-thirds are male. Having chronic lung disease and other illnesses such as diabetes increases your risk of severe illness from Legionnaires’ disease, just as it does for COVID-19.

The Legionella pneumophila bacterium causes the majority of Legionnaires’ disease outbreaks. CDC, CC BY-NC-SA

But the strategy for fighting COVID-19 is not the one to adopt for Legionnaires’ disease.

People suspected of illness with COVID-19 are typically asked to self-isolate for a period of 14 days to prevent passing on the disease to others. But Legionnaires’ disease cannot be passed from person to person, and the symptoms worsen significantly over a seven-day period. As Legionnaires’ is caused by a bacteria, prompt treatment with antibiotics is vital. Delaying treatment can result in severe respiratory failure.

The additional risk of Legionnaires’ disease to recovered COVID-19 patients is currently unknown. Pre-print studies of coronavirus cases in China and Japan found that 20% of COVID-19 patients were also infected with the Legionella bacteria. So it seems that coronavirus patients are more vulnerable to other community-acquired infections such as a Legionnaires’ and are at risk of acquiring it in hospital, as it can easily breed in medical facilities and equipment.

In the coming months as countries re-open, negative test results for coronavirus in those presenting with influenza and severe respiratory symptoms should be immediately referred for Legionnaires’ disease testing and not simply encouraged to recuperate alone. This could have a major impact on survival and recovery rates.

How your employer should keep you safe

Legionella can rapidly become a public health problem in everyday places such as offices, schools, colleges, healthcare settings, and factories. Employers are legally required to protect worker health from Legionella infection in most jurisdictions.

As countries exit lockdown, a comprehensive assessment must be made of all water systems in premises before anyone returns to work. Effective water management programmes in buildings, facilities and plant will eliminate this public health threat.

Increasing commercial and public awareness of Legionella controls is critical in long-term disease prevention. National and local publicity on Legionnaires’ disease risks when returning to work and leisure, along with guidance on the safe re-opening of buildings should help to reduce the likelihood of disease outbreaks.

Anne Clayson does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.

Read More

Continue Reading

Economics

Braxia and KetaMD, CEOs McIntyre and Gumpel Speak on Acquisition

Last week, the Canadian company Braxia Scientific acquired 100% of the issued and outstanding stock of KetaMD, Inc. This is an exciting acquisition, and…

Published

on

Last week, the Canadian company Braxia Scientific acquired 100% of the issued and outstanding stock of KetaMD, Inc. This is an exciting acquisition, and in today’s interview, The Dales Report’s Nicole Hodges talks with CEOs Dr. Roger McIntyre and Warren Gumpel of Braxia Scientific and KetaMD respectively.

For some background information, KetaMD is a U.S. based, privately-held, innovative telemedicine company, with a mission to address mental health challenges via access to technology-facilitated ketamine-based treatments. Braxia Scientific is Canada’s first clinic specializing in ketamine treatments for mood disorders. They recorded revenue of $1.49m for 2022 fiscal year, ended March 31. On a year-over-year basis, revenue increased 47.5%.

Here’s some highlights from the interview.

KetaMD gives Braxia a presence in the US

Dr. McIntyre says that KetaMD gives Braxia what they’ve had as their vision from the beginning: a US presence. KetaMD is a living program. It’s already running, has infrastructure, and patients. McIntyre believes that a program like KetaMD is something Braxia’s needed to scale and obtain commercial success.

With telemedicine, Braxia has a potential to serve a gap in access. The zeitgeist of “patient going to medicine” has flipped, McIntyre says. “Now it’s medicine goes to the patient, and that is long overdue.”

COVID speeding a trend that was already happening

In 2020, 80% of physicians indicated they had virtual visits. That’s a number up from 22% the year before. But this is something that many doctors, McIntyre included, believe always should have happened. The pandemic only was the catalyst for innovation and making the option viable.

While some treatments will always need a clinic or a hospital, McIntyre believes some treatments can be done safely at home. And they are, for many chronic diseases. He feels implementing ketamine and psychedelics would be among these treatments where service could be expanded into the home. It would require careful SOPs in place, best practices, and surveillance. But he believes Braxia Scientific could deliver this with KetaMD.

Gumpel to stay as CEO of KetaMD

Gumpel says that KetaMD benefits in this acquisition from being part of the world’s most prominent researchers in depression, psychedelics, and ketamine. In the acquisition, he’ll stay on as CEO. He admits that Dr. McIntyre has been a huge part of collecting the data on the safety of ketamine treatment, and has a strong motivation to “see this thing through until most of society can access that – or at least the people that need it and want it.”

Gumpel admits he has a personal connection to ketamine treatment. As a person who has experienced bouts of depression for years, it saved his life, he says. He is grateful he was living within walking distance of ketamine treatment in Manhattan. It made him extremely aware of the accessibility gap, which in part inspired KetaMD.

Be sure to tune in for the full interview regarding Braxia and KetaMD, right here on The Dales Report!

The post Braxia and KetaMD, CEOs McIntyre and Gumpel Speak on Acquisition appeared first on The Dales Report.

Read More

Continue Reading

Spread & Containment

How to Use Dividends to Find the Best Tech Stock

Investors Alley
How to Use Dividends to Find the Best Tech Stock
When we talk about tech stock investing, we hear discussions of all sorts about different…

Published

on

Investors Alley
How to Use Dividends to Find the Best Tech Stock

When we talk about tech stock investing, we hear discussions of all sorts about different measures used for picking stocks.

For example, some tech investors use year-over-year revenue growth. Others subscribe to a theory that has been floating around for many years, that the secret to picking tech stocks was looking at the percentage of cash flows spent on research and development.

All too often, tech stock analysis consists of storytelling and searching for ideas that will change the world, something I’ve heard thousands of times during my career. The number of companies that actually did change the world probably totals up to a few dozen over three decades.

Some of those beat the market. Others did not.

I have found a variable that can help tech investors spot promising opportunities to identify technology companies that have higher probabilities of providing market-beating returns: dividends.

Note a stock’s dividend yield: investors who want higher dividends with an overall total return would be smart to look into high-yield tech stocks as part of their income strategy. The key to using dividends to find market-beating tech stocks is to look at the rate of their dividend growth. It doesn’t matter how high the dividend is at any given time. We want to see companies that are consistently growing their dividends.

A tech company that pays a dividend is making a statement. It tells the world: “We are generating enough cash to pay the bills, hire great people, and fund our future growth plans as well as R&D. In fact, we are generating so much cash we have some left over to pay out to our investors.”

Ideally, we want to limit our universe of companies to those who are increasing their payout by at least 20% annually. Growing a dividend at that high a rate says that things are just continuing to get better.

Once we have a universe of tech companies that are growing their payouts at high levels, we want to make sure we only own those that really do have a wonderful business that just keeps getting better. We want to use a financial checklist to make sure our companies are in excellent financial shape and have what it takes to keep growing the business.

I prefer the nine-point checklist developed by Professor Joseph Piotroski when he was at the University of Chicago – known as the “Piotroski F-Score”. This is a list of nine criteria of profitability, leverage, and efficiency. On each criterion, a firm can either get one or zero points – pass or fail.

I limit my universe of tech stocks with paid dividend growth to just two to three with the highest scores on the Piotroski checklist.

Using this simple method for picking tech stock winners has crushed the S&P 500 over the past decade and even edged at the tech-heavy NASDAQ 100.

Texas Instruments (TXN) makes the current list of technology companies with high dividend growth and outstanding fundamentals and prospects. The company makes most of its revenues from semiconductors, but it does still have some revenues from its calculators and other business machines. (I have had one of these, a Texas BAII calculator, within arm’s reach for most of my career.)

Texas Instruments had a solid second quarter and increased its guidance for the third quarter. The company has not suffered the China slowdown problems that have plagued some of their competitors so far. The brightest spot in the recent report was semiconductors being sold to the automobile industry, which were up 20%.

Although we have seen some slowdown in semiconductors due to the supply chain issues created by the pandemic, Texas Instruments has powerful tailwinds from all the developments we see in technology over the next decade.

Every one of the hottest trends in the economy—from renewable energy to artificial intelligence and everything in between—is going to increase demand for semiconductor chips. There are thousands of semiconductors in every electric vehicle, which will be another massive source of demand for the industry.

Texas Instruments has a yield of 2.5% right now, and has been growing that payout by 20.5% annually.

Another semiconductor company, Broadcom (AVGO) has the fastest-growing payout on our list right now. The company makes chips for smartphones, networking, broadband, and wireless connectivity. Broadcom’s recent purchase of Symantec’s Enterprise Business also puts it in the cybersecurity business.

Broadcom’s shares currently yield 2.97% and the payment has risen by an average of 49% annually for the past five years.

Most investors will never think of using dividends as part of the stock selection process. Rigorous testing shows that dividend growth is actually an important part of identifying companies with the potential to be huge winners.

My favorite way to invest in those companies isn’t to buy their stock, though. Instead, I like to use a special, little-known investment that lets me invest in these companies for up to 18% less than what others pay…

While collecting twice or more the dividend yield!

All without any more risk. I’m tracking 5 opportunities like that right now, and I lay them all out right here.

Only 3% of investors even know these funds exist

But using them, I can beat the market 2-to-1 while collecting 2-10X MORE yield from regular dividend stocks.

I learned this trick while I was rubbing elbows with some of the biggest fund managers in US history.

They too are buying these little known funds, cashing in huge discounts and collecting income while they do it.

Click here to learn the secret yourself.

 

How to Use Dividends to Find the Best Tech Stock
Tim Melvin

Read More

Continue Reading

Government

Where Carnival, Norwegian, Royal Caribbean Sit on Covid Vaccines

Do You still need to be vaccinated to go on a Royal Caribbean, Carnival, or Norwegian Cruise?

Published

on

Do You still need to be vaccinated to go on a Royal Caribbean, Carnival, or Norwegian Cruise?

Cruise line covid-19 vaccination and testing rules, which were imposed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention at the beginning of the pandemic, have been stricter than most. After the pandemic started in early 2020, the CDC signed a No Sail Order on March 14, 2020, which was finally lifted after nearly eight months on Oct. 30, 2020.

After the No Sail Order was lifted, the CDC enacted extremely restrictive rules and regulations to help keep passengers safe with the covid pandemic still raging throughout the world. The rules and regulations were set forth to begin to return cruise lines to operational status.

The cruise lines first had to be staffed accordingly and set up with the ability to test, treat and quarantine for covid medical emergencies. Testing for crew and passengers before embarkment and before dis-embarkment was required. The testing at pre-embarkment was a measure to protect those boarding, while the post-trip testing was for determining if an infection started on the cruise line itself. Being able to track the virus was very important in the prevention of spreading the virus and protecting patrons.

Image source: Shutterstock

Vaccination Still Not a Free Pass to Board

Once the vaccination was developed and approved, it became part of the CDC guidelines for cruise line adult passengers to have their vaccination before boarding. Even with a vaccination, guests still needed to test before they boarded the cruise lines. As the vaccine was approved for younger age groups, those age groups were then also required to have the vaccine to travel. Passengers were required to be fully vaccinated unless they are exempt by some status.

Before boarding, cruise line passengers who tested positive, as well as their travel companions, were not allowed to board, depending on the cruise line and how long the cruise may be. Some passengers were allowed to board and then isolate, others would have to reschedule their trip. Trip insurance is a good buy these days.

Cruise Lines Letting Loose on Vaccine Policies

Carnival Cruise Line  (CCL) - Get Carnival Corporation Report has now removed pre-cruise testing for vaccinated guests and also welcomes unvaccinated guests to travel. Fully vaccinated guests traveling less than 16 nights with the cruise line will no longer be subjected to testing, but still must provide proof of their vaccination status. Unvaccinated travelers will only need to provide a negative covid test result to board the ships. All rules and regulations are still subject to the destination country’s guidelines.

According to the Healthy Sail Center for Royal Caribbean  (RCL) - Get Royal Caribbean Group Report, the cruise line has updated its covid vaccination protocol. The cruise line will now allow passengers regardless of vaccination status to board in some ports if the travelers meet the testing requirements. Testing requirements vary by cruise departure and destination. Check the cruise lines port departure for updated information on requirements.

There is, however, a major exception, at least for now, which is obvious when you look at the specific wording shared by the cruise line:

"Starting with September 5 departures, all travelers regardless of vaccination status can cruise on the following itineraries, as long as they meet any testing requirements to board.

  • Cruises from Los Angeles, California.
  • Cruises from Galveston, Texas.
  • Cruises from New Orleans, Louisiana.
  • Cruises from a European homeport.

Notice that Florida, a major port for the cruise line, is not currently on the list.

In the U.S. aside from Florida, any guest with a valid negative covid test within the last three days will be able to board. These guests will also not be required to take a second test at the boarding terminal. Fully vaccinated guests do not need to provide proof of a negative covid test for shorter cruises. See the cruise line website for all updated information as it is subject to change.

Beginning Sept. 3, Norwegian Cruise Line  (NCLH) - Get Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd. Report is dropping its covid vaccine requirements for all its cruises. The cruise line stated that it is continuing to follow requirements for all destination countries, so guests traveling will want to check on destination vaccine and testing requirements. All guests 12 and older regardless of vaccination need to show proof of a negative test within 72 hours. Check NCL online for further instructions prior to travel.

The CDC has taken the stance that travelers are now well informed enough to make their own decisions when it comes to traveling on cruise lines. The travelers are taking their own assumed risk for their health and well-being. Cruise lines are now welcoming this new freedom for their passengers. 

Read More

Continue Reading

Trending