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The Last Dance
The story: Selma Blair may not be walking away with the Mirrorball Trophy, but when she bowed out of this season of Dancing with the Stars last week, she left behind a legacy. The actress, known best for her roles in Legally Blonde and Cruel intentions, has been living with Multiple Sclerosis (MS) since 2018. After several superstar performances on the show, Blair opted to leave the competition after a recent scan showed that the stress of performing was doing damage to her body. Despite the setback, her final dance earned her a perfect score and tremendous respect from people around the globe.
So, what is MS?
Multiple Sclerosis, the disease which is causing Selma Blair to withdraw from the show, is a neurodegenerative disorder. In other words, nerves (and their coating) in the brain and spinal cord slowly break down. MS is an autoimmune condition, meaning that the body’s own immune system mistakenly attacks healthy tissue. Treatments that dampen this misguided immune response can help ease symptoms of the disease. Although there is currently no cure for MS, early diagnosis and treatment can slow the progression of the disease and improve quality of life for patients. With an estimated 1 million Americans with MS, Selma Blair isn’t the only celebrity to shine a light on the disease: Bad Moms star Christina Applegate, Everclear frontman Art Alexakis, and NASCAR driver Trevor Bayne have all been diagnosed with the disorder.
Blair’s time on Dancing with the Stars has shined a light on MS, bringing awareness to the disorder. Many have applauded her bravery for competing even despite the physical challenges, such as changes in vision, touch and movement, that MS patients face. While it is important for MS patients to stay active, since exercise can help with managing symptoms, Blair’s body took a toll from the strenuous activity. Many people have pointed out how this highlights the physical and emotional stress that people with disabilities face trying to navigate in an ableist society. No matter how you look at it, Selma’s time on the show has sparked important discussions, making her last dance more beautiful than her perfect score can portray.
Head of State
Liz Truss may have made history last week for becoming the shortest-serving Prime Minister in UK history, but the real star of the headlines was a head of lettuce. Kim Kardashian’s marriage to Kris Humphries, COVID-19 lockdowns, and Squid Game’s reign at #1 on Netflix have all been pointed out for lasting longer than Truss’ time in office. While Rishi Sunak, the UK’s wealthiest prime minister in history, takes office, people are looking back at the head of iceberg lettuce that outlasted the former UK prime minister’s 44-day tenure. Although the lettuce may reign superior in this battle, it’s important to remember that while leafy greens are a great part of a healthy diet, they can also be a source of food-borne illnesses like E. coli.
When it comes to contaminated foods, lettuce is one of the biggest culprits to watch out for. In fact, a study looking at E.coli outbreaks in the United States and Canada found that from 2009 to 2018, more than 40 outbreaks could be traced back to contaminated lettuce. Just earlier this year, nearly a hundred people fell ill after an E. coli outbreak was traced back to contaminated lettuce at Wendy’s. Are you worried that you’ve had some suspicious leafy greens? Symptoms of E. coli infection to watch out for include diarrhea, stomach cramps, and fever. Although these facts don’t paint the best picture of lettuce, don’t bail on the kale just yet! Tips to avoid food-borne illnesses include buying fresh veggies, washing them thoroughly before eating, and storing them in a refrigerator. Taking these precautions can help reduce your risk of illness. So keep eating those greens… just maybe not the ones that have been sitting out for 44 days.
Trouble on the Farm
Like Grumpy Cat and Noodles the Pug, Emmanuel the Emu is the most recent animal to gain internet stardom. You may remember the name from months ago when videos of Emmanuel knocking down his caretaker’s camera went viral. This time, Emmanuel is making headlines for a more serious reason: he contracted Avian Influenza (AKA bird flu).
Why do we care about bird flu? Well, bird flu cases are on the rise in the U.S and around the world due to a new and highly virulent strain of the disease. The outbreak has resulted in poultry birds in the U.S passing away in record-breaking numbers. You may find that your Thanksgiving turkey is bit more expensive this year, as the cost of chicken and turkey has been on the rise as a result of the outbreak. If this isn’t enough to convince you that bird flu is serious, get this: the increase in avian influenza spread has scientists concerned that the virus may start infecting humans. In fact, the first human case of this avian influenza virus in the US was reported back in April. Although the risk to humans remains quite low, bird flu infections have the potential to be quite severe. So how do we stay safe and avoid infection? In the wake of Emmanuel’s sickness, experts have taken the opportunity to educate Tik Tok and Twitter users alike that avoiding contact with infected animals, and their droppings, is the best way to prevent getting sick.
After all of the concern about Emmanuel, the news eventually broke that he never actually had bird flu after all– he was just stressed! While the internet is relieved to hear that their favorite bird will be ok, that doesn’t change the fact that the rise in bird flu cases continues to be a public health concern.
At the Heart of COVID-19
As we approach the three-year anniversary of the initial COVID-19 lockdown, pandemic fatigue is at an all-time high. But the results of the latest JAMA study about the cardiovascular risks one year post-COVID-19 infection may just be the incentive we all need to mask-up this winter. The study found that in the year following a COVID infection, patients had increased risks of a number of cardiovascular problems, including arrhythmia, stroke, heart attack, heart failure, and more. As concerns grow regarding long COVID, which has a prevalence of 16-53% in the US, we are reminded that long-term symptoms of COVID can be more than just a chronic cough.
Some may ask: but what about myocarditis? Myocarditis, or inflammation of the heart muscle, became a household term when reports of COVID-19 vaccines increasing risk of myocarditis hit the news. You may be wondering if the results of the JAMA study were due to COVID-19 infections, or rather vaccinations. Turns out, the study accounted for this and found that myocarditis was increased in patients in the year following COVID-19 infection, regardless of vaccination status. So, what does this mean? Well, regular exercise and a healthy diet might not be the only things we need to protect our heart: continued masking and hand washing may need to be added to that list!
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