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CDC warns of extreme heat dangers amid ‘record-breaking high temperatures’

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CDC warns of extreme heat dangers amid ‘record-breaking high temperatures’

Many regions across the United States experienced “record-breaking high temperatures” in 2023 due to extreme heat, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Emergency room visits due to heat-related illness peaked in several regions in the U.S. and remained elevated for a prolonged duration compared to visits between 2018 and 2022, the agency’s recent Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report noted.

More males went to the emergency room for heat-related illnesses than females – especially those between 18 and 64 years old.

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Americans are experiencing “longer, hotter and more frequent episodes of extreme heat,” the report states.

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Is extreme heat a public threat?

“Extreme heat could be considered an invisible killer in so much as many people become exposed and vulnerable to its dangers quickly and often without warning,” Patrick McHugh, M.D., an emergency medicine physician at Cleveland Clinic Akron General in Akron, Ohio, told Fox News Digital.

Many regions across the United States experienced “record-breaking high temperatures” in 2023 due to extreme heat, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (iStock)

Although McHugh said Americans “shouldn’t worry,” he emphasized the need to “be aware and prepared for the dangers of heat waves.”

An EPA spokesperson told Fox News Digital, “As average temperatures rise due to climate change, the risk of extreme temperatures, heat waves and record-breaking temperatures increases.”

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Here’s what to know about extreme heat and how to stay safe.

What is extreme heat?

“Extreme heat can be defined depending on a variety of factors, including location, weather conditions (such as cloud cover, humidity and temperature), and the time of year,” said an EPA spokesperson in an email.

It typically occurs when the weather is much hotter and/or more humid than average in a particular area, the agency added.

Man on stretcher

Emergency room visits due to heat-related illness peaked in several regions in the U.S. and remained elevated for a prolonged duration compared to visits between 2018 and 2022. (iStock)

While summertime temperatures of 100 degrees Fahrenheit might be normal for Phoenix, Arizona, for example — the same temperatures are considered extreme for Boston, Massachusetts.

“Where in the U.S. people are most susceptible to heat depends on what is normal for a given location and the type of infrastructure (such as access to air conditioning),” the EPA spokesperson noted.

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“Extreme heat is becoming more common in places that have not historically experienced extreme heat … and don’t have the infrastructure to keep people cool, which has major consequences for health and safety.”

“Extreme heat could be considered an invisible killer … as many people become exposed and vulnerable to its dangers quickly and often without warning.”

A heat wave is typically defined as a “prolonged period of abnormally hot weather, usually lasting more than two days in a row,” the EPA spokesperson said.

Heat waves can occur with or without humidity.

The average global temperature has risen by more than 2 degrees Fahrenheit since the mid-1800s, according to McHugh.

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Man on stretcher

Elderly adults, infants, individuals taking certain medications and people with disabilities are at greater risk of heat-related illnesses. (iStock)

“This results in greater extreme heat temperatures, increased variability in temperatures and an increase in the risk of heat illness,” he told Fox News Digital.

The EPA’s Heat Waves indicator, which monitors trends in heat waves for 50 cities across the U.S. over the past 60 years, shows that heat waves are occurring more often over a longer period of time — both in average number of days and season length — and are also becoming hotter over time.

Risk factors for extreme heat effects

Elderly adults, infants, individuals taking certain medications and people with disabilities are at greater risk of heat-related illnesses, according to McHugh, who has a specialty in wilderness medicine.

These individuals may not have adequate resources to escape the heat and protect themselves, he warned.

Thermometer - heat wave

“Extreme heat is becoming more common in places that have not historically experienced extreme heat … and don’t have the infrastructure to keep people cool, which has major consequences for health and safety,” an EPA spokesperson said. (iStock)

“Many schools in northern parts of the U.S. do not have air conditioning, so when heat waves happen in May/June or [in] September, students and teachers can be at risk,” the EPA spokesperson noted.

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Certain factors can also increase someone’s risk of developing a heat-related illness, including fever, dehydration, prescription drug use, alcohol use or sunburn, according to the CDC.

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Healthy people can be at risk if they engage in strenuous physical activity when it’s very hot outside — which means it’s important to balance activities with actions that cool the body to prevent heat-related illness, the EPA advised.

Certain settings — such as inside cars, construction worksites and homes with little to no air conditioning — can also put people at greater risk, according to the CDC.

Heat island effect

Some urban areas experience higher temperatures compared to outlying areas.

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“Structures such as buildings, roads and other infrastructure absorb and re-emit the sun’s heat more than natural landscapes like forests and water bodies,” the EPA spokesperson said.

These highly concentrated areas, which have limited greenery, become “islands” of higher temperatures relative to outlying areas.

It’s important to balance activities with actions that cool the body to prevent heat-related illness, the EPA advised. (iStock)

“Daytime temperatures in urban areas are about 1 to 7 [degrees Fahrenheit] higher than temperatures in outlying areas, and nighttime temperatures are about 2-5 [degrees Fahrenheit] higher,” the agency noted.

People living and working in these areas are at higher risk of heat-related illness and death.

“Prolonged exposure to high temperatures is associated with increased hospital admissions for cardiovascular, kidney and respiratory disorders.”

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As people lose control of their internal temperature amid extreme heat, they may experience a range of illnesses, including heat cramps, heat exhaustion, heat stroke and hyperthermia, according to the EPA.

“Prolonged exposure to high temperatures is associated with increased hospital admissions for cardiovascular, kidney and respiratory disorders,” the spokesperson said.

Woman hot car

A particular setting can also place people at high risk, including inside cars, construction worksites and homes with little to no air conditioning, according to the CDC. (iStock)

Some 1,220 people die of heat-related illness every year in the United States due to extreme heat, per CDC estimates.

“Heat islands also increase energy demand for cooling, which can increase greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution and can be a financial burden for many people — particularly low- or fixed-income households,” the EPA spokesperson said.

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Everyone should have a plan in case of extreme heat, McHugh advised. “Either an air-conditioned home or building where shelter from the heat is easily available should be used.”

Extreme cold is dangerous, too 

Those who counter climate change claims warn of extreme temperatures at both ends of the spectrum.

Most studies have shown that extreme cold causes about 10 times more excess deaths than extreme heat, according to William Happer, PhD, professor emeritus of physics at Princeton University in New Jersey and a prominent critic of climate extremism.

Extreme cold

Most studies have shown that extreme cold causes about 10 times more excess deaths than extreme heat, according to a physics professor. (iStock)

A 2015 international study that analyzed deaths between 1985 and 2012 in 13 countries, including the U.S., found that most of the deaths due to adverse temperatures were attributable to cold weather.

The study, which was published in The Lancet, also revealed that most deaths were caused not by extreme temperatures, but by exposure to moderately hot and cold temperatures. 

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A more recent study published in The Lancet Planetary Health in 2021 found that for every death associated with heat, nine were connected to cold.

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“No one knows how much of the modest recent warming, around 1 [degree Celsius] over the past century, has been due to greenhouse gases and how much is natural,” Happer told Fox News Digital.

He estimates that less than half of the warming is from increasing greenhouse gases.  

“Whatever the cause, observations clearly show that there has been very little change in daily high temperatures,” Happer noted.

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Cold front

A more recent study published in The Lancet Planetary Health in 2021 found that for every death associated with heat, nine were connected to cold. (Credit: Fox News)

“The warming is almost all due to warmer minimum temperatures at night and in the winter.”

Compared to lives lost due to the extreme heat, the warming should have saved more lives that would have been lost because of the extreme cold, he said.

For local heat and health information, the EPA spokesperson recommended using the CDC’s Heat and Health Tracker. 

Americans can also visit their local National Weather Service (NWS) Forecast Offices for real-time heat-related warnings.

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Fox Weather can also be consulted on a regular basis for up-to-date weather information and news. 

For more Health articles, visit www.foxnews.com/health.

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Despite growing concerns over bird flu, many US dairy workers have not received protective equipment

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Despite growing concerns over bird flu, many US dairy workers have not received protective equipment
  • Despite growing concern about bird flu, many U.S. dairy farms have not increased health protections for employees.
  • On May 22, 2024, the U.S. government said a second dairy worker has contracted bird flu since cattle first tested positive in late March.
  • The U.S. Department of Agriculture said it believes unpasteurized milk is the primary vector for transmitting the virus in cows, though officials do not know exactly how it spreads.

Many U.S. dairy farms have not yet increased health protections against bird flu for employees during an outbreak in cows, according to workers, activists and farmers, worrying health experts about the risk for more human infections of a virus with pandemic potential.

Epidemiologists are concerned the virus could potentially spread and cause serious illnesses as farmers downplay the risk to workers while employees are not widely aware of cases in U.S. cattle.

The U.S. government said on Wednesday that a second dairy worker contracted bird flu since cattle first tested positive in late March and that investigators are looking into whether the person was wearing or offered protective equipment.

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Nearly 24,000 farms sell milk around the country, and they offer varying protections to staff. Lobby group the National Milk Producers Federation said it encouraged farms to use protective equipment in line with federal recommendations and heard of increased worker protections.

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Three dairy workers, seven activists and two lawyers who assist farm employees told Reuters that dairy owners have not offered equipment like face shields and goggles to staff who spend 10- to 12-hour days side-by-side with cows. Three large dairy companies with tens of thousands of cows declined to comment on their procedures.

The workers – all based in New York, a major dairy producer – said they heard of the new illness affecting cattle through the media or community organizers, not their employers. One, 39-year-old Luis Jimenez from Mexico, said last week it was business as usual.

A worker using an automated machine helps milk Holstein cows at Airoso Circle A Dairy in Pixley, California, on October 2, 2019. Workers who attach and detach milking equipment to cows get their faces close to unpasteurized milk. The U.S. Department of Agriculture said it believes unpasteurized milk is the primary vector for transmitting the virus in cows. (Reuters/Mike Blake/File Photo)

“They’re not doing anything,” he said.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in April and May advised workers to use personal protective equipment (PPE) if they may be exposed to sick livestock, after a Texas dairy worker tested positive for bird flu. On May 6, the agency asked states to make equipment available to workers.

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CDC wants “to make sure that farm workers across the country, whether they are at a farm with an affected herd or not, have access to PPE,” said Nirav Shah, principal deputy director, last week.

New York state said it is assessing CDC’s recommendation and has not yet distributed equipment. Texas, New Mexico and Colorado, where cattle were infected, said they distributed equipment to eight dairies combined. Kansas, Idaho and Wisconsin said they have equipment, but no farmers asked for it.

Michigan, where the second dairy worker tested positive, said many farms have protective gear but the state is coordinating a way to make it available for those that need more.

Dairies became more aware of bird flu’s risks in late April after the U.S. government began requiring that cows test negative before crossing state lines, said Emily Yeiser Stepp, who oversees a National Milk Producers Federation program that covers workforce development.

Still, “reaching out into some of our rural networks takes a little longer,” she said when told of workers who said they were not informed of recommendations for protective equipment.

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CLOSE CONTACT WITH COWS

The U.S. confirmed bird flu in dairy cattle in nine states. Scientists have said they believe the outbreak is more widespread based on findings of H5N1 particles in about 20% of retail milk samples.

Bird flu has caused serious or fatal infections globally among people in close contact with wild birds or poultry. In cows, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said it believes unpasteurized milk is the primary vector for transmitting the virus, though officials do not know exactly how it spreads.

Health experts advise dairy workers to wear gloves and disposable coveralls that can block milk splashes on their bodies or clothing.

Jimenez said his coworkers are under pressure to work so quickly that they sometimes do not have time to wash their hands before meals and often drive home in their work clothes.

Workers attach and detach milking equipment on cows, putting their faces close to unpasteurized milk. Most are immigrants and many do not have health insurance.

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“When you’re milking, splashes can’t be avoided. When it splashes in our eyes, we wash it out with water,” said another New York worker, who requested anonymity because he is undocumented.

Lucas Sjostrom, a farmer and executive director of the Minnesota Milk Producers Association, uses robotic machines to attach milking equipment to cows, but said he is being extra conscious that human workers wear gloves while transporting unpasteurized milk. Minnesota has not reported bird flu in cows.

In Indiana, another state without confirmed cases, farmer Steve Obert said he has not increased precautions for workers, though that could change if his herd tests positive. Extra protective equipment is not comfortable to wear, he added.

“We’re rather isolated and I don’t think the risk is really great,” said Obert, executive director of the industry group Indiana Dairy Producers.

BLOOD-RED EYES

The infected Texas worker suffered conjunctivitis and broken blood vessels that turned his eyes scarlet red, according to a photo published in the New England Journal of Medicine. He reported wearing gloves when working with cows but not respiratory or eye protection, the journal said.

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Scientists are watching for changes in the virus that could make it spread more easily among humans. Epidemiologists said it could cause more serious illnesses if it mutates or infects someone with a compromised immune system.

Some dairies with infected cows have resisted allowing federal officials on their farms because of financial concerns, said Gregory Gray, a University of Texas Medical Branch professor studying cattle diseases.

The CDC said it would like to test more farm workers, but it is not required.

New Mexico had anecdotal reports of workers with symptoms similar to conjunctivitis, but most were not tested, according to internal state documents that were dated April 26 and obtained by Reuters under a public records request. The workers were not tested because they did not seek healthcare, the New Mexico Department of Health said.

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Policy changes are needed to encourage workers to seek treatment, such as emergency income assurance for those who test positive, said Brian Castrucci, an epidemiologist and CEO at health policy group the de Beaumont Foundation.

“I don’t want to wait until we have a dead dairy farm worker until we ratchet up what we’re doing,” he said.

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Half of Americans not equipped to provide life-saving treatment in a crisis, poll finds

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Half of Americans not equipped to provide life-saving treatment in a crisis, poll finds

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Only half the people in the U.S. feel they could be helpful in an emergency situation, a new poll found.

The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center surveyed a national sample of 1,005 Americans, finding that only 51% of them knew how to perform hands-only CPR if needed.

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In cases of serious bleeding, only 49% said they could assist, and 56% said they would be equipped to help someone who was choking.

The data was collected via phone and email from April 5 to April 7 of this year.

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“The key takeaways from our survey are that patient outcomes would improve if the general public learned some basic life-saving measures in the areas of hands-only CPR, choking rescue and bleeding control,” Nicholas Kman, M.D., emergency medicine physician at Ohio State Wexner Medical Center and clinical professor of emergency medicine at The Ohio State University College of Medicine, told Fox News Digital.  

“We can save lives while we wait for first responders to arrive.”

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Only half the people in the U.S. feel they could be helpful in an emergency situation, a new poll has found. (iStock)

“For every minute that passes, the chance of survival drops, and if they do survive, there’s less chance of a good neurologic outcome.”

Data shows that 70% to 80% of cardiac arrests occur in the home and 20% happen in a public place, according to Kman.

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“Outcomes are poor when the arrest is unwitnessed at home,” he told Fox News Digital.  

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“Just think, the person with the medical emergency could be your loved one in your house. You may have to provide life-saving treatment until first responders arrive.”

Heimlich maneuver

Data shows that 70% to 80% of cardiac arrests occur in the home and 20% happen in a public place, a researcher said. (iStock)

Based on the survey findings, Kman advised the public to get trained in life-saving measures — particularly hands-only CPR, choking and serious bleeding.

“Look for training that may be offered through community days at hospitals, schools, libraries, community organizations, religious institutions, volunteer groups, festivals and sporting events,” he suggested.

“We’re responsible for each other.”

Organizations and websites such as the American Red Cross, the American Heart Association and Stop The Bleed may offer these courses for free or low cost, Kman noted.  

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After learning the skills, it’s important to practice them, the doctor said.

“We would love the public to learn how to do hands-only CPR and practice the skill of doing CPR every six weeks,” Kman said.

Performing CPR

Based on the survey findings, researchers advised people to get trained in life-saving measures, particularly hands-only CPR, choking first-aid and serious bleeding assistance. (iStock)

“As with any skill, practice builds confidence. If we don’t practice it, we lose that skill.”

The OSU survey did have some limitations, Kman acknowledged.

“The survey was a convenience sample of a cross-section of Americans,” he told Fox News Digital. 

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“Most demographics were equally represented, but different regions do better at this than others, and their cardiac arrest results and survival reflect that,” he continued. 

“States and countries that prioritize training the public have higher survival rates.”

Emergency room

“When you’re trained in these lifesaving skills, you’ll know how to recognize the signs that someone needs help and buy time until the [first] responders can get there,” a doctor said. (iStock)

Dr. Kenneth Perry, an emergency department physician in South Carolina, was not involved in the survey but said he was surprised that more people don’t feel unprepared.

“Even for medical professionals, having a medical emergency occur without preparation can be a very stressful event,” he told Fox News Digital. 

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“It is very important for people to have basic lifesaving skills.”

“It is very important for people to have basic lifesaving skills.”

The easiest and most helpful skill that people should learn is how to operate an automated external defibrillator (AED). These are located in many public places, such as gyms, malls and even some public walkways, according to Perry.  

“These devices are the best way to save a person who is suffering from cardiac arrest,” he said.

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“If the person has an abnormal heart rhythm that can be brought back to normal with electricity, this device will save that patient.”

This is a very time-sensitive process, however — it must happen as early as possible, the doctor advised. 

“Early defibrillation is directly correlated with the best outcomes for patients who suffer an out-of-hospital cardiac arrest.”

Ultimately, Kwan, said, “we’re responsible for each other.”

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“When you’re trained in these lifesaving skills, you’ll know how to recognize the signs that someone needs help and buy time until the responders can get there.”

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