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Childhood pneumonia surge reported in Netherlands amid outbreak in China

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Childhood pneumonia surge reported in Netherlands amid outbreak in China

Childhood pneumonia cases are surging in the Netherlands, a health agency in the country has reported.

During the week of Nov. 13-19, there were 103 pneumonia cases in the Netherlands out of every 100,000 children between the ages of 5 and 14.

That was an increase from 83 the prior week, according to the Netherlands Institute for Health Services Research (NIVEL).

COLD, FLU, COVID-19 AND RSV: HOW TO IDENTIFY THE DIFFERING SYMPTOMS AND STAY SAFE

This is a significant increase over the peak of the 2022 flu season, when the country recorded 58 cases of pneumonia per 100,000 children.

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Cases are also rising among children age 4 and under in the Netherlands, rising from 124 to 145 per 100,000 within that same timeframe.

Childhood pneumonia cases are surging in the Netherlands, a health agency in the country has reported. (iStock)

China has also seen an unexplained increase in childhood pneumonia cases and other respiratory illnesses.

ProMED, the global digital disease surveillance system, reported on Monday that Chinese hospitals — primarily in Beijing — have become “overwhelmed with sick children” as a result of the pneumonia outbreak.

FOR COLD AND FLU TREATMENTS, DO YOU NEED A PRESCRIPTION OR ARE OVER-THE-COUNTER MEDS GOOD ENOUGH?

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At a press conference on Nov. 13, officials from the Chinese National Health Commission blamed the spike on the lifting of COVID-19 restrictions, as this is the first flu season since the country eased its strict lockdown measures.

Chinese officials also attributed the increase to the spread of other infectious diseases, including the flu, RSV, SARS-COV-2 and a bacterial infection called mycoplasma pneumoniae, according to a statement on the World Health Organization (WHO) website.

Girl in mask

In the week of Nov. 13-19, there were 103 pneumonia cases out of every 100,000 children between the ages of 5 and 14 in the Netherlands. (iStock)

On Nov. 22, WHO said it requested “additional epidemiologic and clinical information” from China — as well as laboratory results from the affected children. 

“We have also requested further information about recent trends in the circulation of known pathogens, including influenza, SARS-CoV-2, RSV and mycoplasma pneumoniae, and the current burden on health care systems,” the agency said in its statement. 

“They were locked down for all of 2022, and when you release the lockdown, all of the upper respiratory viruses — RSV, influenza, COVID — came roaring back.”

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“WHO is also in contact with clinicians and scientists through our existing technical partnerships and networks in China.”

To reduce the risk of spreading respiratory illness, WHO recommends that people in affected areas stay up to date with vaccinations, maintain distance from people who are ill, stay home when sick, seek medical care as needed, wear masks as appropriate and wash hands regularly.

‘Immune pause’ could be culprit, doctor says

Dr. Marc Siegel, clinical professor of medicine at NYU Langone Medical Center and a Fox News medical contributor, appeared on “Fox & Friends” on Tuesday to share his opinion on the surge.

FOR COLD AND FLU TREATMENTS, DO YOU NEED A PRESCRIPTION OR ARE OVER-THE-COUNTER MEDS GOOD ENOUGH?

While the doctor said he is a bit skeptical about China’s and WHO’s assertions that “everything’s OK,” he said he also believes this may be the same phenomenon that the U.S. experienced last year, which he calls “immune pause.”

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China hospital

Children and their parents wait at an outpatient area at a children’s hospital in Beijing on Nov. 23, 2023. The World Health Organization has asked China for more data on a respiratory illness spreading in the north of the country, urging people to take steps to reduce the risk of infection. (Getty Images)

“They were locked down for all of 2022, and when you release the lockdown, all of the upper respiratory viruses — RSV, influenza, COVID — come roaring back,” Siegel said.

Another potential issue is that China is seeing an uptick in the mycoplasma bug. 

DC AREA HOSPITALS REPORT UPTICK IN SICK VISITS AS GLOBAL CONCERN FOR RESPIRATORY ILLNESSES GROWS

“They’re flooding this bacteria with a Z-Pac — and when you give a Z-Pac to too many people, you get a resistant mycoplasma, and you can end up in the hospital,” the doctor warned.

“So I think a combination of all of those things is our answer here.”

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For people in high-risk groups, including those over the age of 65, Siegel recommends getting the pneumococcal vaccine, as well as vaccines for RSV and flu.

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Edward Liu, M.D., infectious diseases section chief at Hackensack Meridian Jersey Shore University Medical Center, noted that historically, RSV and flu have caused respiratory infections during the winter season.

“Sudden surges in respiratory infections could be explained by RSV and flu,” he told Fox News Digital. 

“Last year was particularly bad for RSV affecting children in the U.S.”  

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Boy sick in bed

“Sudden surges in respiratory infections could be explained by RSV and flu,” a doctor told Fox News Digital. “Last year was particularly bad for RSV affecting children in the U.S.”   (iStock)

“I think people are worried about new respiratory infections showing up, even in other countries, as we have found out how quickly a respiratory virus can spread internationally,” Liu went on. “No one wants another pandemic.”

The doctor added that novel infections cannot be easily detected by commercial laboratory tests. 

“Also, some hospitals don’t have the newer, more advanced respiratory virus testing to pick up common respiratory pathogens,” Liu noted. 

“It makes sense for the WHO and/or CDC to assist China and the Netherlands in determining the cause of these respiratory infections.”

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Fasting-like diet could slow the aging process, study suggests: ‘Living longer and healthier’

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Fasting-like diet could slow the aging process, study suggests: ‘Living longer and healthier’

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Could adopting a fasting-like diet help slow down aging?

That’s the claim of researchers from the USC Leonard Davis School of Gerontology in Los Angeles, who led a study on the benefits of a “fasting-mimicking diet” (FMD).

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In addition to reducing biological age and immune system aging, the diet was linked to reductions in insulin resistance and liver fat, according to a press release from the university.

TIME-RESTRICTED EATING NO MORE BENEFICIAL THAN CALORIC RESTRICTION IN OBESE PATIENTS, STUDY SAYS

The findings, published in Nature Communications on Feb. 20, were based on clinical trials that included 100 men and women between 18 and 70 years old.

Half of the group was randomly assigned to the FMD, adhering to the diet for five days followed by 25 days of normal eating for three or four cycles.

A fasting-mimicking diet was found to reduce biological age and immune system aging, as well as insulin resistance and liver fat, in a new study. (iStock)

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The control group ate either a normal diet or a Mediterranean-style diet.

The people in the FMD group showed decreased abdominal and liver fat, as well as reduced risk of metabolic syndrome, which can lead to heart disease, stroke and diabetes.

HIDDEN BELLY FAT COULD SIGNAL ALZHEIMER’S DISEASE RISK 15 YEARS BEFORE SYMPTOMS SHOW UP, STUDY FINDS

Those on the experimental diet also showed signs of a more youthful immune system.

Overall, the FMD adopters’ biological age was reduced by an average of 2.5 years based on the functioning of their cells and tissues, the researchers found.

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Drinking tea

In the USC study, the fasting-mimicking diet included energy bars, plant-based soups, chip snacks, energy drinks and tea. (iStock)

“I think it is surprising that three cycles of the FMD done for only five days a month (15 days total) — which allow people to have modified/low calorie but regular meals and without changing the normal diet of the participants for the rest of the month — can have such an effect on biological age, body fat and a range of disease risk factors,” senior author Valter Longo, USC Leonard Davis School Professor, told Fox News Digital.

FASTING COULD REDUCE SIGNS OF ALZHEIMER’S DISEASE, STUDIES SUGGEST: ‘PROFOUND EFFECTS’

If the cycles were continued for three cycles a year for 20 years, Longo projected that the FMD could reduce biological age by 11 years and reduce the risk of cancer, cardiovascular disease and diabetes by 10% to 30%. 

“However, these are only simulations — and additional studies are necessary to confirm this potential of the FMD cycles,” he added.

Energy drinks

Half of the group was randomly assigned to the FMD, adhering to the diet for five days followed by 25 days of normal eating for three or four cycles. (iStock)

Prior studies in mice have identified additional benefits of the FMD, including reduced risk of age-related diseases like cancer, heart disease and diabetes, Vongo pointed out.

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The diet has been previously to reduced chemo side effects, greater stem cell regeneration and reduced signs of dementia, the release stated.

What is the fasting-mimicking diet?

Originally developed by Longo, the FMD is a five-day diet that is low in overall calories, protein and carbohydrates and high in unsaturated fat.

The eating plan is designed to mimic a pure fast while still allowing consumption of essential nutrients.

MEDITERRANEAN DIET COULD HELP REDUCE BELLY FAT AND MUSCLE LOSS CAUSED BY AGING, STUDY FINDS

“The fasting-mimicking diet (FMD), also known as the ProLon Diet, has been around for approximately seven years and has been studied in multiple clinical trials,” Erin Palinski-Wade, a New Jersey-based registered dietitian, told Fox News Digital.

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“By following a structured, very low-calorie nutrition plan for five days, the goal is to provide the benefits of a prolonged fast while still allowing individuals to eat,” said Palinski-Wade, who was not involved in the USC study.

“The diet is designed to transition the body into a fasting state while nourishing it with specific nutrients to avoid activating food-sensing pathways.”

Woman reaches for water glass near bed

“[The diet] allows for physical, biological and epigenetic benefits without the need for prolonged water-only fasts,” an expert said.  (iStock)

In the USC study, the fasting-mimicking diet included energy bars, plant-based soups, chip snacks, energy drinks and tea, according to the release. 

The FMD group also received a supplement with “high levels of minerals, vitamins and essential fatty acids.”

The specific diet that was tested in the two trials is commercially available, but Longo said that university rules prevent him from sharing the name of the product.

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“In an era obsessed with superficial youth and quick fixes, the fasting-mimicking diet offers a tangible method to systematically reverse aging and enhance metabolic health.”

“I think it is important to begin to consider the plant-based FMD intervention described here for two to three times a year as a way to prevent and treat some diseases, together with the right type of drugs,” Longo said. 

This could aid in “returning to full health and living longer and healthier, rather than continuing to take progressively more drugs as we age,” he added.

For people aiming to prevent or treat diseases through the use of an FMD, Longo said people should first talk to a doctor.

Other experts weigh in on the diet

Melanie Avalon, an Atlanta-based health influencer who hosts “The Intermittent Fasting Podcast,” was not involved in the study, but noted that the research provides “solid data” on how dietary and lifestyle changes affect the aging process.

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“Our society’s fascination with youth and longevity is well-known; however, measuring progress and biological improvements is often subjective,” she told Fox News Digital. 

Woman meal plan

While fasting is often pursued for its visible weight loss benefits, an expert noted that this study highlights its extended benefits for metabolic health. (iStock)

“The concept of ‘chronological age’ can mislead when assessing the body’s aging rate and predicting lifespan,” Avalon went on. 

“For the first time, this study reveals that a fasting-mimicking diet can reduce one’s biological age.”

While traditional fasting can be daunting for some, FMD can be a more feasible alternative.

“It allows for physical, biological and epigenetic benefits without the need for prolonged water-only fasts,” she said. 

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AVOID THESE FAD DIETS IN 2024; TRY THESE HEALTHY METHODS OF EATING INSTEAD

While fasting is often pursued for its visible weight loss benefits, Avalon noted that this study highlights FMD’s extended benefits for metabolic health.

“In an era obsessed with superficial youth and quick fixes, the fasting-mimicking diet offers a tangible method to systematically reverse aging and enhance metabolic health,” she said.

“Unlike the costly and extreme measures of ‘biohacking,’ the FMD provides an accessible and practical solution to reduce biological age.”

Potential risks and limitations

Tanya Freirich, a registered dietitian nutritionist in Charlotte, North Carolina, who practices as The Lupus Dietitian, cautioned that she would not recommend the fasting-mimicking diet to any person who has struggled with an eating disorder in the past or who has trouble controlling their blood sugar.

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“Restricting and changing eating patterns may have negative effects,” she said. 

Woman eating healthy

The fasting-mimicking diet could aid in “returning to full health and living longer and healthier, rather than continuing to take progressively more drugs as we age,” the study author said. (iStock)

Palinski-Wade agreed that those with underlying health conditions should speak to their physician before considering a restrictive diet plan. 

“A very low-calorie diet may not be appropriate for those with uncontrolled diabetes, a history of hypoglycemia, a history of disordered eating, or those who are pregnant or nursing,” she said.

Before making any dietary changes, Freirich stressed the need for “extensive education” to be provided.

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“While changing the timing and amount of our food intake is an approach worth examining, it is also important to remember to choose health-promoting foods daily,” the dietitian continued. 

“The food choices we make daily have a large impact on our weight, blood sugars, heart health, immune system and more. If fasting doesn’t feel like the right choice for you, speaking with a registered dietitian about the dietary changes for your health is always recommended.”

Nutritionist

Before making any dietary changes, a nutritionist (not pictured) told Fox News Digital that people need “extensive education” to be provided. (iStock)

The study had some limitations, both dietitians noted.

“It was a small sample size of healthy young-ish individuals,” Freirich said. “The results may be helpful and useful for other people after more research is completed in a larger age range and including people with other medical concerns.”  

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Palinski-Wade reiterated that the studies on FMD have included smaller sample sizes of generally healthy adults, which means the results cannot be generalized to all populations.

“FMD may offer promising benefits and may be an excellent tool to consider for those looking to improve long-term health and reduce future disease risk, but more research is needed on larger and more diverse populations to fully understand the benefits it may offer,” she added.

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Kidney swap saves two lives, plus surprising COVID effects and IVF uncertainty

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Kidney swap saves two lives, plus surprising COVID effects and IVF uncertainty

‘SUPERBLY TIMED’ – Four Texas residents are forever connected by two kidney donations in different cities. The recipients, donors and doctors share their story. Continue reading…

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Senior women should aim for a mixture of aerobic and weight-lifting exercises on a regular basis, a doctor said. (iStock)

PARENTAL CHOICE – After the Florida surgeon general sent guidance to parents about school attendance amid measles outbreaks, doctors share their reactions. Continue reading…

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Gerald Branim - half-marathon

Gerald Branim, 55, was a marathon runner when he got COVID, which led to a paralyzed diaphragm that stopped him in his tracks.  (Institute for Advanced Reconstruction)

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Newborn baby

A decision from the Alabama Supreme Court has led to a halt in IVF services at some locations and a flurry of protests from providers in the fertility space. (iStock)

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Amid measles outbreaks, Florida Department of Health speaks out against ‘false information’

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Amid measles outbreaks, Florida Department of Health speaks out against ‘false information’

Amid ongoing measles outbreaks at Florida schools, the state’s Department of Health released an updated statement on Wednesday, which was provided to Fox News Digital.

There have been a total of nine confirmed measles cases as of Tuesday in Broward County, with seven of them reported at Manatee Bay Elementary in Weston, according to local reports.

Last week, Florida Surgeon General Joseph Ladapo issued a letter to parents urging them to make their own decisions about whether to send their children to school.

AMID FLORIDA MEASLES OUTBREAK, SURGEON GENERAL LETS PARENTS DECIDE WHETHER TO SEND UNVACCINATED KIDS TO SCHOOL

Typical guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is for unvaccinated children who have not had the measles to stay home for up to 21 days in the event of a potential exposure at school.

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Amid ongoing measles outbreaks at Florida schools, the state’s Department of Health has released an updated statement.  (iStock)

“However, due to the high immunity rate in the community, as well as the burden on families and the educational cost of healthy children missing school, DOH is deferring to parents or guardians to make decisions about school attendance,” Ladapo’s letter stated. 

MEASLES PROTECTION IS PARAMOUNT BEFORE TRAVELING OUTSIDE THE US, SAYS CDC

The Florida Department of Health (FDOH) noted that details of the agency’s investigations into the outbreak are “confidential,” and claimed that “many media outlets are reporting false information and politicizing this outbreak.”

FDOH released a statement to ensure that Floridians are “correctly informed.”

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Boy vaccination

Doctors have expressed their support of measles vaccinations and cautioned against sending unvaccinated kids to school during an outbreak. (iStock)

At Manatee Bay Elementary, where the bulk of the cases have been reported, 97% of students have received at least one dose of the MMR immunization, according to the agency.

On Tuesday, the local news outlet WSVN reported that about 30% of students at Manatee Bay Elementary were unvaccinated, according to the school board.

“Outbreaks are occurring in multiple states, and the national immunization rate for measles is less than 92%,” the statement said.

MEASLES OUTBREAKS IN US, UK HAVE HEALTH AGENCIES ON HIGH ALERT: ‘BE VIGILANT’

When a case of measles is confirmed in a school, FDOH recommends that students who have not had a prior infection or vaccination remain at home for up to 21 days.

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“This is the period of time that the virus can be transmitted. This recommendation has been made at Manatee Bay Elementary,” the agency said.

Florida Surgeon General Joseph Ladapo

Amid measles outbreaks in various parts of the U.S., Florida surgeon general Dr. Joseph Ladapo has issued guidance to parents regarding kids’ school attendance. He also said, “This recommendation may change as epidemiological investigations continue.” (Paul Hennessy/SOPA Images/Sipa USA/Sipa via AP Images)

The last confirmed case of measles was on Feb. 15, 2024, which means the end of the 21-day infectious period is March 7, 2024.

“This may change as epidemiological investigations continue,” the statement noted.

FDOH said it has been working with Manatee Bay Elementary to educate parents on measles.

“Any parent who is concerned for their child, regardless of their immunization status, may choose to keep their children home.”

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“Any parent who is concerned for their child, regardless of their immunization status, may choose to keep their children home and utilize continuous learning during this time,” the agency said.  

“Due to the high immunity rate, as well as the burden on families and educational cost of healthy children missing school, the surgeon general’s current guidance ensures that parents or guardians are able to make the best decisions for their families regarding school attendance,” the statement continued.

measles on a male torso

As of Tuesday, there have been a total of nine confirmed measles cases in Broward County, with seven of them reported at Manatee Bay Elementary in Weston, according to local reports. (iStock )

Other doctors have expressed their support of measles vaccinations and cautioned against sending unvaccinated kids to school during an outbreak.

“At a time when there’s a resurgence of measles in the world and travel is not restricted, and people are coming into this country with measles, it’s extremely important that our children be vaccinated against it,” Dr. Marc Siegel, clinical professor of medicine at NYU Langone Medical Center and a Fox News medical contributor, told Fox News Digital last week.

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Amid the current measles outbreak, he said, “individual choice has to give way to public health and community preservation or safety,” Siegel said.

“The problem here is that if kids start going to school unvaccinated against measles, given how contagious it is and how effective the vaccine is, they are putting other children at risk,” the doctor added.

In a statement sent to Fox News Digital, a member of the District 2 School Board in Broward County stated that the board is working with the state and local health departments. 

“I appreciate the leadership and support by the surgeon general and welcome all resources to help our parents and children,” says Torey Alston, who was formerly a county commissioner. 

“The safety and academic success of our children remains the No. 1 priority.”

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As of Feb. 22, 2024, a total of 35 measles cases had been reported by 15 jurisdictions across the U.S., in Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Louisiana, Maryland, Minnesota, Missouri, New Jersey, New York City, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Washington, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

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