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Oregon health officials confirm first human bubonic plague case since 2015

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Oregon health officials confirm first human bubonic plague case since 2015

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An Oregon resident has been infected with the state’s first case of bubonic plague since 2015, health officials said last week.

The resident was likely infected with plague by their symptomatic pet cat, Deschutes County Health Services said in a news release on Wednesday.

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“All close contacts of the resident and their pet have been contacted and provided medication to prevent illness,” Dr. Richard Fawcett, the Deschutes County health officer, said in the release without identifying the infected resident.

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Officials said there was little risk to the community since the case was identified and treated in the earlier stages of the disease. No additional cases of plague have emerged during the communicable disease investigation. 

Scanning electron micrograph of Yersinia pestis, which causes bubonic plague. (NIH/NAID/IMAGE.FR/BSIP/Universal Images Group via Getty Images, File)

The bubonic plague can progress into the more severe and difficult to treat septicemic plague (bloodstream infection) and/or pneumonic plague (lung infection) if not diagnosed early.

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The last case of human plague in Oregon was reported in 2015, according to Oregon Health Authority.

Yersinia pestis

A mass of Yersinia pestis bacteria, the cause of bubonic plague, as seen in the foregut of a flea vector. (IMAGE POINT FR/NIH/NIAID/BSIP/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)

Humans typically begin to show symptoms of the plague within two to eight days of exposure. Symptoms can include a sudden onset of fever, nausea, weakness, chills, muscle aches and visibly swollen lymph nodes called buboes.  

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Humans can be infected through bites or contact with infected fleas or animals.

Yersinia pestis smear

A bubonic plague smear demonstrating the presence of Yersinia pestis bacteria. (Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images)

In Central Oregon, officials warned that the most common animals to carry bubonic plague are squirrels and chipmunks, though they noted that mice and other rodents can also carry the disease. 

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To prevent the spread of the plague, officials recommend that residents and pets avoid all contact with rodents and fleas, including sick, injured or dead rodents. 

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Ask a doc: ‘Why am I always thirsty — and what should I do about it?'

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Ask a doc: ‘Why am I always thirsty — and what should I do about it?'

If you’re always thirsty even though you try your best to drink water and stay hydrated, there may be health-related reasons.

Beyond impacting your quality of life, excessive thirst can be a symptom of some medical conditions.

Fox News Digital checked in with two doctors to flesh out the common causes behind constant water cravings.

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Here’s a deep dive.

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What causes excessive thirst?

While there are many reasons a person may be feeling more thirsty than usual, there are some common culprits.

Beyond impacting your quality of life, excessive thirst can be a symptom of some medical conditions. (iStock)

Those include dehydration, metabolic disorders such as diabetes or high blood calcium levels, medication side effects and a problem with the pituitary gland or kidneys called diabetes insipidus, which can lead to increased thirst. 

Atil Kargi, M.D., a clinical endocrinologist in the department of neurosurgery at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, broke down those causes in a conversation with Fox News Digital.

Dehydration

Dehydration can occur due to excessive sweating, diarrhea or vomiting, according to Kargi.

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Alcohol and caffeine can also have diuretic effects that lead to dehydration.

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Eating a high-salt diet or spicy foods may also increase thirst, the doctor noted.

High blood sugar

Diabetes or high blood calcium levels can lead to increased urine production and dehydration.

This triggers thirst — which is the body’s first-line defense mechanism against dehydration, said Kargi.

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Side effects of pharmaceuticals

Some medications can cause increased thirst.

Woman drinking in bed

Dehydration, metabolic disorders such as diabetes or high blood calcium levels and medication side effects can lead to excessive thirst. (iStock)

“In some cases, this can simply be because of dry mouth, which can be observed in those persons taking medications to treat depression or other conditions,” the doctor said. 

Other medications, such as lithium or diuretics, can cause increased urine production and therefore indirectly increase thirst sensation, Kargi added.

Diabetes insipidus

With this condition, the pituitary gland and kidneys fail to work together to keep water in the body. 

“Normally, our pituitary glands produce a hormone called anti-diuretic hormone (AVP) that sends a signal to our kidneys that regulates how much urine we produce,” Kargi said. 

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“AVP deficiency or certain kidney disorders can lead to increased water loss via urination, which triggers our thirst mechanism in an effort to prevent dehydration.”

People with diabetes insipidus do not have increased blood sugar levels, said Kargi. 

“This condition should not be confused with the much more common form of diabetes, which refers to those persons having high blood sugar levels.”

Some autoimmune disorders

Certain autoimmune disorders can also lead to excessive thirst and dryness, said Marie-Elizabeth Ramas, M.D., a family physician at Southern New Hampshire Health in Nashua, New Hampshire. 

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Woman drinking water

Certain autoimmune disorders can also lead to excessive thirst and dryness, a doctor said.  (iStock)

“Diseases like cystic fibrosis, Sjogren’s syndrome and other hormonal-related autoimmune disorders can lead to excessive thirst,” she told Fox News Digital.

Lifestyle changes to reduce excessive thirst

If high salt intake or spicy foods seem to be worsening the sense of thirst, dietary changes may help, experts said. 

“Drinking water rather than other liquids, such as energy drinks or caffeinated beverages, can help, too,” Kargi suggested.

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In the absence of severe disorders and pathologies, staying hydrated is one of the best ways to improve overall well-being, Ramas said. 

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“I recommend that my patients drink at least 2 to 3 liters of water a day,” she said. “Just taking 10 gulps of water every hour can help with improving energy, urination, bloating, skin and hair health.”

When to see a doctor

If people notice they’re producing large amounts of urine and urinating more frequently, this may be a reason to discuss symptoms with a doctor, Kargi told Fox News Digital. 

If increased thirst occurs along with other worrisome symptoms — such as excessive fatigue, weakness or weight loss — this may signal a doctor to check laboratory tests to rule out more serious medical conditions, he added.

health test

If increased thirst occurs along with other symptoms — such as excessive fatigue, weakness or weight loss — it is recommended to see a doctor for an exam and laboratory tests. (iStock)

In most cases of increased thirst, doctors can arrive at a diagnosis and treatment plan with a detailed exam and simple laboratory tests, Kargi said. 

Not all patients who report increased thirst have an underlying medical condition.

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“We sometimes encounter cases in which psychological factors leading to a sensation of dry mouth may be causing excessive thirst sensation without any other clear reason,” the doctor said.

This condition, called “psychogenic polydipsia,” can be diagnosed with a water deprivation test, Kargi said.

A man pours cold water into a glass.

In the absence of severe disorders and pathologies, staying hydrated is one of the best ways to improve overall well-being, a doctor said. (iStock)

When treating his own patients who complain of increased thirst, the doctor starts by gathering a complete history, focusing on diet and lifestyle, then asks about any other symptoms. 

“If you are a patient who’s seeing a doctor for a complaint of increased thirst, please tell your doctor about any other medical conditions you may have and any medications you are taking,” he advised. 

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“If the cause is not apparent from the initial history and exam, we may need to investigate further with blood and urine tests.”

High blood sugar or high blood calcium levels may require an endocrinologist for evaluation and treatment, Kargi noted.

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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“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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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.

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

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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

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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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