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Stiff person syndrome patients share what it’s like to live with the rare disease

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Stiff person syndrome patients share what it’s like to live with the rare disease

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A little-known neurological disorder has been thrust into the spotlight after a documentary revealed singer Celine Dion’s struggle with stiff person syndrome (SPS).

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The disease is rare, affecting only one or two people for every million. Yet for those who are diagnosed, it can have a devastating impact, causing muscle rigidity, pain and spasms.

LIKE CELINE DION, PENNSYLVANIA MAN IS FIGHTING STIFF PERSON SYNDROM WITH ‘EVERYTHING I HAVE’

Two people who are living with stiff person syndrome — Carrie Robinette, 45, from San Diego, California, and Corwyn Wilkey, 44, who lives in Anchorage, Alaska — shared with Fox News Digital the details of their experience. 

Path to diagnosis

Robinette, a Navy wife and mother who was working as a full-time defense consultant, had been dealing with multiple health issues — pain, neuropathy, fatigue, migraines, asthma, allergies, thyroid and endocrine issues, kidney issues, even cancer — for more than 15 years.

“I was honestly ‘always sick’ from the time I was born,” she said in a phone interview with Fox News Digital.

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Two people who are living with stiff person syndrome — Carrie Robinette, 45, from San Diego, California, at left, and Corwyn Wilkey, 44, who lives in Anchorage, Alaska, right — shared with Fox News Digital what their experiences have been. (Carrie Robinette/Corwyn Wilkey)

“Also, even as far back as high school, I had incredibly tight muscles in my legs, and there were countless times that I woke up crying with charley horse cramps in my calves.”

Then, in May 2023, Robinette began experiencing painful, full-body spasms.

LUPUS EXPERT DEBUNKS 7 COMMON MYTHS ABOUT THE AUTOIMMUNE DISEASE: ‘NOT A DEATH SENTENCE’

That kicked off a year of testing and visits to specialists in rheumatology, nephrology, endocrinology and neurology.

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“After learning more and going back through my medical history, we realized that symptoms we previously blamed on other causes were likely early signs of stiff person syndrome.”

Over the last year, as Robinette’s “constellation of symptoms” intensified, the doctors finally narrowed it down.

“It is beyond frustrating to literally not know at the start of each day if it will be a good day or a bad day.”

“There is not a consensus within the SPS community on exact diagnostic criteria, and some doctors seem hesitant to diagnose rare diseases, so the journey to diagnosis is complicated by how rare the illness is,” Robinette said.

“Definitive testing is not readily available.”

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Carrie Robinette

Robinette, at left, receives treatment for her stiff person syndrome at a San Diego hospital. (Carrie Robinette)

These days, Robinette’s biggest challenge is frequent pain

“Even if my body is not actively spasming, it feels like my muscles are sore, even bruised — all day, every day,” she said. “I think eventually, we grow accustomed to our pain, so it just becomes the new normal.”

Some days, Robinette can walk and move “almost like normal,” while other days she can’t walk without a cane or walker.

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She regularly uses a mobility chair when traveling any distance beyond 50 feet.

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“It is beyond frustrating to literally not know at the start of each day if it will be a good day or a bad day.”

‘Initial symptoms’

Wilkey, a father of young children who works as an interpretive media publications specialist for Alaska State Park and is also a singer, first noticed muscle spasms in his larynx while performing with his band.

Corwyn Wilkey

As a musician, Corwyn Wilkey said his symptoms share some similarities to Celine Dion’s. “My initial symptoms were throat and facial spasms that have progressed into full-body seizures,” he told Fox News Digital.  (Corwyn Wilkey)

“Like Celine Dion, my initial symptoms were throat and facial spasms that have progressed into full-body seizures,” he told Fox News Digital via email. 

Wilkey was officially diagnosed with stiff person syndrome in 2021 at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota.

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“The most prominent physical challenges are muscle stiffness and rigidity, seizure-like muscle spasms, cognitive distortion and decline, chronic pain and fatigue, PTSD, loss of coordination and fine motor control, headaches, joint pain, back pain, and inability to coordinate my body the way I want to,” he said.

Wilkey’s full-body spasms are sometimes strong enough to dislocate and even fracture bones, he said. 

James Chung, M.D., PhD, chief medical officer at Kyverna Therapeutics in Emeryville, California, noted that diagnosis of stiff person syndrome is a complex process. (He has not treated either of the patients mentioned in this article.)

James Chung, M.D., PhD, chief medical officer at Kyverna Therapeutics in Emeryville, California, said a diagnosis of stiff person syndrome is a complex process.

James Chung, M.D., PhD, chief medical officer at Kyverna Therapeutics in Emeryville, California, said a diagnosis of stiff person syndrome is a complex process. (Dr. James Chung)

“We start with a detailed clinical evaluation, looking for characteristic muscle rigidity and spasms,” Chung, who focuses on drug development for autoimmune diseases, told Fox News Digital via email. 

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Blood tests are also needed to detect the antibodies that are found in a majority of cases, he said.

“Given the rarity of SPS, patients often feel misunderstood, even by health care professionals.”

“Electromyography (EMG) is essential, showing continuous motor unit activity in affected muscles,” he said.

In many cases, doctors will perform a lumbar puncture (spinal tap) to analyze cerebrospinal fluid for elevated antibodies and to rule out other conditions, along with imaging scans. 

“SPS is often a diagnosis of exclusion due to its rarity,” Chung said.

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Limited treatments

While there is currently no cure for stiff person syndrome, therapies can help manage symptoms and improve patients’ quality of life.

Treatments are highly personalized for each patient, according to Chung.

Carrie Robinette

Robinette shows what her life looks like with SPS. “For now, unfortunately, I am currently battling my condition without any helpful medications.” (Carrie Robinette)

In most cases, patients take medications like diazepam and baclofen to reduce muscle stiffness and spasms, and may take intravenous immunotherapies to help reduce autoantibodies. 

“Pain management often involves a combination of medications,” Chung said. “Physical and occupational therapy are vital.”

Some current medications can have intense side effects, however.

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RARE CONDITION CAUSED PATIENT TO SEE ‘DEMONIC’ FACES, SAYS STUDY ON ‘VISUAL DISORDER’

Robinette has experienced hallucinations, loss of muscle control, nausea, vomiting and brain fog.

“For now, unfortunately, I am currently battling my condition without any helpful medications, and it is nearly unbearable,” she said.

Kyverna Therapeutics is currently developing a new CAR-T cell therapy, KYV-101, that aims to “reset” the immune systems of patients with autoimmune diseases, according to Chung.

Corwyn Wilkey

Wilkey, pictured with his children, endured a dark time after his diagnosis. “I lost everything — my marriage, all my money, my home and even my children for a time,” he said.  (Corwyn Wilkey)

“This approach could potentially offer a more targeted treatment that addresses the root cause of SPS rather than just managing symptoms,” he said.

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The drug has recently gotten FDA approval to enter phase 2 clinical trials.

“I can really see it being the life-changing treatment that so many people with SPS and other autoimmune conditions need,” said Robinette. “I just wish science moved faster!”

Mental and emotional effects

Many patients with stiff person syndrome struggle with anxiety about experiencing spasms in public, which often leads to social isolation, according to Chung. 

“Depression is common, stemming from chronic pain, loss of independence and the disease’s unpredictable nature,” he told Fox News Digital.

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“Patients also frequently experience frustration with the medical system due to misdiagnosis or dismissal of symptoms,” he added.

“Given the rarity of SPS, patients often feel misunderstood, even by health care professionals.”

When Wilkey received his diagnosis, he struggled with treatment-resistant depression, PTSD and complex regional pain syndrome, he told Fox News Digital.

Carrie Robinette

“This past year, on my journey with SPS, my family and I have really been put through the wringer,” Robinette told Fox News Digital. (Carrie Robinette)

“The difficulties associated with the disease destroyed my marriage and, for a time, turned me into a rage monster,” he said. 

“It has felt very much like receiving a death sentence.”

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To treat his “incredible” pain, Wilkey was prescribed oxycodone and morphine, which ultimately led to addiction.

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“I became unable to function and felt like a burden on my family, which led me to attempt suicide,” he said.

Wilkey underwent a period of hospitalization, intensive therapy and pain rehabilitation programs.

“I lost everything — my marriage, all my money, my home and even my children for a time,” he said. 

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Corwyn Wilkey

Today, Wilkey continues to participate in palliative care therapy, as well as psychedelic-assisted therapy for PTSD and depression. (Corwyn Wilkey)

Today, Wilkey continues to participate in palliative care therapy — as SPS is considered a progressive and terminal disease — as well as psychedelic-assisted therapy for PTSD and depression.

Robinette has also experienced mental and emotional challenges stemming from her disease.

“This past year, on my journey with SPS, my family and I have really been put through the wringer,” she told Fox News Digital.

“It takes a toll to feel like you are in a medical crisis and yet know that even if you go to the hospital, no one will help you.”

“Seizing, in 10 out of 10 pain, losing control of muscles, and having the body twist and contort into a terrifying, seemingly endless episode — some of these events last 10 to 60 minutes, which feels like an eternity.”

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The hardest part, she said, is that some doctors have told her, “It could be in your head,” or “We can’t help you because we aren’t sure what it is.”

“It takes a toll to feel like you are in a medical crisis and yet know that even if you go to the hospital, no one will help you,” Robinette said. 

Celine Dion at the Grammys

Celine Dion was diagnosed with stiff person syndrome in 2022. (Neilson Barnard/Getty Images for The Recording Academy)

“I think it would make a world of difference to SPS patients to not have the added stress of having to constantly have to advocate for care.”

Stress management is crucial for SPS patients, Chung said, as emotional stress can trigger or worsen spasms. 

“Supporting mental health is a key component of comprehensive SPS care.”

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Who is most at risk?

Stiff person syndrome is a progressive and ultimately terminal neuromuscular autoimmune disease.

SPS shows certain demographic patterns, Chung said. 

“It is incredibly empowering to know that you are not alone.”

“Women are more commonly affected, with a 2:1 ratio compared to men,” he said.

The typical age of diagnosis is between 30 and 60 years of age. 

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“There’s a strong association with other autoimmune disorders,” Chung said, which can complicate the diagnosis process. 

                

“About 30% to 40% of SPS patients have type 1 diabetes, and we see higher rates of thyroiditis, vitiligo and pernicious anemia,” the doctor went on.

“This clustering suggests a genetic predisposition to autoimmunity, although we haven’t identified specific genes for SPS.”

Advice for handling a diagnosis

For those who are living with stiff person syndrome, Chung said the best course of action is to get education from reliable sources and to build a strong support network.

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“Work closely with a multidisciplinary medical team, be proactive in your treatment and communicate openly with your health care providers,” he advised.

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The doctor also recommended practicing stress-reduction techniques and staying as physically active as safely possible under professional guidance.

Carrie Robinette

Robinette is pictured with her husband, Jared Robinette, who she said has given her “incredible support” throughout her struggle with stiff person syndrome. “He has been at my side through every terrifying episode,” she said. “He has gone above and beyond caring for me. I am truly lucky to have such a kind and thoughtful partner.” (Carrie Robinette)

Wilkey’s best advice: “Don’t try and go it alone.”

He said, “You will drive yourself insane and beat your head against the wall, trying to cope on your own. Connecting with other survivors and developing a solid support system of crucial allies is essential.”

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For Robinette, sharing her story has been a helpful coping mechanism.

“It is incredibly empowering to know that you are not alone,” she said.

For more Health articles, visit www.foxnews/health 

“I believe that the more our voices rise, the more chance we all have of being heard.”

Those seeking more information and resources for stiff person syndrome can visit The Stiff Person Syndrome Research Foundation at www.stiffperson.org.

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Doctors react after Biden’s live address to the nation: A concerning ‘lack of emotion’

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Doctors react after Biden’s live address to the nation: A concerning ‘lack of emotion’

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After President Joe Biden’s address to the nation Wednesday night, multiple doctors shared their opinions with Fox News Digital about his perceived health status based on his live speech.

Seated in the Oval Office, the president spoke relatively briefly about his withdrawal from the 2024 race and his commitment to continuing to serve the country for the next few months. 

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He did not mention his recent COVID-19 infection, ongoing concerns about his cognitive health, or the recent assassination attempt on the life of former President Donald Trump.

AFTER BIDEN DROPS OUT OF RACE, DOCTORS REVEAL WHY THE DECISION MAY HAVE BEEN BEST FOR HIS HEALTH

Dr. Marc Siegel, clinical professor of medicine at NYU Langone Medical Center and a Fox News medical contributor — who has never treated the president — noted that Biden seemed to be reading from a teleprompter on Wednesday night, as he often does, making it difficult for those watching to gauge his medical fitness.

Although Biden stumbled over his words a few times, Siegel was more concerned about the president’s apparent “lack of emotion.”

President Joe Biden addresses the nation from the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, Wednesday, July 24, 2024, about his decision to drop his Democratic presidential reelection bid.  (Getty Images)

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“It is a very emotional time for him and he isn’t showing it,” the doctor told Fox News Digital after the speech. “He seems to lack conviction.”

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Siegel expressed concern that Biden “could be depressed and shocked by the current reality.”

“I feel compassion for him,” Siegel went on. “How can he quote from the Declaration [of Independence] without much conviction? I feel bad for him and for us.”

“It is a very emotional time for him and he isn’t showing it.”

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Dr. Robert Lufkin, a California-based physician and medical school professor at UCLA and USC, also weighed in on Biden.

Lufkin noted that he has never examined Biden, but offered his observations based on Wednesday’s speech and recent media events.

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In previous appearances, Biden has shown signs of “cognitive deterioration,” the doctor told Fox News Digital.

“The findings in his previous presentations could have a variety of causes, including sleep deprivation, sedation, metabolic abnormalities or even neurodegenerative diseases.”

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Doctors react Biden

From left to right, Dr. Earnest Lee Murray; Dr. Marc Siegel; and Dr. Robert Lufkin offered observations about the president’s Wednesday night speech. (Dr. Earnest Lee Murray; Dr. Marc Siegel; Dr. Robert Lufkin)

Tonight’s short presentation appeared to be read from a teleprompter, Lufkin agreed — “which is less demanding than the more spontaneous Q&A debate format of some of his previous events.”

In previous appearances, such as the June 27 debate, Biden has shown “confused rambling, sudden loss of train of thought in the middle of a sentence, halting speech, and the repeated use of the word ‘anyway’ when lost in a sentence,” Lufkin noted.

      

“Tonight, we did not see these in his presentation,” he said. “His delivery was fairly uniform without interruptions.”

The fact that these findings were less apparent tonight could be due to the speech format of the presentation and use of a teleprompter, according to Lufkin.

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President Joe Biden addresses the nation from the Oval Office

Biden addressed the nation from the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday, July 24, 2024. “That format is much less challenging and less likely to uncover pathology than a more rigorous Q&A exchange or debate format,” a doctor told Fox News Digital. (Evan Vucci, Pool via AP)

“That format is much less challenging and less likely to uncover pathology than a more rigorous Q&A exchange or debate format,” he went on.

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He said he hoped that “continued interactions with Mr. Biden in various presentation formats will allow us to understand his situation in more detail.”

Biden arrival

“I suspect the stress of trying to run for office and be president was leading to even worse daily cognitive performance,” said a neurologist on Wednesday night after watching Biden’s speech. Above, the president on Wednesday after returning to public view after nearly a week of seclusion due to COVID.  (Getty Images)

Dr. Earnest Lee Murray, a board-certified neurologist at Jackson-Madison County General Hospital in Jackson, Tennessee, said the speech from the Oval Office was “clearly better” for Biden than the debate, but also noted that the president struggled at times with reading from the teleprompter. 

Murray has not treated or examined Biden.

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“Reading simple passages do become difficult in patients with dementia,” he told Fox News Digital, expressing a professional opinion in general about such cases. 

The president struggled at times with reading from the teleprompter. 

“Patients with a dementing process have significant difficulties with multitasking,” said Murray, again speaking generally.

“President Biden seemed more rested and relaxed tonight,” Murray said. 

“I suspect the stress of trying to run for office and be president was leading to even worse daily cognitive performance,” he also said. 

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For more Health articles, visit www.foxnews/health

In response to earlier outreach from Fox News Digital, the White House press office said that “health was not a factor” in the president’s decision to withdraw from the 2024 race. 

“He looks forward to finishing his term and delivering more historic results for the American people,” the White House said in its statement. 

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Dengue surges in UAE after record-breaking rainfall leaves ideal conditions for mosquitoes

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Dengue surges in UAE after record-breaking rainfall leaves ideal conditions for mosquitoes
  • Dengue has spiked worldwide. The World Health Organization declared it an emergency in December as cases have globally increased tenfold over the last generation.
  • The United Arab Emirates have issued many warnings about dengue. Mosquitoes spread dengue and have flourished in the UAE after it experienced record-setting rainfall.
  • While the UAE did not answer questions regarding the number of cases, activists say that laborers are being hit the hardest by the virus.

Since the United Arab Emirates witnessed its heaviest recorded rainfall ever three months ago, the desert nation has issued a multitude of warnings about dengue which, activists say, has surged and struck hardest among the vast populations of laborers.

The tropical disease, spread by mosquitoes, has witnessed a worldwide spike. The World Health Organization declared it an emergency in December as cases have globally increased tenfold over the last generation.

Many people infected by the virus are asymptomatic, but some experience headaches, fever and flu-like symptoms. Severe cases can lead to serious bleeding, shock and death.

LOCAL DENGUE FEVER CASES CONFIRMED IN FLORIDA KEYS, SPREAD BY MOSQUITO BITES

In the UAE, a federation of seven sheikhdoms, the disease has usually spread due to travel on long-haul carriers into the country. However, on April 25, the Department of Health alerted that locally transmitted cases without travel history have been documented since 2023 “as a result of climate change and an environment conducive to mosquito breeding.”

Changes in weather patterns turn countries previously inhospitable to Dengue-carrying mosquitoes into possible habitats.

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The April deluges, which flooded portions of major highways and Dubai’s international airport, only amplified the risk in the Gulf country. While major thoroughfares quickly saw vacuum pumps arrive, others remained saddled for weeks with stagnant pools of water, where virus-carrying mosquitoes lay their eggs and spread the disease.

An abandoned vehicle stands in floodwater covering a major road in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, on April 18, 2024, after heavy thunderstorms. (AP Photo/Christopher Pike, File)

No official figures have been shared in the Emirates where broad laws severely restrict freedom of speech and almost all major local media are either state-owned or state-affiliated outlets. Queries sent to various governmental organizations about the exact number of confirmed dengue cases went unanswered.

The WHO also declined to discuss the situation in the UAE when reached by The Associated Press. However, the U.N. health agency noted in its May 30 report that there have been continued dengue outbreaks in Mideast “countries with stronger health-care systems that have been affected by unusual rains due to climate change.” It also said: “Timely data sharing also remains a challenge for other countries in the region for reasons such as the potential impact in the tourism, economy and other sectors.”

Meanwhile, public awareness campaigns across the sheikdom on the importance of cleaning stagnant water and warnings about dengue, also known as breakbone fever, have been widely aired on state media.

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Still, activists stressed that communities of laborers are bearing the brunt of the disease.

The slow cleanup of flooded areas in industrial sites has worsened the spread of the disease among laborers, some of whom have left their home countries already affected by climate change for a chance to earn money in the UAE, according to a report issued by FairSquare, a London-based group focused on labor rights in the Gulf Arab states.

The July 4 report detailed a surge in dengue cases among migrant worker communities across the Emirates, citing three healthcare workers, a government official, and migrant workers. The group attributed the rise in cases to a lagging government response to the spread of the viral infection in areas where migrant laborers live and work.

James Lynch, a FairSquare co-director once banned from entering the UAE while at Amnesty International, told the AP that “the important thing here is the disproportionate impact” of how the virus seems to mainly spread among laborers. “What you would want to see is an even-handed approach to dealing with clean up and it doesn’t seem to be the case here.”

No specific figures were shared in the report which quoted a nurse, who works at a private clinic in the city of Sharjah, as saying they receive over 30 cases every four or five days, describing the rise in cases as “alarming.”

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The UAE’s overall population of more than 9.2 million is only 10% Emirati, with millions of low-paid workers from Africa, the Middle East and Southeast Asia.

“I call it a double whammy of climate change on this very vulnerable population,” said Barrak Alahmad, a research fellow at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. “I see that these migrant workers are on the front line facing the effects of climate change and health.”

The effect of the virus also resonated in Iran.

The Islamic Republic relies on Dubai as a major transit point to the rest of the world due to the international sanctions it faces over its nuclear program and tensions with the West.

On July 9, Shahnam Arshi, an Iranian health ministry official, said of 149 people infected with dengue, 130 had been infected in the UAE while Hossein Farshidi, deputy health minister, said the first known infected person entered Iran on May 15, after the flooding in the Emirates.

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Farshidi, in his latest remarks on July 23, said the number of infected people in the country, rose to 152, without giving further details.

This year, Iran also reported its first locally transmitted cases of dengue, saying the number rose to 12 in July, all of them located in the Bandar Lengeh port, south of Iran.

Earlier this year, Brazil’s Rio de Janeiro declared a public health emergency because of mosquito-borne dengue fever, while in July, U.S. officials warned doctors to stay on alert as the tropical disease broke international records.

“Each year, we are going to see new places and different local governments struggling with either dengue or other issues from climate change,” said Alahmad, the research fellow. “It is an ever-expanding issue. I don’t know if we have an easy fix to this.”

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Sleep and travel don’t always mix: Here are 7 tips to help you rest on the road

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Sleep and travel don’t always mix: Here are 7 tips to help you rest on the road

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More than half of U.S. adults plan to take a summer vacation this year, surveys have found — but for many, the time off may not be as restful as they’d hoped.

Whether traveling for pleasure or business, it’s common for people to experience sleep struggles away from home, experts say. Yet there are some ways to improve your rest while on the road.

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Why does travel interfere with sleep?

For most people, struggles with sleep on the first night of vacation are part of a natural survival mechanism, expert say.

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“Our brains enter ‘protector mode,’ especially when we’re traveling with family,” said Martin Seeley, CEO and sleep expert at Mattress Next Day in the U.K., in an email to Fox News Digital.

“In an unfamiliar place, our brains become instinctively more alert, increasing adrenaline to keep us awake and ready to defend ourselves or our loved ones.”

Jet lag, trip logistics and changing schedules can interfere with sleep, experts agreed. (iStock)

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Dr. Chelsie Rohrscheib, a neuroscientist and sleep specialist at Wesper in New York, agreed that sleeping in a foreign environment places the brain on high alert, and often results in light sleep and poor sleep quality for the first couple of days.

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An unfamiliar environment can also throw off a person’s sleep cycle, she told Fox News Digital, as the bed and sleeping area may be much different than at home, which usually requires an adjustment period. 

“You have almost no control over the type of mattress, pillow and bedding you’ll have while traveling, and you may find it uncomfortable,” Rohrscheib said.

Sleep triple split

Experts shared seven tips to help improve sleep while traveling. (iStock)

If traveling to a different time zone, that can disrupt the circadian rhythm, which is the body’s 24-hour biological clock. 

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“You may find it very difficult to adjust to your new sleep and wake time, which causes poor sleep for up to a week,” the doctor noted.

STRUGGLING TO FALL ASLEEP? TRY THIS SIMPLE TRICK TO DRIFT OFF QUICKLY

All of these factors can add up to daytime sleepiness, cognitive impairment, low energy and moodiness, the expert warned.

Changes to diet and exercise routines, modified schedules, and stress and anxiety about trip logistics can also affect the ability to sleep, according to experts with the Sleep Foundation.

7 tips to get better sleep while traveling

“Luckily, there are ways to ‘trick’ your brain into reducing levels of adrenaline and feeling more relaxed,” Seeley said.

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1. Bring familiar items from home

Seeley recommends taking something from your bedroom at home that your brain will associate with sleeping in a safe environment.

GOING TO BED AFTER THIS TIME COULD LEAD TO POORER MENTAL HEALTH, A STANFORD STUDY FINDS

“The pillowcase from your bed won’t take up any room in your suitcase, and it will smell like your laundry detergent — this makes it ideal for relaxing your brain and body,” he suggested.

Smells are very powerful when it comes to triggering memories, the expert noted.

“So if you’re surrounded by the same smells of your bed at home, your brain will more than likely start to feel more safe and relaxed.”

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2. Mimic your home environment

Seeley recommends setting up your sleeping area to resemble your home environment as closely as possible. 

Girl sleeping

One expert recommends bringing your own pillow, as well as a sleep mask and earplugs, to help promote better rest. (iStock)

This might include bringing a small nightlight if you use one at home, adjusting the room’s temperature to your liking, and using a white noise machine to block unfamiliar sounds, he suggests. 

“These small adjustments can help make the new space feel more familiar, which will aid you in falling asleep quicker,” Seeley said.

RARE SLEEP DISORDER CAUSES PEOPLE TO COOK AND EAT FOOD WHILE THEY’RE ASLEEP

Rohrscheib also recommends bringing your own pillow, as well as a sleep mask and earplugs.

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“You can’t be sure your accommodations will have sufficient blackout blinds or soundproofing,” she said.

3. Stay active during the day leading up to your first night

Seeley recommends spending time outside during the day to help regulate your body’s internal clock

“Whether it’s swimming, hiking or exploring local sights on foot, physical exertion can help promote better sleep at night,” he advised. 

Man sleeping on plane

If traveling to a different time zone, that can disrupt the circadian rhythm, which is the body’s 24-hour biological clock, experts say. (iStock)

“Also, natural sunlight exposure helps reinforce your circadian rhythm, making it easier for you to fall asleep at night.”

Once you arrive at your destination, it’s important to continue to get ample exposure to sunlight within the first hour of waking at your travel destination, Rohrscheib noted, as this will help reset your internal clock.

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4. Stick to your usual bedtime routine

Maintaining your usual bedtime routine sends a signal to the brain that it’s time to wind down, according to Seeley. 

“Engage in the same pre-sleep activities you do at home, whether it’s reading a book, taking a warm shower or listening to calming music,” he advised. 

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“This consistency helps cue your brain to prepare for sleep.”

If traveling with children, Seeley recommends encouraging them to stick to regular routines as well — such as brushing their teeth, reading a bedtime story or cuddling with a favorite toy — to help them feel more secure and ready for bed.

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little boy yawns in bed

If traveling with children, experts recommend encouraging them to stick to regular routines to help them feel more secure and ready for bed. (iStock)

“Anything that your brain associates with your normal bedtime environment will make it easier to fall asleep and stay asleep,” he said.

5. Stay active during the day leading up to your first night

Spend time outside during the day to help regulate your body’s internal clock, experts recommend. 

“Whether it’s swimming, hiking or exploring local sights on foot, physical exertion can help promote better sleep at night,” Seeley advised. 

“Also, natural sunlight exposure helps reinforce your circadian rhythm, making it easier for you to fall asleep at night.”

6. Adjust your schedule

If you are traveling out of your time zone, Rohrscheib recommends adjusting your sleep schedule in the days leading up to your departure to make the transition easier. 

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“You can also help reset your biological clock by taking a low dose of melatonin at the time you wish to sleep while traveling,” Rohrscheib suggested.  

Man on phone

Experts recommend avoiding the use of electronic devices at least an hour before bedtime. (iStock)

“Taking melatonin for a week before you leave can help you reset your biological clock faster.”

7. Limit screen time 

“Avoid using electronic devices such as smartphones, tablets or laptops at least an hour before bedtime,” Seeley said. 

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“The blue light emitted from screens can interfere with your body’s production of melatonin, the hormone that regulates our sleep.”

Rohrscheib also recommends avoiding bright lights — especially from electronic devices — the hour before you go to sleep at your destination.

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