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Coronavirus effect on other diseases

People in protective clothing disinfecting the area

 

The effect of coronavirus on the economy and our daily lives has been huge. COVID-19 has rightly dominated government and organization policies, social life, and media headlines so far this year – but are other diseases getting the right attention?

Neglected diseases

The World Health Organization maintains a department dedicated to the research and treatment of Neglected Tropical Diseases. These conditions are considered “neglected” by mainstream Medicine by virtue of a relative lack of impact and presence in Western countries.

In January 2020, GIDEON listed 360 generic infectious diseases in humans – of which eighteen were classified as neglected by W.H.O. 

That month, a new disease was added, to a new total of 361. In only a few short months, COronaVIrus Disease 2019appears to have lead to the neglect of all other conditions.

Why we shouldn’t lose sight of Ebola

A few years ago, Ebola became a household word for much of the world’s population. An outbreak in West Africa from 2014 to 2016 resulted in over 28,000 cases – and 11,325 deaths. During this event, several individuals with Ebola arrived in Western Europe and the United States, and many in the professional and lay community warned of a potential disaster should the disease spread beyond Africa.

During 2018 to 2020, a subsequent Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo numbered 3,463 cases and 2,280 deaths. Few realize that a concurrent epidemic of COVID-19 in this same country had already involved 8,249 cases and 193 deaths as of July 18. In other words, the number of deaths due to Ebola was twelve-fold the number due to COVID-19. Although the Ebola outbreak ended in April, yet another outbreak began in this same country on June 1 – with 49 cases and 20 deaths as of July 14.

During the current COVID-19 pandemic, the Democratic Republic of Congo has also reported outbreaks of plague, measles, and monkeypox. “Not every cough is COVID“, wrote GIDEON co-founder Dr. Stephen Berger in a recent Healio article.  The message is clear – COVID-19 must not result in the neglect of already-neglected diseases.

See our previous post ‘Ebola, forgotten but not gone

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National Picnic Month and how to enjoy it amid COVID-19

Young friends having barbecue picnic in the nature, playing guitar, playing badminton, enjoying sunny July month outdoors

Did you know July is National Picnic Month? It was a pleasant surprise for us too! 

Summer picnics are a fantastic way to spend time with the family, enjoying beautiful parks and weather – but as we all know this year is different. Unfortunately, COVID-19 is still very a much threat to much of the country, but don’t you worry, we’ve put together our top 5 helpful tips for staying safe while still making the most of your local recreational spaces. So before you pack that hamper, take a few minutes to learn how you can stay safe and be prepared.

1. Keep it outside

This might seem an odd piece of advice for a picnic, but you can never guarantee the weather, so if your picnic gets rained off you may be tempted to take the family indoors.

Bars, restaurants, cafes, and halls make it extremely difficult to socially distance and even in the case where special arrangements have been made by the establishment, close interaction with staff or other patrons is almost unavoidable. Couple this with recirculated air, or worse no ventilation at all, it is a prime area for spreading diseases through contact or inhalation.

Dr. Stephen Berger advises opting for a table outside when dining out, or a spot that is “large, open, and ventilated.”

2. Respect your personal space

It’s hard to imagine spending time with friends and family without sharing a hug, throwing a ball around, or shaking hands. Just think about the number of times you’d normally be in close or direct contact with family friends – sharing food, passing out plates or napkins, handing out drinks; you simply can’t take that risk in the present climate. Respect your own social space and that of others and avoid direct contact with anyone outside your household, even if you know and trust them. Symptoms can take weeks to manifest if they do at all, so remain cautious while out and about or hosting visitors. And remind your kids to not run off too far and to be careful with what they touch.

3. Location, Location, Location!

With certain areas, cities being more greatly affected than others at the moment, check the situation in your area and use your best judgment. Those most at risk, the elderly, and suffers from chronic diseases, the safest option is remaining at home and making the most of any personal gardens.

This may seem cruel when you may not have had the opportunity to see family and friends for a long while and open, clean air and spaces seem the perfect place to reconnect, but please seriously consider your own situation and that of your surrounding areas – the price could prove severe.

4. Don’t forget your face mask

Even though picnics are mostly about food and drink, please take your face mask with you. It can be awkward when eating and drinking, but nonetheless protects you significantly when walking through crowded areas – of course, keep your distance as much as possible as well.

One way to make wearing a mask more fun is to decorate your mask for the occasion, and could be a great way to encourage the kids to keep the masks on! Avoid using paints or anything that will drastically affect the absorbency of your mask – felt tips or chalks should be perfect – or pin on decorations!

5. Keep it clean

The safest way to approach anything you didn’t bring with you is to consider it is dirty or even contaminated, and either wipe it clean before you use it or immediately wash your hands after using it. This may seem extreme, but you cannot see any traces of a virus left behind from someone else and anyone could have a virus without showing symptoms, so it is better to be safe than sorry. You have the benefit of controlling what you bring on a picnic, so make sure you have enough of what you need, so you can dine and play worry-free. Be prepared for longer queues as well, especially toilets.

Hopefully, the weather holds in your area and you do get to head outside for some well-earned relaxation, snacking in your local park and we are certain that by following these tips, and your own best judgment, you will still be able to have a fun and relaxing day and we certainly hope you do!

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How to safely visit loved ones during COVID-19

Family wearing face masksSince COVID-19 arrived, there has been a constant stream of concern and curiosity about how to safely visit loved ones during the pandemic. Can I give them a hug? Should we enjoy a meal together? Are my elderly grandparents off-limits? 

GIDEON Founder, Dr. Stephen Berger, shares with Livestrong what to consider before planning an in-person visit with family and friends. 

First, it is important to acknowledge that keeping yourself safe is just as important as keeping those whom you are visiting safe.   

Secondly, realize that not everyone has obvious symptoms who may be carrying the virus. “It is possible to be an asymptomatic carrier of COVID-19,” Dr. Berger told Livestrong.

Ideally, both you and those you are going to be with would isolate for 14 days prior to your get-together—especially if you each have already ventured outside your home. 

Make sure to have a frank talk with friends and family beforehand about any symptoms experienced or previous exposure to the virus, and do not feel guilty about rescheduling if there are any concerns. 

Dr. Berger also reminds us that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states those who are over 65 years and who have underlying health issues should avoid group gatherings altogether. He says the risks far outweigh the benefits of a visit. 

Some tips to help best protect you and your loved ones as you make plans to meet include:

  • Keep gatherings to a limited number of people.
  • Select somewhere outdoors, preferably a private setting like a backyard, where you can maintain a safe social distance of six feet apart. 
  • If meeting somewhere in public, try to keep touching of any objects or surfaces to a minimum, then avoid touching your face, and disinfect hands immediately afterward.  
  • Also, while in public, avoid using restrooms as much as possible. 

Dr. Berger also says to be sure and wear a mask, but remember that even masks have limitations because “extremely small particles, including the virus itself, might pass through the spaces that allow air to pass.” Evidence suggests that is essential to adhere to a combination of multiple, safe practices (mask-wearing, handwashing, social-distancing, etc.) to protect yourselves and loved ones from spreading the virus to each another. 

You can read the entire article in Livestrong here.

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INSURANCE RISK SOLUTION POWERED BY GIDEON DATA

man and woman health insurance

Read the full case study here

 

INCREASING EPIDEMIC FREQUENCY

There’s mounting evidence that the rates of infectious disease outbreaks have been increasing in frequency over the past few years. Perhaps even in the past two decades.

From the period of the Spanish flu pandemic in 1918 to the HIV/AIDS epidemic around 1981, there were only six pandemics on record. Approximately one per decade.

However, since the SARS outbreak of 2002, there has been an increased frequency of outbreaks.

The records show that SARS was quickly followed by several recurring and new outbreaks. AVIAN flu, MARBURG virus, SWINE flu, MERS, and EBOLA to name a few. 

COVID being the latest in the pattern of epidemics has grown into a pandemic. 

The world has gone from dealing with one serious outbreak every decade to dealing with a serious outbreak every couple of years. There have been 10 major outbreaks between 2002 and 2020.

 

IGNORING THE EVIDENCE 

Despite this growing trend, most companies didn’t consider epidemics a risk to their business.

The reason for this indifference to risk was simple. Pandemics that badly ravaged the world seemed isolated to the singular event of the Spanish flu. And this isolated event was about a century old. 

Added to this was the fact that epidemic insurance had little precedent as a product. And it is very complex to model and calculate. Coverage for business interruption due to communicable diseases was not typically offered by traditional insurance policies.

However, the situation now is that COVID-19 has changed all that. Organizations must prepare more carefully now given the recent impact of the pandemic. Knowing the historical records of the Spanish flu makes it prudent to prepare even more mindfully.

 

SEEING THE TREND 

Some insurers have taken notice of the increase in outbreaks of epidemics. 

Munich RE is a global provider of reinsurance, primary insurance, and insurance-related risk solutions. They took note of the increased rate of epidemic and pandemic events and started responding to the data. 

They decided to build a model that assesses epidemic risk. Building a model that allows for epidemic risk assessment is a very important part of developing insurance against that risk.

For this, they needed to have good data on infectious diseases over the past decades.

 

GIDEON DATA PAVES THE WAY TO A SUCCESSFUL MODEL

Munich RE employed GIDEON’s outbreak data in building its epidemic risk assessment model. It improved the accuracy and depth of their underlying data and the quality of their results.

Munich RE now offers Epidemic Risk Solutions to several industries including those that were hit the hardest by the COVID pandemic. 

GIDEON’s data paved the way for accurate models to assess risk and provide insurance coverage in the event of business interruption as a result of an epidemic.

This allows insurers to close a significant coverage gap that traditional insurance doesn’t.

With GIDEON’s disease outbreak data, insurers can make companies more resilient against business interruption due to an epidemic or pandemic. 

Companies have a stronger outlook now as epidemic and pandemic insurance has become a reality.

Read the full case study here

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Independence Day: 5 tips to stay healthy and safe

Independence day

Independence Day is a time for celebration, family reunions, good food, good drink and momentarily escaping the everyday. The 4th of July has been one of the biggest national holidays since 1776 and draws millions across the country to gatherings for fairs, fireworks, and fun. The significant difference this year is the lingering threat of the coronavirus. How can you and your family still enjoy the day and limit the risk of bringing home more than just fond memories?

Here are our top 5 tips for staying safe this Independence Day:

1. Don’t get locked up

While we highly recommend keeping your enjoyment legal, in this case, we mean avoiding enclosed space wherever possible. Bars, restaurants, cafes, and halls make it extremely difficult to socially distance and even in the case where special arrangements have been made by the establishment, close interaction with staff or other patrons is almost unavoidable. Couple this with recirculated air, or no ventilation at all, and it becomes a prime area for spreading diseases through contact or inhalation.

Only dine or drink at establishments with suitable outdoor spaces, or takeaway and enjoy at your own safe space.

2. Keep your distance

It’s hard to imagine spending time with friends and family without sharing a hug, a dance, or shaking hands. Just think about the number of people you would typically brush up against during a house party or concerts – don’t take that risk in the present climate. Respect your own social space and that of others and avoid direct contact with anyone outside of your household, even if you know and trust them (symptoms can take weeks to show).

3. Check the situation in your location

With certain areas being more greatly affected by COVID-19 than others,  check the situation in your area, and use your best judgment. For those most at risk, the elderly and sufferers from chronic diseases, the safest option is remaining at home and celebrating privately. This might sound like harsh advice, especially as the Independence Day seems like the perfect moment to reconnect with family and friends, but please take it into consideration – the price could prove severe.

4. Make it a Masquerade

If you do decide to venture out to celebrate then please take your face mask with you. It can be awkward when eating and drinking, but nonetheless protects you significantly when walking through crowded areas – of course, keep your distance as well.

One way to make wearing a mask more fun is to decorate your mask for the occasion, and could be a great way to encourage the kids to keep the masks on! Avoid using paints or anything that will drastically affect the absorbency of your mask – felt tips or chalks should be perfect – or pin on decorations!

5. Keep it clean

The safest way to approach anything you didn’t bring with you is to consider it is dirty or even contaminated, and either wipe it clean before you use it or immediately wash your hands after using it. This may seem extreme, but you cannot see any traces of a virus left behind from someone else so it is better to be safe than sorry. If you plan to eat and drink while attending an event bring your own cups, wipes, and even cutlery so you can dine worry-free. Be prepared for longer queues than normal, especially toilets.

Follow these tips, user your best judgment, and have a fun and relaxing 4th of July! fireworks

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DIAGNOSIS TOOL OF CHOICE FOR 27 YEARS

A group of infectious diseases clinicians standing together
GIDEON is ideally suited to assist infectious diseases specialists

 

Read the full case study here

Medical Doctors have a serious enough job to do when caring for people’s health. But when their patients have recently been to other countries this may increase the complexity even more.

They must get information on the current state of infectious diseases in the country where the patient has been. With over 200 countries worldwide, doctors would have to be walking databases of infectious diseases.

SITUATIONS MEDICAL DOCTORS HAVE TO DEAL WITH

For example, now the flight restrictions due to COVID are being eased, it is reasonable to expect that experts will once again be called out to go to other countries and help with their knowledge.

If these experts fall ill when they return home, their doctors will have the job of getting information on infectious diseases in the countries they had just visited.

This can be complicated by many factors. Limited data, remote destinations, similar symptoms for multiple diseases, and numerous diseases in the given country, etc.

These factors may also lead to misdiagnoses and mistreatment.

In fact, in the case of an Israeli agricultural expert who fell ill when he returned from India he was misdiagnosed several times. And of course, he was then treated for the wrong disease.

However, when his symptoms were entered into GIDEON he was correctly diagnosed and treated. He was discharged in good health a week later.

QUICK & RELIABLE INFECTIOUS DISEASES DIAGNOSIS

This is just one of the many reasons why Dr. Jeffrey P. Gumprecht says that GIDEON is irreplaceable.

Nothing compares to GIDEON for diagnosing infectious diseases. Especially when a person’s health and life are at stake.

Dr. Gumprecht puts some details into the interactive tool. Details like when a patient traveled to a specific country, when they returned, their symptoms, and the organ systems involved. That’s all GIDEON needs to generate a Differential Diagnosis.

It also enables him to share information with other infectious disease specialists. He says it’s an amazingly valuable source of information, helping users to quickly reach a diagnosis.

GIDEON – BETTER THAN A LIBRARY

Dr. Gumprecht prefers it to the Library at New York University because he can get a full description of any infectious disease from GIDEON.

As great as libraries might be, none of the online library platforms have diagnostic tools. Going to the library at best extends the patient’s suffering. At worst it costs critical time a patient might not have.

That’s why Dr. Gumprecht thinks nothing compares to GIDEON. It’s invaluable to have a solution where all of the information on infectious diseases is available in one place. It eliminates the need to go through multiple review articles or separate websites.

GIDEON is very beneficial to the infectious disease fellows at Mt Sinai hospital where Dr. Gumprecht works.

Read the full case study here

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Predicting the future with GIDEON data

Researcher and globe

Study the past if you would define the future.” – Confucius

If you want to study the past then GIDEON is a great place to do so. The question is, what would you do with over 750,000 data points, dating back to the 17th Century?

A team of researchers answered in a recent interview.

  • Tad Dallas, Assistant Professor at Louisiana State University
  • Colin J. Carlson, Assistant Research Professor at Georgetown University
  • Timothée Poisot, Assistant Professor at Université de Montréal

Idea

“The three of us have talked a lot about why predictions and ecology work or don’t work. We all share a lot of frustrations about where things fall short and how things get framed. We were having a conversation one day about what sort of minimum information is that you would need to know what the future looks like. Then Tad said: “I’m going to make a model with no predictors”. 

“It opened up this incredibly interesting question – What do we do with this model if it’s able to do predictions?”

How did the GIDEON data help with the study?

“We tried to make a completely predictor free model to just see if we can let the similarity of pathogen communities to inform prediction and see how this can influence the future.”

“The main question was to get a sense of what happens where and when it happens”, said Colin. “There isn’t any cohesive narrative about where outbreaks happen. We used the GIDEON data because we thought it might be the most complete thing there is.” 

The outcome

The team produced a research paper “Testing predictability of disease outbreaks with a simple model of pathogen biogeography“, published by The Royal Society in November 2019. It proved effective at making the disease outbreak predictions and was created using only GIDEON data. Impressive!

Predicting the future outbreaks - two diagrams

The value of data is only realized when it is put into context and made relevant to a particular problem or theory. You provide the context and the problem, and we’ll provide you with the data. How could GIDEON fuel your research?

Read the full case study here.

And don’t forget to follow us on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn. We’ve got exciting updates about our new interface!

Catching COVID-19 In A Crowd (Even If You’re Outside)

Crowd protesting

Recent waves of crowd protests throughout the country in the wake of George Floyd’s death have set off alarming new concerns about the spread of COVID-19. 

Even though it is thought to be safer outside where the virus may be less contagious, those who are not practicing social distancing and congregating in close crowds could be putting themselves and others at risk. 

GIDEON Founder, Dr. Stephen Berger, recently explained in both Healthline and YahooFinance how easily COVID-19 could be transmitted in a crowd. 

“The center of a large crowd is no different than a sealed off, an unventilated room filled with potentially infected individuals — many holding large signs which will block the flow of clean air,” Dr. Berger said.   

Many protests document people not wearing masks or keeping a safe distance of six feet apart from one another. 

“If even one carrier of COVID-19 was present at these gatherings, we can expect to see a wave of cases appearing during the next 2 to 14 days,” explained Dr. Berger.

He adds that along with a potential spike in new cases attributed to protests, more spread could come during these summer months as businesses begin to open up and people grow tired of cautionary restrictions and guidelines, such as wearing masks and social distancing.  

He further recommends that those who participate in protests or other large summer gatherings should be vigilant about using a face mask and maintaining distance. Dr. Berger says that it is wise to “assume that the stranger next to you is spreading the virus.”

You can read the entire articles in Healthline here and YahooFinance here

And don’t forget to follow us on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn. We’ve got exciting updates about our new interface!

Dr. Berger On Face Shields: Are They Functional or Just Fashionable?

Face shield 3D medical visualization, Surgical equipment

Plastic face shields, or now “COVID visors,” are one piece of PPE still questionable as to how effective and necessary they are at protecting against the virus. 

Unlike fabric face masks which are recommended by the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) in many situations and settings, there are no official guidelines or suggestions for wearing face shields. 

This begs the question: are face shields merely just in fashion at the moment – with many style influencers on social media sporting them — or are they actually functional? 

GIDEON Founder, Dr. Stephen Berger, answers questions about face shields for a recent article in InStyle magazine. 

“Theoretically, the virus of COVID-19 could arrive at the eyes and travel down through our tear ducts into the nose and throat,” says Dr. Berger. In this scenario, a face shield could protect the eyes from infected respiratory droplets potentially entering the body. 

However, there is still little to suggest that someone going about their everyday business would need to wear one. A protective fabric mask that fits snuggly over the mouth and nose is still the better option. “Plastic visors and shields do not filter air, and at most, prevent larger droplets of infectious material from arriving at our face directly,” Dr Berger explains. 

Additionally, face masks could lend a sense of false security with the wearer getting too close to someone else or feeling confident in attending large gatherings which are still considered unsafe. 

To help prevent the spread of the disease, the best protection remains wearing a cloth face mask, social distancing, and practising good hand hygiene.

Medical experts concede that the few instances when it may be helpful to wear a face shield are when working out and it is difficult to breathe in a tighter mask, or when it is necessary for someone who is hearing impaired to read lips and see facial expressions. 

The full article from InStyle is available here.  

And don’t forget to follow us on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn. We’ve got exciting updates about our new interface!

Dining Out Amid COVID-19: Dr. Berger speaks with Healthline

Family dining in a restaurant with face masks on

Missing dining out in your favorite restaurant? As businesses have begun to reopen, many are wondering if it is safe to eat out again.

GIDEON Founder and infectious disease and microbiology specialist, Dr. Stephen Berger, recently answered questions about safe dining amid COVID-19 for Healthline

One of the most important things to take into consideration, Dr. Berger says, is whether a restaurant is set up for safe social distancing and keeping the designated six-foot separation between tables. 

Also, he says, “before sitting down and asking for a menu, check to confirm that the restaurant staff is wearing masks and that these masks cover their noses and mouths.”

Dr. Berger reminds those venturing to dine out that any number of objects found in a restaurant could potentially be contaminated with the virus–such as tablecloths, menus, salt shakers, credit card machines, chairs, and doorknobs—but it is only harmful if it then gets into the body. Scrupulous attention to basic hygiene (handwashing and sanitizing) before and after eating must be followed. 

Other ways you can check if a restaurant is working hard to keep the spread of the virus to a minimum are if they offer disposable menus and silverware, hand sanitizer for guests, contactless payment, and strictly adhere to limited seating.  

Finally, Dr. Berger suggests it might be better to opt for a table outside if possible, or a spot that is “large, open, and ventilated.” 

You can read the entire article in Healthline here

And don’t forget to follow us on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn. We’ve got exciting updates about our new interface!

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