A Carolina fall like no other

“We knew this would be a Carolina fall like no other,” said Kevin Guskiewicz and Robert Blouin, the Chancellor and Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost at UNC Chapel Hill in a statement, Monday. CNN reports that UNC-Chapel Hill will begin going online. The University started the year in-person, but quickly folded when in the first week of classes, 130 students tested positive for the coronavirus. “In just the past week (Aug. 10-16), we have seen the COVID-19 positivity rate rise from 2.8% to 13.6% at Campus Health,” explained the statement. Students will be going home, although per UNC’s statement “Residents who have hardships (such as lack of access to reliable internet access), international students or student athletes will have the option to remain.”

For a sprained ankle, menthol?

The American College of Physicians and American Academy of Family Physicians released new guidelines for the treatment of “Non–Low Back, Musculoskeletal Injuries.” Non-low back musculoskeletal injuries are things like strains, sprains, nonsurgical fractures and whiplash. The guidelines put forward three recommendations. First, that these injuries be treated with “nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) with or without menthol gel as first-line.” These are generally over the counter medications like ibuprofen (found in Advil), acetaminophen (found in Tylenol), or gels like Voltaren, which contains diclofenac, another NSAID. Second, that doctors should use oral NSAIDs or acupressure as treatments. Third, they suggest the doctors avoid highly addictive opioids for these injuries.

Trump treatment for COVID?

Axios reported over the weekend that President Donald J. Trump was pushing yet another a new treatment for COVID-19 in remarks at the White House. Although President Trump acknowledged he knew what oleandrin was, he was neither enthusiastic nor dismissive. However, oleandrin is an extract of the poisonous oleander plant, which can cause fatal arrhythmias, abnormal heart rhythms. When President Trump was asked if he would push for FDA approval, he said that they will look into it. Oleandrin is not a drug but a dietary supplement and has not been proven to treat or improve COVID-19.

The number 3 killer

On Monday, Thomas Frieden, MD, who directed the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention from 2009 to 2017, said in a tweet that COVID-19 was the number three killer in America, ahead of injuries, lung disease, diabetes, Alzheimer's, and many, many other causes. The New York Times COVID tracker reports 170,451 deaths from COVID-19 to date. The CDC reported that in 2017 the three leading causes of death were, heart disease (647,457 deaths), unintentional accidents (169,936) and chronic lower respiratory disease (169,936). Alzheimer’s disease and diabetes were the 6th and 7th leading cause of death. On Friday, Dr. Frieden tweeted out, “epidemiology, not politics, should drive action to stop Covid,” citing countries that had limited internal travel, like Canada, he said, “...control Covid in your community, or please stay put.”

A treatment for muscular dystrophy?

Last week, the Food and Drug Administration approved a new treatment for Duchenne muscular dystrophy. Patients with DMD get weaker over time as their muscles break down. DMD is usually diagnosed in children as young as 3 or 4 years. At first the disease affects muscles in the arms and legs, and it eventually progresses to the heart muscle. It ultimately causes respiratory distress and eventual death. Viltepso (viltolarsen), the newly approved drug, helps treat the genetic basis of DMD by allowing the genetic fault in a vital gene to be overridden enough to produce some protein, missing in DMD patients, that helps keep muscle cells intact. During clinical trials, patients had gained 6% of this protein by week 25 after starting the trial.

Viltolarsen still has another trial to go. Under its quick-to-approval agreement with the FDA, it needs to prove that trial patients can improve the length of time that they can stand. If the trial fails, the FDA could revoke its approval.

COVID risk to young people

On Monday, Anthony Fauci, MD, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious disease explained the severity of COVID-19 in young people, as reported by CNN. Dr. Fauci, gave remarks at a briefing for the American Society for Microbiology, where he said of young people who get sick, “... they clear the virus -- they have residual symptoms for weeks and sometimes months.” He warned that for young people, getting infected, even if it didn’t lead to hospitalization was “not OK.” He said, “I'll guarantee you if we have this conversation again, six months to a year from now, we’ll be reviewing the literature about talking about the long-term deleterious effects of non-hospitalized patients.” .