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Vaping Makes Lung Bacteria More Harmful and Causes More Inflammation



by Deirdre Gilpin and Michael Tunney for the Conversation

Bacteria commonly found in the lungs become more harmful and cause more inflammation when they have been exposed to e-cigarette vapor, in a way that could lead to diseases such as COPD and asthma.

Chronic lung disease results from a complex interplay between infection and inflammation, which can be further complicated by the toxic effects of cigarette smoke. We know that cigarettes are bad for us and, as a result, many smokers have switched to vaping instead.

But is vaping less harmful than smoking? This question has divided specialists in the field. Some, including Public Health England, maintain that vaping is less harmful and a useful way to help people stop smoking . But others, including the European Respiratory Society, argue that the evidence suggests that rather than helping, e-cigarettes are undermining people’s attempts to give up smoking.

The number of people vaping has increased dramatically in recent years. Figures from the World Health Organization show a rise from 7 million in 2011 to 41 million in 2018. And this increase isn’t solely accounted for by people switching from smoking to vaping. According to a recent US study, around 27% of high school students now vape, many of whom aren’t smokers.

The huge variety of flavors, sleek vaping devices and a social media presence contribute to making vaping more socially acceptable among young people. For this large group of vapers but non-smokers, safety comparisons between smoking and vaping are irrelevant – what they need is more information about the direct effects of vaping.

About 27% of US high school students vape. Aleksandr Yu/Shutterstock

More virulent

Bacteria play a role in the development of smoking-related lung diseases, such as bronchitis and pneumonia. Our research looked at the usual suspects in lung infection (Haemophilus influenzaeStreptococcus pneumoniaeStaphylococcus aureus and Pseudomonas aeruginosa) and investigated the bacterial responses that had the potential to increase harm and cause long-term infection. Bacteria, grown in the laboratory, were exposed to either cigarette smoke or vape.

In chronic infections, bacteria are often found in large aggregates, called biofilms. Biofilms represent a real challenge when it comes to getting rid of infection: they are physically hard to remove, more resistant to antibiotics and harder for the body’s immune system to tackle. We found that exposure to either cigarette smoke or vape resulted in an increase in biofilm formation.

Also, when these bacteria were exposed to smoke and vape, it increased the inflammation in lung cells. In some cases, the effect following vaping exposure exceeded that of cigarette smoke exposure.

We also compared the survival of Galleria mellonella (wax moth larvae) following infection with vaped, smoked and unexposed bacteria. This is a well-established model that uses wax moth larvae to measure whether bacteria are likely to cause harm. Exposing bacteria to vape or smoke made the bacteria more virulent in the larvae.

Not quite real life, but still…

As with all studies, ours had limitations. Although our lab-based experimental procedures aimed to mimic smoking and vaping as closely as possible, it probably doesn’t exactly capture how people smoke and vape in real life.

We used a basic flavorless nicotine-containing vape and a commonly used e-cigarette. But in reality, there is a wide range of devices and thousands of e-cigarette flavors. Indeed, some flavors have been particularly associated with lung damage.Also, we only “vaped” or “smoked” bacteria once and didn’t measure the effect of long-term exposure. Vapers take deeper puffs than smokers and so we probably didn’t expose our bacteria to high enough levels of vape, so it’s possible that the effects of vape might be greater in the lungs.

So what does this study tell us about vaping safety? Exposing bacteria to vape is likely to make already harmful bacteria more dangerous and carry the same risk as exposure to cigarette smoke.

We urgently need to know more about what the long-term effect of vaping is, not just directly on the lungs but on the bacteria that might contribute to the development of diseases, such as COPD and asthma, so that the public can make an informed choice about whether to vape.

Deirdre Gilpin is a Lecturer, School of Pharmacy at Queen’s University Belfast. Michael Tunney is Professor of Clinical Pharmacy at Queen’s University Belfast.

The Conversation publishes knowledge-based journalism that is responsible, ethical and supported by evidence from academics and researchers in order to inform public debate with facts, clarity and insight into society’s biggest problems.

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County Hospitals Receive 300 iPads for Patients to See Family



LOS ANGELES – 300 iPads have been donated to Los Angeles County hospitals to facilitate patient-family communication during the COVID-19 pandemic. The gift is through a partnership with the Annenberg Foundation, Brilliant Corners, and the Los Angeles County Center for Strategic Partnerships.

“The engagement of loved ones during hospitalization has been shown to improve clinical outcomes,” said DHS Director, Dr. Christina Ghaly. “Clinical staff identified a role for virtual visiting through technology in order to facilitate this family involvement. The generous donations by the Annenberg Foundation and MobileDemand will help support this critical element of our patients’ care.” 

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, patient visitation by family and loved ones is limited at facilities in order to prevent exposure and the spread of disease. While there are some exceptions, such as the birth of a child or death of a patient, visitation is not permitted for the vast majority of patients and not allowed at all for COVID-19 patients. 

The donation provides 300 iPads to ensure patients and their families are able to connect, despite restrictions in access to the hospital. A second donation, by MobileDemand, provides rugged, protective healthcare iPad cases to protect against damage and loss. The rugged case also has an adjustable easel attached, providing effortless viewing for patients who are too weak to hold a tablet. Additionally, it frees health care staff from having to hold the device for patients.

“This is a wonderful example of how philanthropic organizations, nonprofits, government, and businesses can collaborate and meet an immediate need in our community,” said Wallis Annenberg, Chairman, President and CEO of the Annenberg Foundation. “Being able to offer an opportunity for comfort and connection to those suffering and to alleviate some of the stress from our frontline caregivers is of utmost importance.”

While social distancing has been successful in flattening the curve of the COVID-19 surge in Los Angeles County, it is anticipated that it will continue for several months. With this gift, physicians and nurses will be able to place an iPad in the room of COVID and other critically-ill patients for the duration of the admission and reduce potential exposure and use of personal protective equipment going in and out of the room. Having a stationary iPad helps relieve medical staff who would otherwise have to hold the phone for a patient or search for the person’s personal phone. It also will allow patients who do not have a personal mobile device to communicate and “visit” with their family.

The Los Angeles County Department of Health Services (DHS) is the second largest municipal health system in the nation. Through its integrated system of 26 health centers and four hospitals – LAC+USC Medical Center, Harbor-UCLA Medical Center, Olive View-UCLA Medical Center, and Rancho Los Amigos National Rehabilitation Center – and expanded network of community partner clinics, DHS annually provides direct care for 600,000 unique patients, employs over 22,000 staff, and has an annual budget of over $6 billion.

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Processions to Cedars Will Salute Healthcare Workers on National Nurses Day



The coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak is putting a strain on essential workers such as first responders and healthcare workers who are on the frontlines in the effort to care for coronavirus patients so the City of West Hollywood is setting out to recognize them in a special way on May 6.

National Nurses Day is a day of recognition to celebrate and honor the contributions that nurses have made and continue to make in our communities and throughout the nation. National Nurses Day is celebrated annually on May 6, which marks the beginning of National Nurses Week, a week-long celebration to raise awareness of the value of nursing and educate the public on the role nurses play in meeting the healthcare needs of Americans. National Nurses Week concludes on May 12, the birthday of Florence Nightingale, or as she was more commonly known, “The Lady of the Lamp” and founder of modern nursing.

The West Hollywood Sheriff’s Station of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department is coordinating two motorcades to honor healthcare workers on Wednesday, May 6, 2020, which is nationally recognized as National Nurses Day. The processions will begin at 9:45 a.m. and at 7:15 p.m. on Santa Monica Boulevard at La Cienega Boulevard and the motorcades will head west and then travel southbound on N. San Vicente Boulevard passing multiple medical center locations in West Hollywood en route to a destination outside the emergency room entrance of Cedars-Sinai Medical Center on Gracie Allen Drive. First responders will briefly stop, exit their vehicles and applaud healthcare workers while wearing face coverings and practicing appropriate social distancing.

“Our nurses and healthcare workers are nothing short of heroes,” said City of West Hollywood Mayor Pro Tempore Lindsey P. Horvath. “The coronavirus pandemic has reminded us just how critical their work is to our everyday health and safety. This National Nurses Day means so much more to all of us — the City of West Hollywood and our LA County Sheriff’s West Hollywood Station and LA County Fire Stations; the City of Beverly Hills and Beverly Hills Police and Fire; the City of Los Angeles and LAPD and LAFD; the California Highway Patrol, and more — and we will honor these heroes in a special way for the care that they provide, which often goes unseen and unrecognized, in carrying us through this crisis.”

“As the worldwide response to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) continues, the critical importance of nurses in our society has been brought sharply into focus,” said City of West Hollywood Councilmember John Heilman. “More often than not, when a coronavirus patient ends up in a hospital, it is the nurses at the frontlines who are responsible for their care and treatment, putting themselves at risk in the process. We can’t say ‘thank you’ strongly enough.”

The City of West Hollywood encourages residents and community members to participate during this day of celebration while still adhering to LA County Safer At Home Orders and social distancing requirements. Suggested forms of participation include amplifying posts on social media channels, making yard or window signs and banners, participating in a coordinated daily applause or shout out for nurses and healthcare workers, and donating to organizations that are addressing the emerging needs of nurses and healthcare workers during the coronavirus (COVID-19) health pandemic.

According to the American Nursing Association, nursing is the nation’s largest healthcare profession, with more than four million registered nurses in the United States. Registered nurses comprise one of the largest segments of the U.S. workforce and are the primary providers of hospital patient care, delivering most of the nation’s long-term care. In nursing, where workers are on the front lines of patient interactions, women make up more than 85 percent of the workforce. This year, with the onset of coronavirus, nurses have stepped up and shown the incredible impact they have on our healthcare system. It is more important than ever that we recognize National Nurses Day and celebrate the significance of nurses every day.

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Texas & California Wet Markets Show Full Extent of Vile Conditions



Texas & California Wet Markets Show Full Extent of Vile Conditions

(TMZ) — It’s becoming more clear by the day that wet markets are NOT just a China problem — it’s an American problem too … just take a look at these latest clips from Texas and California.

TMZ has gotten a hold of even more graphic videos of two different live animal shops in TX and CA — where people pick out the animal, have it slaughtered on the spot and then sold to them right then and there — and you see the mixed-in livestock runs the gamut.

There are pigs in pens, goats and sheep hoarded together … and, of course, as we’ve seen in New York and elsewhere — chicken and rabbits cooped up in cages — all in the same area within earshot of each other, and all getting butchered.

Ya got pigs hanging from hooks out in the open, chicken beaks, feathers and guts all over the floor and in an exposed trash can — this while customers (including kids) come in and browse the freezer for whatever cuts of meat they want. It’s downright dirty and gross.

As we’ve been told by the experts, these one-stop-shop slaughterhouses/storefronts can be breeding grounds for disease — including new viruses, like COVID-19, which supposedly got started at a wet market in China.

We already know of lawmakers in Cali and New York working to get these things shut down, but it’s pretty apparent there needs to be federal legislation rolled out to address this. Can’t call the kettle black when we’re swimming in the freakin’ pot.

Tune in to TMZ on TV weekdays Monday through Friday (check syndicated/local listings)

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