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LONDON (AP) — British health authorities said Friday the monkeypox outbreak across the country may be peaking and that the epidemic’s growth rate has slowed.

The U.K.’s Health Security Agency said in a statement there were “early signs that the outbreak is plateauing,” with 2,859 cases detected since May.

No deaths have been reported. Last month, authorities estimated the outbreak was doubling in size about every two weeks, but the number of new infections has dropped in recent weeks.

“While the most recent data suggest the growth of the outbreak has slowed, we cannot be complacent,” said Dr Meera Chand, Director of Clinical and Emerging Infections at the Health Security Agency. She said anyone who thought they might have monkeypox should skip meeting friends, social gatherings, and avoid sexual contact.

The Health Security Agency said its most recent analysis of the outbreak “shows that monkeypox continues to be transmitted primarily in interconnected sexual networks of gay, bisexual, or men who have sex with other men.” More than 70% of the U.K.’s cases are in London.

British officials noted a small number of infections among women, but said there was not enough evidence to suggest there was sustained spread of monkeypox beyond gay and bisexual men; 99% of all cases in the U.K. are in men.

Scientists who analyzed monkeypox viruses in the U.K. noted a number of mutations compared to viruses circulating in Africa, but said there was no evidence those genetic changes made monkeypox any more transmissible.

Experts suspect the monkeypox outbreaks in North America and Europe may have originated in Africa long before the disease started spreading via sex at two raves in Spain and Belgium.

The World Health Organization said this week that 92% of monkeypox cases beyond Africa were likely infected through sex and its Director-General recently appealed to vulnerable gay and bisexual men to consider reducing their sexual partners “for the moment.”

To date, more than 26,000 monkeypox cases have been reported in nearly 90 countries, with a 19% increase in the last week.

In June, British authorities expanded their vaccination strategy, offering vaccines not only to health workers treating monkeypox patients and high-risk contacts of patients, but to some men who are gay or bisexual and at high risk of catching the virus, including those with multiple sexual partners or who participate in group sex.

Last month, the U.K. downgraded its assessment of the monkeypox outbreak and dropped a recommendation for the contacts of monkeypox cases to isolate for three weeks unless they have symptoms. The change was prompted by data showing that only a small number of contacts are ultimately sickened by monkeypox and a lack of evidence that the disease spreads without close, intimate or sexual contact.

On Thursday, the U.S. declared its outbreak of monkeypox to be a national emergency, WHO designated it a global emergency last month.

Monkeypox spreads when people have close, physical contact with an infected person’s lesions, their clothing or bedsheets. Most people recover without needing treatment, but the lesions can be extremely painful and more severe cases can result in complications including encephalitis and death.

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Follow all of AP’s coverage about monkeypox at https://apnews.com/hub/monkeypox

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MDHHS, MDARD Urge Residents To Monitor For E. Coli Symptoms As Cases Increase In 3 Counties

(CBS DETROIT) – The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS), the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD), and local health departments are investigating an increase in illnesses related to E. coli bacteria.

According to the MDHHS, 98 cases of E. coli infection in August.

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Officials noted that over the same time period last year, only 20 cases were reported.

Test results have linked some of the reported cases to each other.

Health officials say some kinds of E. coli cause disease by making a Shiga toxin, and the bacteria that make these toxin are called “Shiga toxin-producing” E. coli, or STEC.

“While reports of E. coli illness typically increase during the warmer summer months, this significant jump in cases is alarming,” said Dr. Natasha Bagdasarian, MDHHS chief medical executive. “This is a reminder to make sure to follow best practices when it comes to hand hygiene and food handling to prevent these kinds of foodborne illness. If you are experiencing symptoms of E. coli infection like cramping and diarrhea (or gastrointestinal distress), especially if they are severe, make sure to let your health care provider know.”

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Symptoms vary but often times include:

  • Severe stomach cramps
  • Diarrhea – often bloody
  • Vomiting
  • Fever

In addition to this, symptoms typically appear three to four days after a person was exposed, but could appear anywhere from one day to 10 days.

Officials say symptoms typically improve within five to seven days, and while some infections are mild, some can be serious and even life-threatening.

About 5% to 10% of people who have the infection develop hemolytic uremic syndrome, a complication which includes symptoms such as    decreased frequency of urination, feeling very tired and losing color in cheeks and inside the lower eyelids.

Health officials shared the following list of ways to help prevent E. coli:

  • Washing hands with warm water and soap for at least 20 seconds, or using an alcohol-based sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol:
    • Before and after handling food.
    • After using the bathroom or changing a diaper.
    • After contact with animals or their environments, such as farms, petting zoos, fairs or even the backyard.
  • Always marinating foods in the refrigerator, not on the counter or outdoors. Never reuse sauce on cooked food used to marinate raw meat or poultry.
  • Never placing cooked food on a plate that previously held raw meat, poultry, seafood or eggs. Be sure to have on hand plenty of clean utensils and platters.
  • Never letting raw meat, poultry, eggs or cooked food sit at room temperature more than two hours before putting them in the refrigerator or freezer (one hour when the temperature is above 90 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Cooking meats thoroughly. Ground beef and meat should be cooked to an internal temperature of at least 160 degrees Fahrenheit. Consumers should use a food thermometer as color is not an indicator of “doneness.”
  • Rinsing fruits and vegetables well under running water. There is no need to use soap.
  • Avoiding raw milk, unpasteurized dairy products and unpasteurized juices (like fresh apple cider).
  • Avoiding swallowing water when swimming or playing in lakes, ponds, streams, swimming pools and backyard “kiddie” pools.
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