State lawmaker discusses heat at Rikers after visit
Assembly Member Eddie Gibbs is New York’s first formerly incarcerated state legislator. He visited Rikers this week to check how people there are faring in the heat.
Is monkeypox an STI? Why the answer matters for slowing New York’s outbreak
Public health experts are pointing to the past epidemics as examples to help explain why monkeypox isn't a sexually transmitted infection — at least not by the classic definition.
Ebola had plagued Africa for decades while being overlooked by most of the world with regard to resources and research. In 2013, the long-known virus flared up, creating a global emergency.
New international attention created increased scrutiny, and it soon became clear that transmission involved sex. Ebola chiefly spreads because of direct contact with infected bodily fluids but occasionally moves between people via semen.
A similar story can be told about the Zika virus — it is mostly carried between people by mosquito bites but has also been transmitted by genital fluids. Neither Ebola nor Zika are typically listed as STIs — by the World Health Organization, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Institutes of Health.
Now, as monkeypox spreads in the U.S., health experts are trying to tackle similar misconceptions about how this virus spreads.
Globally, the World Health Organization has recorded sexual transmission in 91% of cases this year — but that leaves about one in 10 infections spreading non-sexually. The global health agency also says that transmission via skin-to-skin contact during sex and bodily fluids cannot currently be “disentangled.”
“We have many diseases that can be transmitted sexually, but that's not necessarily the only route,” said Dr. Leslie Kantor, professor and chair of the department of urban global public health at the Rutgers School of Public Health. “And then those are not considered sexually transmitted infections.”
But the STI label can also be empowering, health experts said.
It can help at-risk groups to spend more thought on making informed decisions about their sexual activity. Given that many people in New York City seem to be getting the virus through sexual or intimate contact so far, public health officials have started to caution against risky sexual behavior. The STI label can also come with greater access to health care, such as free testing.
WNYC/Gothamist spoke with more than a half-dozen epidemiologists, professors of medicine and health care policy experts to address the fundamental question of whether monkeypox should be considered an STI and other unknowns circulating around the orthopoxvirus.
Host David Furst spoke with health and science editor Nsikan Akpan about what they said. Click "listen" in the player to hear the conversation, and visit Gothamist for more details.
Crews working to fix burst 140-year-old water line as 100,000 NJ residents asked to boil water
Newark city workers were going door-to-door with water Tuesday morning after more than 100,000 people were affected by a 72-inch water main break that compromised service in the city as well as nearby Bloomfield and Belleville.
Officials said most of the affected area was experiencing low water pressure but most residents still had water. They estimated the water main break would be repaired by the end of the day.
Kareem Adeem, director of Newark's water and service department, told Gothamist that by late morning, officials had isolated and closed off most of the valves in the area of the break at Branch Brook Park.
Officials in all the affected communities were urging residents to boil water until further notice.
How New York’s heat waves have worsened dementia and mental health
Diane Romano was diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s disease at the age of 52. In the nine years since, her husband, John, has taken care of her at their home on Long Island.
But he and other dementia caregivers have faced an added challenge the last couple weeks: extreme heat.
“It's difficult caring for someone who has Alzheimer's if you put the weather aside — just the normal day to day,” John Romano said. "When you add heat and weather, it impacts them in a number of ways.”
For many people, extreme heat is a nuisance. For Diane Romano and other dementia patients, it can be deadly.
About one in nine Americans over the age of 65 has dementia. It’s caused by degenerative, neurological diseases like Alzheimer’s — and can impair thinking, reasoning and memory.
People with dementia are also incredibly vulnerable to heat, researchers told Gothamist, in part because their patients have lost neurons in their brain. Changes to fluid levels in their bodies — like sweating and dehydration during a heat wave — can lead to less blood going to their brain, exacerbating the confusion already being caused by the neuron loss. They may take diuretic medications that can cause greater dehydration still.
“Her mind can't tell the body to adapt to the heat and she just kind of wilts,” John Romano said.
Dementia isn’t the only mental disorder that ERs see more of during heat waves. A June 2021 study by SUNY Buffalo tracked emergency room visits during heat waves that involved mental health crises across New York state.
Click "listen" to hear more on the story, and visit Gothamist for the full details.