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Image by Booker Serna at pixy.org

Coronavirus

Epidemiological data indicates the severity of Covid-19 is strongly correlated with age. However, the reason children typically exhibit milder symptoms than adults remains unclear. A study published on February 17th in Nature Communications by Dr. Melanie Neeland and colleagues shed light on this mystery by analyzing detailed features of the immune response to Covid-19 in a cohort of 48 children compared to 70 adults.

Study design

The study took place in Melbourne, Australia from April to August of 2020 and investigated non-hospitalized patients most of whom experienced mild symptoms of Covid-19 such as fever, cough, sore throat, muscle aches, and fatigue. Blood…


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Photo: The Washington Post/Getty Images

This story starts with a puzzle. Can you think outside the box? If so, try solving the following challenge. Imagine this nine-dot puzzle is printed on a sheet of paper. Now, with a pen, connect all the dots, drawing just four straight lines without taking your pen off the paper.


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Photo by Anna Shvets from Pexels

On February 12, Montana became the third state to rescind its statewide mask directive. While it would be unreasonable to expect such an effort to be coordinated to perfection or to the satisfaction of everyone, I believe in this case there was significant opportunity for improvement. Here’s why:

Timing is everything. Gov. Greg Gianforte’s lifting of Montana’s mask mandate was not contingent on the state meeting a specific target in the number of cases, the reproductive number (also referred to as R₀), or a portion of individuals being vaccinated. …


Coronavirus

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Photo: FangXiaNuo/Getty Images

Until recently, little was understood about how to treat multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C). Considered among the most serious complications of Covid-19 in kids, MIS-C was first described about nine months ago. For more on the characteristics and diagnosis of MIS-C check out this story:

Because MIS-C is similar to another inflammatory syndrome seen in children called Kawasaki disease, pediatric providers have treated the condition similarly. Let’s take a look at what’s been discovered.

Design and setting

An article published at the beginning of February in the Journal of the American Medical Association by Naïm Ouldali, MD, PhD, and colleagues compared the…


A portrait of a young woman wile wearing a face mask for protection from cold and flu and viruses.
A portrait of a young woman wile wearing a face mask for protection from cold and flu and viruses.
Photo: recep-bg/E+/Getty Images

It’s nearly halfway through the 2020–2021 flu season, and as I walk the halls of the hospital where I work, I realize none of the patients are here with influenza. In fact, only 925 cases of flu have been confirmed in the United States thus far this season, and none in my home state of Montana. This compares to 63,975 confirmed cases in the United States at the same time last year.

It’s important to note that the true number of flu cases is always larger than the number reported, because many individuals with flu symptoms do not seek testing…


Coronavirus

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A screenshot from my stats page

I have immediate family living in California, Tennessee, and Georgia. These areas of the country, along with many others, are suffering. Cases of Covid-19 are rising. Hospitals and health care providers are overwhelmed. Some patients are unable to receive the care they need. So, for my family’s sake and the sake of others living in hotspot areas, I don’t want to come across as tone-deaf or out of touch, but elsewhere, there is actually some good news about the pandemic.

In mid-November, my home state of Montana was hurting. We converted two additional units in our hospital to negative pressure…


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Image by Suzanna Quinn

A Healthy New Year

I’m looking forward to a few changes come January 1st, and I suspect I’m not the only one. While many seek to modify their diet each new year, some see the hope of 2021 as the perfect kickstart to a radical departure from the status quo. Among hundreds of dietary regimens, the ketogenic diet has exploded in popularity, but scientists and health experts are only beginning to understand its physiologic impact and how it can be used to treat certain medical conditions.

Recently I had the opportunity to interview Tara Finnerty, a board-certified ketogenic nutrition specialist. …


Coronavirus

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My mostly de-identified vaccine record card

I can’t believe the day came this soon. This is not hyperbole: It was a joyful experience to receive this vaccine. There was a buzz and excitement at the hospital. Camera crews descended. Local media reporters interviewed hospital administrators and providers. Even the governor showed up. Why? Because this marks the beginning of the end.

As I waited in line with my colleagues on Tuesday, we shared a feeling that didn’t need to be verbalized, though it often was — the mutual understanding that it was an absolute privilege to receive this vaccine. I can’t express enough how thankful I…


Coronavirus

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A non-fake selfie on the Covid floor

“There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.”
- a quote with no clear origin popularized by Mark Twain

It’s true. Stats can often be manipulated to support a person's agenda. While I make no claim to be void of bias, here’s my honest attempt to paint a picture of the pandemic by applying a heavy dose of my favorite medium, numbers.

Over the past four months at a community teaching hospital in the Northwest, after 275 encounters with 101 hospitalized patients suffering from Covid-19, here’s what the numbers reveal:

66%

As in 66% of the patients I…


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Photo: Emin BAYCAN/Unsplash

As someone who provides care for those with Covid-19 in a hospital approaching its capacity, I’m constantly on the lookout for safe and effective treatment strategies — anything to help my patients recover faster and get home sooner. With so many therapies being studied, it can be difficult to determine which new piece of data is truly valuable. My attention was caught by a well-constructed clinical trial published November 12 in The Lancet by Phillip Monk, et al. Here’s why I believe it’s so important.

Recent studies have shown a significant portion of individuals who become severely ill from Covid-19…

Bo Stapler, MD

Husband, Father, Health and science writer, Interpreter of medical jargon, Hospitalist physician, Board certified in internal medicine and pediatrics

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