News in Digest: Grim Reaper waiting around every corner – The Post

News in Digest: Grim Reaper waiting around every corner

On call at all times (photo: Pixabay)
August 17th, 2019 5:00 pm| by Ben Hamilton

It’s a long crawl ahead, but the clock is ticking. But before you shuffle off this mortal coil and call it a night, don’t let the bedbugs bite!

For a summer in which the wheat fields are plentiful again after the drought of 2018, it’s curious to note that Denmark has entrusted the harvest to the Grim Reaper.

All manner of creepy-crawlies (toxic caterpillars and borrelia-carrying ticks), nasty infections (from salmonella to MRSA) and unwelcome guests (bedbugs and ringworm) are making themselves at home, while the number of chronic illnesses is on the rise.

And they’re all so potentially life-threatening, if you listen to the worst-case scenarios presented by the media, it’s hard to know what to deal with first.

Creep-crawly alert
The Danish authorities have been preparing for an invasion of the larva of the oak processionary moth, which carries poisonous hairs that can cause skin irritation and asthma among humans – and potentially death. The moth has been sighted on the south side of Lolland-Falster.

An invasion of the caterpillar, which has been seen in many areas of Germany, is considered inevitable in the next decade, and plans are afoot to suction up the bugs and the discarded cocoon, which remains poisonous long after the moth emerges.

Meanwhile, one-third of the nation’s ticks are carrying the borrelia bacterial infection, according to a Danish study published by ScienceDirect.

Transported by migratory birds in the spring and autumn, humans come into contact with the ticks in gardens and forests.

Every year thousands of Danes are infected, according to Rigshospitalet, and around 150 a year end up contracting Lyme’s Disease, which can potentially be fatal.

Infection central
It’s been a busy summer for Statens Serum Institut (SSI).

In July it reported how 23 people – 13 women and 10 men – were struck down by Salmonella Coeln, a rare strain of the infection, in June and July. The source has not yet been detected.

SSI also reported that 3,669 people were infected with the MRSA bacteria, which is still most commonly associated with pigs, last year – a slight rise on the 3,579 cases registered in 2017.

And an SSI study of 32 guinea pigs in 17 pet stores revealed that 12 were carrying the fungal infection ringworm. Skin departments in Gentofte and Roskilde have reported more infections – mostly among children.

More Danes are returning home from their holidays with bedbugs. One pest exterminator has seen 1,000 cases in 2019 alone, a 30 percent increase of cases over the past year.

And finally, working night-shifts disrupts the hormone melatonin and increases the risk of cancer, according to an expert group working on behalf of the World Health Organisation that includes Johnni Hansen of the Danish Cancer Society.

Chronic illness explosion
An Aalborg University study reveals that twice as many Danes have chronic illnesses as previously thought by the Sundhedsstyrelsen health authority – as many as two out of three over the age of 16.

Men with chronic illnesses tend to have an average of 2.0 and women 2.4. Up until the age of 44 the average is 1.1, which then climbs to 5.3 for people over the age of 75. Copenhagen had the lowest share of chronic illnesses in the country, but the highest proportion of people with HIV, eating disorders and schizophrenia.

The most common are high blood pressure (23.3 percent), high cholesterol (14.3), depression (10), bronchitis (9.2), asthma (7.9), Type-2 diabetes (5.3), chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (4.7), arthritis in the knee (3.9), and stomach ulcers and osteoporosis (both 3.5).