Autoimmune Diseases, Blood and Hematology, Immunology, Infectious Disease

Immune health is all about balance – an immunologist explains why both too strong and too weak an immune response can lead to illness

Many social media posts push supplements and other life hacks that “boost your immune system” to keep you healthy and fend off illness. However, these claims are not based on science and what is known about immune function. Healthy immune systems don’t need to be “boosted.” Instead, the immune system works best when it is perfectly balanced.

Food-borne Illness, Infectious Disease, Poisoning

What is ‘fried rice syndrome’? A microbiologist explains this type of food poisoning – and how to avoid it

A condition dubbed “fried rice syndrome” has caused some panic online in recent days, after the case of a 20-year-old who died in 2008 was resurfaced on TikTok.

“Fried rice syndrome” refers to food poisoning from a bacterium called Bacillus cereus, which becomes a risk when cooked food is left at room temperature for too long.

The 20-year-old college student died after reportedly eating spaghetti that he cooked, left out of the fridge, and then reheated and ate five days later. Although death is rare, B. cereus can cause gastrointestinal illness if food isn’t stored properly. Here’s what to know and how to protect yourself.

Coronavirus, COVID, Vaccines

CDC Recommends Updated COVID-19 Vaccine for Fall/Winter Virus Season

Vaccination remains the best protection against COVID-19-related hospitalization and death. Vaccination also reduces your chance of suffering the effects of Long COVID, which can develop during or following acute infection and last for an extended duration.  If you have not received a COVID-19 vaccine in the past 2 months, get an updated COVID-19 vaccine to protect yourself this fall and winter.

A colourized microscopic image of a cell infected with the Omicron strain of SARS-CoV-2 virus.
Coronavirus, COVID, Seniors, Vaccines

COVID-19 vaccine boosters are the best defence: Older adults shouldn’t rely on previous infection for immunity

We found that those who had battled the BA.1-2 variant of Omicron in early 2022 had a 30-fold higher risk of contracting the BA.5 variant later in the year. That was exactly the opposite of what we, or anyone, would have predicted. What the findings do tell us is that older adults who have had a previous COVID-19 infection shouldn’t rely on that to protect them against reinfection this fall. To protect against severe illness, keeping booster shots up to date is recommended.

Coronavirus, COVID, Newborn and Infant Health, Pregnancy, Vaccines

COVID-19 vaccination and boosting during pregnancy benefits pregnant people and newborns

The researchers found that pregnant women who received the COVID-19 vaccines generated antibodies against specific types of SARS-CoV-2. These antibodies crossed the placenta and were also found in the cord blood of vaccinated participants. This likely conferred some protection in the newborns against infection immediately after birth—a critical time when they are vulnerable to severe COVID-19 disease but are too young to be vaccinated.