KSAT Q&A: Infectious disease doctor discusses COVID-19 reinfection with omicron, what to do when showing symptoms
Dr. Ruth Berggren, an infectious disease specialist with UT Health San Antonio, joined Thursday’s KSAT Q&A to discuss COVID-19 reinfection with the new variant, omicron’s effect on frontline health care workers and precautions to take for those who start showing symptoms and can't find a test.
UT Health SA wants COVID-19 patients for drug study that includes Ivermectin
A new study will look at the effectiveness of existing drugs in fighting COVID-19. They include fluticasone, fluvoxamine, and ivermectin, an anti-parasitic made notorious by some patients' attempts to use the veterinary version intended for livestock.
Belly fat removal surgery study shows remarkable results for patients with Type 2 diabetes
A partnership between UT Health San Antonio, University Health, and Texas Biomed is showing promising, if not remarkable, results from a new minimally invasive procedure aimed at improving the health of patients with Type 2 diabetes.
Bexar County hospitals, clinics develop new vaccination plans after Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine halted
Federal health officials are calling for a pause in the use of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine. The announcement prompted Bexar County hospitals and clinics planning to use the company’s vaccine to develop a new game plan.
Many debilitated COVID-19 long-haulers were never originally hospitalized, San Antonio doctor says
Local patient has stroke-like symptoms nine months later, yet when she originally had COVID-19 in June 2020, she wasn't hospitalized and never needed a ventilator. Her story is more common than most people think.
Replacing ventilator with tracheotomy could help COVID-19 patients heal faster, UT Health study finds
SAN ANTONIO – Having enough ventilators early on during the COVID-19 pandemic was a huge issue for cities and states, but then came the complications from using them so much. You have something that’s now foreign inside your body,” he says of the tubing used for ventilation. Dr. Moreira’s research looked at 17 clinical trials and three-thousand patients around the world who suffered from critical illnesses like trauma and cancer. He evaluated whether choosing a tracheotomy early on instead of a ventilator for those who needed help breathing might have an impact on survival and recovery rates. Now the procedure has been modified with so that any aerosols from the patient can be contained during a tracheotomy.
Health expert says San Antonio ‘could be in for a world of hurt’ with COVID-19 variants
SAN ANTONIO – UT Health infectious disease expert Ruth Berggren said San Antonio could be in for “a world of hurt” if members of the community let their guard down with COVID-19. Berggren said Thursday in a Q&A segment on KSAT that she is very concerned about the COVID-19 variants that she thinks have probably already made it into San Antonio. “We know that they’ve been found in Houston, and we believe that they’re here,” Berggren said. There are three variants that health experts are most concerned with-- the United Kingdom variant, the South African variant and the Brazil variant. If we’re not careful, if we let our guard down, we could be in for a world of hurt,” Berggren said.
These San Antonio hubs will be receiving COVID-19 vaccine shipments this week
SAN ANTONIO – The Texas Department of State Health Services has announced which COVID-19 vaccine hubs in San Antonio will be receiving vaccine doses during the week of Jan. 25. Health officials say these locations are where the vaccine will be shipped but are not necessarily where the vaccinations will be distributed. The four current COVID-19 vaccine distribution sites in San Antonio include the Alamodome, the WellMed Elvira Cisneros Senior Community Center, the Alicia Treviño López Senior Community Center, and University Health at Wonderland of the Americas. To see the full list of COVID-19 vaccination distribution for this week in Texas, click here. RELATED: Had the 1st dose of COVID-19 vaccine in San Antonio?
UT Health San Antonio, University Health recruit in San Antonio for Novavax COVID-19 vaccine trial
In this photo released by Nucleus Network/ABC, clinical trial participants are given a coronavirus vaccine in Melbourne, Australia, Tuesday, May 26, 2020, with hopes of releasing a proven vaccine this year. (Patrick Rocca/Nucleus Network/ABC via AP)SAN ANTONIO – UT Health San Antonio and University Health are looking to recruit 500 volunteers to participate in a COVID-19 vaccine clinical trial that will start this month. UT Health officials said the vaccine called NVX-CoV2373, is a protein engineered from the genetic sequence of the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes COVID-19. Taylor, MD, MS, is an associate professor of infectious diseases at UT Health San Antonio and sees patients through University Health. Taylor served as chair of the local COVID-19 Health Transition Team last spring and currently serves as co-chair of the COVID-19 Community Response Coalition, UT Health officials said.
COVID-19 likely to impact the brain, San Antonio researchers find
SAN ANTONIO – The coronavirus pandemic has plagued the planet for nearly a year and now researchers at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio are studying how COVID-19 impacts the brain. “Olfactory cells are very susceptible to viral invasion and are particularly targeted by SARS-CoV-2, and that’s why one of the prominent symptoms of COVID-19 is loss of smell,” said Sudha Seshadri, another researcher at UT Health. The olfactory bulb connects with the brain’s hippocampus, which is responsible for short-term memory primarily. “The trail of the virus, when it invades the brain, leads almost straight to the hippocampus,” de Erausquin said. “That is believed to be one of the sources of the cognitive impairment observed in COVID-19 patients.
Virus cases continue to rise in Texas as vaccine rolls out
Hospitals in Austin could soon become overwhelmed, Escott said, like in other Texas cities such as El Paso and Lubbock. There were 9,472 people hospitalized with the virus in the state Tuesday and intensive care units in some regions were at or near full capacity, according to the Texas Department of State Health Services. Meanwhile, COVID-19 vaccine rollouts continued as more hospitals across Texas and throughout the U.S. received their allotments. There were 703.4 new cases per 100,000 people over the past two weeks in Texas, which ranks 41st in the country for new cases per capita. One in every 292 people tested in Texas in the past week was positive for the virus.
First COVID-19 vaccines administered at UT Health on Tuesday
On Tuesday, local health care workers and support staff were among the first in Bexar County to be immunized for COVID-19. Applause roared as some of the first vaccines in Bexar County entered the designated room at UT Health San Antonio’s nursing school, where 100 medical professionals and support staff received their first of two doses of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine. Dr. Adelita Cantu, an associate professor at UT Health San Antonio-School of Nursing, was the first to roll up her sleeve. “I’m just playing one role that everyone else is playing nationwide to be a part of the end of the pandemic,” Cantu, 65, said. According to UT Health, every day over the next five days, 1,000 medical professionals and support staff will follow in Cantu’s footsteps by receiving their first doses of the vaccine.
San Antonio veterans hospital to begin vaccinating veterans, frontline workers this week
SAN ANTONIO – A San Antonio veterans hospital will begin distributing the COVID-19 vaccine to veterans and frontline workers this week. According to a news release, Audie L. Murphy VA Hospital is among 37 VA sites across the country chosen to provide the vaccines due to its ability to inoculate large numbers of people and store the vaccines at extremely cold temperatures. The plan released Tuesday addresses vaccinations for veterans, staff, and other federal partners, and includes a risk stratification framework for identifying the population(s) at highest risk to receive the vaccine. Veterans seeking additional information should visit the VA Coronavirus Vaccine FAQs webpage, contact their care team, or visit their facility website. The hospital is among 11 in Bexar County expected to receive the vaccine this week.
UT Health San Antonio issues warning about possible post-holiday COVID-19 outbreak
SAN ANTONIO – Doctors at UT Health San Antonio are joining top health experts nationwide by warning San Antonians that Thanksgiving needs to be different this year or we may be in for a dark winter. Dr. Robert Leverence, chief medical officer at UT Health San Antonio, said whereas the aftermath of Memorial Day gatherings was an eight on a “Coronavirus Richter Scale,” post-Thanksgiving would be a whole new level of sickness. If you look already at the other COVID curves for the number of new diagnoses per day in this country, we’ve already towered way over Memorial Day,” Leverence said. He is going against the most popular modeling being used nationally, but Leverence thinks they are likely too conservative. To assume San Antonio would be an island among a serious new wave of infections would be unlikely.
As COVID-19 infections rise, Bexar County officials warn that risk level has shifted to 'moderate'
COVID-19 infection metrics are rising in Bexar County, prompting local health officials to raise the risk level for the general population and for schools from "low" to "moderate. "The change comes as Texas and other states grapple with a surge in new infections and hospitalizations. After several days last week of more than 200 reported cases, the seven-day moving average of cases jumped to 192. "Of special concern, the county's COVID-19 positivity rate increased to 6.9%, up from 5.8% a week prior, Nirenberg said. The goal is to have a positivity rate below 5%.On Monday, at least 5,278 people were hospitalized in Texas with COVID-19 infections, a rise of 959 compared with a week ago, according to a Texas Tribune analysis .sacurrent.com
San Antonio hospitals taking in El Paso patients amid wave of COVID-19 infections
SAN ANTONIO – A sharp increase of COVID-19 infections in El Paso may be the sign of another incoming surge, the UT Health Chief Medical Officer told staff in an email obtained by KSAT. University Health Chief Medical Officer Dr. Bryan Alsip said the El Paso patients are being transferred to hospitals across the state. Dr. Alsip said he did not know if El Paso was transferring patients with COVID-19 or other patients. “This really is a way to create additional space in those ICUs in El Paso and those hospitals,” Alsip said. Still, the Texas Emergency Medical Task Force may choose to transfer COVID-19 patients to other hospitals in Texas depending on the situation.
COVID-19 hospitalizations not seeing same decrease as positivity rate, says San Antonio doctor
SAN ANTONIO – Dr. Ruth Berggren, an infectious disease doctor with UT Health’s Long School of Medicine, joins KSAT Q&A to talk about the latest in coronavirus spread in San Antonio and vaccine development. Watch the full interview in the video player above. Catch more expert interviews every Monday- Friday at 6:30 p.m. and on the Nightbeat.
COVID-safe Halloween celebration ideas from San Antonio doctor
SAN ANTONIO – As the holiday season approaches, many families are wondering about the safety of Halloween traditions like trick-or-treating, gatherings or haunted houses in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic. Whatever you do for Halloween, those things still have to be going on,” Berggren said. “I think the old traditional Halloween evening of clumps of kids going along and pressing doorbells, maybe with sticky fingers and then footing. If you are hoping to spend the holiday with friends and family, trying coordinating a virtual meetup where everyone watches the same movie. Experts are promoting outdoor activities and warn against indoor activities like haunted houses and large parties.
Why voting is good for your health, according to San Antonio infectious disease doctor
SAN ANTONIO – From concerns over mail-in ballots to risking exposure at the polls, voting during a pandemic has been a hot topic this election season. In the latest KSAT Q&A, Dr. Ruth Berggren with UT Health’s Long School of Medicine said whichever way you vote, it could be good for your health. How could voting be good for your health in the middle of a pandemic? Latest vaccine developmentsThe Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has put out new guidance to prepare states for a vaccine distribution. According to Berggren, there are as many as five vaccines from different companies that are working through the approval process.
UT Health San Antonio physician develops device to relieve hiccups
SAN ANTONIO – *This article was initially published on UT Health San Antonio’s newsroom website and was republished on KSAT.com with permission from UT Health. A neuro-intensive care physician at UT Health San Antonio has invented a science-based way to stop hiccups. “I was thinking, how can I improve this?” Dr. Seifi said. “There have been no clear medications for hiccups,” Dr. Seifi said. The device is called HiccAway, a name conceived by medical students and residents attending rounds with Dr. Seifi.
UT Health co-authored study shows how cancer patients with COVID-19 react to different treatments
SAN ANTONIO – A new study co-authored by a UT Health researcher shows how cancer patients with COVID-19 react to different treatments. According to researchers, the study found new evidence of how cancer patients with COVID-19 react to different treatments, analyzing the treatment of almost 2,200 cancer patients with COVID-19. US signs contract with Pfizer for COVID-19 vaccine dosesThe study found that the cancer patients’ mortality rate was 16%, triple the global average. Dr. Dimpy Shah said patients taking the anti-viral medication Remdesivir had lower mortality rates. However, those taking other drugs engineered to help fight COVID-19 did not.
Wearing a mask protects others and science proves it, UT Health experts say
SAN ANTONIO – *This article was initially published on UT Health San Antonio’s newsroom website and was republished on KSAT.com with permission from UT Health. “Imagine how many senior adults, cancer patients or transplant recipients were spared from contracting COVID-19,” Dr. Berggren said. Dr. Berggren recalled a story about a hair salon where workers, who later learned they were infected, cut patrons’ hair. “We protect others when we wear a mask,” Dr. Berggren said. The numbers, both in San Antonio and in the 15 states studied, show it.
What you need to know about COVID-19 testing from UT Health experts
SAN ANTONIO *This article was initially published on UT Health San Antonios newsroom website and was republished on KSAT.com with permission from UT Health. Tests will not be positive until there is an active infection, so testing too early could yield a false negative. COVID-19 tests are important tools for diagnosing infection, but there are limitations to any test, said Jason Bowling, MD, associate professor of infectious diseases. After exposure to someone with COVID-19, you are at potential risk for developing infection for 14 days after the exposure. Several testing sites are available throughout the San Antonio area and are listed on the San Antonio Metropolitan Health District website: List of Testing Locations in Bexar County.
San Antonio pediatrician appointed to racial inequality fellowship
SAN ANTONIO A UT professor and pediatrician has been named one of 24 Ford Global Fellows worldwide who have been appointed to spend the next 10 years trying to identify, connect and support the next generation of social justice leaders to create positive change regarding racial inequality. Twenty four social leaders were appointed to this task worldwide and they have begun meeting via teleconference this week. RELATED: LIVE COVERAGE: Day 7 of George Floyd protests in San AntonioHer perspective is in general humanities, but also specific to how medically, black communities suffer more than white communities. The Ford Global Fellowship is an investment to build a global network of leaders to fight inequality, is critical at this moment." For more information on what the Ford Foundation does, as well as this particular fellowship, visit fordfoundation.org.
Why are so many nursing home residents dying of COVID-19?
With multiple coronavirus outbreaks at local nursing homes, one KSAT viewer asked Dr. Berggren:Why is the death toll from the virus so high in nursing homes? “People in nursing homes, as you know, aren’t just older, they frequently have multiple underlying medical conditions that make somebody vulnerable,” Berggren said. She said most nursing homes don’t have many private bedrooms or bathrooms. Related Content:Another increased risk factor in nursing homes is the mobility of caregivers. Berggren also compared nursing homes to the Bexar County jail.
Two labs at UT Health San Antonio dedicated to make hand sanitizer for frontline workers
SAN ANTONIO – Local scientists are taking matters into their own hands to protect the hands of workers in their medical system. Two labs at UT Health San Antonio are now dedicated to solely making hand sanitizer for the UT Health providers. The sanitizer meets all World Health Organization guidelines, using high-purity alcohol, hydrogen peroxide, glycerol and water. The sanitizer is specifically for frontline workers and is being distributed to UT Health SA offices across the area.
Is there a plan if COVID-19 cases rise after businesses reopen?
SAN ANTONIO – Doctor Ruth Berggren is the Director for Medical Humanities and Ethics with UT Health and is part of the city and county’s transition task force. The group is made up of public health officials and medical experts developing a plan to safely get San Antonio back to “normal.”“We strongly believe that human health and economic well-being are tightly linked and we prioritize human life in the face of this pandemic,” Berggren said. With talk about the state reopening or loosening restrictions on businesses, viewers wanted to know ‘is there a plan if COVID-19 cases rise after opening businesses too soon?’Dr. Berggren says yes, “as we monitor and evaluate the outcome of our plan, we’re going to have to recognize that if cases are going up in a certain sector, we’re going to have to pull back within that sector and impose more strict behaviors, more strict restrictions.”WATCH the full interview with Dr. Berggren below:
Doctors discuss what you should know about the coronavirus
SAN ANTONIO – In response to growing concerns over the novel coronavirus in San Antonio, the Metropolitan Health District and the Alamo Asian American Chamber of Commerce hosted an educational panel about the virus. The point of the “Coronavirus: What you should know” discussion was to educate the public amid rumors and misinformation. San Antonio: CDC planned to drop cruise passengers at mallResidents can call (210) 207-5779 during weekdays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. According to the CDC, these symptoms include:Mild to severe respiratory illnessFeverCoughShortness of breathThe symptoms of coronavirus are similar to the flu. As you would with any other illness, make sure you wash your hands consistently and avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands, CDC officials say.