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Chronic Pain Could Be a Risk Factor for Suicide

Nearly one in 10 people who commit suicide in the U.S. lived with chronic pain, says a new study.

Link Established Between Chronic Pain and Suicide

According to Reuters, the study cannot prove that chronic pain contributed to people’s decision to commit suicide, although it suggests that chronic pain is a risk factor suicide.

The lead author, Dr. Emiko Petrosky, a medical epidemiologist with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta said “we did see that mental health issues, such as depression and anxiety were more common among those with chronic pain.”

“Health care providers caring for patients with chronic pain should be aware of the risk for suicide,” Petrosky told Reuters Health. “Chronic pain is a huge public health problem. It’s essential that we improve chronic pain management through integrated patient centered management that includes mental health care in addition to medications for these patients.”

Estimations show that about 25 million adults in the U.S. experience some level of pain every day, while about 10.5 million experience severe pain every day.

Methodology for the Chronic Pain Study

The study collected data from the CDC’s National Violent Death Reporting System from 18 states between 2003 and 2014. The study included 123,181 suicides, out of which 10,789 showed some indication of chronic pain.

However, the proportion of suicides committed by people with chronic pain increased from 7.4 percent in 2003, to 10.2 percent in 2014. This being said, the research team pointed out that the number of people with chronic pain also increased during that time.

A large portion of those who experience chronic pain, and committed suicide had back pain, cancer pain, and arthritis.

Those who suffered from chronic pain were three times as likely to have tested positive for opioids when they died. However, only 16.2 percent of those with chronic pain who committed suicide overdosed, while more than half used a firearm.

Medication May Contribute to Chronic Pain and Suicide Link

Dr. Paul Nestadt of the department of psychiatry and behavioral health at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine in Baltimore says that this is an important statistic. “Opioids are depressants and they increase the risk of depression,” said Nestadt, who is not affiliated with the new research. “Depression is one of the highest risk factors for completing suicide.”

The study does not indicate, says Dr. Michael L. Barnett, a health policy and management researcher at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and a primary care physician at Brigham & Women’s Hospital in Boston, anything about chronic pain management in this country.

Though “there aren’t any medications that seem to be effective for treating chronic pain. Both opioids and NSAIDs are pretty effective in treating acute pain, but not chronic pain. While people often want a pill that will fix things, comprehensive pain management is proven to be pretty effective.”

Dr. Ajay D. Wasan, vice president for scientific affairs at the American Academy of Pain Medicine and a professor of anesthesia and psychiatry at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center said the problem with this type of study is you don’t know what other risk factors people had.

“Chronic pain is certainly an important risk factor, but we don’t know how important it is compared to other risk factors,” said Wasan, who was not affiliated with the new research. “Also, since chronic pain is not really coded well at the time of a suicide, this is probably an underestimate of the proportion of people who had chronic pain. We do know that chronic pain can be a deadly disease.”

Contact an Experienced Personal Injury Attorney

At Thomas J. Henry, we focus on personal injury matters and achieving the maximum recovery for you and your family. Our firm has the resources to take care of you and your family during the legal process. Our lawyers are dedicated to each and every client and their unique case. Let us help you get the compensation you deserve for the injuries you have sustained. Contact our personal injury attorneys — available 24/7, nights and weekends — for a free legal consultation.

Parents and Fraternity Reach Agreement Over Hazing Death of Student

The parents of a Penn State student who died during a fraternity hazing have reached an agreement with the fraternity. The agreement requires that requires the fraternity to make several structural changes, including making the fraternity house substance-free.

Details of the Hazing Agreement

The parents and the national organization of Beta Theta Pi reached a monetary settlement Tuesday, although the details were not disclosed.

The fraternity agreed to organization reforms, such as making the fraternity house substance free by August 15 2020, and combatting hazing.

Piazza, 19, a sophomore at Pennsylvania State University from Lebanon, New Jersey, tumbled down two flights of stairs and seriously injured himself in February 2017 while intoxicated at the party. He died two days after the hazing ritual.

Averting the threat of a lawsuit, the legally binding agreement was reached in talks over the past year with the fraternity, says the couple’s attorney.

While the Piazzas have not taken any legal action against Penn State, the agreement with the fraternity does not bar them from doing so, according to the family’s attorney.

Hazing Statistics

The following information was provided by the University of Dayton:

  • Every year, 1.5 million high school students experience hazing. This means 47% of college students have experienced hazing prior to attending a college or university.
  • The majority of college students who are involved in clubs, teams, or organizations will experience hazing.
  • Common types of hazing include:
    • Alcohol consumption
    • Humiliation
    • Isolation
    • Sleep-deprevation
    • Sexual acts
  • In 40% of cases involving hazing of athletes, the athlete reported that the behaviors were known to a coach or advisor.
  • Roughly 80% of hazing deaths involve alcohol.

Contact an Experienced Personal Injury Attorney

At Thomas J. Henry, we focus on personal injury matters and achieving the maximum recovery for you and your family. Our firm has the resources to take care of you and your family during the legal process. Our lawyers are dedicated to each and every client and their unique case. Let us help you get the compensation you deserve for the injuries you have sustained. Contact our personal injury attorneys — available 24/7, nights and weekends — for a free legal consultation.

Kraft Heinz Recalls 7,000 Cases of Taco Bell Queso Due to Risk of Botulism

Kraft Heinz has issued a recall for certain Taco Bell Con Queso dips due to concerns of possible botulism contamination.

About the Taco Bell Cheese Dip Recall

On Tuesday, July 24, Kraft Heinz announced that it was to voluntarily recall 7,000 cases of Taco Bell Con Queso Mild Cheese Dip. The dip showed signs of “product separation” which means the moisture separates from the rest of the product. The company said in a statement that this type of separation can lead to health hazards.

Clostridium botulinum can grow due to conditions created by the separation of the moisture from the product. This bacteria can cause botulism, a serious and deadly illness. According to the Centers for Disease Control, the bacteria can sometimes produce a toxin which creates difficulty breathing, muscle paralysis, and death.

The CDC warns that symptoms include drooping eyelids, blurred vision, slurred speech, difficulty swallowing, and muscle weakness.

Thus far there have been no reported cases of botulism or illness due to the product.

Kraft says, to remedy the issue, customers should not consume the product even if no bacteria is seen. The bacteria that causes botulism cannot be seen, tasted, nor smelled. Customers who bought the product can return the product for a full refund.

Additional Information About Botulism

Botulism is a rare but serious disease. If you suspect you have botulism, it is urgent that you visit a doctor for diagnosis.

Botulism can result in death due to respiratory failure. Treatment can greatly reduce your risk of suffering serious adverse events or death. Prior to the development of antitoxin, botulism had a mortality rate around 50 percent. Today, fewer than 5 of every 100 people with botulism die.

Even with antitoxin and intensive medical and nursing care, some patients die from infections or other problems that are caused by being paralyzed for weeks or months. Patients who survive botulism may have fatigue and shortness of breath for years afterward, and may need long-term therapy to help them recover.

In order to obtain a diagnosis, your doctor may perform special tests to make a diagnosis. Some of these tests are:

  • Brain scan
  • Spinal fluid examination
  • Nerve and muscle function tests (nerve conduction study [NCS] and electromyography [EMG])
  • Tensilon test for myasthenia gravis

If these tests fail to determine what is making you sick, your doctor may order laboratory tests to look for the toxin and the bacteria that cause botulism.

Contact an Experienced Product Recall Attorney

If you or a loved one have suffered an injury or illness due to a defective or dangerous product, contact Thomas J. Henry. Over two decades of experience handling a multitude of defective product cases and extensive legal and financial resources allow us to provide our clients with truly dynamic legal representation. Thomas J. Henry has a proven track record of achieving real results for clients devastated by recalled products.

Let us help you recover the compensation you are entitled to. Our firm has offices in Corpus ChristiSan AntonioAustin, and Houston, serving clients across Texas and nationwide. Contact us today for a free case review.

Multiple Drownings and Near Drownings Reported in North Texas

This past week was a deadly week in terms of water accidents in parts of North Texas. Three people drowned and another one nearly drowned in lakes and swimming pools.

Details of the Drowning and Near Drowning Incidents

According to CBS-DFW, rescue crews had been busy at Lake Grapevine on Saturday after a man went missing after falling into the water not wearing a life jacket. After searching all day Saturday, without any luck, rescue teams resumed Sunday along with the Texas Game Warden and discovered the body of a 38-year-old man that afternoon.

While still searching for the missing boater Saturday, another rescue call came from Rockledge Park where the rescue team discovered a 25-year-old man who they then transported to the nearest hospital. He was listed in critical condition.

Two other incidents had also been reported to the local authorities after a four-year-old drowned in his family’s swimming pool in Arlington and another man drowned in a private Denton County lake.

Swimming Pool Safety

As the weather begins to heat up more, people will be heading out to the water; however, according to the American Red Cross, more than two hundred children drown in swimming pools each year. In order to ensure a child’s safety we must follow these safety rules:

  1. Make sure that everyone headed out to the water knows how to swim.
  2. Secure the pool with appropriate barriers
  3. Keep everyone ESPECIALLY children away from pool drains, and other openings.
  4. Ensure that there is no diving in a pool that is not deep enough
  5. Learn Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR).

Outdoor Swimming and Beach Safety

While children one- to four-years of age are at the highest risk of drowning in home swimming pools, people 15-years and older are more likely to drown in natural bodies of water.

In order to ensure safeness outdoors as well as at the beach, the U.S. Lifesaving Association recommends follow these tips.

  1. Wear a life jacket EVEN if you know how to swim
  2. Be aware of your surroundings
  3. Obey the posted signs and flags
  4. Stay hydrated and use sunscreen
  5. If you find yourself in a current, swim WITH it, UNTIL conditions calm
  6. Constantly check with lifeguards
  7. Swim with a buddy
  8. Know your swimming skills, and DO NOT rely on flotation devices
  9. Enter water feet first
  10. If you notice any changing in the water be sure to LEAVE the area immediately.

Contact an Experienced Personal Injury Attorney

If you or a child have been injured due to the unsafe premises surrounding or inside of a swimming pool, contact Thomas J. Henry. Our experienced accident and injury lawyers are available 24/7, nights and weekends to evaluate your claim. People that seek out swimming pools to relax, have fun, and enjoy the outdoors should not have to worry about their safety or the safety of their children due to the negligent actions of a property owner.

Thomas J. Henry has the legal resources and experience necessary to develop your case and ensure that you are in the best position possible to achieve the compensation you deserve. Contact us today for a free case review. Our firm has offices in Corpus ChristiSan Antonio, and Houston, serving clients across Texas and nationwide.

Former Texas Emergency Operator Jailed After Hanging Up on Thousands of Calls

A former emergency operator in Texas was sentenced to 10 days in jail and 18 months probation for hanging up on thousands of 911 calls.

911 Operator Hung Up on Emergency Calls Dealing with Homicide and Robbery

According to Reuters, a Houston jury found Crenshanda Williams, 44, guilty of misdemeanor interference with emergency telephone calls on Wednesday.

The prosecution states that Williams systematically hung up on thousands of people trying to report emergencies, including homicides, robberies, and reckless drivers. Prosecutors also claim that Williams told investigators that she often hung up because she did not want to talk to anybody at those times.

Williams worked for the Houston Emergency Center for a period of 18 months, ending in 2016. Attention was drawn to Williams when supervisors observed an abnormally high number of “short calls”, typically defined as those lasting less than 20 seconds.

A database at the center which tracks who disconnected a call – the operator, the caller, or both – showed that Williams regularly hung up on thousands of callers.

Failures and Intentional Disconnections in Emergency Dispatch Systems Are Not Uncommon

Whether intentional or not, failures, disconnects, and lack of communication by emergency dispatches are not as uncommon as we may like to believe.

As recently as last month, an Ohio teenager died in the back of a Honda Odyssey after becoming trapped in the rear well under the third-row seat.

Records show that the teenager called 911 multiple times using Siri, providing dispatch with his location and a detailed description of his vehicle; however, his first call was disconnected, and information provided during the second call was not relayed to officers at the scene.

In June, a dispatcher allegedly hung up on an emergency call dealing with a New Mexico teen who was shot while at a party. The teen died of his wounds, and a lawsuit has been filed against the dispatcher.

Contact an Experienced Personal Injury Attorney

At Thomas J. Henry, we focus on personal injury matters and achieving the maximum recovery for you and your family. Our firm has the resources to take care of you and your family during the legal process. Our lawyers are dedicated to each and every client and their unique case. Let us help you get the compensation you deserve for the injuries you have sustained. Contact our personal injury attorneys — available 24/7, nights and weekends — for a free legal consultation.

National Burn Awareness Month: Fire Safety and Burn Prevention

While it is good to know how to identify and treat burns, the best defense against burn injuries is to prevent them from occurring in the first place. Below are some proactive steps you can take to prevent fires, burns, and scalding injuries.

Fire Prevention and Safety Tips for Your Home

  • Install at least one smoke detector on every level of your home and check them monthly to ensure they are functioning. Generally, it is best to replace batteries at least every six months.
  • Get the wiring checked in your home at least once every 10 years.
  • Get a professional to inspect and clean of your chimney once a year.
  • Have a fire extinguisher handy in your home and know how to properly use it.
  • Create a fire escape plan for your home. Perform regular fire drills and designate a meeting place outside in case of a fire.
  • Do not leave lit candles unattended.
  • Do not smoke in bed and discard all used cigarettes. Fires caused by smoking materials are the leading cause of deaths in house fires.
  • Cooking fires are the leading cause of house fires. Put out a small fire on a stove by sliding a lid over the flames.

Burn Prevention and Safety Tips for Your Home

  • Wear gloves and other protective clothing when handling chemicals. Store chemicals and gasoline out of the reach of children in order to prevent chemical burns.
  • Cover all electrical outlets that are within a child’s reach and throw away electrical cords that are frayed and damaged in order to prevent electrical burns.
  • Use space heaters carefully and teach children to stay away from them.
  • Store matches and lighters in a locked cabinet or where children can’t reach them.
  • Cover car seats with a towel when parking in the sun. If you have children under the age of one, always check the car seat to see how hot it is. Hot seat-belt straps or buckles can cause second-degree burns on small children.
  • Don’t let small children play near the stove or help you cook at the stove.
  • Don’t wear clothing with long, loose sleeves when you are cooking.
  • Do not use a microwave oven to warm baby bottles. The liquid may heat up unevenly and scald your baby’s mouth.
  • Unplug hot irons, such as clothes irons or curling irons, and keep them out of reach of children.

How to Prevent Scalding Injuries in Your Home

  • Test the water temperature before you or your children bathe. Don’t let young children touch the faucet handles during a bath.
  • Set the temperature on your water heater to 120º F, or use the “low-medium” setting. Water that is hotter than this can cause burns in 2 to 3 seconds.
  • Turn the handles of pots and pans toward the side of the stove, or use the back burners of the stove.
  • Use cool-water humidifiers or vaporizers. If you use hot-steam vaporizers, keep them out of the reach of children.

What to Do if There Is a Fire in Your Home

  • Use your family escape plan and meet at your designated meeting place immediately.
  • Smoke and heat rise, so it’s best to stay as close to the ground as possible.
  • Before opening doors, check to see if the door is hot or cool. If the door is hot, do not open it – this means that the fire is nearby. When a door is cool, open the door cautiously and slowly.
  • Close doors in order to separate yourself from the fire.
  • If you or your clothing catch on fire, stop, drop, and roll.

Contact an Experienced Burn Injury Attorney

If you or a loved one have been the victim of a severe burn injury, contact Thomas J. Henry immediately. Our experience burn injury lawyers are available to assist you. If you sustained your burn injury due to the negligence of an individual or company, you may be entitled to collect damages for medical costs, lost wages from missing work, future earnings, and more. We will handle your case with care and ensure that you are in the best position to achieve the real results you deserve.

Our firm has offices in Corpus ChristiSan Antonio, Austin, and Houston, serving clients across Texas and nationwide. Contact us today for a free case review.

Burn Injury Awareness Month: What to do After a Burn Injury

The first step is to stop the burning to prevent a more severe injury, each type of burn has different protocol for immediate treatment. After immediate action, you should assess your injuries and act accordingly.

When a burn injury occurs, the first step is to prevent further injury. Each type of burn has a different protocol for immediate treatment. Once immediate action is taken, you should assess your injuries and consider seeking medical attention.

What to do Immediately After a Burn

  • Heat Burns: Cover any open flames with a blanket or water. Assess your burn after.
  • Cold Temperature Burns: Warm the areas of your body that are affected through blowing warm air in them, tucking them inside your clothing, or submerging them in warm water.
  • Liquid Scald Burns: Run cool tap water over the burn for 10 to 20 minutes.
  • Electrical Burns: Check for steady breathing and a steady heartbeat or pulse. If the individual is not breathing call 911 immediately.
  • Chemical Burns: Find out what chemical caused the burn. Call your local Poison Control Center or the National Poison Control Hotline (1-800-222-1222) for more information on treatment for the burn.
  • Tar or Hot Plastic Burns: Immediately run cold water over the hot tar or hot plastic to cool the tar or plastic.

How to Evaluate Your Burn

  • First Degree: First degree burns affect the top-most layer of the skin and are characterized by redness, minor inflammation or swelling, pain.
  • Second Degree: Also called partial thickness burns, second degree burns damage the first and second layers of skin and may affect deeper skin layers. These burns cause the skin to blister and are characterized by extreme redness and soreness.
  • Third Degree: Third degree burns or full thickness burns injure all the skin layers and skin tissue and require medical treatment. These burns are so extensive that there may not be pain because of nerve damage. Look for charred skin or skin with a waxy or whit color. Skin may also appear raised or leathery.
  • Fourth Degree: These burns extend past the skin to the muscle, ligaments, tendons, nerves, blood vessels, and bones, always requiring medical treatment

Follow Up Actions

  • Look for other injuries besides the burn
  • Remove any items from the burn such as jewelry or clothing. If an article of clothing is stuck to the burn do not detach it. Cut around the stuck fabric, removing any loose fabric.

Preparing to See a Doctor

  • Cover the burn with a clean, dry cloth to reduce the risk of infection.
  • Refrain from applying any salve or medicine to the injury so your doctor will be able to properly assess the burn.
  • Refrain from applying ice or butter to the burn, this may damage the skin tissue.

Contact an Experienced Burn Injury Attorney

If you or a loved one have been the victim of a severe burn injury, contact Thomas J. Henry immediately. Our experience burn injury lawyers are available to assist you. If you sustained your burn injury due to the negligence of an individual or company, you may be entitled to collect damages for medical costs, lost wages from missing work, future earnings, and more. We will handle your case with care and ensure that you are in the best position to achieve the real results you deserve.

Our firm has offices in Corpus ChristiSan Antonio, Austin, and Houston, serving clients across Texas and nationwide. Contact us today for a free case review.

 

National Burn Awareness Week: Types of Burns and Levels of Severity

There are various types of burn injuries, all of which are measured by their level of severity. No matter the cause of a burn, they are categorized as first, second, third, of fourth degree burns. The severity is determined based on how many layers of skin and tissue are burned.

Common Types of Burns

Understanding the various types of burns and how they occur is an essential step to prevention and treatment. Among the most common types of burns are:

  • Heat Burns – Heat burns are caused by fire, steam, hot objects, or hot liquids. Scald burns from hot liquids are the most common type of heat burn.
  • Cold Temperature Burns – Cold temperature burns occur when skin is exposed to wet, windy, or cold conditions.
  • Electrical Burns – Electrical burns are caused by contact with electrical sources or lightning.
  • Chemical Burns – Chemical burns are caused by contact with household or industrial chemicals. These chemicals can be in the form of a liquid, solid, or gas.
  • Radiation Burns – Radiation burns can be caused by the sun, tanning booths, sunlamps, X-rays, or radiation therapy for cancer treatments.
  • Friction Burns – Friction burns are a form of abrasion caused by the friction of skin rubbing against a surface.

Identifying the Severity of a Burn

Less serious burns occur while performing daily activities and can transpire from contact with hot water, curling irons, stoves, etc. Generally, less severe burns can simply be treated through home remedies. More severe burns may injure the skin and damage other parts of the body such as muscles, blood vessels, nerves, lungs, and eyes. Severe burns require immediate medical treatment.

When attempting to identify the severity of a burn, medical professionals will use the following categories.

  • First-Degree Burns: Considered mild compared to other burns, but can still be painful. They result in pain and reddening of the out-layer of skin called the epidermis.
  • Second-Degree Burns: Also referred to as partial thickness burns, second-degree burns affect the epidermis and the dermis (the lower layer of skin). Second-degree burns are generally characterized by swelling and blistering in addition to pain and redness.
  • ThirdDegree Burns: Third-degree burns are referred to as full thickness burns as they pass through the dermis and affect deeper tissues. Third-degree burns result in white or blackened, charred skin that may be numb. The numbness is causes by nerve damage.
  • Fourth-Degree Burns: These burns extend past the skin to the muscle, ligaments, tendons, nerves, blood vessels, and bones. Fourth degree burns are result in extreme damage and always requiring medical treatment.

Who Can Be Held Liable for Burn Injuries?

Burn injuries can occur almost anywhere and can be caused by a multitude of factors, including:

If your burn injury was caused by negligence on the part of an individual or company, you may choose to hire an attorney to help recover damages including past and future medical expenses, pain and suffering, and lost wages.

Contact an Experienced Burn Injury Attorney

If you or a loved one have been the victim of a severe burn injury, contact Thomas J. Henry immediately. Our experience burn injury lawyers are available to assist you. If you sustained your burn injury due to the negligence of an individual or company, you may be entitled to collect damages for medical costs, lost wages from missing work, future earnings, and more. We will handle your case with care and ensure that you are in the best position to achieve the real results you deserve.

Our firm has offices in Corpus ChristiSan Antonio, Austin, and Houston, serving clients across Texas and nationwide. Contact us today for a free case review.

 

Study Shows CTE is Caused by Hits to the Head, Not Concussions

Human brain wrapped in bandages.

According to the Washington Post, a new study has found additional evidence linking chronic traumatic encephalopathy to hits to the head rather than concussions.

Study Author Says Concussions are Irrelevant in Triggering CTE

Chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) is a neurodegenerative found in people with a history of repetitive brain trauma, such as football players, other athletes, and combat veterans.

Previously, CTE was thought to being caused by concussive head injuries and loss of consciousness. However, current studies continue to show that not only does the injured individual not have to lose consciousness in order to be at an increased risk of CTE, but even subconcussive hits can lead to CTE.

This is further supported by a new study led by Boston University researchers which analyzed the brains of teenagers with head injuries and used mice to recreate head trauma.

The analysis found that “concussion is really irrelevant for triggering CTE,” according to Dr. Lee Goldstein, an associate professor at Boston University School of Medicine and College of Engineering and a corresponding author of the study. In reality, Dr. Goldstein says it is the hit that matters.

CTE Is Not Only a Problem for Professional Athletes

In addition to discussing the study’s findings, Dr. Goldstein also relayed that the extent of CTE sufferers extends well beyond professional athletes. In addition to the NFL, which has been the subject of news and controversy the past couple of years, vulnerable populations include:

  • Military veterans
  • Victims of domestic abuse
  • Incarcerated populations
  • Homeless individuals

However, Dr. Goldstein also pointed out that CTE is not limited to vulnerable populations, saying “It’s a big problem for the NFL, a bigger problem for amateur athletics, and an even larger problem still for the general public.”

2,000 7-Eleven Customers Potentially Exposed to Hepatitis A

Salt Lake County health officials warn that 2,000 residents could have been potentially exposed to hepatitis A at a 7-Eleven convenience store.

About the 7-Eleven Hepatitis A Exposure

According to the CNN, people who visited a 7-Eleven location in West Jordan between December 26 and January 3 could have been exposed to hepatitis A if they used a restroom in the store or consumed certain foods sold at the location.

In a statement, the Salt Lake County Health Department said “The possible hepatitis A exposure occurred when an infected employee worked while ill and potentially handled certain items in the store.” Additionally, officials believe the incident is connected to a wider hepatitis A outbreak in the area.

Among those at risk, are customers who used the restroom or consumed fountain drinks, fresh fruit, or food from the hot food case. These customers are urged to contact the county health department for information about receiving a preventive hepatitis A injection.

As of Monday, 256 people had been referred by the county health department to get an injection.

What is Hepatitis A?

Hepatitis A is a highly contagious liver disease and is most frequently transmitted by eating food or drinking water handled by someone who has not properly washed their hands, but it can also be spread by sex and illicit drug use.

Common symptoms of hepatitis A include:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Fever
  • Fatigue

Symptoms may take 15 to 50 days to appear.

 

 

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