Category: Education

Timely consultations relevant for family medicine, primary care, and general internal medicine topics for physicians, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, and residents. Offering CME credit for most episodes at https://ce.mayo.edu/podcast. Produced by @MayoMedEd.

August 4, 2022

Headache Edition: Status Migrainosus and Headache in the ER

To claim credit for this episode, visit Mayo Clinic Talks Podcast: Headache Edition - Online CME Course.

Guest: Mark A. Whealy, M.D.

Host: Darryl S. Chutka, M.D. (@ChutkaMD)

Headache disorders are extremely common, and patients frequently seek our help in the outpatient setting regarding management of their headaches. On occasion, they may present to the emergency department for more severe or prolonged headaches. With this podcast, we will continue our series on headaches as we discuss intractable migraine, also known as status migrainosus. We’ll also discuss other headaches commonly seen in the emergency department. How serious is status migrainosus? How should patients with these headaches be evaluated and what are the most effective management strategies? We’ll discuss these questions with Mark A. Whealy, M.D., a neurologist and headache specialist at the Mayo Clinic.

Connect with the Mayo Clinic’s School of Continuous Professional Development online at https://ce.mayo.edu/ or on Twitter @MayoMedEd.

August 2, 2022

Endometriosis: An Issue with Tissue

Guest: Tatnai L. Burnett, M.D.

Host: Darryl S. Chutka, M.D. (@ChutkaMD)

Endometriosis affects approximately one in ten women during their reproductive age and can result in chronic abdominal symptoms, including pelvic pain and at times infertility. It can produce a variety of vague symptoms which commonly causes a delay in establishing a diagnosis. Since women commonly present to their primary care providers, we need to consider endometriosis as a cause of their symptoms. While there is no cure, this chronic condition can be effectively managed. The topic for this podcast is endometriosis and our guest is Tatnai L. Burnett, M.D., from the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the Mayo Clinic.

Connect with the Mayo Clinic’s School of Continuous Professional Development online at https://ce.mayo.edu/ or on Twitter @MayoMedEd.

July 28, 2022

Headache Edition: Pediatric Headaches

To claim credit for this episode, visit Mayo Clinic Talks Podcast: Headache Edition - Online CME Course.

Guest: Juliana H. VanderPluym, M.D.

Host: Darryl S. Chutka, M.D. (@ChutkaMD)

Headaches in children are relatively common and although there are many similarities to headaches in adults, there are some differences as well. Symptoms can be slightly different, and these differences can make it more difficult to establish a specific diagnosis in a child. This podcast will continue our series on headaches and the topic will be “Headaches in Children”. We’ll cover such topics as: Do infants get headaches? How often are headaches in children serious? And is the management of headaches in children any different than in adults? Our guest for this topic is Juliana H. VanderPluym, M.D., a neurologist at the Mayo Clinic.

Connect with the Mayo Clinic’s School of Continuous Professional Development online at https://ce.mayo.edu/ or on Twitter @MayoMedEd.

July 26, 2022

Elevated Triglycerides: Implications for Cardiovascular Health

Host: Joshua D. Luciew, MPAS, P.A.-C.

Guest: Abigail K. Stockland, APRN, C.N.P., M.S.N.

Guest: Michaeleen M. Burroughs, M.S., RDN, LD

A fasting lipid panel is part of a patient’s routine health maintenance visit. This common laboratory test has many values on it including total cholesterol, HDL cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, and triglycerides. This test helps clinicians calculate a patient’s 10-year atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease risk (ASCVD risk) to help guide treatments. If a patient's risk is determined to be high, statin medications can be considered. However, despite using statin therapy and addressing modifiable risk factors, some patients still have elevated triglycerides.  What role do triglycerides play in a patient's health?  Does hypertriglyceridemia contribute to cardiovascular disease? Tune in to this episode to find out more from our panel discussion.

Connect with the Mayo Clinic’s School of Continuous Professional Development online at https://ce.mayo.edu/ or on Twitter @MayoMedEd

July 21, 2022

Headache Edition: Serious Secondary Headaches

To claim credit for this episode, visit Mayo Clinic Talks Podcast: Headache Edition - Online CME Course.

Guest: Chia-Chun Chiang, M.D. (@chiachunchiang)

Host: Darryl S. Chutka, M.D. (@ChutkaMD)

Headaches have a variety of causes and for most they are a minor nuisance. Fortunately, most have a benign cause. However, there are some headaches which are associated with a serious health problem. Since many of these patients will present to their primary care providers with their headaches, we need to recognize clues they may describe that allow us to suspect their headache may not be benign. In this podcast, we’ll continue our series on headaches and discuss serious, secondary headaches with Chia-Chun Chiang, M.D., a neurologist at the Mayo Clinic.

Connect with the Mayo Clinic’s School of Continuous Professional Development online at https://ce.mayo.edu/ or on Twitter @MayoMedEd.

July 19, 2022

The Outs and Ins of Vitamins

Guest: Donald D. Hensrud, M.D., M.S.

Host: Edward (Edward R.) R. Laskowski, M.D. (@DrEdSportsMed)

A recent Harris poll found that 86% of people take some sort of vitamin or supplement, and a recent research study found that approximately 60% of people report using dietary supplements in the past 30 days.  Multiple claims are made regarding the benefits of vitamins. How do we know which are true?  How do we sift through all the hype? When should we consider taking vitamins or recommending them for our patients? This episode features Donald D. Hensrud, M.D., M.S., an Associate Professor of Nutrition and Preventive Medicine at Mayo Clinic Rochester, Director of the Mayo Clinic Healthy Living Program, and editor of multiple books on healthy eating and living a healthy lifestyle, including The Mayo Clinic Diet and The New Mayo Clinic cookbook.

Connect with the Mayo Clinic’s School of Continuous Professional Development online at https://ce.mayo.edu/ or on Twitter @MayoMedEd.

July 18, 2022

Mayo Clinic Q&A: BA.5 omicron variant fueling latest COVID-19 surge

This episode is shared from Mayo Clinic Q&A and was recorded in July 2022

Guest: Gregory A. Poland, M.D. (@drgregpoland)

Host: Danielle (DeeDee) J. Stiepan

The BA.5 omicron variant is now the dominant strain in the U.S., and it is leading to a new wave of COVID-19 infections. BA.5 was responsible for nearly 54% of COVID-19 cases in the U.S., and BA.4, a similar variant, accounted for another 17%, according to the latest data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Experts are concerned because this particular variant appears to be good at evading the immune system. 

"This BA.5 variant is hypercontagious, and right behind it, new variants are coming," says Dr. Gregory Poland, an infectious diseases expert and head of Mayo Clinic's Vaccine Research Group. "We will continue to generate these variants until people are masked and immunized." 

Dr. Poland explains that the transmissibility of BA.5 represents the evolution of the virus to become more contagious and able to evade immune protection from previous infection or vaccination. 

"Whether you've been vaccinated, whether you've been previously infected, whether you've been previously infected and vaccinated, you have very little protection against BA.5 in terms of getting infected or having mild to moderate infection," says Dr. Poland. "Thankfully, you still do have good protection against dying, being hospitalized or ending up on a ventilator if you are up to date on your vaccinations." 

Due to the consequences of reinfection, including the possibility of long COVID-19, Dr. Poland urges people to continue to take precautions to protect themselves.

"The reality is, it's important to be up to date on the COVID-19 vaccinations that are recommended for your age group, health condition, etc.," says Dr. Poland. "Sometime this fall, we may well have a variant-focused vaccine, so get it when it becomes available. And wear a proper mask properly when you are indoors around people who are not your family or in a crowded outdoor venue."

On the Mayo Clinic Q&A podcast, Dr. Poland shares the latest COVID-19 news and answers listener questions.

July 14, 2022

Headache Edition: Unusual Headaches

To claim credit for this episode, visit Mayo Clinic Talks Podcast: Headache Edition - Online CME Course.

Guest: Narayan R. Kissoon, M.D.

Host: Darryl S. Chutka, M.D. (@ChutkaMD)

Headaches are quite common and essentially everyone has experienced them; some have more than others. While most headaches are merely an annoyance, others can be quite debilitating and result in missed work and lost productivity. While tension headaches are the most common overall, migraines are the type most often seen by healthcare providers. While tension and migraines represent the majority of headaches, it’s important for healthcare providers to recognize when a headache falls into the unusual category. This podcast will continue our series on headaches with our guest, Narayan R. Kissoon, M.D., a neurologist and headache specialist at the Mayo Clinic as we discuss unusual headaches.

Connect with the Mayo Clinic’s School of Continuous Professional Development online at https://ce.mayo.edu/ or on Twitter @MayoMedEd.

July 12, 2022

Selection Criteria for Kidney Transplantation

Guest: Carrie A. Schinstock, M.D. (@caschinstock)

Host: Darryl S. Chutka (@ChutkaMD)

Kidney transplants were initially performed in the early 1950’s; however, most of these early transplants failed due to immune system rejection. Successful transplants were generally limited to those performed in identical twins. With the discovery of immunosuppressant therapy, organ rejection became less of an issue and successful kidney transplants have become more common. Currently, in the U.S. over 20,000 kidney transplants are performed annually. Who is a candidate for a kidney transplant? What is the current success rate and what is the optimal timing for a transplant in patients with end stage renal disease? We’ll discuss these questions in this podcast on kidney transplantation with our guest, Carrie A. Schinstock, M.D., a nephrologist from the Division of Nephrology and Hypertension at the Mayo Clinic.

Connect with the Mayo Clinic’s School of Continuous Professional Development online at https://ce.mayo.edu/ or on Twitter @MayoMedEd

July 7, 2022

Headache Edition: Chronic Daily Headaches

To claim credit for this episode, visit Mayo Clinic Talks Podcast: Headache Edition - Online CME Course.

Guest: Rashmi B. Halker Singh, M.D. (@rashmihalker)

Host: Darryl S. Chutka, M.D. (@ChutkaMD)

Essentially everyone has an occasional headache and it is usually nothing more than a minor nuisance. However, there are individuals who have very frequent headaches, and they can have a significant influence on that person’s lifestyle and quality of life. The topic for this podcast is chronic daily headache, which represents a description of a variety of both primary and secondary headaches that occur frequently. Our guest is Rashmi Halker Singh, M.D., a neurologist, and specialist in headache medicine at the Mayo Clinic in Scottsdale, Arizona. We’ll discuss what types of headaches patients with chronic daily headache tend to have, how this syndrome develops, and how you should evaluate and manage these patients.

Connect with the Mayo Clinic’s School of Continuous Professional Development online at https://ce.mayo.edu/ or on Twitter @MayoMedEd.

July 5, 2022

Cervical Cancer Screening

Host: Darryl S. Chutka, M.D. (@ChutkaMD)

Guest: Kathy L. MacLaughlin, M.D.

Worldwide, cervical cancer is a very common malignancy for women, although the number of new cases in the U.S. has been declining. The overwhelming majority of cases are caused by infection with the human papilloma virus and due to a combination of HPV immunization and early detection with cervical cancer screening, advanced cervical cancer should be preventable. If it does occur, cervical cancer is one of the more treatable malignancies when detected early. If you perform cervical cancer screening for your patients, you know the guidelines have become a bit more complicated than in the past. To help us sort out who is a candidate for cervical cancer screening, when screening should start, how often it should be performed and when it can stop, we have as our guest for this podcast, Kathy L. MacLaughlin, M.D., a family physician in the Department of Family Medicine at the Mayo Clinic.

Connect with the Mayo Clinic’s School of Continuous Professional Development online at https://ce.mayo.edu/ or on Twitter @MayoMedEd

June 30, 2022

Headache Edition: Migraine Advocacy & Special Considerations in Women

To claim credit for this episode, visit Mayo Clinic Talks Podcast: Headache Edition - Online CME Course.

Guest: Amaal J. Starling, M.D. (@AmaalStarlingMD)

Host: Darryl S. Chutka, M.D. (@ChutkaMD)

Migraine is four-times more common in women than men and because of migraine predominance in females, it is a significant women’s health issue. Migraine commonly results in loss of productivity and this has a significant economic burden. According to a recent report from the Society for Women’s Health Research, it’s estimated that migraine costs the United States is an estimated $78 billion per year, with women accounting for approximately 80% of the direct medical and lost labor costs.  This podcast will continue our series on headaches and will concentrate on migraine in women. Our guest for this topic is Amaal J. Starling, M.D., a neurologist at the Mayo Clinic in Scottsdale, Arizona. We’ll discuss why migraine is more common in females, how the prevalence changes throughout a woman’s lifetime and specific treatment recommendations for women with migraine.

Connect with the Mayo Clinic’s School of Continuous Professional Development online at https://ce.mayo.edu/ or on Twitter @MayoMedEd.

June 28, 2022

Cannabidiol (CBD): Discussing Benefits and Risks with Patients

Guest: Thomas P. Pittelkow, D.O., M.P.H.

Host: Darryl S. Chutka, M.D. (@ChutkaMD)

Cannabidiol (CBD) is a popular natural remedy used for a variety of common ailments and is one of more than 100 chemical compounds called cannabinoids derived from the cannabis plant. Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is the main psychoactive cannabinoid found in cannabis. However, unlike THC, CBD does not have psychoactive properties. There are claims this compound treats not only pain, but a variety of mental health issues, symptoms of malignancy and may even have some cardiovascular benefits. Are all these claims true? What’s been proven? What do we know about the safety of this product? We’ll get the answers to these questions as we discuss Cannabidiol (CBD) with Thomas P. Pittelkow, D.O., M.P.H., an anesthesiologist and pain medicine specialist at the Mayo Clinic.

Connect with the Mayo Clinic’s School of Continuous Professional Development online at https://ce.mayo.edu/ or on Twitter @MayoMedEd.

June 23, 2022

Headache Edition: Interdisciplinary Pain Rehabilitation Treatment for Chronic Headache

To claim credit for this episode, visit Mayo Clinic Talks Podcast: Headache Edition - Online CME Course.

Guest: Christopher D. Sletten, Ph.D., L.P.

Host: Darryl S. Chutka, M.D. (@ChutkaMD)

Chronic headache is one of the more challenging medical conditions primary care providers commonly face. Whereas the traditional medical model views pain as a problem to be treated and relieved, this model often fails when dealing with patients experiencing chronic headaches. On the other hand, the bio-psychosocial model fits patients with chronic headache much better and when this model is used in the management, patients often have a much better outcome. This podcast is another in our series of headaches and will address the use of a cognitive-behavioral approach with an interdisciplinary team in the evaluation and management of patients with chronic headaches. Our guest Christopher D. Sletten, Ph.D., L.P., a psychologist at the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Florida.

Connect with the Mayo Clinic’s School of Continuous Professional Development online at https://ce.mayo.edu/ or on Twitter @MayoMedEd.

June 22, 2022

COVID-19 Update

This episode is shared from Mayo Clinic Q&A and was recorded in June 2022

Guest: Gregory A. Poland, M.D. (@drgregpoland)

Host: Halena M. Gazelka, M.D. (@hmgazelkamd)

As immunity wanes for many vaccinated adults and omicron and its subvariants continue to circulate, it seems that just about everyone knows someone with a case of COVID-19.

The steady increase in COVID-19 infections is due to changing, highly contagious variants, explains Dr. Gregory Poland, an infectious diseases expert and head of Mayo Clinic's Vaccine Research Group. Dr. Poland says it’s still important to take the precaution of mask-wearing in public areas, even if you have been vaccinated and have received your boosters.

"I can’t say it enough. This is so hypercontagious that, regardless of having had three or four doses of vaccine or of having previous COVID-19, you still run an appreciable chance of getting COVID," explains Dr. Poland. "The risk in that case is not of death or hospitalization, but of the complications and long-haul symptoms of COVID-19. And that’s what we’re trying to prevent in people." 

For parents, there is positive news this week, as the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) advisory panel voted unanimously to authorize emergency use of the Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines for children under 5. For this age group, the Pfizer vaccine will be given in three doses while the Moderna vaccine will be given in two doses.

The FDA panel's recommendation now goes to the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for approval before shots can be administered, possibly beginning as early as next week.

On the Mayo Clinic Q&A podcast, Dr. Poland shares the latest COVID-19 news, answers listener questions, and discusses another infectious disease outbreak: monkeypox.

 

June 21, 2022

Assessing and Supporting Patients with Alcohol Use Disorder

Guest: Terry D. Schneekloth, M.D.

Host: Darryl S. Chutka, M.D. (@ChutkaMD)

Unhealthy use of alcohol has the potential to affect not only the individual who consumes the alcohol, but a variety of others as well. Alcohol is the most used addictive substance, with an estimated prevalence of 7% of the United States population. Excessive alcohol use has the potential to cause damage to essentially every organ system and is thought to reduce one’s life expectance by approximately 10 years. Whereas treatment is available and has the potential to be very successful, it often requires an ongoing, lifetime of therapy. Our guest for this podcast is Terry D. Schneekloth, M.D., a psychiatrist and addiction medicine specialist at the Mayo Clinic in Scottsdale, Arizona. This podcast discusses when you should suspect alcoholism in your patients, how to make a diagnosis and which management techniques have been shown to be effective.

Connect with the Mayo Clinic’s School of Continuous Professional Development online at https://ce.mayo.edu/ or on Twitter @MayoMedEd.

June 16, 2022

Headache Edition: Migraine Treatment

To claim credit for this episode, visit Mayo Clinic Talks Podcast: Headache Edition - Online CME Course.

Guest: Fred (Michael) M. Cutrer, M.D.

Host: Darryl S. Chutka, M.D. (@ChutkaMD)

It is estimated that nearly 40 million individuals in the United States have migraines and they’re responsible for a significant amount of lost productivity and healthcare costs. The estimates of the economic impact of migraines in the United States alone approaches $36 billion per year. Many of our patients struggle with adequate management of their migraines; healthcare providers are often confused about the many treatment options now available. This podcast will review and clarify the various treatments for migraines, both for abortive therapy as well as prevention. Our guest is Fred (Michael) M. Cutrer, M.D., a neurologist and headache specialist at the Mayo Clinic.

Connect with the Mayo Clinic’s School of Continuous Professional Development online at https://ce.mayo.edu/ or on Twitter @MayoMedEd.

June 14, 2022

Managing Patients with Lynch Syndrome

Guest: Eric J. Dozois, M.D.

Host: Darryl S. Chutka, M.D. (@ChutkaMD)

In the mid-1960’s Dr. Henry Lynch first described a condition characterized as the “cancer family syndrome” in which members of families demonstrated an increased risk of a variety of malignancies. This eventually became known as “Lynch Syndrome”. Lynch Syndrome is a genetic disorder and can be the underlying cause of premature colon cancer as well as other malignancies. There are some clues to its presence and specific recommendations for managing patients with the condition. The topic for this podcast is Lynch Syndrome and we’ll learn more about the disorder from our guest, Eric J. Dozois, M.D., a colorectal surgeon at the Mayo Clinic.

Connect with the Mayo Clinic’s School of Continuous Professional Development online at https://ce.mayo.edu/ or on Twitter @MayoMedEd.

June 9, 2022

Headache Edition: Migraine

To claim credit for this episode, visit Mayo Clinic Talks Podcast: Headache Edition - Online CME Course.

Guest: Carrie (Beth) E. Robertson, M.D.

Host: Darryl S. Chutka, M.D. (@ChutkaMD)

Migraine represents a major public health problem and is relatively common affecting an estimated 36 million individuals per year. It is much more likely to affect females and typically accounts for up to four million visits to the Emergency Department and over four million outpatient office visits per year. Migraines are most common in women of childbearing age and are associated with a significant loss of productivity, resulting in a major economic impact. In this podcast, we’ll continue our series on headache and will focus on migraine. We’ll review the diagnosis, what’s happening in the brain during a migraine attack and the benefits of lifestyle changes in the management of migraine. Our guest for this episode is Carrie (Beth) E. Robertson, M.D., a neurologist at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota.

Connect with the Mayo Clinic’s School of Continuous Professional Development online at https://ce.mayo.edu/ or on Twitter @MayoMedEd.

June 7, 2022

Headache Edition: Approach to the Evaluation of Headache

To claim credit for this episode, visit Mayo Clinic Talks Podcast: Headache Edition - Online CME Course.

Guest: Jerry W. Swanson, M.D., M.H.P.E.

Host: Darryl S. Chutka, M.D. (@ChutkaMD)

Everyone has experienced a headache and for most of us, they are just a minor inconvenience. Unfortunately for some, headaches represent a major health problem. The pain can be intense and may result in major lifestyle changes including sudden change in plans, loss of productivity, and strained relationships. As primary care providers, patients with chronic, recurrent headaches can represent some of the most challenging patients we see. Fortunately, only rarely do headaches represent a serious threat to one’s life, but one still needs to be alert to potential clues indicating the possibility of the headaches representing a serious medical condition. There have also been numerous new treatments available for the management of migraines.

This will be the first in a series of podcasts dedicated to the topic of headache. We’re also going to honor one of the Mayo Clinic’s most prestigious physicians in the field of headache. Jerry W. Swanson, M.D., M.H.P.E. has been a neurologist at Mayo for 39 years and has been a specialist in the evaluation and management of patients with headaches. He brings experience and a wealth of knowledge to this topic.

Connect with the Mayo Clinic’s School of Continuous Professional Development online at https://ce.mayo.edu/ or on Twitter @MayoMedEd.

June 2, 2022

Pediatric Topics: Evaluation of a Suspected Inborn Error of Metabolism

Guest: Brendan C. Lanpher, M.D.

Host: David J. Sas, D.O. (@davidsas1)

Inborn errors of metabolism can present in a variety of ways depending on the specific type of disease.  The most critical presentation to identify occurs in the neonatal period when more severe diseases can cause acute decompensation.  These patients require appropriate evaluation and timely, expert management for good outcomes.  Diagnostic testing, including newborn screening, is advancing rapidly as are innovative treatment methods, making this an exciting field for clinicians. The guest for this episode is Brendan C. Lanpher, M.D., a board-certified geneticist at the Mayo Clinic Children’s Center in Rochester, Minnesota.

Connect with the Mayo Clinic’s School of Continuous Professional Development online at https://ce.mayo.edu/ or on Twitter @MayoMedEd.

May 31, 2022

Women and Depression

Host: Joshua D. Luciew, MPAS, P.A.-C.   

Guest: Neeta Jain, M.D.

Depression is a common condition that we see in our practices. It is a multifactorial disease that can affect patients of all ages. In this episode, we discuss women and depression, as women are twice as likely as men to receive this diagnosis. We will explore how this condition is diagnosed, depression subtypes, what effect hormones have on a woman’s mental health, and how we can help treat this condition for our patients through various parts of their life. The guest for today’s episode is Neeta Jain, M.D., Mayo Clinic Board Certified Psychiatrist at Mayo Clinic in Arizona.

Connect with the Mayo Clinic’s School of Continuous Professional Development online at https://ce.mayo.edu/ or on Twitter @MayoMedEd.

May 26, 2022

Pediatric Topics: Undescended Testicles – Evaluation and Management

Guest: Candace F. Granberg, M.D. (@candacegranberg)

Host: David J. Sas, D.O. (@davidsas1)

Detection and management of undescended testicles (cryptorchidism) is a common issue for newborn and infant boys.  This episode discusses proper diagnostic techniques for cryptorchidism, including how to distinguish between a retractile testicle and a truly undescended testicle, as well as when to refer infants to a pediatric urologist for further evaluation and management.  Further, we identify the indications for surgical correction and what parents and pediatricians should expect from this surgery. The guest for this episode is Candace F. Granberg, M.D., a board-certified pediatric urologist at the Mayo Clinic Children’s Center in Rochester, Minnesota.

Connect with the Mayo Clinic’s School of Continuous Professional Development online at https://ce.mayo.edu/ or on Twitter @MayoMedEd.

May 24, 2022

Adrenal Insufficiency: Investigation and Management

Guest: Irina Bancos, M.D. (@IrinaBancos)

Host: Darryl S. Chutka, M.D. (@ChutkaMD)

Fatigue, weakness, and loss of appetite are very vague and non-specific symptoms, and unfortunately relatively common complaints our patients describe to us. However, they may also be the presenting symptoms of adrenal insufficiency. If untreated, serious complications can develop, the most serious being an adrenal crisis. Adrenal insufficiency is relatively uncommon and unless we think about it, we’re likely to either make a delayed diagnosis or possibly miss the disorder altogether. The topic for this podcast is adrenal insufficiency. We’ll review its symptoms, the recommended evaluation and management with Irina Bancos, M.D., an endocrinologist at the Mayo Clinic.

Connect with the Mayo Clinic’s School of Continuous Professional Development online at https://ce.mayo.edu/ or on Twitter @MayoMedEd.

May 19, 2022

Mayo Clinic Q&A: COVID-19 news update

This episode is shared from Mayo Clinic Q&A and was recorded in May 2022

Guest: Gregory A. Poland, M.D. (@drgregpoland)

Host: Halena M. Gazelka, M.D. (@hmgazelkamd)

The widespread availability of at-home COVID-19 tests have made it easier for people to know if they have the virus, and to take measures to protect themselves and others. But there is a downside. Because the majority of tests are now done at home and often not reported, the official counts on COVID-19 infection rates are not as accurate as they have been in past waves of the virus. 

"Because the majority of testing is being done at home, we can no longer tell you accurately about the positivity rate for a given community for a given state like we used to be able to," explains Dr. Gregory Poland, head of Mayo Clinic's Vaccine Research Group. "And this is problematic. It means that we lose our ability to understand what's called genetic epidemiology — the ability to trace how these variants are moving, how fast they're moving, and whether they're changing and evolving into yet different subvariants or new variants. We've lost that ability now."

The most recent omicron subvariant, BA 2.12.1, has cases on the rise again and the U.S. passed a tragic milestone last week, reaching 1 million COVID-19 deaths in the country.

In an effort to capture a more accurate picture, the latest tool being used by public health officials to track COVID-19 infection rates is wastewater surveillance. By looking for the presence of the COVID-19 virus shed by people, wastewater surveillance can give a more accurate picture of how much virus is in the community. This detects virus not only from those who test at home, but also from people who are asymptomatic and, therefore, didn't get tested.

On the Mayo Clinic Q&A podcast, Dr. Poland discusses the current state of COVID-19 in the U.S., including what we know about the latest subvariants.