Strep throat is the worst. But this medical breakthrough may prevent it altogether.

Simply put, strep throat is miserable.

Streptococcal pharyngitis (the dreaded condition's full name) is a bacterial infection that causes a painful sore throat and a fever. And for the unlucky people who get it, symptoms can also include headaches, belly pain, and a rash.


At least there's Netflix. Photo by iStock.

Strep throat and infections like it are much more than a schoolyard nuisance.

Strep is just one of the group A streptococcal (GAS) infections. That's science for the dream team of gnarly illnesses that also includes pneumonia and flesh-eating infections.

Each year, strep throat affects 7.3 million people in the U.S. and streptococcal diseases result in 1,200 to 1,600 deaths.

But we're one step closer to eliminating strep throat completely, thanks to a new vaccine.

StreptAnova, a vaccine developed by Memphis-based physicians James Dale and Gene Stollerman, was designed to prevent GAS infections, particularly in children and teens, who are most susceptible to the illnesses.

So long, strep throat. Photo by iStock.

The vaccine is especially important for people in developing countries. In an interview with Upworthy, Dale explained that strep throat infections can lead to rheumatic fever and rheumatic heart disease. Those diseases cause 233,000 deaths each year.

"A vaccine designed to prevent rheumatic fever and invasive infections could have a major impact on the health of millions worldwide," he said.

Before the vaccine is made available to the public, it must be tested, tested again, and tested some more.

Before the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approves a vaccine, it must undergo a battery of trials, typically conducted in three phases. Phase 1 trials are conducted with a very small group of closely monitored individuals.

For StreptAnova, the Phase 1 trial is taking place at the Canadian Center for Vaccinology in Halifax, Nova Scotia. There, 45 healthy adults will receive three injections of StreptAnova over six months. Physicians will follow up a year later to assess the individuals and their response to the drug.

Science-ing the hell out of some samples. Photo by iStock.

Phase 2 and Phase 3 trials are similar but larger-scale, enrolling a few hundred and a few thousand people, respectively. The larger trials provide proof of effectiveness.

Following the tests, there's a lot of paperwork, applications, licenses, and procedures. If the vaccine passes muster, it's made available to the general public.

A vaccine usually requires 10 to 15 years of research and testing before it shows up at the doctor's office. But Dale is willing to wait.

"I do not really have a 'Plan B,'" he said. "I plan to continue working on the clinical development of GAS vaccines until they are available to everyone that could benefit."

Eye protection on, ladies. We've got science to do. Photo by iStock.

While preventing strep throat completely is several years away, there are plenty of ways to stay healthy.

Strep is easily contagious, as any contact with droplets from an infected person's cough or sneeze can be all it takes to get yourself sick.

Sorry, you have strep. Don't go to work. And stop sharing sodas. Photo by iStock.

If you're living or working with someone with strep throat, keep your hands clean and try to avoid touching your eyes and mouth. And for once in your life, don't share. It's best to avoid sharing personal items like cups or utensils with anyone who may have symptoms.

Wash your hands long enough to sing "Happy Birthday" twice. Photo by iStock.

But don't worry, 24 hours after the infected person begins antibiotics, the risk of contracting the illness decreases dramatically, and you can go back to preparing for flu season, which is just around the corner.

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With the COVID-19 pandemic upending her community, Brooklyn-based singer Tiffany Obi turned to healing those who had lost loved ones the way she knew best — through music.

Obi quickly ran into one glaring issue as she began performing solo at memorials. Many of the venues where she performed didn't have the proper equipment for her to play a recorded song to accompany her singing. Often called on to perform the day before a service, Obi couldn't find any pianists to play with her on such short notice.

As she looked at the empty piano at a recent performance, Obi's had a revelation.

"Music just makes everything better," Obi said. "If there was an app to bring musicians together on short notice, we could bring so much joy to the people at those memorials."

Using the coding skills she gained at Pursuit — a rigorous, four-year intensive program that trains adults from underserved backgrounds and no prior experience in programming — Obi turned this market gap into the very first app she created.

She worked alongside four other Pursuit Fellows to build In Tune, an app that connects musicians in close proximity to foster opportunities for collaboration.

When she learned about and applied to Pursuit, Obi was eager to be a part of Pursuit's vision to empower their Fellows to build successful careers in tech. Pursuit's Fellows are representative of the community they want to build: 50% women, 70% Black or Latinx, 40% immigrant, 60% non-Bachelor's degree holders, and more than 50% are public assistance recipients.

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Yesterday I was perusing comments on an Upworthy article about Joe Biden comforting the son of a Parkland shooting victim and immediately had flashbacks to the lead-up of the 2016 election. In describing former vice President Biden, some commenters were using the words "criminal," "corrupt," and "pedophile—exactly the same words people used to describe Hillary Clinton in 2016.

I remember being baffled that so many people were so convinced of Clinton's evil schemes that they genuinely saw the documented serial liar and cheat that she was running against as the lesser of two evils. I mean, sure, if you believe that a career politician had spent years being paid off by powerful people and was trafficking children to suck their blood in her free time, just about anything looks like a better alternative.

But none of that was true.

It's been four years and Hillary Clinton has been found guilty of exactly none of the criminal activity she was being accused of. Trump spent every campaign rally leading chants of "Lock her up!" under the guise that she was going to go to jail after the election. He's been president for nearly four years now, and where is Clinton? Not in jail—she's comfy at home, occasionally trolling Trump on Twitter and doing podcasts.

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Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash
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Glenda moved to Houston from Ohio just before the pandemic hit. She didn't know that COVID-19-related delays would make it difficult to get her Texas driver's license and apply for unemployment benefits. She quickly found herself in an impossible situation — stranded in a strange place without money for food, gas, or a job to provide what she needed.

Alone, hungry, and scared, Glenda dialed 2-1-1 for help. The person on the other end of the line directed her to the Houston-based nonprofit Bread of Life, founded by St. John's United Methodist pastors Rudy and Juanita Rasmus.

For nearly 30 years, Bread of Life has been at the forefront of HIV/AIDS prevention, eliminating food insecurity, providing permanent housing to formerly homeless individuals and disaster relief.

Glenda sat in her car for 20 minutes outside of the building, trying to muster up the courage to get out and ask for help. She'd never been in this situation before, and she was terrified.

When she finally got out, she encountered Eva Thibaudeau, who happened to be walking down the street at the exact same time. Thibaudeau is the CEO of Temenos CDC, a nonprofit multi-unit housing development also founded by the Rasmuses, with a mission to serve Midtown Houston's homeless population.

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Eight months into the pandemic, you'd think people would have the basics figured out. Sure, there was some confusion in the beginning as to whether or not masks were going to help, but that was months ago (which might as well be years in pandemic time). Plenty of studies have shown that face masks are an effective way to limit the spread of the virus and public health officials say universal masking is one of the keys to being able to safely resume some normal activities.

Normal activities include things like getting a coffee at Starbucks, but a viral video of a barista's encounter with an anti-masker shows why the U.S. will likely be living in the worst of both worlds—massive spread and economic woe—for the foreseeable future.

Alex Beckom works at a Starbucks in Santee, California and shared a video taken after a woman pulled down her "Trump 2020" mask to ask the 19-year-old barista a question, pulled it back up when the barista asked her to, then pulled it down again.

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With the election quickly approaching, the importance of voting and sending in your ballot on time is essential. But there is another way you can vote everyday - by being intentional with each dollar you spend. Support companies and products that uphold your values and help create a more sustainable world. An easy move is swapping out everyday items that are often thrown away after one use or improperly disposed of.

Package Free Shop has created products to help fight climate change one cotton swab at a time! Founded by Lauren Singer, otherwise known as, "the girl with the jar" (she initially went viral for fitting 8 years of all of the waste she's created in one mason jar). Package Free is an ecosystem of brands on a mission to make the world less trashy.

Here are eight of our favorite everyday swaps:

1. Friendsheep Dryer Balls - Replace traditional dryer sheets with these dryer balls that are made without chemicals and conserve energy. Not only do these also reduce dry time by 20% but they're so cute and come in an assortment of patterns!

Package Free Shop

2. Last Swab - Replacement for single use plastic cotton swabs. Nearly 25.5 billion single use swabs are produced and discarded every year in the U.S., but not this one. It lasts up to 1,000 uses as it's able to be cleaned with soap and water. It also comes in a biodegradable, corn based case so you can use it on the go!

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