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.

Courtesy of Verizon
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If someone were to say "video games" to you, what are the first words that come to mind? Whatever words you thought of (fun, exciting, etc.), we're willing to guess "healthy" or "mental health tool" didn't pop into your mind.

And yet… it turns out they are. Especially for Veterans.

How? Well, for one thing, video games — and virtual reality more generally — are also more accessible and less stigmatized to veterans than mental health treatment. In fact, some psychiatrists are using virtual reality systems for this reason to treat PTSD.

Secondly, video games allow people to socialize in new ways with people who share common interests and goals. And for Veterans, many of whom leave the military feeling isolated or lonely after they lose the daily camaraderie of their regiment, that socialization is critical to their mental health. It gives them a virtual group of friends to talk with, connect to, and relate to through shared goals and interests.

In addition, according to a 2018 study, since many video games simulate real-life situations they encountered during their service, it makes socialization easier since they can relate to and find common ground with other gamers while playing.

This can help ease symptoms of depression, anxiety, and even PTSD in Veterans, which affects 20% of the Veterans who have served since 9/11.

Watch here as Verizon dives into the stories of three Veteran gamers to learn how video games helped them build community, deal with trauma and have some fun.

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Video games have been especially beneficial to Veterans since the beginning of the pandemic when all of us — Veterans included — have been even more isolated than ever before.

And that's why Verizon launched a challenge last year, which saw $30,000 donated to four military charities.

And this year, they're going even bigger by launching a new World of Warships charity tournament in partnership with Wargaming and Wounded Warrior Project called "Verizon Warrior Series." During the tournament, gamers will be able to interact with the game's iconic ships in new and exciting ways, all while giving back.

Together with these nonprofits, the tournament will welcome teams all across the nation in order to raise money for military charities helping Veterans in need. There will be a $100,000 prize pool donated to these charities, as well as donation drives for injured Veterans at every match during the tournament to raise extra funds.

Verizon is also providing special discounts to Those Who Serve communities, including military and first responders, and they're offering a $75 in-game content military promo for World of Warships.

Tournament finals are scheduled for August 8, so be sure to tune in to the tournament and donate if you can in order to give back to Veterans in need.

Courtesy of Verizon

Ready for the weekend? Of course, you are. Here's our weekly dose of good vibes to help you shed the stresses of the workweek and put yourself in a great frame of mind.

These 10 stories made us happy this week because they feature amazing creativity, generosity, and one super-cute fish.

1. Diver befriends a fish with the cutest smile

Hawaiian underwater photographer Yuki Nakano befriended a friendly porcupine fish and now they hang out regularly.

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