Health and Fitness

University Of Queensland Research Shows Canecutter's Disease On The Rise Among Travellers

University of Queensland research has shown "canecutter's" disease is a growing problem for travellers. A team led by PhD researcher Dr Colleen Lau from the School of Population Health, has discovered the disease, known medically as leptospirosis, was traditionally a concern for males working in the agricultural and livestock industries, as it is contracted from contact with the urine of host animals. Ms Lau said recreational exposure and international travel have emerged as increasingly important sources of infection over the past decade. "Many of the areas with a high incidence of leptospirosis are popular destinations for domestic and international travellers, " Dr Lau said. "With the increasing popularity of ecotourism and outdoor adventure activities, travellers are likely to become increasingly exposed through activities that involve contact with freshwater, soil and animals." Leptospirosis causes influenza-like symptoms such as fever, chills, headache and jaundice but can lead to more serious illness including kidney failure, liver failure, lung haemorrhage, brain infections, and can occasionally be fatal.

What Is Dengue Fever? What Causes Dengue Fever?

Dengue fever, also known as breakbone fever, is a mosquito-borne infection that causes a severe flu-like illness. There are four different viruses that can cause dengue fever, all of which spread by a certain type of mosquito. Dengue can vary from mild to severe; the more severe forms include dengue shock syndrome and dengue hemorrhagic fever (DHF). Patients who develop the more serious forms of dengue fever usually need to be hospitalized. There are currently no vaccines for Dengue fever. The best way to prevent the disease is to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes altogether. Although there is no certain treatment for Dengue, it can be treated as long as it is caught before developing into dengue chock syndrome or dengue hemorrhagic fever. There are up to 100 million cases of dengue fever worldwide every year; the most common occurrences are in urban parts of subtropical and tropical areas, such as Central and South America, parts of Africa, parts of Asia, the Caribbean and the Pacific.

Study Examines Family Lineage Of King Tut, His Possible Cause Of Death

Using several scientific methods, including analyzing DNA from royal mummies, research findings suggest that malaria and bone abnormalities appear to have contributed to the death of Egyptian pharaoh King Tutankhamun, with other results appearing to identify members of the royal family, including King Tut's father and mother, according to a study in the February 17 issue of JAMA. The 18th dynasty (circa 1550-1295 B.C.) of the New Kingdom was one of the most powerful royal houses of ancient Egypt, and included the reign of Tutankhamun, probably the most famous of all pharaohs, although his tenure was brief. He died in the ninth year of his reign, circa 1324 B.C., at age 19 years. "Little was known of Tutankhamun and his ancestry prior to Howard Carter's discovery of his intact tomb (KV62) in the Valley of the Kings in 1922, but his mummy and the priceless treasures buried with him, along with other important archeological discoveries of the 20th century, have provided significant information about the boy pharaoh's life and family, " the authors write.

Genomic Warfare To Counter Malaria Drug Resistance

Scientists battling malaria have earned a major victory. According to a Nature Genetics study, an international group of researchers has used genomics to decode the blueprint of Plasmodium falciparum - a strain of malaria most resistant to drugs that causes the most deaths around the world. The discovery may lead to advanced pharmaceuticals to fight the disease and prevent drug resistance among the 250 million people infected by malaria each year. "Combating malaria resistance is nothing short of an arms race, " says lead author Dr. Philip Awadalla, a pediatrics professor at the Universit de Montr al, a scientist at the Sainte-Justine University Hospital Research Center and scientific director of CARTaGENE. "As the malaria pathogen evolves, researchers must evolve with it to find ways to counter the disease." The team decoded 200 malaria samples from Asia, Africa, Central America, South America and Papua New Guinea. Their goal was to identify how Plasmodium falciparum strains were becoming resistant to the eight anti-malaria drugs currently available.

BioMerieux's VIDAS R SLM, An Officially Recognized Method SM For Testing Salmonella In Black Pepper

bioMerieux a world leader in the field of in vitro diagnostics confirms its VIDAS® SLM is fully validated as an AOAC Official Method(SM), available for food manufacturers who would like to test black pepper for Salmonella contamination. Food manufacturers are taking a close look at the black pepper used in their products in the wake of a series of illnesses involving hundreds of people in over 40 states, which the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Food & Drug Administration (FDA) suspect can be traced to contaminated black pepper used in salami and other meat products produced by a manufacturer in Rhode Island. "We're very pleased that bioMerieux sought AOAC Official Method(SM) approval of their VIDAS Salmonella tests for black pepper, " said James Bradford, Executive Director, AOAC International. "AOAC provides a science-based solution, and its Official Method of Analysis give defensibility, credibility, and confidence in decision making for the food processing industry, " said Bradford.

In Naming Islamic Conference Envoy, Obama Highlights Global Health, Food Security Efforts

During a video address to the 7th U.S.-Islamic World Forum meeting in Doha, Qatar, on Saturday, President Barack Obama appointed Rashad Hussain, deputy associate White House counsel, to serve as Special Envoy to the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), the Associated Press reports. As the president's liaison to the OIC, Obama "said Hussain will continue working to repair U.S.-Islamic relations and develop the types of partnerships Obama called for when he addressed the Muslim world during a speech last year in Cairo. ... Obama recounted efforts by his administration to foster partnerships with Muslims on education, economic development, global health, and science and technology, " the news service writes (Superville, 2/14). "Since the president's speech to the Muslim world, the U.S. has worked with the OIC on eradicating polio, " Politico reports. "Polio remains endemic in three Muslim-majority countries - Afghanistan, Nigeria, and Pakistan - and in India, where it disproportionately affects Muslim communities" (Allen/Rozen, 2/13).

Making A Better Medical Safety Checklist

In the wake of Johns Hopkins' success in virtually eliminating intensive-care unit bloodstream infections via a simple five-step checklist, the safety scientist who developed and popularized the tool warns medical colleagues that they are no panacea. "Checklists are useful, but they're not Harry Potter's wand, " says Peter Pronovost, M.D., Ph.D., a professor of anesthesiology and critical care medicine at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and a patient safety expert. "The science needed to best develop focused, unambiguous and succinct checklists for medicine's thousands of diagnoses and procedures is in its infancy, and there can be unintended consequences of reliance on simple tools." In a review by Pronovost and other Johns Hopkins researchers recently published in the journal Critical Care, the authors say it's clear that use of aviation-like safety checklists based on scientific evidence can work, and that more hospitals should use them to help prevent errors and reduce costs associated with medical mistakes.

The Secret Weapon Of Retroviruses That Cause Cancer

Oncogenic retroviruses are a particular family of viruses that can cause some types of cancer. Thierry Heidmann and his colleagues in the CNRS-Institut Gustave Roussy-Universite Paris Sud 11 "R trovirus endogènes et elements retroides des eucaryotes superieurs" Laboratory have studied these viruses. They have identified a "virulence factor" that inhibits the host immune response and allows the virus to spread throughout the body. This factor is a sequence of amino acids that is located in the envelope protein of the virus. These scientists have also shown that once mutated to lose its immunosuppressive capability, this envelope protein could serve as a basis for the development of vaccines. These findings have been published online in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA, Monday 8 February 2010. Retroviruses are viruses whose genome is made up of RNA. These viruses are unique in possessing an enzyme that enables synthesis from this RNA of a DNA molecule capable of integrating into the DNA of a host cell.

European Medicines Agency And Swissmedic Agree Sharing Of Information On H1N1 Pandemic Medicines

The European Medicines Agency and Swissmedic will from now on be able to exchange confidential information about the authorisation and safety of medicines used in the context of the H1N1 pandemic influenza. The confidentiality arrangement was agreed between the European Medicines Agency on the one side and the Swiss Agency for Therapeutic Products, Swissmedic, on the other side, on 12 February 2010. The partners will be able to exchange confidential scientific and technical information to ensure the safety, quality, efficacy and post-authorisation follow-up of medicines used in the context of the pandemic. This closer co-operation will provide the two authorities earlier access to information on the basis for their respective recommendations on pandemic medicines and complete the overall view on their safety. It will also create the opportunity to exchange experience regarding 'lessons learned' during the H1N1 pandemic. The new confidentiality arrangement will allow exchange of information between the parties as part of their regulatory and scientific processes, both before and after a medicine has been approved.

Recent Releases In Global Health

Lancet Comment Examines Interconnectedness Of Global Health, Public Health "Global health and public health are indistinguishable, " according to a Lancet Comment that examines the interconnectedness of the fields. "Yet global health is still often perceived as international aid, technologies, and interventions flowing from the wealthier countries of the global north to the poorer countries of the global south. ... With the new understanding that many health problems have a linked aetiology and a common impact, and that innovative solutions can come from all sectors, collaborative relationships become, at a minimum, bidirectional - and optimally, multilateral" (Fried et al., 2/13). BMC Study Examines Vaccine Strategy In GAVI-Eligible Countries A BMC Infectious Diseases study examines whether the focus of pneumococcal conjugate vaccine strategies in GAVI-eligible countries on infant immunization is the most optimal across all settings. Using "population based data on pneumococcal meningitis throughout life in the African meningitis belt .

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