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Tuesday, March 2, 2010

MALARIA is on the rise

MALARIA is on the rise in the borough, prompting health bosses to warn residents against complacency when visiting countries affected by the disease.

NHS Redbridge figures show that cases of the disease have almost doubled from 11 in 2002 to 21 last year, bucking the London-wide trend which shows a decline in reported cases.

The primary care trust has issued a warning to residents who might travel to areas of the world where malaria is more common and urged them to take all necessary precautions against contracting the disease and bringing it back to the UK on their return.

Study: Climate change one factor in malaria spread

“We assessed … conclusions from both sides and found that evidence for a role of climate in the dynamics is robust,” write study authors Luis Fernando Chaves from Emory University and Constantianus Koenraadt of Wageningen University in the Netherlands. “However, we also argue that over-emphasizing a role for climate is misleading for setting a research agenda, even one which attempts to understand climate change impacts on emerging malaria patterns.”

Malaria, a parasitic disease spread to humans by mosquitoes, is common in warm climates of Africa, South America and South Asia. The development and survival, both of the mosquito and the malaria parasite are highly sensitive to daily and seasonal temperature patterns and the disease has traditionally been rare in the cooler highland areas. Over the last 40 years, however, the disease has been spreading to the highlands, and many studies link the spread to global warming. But that conclusion is far from unanimous. Other studies have found no evidence of warming in highland regions, thus ruling out climate change as a driver for highland malaria.

Tragic new mum was ‘so special’

Allison’s swine flu horror
FAMILY and friends are preparing to bid an emotional farewell to a tragic young mum who died from swine flu only weeks after giving birth.

Allison McCaffery had everything to live for. Tomorrow, loved ones will see her laid to rest at St Paul’s Church, Royton — the scene of her wedding four years ago.

Allison and husband, Gareth, enjoyed a whirlwind of unforgettable romance before they decided to start a family.

The 26-year-old gave birth to a beautiful baby boy, Jacob, by emergency Caesarean section days after she fell victim to flu-like symptoms.

242,000 swine flu jabs remain unused

A total of 90,366 persons have taken the H1N1 vaccine but another 242,000 doses remain available, Health Minister Joseph Cassar has said in Parliament.

He said the vaccine would continue to be administered to those who requested it.

Dr Cassar said the World Health Organisation was of the view that H1Ni had not peaked yet, and people should take the vaccine.

The Times reported last month that the Department of Health was trying to cancel a shipment of a batch of 80,000 jabs, which forms part of a total order for 425,000 vaccines.

Moreover, the authorities recently decided that children did not need two doses of the vaccine, as originally thought, which should leave Malta with even more unused jabs.

Asked whether the two factors had prompted the government to consider cancelling jabs that had still not arrived, a Health Department spokesman said they had, although Malta was obliged to take the whole lot.

Malta had bought the doses of the H1N1 jab from British pharmaceutical company GSK in December for between €3 and €3.5 million. The first batch of 100,000 arrived at the end of last year and a second batch of another 100,000 arrived in January.

Several countries have reported being saddled with thousands of vaccines.

Invisible Children's Bobby Bailey Premiers a New Documentary on Malaria

Film builds movement for nationwide Sleep Out to End Malaria on April 24, 2010.

Washington, DC (Vocus) March 2, 2010 -- The United Nations Foundation and its Nothing But Nets campaign, a global grassroots effort to prevent malaria in Africa, have partnered with Bobby Bailey to produce a new documentary on the deadliest plague known to humanity--malaria. The film encourages local communities to take part in the “Sleep Out To End Malaria” on April 24, 2010 – the eve of World Malaria Day.

Tonight is the official world premiere of the film. When the Night Comes will be screened at American University on Tuesday, March 2 from 7:00-9:00 p.m. in the Ward Circle Building, Room 1, Terrace Level. The event is free and open to the public.

Cholera cases increase in Zambia

The widespread cholera outbreak has continued to rise in Zambia, creating panic and fear that is if not contained urgently; the water-borne disease might lead to deaths of people living in flooded regions of the country.
Since the onset of the rainy season late 2009, many parts of Zambia have been shrouded in a mist of floods which have since forced some evacuations in certain areas while far flung places have been cut-off from the capital, Lusaka, causing a further drain to service supplies to rural areas.

Humanitarian agencies such as Red Cross, World Vision and Oxfam have been collaborating with the Lusaka government’s Disaster Management and Mitigation Unit to resettle some of the flood victims, most of whom are also infected with cholera.

According to the Ministry of Health, cholera cases have shot up to 559 after 17 new cases were recorded over the weekend.
“17 new cases were recorded over the weekend, bringing the total number of cholera cases in the country to 559 in three provinces namely, Lusaka, Copperbelt and Southern Provinces,” said Reuben Kamoto Mbewe, Ministry of Health spokesperson.

Meanwhile, heavy rains have continued to water the southern African state, leaving a trail of destruction in rural areas and farming communities scattered along the line of rail.

Weather experts say the sudden fluctuations in Zambia’s weather pattern might be as a result of climate change and global warming.

In 2007-2008, Zambia alongside, Namibia, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Angola, Malawi and Swaziland were hit by massive floods which effected food crop and livestock production.

Somalis placed in isolation 'have malaria'

Four Somali nationals who were put into isolation units in Transkei hospitals last week have been diagnosed with malaria, the Eastern Cape department of health said on Tuesday.
The Somalis, recently arrived in South Africa, were hospitalised after presenting with diarrhoea accompanied by dehydration, severe headaches and vomiting.

Department spokesperson Sizwe Kupelo said they were still in hospital, and their condition had improved.

It was assumed that a fifth Somali, who was declared dead on arrival at the Mount Ayliff hospital, had also had malaria. - Sapa

Inovio Biomedical H5N1 Avian Influenza DNA Vaccine Receives Korean Approval to Begin Clinical Trials

SAN DIEGO --(Business Wire)-- Inovio Biomedical Corporation (NYSE Amex: INO), a leader in DNA vaccine design, development and delivery, announced today that its affiliate VGX International Inc. (Korean Stock Exchange: 011000) has received approval in Korea to begin a Phase I clinical trial in healthy volunteers for Inovio's SynCon™ preventive DNA vaccine (VGX-3400) targeting H5N1 avian influenza.

Inovio is co-developing VGX-3400 with Korea-based VGX International. The 30-patient three-dose Phase I study will be conducted in multiple clinical research sites in Korea. A parallel study in the U.S. is also planned for this year.

 

Malaysia confirms first swine flu death this year

KUALA LUMPUR — Malaysia's government has confirmed the country's first death linked to swine flu in nearly half a year.
Health Minister Liow Tiong Lai says the 22-year-old woman died of respiratory problems at a hospital Sunday after testing positive for the H1N1 virus.

The minister's statement Tuesday did not give details of how she had been infected.

It was Malaysia's first death linked to the virus since September. It brings the country's swine flu fatalities to 78. - AP

Swine flu may become resistant to Tamiflu

If the behaviour of the seasonal form of the H1N1 influenza virus is any indication, scientists say chances are high that most strains of the pandemic swineflu virus will become resistant to Tamiflu, the main drug stockpiled for use against it.

Researchers at Ohio State University (OSU) have traced the evolutionary history of the seasonal H1N1 influenza virus, which first infected humans during the 1918 pandemic.

It is one of three seasonal influenza A viruses that commonly infect humans. The others are H1N2 and H3N2.

Within H1N1, two strains of virus circulate in humans: a seasonal form and the pandemic form of influenza, known as swine flu, which has sickened millions and killed thousands of people since it first emerged in North America last spring.

Over time, the H1N1 strain of seasonal influenza has developed mutations that have caused it to become resistant to oseltamivir-based agents. Tamiflu is the brand name for oseltamivir phosphate.

'Something happened in 2008, when drug resistance took hold,' said Daniel Janies, associate professor of biomedical informatics at OSU, who led the study.

'The drug-resistant isolates became the ones that survived all over the world. This is just static now. The seasonal H1N1 influenza virus is fixed at resistant,' he said.

Janies and his colleagues have traced the history of the same mutation in the pandemic H1N1 strain of the virus as well, with data from its emergence last spring until December 2009.

Joint Chiefs Chair visits Haiti to examine aid response

Joint Chiefs of Staff Chair Mike Mullen, who is President Barack Obama's top military adviser, visited Haiti over the weekend to examine relief and rebuilding efforts and meet with local leaders, Agence France-Presse reports. It was his first visit to the country after the earthquake, according to AFP.

Mullen "met President Rene Preval and Prime Minister Jean-Max Bellerive, as well as visited U.S. troops stationed here," according to the news service. David Johnson, a U.S. defense spokesperson in Haiti, said of Mullen's trip, "It's a chance for him to come out and get his boots on the ground and visit with his troops."

"The chairman reiterated President Obama's pledge to remain committed to the mission here and to helping the Haitian people in this time of need," said U.S. Army Colonel Bill Buckner of the military Joint Task Force in Haiti (2/27).

Poultry farmers' training

KATHMANDU: NIMBUS -an organisation involved in agribusiness is organising a free ‘technical extensive training’ on bio-security and other poultry-related diseases.

The move follows outbreak of bird flu in domestic fowls. NIMBUS, a pioneer in pellet feed production in the country, in its statement said the training will be conducted in Dhangadi and Surkhet.

Later this month, NIMBUS is planning to organise a similar training at Damauli of Tanahun and also in parts of Kaski district. Trainers Dr Sital Kaji Shrestha, Dr Bikash Malla and Dr Nishchal Sharma would impart the training to the poultry farmers. Last month, the government had declared bird flu in Pokhara.

Dr Shrestha said since farmers were lacking knowledge about zoonotic diseases like bird flu, awareness was a must for them. “Training will be imparted in a scientific way,” he added.

The Flu Season That Fizzled

Normally at this time of year, influenza is rampant in the U.S., prompting hundreds of thousands of people to stay home in the dead of winter with fever, aches and pains.
Now, after raging through college campuses and communities last summer and fall, cases of the new H1N1 swine flu virus have dwindled to a trickle, and run-of-the-mill seasonal flu has barely made an appearance.

Not one state reported widespread flu illness to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for the week ended Feb. 20, the latest data available.

The percentage of all doctors' visits by patients with influenza-like symptoms has dropped from a high of 7.8% in late October—the largest peak since the agency began surveillance in 1997—to 1.8% in late February, well below the norm for flu season

Govt keeping public in dark

KATHMANDU: Bird flu has spread in several parts of the country but the government has not revealed the truth except H5N1 outbreak at Gharipatan in Pokhara.
Public health specialists and vets have been accusing the government of playing with the lives of the public and private vets in the field. They also expressed fear that the disease has gone out of government’s control.

Department of Livestock Services has claimed that among the samples coming from several places, the samples of Kohalpur Ward No 4 and Fultekara Ward No 7 of Banke district, Budhabare Ward No 7 of Jhapa district and Chainpur Ward No 8 of Chitwan districts were found H5N1 positive. Even the authorities concerned have admitted that the Gharipatan was not yet avian influenza free zone.

Effects of Mumps Outbreak in Hospital, Chicago, Illinois, USA, 2006

Mumps, a highly contagious illness caused by a paramyxovirus, causes influenza-like symptoms and salivary gland swelling.
Although rare, complications may include encephalitis, meningitis, orchitis, and oophoritis. The virus replicates within the upper respiratory tract and is transmitted through direct contact with respiratory droplets or saliva and through fomites.

The incubation period ranges from 12 to 25 days; persons who contract mumps are considered infectious from 3 days before symptoms appear through 9 days after symptoms appear.

Although no specific treatment exists, the disease is preventable through use of measles, mumps, rubella (MMR) vaccine usually provided to children ≈1 year of age with a booster dose administered before children start school. Clinical diagnosis is confirmed by laboratory testing that includes culture, serologic analysis, or real-time reverse transcription–PCR (RT-PCR)

Pandemic Flu, Like Seasonal H1N1, Shows Signs of Resisting Tamiflu

ScienceDaily (Mar. 2, 2010) — If the behavior of the seasonal form of the H1N1 influenza virus is any indication, scientists say that chances are good that most strains of the pandemic H1N1 flu virus will become resistant to Tamiflu, the main drug stockpiled for use against it.

Researchers at Ohio State University have traced the evolutionary history of the seasonal H1N1 influenza virus, which first infected humans during the 1918 pandemic. It is one of three seasonal influenza A viruses that commonly infect humans. The others are H1N2 and H3N2.

Within H1N1, two strains of virus circulate in humans: a seasonal form and the pandemic form of influenza known as swine flu, which has sickened millions and killed thousands of people since it first emerged in North America last spring.

Over time, the H1N1 strain of seasonal influenza surviving around the world has developed mutations that have caused it to become resistant to oseltamivir-based agents. Tamiflu is the brand name for oseltamivir phosphate.

"Something happened in 2008, when drug resistance took hold," said Daniel Janies, associate professor of biomedical informatics at Ohio State and primary author of the study. "The drug-resistant isolates became the ones that survived all over the world. This is just static now. The seasonal H1N1 influenza virus is fixed at resistant."

Janies and colleagues have traced the history of the same mutation in the pandemic H1N1 strain of the virus as well, with data from its emergence last spring until December 2009. And they are starting to see the same kinds of mutation in this virus -- changes to an amino acid that allow the virus to resist the effects of oseltamivir -- that they saw in the seasonal H1N1 flu.

Mosquitoes -- Not Birds -- May Have Carried West Nile Virus Across U.S.

ScienceDaily (Mar. 2, 2010) — Mosquitoes -- not birds as suspected -- may have a played a primary role in spreading West Nile virus westward across the United States, according to a study by researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

The study is among the first to examine the role of mosquitoes in the dispersion of West Nile virus across the U.S. and is published in the March 2 edition of Molecular Ecology.

West Nile virus was first detected in the U.S. in 1999 in New York. Between 2001 and 2004, the virus spread rapidly across the U.S., making a large jump across the Mississippi River and into the Great Plains between 2001 and 2002.

Birds are known hosts of the disease and have long been suspected of transporting the virus across the continent. They can transmit the virus to certain mosquitoes, like Culex tarsalis, which then can pass on the disease to humans through their bites.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Measles outbreak kills 4

MANILA, Philippines - The Department of Health (DOH) on Monday said at least four people have died after falling ill from measles.

Dr. Eric Tayag of the DOH National Epidemiology Center said the agency has also identified four new areas affected by small outbreaks of measles including the Market 3 fishport in Navotas; a barangay in Siniloan, Laguna; a town in Iloilo and several barangays in Davao City.

Tayag said the DOH has detected 954 measles cases nationwide from January 1 to February 20, which is triple the number recorded during the same period last year. He said the DOH will intensify vaccination measures in affected areas.

Health Secretary Esperanza Cabral earlier said the DOH will coordinate with the Department of Education on a “fever watch.” Pupils and students who have fever or who may be showing symptoms of measles will immediately be sent home so others would not get infected.

Symptoms that a person may be infected include fever, general weakness and sometimes red eyes. These symptoms are usually observed before the characteristic skin rash which confirms the onset of measles.

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