Health & Wellness


Viral haemorrhagic fever behind mysterious deaths in South Africa

Health authorities have confirmed that a viral haemorrhagic fever was the main reason behind the death of three people in Johannesburg. A fourth person did not die of the fever.

The type of virus and where it came from are still a mystery. This came out during a media briefing at the Morningside Medi-Clinic in Johannesburg this afternoon. Professor Guy Richards, from Wits University, says knowing the disease is a viral haemorrhagic fever, is a step forward in containing the disease.

Mysterious disease has killed nearly 40 people on the Orinoco river, Venezuela

Warao home
In Venezuela, a mysterious disease has killed nearly 40 people from indigenous river communities. In one village, 10% of the population has died.

The origin of their name is not known for sure, but the Warao are often referred to as the "boat people". Venezuela's second biggest indigenous group live on the banks of the mighty River Orinoco.

It is impossible not to be impressed by the landscape here. There is just so much water. The hundreds of tributaries and channels spill with wildlife. A chorus of birds, frogs and monkeys fills the air. River dolphins break the surface, splashing through the brown water as it flows through long grassland and forests to the sea.

Mysterious disease kills seven in Bisham, Pakistan

Seven persons, including five women, died and dozens were hospitalised here on Saturday following the outbreak of a mysterious disease in Sundhya village of Chakesar Union Council. Due to limited health care facilities in the district, the affected people were admitted to various hospitals in Swat valley.

So far, the district administration could send only a dispenser along with a helper to the area. Those who died include Umar Rahman and his sister Merokhela, Haseena (16), Saira (14), daughters of Syed Rahman, Sana, daughter of Ashbar Khan, Bibi Asma and the granddaughter of Wazar, of Dandai area.

Ibrahim, whose two family members fell victim to the disease, told 'The News' that it spread on Eid day (Wednesday). Initial reports suggest that the affected persons run high temperature with deep red eyes followed by blood vomiting.

New Natural Products Act Against Antibiotic-resistant Bacteria

A group of antibiotic natural products discovered at the Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research (HZI) in Braunschweig points to a new mode of action against pathogenic bacteria. Isolated from myxobacteria, the substances prevent an enzyme of the pathogens from being able to translate their genetic material. In this way, the propagation of bacteria - such as tuberculosis pathogens - is inhibited.
HZI biologist Dr. Herbert Irschik (left) and HZI chemist Dr. Rolf Jansen
© Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research
HZI biologist Dr. Herbert Irschik (left) and HZI chemist Dr. Rolf Jansen (right).

A working group at Rutgers University in New Jersey has now joined up with HZI researchers and discovered in detail how these compounds interact with the target in pathogenic bacteria. The novel target is different from the target of known antibiotics such as rifamycin, a standard medication to counteract tuberculosis.

This discovery makes the Braunschweig natural products extremely interesting candidates for a development as antibiotics - especially in view of the fact that the substances also kill bacterial strains that are resistant to antibiotics. Today, the scientists publish their results in the distinguished journal Cell.

Australian food firms pushed to come clean on nano-ingredients

Australia has taken its first step towards regulation of nanotechnology, with a call for food companies to disclose if they are including in their products particles invisible to the naked eye.

Nano-sized zinc is used as a preservative in food and packaging, and nano-sized clay particles make biodegradable sweet wrappers sturdy.

There has been no regulation on the use of nanotechnology -- particles manufactured at the scale of atoms and molecules. But the national food authority is now proposing that food companies should be required to disclose any nano-ingredients in their products.

State urges Vermonters to prepare for pandemic

COLCHESTER - The Vermont Department of Health is urging residents to prepare for a possible worldwide flu pandemic by stocking their pantries with enough food to stay home for two weeks.

People should buy things like dried foods that have a long shelf life, said Health Commissioner Wendy Davis.

"The idea behind that is that people might need to be home for a period even of up to two weeks while everybody's getting over being ill and while we're trying to contain the spread of illness," Davis said.

Public health officials say that during a flu pandemic families won't be able to go to work, school or the store and businesses will have to be able to operate for weeks without employees showing up for work.

Health Care Workers Refuse Flu Shot

Nearly 60 Percent Of Health Care Workers Refuse Vaccine

DES MOINES, Iowa -- Operating room nurse Pauline Taylor knows her refusal to get a flu shot is based on faulty logic.

But ever since she got sick after getting a shot a few years ago, she's sworn off the vaccine.

"I rarely get sick. The only thing I could narrow it down to is that I had gotten this shot," said Taylor, who works at University Hospitals and Clinics in Iowa City. "I know that it's not a live virus. It just seemed pretty coincidental."

Such stories frustrate Dr. William Schaffner.

Comment: The nurses may be onto something. Notice the guilt-tripping of the last three paragraphs. Thinking for yourself and looking out for your health is selfish! Can't have the sheeple making their own decisions.


A New Discovery Has Been Made About How Antioxidants Attack Cancer Cells

There's a new reason, and a big one, to think that we benefit from free-radical-inhibiting antioxidants. We've long thought that by reducing free radicals, antioxidants can help prevent cancer, of course. But a recent experiment at Johns Hopkins and published in the March 14 issue of Science shows how antioxidants may be doing much more: interfering with the growth of cancers that are already established, and potentially, even reversing them once established, by knocking out communications signals between cancer cells that encourage cells to grow and divide. Those communications signals turn out to be... free radicals, which the cancer cells often produce in abundance. Runaway cell division was actually slowed when cancer cells were introduced to the antioxidant N-acetyl-L-cysteine, under experimental conditions. This now demonstrates the existence of a mechanism that can allow a simple antioxidant to slow down or reverse a cancer that's already in place.

Think tank: Toothless policy on fluoride

MEP says additive in our water is a menace

Every day, Irish sanitary authorities add hexafluorosilicic acid to public water supplies under the terms of the 1960 Fluoridation Act. Unlike the naturally occurring, poorly absorbed and therefore safer calcium fluoride found in toothpaste and mouthwash, hexafluorosilicic acid is an industrial waste by-product which is an active and highly absorbed molecule when swallowed. Over a lifetime of drinking small quantities of this fluoride, substantial amounts accumulate in the body, especially in hard tissue such as teeth and bone.

Move over pinochle, Web surfing stimulates aging brains

The University of California at Los Angeles this week gave us the perfect antidote to Nick Carr's musings in The Atlantic about how the Internet is turning us into multitasking scatterbrains with diminishing attention spans.
© Credit: UCLA Newsroom
Functional MRI brain scans show how searching the Internet dramatically engages brain neural networks (in red). The image on the left displays brain activity while reading a book; the image on the right displays activity while engaging in an Internet search.