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Suspected Ebola patient isolated in California hospital for testing

ébola
© REUTERS Thomas Peter
A patient who may have been exposed to the Ebola virus has been put in isolation at a hospital in Sacramento, California, health group Kaiser Permanente announced Tuesday.

"We are working with the Sacramento County Division of Public Health regarding a patient admitted to the Kaiser Permanente South Sacramento Medical Center who may have been exposed to the Ebola virus," said Stephen Parodi, an infectious disease specialist.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will be testing blood samples to rule out the presence of the virus, he said.

"To protect our patients, staff and physicians, even though infection with the virus is unconfirmed, we are taking the actions recommended by the CDC as a precaution, just as we do for other patients with a suspected infectious disease," Parodi said.
Beaker

Bioterror lab mishaps are cloaked in secrecy

© CDC
More than 1,100 laboratory incidents involving bacteria, viruses and toxins that pose significant or bioterror risks to people and agriculture were reported to federal regulators during 2008 through 2012, government reports obtained by USA TODAY show.

More than half these incidents were serious enough that lab workers received medical evaluations or treatment, according to the reports. In five incidents, investigations confirmed that laboratory workers had been infected or sickened; all recovered.

In two other incidents, animals were inadvertently infected with contagious diseases that would have posed significant threats to livestock industries if they had spread. One case involved the infection of two animals with hog cholera, a dangerous virus eradicated from the USA in 1978. In another incident, a cow in a disease-free herd next to a research facility studying the bacteria that cause brucellosis, became infected due to practices that violated federal regulations, resulting in regulators suspending the research and ordering a $425,000 fine, records show.
Health

Ebola outbreak may have spread to Congo: 10 people die with Ebola-like symptoms

There are fears Ebola could have spread to the Democratic Republic of Congo after 10 people died from a disease with Ebola-like symptoms, local officials said. The deceased, which included four health workers, lived in a remote part of the northern Equateur province of Boende. Democratic Republic of Congo has sent its health minister and a team of experts to the remote northern Equateur to confirm if it is the deadly virus.

If this is an Ebola outbreak, which is extremely likely, this would be the fifth country where the virus has appeared. Michel Wangi, a spokesman for the governor' office, said: "An illness is spreading in Boende but we don't know the origin." So far the disease has killed more than 1,200 people in Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Nigeria. Ironically, the first outbreak of the virus was reported here (then Zaire) on August 26, 1976 - almost exactly 38 years to the day.
Ambulance

Nigerian woman traveling to India dies in UAE: Ebola suspected


Nigerian woman suspected of Ebola dies in UAE on way to India
The national airline of the United Arab Emirates said Monday it has disinfected one of its planes after health authorities there announced that a Nigerian woman who died after flying in to the capital, Abu Dhabi, may have been infected with the Ebola virus.

The health authority in Abu Dhabi said in a statement carried by state news agency WAM that the 35-year-old woman was traveling from Nigeria to India for treatment of advanced metastatic cancer.

Her health deteriorated while in transit at Abu Dhabi International Airport. As medics were trying to resuscitate her, they found signs that suggested a possible Ebola virus infection. The health authority noted, however, that her preexisting medical condition also could have explained her death.
Health

What's in your gut? Certain bacteria may influence susceptibility to infection


Campylobacter coli
The specific composition of bacterial species in a person's gut may protect against or increase susceptibility to Campylobacter, the most common cause of human bacterial intestinal inflammation, according research published this week in mBio®, the online open-access journal of the American Society for Microbiology. The study also found that Campylobacter infection can yield lasting changes to one's gut bacteria composition.

"It has been known for a long time that the microbiota, or microorganisms in the gut, can protect a person from colonization by organisms that cause intestinal tract disease. However, very little is known about how human gut microbiota influences susceptibility to these organisms, and to Campylobacter in particular," said senior study author Hilpi Rautelin, MD, PhD, professor of clinical bacteriology at Uppsala University and Uppsala University Hospital in Sweden. "We wanted to see if the composition of the human gut microbiota plays a role in susceptibility to Campylobacter infection."

Rautelin and colleagues followed 24 workers at three poultry slaughterhouses in Sweden. In 2010, they collected fecal samples from the workers once a month from June to September, during the summer peak of Campylobacter-positive chicken flocks, and again the following February. Fecal samples were cultured for Campylobacter and analyzed by sequencing for all bacteria. While all participants tested negative for Campylobacter at the beginning of the study, seven participants became culture positive for the organism during the study. Only one of the Campylobacter-positive participants experienced symptoms of illness.
Pills

Pfizer sued for hiding side-effects of cholesterol drug Lipitor

Médicaments, argent,lobbis pharmaceutiques
© Inconnu
Pharmaceutical giant Pfizer is facing a mounting wave of lawsuits by women who allege that the company knew about possible serious side effects of its blockbuster anti-cholesterol drug Lipitor but never properly warned the public.

In the past five months, a Reuters review of federal court filings shows, lawsuits by U.S. women who say that taking Lipitor gave them type-2 diabetes have shot up from 56 to almost 1,000.

Lawsuits began to be filed not long after the Food and Drug Administration in 2012 warned that Lipitor and other statins had been linked to incidents of memory loss and a "small increased risk" of diabetes. According to plaintiffs' lawyers, women face a higher risk than men of developing diabetes from using Lipitor, and gain fewer benefits.

The recent spike in lawsuits followed a decision by a federal judicial panel to consolidate all Lipitor diabetes lawsuits from around the country into a single Federal courtroom in Charleston, South Carolina. Pfizer opposed the consolidation, arguing it would prompt copycat filings. The first case is scheduled to be tried next July.

Pfizer said in a statement that it denied liability and would fight the lawsuits.

It is not uncommon for a drugmaker to get hit with thousands of lawsuits over its products after the FDA orders a label change alerting users to newly found risks. Takeda Pharmaceutical, for instance, is facing more than 3,500 federal lawsuits since 2011 when the FDA ordered it to update the label on its diabetes drug Actos to warn about bladder cancer. Takeda has denied liability.

But several factors set the Lipitor diabetes cases apart from those against other drug companies. For one, Lipitor is the best-selling prescription drug of all time, racking up global sales of more than $130 billion since it went on the market in 1996. More than 29 million patients in the United States have been prescribed the drug, suggesting there is a vast pool of potential plaintiffs.

Comment: Pfizer was found guilty in the largest healthcare fraud settlement in the U.S. Justice Department's history in 2009.

Readers might be interested in checking out these articles:

  • Vascular surgeons write a damning report about lowering cholesterol drugs
  • There is only one type of cholesterol, here's why
  • Cholesterol - The good, the bad and the ugly
  • Bribery, fraud and corruption charges against big pharma


Health

Music to your ears? Evidence of damage to hearing from music


Many people listen to loud music without realizing that this can affect their hearing. This could lead to difficulties in understanding speech during age-related hearing loss which affects up to half of people over the age of 65.
Many people listen to loud music without realizing that this can affect their hearing. This could lead to difficulties in understanding speech during age-related hearing loss which affects up to half of people over the age of 65.

New research led by the University of Leicester has examined the cellular mechanisms that underlie hearing loss and tinnitus triggered by exposure to loud sound.

It has demonstrated that physical changes in myelin itself -the coating of the auditory nerve carrying sound signals to the brain -- affect our ability to hear.

Dr Martine Hamann, Lecturer in Neurosciences at the University of Leicester, said: "People who suffer from hearing loss have difficulties in understanding speech, particularly when the environment is noisy and when other people are talking nearby.

"Understanding speech relies on fast transmission of auditory signals. Therefore it is important to understand how the speed of signal transmission gets decreased during hearing loss. Understanding these underlying phenomena means that it could be possible to find medicines to improve auditory perception, specifically in noisy backgrounds."

The research, funded by Action on Hearing Loss, and led by Leicester, was done in collaboration with Dr Angus Brown of the University of Nottingham. The research, "Computational modelling of the effects of auditory nerve dysmyelination," is published in Frontiers in Neuroanatomy.

Dr Ralph Holme, Head of Biomedical Research at Action on Hearing Loss, the only UK charity dedicated to funding research into hearing loss said: "There is an urgent need for effective treatments to prevent hearing loss -- a condition that affects 10 million people in the UK and all too often isolates people from friends and family. This research further increases our understanding of the biological consequences of exposure to loud noise. Knowledge that we hope will lead to effective treatments for hearing loss within a generation."
Health

Invasion of Americas by mosquito-borne virus likely

While media attention has been focused recently on coronavirus cases in the Arabian peninsula and the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, experts note that another threat lies in the spread of Chikungunya fever, an illness that is transmitted by mosquitoes and can cause fever, joint and muscle pain, headaches, and rashes. While it does not often cause death, the symptoms can be severe and disabling, with no treatment available.

The potential for worldwide spread of Chikungunya virus is much higher than the risk of dissemination of Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus or Ebola virus, and the number of cases expected from the introduction of Chikungunya virus into the Americas, Europe, or both is immeasurably higher.
Health

Attack Ebola using nanotechnology?

© Credit: Thinkstock
The Ebola virus
The Ebola virus outbreak in West Africa has claimed more than 900 lives since February and has infected thousands more. Countries such as Nigeria and Liberia have declared health emergencies, while the World Health Organization began a two-day meeting on Wednesday to discuss ways to battle the outbreak.

There is no known vaccine, treatment, or cure for Ebola, which is contracted through the bodily fluids of an infected person or animal. But that doesn't mean there's not hope. In fact, Chemical Engineering Chair Thomas Webster's lab is currently working on one possible solution for fighting Ebola and other deadly viruses: nanotechnology.


Comment: Actually, the Ebola virus is also transmitted through the air:

Ebola transmission: "Being within 3 feet" or "in same room" can lead to infection


"It has been very hard to develop a vaccine or treatment for Ebola or similar viruses because they mutate so quickly," explained Webster, the editor-in-chief of the International Journal of Nanomedicine. "In nanotechnology we turned our attention to developing nanoparticles that could be attached chemically to the viruses and stop them from spreading."

Comment: With the Ebola virus mutating so quickly, increasing our knowledge base may be a more effective protective strategy: we can still prep our diet and keep an eye out for healthier options than ineffective vaccines.

For further reading:

- 25 Facts about the Ebola outbreak that you should know

- Ebola outbreak becoming uncontrollable; meanwhile Monsanto invests in anti-Ebola drug

- The question about Ebola that no one can answer

Health

More than a million people affected by Ebola outbreak in West Africa: WHO

The infected people are in the "hot zone of disease transmission" on the borders of the three countries most impacted by the disease

ebola body
© PTI
Health workers carry body of a man suspected of dying from Ebola virus.
With more than one million people affected by the current Ebola outbreak in West Africa, the WHO has warned that there is "no early end in sight" to the severe health crisis and called for "extraordinary measures" to stop the transmission of the disease.

According to the latest update issued by the World Health Organisation (WHO), 128 new cases of Ebola virus disease, as well as 56 deaths, were reported from Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria, and Sierra Leone between August 10 and 11, bringing the total number of cases to 1,975 and deaths to 1,069.

WHO Director-General Margaret Chan said more than one million people are affected by the disease and these people need daily material support, including food.

The infected people are in the "hot zone of disease transmission" on the borders of the three countries most impacted by the disease.

"There is no early end (to the outbreak) in sight. This is an extraordinary outbreak that requires extraordinary measures for containment. This is a severe health crisis, and it can rapidly become a humanitarian crisis if we do not do more to stop transmission," Chan said during a briefing in Geneva yesterday.
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