Health & Wellness


Over 30 children hospitalized with virus in Russia's Siberia

A total of 32 kindergarten children have been hospitalized with a virus in Russia's Republic of Khakassia, in south Siberia, where two children died earlier this week.

The girl and a boy, both from the Yolochka kindergarten, died on Tuesday. Laboratory tests revealed that the girl died of meningitis, while the boy was killed by the fatal Enterovirus 71, blamed for the death of some 40 children in China.

34 evacuated from Japan apartment after gas suicide

Japanese police evacuated 34 people from an apartment building Wednesday after a man apparently killed himself by mixing chemicals and inhaling the deadly fumes, the latest in a string of similar suicides nationwide.

Police said they were called to the scene in Kanazawa City, western Japan, when a resident found a sign on the door of an apartment warning of dangerous gases. After residents noticed a strange smell coming from the apartment, police moved them to a local community center.

The body of a man was found in the apartment, along with cleaning and agricultural chemicals that produce deadly gasses when mixed, police officer Hiroshi Sakashita said.

Mechanical nature of humanity: Mobile phones demystify commuter rat race

Researchers have come up with a new use for the ubiquitous mobile phone: tracking human movements. By monitoring the signals from 100,000 mobile-phone users sending and receiving calls and text messages, a team from Northeastern University in Boston, Massachusetts, has worked out some apparently universal laws of human motion.

The results could help epidemiologists to predict how viruses will spread through populations, and help urban planners and traffic forecasters to allocate resources.

Albert-László Barabási and his colleagues show that most people, perhaps unsurprisingly, are creatures of habit. They make regular trips to the same few destinations such as work and home, and pepper these with occasional longer forays such as vacations.

European Parliament votes to ban cloned animal meat

The European Parliament is pushing for an outright ban on the commercialisation of the cloning of animals, preventing their use for meat, as well as dairy and other livestock by-products.

It has voted overwhelmingly for an amendment within European Union (EU) legislation to ban cloning animals for economic reasons. "It's degrading to animals and causes suffering. Animals are sentient beings and should be treated with respect. They are not commodities," said Janusz Wojciechowski, the Polish member (MEP) who proposed this declaration. He was "very satisfied" with the vote which showed that MEPs put animal welfare above economics.

Education and gender: vital statistics

Girls are becoming as good as boys at mathematics, and are still better at reading

Tradition has it that boys are good at counting and girls are good at reading. So much so that Mattel once produced a talking Barbie doll whose stock of phrases included "Math class is tough!"

Although much is made of differences between the brains of adult males and females, the sources of these differences are a matter of controversy. Some people put forward cultural explanations and note, for example, that when girls are taught separately from boys they often do better in subjects such as maths than if classes are mixed. Others claim that the differences are rooted in biology, are there from birth, and exist because girls' and boys' brains have evolved to handle information in different ways.

US: Union students stricken by vomitting virus

About two dozen Union College students have fallen ill with vomiting, diarrhea and nausea over the past few days. The county Health Department is investigating the cause of the outbreak, which has the symptoms of a norovirus.

Union College is on a trimester system, so students are on campus longer than other local colleges. Final exams begin next week and graduation is June 15.

Students began reporting to the school's infirmary on Sunday, but the volume of cases increased Monday evening and Tuesday, said Kathy Sen, supervising community health nurse for communicable disease control for the county.

UK: Vomitting virus shuts four wards at West Suffolk Hospital

Four wards have been closed at West Suffolk Hospital after the number of patients suffering winter vomiting virus doubled.

Staff at the Bury St Edmunds hospital are warning people who are displaying symptoms of the highly contagious Norovirus to stay away in order to avoid further infections.

A total of 58 patients have now contracted the virus - 43 have fully recovered and 15 are still displaying symptoms - compared to 24 last week.

Heavy marijuana use can shrink brain - study

Heavy marijuana use over many years appears to shrink parts of the brain that control emotion and memory, a new Australian study shows.

Brain scans on 15 men who smoked at least five joints a day for more than a decade show for the first time that they have structural brain abnormalities not seen in non-smokers.

Mom's behavior key to dad's involvement in child care

Mothers play an important role in determining how much fathers get involved in taking care of their infants, according to new research.

A study of 97 couples found that fathers were more involved in the day-to-day care of their infants when they received active encouragement from their wife or partner.

In fact, this encouragement was important even after taking into account fathers' and mothers' views about how involved dads should be, the overall quality of the couple's parenting relationship, and how much mothers worked outside the home.

In addition, fathers' beliefs about how involved they should be in child care did not matter when mothers were highly critical of fathers' parenting. In other words, fathers didn't put their beliefs into practice when faced with a particularly judgmental mother.

"Mothers are in the driver's seat," said Sarah Schoppe-Sullivan, co-author of the study and assistant professor of human development and family science at Ohio State University.

Text-messaging: Scourge of civilization? LOL

The notion that text-messaging is destroying the writing skills of American students gets two distinct reactions from linguists.

Jacquie Ream's response: OMG (Oh My God).

"We have a whole generation being raised without communications skills," says Ream, a teacher and author of the book K.I.S.S. Keep It Short and Simple.

That kind of talk leaves Derek Denis LOL (Laughing Out Loud).