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Sat, 14 Dec 2019
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Want to stop disease from spreading? Open a window

Washington - Preventing the spread of disease in a hospital may be as simple as opening a window, an international team of researchers reported on Monday.

The low-tech solution could help prevent the spread of airborne infections such as tuberculosis -- and ironically, old-fashioned hospitals with high ceilings and big windows may offer the best design for this, they reported.

They worked better than modern "negative pressure" rooms, with expensive design aimed at pumping out infected air, the researchers report in the Public Library of Science journal PLoS Medicine.

Family

Man aged 107 forsakes sex for longevity - But he smokes!

Hong Kong - A 107-year-old Hong Kong villager, who still enjoys an occasional smoke, has attributed his longevity in part to decades of sexual abstinence, a newspaper said on Sunday.

Family

Guys: The biological bell tolls for thee, too

Rupert Murdoch had a daughter when he was 72. Actor Tony Randall became a dad for the first time at 77. When the average life expectancy of the American male was a few months shy of 78, Nobel Prize-winning writer Saul Bellow fathered a kid at 84.

Long after a woman's biological clock stops ticking, most men can still father children. Yet many men say it's not just women who worry that they are too old to have kids. The physiology might allow for septuagenarians to bounce their beloved bundles on their arthritic knees, but the psychology suggests there is an age to stop bringing another baby on board.

Cheeseburger

Of Bamboo and French Fries

Chinese scientists report finding a way to diminish the development of acrylamide - a potential carcinogen - in baked and fried foods: Dip them in an extract of bamboo leaves prior to cooking. It's the newest of several experimental approaches to limiting acrylamide in foods.

Nearly 5 years ago, reports by Swedish scientists catapulted acrylamide to public attention around the world. The researchers found that high-temperature cooking, baking, or frying of a range of foods could induce one or more chemical reactions that generate acrylamide (SN: 5/4/02, p. 277). Topping the list of affected foods were many dietary staples: breads, crackers, breakfast cereals, cookies, and even french fries.

Prior to the Swedish team's work, acrylamide had been known solely as a synthetic chemical used for purifying water and making some plastics. Commercial users handled acrylamide carefully because studies had shown that at high doses the chemical is a moderately potent carcinogen in rodents.

Health

Chronic Dizziness May Be Caused By Psychiatric And Neurologic Illnesses

Approximately 9 million to 15 million people in the U.S. suffer from recurrent bouts of dizziness and 3 million experience symptoms of dizziness nearly every day. According to a paper that appears in the February issue of Archives of Otolaryngology - Head & Neck Surgery, researchers at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine found that chronic subjective dizziness (CSD) may have several common causes, including anxiety disorders, migraine, mild traumatic brain injuries, and neurally mediated dysautonomias - disorders in the autonomic nervous system, which controls involuntary actions.

Among the various forms of dizziness, clinicians have found CSD to be particularly vexing. "Patients with CSD experience persistent dizziness not related to vertigo, imbalance, and hypersensitivity to motion, which is heightened in highly visual settings, such as walking in a busy store or driving in the rain," says Jeffrey P. Staab, MD, MS, Assistant Professor, Departments of Psychiatry and Otorhinolaryngology at Penn, and coauthor of the paper.

Health

Study: Herpes drug may curb AIDS virus

Treating genital herpes can also help keep the AIDS virus under control in women with both infections, and might reduce the spread of HIV, too, the first major study to test this strategy suggests. Many people with HIV are also infected with the herpes type 2 virus, and scientists have long known that herpes sores on the genitals can make it easier to become infected with the AIDS virus and could increase the risk of transmitting HIV to others.

In the latest study, conducted in Africa and published in Thursday's New England Journal of Medicine, women who took the herpes drug valacyclovir had less HIV in their blood and in their genital secretions.

The study did not look at whether the drug, sold as Valtrex by GlaxoSmithKline PLC, actually reduces transmission of the AIDS virus. However, scientists generally have found that the more virus someone has, the greater the risk of transmission.

Heart

Irregular heartbeat linked to genetic mutation, Mayo Clinic study shows

Every day for 10 years, a seemingly heart-healthy 53-year-old woman experienced rapid and irregular heartbeats. She had no personal or family history of hypertension or hyperthyroidism. She did not suffer from myocardial or coronary artery disease, or any abnormalities of the heart as best doctors and medical science could determine. Yet, she complained of heart palpitations and dizziness nearly to the point of fainting.

For the patient in this case study, her symptoms first appeared 10 years ago and they persisted through the years. The symptoms peaked in the morning and occurred more frequently as time went on. Doctors prescribed medication, but it proved to be ineffective.

As a next step, Mayo Clinic physician researchers explored and confirmed the presence of a genetic mutation that clearly established an inherited predisposition to atrial fibrillation.

Their study findings appear in the February issue of Nature Clinical Practice Cardiovascular Medicine (http://www.nature.com/clinicalpractice/cardio).

"Why certain patients develop atrial fibrillation while others do not, despite comparable environmental stress exposure, might ultimately depend on their genetic makeup," the authors write.

Syringe

Texas Governor Perry took Merck money before mandating cervical vaccine

Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) says that it's just a coincidence that he and eight other lawmakers received donations of $5,000 each from Merck lobbyists just a few days before mandating the drug giant's HPV cervical cancer vaccine for all females in Texas ages 12 and up.

Ambulance

Suit: Peanut Butter Caused Death

A Pennsylvania family is suing ConAgra, claiming salmonella-tainted peanut butter led to the death of a family member.

Roberta Barkay, 76, of Ellwood City, Pa., died Jan. 30.

Pills

Prescription drug deaths skyrocket 68 percent over five years as Americans swallow more pills

Poisoning from prescription drugs has risen to become the second-largest cause of unintentional deaths in the United States, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

In its Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, researchers found that deaths from prescription drugs rose from 4.4 per 100,000 people in 1999 to 7.1 per 100,000 in 2004.

This increase represents a jump from 11,000 people to almost 20,000 in the span of five years.