And more. . .
We begin with the Express Tribune and a Pakistani vaccination crisis:
Sehat ka Ittehad struggles as WHO recommends extension of restrictions
There has been no documented international spread of the poliovirus since March 2014 – with the exception of “one new exportation from Pakistan into Afghanistan documented after 13 November 2014″.
The fourth meeting of the International Health Regulations Emergency Committee announced the spread of polio still constitutes a “Public Health Emergency of International Concern”. The committee has recommended extending the “temporary recommendations” for another three months. Among others, these include declaring a national public health emergency, restricting departure of any residents from the country if they lack an international certification of vaccination and maintaining these measures till the country has stopped exporting polio. The WHO statement is available on their website.
Hours after the WHO pointed to Pakistan as the only country still spreading the preventable, crippling virus. Sehat ka Ittehad’s recent drive came to a close and left at least 33,601 children unvaccinated, but not without efforts to the contrary.
And closer to home for esnl, a deadly hospital-based outbreak spreads, via the Guardian:
Cedars-Sinai hospital in LA investigates outbreak of deadly ‘superbug’
- Hospital says four patients have been infected with bacteria from a contaminated medical scope, and 67 other people may have been exposed
The Cedars-Sinai hospital in Los Angeles announced a possible “superbug” outbreak linked to gastrointestinal devices, the second hospital in a month to link the potentially deadly germs to devices called duodenoscopes.
The bug, called carbapenem-resistant enterobacteriaceae (CRE), is a bacteria resistant to some of medicine’s strongest antibiotics. The duodenoscope is a difficult-to-clean, complex flexible tube inserted through the throat of patients to check for issues in the upper intestines.
Cedars-Sinai hospital officials linked four transmissions of CRE to duodenoscopes. The hospital sent letters and home-testing kits to 71 more patients who may have been exposed between August 2014 and February 2015, “out of an abundance of caution”.
From the Associated Press, regulatory failure:
Maker of device in ‘superbug’ outbreak lacked FDA clearance
The manufacturer of a medical instrument at the center of a recent “superbug” outbreak in Los Angeles did not receive federal clearance to sell an updated version the device, according to officials from the Food and Drug Administration.
The FDA confirmed that Olympus Corp. did not seek agency clearance for the redesign of its specialized endoscope, which it began selling in 2010. FDA clearance is required for all substantive updates to medical devices sold in the U.S.
Despite the lack of clearance, the FDA said doctors should continue using the device because it’s not clear that a federal review would have prevented the recent infections in patients.
From National Geographic, a story we’ve been covering since our earliest posts:
Chemical Exposure Linked to Billions in Health Care Costs
Researchers conclude they are 99 percent certain that hormone-altering chemicals are linked to attention problems, diabetes, other health problems.
Exposure to hormone-disrupting chemicals is likely leading to an increased risk of serious health problems costing at least $175 billion (U.S.) per year in Europe alone, according to a study published Thursday.
Chemicals that can mimic or block estrogen or other hormones are commonly found in thousands of products around the world, including plastics, pesticides, furniture, and cosmetics.
The new research estimated health care costs in Europe, where policymakers are debating whether to enact the world’s first regulations targeting endocrine disruptors. The European Union’s controversial strategy, if approved, would have a profound effect on industries and consumer products worldwide.
Linda Birnbaum, the leading environmental health official in the U.S. government, called the new findings, which include four published papers, “a wake-up call” for policymakers and health experts.
From Newsweek, one of those chemicals and twisted regulatory semantics:
BPA Is Fine, If You Ignore Most Studies About It
Bisphenol-A (BPA) is either a harmless chemical that’s great for making plastic or one of modern society’s more dangerous problems. Depends whom you ask.
BPA is in many types of plastics and the epoxy resins that line most aluminum cans, as well as thermal papers like receipts. It is an endocrine disruptor that mimics estrogen, a hormone especially important in sexual development, and the fact that it’s all over the place worries many people. Newsweek spoke with about 20 scientists, leaders in the field of BPA research, and the majority say it is likely (though not certain) that the chemical plays a role in a litany of health concerns: obesity, diabetes, problems with fertility and reproductive organs, susceptibility to various cancers and cognitive/behavioral deficits like ADHD.
“There’s too much data consistent across studies…time and time again…to ignore it and suggest BPA has no effect on humans,” says Gail Prins, a physiologist at the University of Illinois at Chicago.
But the plastic industry, researchers it funds and, most important, many regulatory agencies—including the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA and the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA)—say BPA is safe for humans at the levels people are exposed to.
From VICE News, and not so surprising for students of history:
Deforestation May Be Helping to Spread the Plague in Africa
The destruction of forests is known to cause the release of massive amounts of greenhouse gases, destroy critical wildlife habitat, and increase soil erosion, which can lead to deadly floods and landslides.
But converting forests to farmland can also increase the spread of the plague, according to researchers at the University of California at Santa Barbara (UCSB).
“It pops up every other year or so, and the number of cases per year is quite variable and it’s also poorly reported,” Hillary Young, an ecologist at UCSB, who led the study, told VICE News. “So we don’t have a good sense of the number of cases per year in the region.”
Madagascar’s complex climate woes, via IRIN:
Disaster-prone Madagascar battles flooding and drought
Authorities in Madagascar are struggling to respond to increasingly severe flooding in the central highlands region of the country that includes the capital, Antananarivo, in addition to a prolonged drought in the south.
The latest round of flooding, which started when three rivers that cross Antananarivo – the Sisaony, Ikopa and Imamba – burst their banks during a storm on 24 February, has left 19 people dead and an estimated 36,000 displaced, according to the National Office for the Management of Risks and Catastrophes (BNRGC in French). A further 40,000 people were displaced in 13 other districts.
On Wednesday, BNRGC issued a new alert warning that a low-pressure system just off the island’s west coast was expected to bring more torrential rainfall to the central highlands region. Several neighbourhoods in Antananarivo remain braced for further flooding and landslides over the coming days.
Getting bad air off their chest, via the Los Angeles Times:
Cleaner air is linked to stronger lungs in Southern California children
Cleaner air has for the first time been linked to bigger and stronger lungs among school-age children, according to findings released Wednesday from a two-decade study in Southern California.
The research by USC scientists, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, found the region’s steep decline in air pollution since the mid-1990s is strongly associated with “statistically and clinically significant improvements” in children’s lung function and growth.
The analysis, which studied more than 2,000 children in five cities over the years, provides the strongest evidence yet that years of government regulations to reduce air pollution in California and across the nation are paying off with measurable improvements in children’s health.
The accompanying graphic tells the story:
From the Associated Press, and we wonder just how safe those “small” levels are over time?:
FDA study finds little evidence of antibiotics in milk
In an encouraging development for consumers worried about antibiotics in their milk, a new Food and Drug Administration study showed little evidence of drug contamination after surveying almost 2,000 dairy farms.
In response to concerns, the agency in 2012 took samples of raw milk from the farms and tested them for 31 drugs, almost all of them antibiotics. Results released by the agency Thursday show that less than 1 percent of the total samples showed illegal drug residue.
Antibiotics and other drugs can end up in milk when they are used on dairy cows to keep them healthy. Small levels of drugs are allowed in milk, but residues that go beyond certain thresholds are illegal.
Some delightful news for bees, via DutchNews.nl:
Amsterdam bee population is booming
Amsterdam bee population is booming Society March 5, 2015 Honey comb and a bee workingBee populations may be in trouble elsewhere but in Amsterdam there are now 61 different bee species, up from 51 in 2000, according to new research.
The most common bee in the city is the common furrow (Lasioglossum calceatum) while the hairy-footed flower bee, which was very rare in 2000, now lives in abundance in the city’s Vondel park, the research shows.
The research was commissioned by the city council. Bee expert and researcher told the Parool the city council should be extremely pleased the city has such committed people managing its green spaces. ‘The city can thank their expertise for the increase,’ he said.
Ten years ago the city council took a new, environmentally-friendly approach to its green areas and roadside verges. It no longer uses pesticides and wild flowers have been sown in many places. Specific bee friendly projects have also been set up.
After the jump, Brits sign a Mexican dirty energy deal, an oil company settles a cleanup complaint in Peru, Britain’s central bank sounds a fossil fuel alert, Oklahoma scientists play Big Oil’s music, Feds find the Arctic oil they want drilled will most likely lead to a major oil spill, allegations industry corrupted Europe’s clean air laws, separating fossil fueled climate change from oceanic changes, flooding predicted to triple in 15 years, a new African environmental alliance announced, Brazilian peasants seize a paper plant over plans to plan GMO trees, Arctic Sea ice thinning accelerates, on to Fukushimapocalypse Now!, first with more radioactive leaks, local communities protests TEPCO’s concealing of a major leak for ten months, another radioactive fuel removal planned, evacuees plagued with blood clots, the governor calls for extending reconstruction programs, Japanese tourism recovers from Fukushimaphobia, nearby factories suffer from major labor shortages, regulators find major flaws in plans for the restart of another Japanese nuke plant shut down after the earthquake that shattered Fukushima, a lawsuit challenges plans for a new British nuke plant, and, finally, fears over new Nuclear plants in a Pakistani seismic hot spot. . . Continue reading