From the UN News Center, a call for vaccination action in Europe:
UN health agency ‘taken aback’ as measles resurfaces in Europe, calls for widespread vaccination
European policymakers, healthcare workers, and parents must step up their efforts to vaccinate children against measles amid an ongoing outbreak across the continent, the United Nations World Health Organization (WHO) said today, warning that a recent resurgence in the disease threatened Europe’s goal of eliminating measles by the end of 2015.
According to UN data, over 22,000 cases of the virus have surfaced across Europe during the 2014 to 2015 biennium with the outbreak spreading to seven countries. This comes despite a 50 per cent drop from 2013 to 2014.
“When we consider that over the past two decades we have seen a reduction of 96 per cent in the number of measles cases in the European region, and that we are just a step away from eliminating the disease, we are taken aback by these numbers,” Dr. Zsuzsanna Jakab, WHO Regional Director for Europe, affirmed in a press release.
“We must collectively respond, without further delay, to close immunization gaps. It is unacceptable that, after the last 50 years’ efforts to make safe and effective vaccines available, measles continues to cost lives, money and time,” she added.
Vastly unvaccinated in Africa, via the Liberian Observer:
70% Un-vaccinated children at Risk for Measles
An official of the Ministry of Health is encouraging all parents and guardians to take their children for the third phase of the nationwide Measles Immunization Program, to be launched from April 10-16 in all 15 counties.
“The Measles Immunization Program was delayed due to the outbreak of the deadly Ebola virus that led to thousands of deaths. Parents must now be very serious in ensuring that their children take the measles immunization to avoid risks,” Mr. Clarke stressed.
Mr. Adolphus Clarke is the Deputy Program Manager for the Expanded Program on Immunization (EPI). He noted that the exercise is geared towards protecting children against future outbreaks of the disease.
From SciDev.Net, a potentially much-needed new drug undergoes testing:
Tuberculosis drug candidate begins clinical safety trial
The first clinical safety trial on a tuberculosis drug since 2009 is now under way.
The phase I trial of TBA-354 will involve 50 volunteers from the United States, according to the TB Alliance, the not-for-profit product development partnership sponsoring the trial.
In preclinical studies, the compound showed more potent antibacterial and sterilising activity than pretomanid (PA-824), a related substance now in phase II and phase III clinical trials to assess its safety and efficacy, the alliance announced last week.
It said that the six years that passed between TBA-354 and the last drug to undergo Phase 1 trials shows that the pipeline of drugs to combat tuberculosis is disconcertingly empty.
From the University of California, cat-derived ailment complications:
Increased risk from toxoplasmosis
A third of all humans carry the parasite that causes toxoplasmosis — a disease commonly associated with cats, HIV-AIDS patients and pregnant women — with scientists long believing healthy immune systems control the parasite and prevent the disease from emerging. But new research by professor Kirk Jensen of the University of California, Merced, shows the parasite might be more dangerous than previously believed.
In a paper published Feb. 24 in mBio — an open-access journal presented by the American Society for Microbiology — Jensen shows that secondary exposure to most parasite strains found in South America can lead to uncontrolled infection and disease, which in humans can cause severe congenital infection or lesions in the retina and brain.
“There are a few strains of the Toxoplasma parasite present in North America and Europe, but in South America, there are many strains,” said Jensen, a professor in the university’s School of Natural Sciences. “We found these South American strains are really good at evading the immune system.”
After an initial infection, the immune system is typically primed and ready to protect against repeat offenses by the same parasite or disease. This is how vaccines protect humans from infectious diseases like measles. However, Jensen said, “There are known cases where pregnant women who were seropositive — and therefore should have been protected from toxoplasmosis — developed congenital infection following travel to South America.”
From Outbreak News Today, another outbreak:
Uganda: Hundreds sickened by typhoid; adulterated beverages and foods suspected
As of yesterday, more than 500 people were confirmed admitted to designated treatment centres after being diagnosed with typhoid, the Health Ministry reports.
The source of the bacterial outbreak is suspected to be due to adulterated beverages and foods prompting health officials to warn the public of the capital of Kampala.
Preliminary laboratory investigations of sampled beverages and foods obtained from the Kampala central business district contained the Salmonella bacterium.
Dr Monica Musenero, the assistant commissioner in-charge of epidemiology and epidemic diseases at the Health ministry said, “We took samples of water, juices, and foods from areas where the outbreak hit hard. We suspect the outbreak is caused by something in the category of juice or water that is widely consumed by people,” said Dr Musenero. “The 1st laboratory samples tests and epidemiological links have hinted on water, but it’s still too early to mention which type of water,” she said.
From SciDev.Net, a climate change to spreading diseases:
Warming climate accelerates spread of vector-borne diseases
Health agencies need to take into account disease evolution in warming environments as climate change could alter the development of vector-borne diseases, two studies have found.
The “vector” in a vector-borne disease refers to an infected human or animal that transmits pathogens or parasites and causes disease in human populations.
Climate change can impact “all relevant aspects” of vector-borne diseases, including the locations of host populations and the availability of vectors, says Nina Fefferman, a biologist and part of a team from Rutgers University in the United States behind one of the studies.
The research focused on Aedes japonicus japonicus, a species of disease-carrying mosquito native to Japan and Korea, whose range has expanded since the 1990s to parts of Europe and the Hawaiian archipelago. The study found that populations of the mosquito on the island of Hawaii and in the American state of Virginia were capable of “rapid evolutionary change” and adaptation to their new environment.
As a result, vector-borne disease could become a greater threat to human health as the global climate warms, the study found. Its authors say that climate change studies need to play a greater role in national and global efforts to eradicate these diseases.
From BBC News, a death toll reevaluation:
Tobacco ‘kills two in three smokers’
The death risk from smoking may be much higher than previously thought – tobacco kills up to two in every three smokers not one in every two, data from a large study suggests.
The study tracked more than 200,000 Australian smokers and non-smokers above the age of 45 over six years. Mortality risk went up with cigarette use, BMC Medicine reports.
Smoking 10 cigarettes a day doubled the risk, while 20-a-day smokers were four to five times more likely to die.
From Environmental Health News, polluting the poor:
EPA to investigate North Carolina for civil rights violations
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has accepted a civil rights complaint filed against the North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources and will investigate whether lax regulation of industrial pig farms disproportionately impacts communities of color.
Last week the EPA announced it would proceed two days after Environmental Health News reported about the complaint and new research that found high levels of fecal bacteria in water near industrial pig farms in eastern North Carolina. The Charlotte Observer also wrote an editorial about the research and said the state needs to be “more vigilant” about pig waste.
The complaint was filed last September by the North Carolina Environmental Justice Network, the Rural Empowerment Association for Community Help, the Waterkeeper Alliance, and is being led by Earthjustice.
FrontPageAfrica covers medical fraud in Liberia:
High Risk Zone for Fake Drugs: Pharmacy Under Scrutiny
One of Liberia’s leading pharmacies, Abeer Pharmacy has been ranked the top pharmacy that imports and sells fake drugs in the country. Mr. David Sumo, head of the Liberia Medicine and Health Products regulatory authority, explains that the pharmacy usually brings in anti-malaria pills, such as lonart, quinine and pain killers. He added that Abeer Pharmacy has repeatedly failed to abide by the standard of the regulatory agency.
“I know most of you will be surprised to hear this, the pharmacy has failed our test many times, and we’ve put this particular pharmacy in the high-risk zone,” Mr. Sumo said. He advised people dealing in fake drugs to desist and called on everyone, especially those who have mini-drug stores to look at the expiration date properly before purchasing the drugs.
LMHRA was set up in 2001 to register all medicines that are locally-manufactured, imported, distributed, sold and used in Liberia. It also has a mandate to prepare and keep the registry of medicines used in both the private and public sector in Liberia and to remove from the registry and prohibit the manufacturing, importation, distribution sale and use of any medicine which quality, safety or efficacy is brought to question. The body also has the power to set up a quality control laboratory to undertake laboratory analysis of all medicines imported and used in Liberia.
From United Press International, another kind of medical fraud:
Iowa scientist pleads guilty to fraud in AIDS vaccine study
A former Iowa State University scientist on Wednesday pleaded guilty to fraud for faking the results on an AIDS vaccine study funded by the federal government.
Dong-Pyou Han pleaded guilty to two felony counts of making false statements. In exchange for his plea, prosecutors dropped two other counts of the same charge.
Dong-Pyou, 57, admitted he faked data in the study that cost the government between $7 million and $20 million. He said he inserted human antibodies into the blood of rabbits to make it appear as though an experimental vaccine he was studying helped protect the animals against HIV.
After the jump, a Big Agra pesticide lie, Big Agra pesticides pose global surface water dangers, plastics pose a major danger to imperiled coral reefs, clear evidence of manmade carbon atmospheric heat-trapping, a village to be abandoned because of climate change, Occupy targets Rio’s Olympic golf course in an environmental reserve, a massive fish die-off in Rio’s Olympic waters, massive pollution in a Mexican river, how liberal California unions bankroll fracking, on to Fukushimapocalypse Now!, starting with a demand for a probe of a radioactive leak coverup, fishers outraged over the leak coverup, Radioactive water drainage changes contemplated, and, finally, evacuees fail to heed claims the hot zone is safe. . . Continue reading