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July 28, 2006, 10:03 PM CT

Peaks And Troughs Of Dengue Epidemics

Peaks And Troughs Of Dengue Epidemics
Researchers have long known that epidemics of dengue fever wax and wane over a period of several years, but they've never been quite sure why. With the incidence and range of the potentially deadly mosquito-borne illness increasing, understanding the factors that influence these epidemics has never been more important.

A new study by scientists at the University of Georgia suggests that a brief period of cross-immunity conferred by any one of the four viral strains, or serotypes, that cause dengue explains the timing of epidemics.

"We observed that since about the mid 1980s, there's been a sequential replacement of the dominant serotype," said lead author Helen Wearing, a post-doctoral researcher at the UGA Institute of Ecology. "So, for example, one year serotype three is 60 percent of the cases and the next year serotype two is dominant and so on. Epidemics of individual serotypes recur every eight to 10 years, but, at the same time, if you look at all the data together, you see about an average three-year cycle with some seasonal component to it".

In addition to helping resolve a long-standing debate in public health, the study, published this week in the early online edition of the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, gives scientists a framework that can be used to create models that predict dengue outbreaks in both space and time.........

Posted by: Mark      Permalink         Source


July 26, 2006, 5:28 PM CT

Human Behavior Changes Infectious Diseases

Human Behavior Changes Infectious Diseases
Simple models predict that only one strain of an infectious disease can exist at one time, but observation suggests otherwise. In a study in the recent issue of The American Naturalist, Ken Eames and Matt Keeling (University of Warwick) use a mathematical model to help explain multiple strains, showing that the way humans interact is all-important. The scientists observed that the coexistence of multiple infectious disease strains result from monogamous populations.

"When people are serially monogamous (that is, interactions take place one at a time), groups with different behavior favor strains with different properties," explain the authors. "When new interactions occur frequently, rapidly transmitted strains are most successful, but when new interactions take place infrequently there is extra pressure on strains to have a long infectious period".

Eames and Keeling focused their study on sexually transmitted infections, where the assumption of monogamy is most applicable, but stress that their conclusions may have wider relevance.

"There are implications for all sorts of other infections too," Eames continues. "Just think of the behavioral differences between village and city life: one with quiet streets and few new faces, and the other with thousands of hurrying people and crowded public transport. That's two very different environments for a pathogen. There are always going to be plenty of factors that determine which strains emerge, but human mixing behavior has a big part to play".........

Posted by: Mark      Permalink         Source


July 26, 2006, 5:20 PM CT

Identifying Medical Proxy

Identifying Medical Proxy
One-third of married individuals choose someone other than their spouse as a surrogate for medical decision-making. And more often than not, when adult patients chose a parent, sibling or child, they prefer their mothers, sisters and daughters to serve as medical proxies over their fathers, brothers and sons.

These are among the results of a study on advance care planning conducted by Northwestern University researcher K. Michael Lipkin, M.D., available in the online early edition of the Journal of General Internal Medicine (http://www.blackwell-synergy.com/toc/jgi/0/0). Lipkin is assistant professor of clinical preventive medicine at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.

The finding that 33 percent of the married patients in the study did not choose their spouse as surrogate is noteworthy, because physicians regularly look to spouses as informal surrogates.

Additionally, over a quarter of survey participants chose someone other than the person identified as an emergency contact to act as proxy in medical decision-making.

"When patients choose a surrogate who is not the person doctors would commonly consult or who would not become empowered as a substitute decision-maker under state laws, physicians are alerted to engage these patients in an advance care planning process that ensures the formal appointment of their desired health care agent," Lipkin said.........

Posted by: Janet      Permalink         Source


July 26, 2006, 4:49 PM CT

Keeping Babies From Deadly Infections

Keeping Babies From Deadly Infections
The Food and Drug Administration on Tuesday approved a new test studied at the University of Florida that could lead to better screening for the most common cause of infection in newborn babies.

Passed from mother to child during birth, group B streptococcus can cause sepsis, pneumonia, meningitis, neurological damage and, in a small percentage of newborns, even death.

Eventhough all women are tested for group B streptococcus during pregnancy, current screening methods can leave some babies at risk for contracting an infection from the bacterium. But the new test, which UF scientists studied for several months as part of a clinical trial, allows health-care workers to quickly screen mothers during labor, improving the odds that babies will receive preventive care so they will not be infected during delivery.

"Without any intervention, (group B strep) is the most common cause of early-onset infection in newborns," said Rodney Edwards, M.D., a UF assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology in the College of Medicine who led the clinical trial at UF, one of six sites to study the test. "It can cause sepsis, meningitis and pneumonia. The likelihood of dying if you are a newborn is 5 percent. (With meningitis) even if the baby makes it through the infection there is a chance of cerebral palsy and cognitive delay".........

Posted by: Mark      Permalink         Source


July 25, 2006, 8:56 PM CT

Save Money And Reduce Crime

Save Money And Reduce Crime
The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), National Institutes of Health, today released a landmark scientific report showing that effective therapy of drug abuse and addiction can save communities money and reduce crime. Principles of Drug Abuse Treatment for Criminal Justice Populations outlines some of the proven components for successful therapy of drug abusers who have entered the criminal justice system, leading to lower rates of drug abuse and criminal activity.

"This report is part of our ongoing commitment to using scientific research to provide solutions to some of the most complex public health and safety issues of our time," said Dr. Elias A. Zerhouni, NIH Director. "Not only does it offer research-based therapy solutions to judges and communities, it also provides information on how the criminal justice system can help reduce the spread of HIV/AIDS, hepatitis, and other infectious diseases among drug abusing offenders--all critically important issues in today's society".

Untreated substance abuse adds significant costs to communities, including violent and property crimes, prison expenses, court and criminal costs, emergency room visits, child abuse and neglect, lost child support, foster care and welfare costs, reduced productivity, unemployment, and victimization. The cost to society of drug abuse in the year 2002 was $181 billion--$107 billion linked to drug-related crime.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Permalink         Source


July 25, 2006, 8:52 PM CT

Overweight Teens Reduce Risk Of Diabetes

Overweight Teens Reduce Risk Of Diabetes
Teens at risk of developing diabetes can prevent or delay its onset through strength training exercise, a University of Southern California study has observed.

Research led by Michael Goran, PhD, professor of preventive medicine in the Keck School of Medicine of USC, showed that overweight Latino teenage boys who lifted weights twice per week for 16 weeks significantly reduced their insulin resistance, a condition in which their bodies don't respond to insulin and can't process sugars properly. Insulin resistance is common in obese children and is a precursor of diabetes. The findings were reported in the recent issue of Medicine and Science of Sports Exercise.

Prior research has demonstrated that aerobic and resistance exercise is effective in improving insulin sensitivity in adults, but no controlled studies of resistance exercise had been done on overweight youth. Goran and his colleagues hypothesized that overweight teens would be more likely to stick with a resistance training regimen in comparison to aerobic exercise because it is less physically taxing and gives visible results quicker.

The scientists chose to focus on Latino teens because they are at particular risk for diabetes. As per the Centers for Disease Control, about half of all Latino children born in 2000 are expected to develop type 2 diabetes in their lifetime.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Permalink         Source


July 25, 2006, 8:25 PM CT

Unlocking the Deadliest Malaria Parasite

Unlocking the Deadliest Malaria Parasite
Scientists at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University have leveraged the results of their research into tuberculosis to craft a tool for unlocking the secrets of another of the world's leading infectious killers-malaria.

These findings, reported in the recent issue of Nature Methods, "should substantially speed up research efforts to bring malaria under control," says Dr. David Fidock, senior author of the paper and an associate professor of microbiology & immunology at Einstein.

Malaria is caused by a single-celled parasite, Plasmodium, which is transmitted through the bite of the Anopheles mosquito. The disease kills an estimated 1.2 million people every year.

The Einstein researchers focused on the most deadly Plasmodium strain-P. falciparum-which is proving increasingly resistant to therapy. Their research has led to the first efficient technique for inserting any gene of interest into the P. falciparum genome to gain biological information that could lead to more effective therapys.

"This opens up a whole new window into the genetic manipulation of this lethal parasite," says Dr. William Jacobs, Jr., who is a Howard Hughes investigator and professor of molecular genetics and microbiology & immunology at Einstein and a major author of the Nature Methods paper. "Malaria scientists finally have an efficient way to shuffle genes into P. falciparum, which should lead to valuable information about the parasite's virulence, how it's transmitted from mosquito to humans and how it develops resistance to antimalarial drugs".........

Posted by: Mark      Permalink         Source


July 25, 2006, 8:20 PM CT

Screen New mothers for postpartum depression

Screen New mothers for postpartum depression
Physicians should screen mothers for postpartum depression regularly for at least a year following childbirth to better identify women who develop symptoms throughout the year and those whose depression persists, University of Rochester Medical Center scientists say.

"If you only screen early or if you only screen once, you will miss some," said Linda Chaudron, M.D., an assistant professor of psychiatry, pediatrics and obstetrics and gynecology at the Medical Center who is leading a series of studies focusing on postpartum depression.

In a recent analysis of records from a pediatric clinic that uses a common postpartum questionnaire to screen mothers, Chaudron and the research group observed that of women who scored high on a depression screening scale sometime in the postpartum year, 26 percent did not develop high symptom levels of postpartum depression until after three months and that 33 percent had high levels throughout the year. The results of the study are reported in the July/recent issue of the journal Ambulatory Pediatrics.

"I was surprised at the high percentage of women who continued to be depressed throughout the year," Chaudron said.

Earlier this year, New Jersey Governor Jon S. Corzine signed legislation requiring health care professionals providing postnatal care to screen new mothers for postpartum depression, and requiring health care professionals to educate women and their families about the disorder. Health care providers in several other states have adopted similar screening programs.........

Posted by: Emily      Permalink         Source


July 25, 2006, 8:17 PM CT

Identical Twins Be Genetically Different

Identical Twins Be Genetically Different
They sleep together, eat together, and most people find it impossible to tell them apart. Identical twins who grow up together share just about everything, including their genes. But sometimes only one twin will have health problems when genetics predicts both of them should.

Researchers at the University of Michigan Medical School are just beginning to understand how two people who are so similar biologically can be so different when it comes to the development of diseases like rheumatoid arthritis.

U-M scientists have discovered three genes that are over-expressed in rheumatoid arthritis, or RA, that were not known to be linked to the disease before. They also observed that non-genetic factors influenced the expression of these genes and that the expression patterns varied between identical twins where only one twin had RA. Results of the U-M study were reported in the recent issue of Arthritis and Rheumatism.

RA is a chronic inflammatory disease that damages joints. RA causes pain, loss of movement, and bone deformities. It affects 2.1 million Americans. There are a number of genetic factors that put people at a high-risk for developing RA, yet only 15 percent of identical twins will both develop it.

Researchers compared gene expression patterns of 11 pairs of monozygotic twins, who shared the same egg and were genetically identical, but only one of them had RA. They found three new genes that were significantly over-expressed in the twin with RA in comparison to the one without the disease. This is the first report for RA that examines gene expression patterns in monozygotic twins.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Permalink         Source


July 25, 2006, 6:30 AM CT

Take a deep breath

Take a deep breath Image courtesy of stottpilates.com
Ventilation treatment burst into the public consciousness more than 60 years ago with the "iron lung" and the polio epidemic. Mechanical ventilation has come a long way since then and is used today with patients who cannot breathe on their own because of trauma, lung injuries and chronic lung disease.

But ventilation demands a delicate balance between over inflating and under inflating the lungs, either of which can lead to further injury. Scientists have observed that pumping too much air overdistends the lung, leading to ventilator-induced lung injury (VILI).

Doctors currently use small amounts of air (low tidal volume) to protect against VILI. But low tidal volumes can lead to progressive closure of the lungs' air cells, called alveoli, reducing the lung's ability to exchange gases. One way to reverse closure of the alveoli is to periodically give a more robust puff of air, known as deep inflation.

A new study in the online edition of the American Journal of Physiology-Lung Cellular and Molecular Physiology shows that low tidal volume combined with periodic deep inflation provides the best balance between keeping the lung open and preventing VILI in mice. And, using mice, these scientists have demonstrated for the first time that eventhough deep inflation is necessary, it can be overdone.........

Posted by: Scott      Permalink         Source



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Did you know?
Adolescents who suffer physical injuries are vulnerable to emotional distress in the months following their hospitalization, yet almost 40 percent of hospitalized adolescents interviewed for a new study had no source for the follow-up medical care that could diagnose and treat symptoms of post-traumatic stress. These young trauma survivors are at risk for high levels of post-traumatic stress and depressive symptoms, as well as high levels of alcohol use, according to research by researchers at the Harborview Injury Prevention and Research Center.

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