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Vaasa, Finland

JACKS A.,Infectious Diseases Unit | JACKS A.,Finnish National Institute for Health and Welfare | PIHLAJASAARI A.,Finnish Food Safety Authority | VAHE M.,Vaasa Municipal Hospital | And 10 more authors.
Epidemiology and Infection | Year: 2015

During one week in July 2012, two patients from the same ward at the municipal hospital in Vaasa, Finland, were diagnosed with septicaemia caused by Listeria monocytogenes. An outbreak investigation revealed eight concomitant cases of febrile gastroenteritis caused by L. monocytogenes on the same ward. Median age of the cases was 82 years and median incubation time for listerial gastroenteritis was 21 h (range 9–107). An additional 10 cases of invasive listeriosis caused by the same outbreak strain were identified across the whole country during the summer of 2012. Environmental investigation at the affected municipal hospital ward revealed ready-sliced meat jelly as the suspected source of the infection. During inspection of the meat jelly production plant, one pooled sample taken from a floor drain and a trolley wheel in the food processing environment was positive for the outbreak strain of L. monocytogenes. After the producer stopped the production of meat jelly, no further cases of listeriosis with the outbreak strain were identified via nationwide surveillance. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2015 Source

Saarela S.-R.,Finnish Environment Institute | Soderman T.,Finnish Environment Institute | Soderman T.,Environment Center
Environmental Science and Policy | Year: 2015

Impact assessment (IA) is one of the most widely applied instruments for generating policy-relevant knowledge. However, the step-wise process, logic of linear knowledge transfer and influence of IA has frequently been criticised. Current IA procedures do not adequately address complex and unpredictable policy processes, such as the preparation of climate policies. Drawing on a framework of science-policy interface problems, we analyse knowledge exchange in a national climate policy IA case and discuss the reasons for the problems. We demonstrate various problems in knowledge use and production as well as in the balance between the demand for and supply of knowledge, such as ignoring the knowledge involved in the policy process, the monopoly held by certain knowledge providers and models, insufficient scoping and framing of the IA, poor interaction with knowledge providers and users, and inadequate planning and coordination of the process. We highlight the need for adding context-sensitive and tailored knowledge exchange practices to IA processes to enhance the use of existing knowledge in climate policy. © 2015 Elsevier Ltd. Source

British researchers have discovered a troubling trend in East Antarctica: As air temperatures become warmer each summer, more and deeper lakes are showing up atop Langhovde Glacier. Their study, published this month in the journal Geophysical Research Letters, is the first to monitor the meltwater pools for an extended period of time in that part of the icy continent. SEE ALSO: A lengthening crack is threatening to cause an Antarctic ice shelf to collapse The findings are significant because they add to mounting evidence that an area once considered the most stable part of Antarctica is now showing signs of increased melting — this time from a process that has sped up the melting taking place in Greenland. Surface melting can weaken glaciers by causing cracks in the ice and making the glacier’s underbelly more slippery, speeding or enabling the ice to slide into the sea. These and other processes can contribute to global sea level rise, which is already damaging coastal communities. The fate of the Antarctic ice sheet, particularly East Antarctica, will help determine how high sea levels rise during the next several decades to centuries in response to human-caused global warming. The surface lakes on Langhovde Glacier are relatively shallow and small, especially compared to the larger pools seen in Greenland. But that could change if warmer-than-average summers happen more often due to climate change, the research team from Durham University and Lancaster University in England found. "The warm years are expected to become more frequent in the future, so we might expect to see even more lakes and even deeper lakes in the future," Amber Leeson, one of the study's co-authors and an expert on ice-climate interactions at Lancaster's Environment Center, told Mashable by phone. "It's not just lakes forming and refreezing in the winter," she added. "They're forming, draining and feeding into a wider 'subglacial' hydrological network. And no one has really thought of that before in East Antarctica." For their study, the team studied about 150 satellite images of Langhovde Glacier taken between 2000 and 2013 during the November-to-February summer season. They compared those with meteorological records for the same period, gathered at a nearby research base. A NASA satellite map of Antarctica shows the rates of mass changes from 2003-2008. The team mapped about 8,000 lakes, although the actual number of lakes on the glacier is likely much smaller than 8,000, said Emily Langley, the study's lead author and a Master's candidate in Durham's Department of Geography.  The researchers counted all the lakes that appeared in satellite images, so the same lakes may have appeared in multiple images and been counted two or more times, Langley said. She explained it was too difficult to quantify the precise number of surface lakes — but the quantity wasn't the most important factor in their study. "Our research was very much looking at the correlation of the lake size and depth with the surface air temperature," she told Mashable in a phone interview. "It tells us their sensitivity [to warmer summers]." Emperor penguins stand on fast ice on the coast of Queen Maud Land in Antarctica. The Langhovde Glacier is one of dozens of glaciers in the region. The lakes on Langhovde Glacier formed when temperatures rose above 0 degrees Celsius (32 degrees Fahrenheit). And they formed most frequently during the summer of 2012-2013, which saw 37 days with temperatures above the freezing point, the study found. So far, the glacial lakes are probably not deep enough to compromise the ice sheet or the floating ice shelf, Langley said. But researchers did see two lakes disappear, meaning the water likely drained into the core of the glacier. The ice sheet is the part of the glacier that sits on top of land, while the ice shelf is like a canopy, attached to the sheet but protruding into the ocean. Ice flow travels outward, from ground to sea, and can break the ice sheets down into free-floating icebergs. A 'before' satellite image of supraglacial lakes on Langhovde Glacier, captured Jan. 14, 2005. In the 'after' image, captured Jan. 26, 2005, the lakes appear to have drained. Without the buffer of an ice shelf, the grounded ice can flow straight into the ocean, causing substantial sea level rise. NASA projected that the West Antarctic Ice Sheet could disgorge enough ice to drive devastating levels of sea level rise — about 16 feet, or 5 meters, if its Ross Ice Shelf were to melt. In Greenland, which has been seeing far more ice loss than East Antarctica, scientists have observed surface lakes drain within 24 hours after forming.  The Durham-Lancaster team said they saw two very small lakes disappear over a week-long period in January 2005. It's likely the first time lake drainage has been documented in East Antarctica, according to the researchers. "It shows that this is something that can potentially impact the flow of the ice sheet," Leeson said.  "If [the lakes] get bigger in the future, we potentially might start to see the same effect that lakes have in Greenland happening in Antarctica." A separate study from March found that surface melt could greatly accelerate Antarctic ice loss by raising the risk of "hydrofracture," which happens when water formed by the melting of snow and ice atop ice shelves causes them to disintegrate.  The process is one reason why several Greenland glaciers are starting to destabilize, according to research that Rob DeConto of the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and David Pollard of Penn State published in the journal Nature. The researchers described a catastrophic scenario if countries fail to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and Antarctica continues to melt.  "Antarctica has the potential to contribute more than a meter [3.3 feet] of sea-level rise by 2100 and more than 15 meters [49 feet] by 2500, if emissions continued unabated," they warned.

One of the antimicrobials seen in the study is triclosan, a commonly used antibacterial ingredient in many personal care products. It is among antimicrobials that will be phased out within the next year from hand and bar soaps, according to a ruling Sept. 2 by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The findings of the new study reflect relationships in the dust, not that the antimicrobials are the reason for antibacterial genes being present. "We might be tempted to think of the antimicrobial chemicals as being guilty by association," said Erica M. Hartmann, a postdoctoral fellow at the UO's Biology and the Built Environment Center and Institute of Ecology and Evolution who led the study. She joined the faculty at Northwestern University this month. "We don't really know how the genes or the chemicals got there," she said. "They may have arrived by completely different routes and their being found together is a coincidence. However, we know that antimicrobial chemicals can cause an increase in antibiotic resistance in other situations, so I think these results provide a good reason to take a closer look at what's going on in dust." The FDA's ruling, Hartmann noted, does not yet require that antimicrobials be removed from many other products such as paints, baby toys, bedding, and kitchen utensils. "We don't have solid proof that putting antimicrobials in these products makes them any healthier, but we do know that triclosan in the environment can be harmful," she said. The study, published online ahead of print in the journal Environmental Science & Technology, is the first to document the coexistence of the chemicals and genes in indoor dust. In all, the paper reports six significant associations. Levels of triclosan in dust were determined in collaboration with the Biodesign Center for Environmental Security at Arizona State University. Triclosan has been linked with a gene that alters the ribosome—a complex of RNA and protein in cells that is responsible for RNA translation—in a way that makes bacteria antibiotic resistant. The research team identified several antibiotic-resistance genes, the most common of which conferred resistance to tetracycline antibiotics. "While present at low abundances, together these genes cover resistance to a wide spectrum of antibiotics," the researchers wrote. The chemicals and genes came from 44 samples from 31 varied-use spaces, using vacuum-fitted collectors. The building, completed in 1921, has window ventilation as well as infiltration of outdoor air through cracks around doors and windows. DNA processing involved the UO Genomics Core Facility, and data were processed with assistance from the lab of co-author Curtis Huttenhower of Harvard University's School of Public Health. Despite the findings, Hartmann said, people don't need to be readily alarmed. Antibiotic-resistance genes in the environment, for example, are 10 to 100 times less abundant than in the human gut, she said. In infants, the genes occur naturally in the absence of antibiotics during initial microbial colonization. "Antibiotic resistance is common in a lot of different places," she said. "Just because we find it in a certain building doesn't mean that everyone who goes into that building is going to get a MRSA infection. The building is still as safe as it was before the study, but now we have a better idea of how many antibiotic-resistance genes there are, and we have reason to believe that the amount of antibiotic resistance genes may be tied to the amount of antimicrobial chemicals." Triclosan and antibiotic resistance have been found in other places and in the environment, Hartmann said, but finding them in indoor dust brings the threat loser to home. Median concentrations of triclosan found in the dust were much less than those found as the active ingredient in toothpaste, where it helps to reduce plaque and gum disease. The new FDA ban does not include toothpaste. "The World Health Organization has said that we're underestimating community-acquired antibiotic-resistant infections," she said. "We know that hospitals and other healthcare settings are burdened by antibiotic-resistant pathogens. Homes and other buildings also can contain antibiotic resistance genes and and the use of antimicrobial chemicals in these buildings may be a contributing factor." More information: "Antimicrobial chemicals are associated with elevated antibiotic resistance genes in the indoor dust microbiome" Environmental Science & Technology, pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/acs.est.6b00262

News Article | April 9, 2015
Site: yourstory.com

Bengaluru-based online furniture and home décor company, Urban Ladder has raised $50 million in a new round of funding. Sequoia Capital led the round along with TR Capital and existing investors Steadview Capital, SAIF Partners and Kalaari Capital. The fresh funds will be used for geographical expansion, investment in technology and hiring. Cofounded in July 2012 by Ashish Goel and Rajiv Srivatsa, the company claims to be on a massive growth path with its distinctive designs and exceptional customer service. Ashish said, Over the last 3 years, we have stayed sharply focused on our design thinking, product quality and customer experience. While these will continue to be important themes, geographical expansion will also be a key focus area this year. We will be present in 30 cities by the end of 2015. The online furniture company has already raised $27 million from Kalaari Capital, SAIF Partners and Steadview Capital in the last 3 years. Ratan Tata, Chairman Emeritus, Tata Group made a personal investment in the company in November 2014. Rajiv accepted that the technology will be a key driver in Urban Ladder’s growth. The company is working on several tech innovations to solve complex furniture e-commerce problems. He said, With over 4000 products and 35 categories, at present, Urban Ladder delivers to 12 cities in India which includes Pune, Cochin Ahmedabad, Chandigarh, Surat, and Mangalore apart from the six metros. Also Read: Quick fact file of the Snapdeal-Freecharge acquisition

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