News Article | March 26, 2017
Ticked Off! Here's What You Need To Know About Lyme Disease Germs are invading homes in many ways. The stealthy accumulation of germs is posing a grave threat to healthy living. It is a fact that most groceries from supermarkets are haunted by germs notwithstanding the fascinating shopping ambiance and pride of brands they provide. According to Charles Gerba, one of the leading microbiologists at the University of Arizona there are many avenues through which microbes are piggybacking on produce without the buyer knowing it. The germ exposure is highest in meat containers where they breed fast. Gerba lists out the top germy things in supermarkets which people usually encounter. Many shoppers are also not aware of the risk from misting spray in supermarkets on fresh produce. Actuated by timers, fruits and vegetables are offered sprays. However, they can be a source of Legionella pneumophila bacteria that triggers Legionnaires' disease. "It's not a problem unless you inhale the droplets," says Connie Morbach, a microbiologist from Sanit-Air a Michigan-based company. A research conducted by scientists at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine also reported the germ risk from unhygienic smartphones with one out of every six phones contaminated with toilet germs. That study was also led by Charles Gerba, a top microbiologist at the University of Arizona. © 2017 Tech Times, All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission.
News Article | April 24, 2017
Oakbrook Terrace, Ill. (April 24, 2017) -- Though transmission of malaria was wiped out in the United States decades ago and infections are falling in parts of the developing world, malaria hospitalizations and deaths in the U.S. appear to be far more common than generally appreciated as a steady stream of travelers returns home with the dangerous mosquito-borne disease. That's the key finding from a new study published today in the American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene that shows malaria led to a count of hospitalized patients and deaths that easily eclipsed other travel-related illness and generated about half a billion dollars in healthcare costs in the U.S. over a 15-year period. "It appears more and more Americans are traveling to areas where malaria is common and many of them are not taking preventive measures, such as using anti-malarial preventive medications and mosquito repellents, even though they are very effective at preventing infections," said Diana Khuu, PhD, MPH, a scientist at the University of California, Los Angeles, and the lead author of the study, which included contributions from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Khuu and her colleagues looked for malaria patients in a database maintained by the federal Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) that tracks hospital admissions nationwide. The researchers found that between 2000 and 2014, about 22,000 people were admitted to U.S. hospitals due to complications from malaria. Moreover, 4,823 patients were diagnosed with severe malaria, which means they suffered from problems like renal failure, coma or acute respiratory distress that significantly increase the risk of death, and 182 of these patients died. The study showed that malaria hospitalizations were more common in the U.S. than hospitalizations for many other travel-associated diseases. For example, during the same period, dengue fever, which is common in Mexico, Puerto Rico, and throughout Latin America, and has caused small, local outbreaks in south Florida and Texas, generated, on average, 259 hospitalizations a year compared with 1,489 for malaria. According to the study, malaria hospitalizations are quite common in the U.S., and the associated burden from these cases is substantial. The researchers found that the average cost per patient was about $25,800 and that the total bill for treating malaria patients in the U.S. from 2000 to 2014 was about $555 million. Overall, the scientists estimated that each year there are about 2,100 people in the U.S. suffering from malaria, since about 69 percent require hospital treatment. That case count would exceed the high end of the official CDC estimate of 1,500 to 2,000 cases per year. Khuu attributed the difference to the fact that CDC's malaria count is based on reports submitted to the agency by hospitals or physicians, and hospital admission records that were used in her study may capture additional cases that have not been reported to CDC. While those admissions' records did not include travel history, the researchers believe the malaria infections they documented most likely were acquired during travel to parts of Africa, Asia, and Latin America, where malaria is still common. Over the last 15 years a blitz of malaria interventions that include insecticide-treated bednets and increased access to highly effective malaria drugs has been accompanied by an estimated 37 percent drop in malaria incidence and a 60 percent drop in malaria deaths globally. Meanwhile, although malaria was eliminated from the U.S. in the 1950s, there are sporadic reports of locally-acquired malaria infections, presumably caused by a mosquito that either fed on an infected traveler or hitched a ride on a flight or ship coming from a malaria-endemic region. But Khuu noted that mosquitoes capable of carrying malaria are common in many parts of the U.S., and that increases in the number of travelers coming home with the disease increases the risk of malaria re-establishing itself in the U.S. According to the study, the majority of malaria hospitalizations occurred in the eastern U.S. in states along the Atlantic seaboard. Malaria's last domestic stronghold was in the Southeast. Also, the study found that men accounted for 60 percent of the malaria-related hospital admissions. The researchers believe the overrepresentation of males in the U.S. malaria count may indicate that men are less likely to seek travel advice or, when they do, less likely to adhere to recommendations for preventing infections, like taking an anti-malarial preventive medication and using a mosquito repellent. The researchers noted that most of the deaths and severe disease appeared to be linked to infections with the malaria parasite known as Plasmodium falciparum, which is responsible for the vast majority of malaria deaths and severe disease worldwide. But the study found that in almost half of the malaria-related hospitalizations there was no indication of parasite type, though Khuu pointed out that information can be obtained via a relatively simple blood test. Khuu noted that identifying the parasite causing the infection can be crucial for determining treatment and prognosis. For example, patients sickened by the P. vivax and P. ovale parasites can appear to be fully recovered. But unlike the case with P. falciparum malaria, the P. vivax and P. ovale parasites can enter a dormant stage and then, after treatment, re-emerge to cause a relapse of the disease. According to the CDC, preventing relapse requires both treating the acute infection and, in addition, a course of a drug called primaquine. "Hospitalizations in the United States from malaria remind us that we live in an interconnected world," said ASTMH President Patricia F. Walker, MD, DTM&H, FASTMH. "For this reason, the U.S. must continue to invest in tropical medicine research efforts and programs, even for diseases like malaria that we don't think of as American diseases. To get the job done, we need a strong NIH a strong CDC, and commitment to military research." About the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene The American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, founded in 1903, is the largest international scientific organization of experts dedicated to reducing the worldwide burden of tropical infectious diseases and improving global health. It accomplishes this through generating and sharing scientific evidence, informing health policies and practices, fostering career development, recognizing excellence, and advocating for investment in tropical medicine/global health research. For more information, visit astmh.org. About the American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene Continuously published since 1921, AJTMH is the peer-reviewed journal of the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, and the world's leading voice in the fields of tropical medicine and global health. AJTMH disseminates new knowledge in fundamental, translational, clinical and public health sciences focusing on improving global health.
News Article | May 24, 2017
The Democratic Republic of the Congo has moved a step closer to using an unlicensed vaccine to battle an Ebola outbreak that began last month in a remote northeastern part of the country. Yesterday, the country's government submitted a formal vaccine trial protocol, developed with Epicentre, the Paris-based research arm of Doctors Without Borders (MSF), to an ethical review board. If the plan gets the green light, the first doses of the vaccine could go into the arms of people at risk within 2 weeks, according to an official at the World Health Organization (WHO) in Geneva, Switzerland. WHO today issued a “donor alert,” urgently requesting a 6-month budget of $10.5 million to support the vaccine study (which may require 5000 doses), as well as surveillance, treatment, and conventional prevention and control efforts. But whether the shots will actually be needed is unclear. So far, there have been only two confirmed Ebola cases and 41 suspected or probable cases. More than 350 contacts of cases were being monitored. But samples from several dozen suspected cases tested negative on Monday, raising the possibility that the outbreak may be quite small, and perhaps already nearing the end. The outbreak is in the northeastern Bas-Uélé province, about 500 kilometers north of Kisangani, a city of 1.6 million people. The location slows spread but poses huge challenges. Poor and conflict-ridden, the area has few passable roads and bridges. Helicopters carry teams and equipment to the town of Likati, where motorbikes take over. Workers set up two mobile labs, but a generator failed in one and had to be replaced. The vaccine, made by Merck and stored in the United States, was tested in 2015, during the massive outbreak in West Africa that left more than 11,000 dead. WHO and MSF set up a trial in Guinea with an unusual “ring vaccination” design that selectively gave shots to people most likely to have had contact with a known case. People in a control group, also potentially exposed, received shots 3 weeks later. The results showed 100% protection 10 days after immunization, but the unconventional approach led Merck to put off applying for regulatory approval so it could gather more safety and immune data from other studies. For the moment, the vaccine can only be used in experimental settings. Epicentre and the DRC’s Ministry of Health (MoH) have written a protocol for a new ring vaccination study in the DRC. The trial would carefully evaluate safety, but this time there will be no control group because withholding the vaccine from some participants is no longer seen as ethical. As a result, the trial cannot evaluate the vaccine’s efficacy. “We’ll try to bring more data in to help with licensing, but we’re using the vaccine as a public health intervention,” says MSF’s Micaela Serafini in Geneva, Switzerland. If approved, the protocol could also be used in any future outbreaks. The MoH did not respond to emailed questions about why it didn’t request the vaccine sooner. One reason, says Epicentre Director of Research Rebecca Grais, is that the outbreak’s extent remains so unclear. “It’s not like they were dragging their feet,” she says. DRC officials may also feel confident they can stop the outbreak without vaccines, as they have seven times in the past, says Peter Piot, who heads the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine and was part of the team that responded to the first known Ebola outbreak, near Likati, in 1976. “We should really leave some of the decision-making to people on the ground,” Piot says. But Michael Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis, says authorities should have been prepared to deploy the vaccine more quickly. Every African country at risk of Ebola by now should have approved a study protocol, he says, and the DRC should keep the vaccine ready in a freezer in Kinshasa. Under a WHO emergency-use status, the vaccine could also have been deployed without trials, Osterholm notes. A Merck application for that status filed in December 2015 is in limbo; a WHO spokesperson says “there was not necessarily sufficient data to enable a full assessment.” Even without the vaccine, Ebola experts don’t expect the outbreak to explode as it did in West Africa. “My gut feeling,” says Piot, “is this is going to be more like the outbreaks we had before in DRC,” the largest of which had 318 cases. “Proper isolation of patients and care plus contact tracing and quarantine should really bring this epidemic under control—except if someone gets to Kisangani or Kinshasa.” There's another reason to be optimistic: The international response to the outbreak so far has been overwhelming. Acutely aware of its failings in Liberia, Guinea, and Sierra Leone in 2014 and 2015, the international community is determined to help end the outbreak as soon as possible. Matshidiso Rebecca Moeti, WHO's regional director for Africa, immediately traveled to Kinshasa from her office in Brazzaville, in the neighboring Republic of the Congo, to help coordinate the battle. The United Nations dispatched cargo planes and helicopters, and DRC government officials began holding daily coordinating committee meetings attended by representatives from international aid, and development organizations, WHO, and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “All those actors have strengthened their presence because of what happened in West Africa,” says epidemiologist Yap Boum, Epicentre’s Africa representative. “People are afraid.”
News Article | February 22, 2017
EVANSTON, Ill. --- Though an estimated two billion people drink unsafe water around the globe, there are currently no methods to precisely measure how many people are affected by not having enough water for all aspects of their daily lives. This lack of measurement makes it difficult to pinpoint effective interventions to improve water insecurity and water-related illnesses. To better measure water insecurity, researchers need to assess whether people have reliable access to water in sufficient quality and quantity for all activities. Under a new £250,000 (approximately $310,000) grant from the U.K.-funded Innovative Metrics and Methods for Agriculture and Nutrition Actions (IMMANA) research initiative, Northwestern University anthropologist Sera Young, a fellow in the University's Institute for Policy Research, and an international team of researchers seek to develop a cross-cultural scale of perceived household water insecurity. IMMANA is supported by UK Aid from the British government's Department for International Development. "We are so excited to be working towards the creation of a scale that can finally measure how water insecurity affects people at the household level -- that is, the food people grow, their economic well-being, and, of course, their health," Young said. Additional investigators include Wendy Jepson, a human geographer at Texas A&M University; Amber Wutich, an anthropologist at Arizona State University's (ASU) School of Human Evolution and Social Change; Phelgona Otieno, a pediatrician at Kenya Medical Research Institute; Sheri Weiser and Craig Cohen, physician researchers at the University of California San Francisco; and Lisa Butler, an epidemiologist at the University of Connecticut. The grant is administered by the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine. Young and her co-investigators posit household water insecurity leads to poorer mental and physical health and lower economic productivity, but in ways distinct from food insecurity -- including increased anxiety, stress, and time/energy expenditure, as well as decreased agricultural production. Though water insecurity likely contributes to adverse consequences for all household members, it often disproportionately affects women, as they bear the burden of water collection and water -- intensive chores in developing countries. For instance, because women in water-insecure communities often need to walk long distances to collect water, they might not have time to care for their children. Preliminary data have shown that many women worry about their physical safety while fetching water, and that anxiety about how they will obtain all the water needed for their daily activities is common. Infectious diseases are another possible effect of water insecurity. In Young's work in Kenya, about 31 percent of women reported being unable to wash their hands after contact with feces, and one-third said they drank unsafe water "sometimes" or "often." The researchers will refine the household water-insecurity scale, using cross-cultural research conducted in at least six countries. ASU faculty and students will lead projects in Bangladesh, Guatemala, Nepal, and Tajikistan, and Texas A&M University faculty and students will do the same in Brazil and Costa Rica. After completing the first round of data collection research, the experts will meet in August at Northwestern University to work on refining an open-access manual that will describe the scale and methods. "This scale will be an important first step in pinpointing how water insecurity impacts some of the most vulnerable populations, including pregnant women, mothers with young children and HIV-infected adults," Young said. The research team hopes this will result in a better understanding of household water insecurity and point to new strategies for intervention. They also aim to help direct limited resources to targeting the causes of water insecurity and the people at greatest risk of adverse effects --especially women and their young children.
News Article | February 21, 2017
Modern houses -- with metal roofs and finished walls--are associated with a more than 9 percent reduction in the odds of malaria in children in sub-Saharan Africa when compared to more traditional thatched houses, according to a study published in PLOS Medicine by Lucy Tusting of the University of Oxford, UK, and colleagues at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, UK, Durham University, UK, and the University of Southampton, UK. Insecticide-treated bednets and house spraying have been effective in reducing the prevalence of malaria since the turn of the 21st century, but other approaches are needed for sustainable elimination of the mosquito-transmitted, parasitic disease. Some evidence has suggested that modern houses may protect against the parasite but few studies have rigorously evaluated the association between improved housing and malaria risk. In the new work, researchers analyzed data on malaria prevalence and housing using data collected in 29 surveys carried out in 21 African countries between 2008 and 2015. Information on malaria status -- as tested using a blood smear or rapid test -- was available for 139,318 children under age 5 living in 84,153 households. The proportion of children with malaria detectable in their blood varied by survey, ranging from 0.4% to 45.5% among children living in modern houses and from 0.4% to 70.6% among children living in traditional homes. Across all surveys, modern housing was associated with a 9% to 14% reduction in the odds of malaria infection, after controlling for household wealth and use of insecticides. By comparison, children sleeping under insecticide-treated bednets had a 15% to 16% reduction in odds of testing positive for the disease. Lead author Lucy Tusting from the University of Oxford, said: "Good housing is a core pillar of public health, but is not used widely for malaria control. Well-built housing can block mosquitoes from entering homes and prevent them from transmitting malaria to the people who live there. "This is the first study to compare housing and insecticide-treated nets for malaria control across a range of countries in sub-Saharan Africa. Our study suggests good housing could be an important tool in tackling malaria. This is a welcome finding at a time when we are facing increasing resistance to our most effective insecticides and drugs. We now need to assess the impact of housing improvements on malaria in field trials and to work with architects and urban planners to incorporate protective designs into housing in regions at risk of malaria." The authors note that the effectiveness of improving housing will vary depending on the location. While many mosquitoes enter homes to bite humans at night, outdoor malaria transmission is more common in some places, meaning interventions centered on the home will have less impact. LST is a Skills Development Fellow (#N011570) jointly funded by the UK Medical Research Council and the UK Department for International Development under the MRC/DFID Concordat agreement. PWG is a Career Development Fellow (#K00669X) jointly funded by the UK Medical Research Council (MRC) and the UK Department for International Development (DFID) under the MRC/DFID Concordat agreement, also part of the EDCTP2 programme supported by the European Union, and receives support from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (#OPP1068048, #OPP1106023, #OPP1132415). AJT is supported by funding from NIH/NIAID (U19AI089674) , the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (OPP1106427, 1032350, OPP1134076, OPP1094793) , the Wellcome Trust (106866/Z/15/Z) and the Clinton Health Access Initiative . SWL is supported by the Global Health Trials funded by the MRC-DfID-Wellcome Trust, and The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (OPP1053338). The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript. The authors have declared that no competing interests exist. Tusting LS, Bottomley C, Gibson H, Kleinschmidt I, Tatem AJ, Lindsay SW, et al. (2017) Housing Improvements and Malaria Risk in Sub-Saharan Africa: A Multi-Country Analysis of Survey Data. PLoS Med 14(2): e1002234. doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1002234 Oxford Big Data Institute, Li Ka Shing Centre for Health Information and Discovery, Nuffield Department of Medicine, University of Oxford, Oxford, United Kingdom MRC Tropical Epidemiology Group, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, London, United Kingdom Department of Infectious Disease Epidemiology, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, London, United Kingdom School of Health Sciences, University of Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa WorldPop, Department of Geography and Environment, University of Southampton, Southampton, United Kingdom Flowminder Foundation, Stockholm, Sweden, 7 Department of Biosciences, Durham University, Durham, United Kingdom IN YOUR COVERAGE PLEASE USE THIS URL TO PROVIDE ACCESS TO THE FREELY AVAILABLE PAPER: http://journals.
News Article | February 17, 2017
University of British Columbia microbiologists have found a yeast in the gut of new babies in Ecuador that appears to be a strong predictor that they will develop asthma in childhood. The new research furthers our understanding of the role microscopic organisms play in our overall health. "Children with this type of yeast called Pichia were much more at risk of asthma," said Brett Finlay, a microbiologist at UBC. "This is the first time anyone has shown any kind of association between yeast and asthma." In previous research, Finlay and his colleagues identified four gut bacteria in Canadian children that, if present in the first 100 days of life, seem to prevent asthma. In a followup to this study, Finlay and his colleagues repeated the experiment using fecal samples and health information from 100 children in a rural village in Ecuador. Canada and Ecuador both have high rates of asthma with about 10 per cent of the population suffering from the disease. They found that while gut bacteria play a role in preventing asthma in Ecuador, it was the presence of a microscopic fungus or yeast known as Pichia that was more strongly linked to asthma. Instead of helping to prevent asthma, however, the presence of Pichia in those early days puts children at risk. Finlay also suggests there could be a link between the risk of asthma and the cleanliness of the environment for Ecuadorian children. As part of the study, the researchers noted whether children had access to clean water. "Those that had access to good, clean water had much higher asthma rates and we think it is because they were deprived of the beneficial microbes," said Finlay. "That was a surprise because we tend to think that clean is good but we realize that we actually need some dirt in the world to help protect you." Now Finlay's colleagues will re-examine the Canadian samples and look for the presence of yeast in the gut of infants. This technology was not available to the researchers when they conducted their initial study. This research was a collaboration with Marie-Claire Arrieta, a former UBC postdoctoral fellow and now an assistant professor at the University of Calgary, and Philip Cooper, a professor at the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine. This research was presented today at the 2017 annual meeting for Association for the Advancement of Science: https:/ . Finlay is in Boston for the conference and is also available by phone.
News Article | February 28, 2017
MANILA, Philippines, Feb. 28, 2017 /PRNewswire/ -- Over the past year, many countries in Asia have witnessed an alarming rise in the number of dengue cases that account for more than 70% of the global dengue cases. This translates to an overwhelming 273 million dengue infections per year out of the projected 390 million cases both reported and unreported worldwide. In light of the rapidly increasing burden, leading infectious disease experts from around the world together with government officials, policymakers and public health authorities will convene at the Asia Dengue Summit to identify strategies that can effectively support Asian countries in their fight against dengue. The two-day Summit, which will start in Manila on March 1, is organized by the Asian Dengue Vaccination Advocacy (ADVA), a scientific working group, in partnership with the South East Asian Ministers of Education Tropical Medicine and Public Health Network (SEAMEO TROPMED). Experts at the summit will discuss the concrete steps needed to address the worrying rise in dengue cases as well as new developments in the area of prevention and control. The outcome at the Summit will help in formulating a roadmap for countries in Asia to implement collaborative and cost-effective strategies for dengue prevention and vector control measures. Speaking at the sidelines of the Summit, Prof Usa Thisyakorn, Professor of Pediatrics at Chulalongkorn University and Chairman of ADVA, said, "The success of the inaugural Asia Dengue Summit (ADS) last year shows that countries acknowledge the need to join forces to tackle the situation in Asia. A collaborative approach which encourages the sharing of research findings, epidemiological trends, disease surveillance methods and vaccine implementation strategies will allow countries to harmonise their existing dengue prevention and control efforts. In the war against dengue countries should fight together, not alone." "At the Summit this year, we aim to build on the on-going efforts of countries, strengthen the implementation of vector control, as well as prevention measures such as the use of the dengue vaccine that can ultimately benefit the local population," Prof Thisyakorn further added. ONE OF THE MOST PRESSING HEALTHCARE ISSUES OF OUR TIMES Dengue continues to be one of the most devastating and prevalent mosquito-borne viral diseases on the planet. In the last 50 years, this deadly disease has spread from a handful of countries to over 128 countries and the incidence has increased 30-fold in this time. The severe burden comes at a great cost -- financially and in the number of lives lost. Worldwide, dengue is estimated to cost about $9 billion annually, and in Southeast Asia, the economic toll for dengue was estimated at almost $1 billion on average per year from 2001 to 2010. External factors such as unprecedented urbanization and globalisation have resulted in large mosquito populations living in association with crowded human populations, leading in increased transmission and geographic spread of the viruses, making it difficult to combat dengue outbreaks. In addition, environmental factors including inadequate housing, water, sewage and waste management systems have contributed to an increase in the Aedes Aegypti mosquito populations. This calls for urgent intervention and collaboration between countries towards detection, management and control to stem the spread of dengue across the region. Prof Duane Gubler, Emeritus Professor, Duke-NUS Medical School, Singapore, and Chair of Global Dengue and Aedes-Transmitted Diseases Consortium, said, "The Summit represents a major turning point in Asia's fight against dengue as more countries unite to strengthen and sustain cross-border efforts. Dengue is a disease that must be controlled at the regional level. Countries should continue this momentum at the grassroots via public education and at the national level through vector control and vaccination." "The recently released WHO position paper on dengue vaccine supports the use of vaccination to help prevent dengue as part of a comprehensive dengue control strategy in each endemic country, especially in areas where there is a high burden of disease," Prof Gubler further said. The dengue vaccine could serve as a new line of defense to complement vector control and other prevention efforts by governments, families and individuals, having a greater impact on the disease burden, keeping dengue under control. WHO has laid out the goal of the global strategy to reduce the dengue mortality by 50% and morbidity by 25% by 2020 in endemic countries. Philippines was the first country in Asia to approve the use of the dengue vaccine in December 2015. Since then four other Asian countries, Indonesia, Singapore, Thailand and Cambodia, have approved the vaccine for use for the age group of 9-45 year olds broadly. Advocating an information-sharing approach to effectively control the disease from reaching epidemic proportions, Prof Lulu Bravo, Professor of Pediatric Infectious and Tropical Diseases, University of the Philippines Manila, said, "Philippines has been a front-runner in dengue prevention and became the first country in the world to launch a public immunisation programme. At the Summit, we will share our first-hand experience over the last one year, which shows that vaccine introduction should be part of a comprehensive dengue control strategy, including well-executed and sustained vector control, evidence-based best practices for clinical care and strong dengue surveillance." The Summit will serve as a platform for the sharing of best practices and knowledge exchange among countries. New models for ongoing dengue efforts such as the recent Wolbachia study conducted in Singapore, which showed that male Wolbachia-carrying Aedes aegypti mosquitoes could help in suppressing the population of urban Aedes aegypti mosquitoes, and other initiatives including community engagement and outreach programmes. The Asian Dengue Vaccine Advocacy (ADVA) Group is a scientific working group dedicated to dengue vaccine advocacy in Asia, with the aim of disseminating information and making recommendations on dengue vaccine introduction strategies in Asia. ADVA was set up in 2011 to identify opportunities and make practical recommendations for improving surveillance and laboratory capacity for dengue disease confirmation. For more information, you may visit ADVA's website here.
News Article | January 8, 2017
Anemia is generally perceived as a negative condition. New research, however, suggests that the same health condition, which could be accountable for severe long-term consequences, actually protects children against malaria. The research also points out that addressing the iron deficiency with supplements could also diminish or even completely neutralize its effects against the deadly virus. Iron deficiency is the most common condition caused by nutritional problems worldwide, and about 9.6 percent of the American population suffers from it. However, according to a new research, published in the journal EBioMedicine, the condition has proven to be beneficial against Malaria. The observational study indicates that iron supplementation increases the risk of malaria, although the underlying mechanism of this process is still unknown. "We investigated how anemia inhibits blood stage malaria infection and how iron supplementation abrogates this protection.[...] Iron supplementation completely reversed the observed protection and hence should be accompanied by malaria prophylaxis. Lower hemoglobin levels typically seen in populations of African descent may reflect past genetic selection by malaria," noted the study. The researchers from University of North Carolina, in collaboration with the Medical Research Council Unit in The Gambia and the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, have investigated the red blood cells of 135 subjects between the ages of 6 months and 24 months in an area where the virus is highly active. The subjects were administered with micronutrient powder to combat the iron deficiency for 84 days, at the end of which they discovered that anemia reduced the blood-stage of malaria by 16 percent. This discovery implies that anemia represents a very powerful natural protector against malaria. Additionally, one of the hypotheses of the research is that the high prevalence of anemia within people from the African desert area is of genetic nature, while also being a signature of malaria. When anemic children were administered iron supplements for seven weeks, the progress of malaria retook its course, and its invasion at the blood level was reversed. Before conducting this research, the same team found that the reason why children seem to be so affected by the virus lies in their young red blood cells, which represent a perfect host for malaria. "This study is elegant in its simplicity, yet remains one of the most substantial and systematic attempts to unveil the cellular-level relationship between anemia, iron supplementation and malaria risk," noted Carla Cerami, M.D. Ph.D., lead scientist on the project at the MRC Unit in The Gambia. According to a WHO report released in 2016, there were 212 million reported cases of malaria in 2015 across the world, and the global incidence between 2010 and 2015 dropped by 21 percent. Additionally, due to the organized efforts to diminish the number of cases, the mortality among patients infected with the disease decreased by 29 percent within the same period. "Nevertheless, significant gaps in program coverage remain. Access to vector control has been greatly extended through mass-distribution campaigns; however, increasing the coverage of chemoprevention, diagnostic testing and treatment requires these interventions to be delivered through health systems that are frequently under-resourced and poorly accessible to those most at risk of malaria. Moreover, the potential for strengthening health systems in malaria endemic countries is often constrained by low national incomes and per capita domestic spending on health and malaria control," noted the report. © 2017 Tech Times, All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission.
News Article | February 17, 2017
Researchers exploring why there has been a substantial increase in mortality in England and Wales in 2015 conclude that failures in the health and social care system linked to disinvestment are likely to be the main cause. There were 30,000 excess deaths in 2015, representing the largest increase in deaths in the post-war period. The excess deaths, which included a large spike in January that year, were largely in the older population who are most dependent on health and social care. Reporting their analysis in the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine, the researchers from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, University of Oxford and Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council, tested four possible explanations for the January 2015 spike in mortality. After ruling out data errors, cold weather and flu as main causes for the spike, the researchers found that NHS performance data revealed clear evidence of health system failures. Almost all targets were missed including ambulance call-out times and A&E waiting times, despite unexceptional A&E attendances compared to the same month in previous years. Staff absence rates rose and more posts remained empty as staff had not been appointed. Professor Martin McKee, from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, said: "The impact of cuts resulting from the imposition of austerity on the NHS has been profound. Expenditure has failed to keep pace with demand and the situation has been exacerbated by dramatic reductions in the welfare budget of £16.7 billion and in social care spending." He added: "With an aging population, the NHS is ever more dependent on a well-functioning social care system. Yet social care has also faced severe cuts, with a 17% decrease in spending for older people since 2009, while the number of people aged 85 years and over has increased by 9%." "To maintain current levels of social care would require an extra £1.1 billion, which the government has refused." Professor McKee continued: "The possibility that the cuts to health and social care are implicated in almost 30,000 excess deaths is one that needs further exploration. Given the relentless nature of the cuts, and potential link to rising mortality, we ask why is the search for a cause not being pursued with more urgency?" "Simply reorganising and consolidating existing urgent care systems or raising the 'agility' of the current A&E workforce capacity is unlikely to be sufficient to meet the challenges that high levels of admissions of frail elderly people and others who are vulnerable are likely to present this winter and in future winters." The researchers say that there are already worrying signs of an increase in mortality in 2016. Without urgent intervention, they say, there must be concern that this trend will continue. Commenting on the analysis, Professor Danny Dorling, University of Oxford, added: "It may sound obvious that more elderly people will have died earlier as a result of government cut backs, but to date the number of deaths has not been estimated and the government have not admitted responsibility." Why has mortality in England and Wales been increasing? An iterative demographic analysis (DOI: 10.1177/0141076817693599) and What caused the spike in mortality in England and Wales in January 2015? (DOI: 10.1177/0141076817693600) by Lucinda Hiam, Danny Dorling, Dominic Harrison and Martin McKee, will be published by the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine at 00:05 hrs (UK time) on Friday 17 February 2017. The JRSM is the flagship journal of the Royal Society of Medicine and is published by SAGE. It has full editorial independence from the RSM. It has been published continuously since 1809. Its Editor is Dr Kamran Abbasi. Sara Miller McCune founded SAGE Publishing in 1965 to support the dissemination of usable knowledge and educate a global community. SAGE is a leading international provider of innovative, high-quality content publishing more than 1,000 journals and over 800 new books each year, spanning a wide range of subject areas. A growing selection of library products includes archives, data, case studies and video. SAGE remains majority owned by our founder and after her lifetime will become owned by a charitable trust that secures the company's continued independence. Principal offices are located in Los Angeles, London, New Delhi, Singapore, Washington DC and Melbourne. http://www.
News Article | February 27, 2017
Also publishes five additional immunology, virology and microbiology books CAMBRIDGE, MA--(Marketwired - February 27, 2017) - Elsevier, a world-leading provider of scientific, technical and medical information products and services, today announced the publication of an updated edition of its valuable reference, Genetics and Evolution of Infectious Diseases, edited by Michel Tibayrenc. This book is aimed at controlling and preventing neglected and emerging worldwide diseases that are a major cause of global morbidity, disability and mortality. Using an integrated approach, the book discusses the constantly evolving field of infectious diseases and their continued impact on the health of populations, especially in resource-limited areas of the world. At the same time, Elsevier announced five additional immunology, virology and microbiology books. Genetics and Evolution of Infectious Diseases, Second Edition looks at the worldwide human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) pandemic, increasing antimicrobial resistance, and the emergence of many new bacterial, fungal, parasitic and viral pathogens. With contributions from leading authorities, the book includes developments in the field of infectious disease since it was last published in 2010. It demonstrates how the economic, social and political burden of infectious diseases is most evident in developing countries which must confront the dual burden of death and disability due to infectious and chronic illnesses. Learn more about infectious disease genomics in this sample chapter. Michel Tibayrenc, M.D., Ph.D., has worked on the evolution of infectious diseases for more than 35 years. He is a director of research emeritus at the French Institut de Recherche pour le Développement (IRD) Montpellier, France, and the founder and principal organizer of the international congresses MEEGID (molecular epidemiology and evolutionary genetics of infectious diseases). The author of more than 200 international papers, Dr, Tibayrenc has been the head of the unit of research "genetics and evolution of infectious diseases" at the IRD research center for 20 years. With his collaborator, Jenny Telleria, he is the founder and scientific adviser of the Bolivian Society of Human Genetics. Dr. Tibayrenc has won the prize of the Belgian Society of Tropical Medicine (1985), and the medal of the Instituto Oswaldo Cruz, Rio de Janeiro (2000), for his work on Chagas disease. A fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, he is the founder and editor-in-chief of the Elsevier journal, "Infection, Genetics and Evolution." The six new immunology, virology and microbiology titles are: In order to meet content needs in immunology, virology and microbiology, Elsevier uses proprietary tools to identify the gaps in coverage of the topics. Editorial teams strategically fill those gaps with content written by key influencers in the field, giving students, faculty and researchers the content they need to answer challenging questions and improve outcomes. These new books, which will educate the next generation of immunologists and virologists, and provide critical foundational content for information professionals, are key examples of how Elsevier is enabling science to drive innovation. Note for Editors E-book review copies of the new books are available to credentialed journalists upon request. Contact Jelena Baras at firstname.lastname@example.org. About Elsevier Elsevier is a world-leading provider of information solutions that enhance the performance of science, health, and technology professionals, empowering them to make better decisions, deliver better care, and sometimes make groundbreaking discoveries that advance the boundaries of knowledge and human progress. Elsevier provides web-based, digital solutions - among them ScienceDirect, Scopus, Research Intelligence and ClinicalKey - and publishes over 2,500 journals, including The Lancet and Cell, and more than 35,000 book titles, including a number of iconic reference works. Elsevier is part of RELX Group, a world-leading provider of information and analytics for professional and business customers across industries. www.elsevier.com