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Aug 26
Strategy to prevent HIV positivity among migrants
A strategy to tackle the increasing trend of HIV positivity among migrants is being put in place, particularly in the States that reported high levels of out-migration.

Union Health and Family Welfare Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad said this at a meeting of the consultative committee on Health and Family Welfare to discuss the HIV/AIDS prevention programme here on Wednesday.

Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Orissa and Rajasthan, where out-migration was high, needed to be watched carefully.

A significant number of people belonging to the high risk groups, including truckers and migrants, were reached through targeted interventions.

This method had proved successful in bringing down the prevalence of HIV in the southern States, Mr. Azad pointed out.

Declining trend

The HIV epidemic has seen some stabilisation with adult prevalence now estimated at 0.31 per cent, compared to 0.36 per cent in 2006. The six high-risk States had shown a declining trend.

Mr. Azad said a total of 143.8 lakh clients, including 61.2 lakh expecting mothers, were counselled at the Integrated Counselling and Testing Centres across the country in 2009-10.

For people with HIV-AIDS, 64 new anti retroviral therapy (ART) centres were established in the last one year and 89,000 patients were receiving free ART treatment.

Aug 26
Swine flu grips MP, 10 die
As many as ten people have died of Swine Flu (H1N1) which has once again gripped state hospitals amid reports of "no sale" of protective N-95 masks and even vaccines at schedule X retailers. In contrast state health department authorities, who were elusive to media last year, have surfaced with daily reports of diagnosed patients and those who are tested positive.

According to an official report, "So far 106 patients have been tested, of them 42 are positive and 52 negative, reports of 14 are awaited. 30 of them have been hospitalised in various hospitals of Indore, Bhopal and Jabalpur, while ten patients have died of Swine Flu, seven are still critical, five of them are from Bhopal one is in Indore and one in Ujjain thirty four other patients are under treatment at various hospitals. We have 650,000 Tamiflu tablets available at free of cost, vaccines are available at all hospitals. As many as 86 medical shops are allowed to sale tamiflu of required meanwhile 28 private hospitals are allowed to treat patients", S R Mohanti, health secretary told Business Standard.

Chemists and druggists have said they have not seen any increase in demand of Tamiflu or its vaccines. The N95 masks which can prevent spread of the epidemic are also not in demand. Five companies have supplied vaccines of the disease in market price ranging from Rs 240 to Rs 1200.

Aug 21
Smoking to claim 2 million lives each year in China: Experts
Health experts have warned that China is at risk of losing at least two million lives each year to smoking-related diseases.

The use of tobacco by Chinese men, 53 percent of whom are smokers, has already peaked, reports China Daily.

Each year, some one million people die from tobacco-related diseases in China, which is home to about 300 million smokers.

"The crucial time has come for China to implement tougher tobacco control measures, which will be good for both national health and wealth," said Judith Mackay, a Hong Kong-based tobacco control expert.

The number of Chinese men who smoke has decreased three percent over the past decade, while many other countries have reported a 15 percent drop in tobacco use, said Yang Gonghuang of the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

An increasing smoking rate among Chinese women, which now stands at 3 percent, is also of deep concern, she said.

"The overall impact of the deadly habit on health will become apparent in 20 years, when the nation will see a sharp rise in smoking-related diseases, including cancer, heart disease, strokes and emphysema, which will result in more deaths," warned Yang.

In China, the rate of cancer, particularly lung cancer, is constantly increasing. (ANI)

Aug 21
Surat doctors to go on strike on Monday
Private and government doctors in Surat will go on a day-long strike on Monday to protest against "regular" attacks on them by the families of patients.

Under the banner of Indian Medical Association (IMA), city-based doctors had handed over a memorandum to the district collector and police commissioner Shivanand Jha a few days ago, alleging that police remain inactive in such cases.

The doctors will remain away from their dispensaries for 12 hours from 8 am, though critical and emergency services will be available. They will take out a rally from Chowk Bazaar.

IMA president Dr V V Parmar said: "In the last six months, three incidents of attack on doctors have been reported. One such incident had led to a premature delivery by a nurse. We have made representations to the state Health Minister Jay Narayan Vyas demanding that a law followed in seven states should also be implemented in Gujarat."

Aug 20
First time in India, swines catch flu
While the country gears up to face yet another swine flu outbreak, a research paper published in the Indian Journal of Medical Research has knocked the bottom out of the hitherto held notion that swine flu was a human-to-human infection since Indian pigs were free from the deadly influenza A H1N1 virus.

For the first time, a team of researchers headed by Dr K Nagarajan of the Tamil Nadu Veterinary and Animal Sciences University, Chennai, has detected in pigs a virus sharing close homology with that of the one that caused the 2009 swine flu pandemic.

The study titled Influenza A H1N1 virus in Indian pigs & its genetic relatedness with pandemic human influenza A 2009 H1N1, published in the August issue of the journal, said: "It is not known since when this virus has been circulating among Indian pigs."

The report concludes with a scary remark: "Dual infection in pigs may result in a new reassortment with high transmissibility and case fatality in human beings. To avert such a situation, intensive surveillance of humans, pigs and poultry for influenza virus infections is needed."

The team investigated disease outbreaks with clinical history suggestive for swine influenza reported by owners of pig farms in Uttar Pradesh. After collecting blood samples and nasal and ocular swabs from the pigs, the team conducted the research at the National CSF Referral Laboratory in Izatnagar in Uttar Pradesh and found that there was a close genetic relationship between the virus found in the pigs and the one that caused swine flu last year.

However, Dr Nagarajan is not sure if the pigs were infected by humans or by any other means. In the case of pig farms in Uttar Pradesh, no humans picked up the infection last year though many of them had been working closely with the infected animals.

But that should not be a reason for complacency, he warns, since there had been cases in countries like US and Mexico where the humans had been infected by ailing pigs.

Aug 20
Woman in Kerala sells child for Rs 5,000
The police on Thursday arrested a woman who sold her newborn child through a broker at a leading government hospital here for a sum of Rs 5,000 and later came back to claim it.

The incident would not have come to light had Dr Lakshmipriya, a house surgeon of the hospital, not noticed a heated argument going on between a woman and a suspected broker near the hospital canteen. She immediately alerted the police who arrested the mother and the broker and secured the child back.

Police said that Ambika Kumari, native of Chadayamangalam in the neighbouring Kollam district had given birth to the infant four weeks ago at the SAT Hospital. According to the mother, it was a part-time sweeper of the hospital who made an offer to keep the child sensing her poor financial condition. "I was given Rs 5,000 for purchasing medicines and she took the child after intimidating me," claimed Ambika.

However, when she returned to her native place, local people and relatives grew suspicious and threatened to inform the police. That was when she decided to claim back her child and approached the sweeper with whom she had the argument.

The medical college police arrived at the scene and arrested the mother for trying to sell her child. Curiously, the police let off the broker and didn't bother to inquire about the buyer saying that the mother had not lodged a complaint.

Aug 19
Beer may increase psoriasis in women
Women who love to drink beer are at higher risk of developing psoriasis, a chronic skin disease, according to a study.

Experts said women who drank five or more beers a week, were at two-fold risk of developing skin disease. They believe the starchy grains in beer may account for the problem.

Psoriasis is a chronic skin disease characterised by itchy, red scaly patches that most commonly appear on knees, elbows and scalp but can show up anywhere, including the face.

'Non-light beer was the only alcoholic beverage that increased the risk of psoriasis, suggesting that certain non-alcoholic components of beer, which are not found in wine or liquor, may play an important role in new-onset psoriasis,' quoted the researchers as saying.

'One of these components may be the starch source used in making beer. Beer is one of the few non-distilled alcoholic beverages that use a starch source for fermentation, which is commonly barley,' the researchers added.

The scientists studied the data from almost 83,000 women aged 27 to 44, who participated in the 1991 Nurses' Health Study II, a major US investigation looking at health risk factors in women. A total of 1,150 of the women developed psoriasis in 2005, of which 1,069 were used in the analysis.

Psoriasis risk was 72 percent greater among women who consumed an average of 2.3 or more alcoholic drinks per week.

When drinks were assessed by type, the researchers found a strong association between beer and the skin disease.

The study appeared in journal Archives of Dermatology.

Aug 19
Pill makes women's brains larger
Taking a contraceptive pill makes woman brainier and more savvy, besides boosting their conversational skills. Differences in brain structure of both the genders have been subjected to many studies, but this is the first one to look at how the hormonal contraceptive impacts brain. The study
found that the contraceptive pill preferred by 25 per cent of all 16 to 49-year-olds in Britain enhances cerebral size by three per cent, reports the Daily Mail.

Belinda Pletzer of Salzburg University, Germany, said the sex hormones in the pill were clearly having a 'tremendous effect' on the female brain.

Scientists captured high-resolution images of the brains of 14 men and 28 women, half of whom were on the pill, says the journal Brain Research.

Several areas of the brains of women on the pill were found to be larger than the brains of those of the subjects not on the contraceptive.

Aug 18
Bacteria can 'smell' their environment, research shows
Scientists from Newcastle University in the UK have demonstrated that a bacterium commonly found in soil can sniff and react to ammonia in the air.

It was previously thought that this "olfaction" was limited to more complex forms of life known as eukaryotes.

The finding, published in Biotechnology Journal, means that bacteria have four of the five senses that humans enjoy.

The discovery also has implications in the understanding and control of biofilms - the chemical coatings that bacteria can form on, for example, medical implants.

Bacteria have already demonstrated the ability to react to light, in analogy to sight, and to change the genes that they express when confronted with certain materials, in analogy to touch.
Sniff test

However, there is a distinction between an organism reacting to a chemical that it encounters directly (in analogy to the sense of taste) and a reaction to a chemical that is floating around in the air, says Reindert Nijland, lead author of the study.

"The difference is both in the mechanism that does the sensing, as well as in the compounds that are sensed," Dr Nijland, now at University Medical Centre Utrecht in the Netherlands, told BBC News.

"The compounds detected by olfactory organs are generally much more volatile than things you can taste like 'sweet' or 'salt', and therefore can provide information about things that can be much further away; you can smell a barbecue from a few blocks away whereas you have to physically touch and eat the steak to be able to actually taste it."
Continue reading the main story

If very simple organisms such as bacteria are capable of this that would imply that this ability evolved much earlier than expected"

End Quote Reindert Nijland University Medical Centre Utrecht

Bacteria are known to use their "senses" to detect chemicals that indicate the presence of other bacteria or competitors for food.

In some cases, they can produce a slimy material that causes them to stick together in what is known as a biofilm. Such biofilms can cause complications in cases ranging from implants to oil pipelines, but a familiar example is the plaque that forms on teeth.

Dr Nijland and Grant Burgess put a number of separate cultures of a bacterium called B. licheniformis in cylinders containing different "growth media" to cause them to multiply. Some were in a rich broth of food that allowed the bacteria to multiply quickly, releasing ammonia gas in the process, while others were in a medium that allowed the growth of biofilms - which can be initiated if the bacteria are in contact with ammonia.

They were surprised to find that some of the isolated bacteria cultures began to form biofilms spontaneously, with those physically closest to the "well-fed" bacteria showing the highest biofilm production.

The only explanation is that the bacteria sensed the presence of ammonia directly from the air above the cultures.
Film rights

Dr Nijland explained that the biofilm provides both a barrier and a means of transportation for the bacteria that have "smelled" nearby ammonia.

"It's tempting to speculate that [ammonia] provides the bacteria with information of a nearby nutrient source, since ammonia generally is a waste product of bacteria growing on a rich nutrient source," he said.

"The bacteria sense this, organise themselves in a biofilm which will prepare them for both competition with other species already feeding on the nutrient source, and enables swarming - migration via the matrix they have secreted to form the biofilm."

The surprise find has implications in our understanding of the difference between prokaryotes like bacteria, which have no neatly packaged parts within their cells, and the more advanced eukaryotes that include everything from yeast to humans.

"If very simple organisms such as bacteria are capable of this that would imply that this ability evolved much earlier than expected," said Dr Nijland.

"Understanding this phenomenon... will help us to develop methods to potentially interfere with this process and potentially develop new ways of preventing biofilm-related bacterial infections."

Aug 17
Swine flu kills 84 in past week
With the monsoon at its peak, there has been a surge in the spread of A (H1N1) influenza cases across the country with 84 deaths and 1,155 confirmed cases reported last week. The total number of deaths since May 2009, when the outbreak was first reported, is 1,945, with confirmed cases touching the 37,395 mark.

Maharashtra continues to be the worst affected with 51 deaths and 8,081 laboratory-confirmed cases reported between August 9-15. This was followed by Delhi and Karnataka where seven deaths each were reported during the same time and the number of confirmed cases stood at 125 and 186 respectively.

Five deaths each were reported from Andhra Pradesh and Gujarat while confirmed cases were 99 and 19 respectively. Four deaths and 20 confirmed cases were reported from Kerala. Uttar Pradesh accounted for two deaths and 25 confirmed cases while Madhya Pradesh, Punjab and Rajasthan accounted for one death each last week.

According to official data till date, samples from 1,58,855 people have been tested for influence of A (H1N1) in government laboratories and a few private laboratories throughout the country, of which 37,395 or 23.5 per cent have been detected as positive.

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