Florida Zika cases prompt UK advice for pregnant travellers

Florida Zika cases prompt UK advice for pregnant travellers

  • 30 July 2016
  • From the section UK

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Composite of pictures of Miami

Pregnant women are being advised by Public Health England to consider postponing non-essential trips to the US state of Florida, amid concerns over the Zika virus.

Its travel advice was updated after Florida confirmed four cases of the virus transmitted by local mosquitoes.

Previous US cases have been connected to people who caught the virus abroad.

Zika causes only a mild illness in most people, but the virus has been linked to severe brain defects in newborns.

The US Center for Disease Control does not expect a widespread outbreak of Zika in the country, but says it is preparing for small clusters of infections.

Florida has announced more aggressive mosquito-control efforts, and politicians are keen to assure tourists the state is safe to visit.

Paul Cosford, medical director and director of health protection at Public Health England, said the risk in Florida was considered “moderate”, based on the number of cases and control measures in place.

“Pregnant women are advised to consider postponing non-essential travel until after pregnancy.

“Advice to all travellers remains to avoid mosquito bites.”

He said Public Health England was monitoring the international situation closely.

Risk ratings

The advice from Public Health England is based on a list of countries and territories with current active Zika virus transmission as classified by the European Centre for Disease Control.

Florida is listed as having a moderate risk rating for the Zika virus, along with Guinea-Bissau, Indonesia and the Philippines.

Many more areas, including a number of countries in south and central America and the Caribbean, are categorised as being “high” risk.

In those countries, the advice is for pregnant women to postpone non-essential travel, rather than just considering postponing.

Links to Public Health England’s advice on Zika are also provided on the websites of Public Health Wales and Northern Ireland’s Public Health Agency.

Health Protection Scotland provides similar advice on its website, although the section on the Zika virus is yet to include information about the situation in Florida.

In terms of the UK, Professor Cosford said more than 50 cases had been diagnosed since January, but the risk to the UK remained unchanged.

He said a small number of Zika virus infections in travellers returning to the UK was to be expected, but the risk to the wider population was “very low” as the mosquito that spread the virus was not found in the UK.

He added: “If you have recently returned from an area where Zika virus transmissions are currently reported and have a fever or flu-like illness, seek medical attention without delay to exclude malaria and mention your recent travel.”

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Exclusive: In Florida Zika probe, federal scientists kept at arm's length

Aedes aegypti mosquitoes are seen inside Oxitec laboratory in Campinas, Brazil, February 2, 2016. REUTERS/Paulo Whitaker/File Photo
Aedes aegypti mosquitoes are seen inside Oxitec laboratory in Campinas, Brazil, February 2, 2016.

Reuters/Paulo Whitaker/File Photo


The state of Florida, the first to report the arrival of Zika in the continental United States, has yet to invite a dedicated team of the federal government’s disease hunters to assist with the investigation on the ground, health officials told Reuters.

Coordination with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention since the state reported possible local Zika transmission on July 19 has been conducted largely at a distance, they said. That is surprising to some infectious disease experts, who say a less robust response could lead to a higher number of infections.

While Florida has a strong record of battling limited outbreaks of similar mosquito-borne viruses, including dengue and chikungunya, the risk of birth defects caused by Zika adds greater urgency to containing its spread with every available means, they say. Other states have quickly called in CDC teams to help track high-profile diseases.

“You only have a small window. This is the window” to prevent a small-scale outbreak from spreading, said Dr. Peter Hotez, dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, who expressed impatience with the pace of the Florida investigation.

Florida on Friday said that four cases of Zika in the state were likely caused by mosquito, the first sign that the virus is circulating locally, though it has yet to identify mosquitoes carrying the disease.

The current Zika outbreak was first detected last year in Brazil, where it has been linked to more than 1,700 cases of the birth defect microcephaly, and has since spread rapidly through the Americas.

Florida Governor Rick Scott said the state health department was working with the CDC as it continues its Zika investigation. CDC said it is closely coordinating with Florida officials who are leading the effort. Dr Marc Fischer, a CDC epidemiologist, has gone to Florida at the state’s request.

But the state has not invited in the CDC’s wider emergency response team of experts in epidemiology, risk communication, vector control and logistics, according to Florida health department spokeswoman Mara Gambineri.

In its plans to fight Zika nationwide, CDC stressed that such teams would help local officials track and contain the virus. Similar teams were sent to Utah earlier this month to solve how a person may have become infected while caring for a Zika-infected patient, before local officials went public with the case, and quickly joined an effort to contain an Ebola case in Dallas in 2014.

“Should we need additional assistance, we will reach out,” Gambineri said in an email. She did not reply to questions about why the state decided not to bring in a CDC team.

CDC spokesman Tom Skinner said the agency has several teams ready for when states request help with Zika, including Florida.

“If invited, we’ve got a team ready to go,” he said.

FUNDING BLAME GAME

Florida health officials publicly disclosed the first case of suspected local transmission on July 19.

They have since been testing hundreds of area residents to identify other possible infections, in some cases knocking on doors asking people to provide urine samples, and studying local mosquito populations to see if they are carrying the virus.

The state has warned residents to protect themselves against mosquito bites, and distributed Zika prevention kits for pregnant women at local doctors’ offices.

Michael Osterholm, an infectious disease expert from the University of Minnesota, said the two counties involved in the Florida probe – Miami-Dade County and Broward County – have extensive mosquito control experience. But he was surprised that the state had not yet sought CDC’s help in quickly gathering information about where people were when they were bitten.

“When cases like this occur, it’s critical that there be rapid epidemiological investigations to determine the likely location where the mosquito exposure occurred,” Osterholm said. “Only with that can you identify the breeding sites and eliminate them.”

As Zika’s arrival in the United States loomed in recent months, Republican and Democratic leaders have blamed each other for holding up funding to fight it. President Barack Obama’s administration asked Congress for $1.9 billion to fund a Zika response. Republican lawmakers proposed much smaller sums, and talks with their Democratic counterparts stalled before Congress adjourned for the summer.

Scott, a Republican, said on Friday he had asked top officials in the Obama administration, including CDC Director Tom Frieden, for more resources to fight Zika. He has allocated$26 million from the state’s budget.

On July 20, the White House said that Obama had called the Florida governor to discuss the possibility that Zika was circulating in the state, and promised an extra $5.6 million in federal funding in addition to about $2 million provided by CDC. 

The statement praised Florida’s record of responding to mosquito-borne outbreaks and its close coordination with federal partners, including the CDC.

“Florida does what Florida does,” said one public health expert familiar with the investigation. “If I were health commissioner, I would have asked for their (CDC’s) help immediately.”

(Reporting by Julie Steenhuysen; Editing by Michele Gershberg and Bernard Orr)


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Trendy Miami neighborhood is first in U.S. with local Zika spread

Tourists visit the Wynwood Walls, a popular outdoor graffiti exhibit that also falls in the approximately one-mile area where Florida Governor Rick Scott and state health officials announced one woman and three men contracted the Zika virus locally, in Miami, Florida July 29, 2016.  REUTERS/Zachary Fagenson
Tourists visit the Wynwood Walls, a popular outdoor graffiti exhibit that also falls in the approximately one-mile area where Florida Governor Rick Scott and state health officials announced one woman and three men contracted the Zika virus locally, in Miami, Florida July…

Reuters/Zachary Fagenson


Christophe and Franziska Lefever were admiring graffiti at an outdoor gallery in a chic Miami arts district on Friday when they learned that the first cases of Zika spread by mosquitoes in the continental United States were contracted in the area.

“We’re covered in bug bites already,” said Christophe Lefever, 26, weighing his and his wife’s odds of getting infected with a virus tied to a rare but serious birth defect.

The couple from Austria decided it was probably safe to continue enjoying their vacation, even though Florida authorities now consider it probable that the virus has been transmitted by mosquito bites in the area.

Officials believe any spread would be limited to an area of about a square mile (2.6 square kms) north of downtown Miami.

The neighborhoods targeted for increased surveillance and mosquito control include the trendy Wynwood district, which has rapidly gentrified in recent years and now boasts art galleries, luxury retailers and colorful murals on its walls.

Tourists, students and longtime residents were concerned about the news of Zika’s arrival, but few stayed indoors. While some shopped and snapped selfies like normal, one hotdog vendor sought to protect himself by adding a mosquito repellant unit to his cart.

Like U.S. health officials, many here viewed the arrival of Zika in Miami as all but inevitable, given the region’s large numbers of tourists and its sweaty summer mosquito season.

“It was obvious this is where it was going to come in,” said Bradley Kilgore, a chef and partner at Alter, a local restaurant. He said he planned to research bug repellants.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said it was not advising against travel to the region, as it has recommended for pregnant women to countries seeing widespread outbreaks.

Infection during pregnancy is considered the greatest risk from the current Zika outbreak, which has spread rapidly through the Americas since it was first detected in Brazil last year. The virus can cause microcephaly in babies, a condition defined by small head size that can lead to developmental problems.

“We are scared,” said Lucile Simon, 21, who is from Normandy, France and studying for the summer in Miami.

“But what can we do?” she added, noting that violence inspired by extremist groups is also a danger worldwide. “We won’t let it deter us from traveling.”

William Burrell, 22, remained more interested in seeing art than swatting mosquitoes during his 10-day Florida vacation.

“What are you going to do, not go outside?” said Burrell, who is from Hampton, Virginia. “If I’m going to catch it, I’m going to catch it.”

(Writing by Letitia Stein; Editing by Daniel Wallis and Bernard Orr)


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donepezil, Aricept, Aricept ODT


GENERIC NAME: donepezil

BRAND NAME: Aricept, Aricept ODT

PRESCRIPTION: Yes

GENERIC AVAILABLE: Yes

USES: Donepezil is used for the treatment of mild, moderate, or
severe dementia associated with Alzheimer’s disease.

SIDE EFFECTS: The most common side effects associated with donepezil are:

  • headache,
  • generalized pain,
  • fatigue,
  • dizziness,
  • nausea,
  • vomiting,
  • diarrhea,
  • loss of appetite,
  • weight loss,
  • muscle cramping,
  • joint pain,
  • insomnia, and
  • increased frequency of urination.

Other important side effects include:

MORE SERIOUS SIDE EFFECTS: Tacrine (Cognex), another anticholinesterase medication used in the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease, is
associated with liver toxicity. Donepezil does not appear to be associated with
liver toxicity.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 7/29/2016





Dementia Pictures Slideshow: Disorders of the Brain

FDA Logo

Report Problems to the Food and Drug Administration

You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit the FDA MedWatch website or call 1-800-FDA-1088.

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Zika virus: Florida cases 'highly likely' to be first US-based infections

Zika virus: Florida cases ‘highly likely’ to be first US-based infections

  • 29 July 2016
  • From the section US & Canada

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Aedes aegypti mosquitoes are seen inside Oxitec laboratory in Campinas, Brazil, February 2, 2016Image copyright
Reuters

Image caption

The Zika virus is spread by the aedes aegypti mosquito

Four people suffering from the Zika virus in Florida are probably the first cases contracted within the US, state health officials say.

So far, cases outside of Latin America and the Caribbean, where the virus is prevalent, have been spread by travel to that region or sexual transmission.

The four Florida cases raise the chance US mosquitoes can now carry the virus.

Zika causes only a mild illness in most people but the virus has been linked to severe brain defects in newborns.

  • Zika outbreak: What you need to know
  • ‘It’s not the end of the world’

The Florida department of health said “a high likelihood exists that four cases are the result of local transmission”, centred on one small area just north of downtown Miami.

Three of those suffering the virus were in Miami-Dade county, and another in neighbouring Broward county.

Gov Rick Scott said the cases involved three men and a woman, and that neither had been hospitalised.

The US Food and Drug Administration has asked for blood donation in both counties to be suspended, and Gov Scott said all donations already made would now be tested for Zika.

More than 1,650 cases of Zika virus have so far been detected in the United States, but the Florida cases would be the first in the US not involving sexual contact or foreign travel.

To confirm whether Zika is being carried by mosquitoes locally, scientists are surveying houses and people within a 150-yard (metre) radius of the cases, the flying distance of the insect.

In February, the World Health Organization declared the Zika virus a global public health emergency because of the risk to newborn children.

In severe cases, children can die and babies who survive can face intellectual disability and developmental delays.

Gov Scott asked all residents of affected areas to get rid of standing water, where mosquitoes thrives, and for residents to wear insect repellent.

How Zika can spread

  • Bites from the aedes aegypti mosquitoes that carry the virus
  • Maternal transmission from mother to baby in the womb
  • Unprotected vaginal, oral or anal sexual intercourse – although rare, the virus can persist in semen
  • Zika virus has been found in other bodily fluids, including saliva and urine, but it is unknown whether it can spread through these routes
  • Blood transfusion – very likely but not confirmed

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Southern Health NHS Trust 'paid millions' to Katrina Percy's associates

Southern Health NHS Trust ‘paid millions’ to Katrina Percy’s associates

By Michael Buchanan
Social Affairs Correspondent, BBC News
  • 29 July 2016
  • From the section England

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Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust chief executive Katrina Percy

Image caption

Chief executive Katrina Percy has come under pressure to resign

A troubled NHS trust has paid millions of pounds to companies owned by previous associates of its embattled chief executive, BBC News has learned.

One firm received more than £5m despite winning a contract valued at less than £300,000, while another was paid more than £500,000 without bidding at all.

Both are owned by former acquaintances of Southern Health NHS Trust’s chief executive Katrina Percy.

The trust said it took its financial responsibilities “very seriously”.

‘Failure of leadership’

The BBC has also learned Southern Health has access to the services of former Labour spin doctor Alastair Campbell, after it hired Portland Communications to help with its ongoing problems.

Mental health trust Southern Health has been under intense scrutiny since an NHS England-commissioned report in December found it failed to investigate the unexpected deaths of hundreds of patients.

A failure of leadership and governance at the trust was blamed for the problems, a conclusion a subsequent CQC report in April agreed with.

In light of the criticisms, Katrina Percy, the only chief executive the trust has ever had, has faced widespread calls to resign but has refused to do so.

Image copyright
Talent Works

Image caption

Chris Martin’s website contained a commendation from Katrina Percy


Timeline

2006 – Management consultant Chris Martin and Katrina Percy start working together during her capacity as chief operating officer at Surrey and Sussex Hospitals

2009 – Ms Percy becomes chief executive of Hampshire Community Health Care and Mr Martin follows her, providing coaching and leadership support

2010 – Mr Martin starts a firm of organisational psychologists called Talent Works Ltd, whose website says they are “experts in culture and behaviour change”

2010 – In December, Southern Health advertises for management development support. The tender has a value of £288,000, and the contract is to last three years, with an option for a one year extension

2011 – Ms Percy joins Southern Health as chief executive and the work is awarded to Talent Works Ltd

2014 – The initial three year contract ends and the firm is paid £5.365m – an over-spend approaching 2,000%. The trust chooses to exercise its option for a one-year extension


Now she is facing fresh questions about two former associates, Chris Martin and Paul Gray, whose companies were paid by Southern Health.

Roy Lilley, former chairman of an NHS trust and now a health policy expert, said the overspend on Mr Martin’s company was “extraordinary”.

He said: “It really doesn’t look good, and it casts a deep shadow over the people involved and the way in which the trust has been run by the board.”

A former governor at Southern Health, John Green, who has a background in running quality management programmes, said he queried the work that Talent Works was doing at the trust.

“I was fobbed off,” Mr Green said.

“I didn’t get any information for well over a year. I believe the spending of public money in the NHS is nothing as accountable to the public as it should be.”

Image caption

The trust confirmed Ms Percy had worked with the men before

Paul Gray worked with Ms Percy as director of strategy at Hampshire Community Health Care and his firms made money from the trust without having to bid for a contract.

In July 2009, he set up consultancy firm Consilium Strategy Consulting Ltd and in 2014 he formed a second company, Consilium Partners Ltd. Together they have been paid at least £602,000 by Southern Health since 2011.

In a statement, Southern Health said it had “tested the market to ensure value for money in 2011. There has been no increase in rates since this benchmarking exercise took place”.

‘Not unusual’

Regarding Talent Works, the trust said: “We fully accept that the original contract for Talent Works was for a sum far less than the eventual spend, however it was made clear in the tender documentation that there would be scope for additional work to be provided.

“The trust’s audit committee were aware of the contract overspend but were satisfied that the market rates had been tested and that for a number of reasons, it was in the best interests of the trust for their work to continue.”

It added that it was “not unusual” both men had worked with Ms Percy “given the specialist services they provide to the NHS”.

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Florida reports evidence of local Zika transmission


Four people in Miami likely contracted Zika locally through mosquito bites, Florida’s governor said on Friday, the first evidence that the virus tied to a rare but serious birth defect is circulating in the continental United States.

Governor Rick Scott said the state believed active transmission of the virus was occurring within an area of Miami about the size of a square mile (2.6 square kms). Testing showed that one woman and three men had been infected, Scott said.

While health officials have yet to identify mosquitoes carrying the virus, the state has ruled out other means of transmission, including travel to another country with a Zika outbreak, and sexual contact.

“We have worked hard to stay ahead of the spread of Zika and prepare for the worst,” Scott said in a statement. “We will continue to put every resource available to fighting the spread of Zika in our state.”

Zika’s greatest risk is believed to be posed by infection in pregnant women, given its ability to cause microcephaly in babies, a condition defined by small head size that can lead to developmental problems.

Florida Surgeon General Celeste Philip said that health officials are not advising pregnant women in the transmission area to move.

“We do not believe there will be ongoing transmission,” Philip said at a press conference in Orlando, citing daily efforts to control the mosquito population in the area.

U.S. health officials have cautioned for months that the summer mosquito season was likely to bring local outbreaks, with Gulf Coast states such as Florida, Texas and Louisiana, on the frontlines.

The current Zika outbreak was first detected in Brazil last year, triggering global alarm over the discovery that it was linked to microcephaly in infants and other severe neurological abnormalities. Brazil has confirmed over 1,600 cases of microcephaly linked to Zika infection in pregnant women.

Public health officials say Zika is also a likely cause of Guillain-Barre syndrome, a rare neurological disorder in adults that can cause temporary paralysis.

Zika’s arrival in the United States comes with Congress in recess after failing to reach agreement over how much funding could be used to fight an outbreak. The Obama administration has requested $1.9 billion to finance research, mosquito control and other prevention efforts.

Until now, the more than 1,600 Zika cases in the United States have stemmed from travel to another country with active transmission, as well as a small number of cases of apparent sexual transmission by a person infected outside of the country.

Puerto Rico has already been grappling with a Zika outbreak, with more than 4,600 cases of local transmission. U.S. health officials have predicted there will be hundreds of thousands of cases on the island territory before the current outbreak ends due to the prevalence of Zika-carrying mosquitoes and a lack of infrastructure to protect against insect bites.

(Additional reporting by Ankur Banerjee in Bengaluru; Writing by Michele Gershberg; Editing by Saumyadeb Chakrabarty and Bernadette Baum)

Aedes aegypti mosquitoes are seen at the Laboratory of Entomology and Ecology of the Dengue Branch of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in San Juan, March 6, 2016. REUTERS/Alvin Baez
Aedes aegypti mosquitoes are seen at the Laboratory of Entomology and Ecology of the Dengue Branch of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in San Juan, March 6, 2016.

Reuters/Alvin Baez

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WHO chief going to the Olympics, says Zika risk low

Director General of the World Health Organization (WHO) Margaret Chan attends a news conference in Beijing, China, July 29, 2016. REUTERS/Jason Lee
Director General of the World Health Organization (WHO) Margaret Chan attends a news conference in Beijing, China, July 29, 2016.

Reuters/Jason Lee


The risk of Zika virus infections at the Olympic Games is both low and manageable, the chief of the World Health Organization said on Friday, a week before the event kicks off in Rio de Janeiro.

Nearly half a million people are expected to visit for the Games, many from the United States. Worries about security, the Zika virus and an economic crisis could deter travelers, with just under a third of event tickets as yet unsold.

Brazil has been hardest hit by the disease outbreak, and many physicians, competitors and potential visitors have expressed fears the Olympics could serve as a catalyst to spread the virus globally.

“We feel that the risk of Zika infection is low for an individual, and it is manageable,” Margaret Chan, director general of the world health body, told reporters in the Chinese capital.

“As long as individuals take appropriate personal protective measures, including the use of a mosquito repellent, including wearing clothing that prevents mosquito bites,” she added.

The WHO assessment factored in the latest understanding of the disease and actions taken by Brazil, said Chan, adding that she would be going to the games in Rio de Janeiro.

There is currently no vaccine or treatment for Zika, which is spread primarily through the bite of an infected mosquito, although it can also spread through sexual transmission.

Chan made a plea for Games visitors to use condoms.

“When you go to Brazil, to Rio, practice safe sex, please use condoms,” she added.

“Of course, we also have learnt from the latest evidence it’s not just infected men who can pass the disease to their sex partners. There was a case of a lady passing the disease to a man, so it can go both directions.”

Global health officials are racing to better understand the Zika virus which has spread to many countries in the Americas.

The WHO says there is strong scientific consensus that Zika is a cause of the birth defect microcephaly, or small heads in babies, as well as Guillain-Barre syndrome, a neurological disorder.

(Story corrects paragraph 1 to say “Rio de Janeiro”, not “Brazilian capital”.)

(Reporting by Winni Zhou and Ben Blanchard; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)


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Deep Brain Stimulation Tested for Early Alzheimer's

News Picture: Deep Brain Stimulation Tested for Early Alzheimer'sBy Amy Norton
HealthDay Reporter

Latest Alzheimers News

THURSDAY, July 28, 2016 (HealthDay News) — Deep brain stimulation appears safe for people with early Alzheimer’s disease — and might even slow down memory loss in some, a preliminary study suggests.

Deep brain stimulation (DBS) is already used to treat some cases of Parkinson’s disease and certain other brain-based disorders. It involves implanting electrodes in specific areas of the brain, then connecting them to a pulse generator placed under the skin of the chest. Once the generator is programmed, it delivers continual electrical pulses that alter the activity in specific brain “circuits.”

While it’s far too early to know whether deep brain stimulation helps those with early Alzheimer’s, the initial findings suggest the technique is worth further study, said lead researcher Dr. Andres Lozano. He is a neurosurgeon at Toronto Western Hospital, in Canada.

In his small pilot study of people with early Alzheimer’s, the procedure appeared to be mostly safe. And for those aged 65 and up, there were signs that their mental decline had slowed a bit over one year.

“Older patients seemed to get some benefit,” Lozano said. He noted that the vast majority of people with Alzheimer’s are older than 65.

But, he cautioned, deep brain stimulation is still in the “investigational” stages as a potential treatment for early Alzheimer’s.

“This is not available for general use,” Lozano said. “If patients were interested in it, they would have to get into a clinical trial.”

In theory, deep brain stimulation could be helpful because Alzheimer’s is marked by a degeneration in brain cells — with the “circuits” involved in memory, thinking and other mental abilities gradually shutting down, Lozano explained.

“We know this because we can see that glucose [sugar] metabolism in the brain decreases,” he said. “It’s like the lights go out in parts of the brain.”

Lozano’s team wanted to see whether deep brain stimulation could safely turn some of those lights back on.

So, the researchers implanted DBS systems in 42 patients with mild Alzheimer’s symptoms, 12 of whom were younger than 65.

The system was actually turned “on” in only half of the patients, so the other half could serve as a comparison group. The system was programmed to stimulate a brain area called the fornix — a bundle of fibers in the brain’s memory circuitry, Lozano said.

Over one year, the researchers found, the tactic appeared relatively safe.

One patient developed depression, worsening confusion and suicidal thoughts — though that was with the DBS system in the “off” position only. Another developed encephalomalacia, a softening in the brain tissue that can happen in response to an injury, the study reported.

“We haven’t seen any seizures or unusual side effects,” Lozano noted.

There were also hints of a benefit. In patients whose DBS system was turned on, sugar metabolism in key brain areas increased over the first six months.

“It looked like we were, indeed, able to turn some of the lights back on,” Lozano said.

That metabolic boost was no longer apparent after one year, however.

When it came to patients’ memory problems and other symptoms, there was no evidence that deep brain stimulation helped the group overall.

But the researchers saw different patterns when they broke the group down by age: For patients younger than 65, symptoms worsened when the deep brain stimulation system was turned on; for older patients, the treatment seemed to slow down their decline over one year.

In future studies, Lozano said, his team will focus on testing DBS in older patients with early Alzheimer’s.

“If we’re going to do surgery,” he said, “we want to do it only in patients who could get some benefit.”

One Alzheimer’s expert said the study broke new ground.

“This work is exciting both for the technical and clinical achievements,” said Dr. David Weintraub, director of functional neurosurgery at North Shore University Hospital, in Manhasset, N.Y.

But there are still big questions, according to Weintraub, who wasn’t involved in the study.

“Some caution must be maintained,” he said, since there was no significant benefit in the group overall. More studies are needed to show whether certain Alzheimer’s patients stand to benefit from deep brain stimulation, Weintraub said.

If DBS is going to have an effect, Lozano said, it would be in earlier-stage Alzheimer’s — before the degeneration in brain tissue is too extensive.

The study was published recently in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease.

MedicalNews
Copyright © 2016 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

SOURCES: Andres Lozano, M.D., Ph.D., professor, neurosurgery, University of Toronto, Toronto Western Hospital, Canada; David Weintraub, M.D., director, functional neurosurgery, North Shore University Hospital, Manhasset, N.Y.; July 18, 2016, Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease

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Antibiotic resistance: 'Snot wars' study yields new class of drugs

Antibiotic resistance: ‘Snot wars’ study yields new class of drugs

By James Gallagher
Health and science reporter, BBC News
  • 28 July 2016
  • From the section Health

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A woman holding a tissue to her noseImage copyright
Thinkstock

A new class of antibiotics has been discovered by analysing the bacterial warfare taking place up people’s noses, scientists report.

Tests reported in the journal Nature found the resulting drug, lugdunin, could treat superbug infections.

The researchers, at the University of Tubingen in Germany, say the human body is an untapped source of new drugs.

The last new class of the drugs to reach patients was discovered in the 1980s.

Nearly all antibiotics were discovered in soil bacteria, but the University of Tubingen research team turned to the human body.

Dreaded superbug

Our bodies might not look like a battlefield, but on a microscopic level a struggle for space and food is taking place between rival species of bacteria.

One of the weapons they have long been suspected of using is antibiotics.

Among the bugs that like to invade the nose is Staphylococcus aureus, including the dreaded superbug strain MRSA.

It is found in the noses of 30% of people.

But why not everyone?

Image copyright
SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Image caption

About 30% of humans carry Staphylococcus aureus in their nostrils

The scientists discovered that people with the rival bug Staphylococcus lugdunensis in their nostrils were less likely to have S. aureus.

The German team used various strains of genetically-modified S. lugdunensis to work out the crucial piece of genetic code that allowed it to win the fight to live among your nose hairs.

They eventually pinpointed a single crucial gene that contained the instructions for building a new antibiotic, which they named lugdunin.

Tests on mice showed lugdunin could treat superbug infections on the skin including MRSA, as well as Enterococcus infections.

One of the researchers, Dr Bernhard Krismer, said: “Some of the animals were completely clear, no single cell of the bacterium was detectable.

“Others were reduced, but still contained some bacteria and we also saw that the compound penetrated the tissue and acted on the deeper layer of the skin.”

It will take years of testing before lugdunin could reach patients and it may not prove to be successful.

But new antibiotics are desperately needed as doctors face the growing challenge of infections that resist current drugs and could become untreatable.

‘Pressure to eliminate’

Fellow researcher Prof Andreas Peschel said the body could be mined for new antibiotics.

“Lugdunin may be the first example of such an antibiotic, we have started a screening programme,” he said.

And he even believes that people could one day be infected with genetically-modified bacteria to fight their infections.

He argued: “By introducing the lugdunin genes into a completely innocuous bacterial species we hope to develop a new preventive concept of antibiotics that can eradicate pathogens.”

Prof Kim Lewis and Dr Philip Strandwitz, from the antimicrobial discovery centre at Northeastern University in the US, commented: “It may seem surprising that a member of the human microbiota – the community of bacteria that inhabits the body – produces an antibiotic.

“However, the microbiota is composed of more than a thousand species, many of which compete for space and nutrients, and the selective pressure to eliminate bacterial neighbours is high.”

Prof Colin Garner, the head of Antibiotic Research UK, told the BBC: “Altering the balance of bacteria in our bodies through the production of natural antibiotics could eventually be exploited to fight off bacterial infections.

“It is possible that this report will be the first of many demonstrating that bacteria in our bodies can produce novel antibiotics with new chemical structures.

“Alongside a report that men with beards have fewer pathogens including MRSA on their faces than clean-shaven men, it seems the paper identifying lugdunin should be viewed alongside facial hair as a preventer of infection.”

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