Beijing, Aug 20 (AP/UNB) — Scientists are working to develop a vaccine to help guard the world's pork supply as a deadly virus ravages Asia's pig herds.
Farmers have long contained its spread by quarantining and killing infected animals, but the disease's devastating march into East Asia is intensifying the search for another solution.
The virus hadn't been considered as high a priority for researchers until it turned up last year in China, home to half the world's pig population, likely by way of Eastern Europe and Russia. Since then, it has spread to other Asian countries including Vietnam and Taiwan, killing millions of pigs along the way. Though it does not sicken people, the disease is highly contagious and deadly to pigs.
"Today's situation, where you have this global threat, puts a lot more emphasis on this research," said Dr. Luis Rodriguez, who leads the U.S. government lab on foreign animal diseases at Plum Island, New York.
One way to develop a vaccine is to kill a virus before injecting it into an animal. The disabled virus doesn't make the animal sick, but it prompts the immune system to identify the virus and produce antibodies against it. This approach, however, isn't consistently effective with all viruses, including the one that causes African swine fever.
It's why scientists have been working on another type of vaccine, made from a weakened virus rather than a dead one. With African swine fever, the puzzle has been figuring out exactly how to tweak the virus.
In Vietnam, where the virus has killed 3.7 million pigs in six months, the government said this summer it was testing vaccines but provided few details of its program. In China, the government indicated scientists are working on a vaccine that genetically alters the virus, an approach U.S. scientists have been pursuing as well.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture said it recently signed a confidential agreement with a vaccine manufacturer to further research and develop one of Plum Island's three vaccine candidates. The candidates were made by genetically modifying the virus to delete certain genes.
But before a vaccine becomes available, it needs to be tested in large numbers of pigs in secure facilities with isolation pens, waste and carcass incinerators and decontamination showers for staff, said Linda Dixon, a biologist at London's Pirbright Institute, which studies viral diseases in livestock. The process takes two to five years, she said.
The extensive testing is necessary to ensure vaccines made by weakened viruses don't have unintended side effects.
In the 1960s, for instance, Spain and Portugal tested such a vaccine after outbreaks of African swine fever. The treated pigs seemed fine at first, but then lesions broke out on their skin, arthritis locked up their joints and the animals failed to fatten up, said Jose Manuel Sanchez-Vizcaino Rodriguez, who leads a lab focused on African swine fever at the University in Madrid.
The two countries eventually eradicated the disease by enforcing strict sanitary protocols, quarantining and killing infected and carrier pigs.
Even if vaccines become available, they might not work across the globe. Vaccines developed for the virus in China and Europe, for example, might do nothing in sub-Saharan Africa, where the disease has been around longer.
A vaccine might be most desirable in places where the disease is widespread, said Daniel Rock, who previously headed Plum Island's African swine fever program. Other countries might prefer the quarantine-and-kill method.
That could be the case in the U.S., where health officials have been training pork producers how to spot and report potential symptoms, which can include bleeding, lethargy and loss of appetite.
Still, Rock said the disease's global spread has made the option of a vaccine a high priority in the U.S.
Washington, Aug 16 (AP/UNB) — U.S. health officials are making a new attempt at adding graphic images to cigarette packets to discourage Americans from lighting up. If successful, it would be the first change to U.S. cigarette warnings in 35 years.
The Food and Drug Administration on Thursday proposed 13 new warnings that would appear on all cigarettes, including images of cancerous neck tumors, diseased lungs and feet with amputated toes.
Other color illustrations would warn smokers that cigarettes can cause heart disease, impotence and diabetes. The labels would take up half of the front of cigarette packages and include text warnings, such as "Smoking causes head and neck cancer." The labels would also appear on tobacco advertisements.
The current smaller text warnings on the side of U.S. cigarette packs have not been updated since 1984. They warn that smoking can cause lung cancer, heart disease and other illnesses. These warnings "go unnoticed" and are effectively "invisible," the FDA said in its announcement.
The FDA's previous attempt was defeated in court in 2012 on free speech grounds. A panel of judges later upheld the decision, siding with tobacco companies that the agency couldn't force cigarettes to carry grisly images, including cadavers, diseased lungs and cancerous mouth sores.
FDA's tobacco director Mitch Zeller said the new effort is supported by research documenting how the warnings will educate the public about lesser-known smoking harms, such as bladder cancer.
"While the public generally understands that cigarette smoking is dangerous, there are significant gaps in their understanding of all of the diseases and conditions associated with smoking," said Zeller. If the agency is sued, he added, "we strongly believe this will hold up under any legal challenges."
Reynolds American, maker of Camel and Newport cigarettes, said it supports public awareness efforts on tobacco, "but the manner in which those messages are delivered to the public cannot run afoul of the First Amendment." Reynolds was one of five tobacco companies that challenged the FDA's original warning labels.
The nation's largest tobacco company, Altria, said it will "carefully review the proposed rule." The company, which makes Marlboro cigarettes, was not part of the industry lawsuit.
Nearly 120 countries around the world have adopted the larger, graphic warning labels. Studies from those countries suggest the image-based labels are more effective than text warnings at publicizing smoking risks and encouraging smokers to quit.
Current U.S. cigarette labels don't reflect the enormous toll of smoking, said Geoff Fong, who heads the International Tobacco Control Project.
"This is a deadly product," said Fong, who studies anti-tobacco policies at Canada's University of Waterloo. "We have more prominent warnings on many other products that don't pose even a fraction of the risk that cigarettes do."
Canada became the first country to put graphic warnings on cigarettes in 2000.
Smoking causes more than 480,000 deaths each year in the U.S, even though smoking rates have been declining for decades. Approximately 14% of U.S. adults smoke, according to government figures. That's down from the more than 40% of adults who smoked in the mid-1960s.
Under the 2009 law that first gave the FDA oversight of the tobacco industry, Congress ordered the agency to develop graphic warning labels that would cover the top half of cigarette packs. The FDA proposed nine graphic labels, including images of rotting teeth and a smoker wearing an oxygen mask.
But a three-judge panel ruled that the FDA's plan violated companies' right to free speech. The judges said the images were problematic because they were "crafted to evoke a strong emotional response," rather than to educate or warn consumers.
The FDA said it would develop a new batch of labels, but when new ones didn't appear, eight health groups sued the agency in 2016 for the "unreasonable delay."
Under a court order earlier this year, the FDA was required to propose new labels by August, with final versions by next March.
Trenton, Aug 15 (AP/UNB) — U.S. regulators Wednesday approved a new tuberculosis medicine that shortens and improves treatment for the hardest-to-treat cases, a worsening problem in many poor countries.
It's the first TB drug from a nonprofit group, the TB Alliance. Formed to come up with better treatments, the group developed pretomanid with help from charities and government agencies.
The pill was approved by the Food and Drug Administration for use with two other antibiotics. Decades of incomplete or ineffective treatment has resulted in TB strains that have become drug resistant and aren't killed by long-standard medicines.
In a key study, the three-pill combo cured about 90% of patients with very drug-resistant TB, usually within 6 months. Patients also infected with HIV, a common situation, fared as well as the other study participants. Pretomanid also appears to stop patients from spreading the deadly bacterial infection after just a few days' treatment.
Until now, the best option cured about two-thirds of patients, took 18 to 30 months and required up to eight kinds of shots and pills. Many patients die or don't finish treatment, according to TB Alliance CEO Mel Spigelman.
Worldwide, TB kills about 1.6 million people annually. It spreads through droplets when someone sick with TB sneezes or coughs. TB attacks the lungs and sometimes other organs.
Pretomanid was approved for use with Zyvox and Sirturo, two other antibiotics used for the toughest cases. The three drugs, which have little known resistance, attack tuberculosis in different ways. Potential side effects include liver damage, nerve pain and an irregular heartbeat.
The new combo could help over 75,000 patients per year, mostly in India, China, Indonesia, South Africa and Nigeria, Spigelman said. The FDA is the first regulator to approve pretomanid, though there aren't many severe cases in the U.S. The FDA's action should bring quick approval in countries where it's endemic.
The alliance will work with the World Health Organization to speed adoption of the treatment in those countries. The alliance is contracting with multiple generic manufacturers to make pretomanid and keep it affordable.
Dhaka, Aug 9 (UNB) - Dengue fever is a mosquito-borne tropical disease caused by the dengue virus. Symptoms typically begin three to 14 days after the infection, and may include a high fever, headache, vomiting, muscle and joint pains, and a characteristic skin rash. When a mosquito bites a person infected with a dengue virus, the virus enters the mosquito. When the infected mosquito then bites another person, the virus enters that person’s bloodstream, reports The Indian Express.
Dengue fever can rise rapidly after the onset of the initial symptoms. Thus, it is vital that one seeks medical help as soon as these symptoms are observed. While there is no treatment or vaccine for the infection and is usually treated symptomatically, it is essential to follow a strict diet if you have dengue fever. To help you with the same, Pavithra N Raj, chief dietician, Columbia Asia Referral Hospital Yeshwanthpur has suggested a few foods that patients with dengue should eat and avoid to ensure a speedy recovery.
Best foods to recover from dengue fever
* Pomegranate is rich in essential nutrients and minerals that provides the body with the required energy. Consumption of pomegranate reduces the feeling of exhaustion and fatigue. Being a rich source of iron, pomegranate stands out to be quite beneficial for the blood, and helps in maintaining a normal blood platelet count, which is essential to recover from dengue. Pomegranate has been used since the ancient times for its healthy and medicinal properties.
Dengue generally results in dehydration. Thus, it is immensely beneficial to consume coconut water – which is loaded with electrolytes and vital nutrients.
* Being an antiseptic and metabolism booster, it is advised to consume a pinch of turmeric with milk. This helps in faster recovery.
* Fenugreek is known to induce sleep and acts like a mild tranquiliser that aids in easing pain. It is also known to stabilising high fever, a common symptom of dengue.
* Rich in antioxidants and vitamin C, orange and its juice help in treating and eliminating the dengue virus.
* Broccoli is an excellent source of vitamin K which helps regenerate blood platelets. Which is why, if there’s a sharp decline in the platelet count, broccoli must be included in a dengue patient’s diet. It is also rich in antioxidants and minerals.
* Spinach is a rich source of iron and omega-3 fatty acids and helps boost the immune system to a great extent. It is an effective way to increase the platelet level count.
* Kiwifruits contain a good amount of vitamin A and E along with potassium and help balance the body’s electrolyte level and limit hypertension and high blood pressure. The copper in kiwifruit is especially beneficial for the formation of healthy red blood cells and building immunity against diseases.
Note: The above mentioned remedies should be adopted only as a supplemental form of treatment.
Foods to be avoided during dengue fever
* It is best to avoid oily and fried food and opt for a lighter diet if you have dengue fever. Oily food contains a lot of fat which may lead to high blood pressure and high cholesterol. This can hamper your road to recovery as it weakens the immune system.
* Spicy food is a big no-no for dengue patients. It can cause acid to collect in the stomach and lead to ulcers and damage to the stomach wall. This damage hinders the recovery process as your body seems to be fighting double the illnesses.
* Your body needs lots of fluid, but caffeinated beverages should not what you opt for. These drinks cause rapid increase in heart rate, fatigue, caffeine crashes, and muscle breakdown. Up your fluid intake and consume warm water instead of normal water.
* Non-vegetarian food should be strictly avoided when you are recovering from dengue fever.
Dhaka, Aug 9 (UNB) - Drinking three or more cups of coffee daily may be associated with a higher risk of migraine, according to a study published Thursday, reports The Indian Express.
Afflicting more than one billion adults worldwide, migraine is the third most prevalent illness in the world, said researchers at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) in the US.
In addition to severe headache, symptoms of migraine can include nausea, changes in mood, sensitivity to light and sound, as well as visual and auditory hallucinations.
The study, published in the American Journal of Medicine, evaluated the role of caffeinated beverages as a potential trigger of migraine.
Led by Elizabeth Mostofsky, from the Harvard T H Chan School of Public Health (HSPH) in the US, the researchers found that, among patients who experience episodic migraine, one to two servings of caffeinated beverages were not associated with headaches on that day.
However, three or more servings of caffeinated beverages may be associated with higher odds of migraine headache occurrence on that day or the following day.
“While some potential triggers — such as lack of sleep — may only increase migraine risk, the role of caffeine is particularly complex, because it may trigger an attack but also helps control symptoms,” said Mostofsky.
Caffeine’s impact depends both on dose and on frequency, but because there have been few prospective studies on the immediate risk of migraine headaches following caffeinated beverage intake, there is limited evidence to formulate dietary recommendations for people with migraines,” he said.
In the study, 98 adults with frequent episodic migraine completed electronic diaries every morning and every evening for at least six weeks.
Every day, participants reported the total servings of caffeinated coffee, tea, soda and energy drinks they consumed, as well as filled out twice daily headache reports detailing the onset, duration, intensity, and medications used for migraines since the previous diary entry.
Researchers used a self-matched analysis, comparing an individual participant’s incidence of migraines on days with caffeinated beverage intake to thier incidence of migraines on days with no caffeinated beverage intake.
This self-matching eliminated the potential for factors such as sex, age, and other individual demographic, behavioural and environmental factors to confound the data.
The researchers further matched headache incidence by day of the week, eliminating weekend versus week day habits that may also impact migraine occurrence.
Self-matching also allowed for the variations in caffeine dose across different types of beverages and preparations.
“One serving of caffeine is typically defined as eight ounces or one cup of caffeinated coffee, six ounces of tea, a 12-ounce can of soda and a 2-ounce can of an energy drink,” said Mostofsky.
“Those servings contain anywhere from 25 to 150 milligrammes of caffeine, so we cannot quantify the amount of caffeine that is associated with heightened risk of migraine.
The researchers saw no association between one to two servings of caffeinated beverages and the odds of headaches on the same day, but they did see higher odds of same-day headaches on days with three or more servings of caffeinated beverages.
However, among people who rarely consumed caffeinated beverages, even one to two servings increased the odds of having a headache that day, researchers said.
“Despite the high prevalence of migraine and often debilitating symptoms, effective migraine prevention remains elusive for many patients,” said Suzanne M Bertisch from BIDMC.