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How Ebola spreads among humans

posted 13 Oct 2014, 04:29 by Mpelembe   [ updated 13 Oct 2014, 04:30 ]

USA  (Next Media Animation) - According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), it is not understood how the Ebola virus first appears in humans in the event of an outbreak. 

But how it is spread to other victims is fairly well understood.

Ebola is not an airborne virus, the CDC says on its website, meaning it cannot spread by, for example, sitting next to an infected person in a bus or on a train. Ebola in general does not spread via water or food, or insects like mosquitoes, although it may be spread by eating bushmeat or coming into contact with infected animals.

The virus can only be spread among humans by a patient who is already showing symptoms, such as fever, flu-like body pain, abdominal pain, diarrhea and vomiting. To become infected, a person needs to come into contact with an infected person’s bodily fluids such as blood, sweat, vomit, feces, urine, saliva or semen.

The virus can be spread through direct contact with broken skin or mucous membranes. Health workers wear protective gear such as masks, goggles and gloves to avoid this kind of contact.

The current Ebola epidemic is the first to have spread outside the African continent. Before this year, Ebola outbreaks have mostly been confined to remote parts ofAfrica.


Texas health care worker tests positive for Ebola

posted 12 Oct 2014, 05:09 by Mpelembe   [ updated 12 Oct 2014, 05:09 ]

A health care worker at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital who provided care for an Ebola patient there has tested positive for the virus.


DALLASTEXASUNITED STATES  (NBC) -  A health care worker at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital who provided care for an Ebola patient there has tested positive for Ebola in a preliminary test, the Texas Department of State Health Services said in a statement on Sunday (October 12).

The health care worker at the Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital reported a low-grade fever Friday night and was isolated and referred for testing, the Texas Department of State Health Services said in a statement.

"We knew a second case could be a reality, and we've been preparing for this possibility," said Dr.David Lakey, commissioner of the health service.

The first person in the United States diagnosed with Ebola, Liberia citizen Thomas Eric Duncan, died in an isolation ward of the Dallas hospital on Oct. 8, 11 days after being admitted.

The U.S. government has since ordered five airports to start screening passengers from West Africafor fever.

The number of people known to have died in the worst Ebola outbreak on record has risen to 4,033 out of 8,399 cases in seven countries, the World Health Organization said on Friday.

Liberia has been the worst affected country with 2,316 victims, followed by 930 in Sierra Leone, 778 in Guinea, eight in Nigeria and one in the United States, WHO said.

Passengers and airline cleaning crews show growing concerns over Ebola

posted 9 Oct 2014, 12:33 by Mpelembe

Airline cleanup crews at New York's LaGuardia walk off the job over growing concerns over exposure to diseases. The protest comes as fears grow over Ebola on U.S. soil, prompting concern among some passengers as well.

NEWARK, NEW JERSEY, UNITED STATES (OCTOBER 09, 2014) (NBC) -   About 200 airline cabin cleaners walked off the job at New York's LaGuardia Airport on Thursday (October 9) to protest what they say is a lack of sufficient protection from exposure to germs and diseases for workers whose jobs include cleaning up vomit and bathrooms.

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The protest comes amid heightened fears over Ebola as the disease spreads inWest Africa and more cases are reported around the world, including on U.S. soil.

Picket lines were set up overnight by non-unionized Air Serv cleaners outsideTerminal D at LaGuardia for a one-day strike prompted by fears about cleaners' safety, including exposure to potentially deadly viruses such as Ebola. The protest by the airline cleaners has forced crew members to clean the planes themselves.

"We want protection during our job. We want our jobs because we need it but we also need to protect ourselves as people, to be respected as people. And the condition that we work in is without any protection for our own health," an Air Serv cabin cleaner said during the protest.

Rob Hill of the Service Employees International Union, the largest service workers union in the United States, said that it was understandable that they went on strike.

"Your health and your safety and your life is being put at risk because you are being pricked with needles and not given proper gloves or trainings of how to deal with it," he said.

The workers, who are trying to join the union, briefly left the strike line to attend an infectious disease training session organized by the union.

The training lasted less than an hour and focused on removing contaminated glovesand washing up properly after potential exposure.

It was attended by workers from LaGuardia and John F. Kennedy International Airport, who fumbled with putting on and taking off bright blue and green latexgloves, which they said were thicker and better quality than the ones supplied by their employer.

U.S. officials this week announced tighter screening of travelers from West Africa, where Ebola has killed more than 3,800 people, at five major airports, including JFK.

LaGuardia, which serves only U.S., Canadian and Caribbean destinations, is not among them.

Some passengers welcomed the fortified measure.

"I am a little scared that I catch something. But I am happy that they are doing better screening though," said Kim, a passengers flying into New York at Newark Liberty Airport.

On Thursday New York City mayor Bill de Blasio convened a meeting with different agencies to discuss the handling of a potential Ebola outbreak in the city.

He reassured that New York is well-prepared.

"A group of exceedingly capable individuals and agencies working together are here today, a planning session talking about different scenarios so that we can be ready for each and every one," he said.

The federal government implemented tighter screening measures after Thomas Eric Duncan, a Liberian national who was the first person diagnosed with Ebola on U.S. soil, died at a Dallas hospital on Wednesday (October 8).

FDA Approves First Migraine Prevention Device

posted 19 Mar 2014, 07:57 by Mpelembe   [ updated 19 Mar 2014, 07:58 ]

USA  Next Media -  The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has authorized the first nerve-stimulating device that can prevent the onset of migraines, according to a Wall Street Journal report.

Cefaly provides an alternative to medication for migraine prevention,” said Christy Foreman, director of the Office of Device Evaluation at the FDA’s Center for Devices and Radiological Health in a press release. “This may help patients who cannot tolerate current migraine medications for preventing migraines or treating attacks.”

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A migraine episode is characterized by painful throbbing in a portion of the head. Symptoms, which also include nausea, vomiting, and heightened sensitivity to light and sound, can last from four hours to as long as three days.

The prescription device, known as Cefaly, is a battery-powered electric nerve stimulation headband worn across the forehead and atop the ears. Michael Solomita, vice president of the device's North American distributor, Roxon Medi-Tech Ltd. of Canada, said the device is currently sold at retail in Canada for roughly US$300.

The technology reportedly has the ability to stave off migraine pains, which are transmitted by the trigeminal nerve from the scalp to the brain stem. The approved device emits low energy electric signals to the trigeminal nerve via an electrode placed on the forehead. These signals counteract pain signals travelling down the nerve.

The device maker suggests users suffering from migraines wear the headband 20 minutes daily, during which the FDA says patients will experience a slight tingling sensation on the forehead.

In a clinical trial held in Belgium that involved 67 migraine patients randomly assigned to treatment using the device or to take a placebo, patients using the headband experienced fewer days of migraines each month.

The treatment, however, was unable to completely alleviate migraines or reduce the intensity of migraine pains.

SOURCES: Cefaly, FDA, Wall Street Journal

Researchers Cure Diabetes In Mice

posted 8 Mar 2014, 07:19 by Mpelembe   [ updated 8 Mar 2014, 07:20 ]

  Researchers in California have turned skin cells in mice into insulin producing beta cells, effectively curing the animals of diabetes. They hope to achieve similar results in human cells, paving the way to an eventual cure for a disease that affects millions of people around the world. Ben Gruber has more.

SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA, UNITED STATES, SURREY, ENGLAND, UNITED KINGDOM (REUTERS AND UCSF) - Just a few weeks ago this mouse had diabetes. But thanks to groundbreaking research taking place at the Gladstone Institute in San Francisco, the mouse is now disease free.

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The research, led by Dr. Sheng Ding, uses a new method to decode and genetically modify skin cells into insulin producing beta cells. Director of the Institute, Dr. Deepak Srivastava says Dr. Ding's research paves the way to developing a new way to battle diabetes.


"He has been able to create a cell that is not a stem cell but is derived from, in this case, an animals' own cell and transplant it back into the animals and have it essentially cure its diabetes."

To accomplish this, the researchers extracted skin cells from the mouse and used a two phase process to reprogram them into what they call PPLC cells. And just eight weeks after these new cells were transplanted into the pancreas of the mouse, they matured into insulin producing beta cells that soon began regulating the animal's blood sugar levels, essentially curing it of diabetes.

Dr. Srivastava says his team are now testing the reprogramming protocol on human cells to see if they respond in the same way.


"I think this is a major step forward because we haven't has this type of success even in an animal model in the past. There will be many hurdles ahead to see of this works in humans and test all of the safety issues. But there is reason for a lot of hope for the millions of people out there suffering from diabetes."

Improving technologies are increasingly helping diabetics monitor glucose levels in their blood and manage their disease, but the Gladstone scientists believe that while there are years of research still ahead, they may be on track to produce a cure.

China Breaks Record For World's Thinnest Condom

posted 20 Feb 2014, 08:38 by Mpelembe   [ updated 20 Feb 2014, 08:38 ]

A Hong Kong-funded firm breaks the World Guinness Record for the thinnest condom on February 20, 2014.

 HONG KONG, CHINA (FEBRUARY 20, 2014) (REUTERS) -  China broke the record for the world's thinnest condom when a Hong Kong-funded brand announced its latex rubber condom measuring at 0.036 millimetres on February 20.

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The ultra-thin contraceptive tool is 0.002 millimetres thinner than the last iteration by Japanese maker Okamoto Industries which debuted a 0.038 millimetre-thick condom in early 2012.

"As long as there is demand for thinner, lighter condoms we will continue researching," Victor Chan, managing director of Guangzhou Daming United Rubber Products, said. "Maybe one day we will have 0.02 mm and 0.01 mm thinness, who knows?"

The race for the thinnest condom may raise safety concerns, but Chan said the company has conducted countless stress tests on the product over a period of nine months.

"Safety is always a concern," Chan said. "But I can assure you the product is very safe as all (stress) tests were carried out by third-party laboratories. Guinness puts out a very stringent requirement when contestants attempt the record."

The condoms' retail price puts them at RMB 100 (9.9pounds;USD 16.4) for a box of 12 condoms.

Charles Wharton, records manager of greater China for Guinness World Records, attributes Asian companies competing to make the world's thinnest condom to the advanced technology in the region.

"A lot of the technology is very advanced now in Asia, especially in Japan and China," Wharton said. "Companies are competing not just across the condom industry but also across a wide range of industries."

But some Hong Kong residents are skeptical of the product. Mary Ann Chan, a 33-year-old business owner said: "I won't use the world's thinnest condom. I don't think the feeling is good. Some of my friends have told me they have tried (similar products) and they are not satisfied."

The AONI ultra-thin 001 natural rubber latex condom, which was announced as the world's thinnest condom on February 20, 2014, was verified on 2 December 2013.

3D Printed Hip Puts Teenager Back On Her Feet

posted 3 Feb 2014, 09:16 by Mpelembe   [ updated 3 Feb 2014, 09:17 ]

A customised 3D-printed hip implant is expected to save a Swedish teenage girl from life in a wheelchair. The implant has been designed around a technology that doctors say, could revolutionise the treatment of debilitating bone disorders. For 16-year-old Fanny Fellesen, the results have been life-changing. Tara Cleary reports.

SWEDEN / ANIMATION (REUTERS / MOBELIFE / PRIVATE) - Fanny Fallesen is on the road to recovery.

Just two years ago, the 16-year-old was looking at a life in a wheelchair, due to a rare degenerative condition called Recklinghausen's disease, which causes skeletal deformities.


"I was very dependent on help from my parents and very dependent on my wheelchair and two crutches and I wasn't as free as I am now. I can do much more, I can cope more myself, be out with my friends and use my wheelchair less and less, walk longer distances."

The teenager's recovery is the result of a technological revolution.

Traditional treatments for Fallesen's degraded hip just weren't adequate.

So in 2012, her doctors recommended she be measured for customized 3D-printed hip implants, courtesy of Belgian company, Mobelife.

3D printing technology offers tailor-made body parts, ensuring an exact match with a patient's anatomy, unlike conventional implants says CEO Tim Clijmans.


"These cases are more and more common nowadays with revisions being more common, so there are more and more chances that implants have to be replaced, complex bone defects have to be resolved and complex tumour defects have to be resolved."

The printed implant is created using a specialized tomography scan, following the patient's specific bone anatomy.

Screw placement is also unique to each patient, based on bone quality.

Fallesen's surgeon, professor Urban Rydholm says Mobelife provided detailed instructions for the implants and even though the surgery was challenging, he believes it was his patient's only hope for a life without a wheelchair.


"We can handle severe bone loss in the hip in most cases with standard implants and supporting rings and things like that but this was, we could see no solution for her until we heard about this possibility with custom-made acetabular (hip ball-and-socket joint) implants from Belgium."

Currently 3D-printed implants are used only for very specialised cases but Clijmans thinks that will change in future.


"I think there are a lot of cases out there which are not that exceptional and complex as this one, where we can provide a lot of added value with this technology."

According to Rydholm, Fallesen's prognosis is positive but he says the disease will probably cause problems in her spine and lower left leg later on.

But for now, Fallesen is optimistic.


"I'm positive about a future when I can get rid of the crutches and walk without aid."

Former German Health Minister To Be Advisor On "Obamacare"

posted 2 Feb 2014, 08:07 by Mpelembe   [ updated 2 Feb 2014, 08:08 ]

Former German health minister Daniel Bahr moves to the U.S. in order to advise on "Obamacare"

BERLIN, GERMANY (FEBRUARY 2, 2014) (REUTERS) - The German former health minister Daniel Bahr is expected to advise the US government on its controversial health care reform.

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"As of the middle of February I will work for several month as a Senior Fellow at Think Tank "Center for American Progress" in Washington D.C.," Bahr wrote on his Facebook page. "In addition I will hold lectures about health care at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor."

The health care reform is the prestige project of U.S. president Barack Obama. Immediately after its launch the reform caused negative headlines because the governmental website which was intended to inform about health care insurances did not work properly.

Bahr was squeezed out from his post after his party Free Democrats (FDP) failed to make it into the German parliament and therefore ceased to be the junior coalition partner for Merkel's conservative Christian Democrats (CDU).

Additionally to his busy life in Washington, Bahr announced another challenge: he plans to run the Boston Marathon, according to his Facebook page.

Laser Technology Allows Parkinsonism Patients To Walk Again

posted 31 Jan 2014, 06:14 by Mpelembe   [ updated 31 Jan 2014, 06:15 ]

Researchers at the Mayo Clinic have developed a device that re-routes brain signals in Parkinsonism disorder patients, allowing them to regain mobility.

JACKSONVILLE, FLORIDAUNITED STATES (REUTERS) - With the help of a walkin frame equipped with laser technology, Wayne Puckett can get around on his own, something he couldn't do four years ago.

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Puckett, 48, has a form of Parkinsonism, a neurological disorder that destroys the brain's ability to control motor skills. The syndrome shares many of the symptoms common in

people with Parkinson's Disease - which can be the underlying cause - but is also often related to other neurological conditions.

A former postal worker and father of five, Puckett remembers when the disorder took hold.

"I feel like I lost being a man. You lose your job, your occupation and it wasn't from a financial standpoint, it was from a health standpoint. And it is a hard thing to take and you feel like less of a person. You know, your kids, you are not able to do as much and they see it," he said.

In 2010, Puckett met Dr. Jay Van Gerpen, a neurologist at the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Florida. At the time he was wheel-chair bound, but Dr. Van Gerpen told him he had a device that could get him back on his feet that same day.

"I thought he was crazy," said Puckett. "He told me that he has a little red line that was going to be able to make me walk. I was like ain't no way. And he said will you give this thing a try and I was like whatever. And he gave me this thing and I was like wow. And it worked," he added.

That little red line is generated by what Dr. Van Gerpen calls a mobilaser, a laserdevice attached to Wayne Puckett's walker. Dr. Van Gerpen says it helps unravel the neurological traffic jam in Puckett's brain caused by his disease, giving him control over his movements again.

"There is a part of the brain when you want to initiate walking in the prefrontal cortex in the basal ganglia and if those areas get damaged than those signals don't get to the primary motor cortex. That is the part of the brain that actually controls voluntary muscle movement," he said.

Van Gerpen says the laser line acts a visual queue, that prompts Puckett's brain to bypass the signal jam and use another route to connect the prefrontal cortex to motor cortex. When his patient focuses on stepping across the laser-generated line, he automatically utilizes the visual part of his brain rather than the damaged area that controls motor output.

"We are capitalising on the parts of the brain that are working quite well to help compensate for those that are not."

Wayne Puckett says the laser beam has given him back his life. He says he feels more independent and looks forward to facing the future, one step at a time.

Stem Cell "Major Discovery" Claimed

posted 30 Jan 2014, 04:06 by Mpelembe   [ updated 30 Jan 2014, 04:07 ]

R Reports - It's being heralded as a major scientific discovery.....that has the potential to begin a new age of personalised medicine.

Scientists here in Japan have shown that stem cells can now be made quickly just by dipping blood cells into acid.

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In a series of experiments, researchers show that cells plucked from animals can be turned into master cells simply by immersing them for half an hour.

Scientists then injected the cells into mouse embryos, showing that they could grow into tissues and organs.

Dr Haruko Obokata, from the Riken Centre for Developmental Biology in Japan, calls them Stap cells.


"Nobody believed me when I told them what I'd found. So one time when I was lying awake in bed at night, I told myself that I'd scrap the experiment completely if I didn't get results the next day. Well that 'next day' sort of turned into five years."

The study published in the journal Nature reported research is now with human blood.

The breakthrough is being hailed by scientists because attempts to make stem cells have long been fraught with difficulties.

They say if it can be applied to human tissue, it could make the technology cheaper, faster and safer, creating patient-matched stem cells that can repair damaged or diseased organs.

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