The brain is not as cramped as we thought

first_imgShare Using an innovative method, EPFL scientists show that the brain is not as compact as we have thought all along.To study the fine structure of the brain, including its connections between neurons, the synapses, scientists must use electron microscopes. However, the tissue must first be fixed to prepare it for this high magnification imaging method. This process causes the brain to shrink; as a result, microscope images can be distorted, e.g. showing neurons to be much closer than they actually are. EPFL scientists have now solved the problem by using a technique that rapidly freezes the brain, preserving its true structure. The work is published in eLife.The shrinking brain Pinterest Recent years have seen an upsurge of brain imaging, with renewed interest in techniques like electron microscopy, which allows us to observe and study the architecture of the brain in unprecedented detail. But at the same time, they have also revived old problems associated with how this delicate tissue is prepared before images can be collected.Typically, the brain is fixed with stabilizing agents, such as aldehydes, and then encased, or embedded, in a resin. However, it has been known since the mid-sixties that this preparation process causes the brain to shrink by at least 30 percent. This in turn, distorts our understanding of the brain’s anatomy, e.g. the actual proximity of neurons, the structures of blood vessels etc.The freezing brainA study by Graham Knott at EPFL, led by Natalya Korogod and working with Carl Petersen, has successfully used an innovative method, called “cryofixation”, to prevent brain shrinkage during the preparation for electron microscopy. The method, whose roots go back to 1965, uses jets of liquid nitrogen to “snap-freeze” brain tissue down to -90oC, within milliseconds. The brain tissue here was mouse cerebral cortex.This image shows two models of brain tissue reconstructed from serial EM images. The purple one is cryo-fixed, the brown one chemically fixed.The rapid freezing method is able to prevent the water in the tissue from forming crystals, as it would do in a regular freezer, by also applying very high pressures. Water crystals can severely damage the tissue by rupturing its cells. But in this high-pressure freezing method, the water turns into a kind of glass, preserving the original structures and architecture of the tissue.The next step is to embed the frozen tissue in resin. This requires removing the glass-water and replacing it first with acetone, which is still a liquid at the low temperatures of cryofixation, and then, over a period of days, with resin; allowing it to slowly and gently push out the glassified water from the brain.The real brainAfter the brain was cryofixed and embedded, it was observed and photographed in using 3D electron microscopy. The researchers then compared the cryofixed brain images to those taken from a brain fixed with an “only chemical” method.The analysis showed that the chemically fixed brain was much smaller in volume, showing a significant loss of extracellular space – the space around neurons. In addition, supporting brain cells called “astrocytes”, seemed to be less connected with neurons and even blood vessels in the brain. And finally, the connections between neurons, the synapses, seemed significantly weaker in the chemically-fixed brain compared to the cryofixed one.The researchers then compared their measurements of the brain to those calculated in functional studies – studies that measure the time it takes for a molecule to travel across that brain region. To the researchers’ surprise, the data matched, adding even more evidence that cryofixation preserves the real anatomy of the brain.“All this shows us that high-pressure cryofixation is a very attractive method for brain imaging,” says Graham Knott. “At the same time, it challenges previous imaging efforts, which we might have to re-examine in light of new evidence.” His team is now aiming to use cryofixation on other parts of the brain and even other types of tissue. Share on Twittercenter_img Share on Facebook LinkedIn Emaillast_img read more

Scientists explain underlying cause of unhealthy brain aging

first_imgShare Share on Twitter Doctors commonly recommend patients increase their intake of calcium as a means of combating osteoporosis for aging bones.But calcium also plays an essential role in the neurological functioning of the brain, where it must be tightly regulated and not rise to excessive levels. A signaling molecule, calcium enables learning, cognition and the retention of memories. Calcium also facilitates communication among nerve cells and transports molecules to the many branches of the nerve cell.Building on scientific evidence implicating disturbed calcium regulation in brain aging accumulated through the past 30 years, a research team in the University of Kentucky Department of Pharmacology and Nutritional Sciences led by principal investigator Philip Landfield has found a connection between unhealthy brain aging and a protein responsible for regulating calcium at the molecular level, called FKBP1b. The team’s groundbreaking research, which was published July 29 in the Journal of Neuroscience, identifies a molecular mechanism occurring within the cell that appears to cause unhealthy brain aging. The research suggests the absence or addition of the FKBP1b protein is a strong determinant of functioning in the hippocampus region, a part of the brain responsible for cognition and memory retention. LinkedIn Unhealthy brain aging is defined as a reduction in brain function resulting in memory impairment. Excess calcium in brain cells appears responsible for important aspects of unhealthy brain aging, and may also increase susceptibility to diseases such as Alzheimer’s, ALS, Parkinson’s and vascular dementia. Until now, the precise molecular cause of the disturbed calcium regulation in brain aging has remained unknown to scientists.After learning about the FKBP1b protein’s recently uncovered role in the heart, the UK researchers wondered whether FKBP1b in the hippocampus region declines with brain aging. They then found evidence of reduced FKBP1b gene expression with aging in the hippocampus. This discovery prompted the researchers at the University of Kentucky to test whether boosting FKBP1b in the hippocampus region could reverse or prevent brain aging linked to memory loss.“It is well-recognized that normal aging is the greatest risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease, but nobody knows why,” Landfield, a professor in the department, said. “It’s possible this (decreased FKBP1b) is the missing link.”The team used an advanced gene therapy approach to inject harmless virus particles, which created additional copies of the FKBP1b protein, into the hippocampus of aging rats. The memory abilities of three groups of rats were tested two months after the injections. One group of young rats received a control injection, one group of aged rats received a control injection and one aged group received an injection of the FKBP1b-producing virus particles. The aged group with raised levels of FKBP1b showed restored calcium regulation and dramatically improved cognitive function, allowing them to perform the memory task as well as or better than the young rats. In addition, the researchers have repeated and extended the results in a subsequent study being prepared for publication.The research provides evidence the manifestations of brain aging can be reversed, and cognition and memory function restored, by altering levels of FKBP1b. This finding is also significant for Alzheimer’s patients as the researchers found a decline in the FKBP1b protein in the hippocampus of people who had early-stage Alzheimer’s. The research has implications for preventing brain aging associated with the progression of Alzheimer’s, and opens the door for pharmaceutical development aimed at sustaining levels of FKBP1b and keeping calcium in check.“We showed FKBP1b is a master regulator of calcium in brain cells, and when we restore it, it restores the regulation of calcium and dramatically improves learning in the aged animals,” Landfield said. “In all my years of doing research, I’ve never seen a compound this effective; it’s rare that tests of a hypothesis satisfy each of the criteria that have to be met.”The UK team is the only known group studying FKBP1b in brain aging. As a next step, the researchers are interested in investigating why FKBP1b declines with age. Landfield said there is promise to regulate the protein through Vitamin D, which is known to restore calcium deficiencies in other cells.The research was supported by a grant from the National Institute on Aging and was published recently in the Journal of Neuroscience.center_img Email Share on Facebook Pinterestlast_img read more

Why are some people more attached to their phones than others?

first_imgEmail Share LinkedIn Share on Facebook Some people frequently check and re-check their mobile phones. Once this impulse is triggered, it may be more a question of not being able to leave the device alone than actually hoping to gain some reward from it. These insights are drawn from a study by psychologists Henry Wilmer and Jason Chein of Temple University in the US and are published in Springer’s journal Psychonomic Bulletin & Review. Their findings shed light on the reasons why some people are so attached to their smartphones and mobile technology, while others are less so.A better understanding of the impact of smartphone and mobile technology usage is needed to assess the potential problems associated with heavy use. Although these electronic devices are playing an increasingly pervasive role in our daily activities, little research has been done about a possible link between usage behaviour and specific mental processes and traits. Therefore, Wilmer and Chein set out to determine if people who report heavier mobile technology use might also have different tendencies towards delaying gratification than others, or might exhibit individual differences in impulse control and in responding to rewards.Ninety-one undergraduate students completed a battery of questionnaires and cognitive tests. They indicated how much time they spent using their phones for social media purposes, to post public status updates, and to simply check their devices. Each student’s tendency to delay gratification in favour of larger, later rewards (their so-called intertemporal preference) was also assessed. They were given hypothetical choices between a smaller sum of money offered immediately or a larger sum to be received at a later time. Participants also completed tasks that assessed their ability to control their impulses. Finally, participants’ tendencies to pursue rewarding stimuli were also assessed.center_img Pinterest Share on Twitter The results provide evidence that people who constantly check and use their mobile devices throughout the day are less apt to delay gratification.“Mobile technology habits, such as frequent checking, seem to be driven most strongly by uncontrolled impulses and not by the desire to pursue rewards,” says Wilmer, who adds that the findings provide correlational evidence that increased use of portable electronic devices is associated with poor impulse control and a tendency to devalue delayed rewards.“The findings provide important insights regarding the individual difference factors that relate to technology engagement,” adds Chein. “These findings are consistent with the common perception that frequent smartphone use goes hand in hand with impatience and impulsivity.”last_img read more

Depression lowers women’s chances of pregnancy

first_imgWomen with severe depressive symptoms have a decreased chance of becoming pregnant, while the use of psychotropic medications does not appear to harm fertility, a study by researchers from the Boston University Schools of Public Health and Medicine shows.The study, published in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, found a 38 percent decrease in the average probability of conception in a given menstrual cycle among women who reported severe depressive symptoms, compared to those with no or low symptoms. The results were similar, regardless of whether the women were on psychotropic medications.Despite associations in prior studies between infertility and the use of antidepressants, antipsychotics or mood stabilizers among already infertile women, “current use of psychotropic medications did not appear to harm the probability of conception,” said lead author Yael Nillni, an assistant professor of psychiatry at the School of Medicine and a researcher with the National Center for PTSD, Women’s Health Sciences Division of the VA Boston Healthcare System. “Our findings suggest that moderate to severe depressive symptoms, regardless of current psychotropic medication treatment, may delay conception.” Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Pinterest Emailcenter_img Share Although the study does not answer why women with more depressive symptoms may take longer to become pregnant, the authors noted several potential mechanisms for future study. Depression has been associated with dysregulation of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis, which may influence the menstrual cycle and affect the ability to conceive, for example.Data for the study came from more than 2,100 female pregnancy planners, ages 21-45 years, enrolled in a BU-led study known as PRESTO (Pregnancy Study Online) that is looking at factors influencing fertility. The participants were asked to report their current depressive symptoms and psychotropic medication use, among many other factors. Overall, 22 percent reported a clinical diagnosis of depression in their medical histories, while 17.2 percent were former users of psychotropic medication, and 10.3 percent were current users of psychotropic drugs.Among the study’s secondary findings was that current use of benzodiazepines – sedatives used to treat anxiety and other disorders – was associated with a decrease in fecundability. Also, women who were formerly treated with a class of antidepressants known as SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) had improved chances of conception, regardless of depressive symptom severity. The authors speculated that former SSRI users could experience some long-term psychological or neurobiological benefits from past treatment that influence fertility. However, the numbers of individual classes of medications were small, and further study is needed, they said.An estimated 10 to 15 percent of couples in the U.S. experience infertility. Women have a higher prevalence of depressive and anxiety disorders during their childbearing years than during other times of life, past research suggests. LinkedInlast_img read more

A glitch in ‘gatekeeper cells’ slowly suffocates the brain

first_imgShare Share on Facebook LinkedIn Email Pinterestcenter_img Share on Twitter Abnormality with special cells that wrap around blood vessels in the brain leads to neuron deterioration, possibly affecting the development of Alzheimer’s disease, a USC-led study reveals.“Gatekeeper cells” called pericytes surround blood vessels. They contract and dilate to control blood flow to active parts of the brain.“Pericyte degeneration may be ground zero for neurodegenerative disorders like Alzheimer’s disease, ALS and possibly others,” said Berislav Zlokovic, senior author of the study and director of the Zilkha Neurogenetic Institute at the Keck School of Medicine of USC. “A glitch with gatekeeper cells that surround capillaries may restrict blood and oxygen supply to active areas of the brain, gradually causing neuron loss that might have important implications for Alzheimer’s disease.” Published on Jan. 30 in Nature Neuroscience, this was the first study to use a pericyte-deficient mouse model to test how blood flow is regulated in the brain. The goal was to identify whether pericytes could be an important new therapeutic target for treating neuron deterioration.“Vascular problems increase the risk of cognitive impairment in many types of dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease,” said Kassandra Kisler, co-first author and a research associate at the Zilkha Neurogenetic Institute at the Keck School of Medicine of USC. “Pericytes play an important part in keeping your brain healthy.”A closer look at the mouse modelsPericyte dysfunction suffocates the brain, leading to metabolic stress, accelerated neuronal damage and neuron loss, said Zlokovic, holder of the Mary Hayley and Selim Zilkha Chair in Alzheimer’s Disease Research.To test the theory, researchers stimulated the hind limb of young mice deficient in gatekeeper cells and monitored the global and individual responses of brain capillaries, the smallest blood vessels in the brain. The global cerebral blood flow response to an electric stimulus was reduced by about 30 percent compared to normal mice, denoting a weakened system.Relative to the control group, the capillaries of pericyte-deficient mice took 6.5 seconds longer to dilate. Slower capillary widening and a slower flow of red blood cells carrying oxygen through capillaries means it takes longer for the brain to get its fuel.As the mice turned 6 to 8 months old, global cerebral blood flow responses to stimuli progressively worsened. Blood flow responses for the experimental group were 58 percent lower than that of their age-matched peers. In short, with age, the brain’s malfunctioning vascular system exponentially worsens.“We now understand the function of blood vessel gatekeeper cells is to ensure adequate oxygen and energy supply to brain cells,” said Amy Nelson, co-first author and a postdoctoral scholar at the Zilkha Neurogenetic Institute at the Keck School of Medicine of USC. “Prior to our study, scientists knew patients with Alzheimer’s disease, ALS and other neurodegenerative disorders experience changes to the blood flow and oxygen being supplied to the brain and that pericytes die. Our study adds a new piece of information: Loss of these gatekeeper cells leads to impaired blood flow and insufficient oxygen delivery to the brain. The big mystery now is: What kills pericytes in Alzheimer’s disease?”last_img read more

Reducing TV time may be an effective strategy for improving health and academic performance in teens

first_imgShare Share on Twitter Email Watching television for more than two hours a day increases the participation in other sedentary activities in adolescents, according to a study recently published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health.Adolescent obesity is a growing world health issue, and there are many factors in our modern lifestyles that contribute to becoming overweight or obese. One concern is the impact that children’s media has on the physical and mental health of young people. Many studies have argued that there is a relationship between television viewing and obesity in children and adolescents. It is also established that spending large amounts of time in sedentary activities is a risk for obesity, even in those who are fairly active.Television viewing is associated with obesity because people often snack on high fat and sugar foods whilst watching TV which leads to a calorie surplus and a reduction in fresh fruit and vegetable consumption. Additionally, excessive TV viewing reduces the time spent doing physical activity and reduces the resting metabolic rate. Previously, studies have shown that watching more than 2 hours of TV a day is associated with poorer health, visual difficulties, depression and anxiety. Until now, few studies have focused on the impact of television viewing on self-rated health, academic performance and participation in other sedentary activities in adolescents. Pinterestcenter_img Share on Facebook The study, conducted by researchers at Yonsei University, Korea involved questionnaire and interview responses from 1234 students in Lima, Peru. The results showed that adolescents spend the majority of their free time watching television, playing video games or on the internet but only 23.1% watched TV for more than 2 hours per day. Watching TV was related to increased video game participation in males and older adolescents and increased internet use in all participants. The results also revealed that TV viewing had a negative impact on health and academic performance. Although the adolescents in this study were all from a specific location, the results of this study are comparable to similar studies in the USA.Overall, the study shows that watching more than 2 hours of TV a day increases participation in sedentary activities such as video game and internet use. The results suggest that reducing the time adolescents spend watching TV could increase their participation in physical activity and improve their health and academic performance. LinkedInlast_img read more

High cognitive ability not a safeguard from conspiracies, paranormal beliefs

first_imgShare “We show that reasonable skepticism about various conspiracy theories and paranormal phenomena does not only require a relatively high cognitive ability, but also strong motivation to be rational,” says Ståhl, UIC visiting assistant professor of psychology and lead author of the study.“When the motivation to form your beliefs based on logic and evidence is not there, people with high cognitive ability are just as likely to believe in conspiracies and paranormal phenomena as people with lower cognitive ability.”Previous work in this area has indicated that people with higher cognitive ability — or a more analytic thinking style — are less inclined to believe in conspiracies and the paranormal.Ståhl and co-author Jan-Willem van Prooijen of Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam conducted two online surveys with more than 300 respondents each to assess analytic thinking and other factors that might promote skepticism toward unfounded beliefs.The first survey found that an analytic cognitive style was associated with weaker paranormal beliefs, conspiracy beliefs and conspiracy mentality. However, this was only the case among participants who strongly valued forming their beliefs based on logic and evidence.Among participants who did not strongly value a reliance on logic and evidence, having an analytic cognitive style was not associated with weaker belief in the paranormal or in various conspiracy theories.In the second survey, the researchers examined whether these effects were uniquely attributable to having an analytic cognitive style or whether they were explained by more general individual differences in cognitive ability. Results were more consistent with a general cognitive ability account.The article notes that despite a century of better educational opportunities and increased intelligence scores in the U.S. population, unfounded beliefs remain pervasive in contemporary society.“Our findings suggest that part of the reason may be that many people do not view it as sufficiently important to form their beliefs on rational grounds,” Ståhl said.From linking vaccines with autism to climate change skepticism, these widespread conspiracy theories and other unfounded beliefs can lead to harmful behavior, according to Ståhl.“Many of these beliefs can, unfortunately, have detrimental consequences for individuals’ health choices, as well as for society as a whole,” he said. LinkedIn Pinterest Emailcenter_img The moon landing and global warming are hoaxes. The U.S. government had advance knowledge of the 9/11 attacks. A UFO crashed in Roswell, New Mexico.Is skepticism toward these kinds of unfounded beliefs just a matter of cognitive ability? Not according to new research by a University of Illinois at Chicago social psychologist.In an article published online and in the February 2018 issue of the journal Personality and Individual Differences, Tomas Ståhl reports on two studies that examined why some people are inclined to believe in various conspiracies and paranormal phenomena. Share on Twitter Share on Facebooklast_img read more

CDC reaffirms safety of pandemic vaccine

first_imgMar 23, 2010 (CIDRAP News) – As of mid February, about 86 million Americans had received the pandemic H1N1 vaccine, and so far no worrisome signals have emerged from extensive safety monitoring, officials from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said today at a conference call with heathcare practitioners.In addition, Anthony Fiore, MD, a medical epidemiologist with the CDC’s influenza branch, countered the view that the pandemic hasn’t differed much from a normal flu season. He pointed out that pediatric deaths from the pandemic H1N1 virus tower high above past seasonal flu years, and showed that hospitalization rates in younger age-groups have been unusually high, and in older people unusually low.Fiore added that one of the H1N1 pandemic’s hallmarks is identification of newly recognized risk groups, such as those who are obese, children with neuromuscular conditions, and indigenous populations.While no adverse event trends have emerged among those receiving vaccine, the CDC said it has seen some patterns with vaccine uptake. Fiore said most doses went to target groups, and coverage was higher in children than in adults. Of children under age 10 who received the vaccine, a group recommended to receive two doses, about 60% have gotten their second dose.In adults, pandemic vaccine uptake was higher in whites than in blacks and Hispanics, though in children patterns did not vary by race or ethnicity, he said.In analyzing uptake patterns, the CDC is identifying opportunities to refine its messages to the public, Fiore said. For example, a recent survey of adults found that the top reason for not getting the vaccine was that many didn’t think they needed to be immunized.The CDC has regularly posted brief pandemic H1N1 vaccine safety updates on its Web site, and in early December, 2 months into the immunization campaign, it published its first major report in Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR). Fiore said the CDC will publish another MMWR pandemic vaccine status report within the next few weeks.Karen Broder, MD, from the CDC’s immunization safety office, told clinicians that so far, the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS), set up to detect possible signs of adverse events but not to verify a vaccine link, has shown that serious events related to the pandemic vaccine are no higher than with the seasonal flu vaccine, which has had an excellent safety profile.As of Feb 16, serious events covered by the VAERS have been reported at a rate of 5.2 per million doses distributed. Reports submitted through the VAERS systems have gradually declined over the past months, mirroring the decline in vaccine doses distributed.So far 46 VAERS reports involve fatalities, she said. According to a review of medical records, medical examiner reports for 22 of the patients listed cardiac causes of death.As of Jan 31, medical chart reviews of VAERS reports verified Guillain-Barre syndrome (GBS) in 64 patients and anaphylaxis in 115 others. GBS is a rare side effect of the flu and other infections that was linked to a swine flu vaccine used by the United States in 1976. So far the rate appears to be below the US background rate for GBS, which is 1 case per 100,000 population.Broder noted that on Feb 26 in a report to the Food and Drug Administration’s National Vaccine Advisory Committee, the CDC’s nongovernmental vaccine safety working group said it had enough data to detect adverse events and that it had so far found no connection to adverse event patterns and the pandemic H1N1 vaccine. The working group was set up to independently evaluate and synthesize H1N1 vaccine data.She thanked clinicians for their role in stocking and storing the vaccine, screening and educating patients, administering the vaccine, and submitting VAERS reports. “This is not a small task. You have a lot of responsibility, and we appreciate your efforts,” Broder said.See also:CDC clinicians conference call informationDec 4, 2009, CIDRAP News story “CDC heartened by initial safety reports on H1N1 vaccine”last_img read more

NEWS SCAN: H5N1 death in Egypt, CSL flu-vaccine probe called ‘inadequate,’ H1N1 vaccine and pregnancy, measles spread

first_imgJun 22, 2011Egyptian man dies of H5N1 avian fluEgypt’s Ministry of Health has confirmed that a 27-year-old man has died of H5N1 avian flu, according to the World Health Organization (WHO) today. The man, from the Deshna district of Qena governorate, first developed symptoms Jun 5, was hospitalized and given oseltamivir (Tamiflu) Jun 13, and died Jun 14. Officials said he had been exposed to poultry that were suspected to have avian flu. The case was confirmed by a lab in Cairo, a National Influenza Center of the WHO’s Global Influenza Surveillance Network. His case brings Egypt’s 2011 total to 31, including 12 deaths. Since 2006 the country has confirmed 150 H5N1 cases and 52 deaths. The global count for WHO-confirmed H5N1 cases now stands at 562, with 329 deaths, for a case-fatality rate of 58.5%.Jun 22 WHO updateFDA finds CSL probe into flu-vaccine side effects ‘inadequate’The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), in a warning letter released to the public this week, called the investigation into flu-vaccine side effects in children by vaccine maker CSL Biotherapies of Australia “inadequate.” The agency cited “a number of significant objectionable conditions” that contravened good manufacturing practice (GMP) at CSL’s plant in Parkville, Victoria. Last April Australian officials pulled CSL’s seasonal flu vaccine Fluvax from use in children younger than 5 years old after 23 children from Western Australia were hospitalized with post-vaccination convulsions and high fever, according to a report in the Melbourne-based Herald Sun today. The company’s investigation found that adverse events were reported in 1 in 10 children from one Fluvax batch, which is about 10 times higher than expected. By the time the vaccine was taken off the market, 67 cases of convulsions, high fever, and vomiting were reported. The FDA letter cited a lack of documentation of the investigation, limited analysis of the manufacturing process, no assessment of the testing of raw material, and other problems. In a response to the letter yesterday, CSL Biotherapies Executive Vice President Dr. Jeff Davies said, “Our technical team is in the process of preparing more substantive detail about our corrective actions to meet the FDA’s requirements. We will work diligently with the FDA to resolve these GMP issues as quickly as possible.”Jun 15 FDA warning letterJun 22 Herald Sun articleJun 21 CSL responseH1N1 vaccine did not raise maternal or fetal riskReports of adverse events after pregnant women received the 2009 H1N1 pandemic flu vaccine showed no unexpected problems with the vaccine, according to federal officials writing in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology (AJOG) yesterday. Scientists from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the FDA analyzed data from the US Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS), which is maintained by the CDC and FDA. VAERS received 294 reports of adverse effects, including 2 maternal deaths, 59 hospitalizations, and 131 pregnancy-related events. These included 95 spontaneous abortions (less than 20 weeks gestational age), 18 stillbirths (20 weeks or more), 7 preterm deliveries, 3 threatened abortions, and 2 cases of preterm labor, 2 of preeclampsia, and 1 each of fetal hydronephrosis, fetal tachycardia, intrauterine growth retardation, and cleft lip. Given the number of pregnant women who received the vaccine, none of these occurrences was out of the ordinary. The scientists conclude, “H1N1 vaccination in pregnant women did not identify any concerning patterns of maternal or fetal outcomes.”Jun 21 AJOG abstractMeasles spreads in New Zealand, UtahThe number of cases in a measles outbreak in West Auckland, New Zealand, has risen to 26, Radio New Zealand reported today. Most of the cases are linked to an unvaccinated student from Oratia Primary School who developed the disease after traveling to Britain through Singapore. The student then exposed others to measles. Health official Richard Hoskins urged people to get up to date on their immunizations.Jun 22 Radio New Zealand storyElsewhere, measles has spread from northern to central Utah, where the infection in a plant worker has required about 100 employees to stay home from their jobs, according to an article in The Salt Lake Tribune today. Central Utah Public Health officials said a Millard County resident tested positive after apparently contracting the disease while traveling to Logan to get married. The person works at a 500-person power plant, which has asked about 100 employees born after 1957 not to come to work until they can prove they have been fully vaccinated against measles.Jun 22 Salt Lake Tribune articlelast_img read more

NEWS SCAN: Early Salmonella egg warning, cholera vaccination in Guinea, veterinary training

first_img NRC: Too few vet students going into research, public healthColleges are not preparing enough veterinarians to serve in academic and research capacities, according to a report from the National Research Council (NRC). The report says that, although the supply of veterinarians is growing, most graduates seek training in companion-animal or pet medicine and not enough are prepared for faculty teaching or research positions or for jobs in state diagnostic laboratories, federal research and regulatory agencies, and the pharmaceutical and biologics industry. College debt also drives veterinary students away from pursuing PhD training, according to an NRC news release. The shortage could hamper filling “jobs overseeing and enforcing food safety and animal health standards, conducting research in human drug development and advances in pet health, and participating in wildlife and ecosystem management, infectious disease control, biosecurity, and agro-terrorism prevention,” according to the press release. Alan Kelly, BVSc, PhD, of the University of Pennsylvania and chair of the committee that wrote the report, said, “We must ensure that schools train qualified veterinarians in sync with the diverse and growing array of societal needs.”May 30 NRC news releaseFull report Iowa lab warned of Salmonella in hens before 2010 egg outbreakMonths before a 2010 multistate outbreak of Salmonella in eggs was made public, an Iowa State University (ISU) lab found Salmonella in sick laying hens at Iowa farms owned by former egg magnate Jack DeCoster and warned the egg producer that the pathogen “almost certainly” was in its eggs, the Associated Press (AP) reported today. The ISU Veterinary Diagnostics Laboratory found Salmonella in manure at several Iowa egg-laying plants and in hens’ internal organs about 4 months before the August 2010 recall of 550 million DeCoster eggs, the story said. Birds on the farms were dying in unusually high numbers, and by late April, 43% of DeCoster poultry houses tested positive for Salmonella. On May 1 of that year, ISU scientist Darrell Trampel, DVM, PhD, told a colleague that the lab had isolated Salmonella Enteritidis (SE), the outbreak strain, from the livers of dead hens from two farms that each housed tens of thousands of chickens. “If SE is in the livers of the laying hens, it is almost certainly in the eggs,” he wrote in an e-mail. He also informed DeCoster manager Tony Wasmund, both on that day and on May 11, when similar findings were seen in dead hens from three Iowa plants, according to the story. The laboratory released its testing records in response to a subpoena from NuCal Foods, a California cooperative that bought contaminated DeCoster eggs and is now suing. ISU lab operations director Rodger Main, DVM, PhD, said SE doesn’t have to be reported to state or federal officials, and doing so would violate confidentiality agreements between the lab and food producers, who pay for the voluntary tests. The 2010 outbreak sickened at least 1,900 people nationwide.Aid group vaccinates 117,000 to fight cholera in GuineaThe aid group Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF, or Doctors Without Borders) announced recently that it vaccinated 117,000 people to fight a cholera outbreak in Guinea, marking the first time Africans have been give a two-dose oral vaccine during an outbreak. Working with the Guinean Ministry of Health, MSF vaccinated people in the coastal region around Boffa, 150 kilometers north of Conakry, capital of the West African country, MSF said in a May 31 statement. “We were faced with an outbreak and we wanted first to protect people by vaccinating them, and to limit the spread of cholera,” said Dr Dominique Legros, MSF’s innovation initiative manager in Geneva. MSF and a partner group, Epicentre, plan to monitor the course of the Boffa outbreak and the effectiveness of vaccination over the next 6 months. “The results of this surveillance will be analyzed and used to develop a comprehensive global response strategy for future epidemics, which will enable MSF teams to deploy quickly to vaccinate communities and protect more people,” the group said. It commented that vaccination is a promising new tool for fighting cholera, but it must be complemented by treatment, improved hygiene, and the provision of safe water and sanitation.May 31 MSF statement Jun 4, 2012last_img read more