Archive for the ‘Health’ Category

Timothy Stenovec
The Huffington Post
November 30, 2011

It sounds like the setup for a Hollywood thriller: scientists in a lab create a virus as contagious as the flu that kills half of those infected. We’re safe as long as the virus remains locked up, but if it escapes or gets into the hands of bioterrorists, it has the potential to become a pandemic and kill millions around the world.

But this isn’t the latest summer blockbuster. According to New Scientist magazine, researchers in the Netherlands studying H5N1 — commonly referred to as the bird flu or avian influenza — have created a strain of the virus that’s easily passed between mammals, and it’s just as lethal as the original virus.

According to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, the H5N1 virus has infected more than 500 people in more than a dozen countries and is known to kill around 60 percent of those that become infected.

Ron Fouchier, a researcher at the Erasmus Medical Centre in Rotterdam, led the team that successfully created the mutation. Fouchier presented the findings at a conference in Malta in September and, according to NPR, is now seeking publication of his results.

But some in the scientific community are debating whether or not that’s a good idea.

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Nina Lakhani
The Independent
November 15, 2011

Secret reports seen by The Independent reveal that drug trials funded by western pharmaceutical firms at the Indian hospital set up for survivors of the Bhopal disaster violated international ethical standards and could have put patients at risk.

Some 14 patients died during the three trials examined by the reports. In one trial, for an antibiotic, five out of seven patients died during the trial or soon after it finished. While there is no suggestion that every death merits compensation, critics say there has been no adequate investigation into whether compensation was appropriate in any of the cases. None has ever been paid.

At least eight other trials were carried out on hundreds of Bhopal gas victims. The Independent has evidence of patients who were unaware that they were taking part in a trial at all. The conduct of the trials has exposed the hospital to furious criticism from activists who say that survivors have been used as guinea pigs without proper informed consent.

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Natural News
November 11, 2011

(NaturalNews) Baxter Healthcare Corp. has announced it is recalling roughly 300,000 doses of its Preflucel influenza vaccine due to what it says is an excessive number of adverse events. Baxter is the same drug company that was caught inserting Avian Flu Virus into flu vaccines back in 2009 (

The UK’s Daily Mail reports that a high number of individuals injected with an apparently tainted batch of Preflucel have been reporting side effects like fatigue, muscle pain, and headaches. The vaccine, which was crafted specifically for those with egg allergies, has only been in use since March when it was first approved for use in the UK.

“The vaccine is being recalled because these side effects have been reported more frequently with this specific batch,” said a Baxter spokesmen. This spokesman also attempted to reassure the public that those who have already been vaccinated with Preflucel “should not be concerned (for their safety).”

At the same time, however, Baxter has instructed healthcare providers not to administer any more Preflucel, no matter what batch it came from, to patients. And since this announcement, many European countries where the vaccine was distributed have ceased using it, and have instead switched to various alternatives.

“[Preflucel] should no longer be used and any remaining stock [of the recalled batches] should be returned to the original supplier for credit,” announced the UK Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency. “No further Preflucel of any batch should be administered at this time.”

Conveniently for Baxter, no further information has been provided to the public as to what might be the cause of the uptick in adverse reactions. And if the vaccine is so harmful that the company has decided to recall several hundred thousand doses of it and cease all further administration of it, how can officials say that those who have already been injected with it are safe?

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Washington Post
October 25, 2011

WASHINGTON – The Obama administration is wrestling with the thorny question of whether scientists should inject healthy children with the anthrax vaccine to see whether the shots would safely protect them against a bioterrorism attack.

The other option is to wait until an attack happens and then try to gather data from children whose parents agree to inoculate them in the face of an actual threat.

A key working group of federal advisers in September endorsed testing, sparking objections from those who consider that step unethical, unnecessary and dangerous. The National Biodefense Safety Board (NBSB), which advises the federal government, meets Friday to vote on its working group’s recommendation.

“At the end of the day, do we want to wait for an attack and give it to millions and millions of children and collect data at that time?” said Daniel Fagbuyi of Children’s National Medical Center in Washington, who chaired the group. “Or do we want to say: ‘How do we best protect our children?’ We can take care of grandma and grandpa, uncle and auntie. But right now we have nothing for the children.”

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Associated Press
October 25, 2011

ATLANTA (AP) — The controversial HPV shot given to girls should also be given to boys, in part to help prevent the spread of the virus through sex, a government medical panel said Tuesday.

The expensive vaccine, which protects females against cervical cancer, hasn’t been popular. And doctors admit it will be a tough sell to parents of 11- and 12-year-old males, too.

For males, the vaccine is licensed to prevent genital warts and anal cancer. Experts say another key benefit of routinely vaccinating boys could be preventing the spread of the human papilloma virus to others through sex – making up somewhat for the disappointing vaccination rate in girls.

The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices made the recommendation Tuesday. Federal health officials usually adopt what the panel says and asks doctors and patients to follow the advice.

The vaccine has been available to boys for two years but Tuesday’s vote was the first to strongly recommend routine vaccination. Officials acknowledged the disappointing rate in girls encouraged them to take a new, hard look.

Just 49 percent of adolescent girls have gotten at least the first of the recommended three HPV shots, which have been recommended for girls for five years. Only a third had gotten all three doses by last year.

“Pretty terrible,” said Dr. Anne Schuchat, a U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention administrator who oversees the agency’s immunization programs.

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Wisconsin State Journal
August 29, 2011

A former Dean Clinic employee was inappropriately using demonstration insulin pens and finger stick devices during patient training over a period of five years, potentially exposing 2,345 patients to bloodborne diseases such as hepatitis B and C and HIV, according to a Dean Clinic news release.

Dean Clinic notified state and health officials that the infraction was discovered during an internal review. The incidents took place during patient visits between 2006 and 2011.

Dean is contacting the patients by phone and letter to determine whether they may have been exposed. Dean will take responsibility for needed testing, the news release said.

Dean officials said they are re-educating patient staff on the proper use of these devices and enhancing auditing and monitoring procedures related to the devices.

“Our goal is to ensure that those who may have been affected by the inappropriate use are promptly informed, tested and supported,” Craig Samitt, president and CEO of Dean Clinic, said in the news release.

Dave Mosher
June 2, 2011

The 30th anniversary of HIV is just around the corner, and a new interactive map reveals U.S. data on the disease’s distribution. The information is as granular as individual counties and, for some cities, even zip codes.

The nonprofit mapping effort, called AIDSVu, isn’t a perfect representation of the disease in the United States. The visualization is based on 2008 data, and some states didn’t contribute the county or demographic information that others did. The map shows only diagnosed rates and cases. An estimated one in five HIV carriers in the United States are undiagnosed.

Despite these limitations, it may be the most thorough geographical depiction of HIV ever created.

“It shows HIV doesn’t respect borders like statistical reports do, and shows how far it’s reached into every part of the country, even rural areas,” said epidemiologist Patrick Sullivan of Emory University, one of the project’s leaders. “You can, for example, see a corridor of infection that goes down through the southeast. This is a new way of looking at this epidemic.”

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