Health and Medical News and Resources

General interest items edited by Janice Flahiff

Pets May Pass Illnesses to Owners

Pets May Pass Illnesses to Owners

Sleeping with or being licked by dogs or cats can be conduit for disease, experts warn

HealthDay news image

 

From a January 21 Health Day news item

THURSDAY, Jan. 20 (HealthDay News) — You might want to think twice before snuggling in bed at night with Fido or Fluffy.

According to a report published in the February issue of the public health journal Emerging Infectious Diseases, seemingly healthy pets can carry parasites, bacteria or viruses that cause mild to life-threatening illness in people.

Of the 250 zoonotic diseases — infections transmitted between animals and people — more than 100 are derived from domestic pets, said veterinarian Dr. Bruno Chomel, report co-author and professor of zoonoses at University of California School of Veterinary Medicine at Davis.

Even though disease transmission is low in comparison to how many people sleep with their pets — more than half of all U.S. pet owners — Chomel said the risks are still there.

“Having a pet in the bed is not a good idea,” he said.

In one case a 69-year-old man, whose dog slept under the covers with him and licked his hip replacement wound, came down with meningitis. Another incident involved a 9-year-old boy who got plague, a potentially deadly bacterial infection, from sleeping with his flea-infested cat.

Other infections transmitted to people after sleeping with their cat or dog, kissing them or being licked by the pet include: hookworm, ringworm, roundworm, cat scratch disease and drug-resistant staph infections, the report said.

While people need to be aware that it’s possible to get sick from a pet, the health benefits of ownership far outweigh the risks, said Dr. Peter Rabinowitz of the Yale School of Medicine and co-author of the text book Human-Animal Medicine: Clinical Approaches to Zoonoses, Toxicants and Other Shared Health Risks. Research has shown that besides offering psychological support and friendship, pets help to lower blood pressure, increase physical activity, reduce stress and lift owners’ spirits, among other things.

However, he said, people with weakened immune systems are at greater risk for getting an infection from an animal. These include the elderly, children younger than 5 years, people with HIV/AIDS and cancer patients.

Owners can stay healthy by practicing good hygiene habits, which include washing hands with soap and hot water after handling pets, especially puppies, kittens or any aged cat or dog with diarrhea. Those “high-risk pets,” he said, are more likely to harbor an infection that could be passed to people. Also, immediately wash any area licked by a pet.

To prevent and catch illnesses early, keep animals free of fleas and ticks, routinely de-worm them and have them regularly examined by a veterinarian, the report advises. The authors also discourage owners from kissing their cats or dogs and sharing a bed with them.

Because most zoonotic diseases are under-diagnosed or not reportable to health authorities, Rabinowitz said no one really knows how many cases occur each year. However, he suspects several million infections are passed between pets and people annually in the United States, ranging from self-limited skin conditions to life-threatening systemic illnesses.

“We think there are probably a lot of infections that happen and nobody really figures out that it came from the pet,” said Rabinowitz, program director of the Yale Human Animal Medicine Project.

In recent years, an initiative called “One Health” — whose supporters include the American Medical Association, the American Nurses Association and the American Veterinary Medical Association — has pushed for better communication and collaboration between doctors and veterinarians. Approximately 60 percent of all human pathogens are zoonotic, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Just this week the president of the American Medical Association spoke at a veterinary conference in Orlando, Fla., about the importance of unifying the health professions.

“It’s not only animals giving infections to people, it looks like people can infect animals, too,” said Rabinowitz, citing a case where a domestic shorthaired cat in Iowa contracted the H1N1 virus from its owner. “It’s a two-way street.”

SOURCES: Peter Rabinowitz, M.D., associate professor, medicine, Yale School of Medicine and program director, Yale Human Animal Medicine Project, New Haven, Conn; Bruno Chomel, D.V.M., Ph.D., professor, population health & reproduction, University of California School of Veterinary Medicine at Davis, Calif; Emerging Infectious Disease, February 2011

 

 


January 25, 2011 Posted by | Consumer Health, Medical and Health Research News | Leave a comment

AHRQ Researchers Find That Inpatient Operating Room Procedures Account For Nearly Half of Hospitals’ Treatment Costs

The image shows an operating room. A patient i...

The image shows an operating room. A patient is being prepared for surgery. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

AHRQ (Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality Researchers Find That Inpatient Operating Room Procedures Account For Nearly Half of Hospitals’ Treatment Costs

From the AHRQ newsletter , January 2011 #304

Although only a quarter of patient stays in U.S. hospitals in 2007 involved procedures that were conducted in operating rooms, such stays accounted for 47 percent of hospitals’ costs – a total of $161 billion for patients receiving procedures, according to a new study by AHRQ researchers that was published in the December 2010 issue of the Archives of Surgery.  The researchers found that one-third of the 15 million operating room procedures that year involved people age 65 and older and that older patients were two to three times more likely to undergo surgery than younger patients.  Surgical patients tended to be less severely ill than non-surgical patients, but their daily cost was double — $2,900 versus $1,400 a day.  Fifteen procedures accounted for half of hospitals’ costs for surgical patient stays and one-quarter of overall hospital costs.  Four of the most expensive procedures – angioplasty, cesarean section delivery, knee replacement and spinal fusion – increased in volume by between 20 percent and 46 percent between 1997 and 2007, while heart bypass surgery plummeted by 70 percent.  More than half of all procedures were elective.  According to AHRQ researchers and study authors, Anne Elixhauser, Ph.D., and Roxanne M. Andrews, Ph.D., the findings highlight the important role that inpatient surgical procedures play in U.S. health care. The study is based on data in AHRQ’s Nationwide Inpatient Sample, a database of hospital inpatient stays in short-term, nonfederal hospitals, which includes all patients, regardless of their type of insurance type, as well as the uninsured.  Select to access the abstract on PubMed.® A free print copy is available by sending an e-mail to AHRQPubs@ahrq.hhs.gov.

January 25, 2011 Posted by | Medical and Health Research News | , , , , | Leave a comment

Do Scientists Understand the Public?

Do Scientists Understand the Public?

N C C A M: The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine

Science and political journalist Chris Mooney recently spoke at NCCAM’s Integrative Medicine Research Lecture.***

He shared his perspective on how scientists engage the public and thoughts on how to improve mutual understanding. The Integrative Medicine Research Lecture series provides overviews of the current state of research and practice involving complementary and alternative medicine practices and approaches, and explores perspectives on the emerging discipline of integrative medicine.
http://nccam.nih.gov/research/consultservice/lecture.htm?nav=upd

 

***The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCAAM)  Integrative Medicine Research Lecture Series provides overviews of the current state of research and practice involving complementary and alternative medicine practices and approaches, and explores perspectives on the emerging discipline of integrative medicine.

Lectures are held at 10:00 a.m. in the NIH Clinical Research Center (Building 10) and are open to the public. Lectures are videocast at videocast.nih.gov.

January 25, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , | Leave a comment

The genius of bacteria

The genius of bacteria

Tel Aviv University develops an IQ test to assess and outsmart bacteria’s ‘social intelligence’

This is a “smart community ” of Paenibacillus vortex bacteria.

 

From the January 24, 2011 Eureka news release

Q scores are used to assess the intelligence of human beings. Now Tel Aviv University has developed a “Social-IQ score” for bacteria ― and it may lead to new antibiotics and powerful bacteria-based “green” pesticides for the agricultural industry.

An international team led by Prof. Eshel Ben-Jacob of Tel Aviv University’s Department of Physics and Astronomy and his research student Alexandra Sirota-Madi says that their results deepen science’s knowledge of the social capabilities of bacteria, one of the most prolific and important organisms on earth. “Bacteria are our worst enemies but they can also be our best friends. To better exploit their capabilities and to outsmart pathogenic bacteria, we must realize their social intelligence,” says Prof. Ben-Jacob.

The international team was first to sequence the genome of pattern-forming bacteria, the Paenibacillus vortex (Vortex) discovered two decades ago by Prof. Ben-Jacob and his collaborators. While sequencing the genome, the team developed the first “Bacteria Social-IQ Score” and found that Vortex and two other Paenibacillus strains have the world’s highest Social-IQ scores among all 500 sequenced bacteria. The research was recently published in the journal BMC Genomics.

Highly evolved communities

The impact of the team’s research is three-fold. First, it shows just how “smart” bacteria can really be –– a new paradigm that has just begun to be recognised by the science community today. Second, it demonstrates bacteria’s high level of social intelligence –– how bacteria work together to communicate and grow. And finally, the work points out some potentially significant applications in medicine and agriculture.

The researchers looked at genes which allow the bacteria to communicate and process information about their environment, making decisions and synthesizing agents for defensive and offensive purposes. This research shows that bacteria are not simple solitary organisms, or “low level” entities, as earlier believed ― they are highly social and evolved creatures. They consistently foil the medical community as they constantly develop strategies against the latest antibiotics. In the West, bacteria are one of the top three killers in hospitals today.

The recent study shows that everyday pathogenic bacteria are not so smart: their S-IQ score is just at the average level. But the social intelligence of the Vortex bacteria is at the “genius range”: if compared to human IQ scores it is about 60 points higher than the average IQ at 100. Armed with this kind of information on the social intelligence of bacteria, researchers will be better able to outsmart them, says Prof. Ben-Jacob.

This information can also be directly applied in “green” agriculture or biological control, where bacteria’s advanced offense strategies and toxic agents can be used to fight harmful bacteria, fungi and even higher organisms.

Tiny biotechnology factories

Bacteria are often found in soil, and live in symbiotic harmony with a plant’s roots. They help the roots access nutrients, and in exchange the bacteria eat sugar from the roots.

For that reason, bacteria are now applied in agriculture to increase the productivity of plants and make them stronger against pests and disease. They can be used instead of fertilizer, and also against insects and fungi themselves. Knowing the Social-IQ score could help developers determine which bacteria are the most efficient.

“Thanks to the special capabilities of our bacteria strain, it can be used by researchers globally to further investigate the social intelligence of bacteria,” says co-author Sirota-Madi. “When we can determine how smart they really are, we can use them as biotechnology factories and apply them optimally in agriculture.”

 

 

 

January 25, 2011 Posted by | Medical and Health Research News | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Cochrane Reviews – A Great Source for Sound Medical Evidence

Cochrane Reviews are thorough unbiased detailed systematic reviews of research in both human health care and health policy.

Some Cochrane Reviews investigate whether or not an intervention (as an antibiotic) really produces a specific intended effect (as reducing sore throat symptoms).

Other Cochrane Reviews look for evidence that a diagnostic test is accurate for a given disease within a specific patient group.

Evidence is largely based on clinical trials.

All Cochane Reviews address specific narrowly defined questions. Each review is the product of a independent team of health care and information professionals (as librarians). These scientific reviews are the result of many hours of analyzing original research. Each review can take up to two years to publish.

While there are presently over 4000 Cochrane Reviews, the Review collection does not cover every possible intervention, drug, or diagnostic test.

However, the abstracts of all reviews are available to the public. Many have plain language summaries.

(For suggestions on how to get free full text of Cochrane Reviews, please click here).

How to search for Cochrane Reviews

**Go to Cochrane Reviews- Explore

**Search for reviews using the simple search at the page or the advanced search option.

The Cochrane Review Home page contains informational links, including

**The Top 50 reviews (Past 24 hours, 7 days, and 30 days)

**Special Collections from the Cochrane Library

**Cochrane Library Editorials

January 25, 2011 Posted by | Finding Aids/Directories, Librarian Resources | , , | Leave a comment

   

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