(World Health Organization) – The Ebola virus was introduced into Nigeria on 20 July 2014 when an infected Liberian man arrived by aeroplane into Lagos, Africa’s most populous city. The man, who died in hospital 5 days later, set off a chain of transmission that infected a total of 19 people, of whom 7 died. According to WHO recommendations, the end of an Ebola virus disease outbreak in a country can be declared once 42 days have passed and no new cases have been detected.
(New York Times) – Robotic-assisted surgery accounted for 15 percent of oophorectomies, or removal of the ovaries, in 2012, up from 3.5 percent in 2009. The use of robots in cystectomies, the removal of ovarian cysts, rose to 12.9 percent of operations from 2.4 percent during the same period. But in a study of more than 87,000 operations, researchers found the rate of complication during robotic surgeries for oophrectomy was 3.4 percent, compared with 2.1 percent for conventional surgery.
(The Guardian) – Girls who are at risk of being removed from the UK to undergo female genital mutilation will have their passports confiscated so they cannot be taken out of the country, under “unprecedented” legal reforms announced by the government. If a girl is suspected to be at risk, courts will be able to use new FGM protection orders to prevent her parents taking her out of the country. They could also pave the way for the mandatory medical examination of girls believed to be at risk, who will be required to live at a named address so that authorities can check they have not been subjected to the practice.
(Sci Dev Net) – The number of Ebola cases is roughly doubling every three weeks. With families being torn apart and thousands of children already orphaned and abandoned due to the stigma associated with the disease, UNICEF’s regional director for West and Central Africa Manuel Fontaine has called for both traditional and new ways to provide psychosocial support. According to UN News Centre, this will include training 400 new mental health workers in Liberia.
(CNN) – If government prosecutors are right, a former top researcher at Iowa State University is guilty of brazen scientific fraud-actions which a criminal complaint says have cost taxpayers nearly $15 million. Federal prosecutors accuse Korean-born researcher Dr. Dong Pyou-Han of deliberately falsifying key blood research into a possible vaccine for HIV. An indictment brought against Han says he falsely showed that rabbits infected with the virus had shown remarkable improvement.
(CNN) – Apple and Facebook made the headlines last week on the news that they are offering coverage for their female employees to freeze their eggs. Financial support for egg-freezing represents a bold step by these tech leaders, intended to support women as they manage the modern-day conflict between work and family. It is also the latest incarnation of technological optimism, a belief in quick fixes for complex social, political and cultural issues. But women and men everywhere should be suspicious of egg-freezing as a “solution.”
(CNN) – The law bans almost any payment to living organ donors. Recipients themselves can reimburse donors’ travel, lodging, and lost wages, which helps, when they have the money — but not when they don’t. Most people who are living donors give to a family member or friend, but the financial hardships are considerable and people are regularly denied permission to donate because they don’t have enough financial resources.
(BBC) – Serum made from the blood of recovered Ebola patients could be available within weeks in Liberia, one of the countries worst hit by the virus, says the World Health Organization. Speaking in Geneva, Dr Marie Paule Kieny said work was also advancing quickly to get drugs and a vaccine ready for January 2015. The Ebola outbreak has already killed more than 4,500 people.
(ABC News) – Federal health officials on Monday issued new guidelines to promote head-to-toe protection for health workers treating Ebola patients. Officials have been scrambling to come up with new advice for protective gear since two Dallas nurses became infected while caring for the first person diagnosed with the virus in the United States. The new guidelines set a firmer standard, calling for full-body garb and hoods that protect worker’s necks; setting rigorous rules for removal of equipment and disinfection of gloved hands; and calling for a “site manager” to supervise the putting on and taking off of equipment.
(Washington Post) – October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, when that particular cancer is in the spotlight. The No. 1 priority for any cancer patient should be to make informed treatment decisions. But according to a study by the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, advertisements for cancer centers are too often long on emotion and short on realistic and useful information. The study found that 85 percent of the ads were designed to tug at viewers’ heartstrings. Patient testimonials, usually focused on their survival against the odds, were used in almost half of them.
Philosophical Issues (Volume 24, No. 1, October 2014) is now available online by subscription only. Articles include:
- “Neuromedia, extended knowledge and understanding” by Michael Patrick Lynch
- “Epistemic action, extended knowledge, and metacognition” by Joëlle Proust
- “Minds and morals” by Sarah Sawyer
- “Empiricism for cyborgs” by Adam Toon
(The Atlantic) – A recent crop of books offers a fascinating and disturbing ethnography of the opaque land of medicine, told by participant-observers wearing lab coats. What’s going on is more dysfunctional than I imagined in my worst moments. Although we’re all aware of pervasive health-care problems and the coming shortage of general practitioners, few of us have a clear idea of how truly disillusioned many doctors are with a system that has shifted profoundly over the past four decades. These inside accounts should be compulsory reading for doctors, patients, and legislators alike. They reveal a crisis rooted not just in rising costs but in the very meaning and structure of care.
Italian Nurse Daniela Poggiali Is Accused of Killing ‘Up to 38 Patients Because She Found Them Annoying’
(The Independent) – Dozens of suspicious deaths in a hospital in northern Italy may have been the work of a suspected “killer” nurse with a grudge against “annoying patients with pushy relatives,” claim investigators. Daniela Poggiali, 42, was arrested at the weekend following the death of a patient in her care on 8 April. Tests showed that 78-year-old Rosa Calderoni had dangerous levels of potassium in her system.
(The Guardian) – The debate around voluntary euthanasia has gained new urgency after it emerged that a 86-year-old woman starved herself to death because she believed it was the only way she could legally exercise her right to die. Before she died, Jean Davies said she was going through the “intolerable” experience because the government had failed to reform the law on assisted suicide, leaving her no legal alternative.
(MIT Technology Review) – Promethease was created by a tiny, two-man company run as a side project by Greg Lennon, a geneticist based in Maryland, and Mike Cariaso, a computer programmer. It works by comparing a person’s DNA data with entries in SNPedia, a sprawling public wiki on human genetics that the pair created eight years ago and run with the help of a few dozen volunteer editors. Lennon says Promethease is being used to build as many as 500 gene reports a day.
(Eurekalert) – Researchers have successfully transplanted “organoids” of functioning human intestinal tissue grown from pluripotent stem cells in a lab dish into mice – creating an unprecedented model for studying diseases of the intestine. Reporting their results Oct. 19 online in Nature Medicine, scientists from Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center said that, through additional translational research the findings could eventually lead to bioengineering personalized human intestinal tissue to treat gastrointestinal diseases.
(Medical Xpress) – While megakaryocytes are best known for producing platelets that heal wounds, these “mega” cells found in bone marrow also play a critical role in regulating stem cells according to new research from the Stowers Institute for Medical Research. In fact, hematopoietic stem cells differentiate to generate megakaryocytes in bone marrow. The Stowers study is the first to show that hematopoietic stem cells (the parent cells) can be directly controlled by their own progeny (megakaryocytes).
(Delaware Online) – Unnervingly, the U.S. public health services remain steps behind the Ebola virus. Contact tracing is what we do, Centers for Disease Control Director Tom Frieden assured the nation. It will stop the epidemic “in its tracks.” And yet nurses Nina Pham and Amber Vinson, who developed Ebola, were not even among the 48 contacts that the CDC was initially following.
(BioScience Technology) – A surprise discovery that overturns decades of thinking about how the body fixes proteins that come unraveled greatly expands opportunities for therapies to prevent diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, which have been linked to the accumulation of improperly folded proteins in the brain.
(The Telegraph) – All women aged 35 or over should have their fertility checked and be warned that they must freeze their eggs if they are hoping to conceive, one of Britain’s leading IVF specialists has said. Paul Serhal, founder of the Centre for Reproductive and Genetic Health, said that too few GPs were up to date with current practice and were giving patients poor advice. A test has been developed that gives women a traffic-light read-out of their fertility. Green is fine, amber shows depletion in eggs and red means conception is unlikely.