The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention updated its diagnostic testing guidelines for the Zika virus on Tuesday, based on early data showing that it can be found at higher levels or last longer in urine than in blood.
The agency now recommends that its preferred diagnostic test, called Zika virus RT-PCR, be conducted on urine collected less than 14 days after the individual suspected of having the disease starts experiencing symptoms.
The test should be performed in conjunction with blood testing if the specimens are collected less than seven days after the onset of symptoms, the CDC said.
A positive result in either case provides adequate evidence of infection, the agency said.
The CDC recommendations for Zika testing though blood and other procedures remain unchanged.
The World Health Organization (WHO) declared the Zika outbreak an international health emergency on Feb. 1.
The outbreak is affecting large parts of Latin America and the Caribbean, with Brazil the hardest hit so far.
U.S. health officials have concluded that Zika infections in pregnant women can cause microcephaly, a birth defect that can lead to severe developmental problems in babies. The virus is also linked to a host of other debilitating disorders.
University of Copenhagen study finds no evidence that so-called friendly bacteria change the composition of faecal bacteria
Fans of probiotic drinks and foods may be wasting their money, according to a review of current research into the supplements that suggests they may be of no benefit to healthy adults.
A Danish team looked at the results of seven trials of the products – often sold as milk-based drinks, biscuits, sachets, or capsules – and found no evidence they changed the composition of faecal bacteria in healthy adults.
Online blogs and magazines have helped spur a trend for lacto-fermentation of foodstuffs by touting a range of purported health benefits, such as improved digestion and resistance to infections.
Oluf Pedersen, who led the research at the University of Copenhagen, said: “While there is some evidence from previous reviews that probiotic interventions may benefit those with disease-associated imbalances of the gut microbiota, there is little evidence of an effect in healthy individuals.”
In-depth clinical trials would be needed to explore whether probiotics can help people avoid getting sick, he added.
Probiotics are live microbial food ingredients – sometimes labelled “friendly bacteria” – that are said to provide the consumer with numerous health benefits by improving the intestinal microbial balance. They are often made by introducing live bacterial cultures to everyday foodstuffs, which metabolise sugars as they multiply and leave them with a sour, fresh flavour. Aside from branded products specifically marketed as probiotic supplements, such foods include plain yoghurt, sauerkraut, miso and kefir.
Advocates claim they can help with digestive health, allergies, immune response and obesity. Previous research has suggested that in some cases, such as where diarrhoea has arisen from antibiotic use, probiotics can have a therapeutic effect.
But when Pedersen and his team reviewed seven randomised controlled studies that investigated whether a daily probiotic supplement had any effect on the microbial composition of healthy adults’ faeces, only one showed significant changes.
Nadja Buus Kristensen, a PhD student and junior author of the study, said: “According to our systematic review, no convincing evidence exists for consistent effects of examined probiotics on faecal microbiota composition in healthy adults, despite probiotic products being consumed to a large extent by the general population.”
Studies included in the review had sample sizes ranging from 21 to 81, and included participants aged 19 to 88 years old. The Copenhagen team noted that the real impact of the probiotics may have been masked by small sample sizes and the use of different strains of bacteria and variations in participants’ diets, among other factors.
Pedersen said: “To explore the potential of probiotics to contribute to disease prevention in healthy people there is a major need for much larger, carefully designed and carefully conducted clinical trials.
“These should include ideal composition and dosage of known and newly developed probiotics combined with specified dietary advice, optimal trial duration and relevant monitoring of host health status.”
The hyperloops are coming! Hyperloop Transportation Technologies has released video footage of what the inside of a model hyperloop tunnel looks like. While most riders on the finished hyperloop won’t see out of the front of the passenger pods, the view looks thrilling.
Using an unprecedented technique of matching stars to the locations of temples on Earth, a 15-year-old Canadian student says he’s discovered a forgotten Maya city in Mexico. Images from space suggest he may actually be onto something—but experts say it’s something much simpler.
William Gadoury, a teen from Saint-Jean-de-Matha in Lanaudière, developed an interest in archaeology after the publication of the Maya calendar announcing the end of the world in 2012. After spending hours poring over diagrams of constellations and maps of known Maya cities, he noticed that the two appeared to be linked; the brightest stars of the constellations overlaid perfectly with the locations of the largest Maya cities. As reported in The Telegraph, no other scientist had ever discovered such a correlation.
Here’s how he discovered the lost city: After studying 22 different constellations, Gadoury noticed that they neatly corresponded to the locations of 117 Mayan cities located in Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador. When looking at a 23rd constellation, he was able to match two stars to known cities—but a third star remained unmatched. Using transparent overlays, Gadoury pinpointed a location deep in the thick jungles of the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico.
“I did not understand why the Maya built their cities away from rivers, on marginal lands, and in the mountains,” explained Gadoury in Le Journal de Montreal. “They must have had another reason, and as they worshiped the stars, the idea came to me to verify my hypothesis. I was really surprised and excited when I realized that the most brilliant stars of the constellations matched the largest Maya cities.”
Taking this idea further, Gadoury contacted the Canadian Space Agency, who provided him with space-based images from NASA and JAXA. These satellite images revealed a batch of undeniably geometric structures hidden under the jungle canopy. Gadoury, along with Dr. Armand LaRocque, a remote sensing specialist from the University of New Brunswick in Fredericton, believe it’s an ancient Maya pyramid surrounded by 30 smaller structures. The teen has named the city—which has yet to be explored and verified—K’aak Chi, which means “Mouth of Fire.” If confirmed, it would be among the largest Maya cities ever discovered.
LaRocque said the use of satellite images, as well as the contribution of digital image processing, helped to confirm the possible existence of this forgotten city. “Geometric shapes, such as squares or rectangles, appeared in these images, forms that can hardly be attributed to natural phenomenon,” LaRocque said.
Daniel de Lisle of the Canadian Space Agency said he was fascinated by the depth of Gadoury’s research, and that linking the position of stars and the location of a lost city “is quite exceptional.” He toldThe Independent that “There are linear features that would suggest there is something underneath that big canopy,” adding that “There are enough items to suggest it could be a man-made structure.”
What needs to happen now is a ground expedition, but that won’t come cheap, nor will it be easy. The location of the site is in one of the most remote and inaccessible areas of Mexico. And as LaRocque put it, “Expedition costs are horribly expensive.” Gadoury has contacted a team of Mexican archaeologists, and he’s hoping to take part in any subsequent mission to the site.
“It would be the culmination of my three years of work and the dream of my life,” said the cool teen.
So, uh, can someone get a Kickstarter going for this kid immediately please?
Update 2:56 pm: Some skeptics are voicing their opinions about this story. Here’s what David Stuart, an anthropologist from The Mesoamerica Center-University of Texas at Austin, had to say via his Facebook page:
Update: 3:25 pm: Thomas Garrison, an anthropologist at USC Dornsife and an expert in remote sensing, says these objects are relic corn fields. Here’s what he told Gizmodo:
I applaud the young kid’s effort and it’s exciting to see such interest in the ancient Maya and remote sensing technology in such a young person. However, ground-truthing is the key to remote sensing research. You have to be able to confirm what you are identifying in a satellite image or other type of scene. In this case, the rectilinear nature of the feature and the secondary vegetation growing back within it are clear signs of a relic milpa. I’d guess its been fallow for 10-15 years. This is obvious to anyone that has spent any time at all in the Maya lowlands. I hope that this young scholar will consider his pursuits at the university level so that his next discovery (and there are plenty to be made) will be a meaningful one.
Garrison provided Gizmodo with this image of a similar feature in an area where he works in Guatemala. This field has been abandoned more recently.
Update: 4:30 pm: We also reached out to Ivan Šprajc from the Institute of Anthropological and Spatial Studies in Slovenia. He says the Maya were very good astronomers, and that they were interested in certain stars and celestial objects, but he’s skeptical that these charts can be used to reveal the location of Maya sites. As he told Gizmodo:
Very few Maya constellations have been identified, and even in these cases we do not know how many and which stars exactly composed each constellation. It is thus impossible to check whether there is any correspondence between the stars and the location of Maya cities. In general, since we know of several environmental facts that influenced the location of Maya settlements, the idea correlating them with stars is utterly unlikely.
The risk of sudden infant death syndrome doubled for children sleeping on their stomach or side when they were swaddled.
Babies who are swaddled and placed on their stomachs or sides may have an increased risk of dying from sudden infant death syndrome, according to an analysis of four studies.
Researchers found that babies who were swaddled, or wrapped tightly in a blanket or cloth, were twice as likely to die from SIDS, if they were laid on their stomachs or sides, according to the report, published in the journal Pediatrics. The likelihood of SIDS was low for those placed on their backs.
While the study in no ways says parents should stop swaddling all together, it did find that swaddling could be dangerous for older children who can move from their backs into a dangerous position while sleeping, Anna Pease, lead study author and research associate at the University of Bristol in England, said in a statement.
“On a practical level what parents should take away from this is that if they choose to swaddle their babies for sleep, always place them on their back, and think about when to stop swaddling for sleep as their babies get older and more able to move,” Pease said.
“The concern is that as babies get older – even tho swaddled — they could wiggle around and end up in a prone position, face-down, looking at the mattress,” Colby said. “You have to be mindful as your baby gets older, and assess if swaddling your baby tight at 2-3 months if still a safe practice.”
He notes that further research will likely be needed to assess whether there is a general rule on when parents should stop swaddling their children.
To find out the connection between swaddling a child and SIDS, researchers pored over data from four studies which spanned over two decades and covered areas in England, Tasmania and Chicago, Ill. The studies included 760 infant deaths which were attributed to SIDS, out of a total group of 2,519 babies.
One of the biggest limitations of the study was that none of the studies gave the same definition of swaddling, Pease said in a statement.
“We only found four studies and they were quite different, and none gave a precise definition for swaddling making it difficult to pool the results,” Pease said. “We did find, however, that the risk of SIDS when placing infants on the side or front for sleep increased when infants were swaddled.”
Colby notes the main takeaway is to reemphasize that a baby should always be placed on their back to sleep and never face down.
If you are a person that is 160 cm tall and you have 65 kg – and you still think that’s the ideal weight for you, then you are deeply wrong. Even the doctors disagree with you. Well, this is not just and aesthetic problem. This is also one big health problem, for which you should be very concerned. The fat tissue can harm your health and it can cause you many health problems, especially blood problems. In this post we are going to show you the ideal weight, according to your height.
There are several ways to determine the ideal body weight and the most popular is the one called “Body mass index”. The experts warn that this method is universal so it cannot be applied to all because each person has different construction. For example there are girls who are naturally slim build or ones who exercised and have broad shoulders.
You should also have in mind that the weight never goes in the same direction as health. So, this is why you should always combine healthy diet with regular physical activities. Well, you can lose some weight by dieting, but your muscles will lose their mass. So, this is not the best or the correct way of losing weight.
However the table below will show you the number of pounds and you will see if it is time to diet again.
But putting aside its importance for overall health, the male ego depends in large part on the ability to ‘get it up,’ and when things don’t work out as planned, quite a lot can go wrong as far as intimacy is concerned. It has been said that when sexual issues emerge in a relationship, they take on 90% importance, but when they aren’t an issue, they only figure 10% in the overall success of the relationship.
Men, especially in the 35-45 range, also are faced with what is known as andropause, as the levels of key ‘erotic’ hormones such as testosterone and human growth human start to take a precipitous decline.
The pharmaceutical industry has capitalized heavily on this ‘change of life’ phase, with Viagra taking on a ‘pole position’ for several decades. But these pharmaceuticals have severe, if not sometimes deadly side effects. All the more reason why natural alternatives are in great need today.
So, what does the ‘hard evidence’ itself have to say on the topic of natural alternatives. Take a moment to look at what we have found:
L-arginine: #1 on the list is the amino acid l-arginine. A precursor to nitric oxide, this conditionally non-essential amino acid is especially important in times of trauma or stress. What makes is ‘conditionally essential’ is that while the body can normally produce adequate quantities, during times of stress (including burn trauma), the body is unable to produce sufficient quantities, at which time supplementation is of key importance. Also, when the arteries undergo what is called ‘endothelial dysfunction,’ and are incapable of dilating sufficiently, adding additional l-arginine can correct the condition by inducing nitric oxide up-regulation, subsequently increasing blood flow, which can lead to resolution of cardiovascular dysfunction, including erectile dysfunction. We have indexed no less than six clinical studies on l-arginine, either alone or in combination with another nutraceutical, indicating it can contribute to a reversal of erectile dysfunction. You can view the studies here.
Pycnogenol: This amazing substance has a wide range of health benefits. In fact, we have indexed over 80 evidence-based health applications here. When it comes to erectile dysfunction, pycnogenol figures as a profound synergist, working to amplify the benefits of l-arginine to the point where two separate clinical studies found the combination highly effective and safe in resolving erectile dysfunction.
Panax Ginseng: This amazing Asian herb has been used for thousands of years to increase stamina and longevity. There is now a sizable body of scientific evidence supporting its traditional folkoric use, with a 2008 meta-analysis of the extant research on the topic, which looked at 7 randomized clinical trials to ascertain its value in erectile dysfunction, concluding: “Collectively these RCTs provide suggestive evidence for the effectiveness of red ginseng in the treatment of erectile dysfunction.”
Maca: this South American tuber, both a food and medicine, and long identified as a means to increasing fertility and libido in both men and woman, was found in a 2009 clinical trial to have a significant effect “…on subjective perception of general and sexual well-being in adult patients with mild ED.”
Tongkat Ali (Eurycoma longifolia): Like most traditional herbs, Tongkat Ali has had a variety of traditional uses, including as an “antimalarial, aphrodisiac, antidiabetic, antimicrobial, and antipyretic [fever-reducer].” As far as its libido enhancing properties, two preclinical trials have found it effective in the animal model at improving sexual performance, confirming its aphrodisiacal properites.,
Saffron: this sacred spice, highly prized as both a culinary ingredient and medicine, has been studied to have significant effects in reversing erectile dysfunction at doses of 200 mg a day. A 2009 study found: “Saffron showed a positive effect on sexual function with increased number and duration of erectile events seen in patients with ED even only after taking it for ten days.”
Yohimbe: This potent herb has been found effective when combined with l-arginine to improve erectile dysfunction. A 2002 study concluded: “oral administration of the L-arginine glutamate 6g and 6 mg yohimbine combination is effective in improving erectile function in patients with mild to moderate ED.” [Warning: Yohimbe and its active ingredient yohimbine is a potent nutraceutical with possible severe side effects such as hypertension. It is advisable to use it only under the guidance of a physician or medical herbalist to avoid possible side effects, especially if already using prescription drugs.]
Tribulis: This potent herb has libido enhancing properties for both men and women. We recently featured a study showing it helps women to increase their libido. The preclinical research on male libido is promising, with no less than three studies indicating its benefits for erectile dysfunction.
Green Tea: A highly provocative animal study from 2008 indicates that green tea may address both the origin of erectile dysfunction by diminishing atherosclerotic progression in the corpus cavernosum of the male rat penis, subsequently indicating improvement in both erectile dysfunction and cardiovascular health. This is, in fact, not the first study to show that green tea can correct endothelial dysfunction.
Exercise: One of the best ways to improve your body image, self-esteem, and sexual vitality is through exercise. A 2009 study found that physical inactivity contributes to erectile dysfunction – essentially a no-brainer.
A Sense of Humor: Living life with a negative attitude, especially when afflicted with a health condition, doesn’t reflect well as far as sexuality is concerned. A remarkable 2008 study found that viewing humorous films in patients with atopic dermatitis leads to short-term improvement of erectile dysfunction. While we don’t know for sure if this study extends to everyone with the condition, it is instructive, perhaps, to look at a degree of levity and light-heartedness as an essential precondition to alleviating some degree of sexual dysfunction. Sex should be fun, right? So lighten up by increasing you humor and joy, whenever possible.
AVOID Anti-Depressants: Perhaps surprisingly, antidepressant drugs have been found to be a major cause of sexual dysfunction. A 2006 study found that selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), e.g. Prozac, Paxil, are associated with sexual dysfunction in 95.6% of women and 97.9% men. What a misnomer! What could be more depressing than killing your sexual desire with a pharmaceutical Band-Aid?
Ultimately, sexual dysfunction begins in the brain. Nothing can eliminate a dysfunctional relationship or a lack of intimacy that often follows from it. While natural interventions exist – Ginseng, Arginine, Tribulus, etc. – it should be remembered that that erectile dysfunction stems from more than just physiological issues. A lack of desire may reflect a lack of appreciation for one’s own self, body image, or sense of sensuality. Nonetheless, it is good to know that alternatives to pharmaceuticals like Viagra exist, and are evidence-based, safer and time-tested. Moreover, it is important to acknowledge that the ‘canary in the trousers’ often reflects cardiovascular dysfunction body-wide, and the best way to address that is through a radical transformation of the diet, focusing on a grain and dairy-free ancestral diet rich in high nutrient, low carbohydrate vegetables, tubers and fruits and berries, as well as high quality natural fats and protein sources that are consistent with our biological heritage.
FBLearner Flow, as the software is known, is filled with algorithms developed by Facebook’s AI/ML experts that can be accessed by more general engineers across the company to build different products.
“FBLearner Flow [is] capable of easily reusing algorithms in different products, scaling to run thousands of simultaneous custom experiments, and managing experiments with ease,” wrote Facebook software engineer Jeffrey Dunn, in a blog post on Monday titled “Introducing FBLearner Flow: Facebook’s AI backbone.”
AI involves creating computers and computer software that are capable of intelligent behaviour, while machine learning can be defined as a field of study of that gives computers the potential to learn without being explicitly programmed.
“FBLearner Flow is used by more than 25% of Facebook’s engineering team,” wrote Dunn. “Since its inception, more than a million models have been trained, and our prediction service has grown to make more than 6 million predictions per second.”
It’s not clear exactly how many engineers Facebook employs but the social media giant had 12,691 people in full-time employment across the company last December, according to statistics portal Statista.
The FBLearner Flow platform is similar to Microsoft’s Azure Machine Learning service and Airbnb’s open source Airflow platform, according to VentureBeat, which spoke to Hussein Mehanna, director of Facebook’s Core Machine Learning Group.
Facebook has been working on FBLearner Flow since late 2014 and has spoken to LinkedIn, Twitter, and Uber about the system, according to Mehanna, suggesting it could one day be open-sourced.
AI is the most important technology anyone in the world is working on today, according to Dave Coplin, Microsoft’s chief envisioning officer, so it’s not all that surprising Facebook wants to put the technology into the hands of developers.
Dunn described in his post exactly where machine learning is being applied across Facebook’s platform. “When you log in to Facebook, we use the power of machine learning to provide you with unique, personalised experiences,” he said. “Machine learning models are part of ranking and personalising News Feed stories, filtering out offensive content, highlighting trending topics, ranking search results, and much more.
“There are numerous other experiences on Facebook that could benefit from machine learning models, but until recently it’s been challenging for engineers without a strong machine learning background to take advantage of our ML infrastructure. In late 2014, we set out to redefine machine learning platforms at Facebook from the ground up, and to put state-of-the-art algorithms in AI and ML at the fingertips of every Facebook engineer.”