UK Reverses Swine Flu Vaccine Over Narcolepsy Side-Effect.


This just in: An example of what happens when people change conclusions based on the data rather than digging in their heels in favor of a pet hypothesis. In this case, the UK government has reversed a previous decision regarding the 2009-2010 European Pandemrix vaccine for “swine flu” and its link to narcolepsy, a sleep disorder that can seriously disrupt activities of daily living. As a result, per The Guardian:

“The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has contacted people turned down for compensation last year to explain that, after a review of fresh evidence, it now accepts the vaccine can cause the condition. The move leaves the government open to compensation claims from around 100 people in Britain, and substantial legal fees if a group action drawn up by solicitors is successful.”

According to the Guardian, here’s why the UK is taking this step:

“The government U-turn follows a major study of four- to 18-year-olds by the Health Protection Agency which found that around one in every 55,000 jabs was associated with narcolepsy. A spokesman for (vaccine maker) GSK said it had details of around 900 people from 14 countries who had narcolepsy and were vaccinated.”

Emphasis mine. It’s a good example of drawing new conclusions based on new information, otherwise known as the appropriate conduct of science, and then doing the right thing. A total of 100 people among 6 million who received this vaccination in the UK developed narcolepsy, for an adverse event rate of 0.0017%. The death rate from the “swine flu” in the UK was 0.026%. Put another way, 26 of every 100,000 people who had the flu died; 1.67 people of every 100,000 (1 in every 55,000 according to the study) receiving the vaccine developed narcolepsy. In addition, the vaccine in question evidently was given to groups at high risk for adverse events from contracting the swine flu. The Pandemrix vaccine is no longer in use and was applied for that specific pandemic. One of its ingredients was an adjuvant, intended to enhance the immune response, called ASO3. According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), no influenza vaccines licensed in the United States contain adjuvants. The CDC has reviewed US data related to seasonal influenza and H1N1 vaccines used in the US and found no links between any US-licensed vaccine and narcolepsy.

Source: 
http://www.forbes.com

Mobile phone radiation is a possible cancer risk, warns WHO.


A review of published evidence suggests there may be some risk of cancer from using a mobile phone

 

Radiation from mobile phones has been classified as a possible cancer risk by the World Health Organisation after a major review of the effects of electromagnetic waves on human health.

The declaration was based on evidence in published studies that intensive use of mobile phones might lead to an increased risk of glioma, a malignant form of brain cancer.

The conclusion by the WHO’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) applies to radio-frequency electromagnetic radiation in general, though most research in the area has centred on wireless phones.

The findings are the culmination of an IARC meeting during which 31 scientists from 14 countries assessed hundreds of published studies into the potential cancer risks posed by electromagnetic fields. The UK was represented by Simon Mann from the Health Protection Agency’s Centre for Radiation, Chemicals and Environmental Hazards in Oxfordshire.

Jonathan Samet, a scientist at the University of Southern California, who chaired the group, said: “The conclusion means that there could be some risk, and therefore we need to keep a close watch for a link between cellphones and cancer.”

In designating radio-frequency fields as “possibly carcinogenic”, the WHO has put them on a par with around 240 other agents for which evidence of harm is uncertain, including low-level magnetic fields, talcum powder and working in a dry cleaners.

The report found no clear mechanism for the waves to cause brain tumours. Radiation from mobile phones is too weak to cause cancer by breaking DNA, leading scientists to suspect other, more indirect routes.

“We found some threads of evidence telling us how cancers might occur but there are acknowledged gaps and uncertainties,” Samet said.

Christopher Wild, director of the IARC, said that in view of the potential implications for public health, there should be more research on long-term, heavy use of mobile phones. “Pending the availability of such information, it is important to take pragmatic measures to reduce exposure such as hands-free devices or texting,” he said.

There are around 5bn mobile phone subscriptions globally, according to theInternational Telecommunication Union, a UN agency for information and communication technologies.

The IARC group reviewed research investigating potential health risks from electromagnetic fields associated with technologies such as radio, television, wireless communications and mobile phones.

The committee decided the fields were possibly carcinogenic to humans, a finding that will feed through to national health agencies in support of their efforts to minimise exposure to cancer-causing factors.

The IARC has evaluated nearly 950 chemicals, physical and biological agents, occupational exposures and lifestyle factors where there is either evidence or suspicion that they may cause cancer.

The report on radio-frequency electromagnetic radiation comes a year after the WHO published its much-delayed Interphone studywhich found no solid evidence that mobile phones increase the risk of brain tumours, but pointed to a slightly higher risk among those who used mobile phones the most. The report was held up for several years because scientists failed to agree on its findings and whether to issue a warning about excessive use.

Exposure from a mobile phone base station is typically much lower than from a handset held to the ear, but concerns over the possible health effects of electromagnetic waves have extended to base stations and wireless computer networks, particularly in relation to schools.

According to the British Educational Communications and Technology Agency, half of all primary schools and 82% of secondary schools make use of wireless computer networks.

Wi-fi equipment is restricted to a maximum output of 100 milliwatts in Europe at the most popular frequency of 2.4 gigahertz. At that level, exposure to radiowaves should not exceed guideline levels drawn up by the International Commission on Non-Ionising Radiation and adopted in the UK.

A Health Protection Agency study led by Mann in 2009 found that exposure to radiowaves from wi-fi equipment was well within these guideline levels.

 

Source: The Guardian

 

Prevent the Spread of Norovirus.


Norovirus causes about 20 million gastroenteritis cases each year in the United States. There’s no vaccine to prevent infection and no drug to treat it. Wash your hands often and follow simple tips to stay healthy.

Noroviruses are a group of related viruses. Infection with these viruses affects the stomach and intestines and causes an illness called gastroenteritis (GAS-tro-en-ter-I-tis; inflammation of the stomach and intestines).

Anyone Can Get Norovirus

Anyone can be infected with noroviruses and get sick. Also, you can get norovirus illness more than once during your life. The illness often begins suddenly. You may feel very sick, with stomach cramping, throwing up, or diarrhea.

Noroviruses are the most common cause of gastroenteritis in the United States. CDC estimates that each year more than 20 million cases of acute gastroenteritis are caused by noroviruses. That means about 1 in every 15 Americans will get norovirus illness each year. Norovirus is also estimated to cause over 70,000 hospitalizations and 800 deaths each year in the United States.

Many Names, Same Symptoms

You may hear norovirus illness called “food poisoning” or “stomach flu.” It is true that food poisoning can be caused by noroviruses. But, other germs and chemicals can also cause food poisoning. Norovirus illness is not related to the flu (influenza), which is a respiratory illness caused by influenza virus.

Symptoms of norovirus infection usually include diarrhea, throwing up, nausea, and stomach cramping.

Other, less common symptoms may include low-grade fever, chills, headache, muscle aches, and general sense of fatigue.

Norovirus illness is usually not serious. Most people get better in 1­ to 2 days. But, norovirus illness can be serious in young children, the elderly, and people with other health conditions; it can lead to severe dehydration, hospitalization and even death.

You may get dehydrated if you are not able to drink enough liquids to replace the fluids lost from throwing up or having diarrhea many times a day. Symptoms of dehydration include a decrease in urination, a dry mouth and throat, and feeling dizzy when standing up. Children who are dehydrated may also cry with few or no tears and be unusually sleepy or fussy.

The best way to prevent dehydration is to drink plenty of liquids. Oral rehydration fluids are the most helpful for severe dehydration. But other drinks without caffeine or alcohol can help with mild dehydration. However, these drinks may not replace important nutrients and minerals that are lost due to vomiting and diarrhea.

If you think you or someone you are caring for is severely dehydrated, contact your doctor. For more information on norovirus and dehydration, see norovirus treatment.

Norovirus Spreads Quickly

Norovirus can spread quickly from person to person in crowded, closed places like long-term care facilities, daycare centers, schools, hotels, and cruise ships. Noroviruses can also be a major cause of gastroenteritis in restaurants and catered-meal settings if contaminated food is served.

Norovirus and Food

Norovirus is a leading cause of disease from contaminated foods in the United States. Foods that are most commonly involved in foodborne norovirus outbreaks include leafy greens (such as lettuce), fresh fruits, and shellfish (such as oysters). However, any food item that is served raw or handled after being cooked can become contaminated with noroviruses.

The viruses are found in the vomit and stool of infected people. You can get it by

  • Eating food or drinking liquids that are contaminated with norovirus (someone gets stool or vomit on their hands, then touches food or drink).
  • Touching surfaces or objects contaminated with norovirus and then putting your hand or fingers in your mouth.
  • Having direct contact with a person who is infected with norovirus (for example, when caring for someone with norovirus or sharing foods or eating utensils with them).

People with norovirus illness are contagious from the moment they begin feeling sick until at least 3 days after they recover. But, some people may be contagious for even longer.

Norovirus: No Vaccine and No Treatment

There is no vaccine to prevent norovirus infection. Also, there is no drug to treat people who get sick from the virus. Antibiotics will not help if you have norovirus illness. This is because antibiotics fight against bacteria, not viruses. The best way to reduce your chance of getting norovirus is by following some simple tips.

Stop the Spread of Norovirus

Practice proper hand hygiene

Wash your hands carefully with soap and water, especially after using the toilet and changing diapers and always before eating or preparing food. If soap and water aren’t available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer. These alcohol-based products can quickly reduce the number of germs on hands in some situations, but they are not a substitute for washing with soap and water.

Take care in the kitchen

Carefully wash fruits and vegetables, and cook oysters and other shellfish thoroughly before eating them.

Do not prepare food while infected

People with norovirus illness should not prepare food for others while they have symptoms and for 3 days after they recover from their illness.

Clean and disinfect contaminated surfaces

After throwing up or having diarrhea, immediately clean and disinfect contaminated surfaces by using a bleach-based household cleaner as directed on the product label. If no such cleaning product is available, you can use a solution made with 5 tablespoons to 1.5 cups of household bleach per 1 gallon of water.

Wash laundry thoroughly

Immediately remove and wash clothing or linens that may be contaminated with vomit or stool. Handle soiled items carefully—without agitating them—to avoid spreading virus. If available, wear rubber or disposable gloves while handling soiled clothing or linens and wash your hands after handling. The items should be washed with detergent at the maximum available cycle length and then machine dried.

Source:CDC