Click for St. Louis, Missouri Forecast

// a href = ./ // St Louis News, Weather, Sports, The Big 550 AM, St Louis Traffic, Breaking News in St Louis

 
 
 

Health & Fitness (239)

BEIJING (AP) -- Scientists taking a first look at the genetics of a bird flu strain that has killed three people in China said Wednesday that the virus could be harder to track than its better-known cousin H5N1 because it might be able to spread among poultry without showing any signs.

The scientists, at several research institutes around the world, urged Chinese veterinary authorities to widely test animals and birds in affected regions to quickly detect and eliminate the H7N9 virus before it becomes widespread.

They said the virus is troubling because it can infect poultry without producing any symptoms, while seriously sickening humans. The virus, previously known to have infected only birds, appears to have mutated, enabling it to more easily infect other animals, including pigs, which could serve as hosts and spread the virus more widely among humans, they said.

The findings are preliminary and need further testing.

China over the weekend reported two deaths in Shanghai in the strain's first known infections of humans. On Wednesday it announced an additional fatality - a 38-year-old cook working in Jiangsu province, where other cases also have been reported.

The cook went home to Hangzhou in Zhejiang province for treatment after falling ill in early March, and died March 27.

One other person in Hangzhou, a 67-year-old retiree, was in critical condition, the official Xinhua News Agency reported, bringing the number of seriously ill H7N9 patients in three eastern provinces to six. Those regions stepped up measures this week to guard against the spread of the disease, calling on hospitals to report severe pneumonia cases with unknown causes and schools to monitor for fevers.

In the wake of the outbreak, the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention shared the genetic sequence of the new virus with the global health community. The data allow scientists to make preliminary interpretations of how the virus might behave in different animals and situations. Such hypotheses, while not conclusive, can help provide important early warnings to authorities dealing with the disease.

The scientists said that based on information from the genetic data and Chinese lab testing, the H7N9 virus appears to infect some birds without causing any noticeable symptoms. Without obvious outbreaks of dying chickens or birds to focus efforts on, authorities could face a challenge in trying to trace the source of the infection and stop the spread.

"We speculate that when this virus is maintained in poultry the disease will not appear, and similar in pigs, if they are infected, so nobody recognizes the infection in animals around them, then the transmission from animal to human may occur," said Dr. Masato Tashiro, director of the World Health Organization's influenza research center in Tokyo and one of the specialists who studied the genetic data. "In terms of this phenomenon, it's more problematic."

This behavior is unlike the virus's more established relative, the virulent H5N1 strain, which set off warnings when it began ravaging poultry across Asia in 2003. H5N1 has since killed 360 people worldwide, mostly after close contact with infected birds.

"In that sense, if this continues to spread throughout China and beyond China, it would be an even bigger problem than with H5N1 in some sense, because with H5N1 you can see evidence of poultry dying, but here you can see this would be more or less a silent virus in poultry species that will occasionally infect humans," said University of Hong Kong microbiologist Malik Peiris, who also examined the information.

Scientists closely monitor bird flu viruses, fearing they may change and become easier to spread among humans, possibly sparking a pandemic. There's no evidence of that happening in China.

Peiris praised Chinese health authorities for being forthcoming with data and information, but said animal health agencies needed to act quickly. He urged China to widely test healthy birds in live animal markets in the parts of the country where the human infections have been reported to find out what bird species might be hosting the virus and stop the spread.

"If you don't stamp it out earlier now, there won't be any chance of stamping it out in the future," Peiris said. "It already may be too late, but this is the small window of opportunity that really one has to grasp, as quickly as possible."

The Agriculture Ministry's propaganda office could not be reached by phone and did not immediately respond to a faxed list of questions.

Other information gleaned from the genetic data was that the H7N9 virus was what scientists call a "gene re-assortant" - in which three bird viruses swapped genes among themselves - undergoing changes that allowed it to adapt more easily, though not fully, to human hosts, WHO's Tashiro said. One change has allowed it to lodge on the surfaces of cells of mammals, making it easier to infect humans.

"The tentative assessment of this virus is that it may cause human infection or epidemic. It is still not yet adapted to humans completely, but important factors have already changed," Tashiro said.

In China, the public is highly sensitized to news of infectious disease outbreaks, with many still recalling the SARS pneumonia scare a decade ago, when the government stayed silent while rumors circulated for weeks of an unidentified disease in southern Guangdong province. The cover-up contributed to the spread of the virus to many parts of China and to two dozen other countries, killing hundreds of people.

While many foreign health experts say China is being far more forthcoming this time than during the SARS scare, the government still faces credibility questions at home as it tries to juggle the need to respond to calls by the public for more information and the need to prevent unnecessary panic.

"The H7N9 bird flu is currently approaching. Ten years ago, the lesson learned in fighting SARS was: The greatest enemy is not the virus, but covering up the truth; the best medicine is not steroids, but transparency and trust," Yang Yu, a commentator with state broadcaster CCTV, said in a post on his microblog. "No matter what H7N9 is, now, the time to test the progress of Chinese society over the past 10 years has come."

---

Associated Press researcher Flora Ji contributed to this report. ---

Follow Gillian Wong on Twitter at twitter.com/gillianwong © 2013 THE ASSOCIATED PRESS. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. THIS MATERIAL MAY NOT BE PUBLISHED, BROADCAST, REWRITTEN OR REDISTRIBUTED. Learn more about our PRIVACY POLICY and TERMS OF USE.
Wednesday, 03 April 2013 11:41
Published in Health & Fitness
Written by
Read more...
WASHINGTON (AP) -- President Barack Obama on Tuesday asked Congress to spend $100 million next year on a new project to map the human brain in hopes of eventually finding cures for disorders like Alzheimer's, epilepsy and traumatic injuries.

Obama said the so-called BRAIN Initiative could create jobs and eventually lead to answers to ailments including Parkinson's and autism and help reverse the effect of a stroke. The president told scientists gathered in the White House's East Room that the research has the potential to improve the lives of billions of people worldwide.

"As humans we can identify galaxies light-years away," Obama said. "We can study particles smaller than an atom, but we still haven't unlocked the mystery of the three pounds of matter that sits between our ears."

BRAIN stands for Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies. The idea, which Obama first proposed in his State of the Union address, would require the development of new technology that can record the electrical activity of individual cells and complex neural circuits in the brain "at the speed of thought," the White House said.

Obama wants the initial $100 million investment to support research at the National Institutes of Health, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency and the National Science Foundation. He also wants private companies, universities and philanthropists to partner with the federal agencies in support of the research. And he wants a study of the ethical, legal and societal implications of the research.

The goals of the work are unclear at this point. A working group at NIH, co-chaired by Cornelia "Cori" Bargmann of The Rockefeller University and William Newsome of Stanford University, would work on defining the goals and develop a multi-year plan to achieve them that included cost estimates.

© 2013 THE ASSOCIATED PRESS. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. THIS MATERIAL MAY NOT BE PUBLISHED, BROADCAST, REWRITTEN OR REDISTRIBUTED. Learn more about our PRIVACY POLICY and TERMS OF USE.
Tuesday, 02 April 2013 11:28
Published in Health & Fitness
Written by
Read more...
NEW DELHI (AP) -- India's Supreme Court on Monday rejected drug maker Novartis AG's attempt to patent an updated version of a cancer drug in a landmark decision that health activists say ensures poor patients around the world will get continued access to cheap versions of lifesaving medicines.

Novartis had argued that it needed a patent to protect its investment in the cancer drug Glivec, while activists said the drug did not merit intellectual property protection in India because it was not a new medicine. In response to the ruling, Novartis said it would not invest in drug research in India.

The court's decision has global significance since India's $26 billion generic drug industry, which supplies much of the cheap medicine used in the developing world, could be stunted if Indian law allowed global drug companies to extend the lifespan of patents by making minor changes to medicines.

Once a drug's patent expires, generic manufacturers can legally produce it. They are able to make drugs at a fraction of the original manufacturer's cost because they don't carry out the expensive research and development.

Pratibha Singh, a lawyer for the Indian generic drug manufacturer Cipla, which makes a version of Glivec for less than a tenth of the original drug's selling price, said the court ruled that a patent could only be given to a new drug, and not to those which are only slightly different from the original.

"Patents will be given only for genuine inventions, and repetitive patents will not be given for minor tweaks to an existing drug," Singh told reporters outside the court.

Novartis called the ruling a "setback for patients," and said patent protection is crucial to fostering investment in research to develop new and better drugs.

Ranjit Shahani, the vice chairman and managing director of Novartis India, said the ruling "will hinder medical progress for diseases without effective treatment options."

He said the court's decision made India an even less attractive country for major investments by international pharmaceutical companies.

"Novartis will not invest in drug research in India. Not only Novartis, I don't think any global company is planning to research in India," he said.

The Swiss pharmaceutical giant has fought a legal battle in India since 2006 to patent a new version of Glivec, which is mainly used to treat leukemia and is known as Gleevec outside India and Europe. The earlier version of Glivec did not have an Indian patent because its development far predated the country's 2005 patent law. Novartis said Glivec is patented in nearly 40 other countries.

India's patent office rejected the company's patent application, arguing the drug was not a new medicine but an amended version of its earlier product. The patent authority cited a provision in the 2005 patent law aimed at preventing companies from getting fresh patents for making only minor changes to existing medicines - a practice known as "evergreening."

Novartis appealed, arguing the drug was a more easily absorbed version of Glivec and that it qualified for a patent.

Anand Grover, a lawyer for the Cancer Patients Aid Association, which led the legal fight against Novartis, said the ruling Monday prevented the watering down of India's patent laws.

"This is a very good day for cancer patients. It's the news we have been waiting for for seven long years," he said.

Aid groups, including Medicins Sans Frontieres, have opposed Novartis' case, fearing that a victory for the Swiss drugmaker would limit access to important medicines for millions of poor people around the world.

Glivec, used in treating chronic myeloid leukemia and some other cancers, costs about $2,600 a month. Its generic version was available in India for around $175 per month.

"The difference in price was huge. The generic version makes it affordable to so many more poor people, not just in India, but across the world," said Y.K. Sapru, of the Mumbai-based cancer patients association.

"For cancer sufferers, this ruling will mean the difference between life and death. Because the price at which it was available, and considering it's the only lifesaving drug for chronic myeloid cancer patients, this decision will make a huge difference," Sapru said.

Leena Menghaney of Medicins Sans Frontieres said India would continue to grant patents on new medicines.

"This doesn't mean that no patents will be granted. Patents will continue to be granted by India, but definitely the abusive practice of getting many patents on one drug will be stopped," Menghaney said.

The judgment would ensure that the prices of lifesaving drugs would come down as many more companies would produce generic versions.

"We've seen this happening with HIV medicines, where the cost of HIV treatment has come down from $10,000 to $150 per year. Cancer treatment costs have come down by 97 percent in the case of many cancer drugs," she said.

"This decision is incredibly important. The Supreme Court decision will save a lot of lives in the coming decades," Menghaney said. ---

AP writer Kay Johnson contributed to this story from Mumbai, India.

© 2013 THE ASSOCIATED PRESS. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. THIS MATERIAL MAY NOT BE PUBLISHED, BROADCAST, REWRITTEN OR REDISTRIBUTED. Learn more about our PRIVACY POLICY and TERMS OF USE.
Monday, 01 April 2013 07:26
Published in Health & Fitness
Written by
Read more...
NEW YORK (AP) -- New York City is asking appeals judges to reinstate a ban on supersized sodas and other sugary drinks, which was struck down by a Manhattan judge the day before it was to go into effect.

The city had vowed an appeal and said Thursday that lawyers had filed it late Monday.

In his decision on March 11, State Supreme Court Justice Milton Tingling said the 16-ounce limit on sodas and other sweet drinks arbitrarily applies to only some sugary beverages and some places that sell them.

"The loopholes in this rule effectively defeat the stated purpose of this rule," Tingling wrote in his ruling, which was seen as a victory for the beverage industry, restaurants and other business groups that called the ban unfair.

In addition, the judge said the Mayor Michael Bloomberg-appointed Board of Health intruded on the City Council's authority when it imposed the rule.

In its appeal, the city disputed those points.

"The rule is designed to make consumption of large amounts of sugary drinks a conscious and informed choice by the consumer," it said. "Thus, although a consumer is free to consume more than 16 ounces by ordering a second drink, getting a refill, or going to another store, he or she will be making an informed choice."

The city also said the Board of Health had legislative authority, and "is empowered to issue substantive rules and standards in public health."

Said American Beverage Association spokesman Christopher Gindlesperger, referring to the initial decision overturning the ban, "We feel the justice's decision was strong and we're confident in the ruling."

Also on Thursday, the city announced that other organizations had filed legal briefs in support of the city's appeal. Those organizations include the National Alliance for Hispanic Health and the National Association of Local Boards of Health, as well as 30 others.

Bloomberg has made public health a cornerstone of his administration, from requiring calorie counts to be posted on menus and barring trans fats in restaurant foods.

© 2013 THE ASSOCIATED PRESS. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. THIS MATERIAL MAY NOT BE PUBLISHED, BROADCAST, REWRITTEN OR REDISTRIBUTED. Learn more about our PRIVACY POLICY and TERMS OF USE.
Friday, 29 March 2013 06:36
Published in Health & Fitness
Written by
Read more...
NEW YORK (AP) -- Government health officials launched the second round of a graphic ad campaign Thursday that is designed to get smokers off tobacco, saying they believe the last effort convinced tens of thousands to quit.

The ads feature sad, real-life stories: There is Terrie, a North Carolina woman who lost her voicebox. Bill, a diabetic smoker from Michigan who lost his leg. And Aden, a 7-year-old boy from New York, who has asthma attacks from secondhand smoke.

"Most smokers want to quit. These ads encourage them to try," said Dr. Tom Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The CDC campaign cost $48 million and includes TV, radio and online spots as well as print ads and billboards.

The spending comes as the agency is facing a tough budget squeeze, but officials say the ads should more than pay for themselves by averting future medical costs to society. Smoking is the leading cause of preventable illness and death in the United States. It's responsible for the majority of the nation's lung cancer deaths and is a deadly factor in heart attacks and a variety of other illnesses.

Last year's similar $54 million campaign was the agency's first and largest national advertising effort. The government deemed it a success: That campaign triggered an increase of 200,000 calls to quit lines. The CDC believes that likely prompted tens of thousands of smokers to quit based on calculations that a certain percentage of callers do actually stop.

Like last year, the current 16-week campaign spotlights real people who were hurt and disfigured by smoking. Terrie Hall, a 52-year-old throat cancer survivor makes a repeat performance. She had her voice box removed about a dozen years ago.

In last year's ad there's a photo of her as a youthful high school cheerleader. Then she is seen more recently putting on a wig, inserting false teeth and covering the hole in her neck with a scarf. It was, by far, the campaign's most popular spot, as judged by YouTube viewings and Web clicks.

In a new ad, Hall addresses the camera, speaking with the buzzing sound of her electrolarynx. She advises smokers to make a video of themselves now, reading a children's book or singing a lullaby. "I wish I had. The only voice my grandson's ever heard is this one," her electric voice growls.

One difference from last year: The new campaign tilts more toward the impact smokers have on others. One ad features a Kentucky high school student who suffers asthma attacks from being around cigarette smoke. Another has a Louisiana woman who was 16 when her mother died from smoking-related causes.

The return of the campaign is already being applauded by some anti-smoking advocates, who say tobacco companies spend more on tobacco product promotion in a week than the CDC spends in a year.

After decades of decline, the adult smoking rate has stalled at roughly 20 percent in recent years. Advocates say the campaign provides a necessary jolt to a weary public that has been listening to government warnings about the dangers of smoking for nearly 50 years.

"There is an urgent need to continue this campaign," said Matthew Myers, president of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, in a statement.

It would seem like a bad time for the CDC to be buying air time - the agency is facing roughly $300 million in budget cuts as part of the government's sequestration cuts in federal spending. However, the ad money comes not from the CDC's regular budget but from a special $1 billion public health fund set up years ago through the Affordable Care Act. The fund has set aside more than $80 million for CDC smoking prevention work.

Frieden argues that the ads are extremely cost-effective - spending about $50 million a year to save potentially tens of thousands of lives.

"We're trying to figure out how to have more impact with less resources," he said.

The ads direct people to call 1-800-QUIT-NOW. PlowShare Group, of Stamford, Conn., is again the advertising company that put the ads together. ---

Online: CDC campaign: HTTP://WWW.CDC.GOV/TIPS © 2013 THE ASSOCIATED PRESS. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. THIS MATERIAL MAY NOT BE PUBLISHED, BROADCAST, REWRITTEN OR REDISTRIBUTED. Learn more about our PRIVACY POLICY and TERMS OF USE.
Thursday, 28 March 2013 10:57
Published in Health & Fitness
Written by
Read more...
A new report says the national health law will push up the cost of medical claims in both Missouri and Illinois.

The study by the Society of Actuaries says the amount paid by insurers who sell policies to individuals in Illinois will rise more than 50 percent by 2017. The jump is even greater in Missouri, where the cost of medical claims could grow by almost 60 percent.

The report says costs will rise largely because of spending on sicker people and other high-cost groups who will gain coverage under the Affordable Care Act. The study did not make similar estimates for Employer-sponsored plans.

The White House disputes the study's claims because they didn't consider other cost-saving aspects of the new law.
Wednesday, 27 March 2013 03:38
Published in Health & Fitness
Written by
Read more...
By LAURAN NEERGAARD, AP Medical Writer

WASHINGTON (AP) - We know a lot about how babies learn to talk, and youngsters learn to read. Now scientists are unraveling the earliest building blocks of math - and what children know about numbers as they begin first grade seems to play a big role in how well they do everyday calculations later on.

The findings have specialists considering steps that parents might take to spur math abilities, just like they do to try to raise a good reader.

This isn't only about trying to improve the nation's math scores and attract kids to become engineers. It's far more basic.

Consider: How rapidly can you calculate a tip? Do the fractions to double a recipe? Know how many quarters and dimes the cashier should hand back as your change?

About 1 in 5 adults in the U.S. lacks the math competence expected of a middle-schooler, meaning they have trouble with those ordinary tasks and aren't qualified for many of today's jobs.

"It's not just, can you do well in school? It's how well can you do in your life," says Dr. Kathy Mann Koepke of the National Institutes of Health, which is funding much of this research into math cognition. "We are in the midst of math all the time."

A new study shows trouble can start early. University of Missouri researchers tested 180 seventh-graders. Those who lagged behind their peers in a test of core math skills needed to function as adults were the same kids who'd had the least number sense or fluency way back when they started first grade.

"The gap they started with, they don't close it," says Dr. David Geary, a cognitive psychologist who leads the study that is tracking children from kindergarten to high school in the Columbia, Mo., school system. "They're not catching up" to the kids who started ahead.

If first grade sounds pretty young to be predicting math ability, well, no one expects tots to be scribbling sums. But this number sense, or what Geary more precisely terms "number system knowledge," turns out to be a fundamental skill that students continually build on, much more than the simple ability to count.

What's involved? Understanding that numbers represent different quantities - that three dots is the same as the numeral "3" or the word "three." Grasping magnitude - that 23 is bigger than 17. Getting the concept that numbers can be broken into parts - that 5 is the same as 2 and 3, or 4 and 1. Showing on a number line that the difference between 10 and 12 is the same as the difference between 20 and 22.

Factors such as IQ and attention span didn't explain why some first-graders did better than others. Now Geary is studying if something that youngsters learn in preschool offers an advantage.

There's other evidence that math matters early in life. Numerous studies with young babies and a variety of animals show that a related ability - to estimate numbers without counting - is intuitive, sort of hard-wired in the brain, says Mann Koepke, of NIH's National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. That's the ability that lets you choose the shortest grocery check-out line at a glance, or that guides a bird to the bush with the most berries.

Number system knowledge is more sophisticated, and the Missouri study shows children who start elementary school without those concepts "seem to struggle enormously," says Mann Koepke, who wasn't part of that research.

While schools tend to focus on math problems around third grade, and math learning disabilities often are diagnosed by fifth grade, the new findings suggest "the need to intervene is much earlier than we ever used to think," she adds. Exactly how to intervene still is being studied, sure to be a topic when NIH brings experts together this spring to assess what's known about math cognition.

But Geary sees a strong parallel with reading. Scientists have long known that preschoolers who know the names of letters and can better distinguish what sounds those letters make go on to read more easily. So parents today are advised to read to their children from birth, and many youngsters' books use rhyming to focus on sounds.

Likewise for math, "kids need to know number words" early on, he says.

NIH's Mann Koepke agrees, and offers some tips:

-Don't teach your toddler to count solely by reciting numbers. Attach numbers to a noun - "Here are five crayons: One crayon, two crayons..." or say "I need to buy two yogurts" as you pick them from the store shelf - so they'll absorb the quantity concept.

-Talk about distance: How many steps to your ball? The swing is farther away; it takes more steps.

-Describe shapes: The ellipse is round like a circle but flatter.

-As they grow, show children how math is part of daily life, as you make change, or measure ingredients, or decide how soon to leave for a destination 10 miles away,

"We should be talking to our children about magnitude, numbers, distance, shapes as soon as they're born," she contends. "More than likely, this is a positive influence on their brain function."

--------------

EDITOR'S NOTE - Lauran Neergaard covers health and medical issues for The Associated Press in Washington.
Tuesday, 26 March 2013 00:23
Published in Health & Fitness
Written by
Read more...

Latest News

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 6
  • 7
  • 8
Prev Next
HPV VACCINE CUT INFECTION BY HALF IN TEEN GIRLS

HPV VACCINE CUT INFECTION BY HALF IN TEEN GIRLS

ATLANTA (AP) -- A vaccine against a cervical cancer virus cut infections in teen girls by half in the first study to measure the shot's impact since it came on the market. The resu...

FDA WANTS CANCER WARNINGS ON TANNING BEDS

FDA WANTS CANCER WARNINGS ON TANNING BEDS

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Indoor tanning beds would come with new warnings about the risk of cancer and be subject to more stringent federal oversight under a proposal unveiled Monday by ...

REDISTRICTING MIGHT SHORTEN WAIT FOR A NEW LIVER

REDISTRICTING MIGHT SHORTEN WAIT FOR A NEW LIVER

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Where you live can affect your chances of getting a liver transplant, and your risk of dying while waiting. The nation's transplant network says it's time to mak...

AFTER A DECADE, GLOBAL AIDS PROGRAM LOOKS AHEAD

AFTER A DECADE, GLOBAL AIDS PROGRAM LOOKS AHEAD

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The decade-old law that transformed the battle against HIV and AIDS in developing countries is at a crossroads. The dream of future generations freed from epidem...

HEALTH CARE TWEAK: BIG COMPANIES GET WIGGLE ROOM

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Big retail stores, hotels, restaurants and other companies with lots of low-wage and part-time workers are among the main benefi...

UK STUDY: VIOLENCE MORE LIKELY AMONG VETS, TROOPS

UK STUDY: VIOLENCE MORE LIKELY AMONG VETS, TROOPS

LONDON (AP) -- Young men who have served in the British military are about three times more likely than civilians to have committed a violent offense, researchers reported Friday i...

STUDY: FISH IN DRUG-TAINTED WATER SUFFER REACTION

STUDY: FISH IN DRUG-TAINTED WATER SUFFER REACTION

BOSTON (AP) -- What happens to fish that swim in waters tainted by traces of drugs that people take? When it's an anti-anxiety drug, they become hyper, anti-social and aggressive, ...

IN UGANDA, A NURSE IS ACCUSED OF SPREADING HIV

IN UGANDA, A NURSE IS ACCUSED OF SPREADING HIV

KAMPALA, Uganda (AP) -- Goaded by journalists who wanted a clear view of her face, the Ugandan nurse looked dazed and on the verge of tears. The Ugandan press had dubbed her "th...

© 2013 KTRS All Rights Reserved