Innoguide platform for educating tour guides

first_imgWithin the European program for education, youth and sports Erasmus +, the Society of Marija Jurić Zagorka participates in the project Innoguide 2.0. Guiding as a trigger for a more sustainable, diverse and exciting Europe! Stimulating innovation and entrepreneurship in the field of guiding.The project involves the president of the Zagorka Society Dubravka Vidović and tourist guides who have experience in experiential guidance and are small entrepreneurs themselves: Iva Silla (Secret Zagreb), Doris Kunkera (Zagreb Smile), Samia Zitouni (Best of Zagreb), Iva Čaleta Pleša Culture).The Society of Marija Jurić Zagorka has been organizing a popular city tour “Walk with Zagorka” for several years in a row, and this cultural and tourist product was the reason for the invitation to participate in this interesting project.The project is coordinated by the Tourist Board of Flanders from Belgium, and in addition to the Croatian partner, several other colleges and organizations from Belgium (Via Via Tourism Academy), the Netherlands (NHTV Breda University of Applied Sciences), Denmark (Dania Academy of Higher Education and Service & Co.) are participating. International Guide School) and Finland (Laurea University of Applied Sciences). The aim of the project is to raise entrepreneurial awareness among tourist guides and their organizations, as well as to upgrade the existing free one online guide teaching platforms.”“The Innoguide platform is easy to use, the information is grouped thematically into three blocks. Information and materials are easy to use, topics from individual groups can be easily processed in a reasonably short time because a very extensive material has undergone an adaptation process to be practical and usable by tourism professionals. Guide education is important because only through ongoing education can industry trends be followed. Also, by becoming aware of one’s own characteristics and the characteristics of one’s own product (one’s own culture, state of sustainability and responsible business in tourism, the level of product experience), one becomes more competitive and of better quality. It is also a way to regularly improve certain tourist products and services.” points out Samia Zitouni, Best of ZagrebDuring the project, international workshops were held where tourist guides were educated in the field of experiential and sustainable leadership, and on the topic of interculturalism in tourism leadership. The previous project showed that tourist guides lack education on these topics. In addition to guide training, the project will develop tools to serve tour guide societies, tour guide organizations and agencies to improve their work, services and market visibility.” One of the goals of the Innoguide project is to further professionalize the profession of tour guides across Europe, and lifelong learning is key here. Every good guide is constantly looking for a way to complete his knowledge, but also how to improve his skills. The latter is something that is often neglected during the compulsory training of guides. By using the material on the Innoguide project website, I became aware of some of my own shortcomings and often return to that platform in search of new inspiration. Thanks to this project, I set out in a new direction and decided to be more active in promoting responsible tourism in my work. ”Points out Iva Silla from Secret Zagreb Walks A free e-platform for education, interesting stories from the world of tourist guides and other information about the project have been posted on the project’s website. Find more information on the project website: http://www.innoguidetourism.eu/last_img read more

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Despite the headlines, dementia epidemic may not actually be getting worse

first_imgShare on Facebook Share on Twitter The notion of a dementia epidemic has been a big concern in ageing societies across the globe for some time. With the extension of life expectancy it seems to be an inevitable disaster – one of the “greatest enemies of humanity”, according to UK prime minister David Cameron.Many shocking figures have been published pointing to dramatic increases in dementia prevalence and massive predicted costs and burdens. Yet new evidence seems to suggest otherwise. In a review of dementia occurrence in five studies in the UK, Sweden, Spain and the Netherlands between 2007 and 2013 that used consistent research methods and diagnostic criteria, we found none that supported headlines about dramatic increases in dementia. They report stable or reduced prevalence at specific ages over the past few decades – despite ageing populations.How to reconcile this relatively optimistic picture with what looks like panic on the part of governments, charities and the mainstream media? One reason is that they fail to recognise the complexity of dementia diagnosis. The main criteria for diagnosing dementia hinge on cognitive decline and an associated deterioration in a person’s ability to carry out day-to-day activities. If there are variations in the recognised boundaries of these criteria either in different countries or during different time periods, this can affect occurrence estimates without changing the fundamentals of the dementia syndrome itself. Share Over the past few decades, the diagnostic criteria have indeed changed across the world in parallel with public awareness and perceptions. More people are now diagnosed with very early dementia, for example, though it may or may not progress into more severe forms. The introduction of biomarkers for diagnosis is likely to further expand prevalence by identifying large sections of populations at risk – and is already in its early stages. Such changes will affect different groups of people in different contexts in different ways, but basically we might be counting more people as having dementia due to the use of more inclusive diagnostic criteria.Solution and salvationHaving said that, there might be more than careless use of research evidence at play. The worsening epidemic message also fits well with consumer psychology and the recent history of over-medicalisation: fear, demand for a solution, and salvation. The world is looking for a silver bullet. Since the G8 summit of 2013, the hunt for “a dementia cure or disease-modifying therapy by 2025” has become a global target. We have seen major investment from public and private funding bodies alike, stimulating national and even global collaborations. Current research has focused on drug interventions and clinical trials, as well as relevant biomarkers including novel imaging for assumed brain pathology.The progress to date has not been promising, but the reality is that healthcare and pharmaceutical companies are looking at large potential profits from future dementia interventions. It makes sense for them to play up the possibility of avoiding conditions associated with ageing, both now and in future. It would be particularly lucrative for them to be able to recommend specific medications for younger people who had been found to have a higher risk of developing dementia later in life. Such treatments could enjoy far wider demand than a specific targeted cure for the smaller group who are already developing the condition.But if dementia prevalence is indeed stable or even declining, might past policies provide a better answer? Remember we are talking about a generation which experienced substantial post-war investments in education and socialised healthcare, and a partial reduction in social inequalities as a result. If it has worked thus far, the same kind of approach might be the best way forward for the future. Adopting a drug-only approach is likely to lead to widening inequalities of access and problems with affordability, as we learned with HIV/AIDS, cancer and other diseases.The current dementia prevention advice focuses on what people can do in terms of healthy behaviour and lifestyle: exercise, diet and so forth. Yet our lifestyles and health are considerably influenced by factors in our wider social environment over which we have limited control. For the sake of future populations, this is why responsibility for dementia prevention should be seen as a matter for society and the world as a whole.By Yu-Tzu Wu, University of Cambridge and Carol Brayne, University of CambridgeYu-Tzu Wu is Epidemiology at University of Cambridge and Carol Brayne is Professor of Public Health Medicine at University of CambridgeThis article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.center_img LinkedIn Pinterest Emaillast_img read more

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Research proves it — the smell of alcohol makes it hard to resist

first_imgShare on Facebook LinkedIn Share on Twitter Pinterest Sharecenter_img Email Dr Rebecca Monk, Senior Lecturer in Psychology at Edge Hill University said that she and her fellow researchers found that the number of these ‘false alarms’ were higher in participants who were wearing the alcohol treated mask.“We know that alcohol behaviours are shaped by our environment including who we’re with and the settings in which we drink.“This research is a first attempt to explore other triggers, such as smell, that may interfere with people’s ability to refrain from a particular behaviour. For example, during the experiment it seemed that just the smell of alcohol was making it harder for participants to control their behaviour to stop pressing a button.Fellow researcher and Edge Hill Professor, Derek Heim elaborated, saying that studies of this nature could further our understanding of addiction and substance abuse.“This research is an early laboratory based effort that, whilst promising, needs to be replicated in real world settings to further its validity” said Professor Heim.“Our hope is that by increasing our understanding of how context shapes substance-use behaviours, we will be able to make interventions more sensitive to the different situations in which people consume substances.” The smell of alcohol may make it harder for people to control their behaviour according to a team of Edge Hill University researchers whose findings were published today in the Psychopharmacology journal.During the computer-based study carried out at Edge Hill University, participants were asked to wear a face mask that was either laced with alcohol, or a non-alcoholic citrus solution. Participants were then instructed to press a button when either the letter K or a picture of a beer bottle appeared on their screen.The researchers measured the number of times the participants incorrectly pressed the button causing a ‘false alarm’. These false alarms indicate a reduction in the participant’s power to inhibit their behaviour when they were expected to.last_img read more

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Five reasons why we (eventually) become happier as we get older

first_imgPinterest Share on Facebook They are also the biggest consumers of the self-help industry, spending their money on well-being retreats, travelling, online happiness-boosting activities or pop psychology books. Ironically, research shows that the pursuit of happiness might not only make us less happy, but also more lonely, as we often end up cutting ourselves off from people who represent the lives that we want to leave behind.So, if we are feeling unhappy today, can we hope for a better tomorrow? Fortunately, research suggests that we can, because regardless of our individual differences, we go through some natural changes in life that influence our happiness. These changes allow us to experience relatively high levels of happiness in our 20s, which then begin to tumble, reaching their lowest point in the late 30s and early 40s – when they start to climb again.There are five reasons for this natural upturn.1. Time perspectiveIn most Western societies, we tend to spend our 20s and 30s creating our future. By our late 30s and early 40s, when we realise that a) we have not achieved what we hoped to achieve, and b) our future is shrinking rapidly, we have two options. We can begin to panic, or we can adjust to all these changes by redirecting our thoughts to the positive past. This is what most of us do, which results in us feeling more secure and happier, as we move into the later stages of our lives.2. Emotional lifeWhen we are young, we let our emotions run wild. The higher they go, the lower they drop. It takes us years to control them. As we move into our 50s, they become more stable and we begin to achieve more serenity in life. Apart from that, we are more drawn to positivity and are able to hold on to it for longer, which is another reason why we feel happier as we age.3. Social networkIn our 20s, our social network is likely to be thriving. We have new people coming into our lives all the time, be it colleagues from a new job, or the extra circles of friends and family of a new romantic partner. Then, as we enter our 30s, it all begins to change. We no longer have the time nor the energy to nurture all our friendships, and people drop from our lives like flies.Since we need social support to feel happier, this change can have a detrimental effect on our well-being. However, as we move into our 50s, older and wiser, we begin to put more effort into the people in our lives, strengthening our friendships. This can be another reason why we become happier later on in our lives.4. Life eventsLife events are like traffic. When the road is empty, it is easier to drive. As soon as it becomes busy, it is harder to cope. Research shows that both traumatic events and daily hassles are at their highest level when we reach midlife. Thereafter, they begin to slow down, as we learn how to cope with them more effectively. And we become happier as a result.5. PredictabilityIt feels good to be able to predict what is going to happen next. It gives us a sense of mastery over our environment and fills us with the confidence that we can tackle anything that life throws at us. As we move along the years, we become better at foreseeing the consequences of our, and other people’s, behaviours and become skilled at planning the best action to manoeuvre through life challenges. Each day teaches us new life skills – and they make it easier for us to feel happier.So it seems our lives do become happier as we age. Ironically, regardless of our age, when people are asked about the happiest times of their lives, they usually point to their 20s, wrongly predicting that feelings of contentment will reduce as they get older.In fact, it would be a good idea to relax and let nature take its course. Because with things actually improving with age, the uplifting truth is that we all have an ever-increasing chance of living happily ever after.By Jolanta Burke, Senior Lecturer in Psychology, University of East LondonThis article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article. Share LinkedIncenter_img Happiness has become a modern obsession. Searching for it, holding on to it, and wishing it on our loved ones have all become motivating forces for how we live our lives.We also use happiness as a measuring stick for life decisions. If a job doesn’t make us happy, we quit it. If a relationship stops making us happy, we leave it.Happiness has lodged itself at the centre of our lives and we make some drastic choices desperately trying to reach it. This is especially true for people in their 30s and 40s, who are at the highest risk of using antidepressants and developing mood disorders than any other age group. Email Share on Twitterlast_img read more

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H1N1 FLU BREAKING NEWS: Activity up at some colleges, New Zealand shots start, Ig deficiency may predict flu severity, Czech official has flu, concern over flu at Olympics

first_imgFeb 3, 2010 Flu activity up slightly at some US collegesFlu activity was up a bit at colleges last week, though the levels haven’t changed significantly over the past 6 weeks, consistent with the decreasing national trend, the American College Health Association (ACHA) said today in its latest update. The attack rate was 2.6 per 10,000 students, about 15% higher than the previous week. No new deaths or hospitalizations were reported. Overall vaccine uptake remained at 9%, but rates were as high as 40% in some states.http://www.acha.org/ILI_Project/ILI_Surveillance.cfmACHA report for the week ending Jan 29New Zealand begins H1N1 vaccinationNew Zealand, which saw some of the earliest deaths from H1N1 influenza during its 2009 winter flu season, has received its first doses of H1N1 vaccine and is scheduling a national shot campaign. The first recipients of the 1 million doses will be health workers, pregnant women, young children, and the chronically ill. The Southern Hemisphere country is concerned that the virus may return from the Northern Hemisphere and trigger an earlier than usual flu season.http://tvnz.co.nz/health-news/health-workers-line-up-vaccine-3347994Feb 3 ONE News reportImmunoglobulin deficiency may predict flu outcomeAustralian researchers say they have identified an immune-system protein that may play a key role in determining the severity of H1N1 flu infection. Among patients hospitalized with H1N1 flu, there was a correlation between severity of symptoms and deficiency in immunoglobulin G2, which supports early response to infection. The authors say that may explain the seriousness of H1N1 flu in pregnant women, because pregnancy mutes immune responses, and may point to a predictive test or treatment.Feb 1 Clinical Infectious Diseases abstracthttp://www.journals.uchicago.edu/doi/abs/10.1086/650462Czech Republic health chief contracts fluMichael Vit, chief health officer of the Czech Republic, told media in that country that he is home sick with a flu infection that is presumed to be H1N1 influenza, according to Reuters. Vit oversaw flu vaccinations for key members of the government but missed his own because of an overseas trip, the news service said. Vit’s ministry led recently abandoned plans for mandatory vaccination of the Czech armed forces.http://www.alertnet.org/thenews/newsdesk/LDE61124E.htmFeb 2 Reuters reportCDC warns about flu at Vancouver OlympicsWith the 2010 Olympic Winter Games set to begin in Vancouver, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has issued a set of travel tips it calls “Stop, wash and go.” The agency recommends that attendees receive H1N1 flu vaccine before leaving, delay their departures if they feel unwell, cover coughs and sneezes, and wash their hands frequently. It also suggests taking a travel health kit containing hand sanitizer, tissues, and pain and fever medications.http://www.cdc.gov/media/pressrel/2010/r100202.htmFeb 2 CDC travel advicelast_img read more

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ECDC sees another pandemic wave as unlikely

first_imgMar 9, 2010 (CIDRAP News) – European countries won’t likely experience another wave of pandemic H1N1 influenza cases this spring and summer, though the virus will probably continue to circulate and be the region’s dominant strain for the next flu season, the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) said today.The agency made the predictions in an 18-page risk-assessment report designed to help countries adjust their vaccine and flu-response strategies over the coming months. However, the ECDC warned that the outlook could change if there are “significant unrecognized uninfected populations” or if the pandemic virus changes to become more transmissible.The ECDC based its predictions on advice from influenza experts, findings from the few serologic studies that have been done, events during previous pandemics, and mathematical modeling work that attempts to estimate the number of people that have already been infected or have some immunity.Though over time all pandemics ease and the virus becomes the dominant seasonal strain, history shows the transition can happen quickly, such as in 1957, or take about two seasons, as for the 1918 and 1968 pandemics, the report notes.It says the extent of transmission in European countries has been difficult to determine. So far, there have been few published serologic studies. One of the first large-scale serologic studies of the pandemic virus was conducted by researchers from England’s Health Protection Agency, who found that one in three children were infected in hard-hit areas, 10 times higher than surveillance estimates.The autumn-winter pandemic flu wave seemed to spread across Europe roughly from west to east and from north to south, similar to the interpandemic pattern, the report said. Though flu barometers have declined in most countries, low-level transmission and deaths continue to occur.Looking back at Europe’s experience with past pandemics, the report says the region has seen similarities between the current pandemic and the 1957 H2N2 outbreak, such as school-based transmission and the focus on younger age-groups. In the latter pandemic, however, Europe experienced a single wave with a late rise in deaths that seemed to result from cardiovascular events in older people who were sick with the flu.During the 1968 pandemic, which involved an H3N2 strain, data increasingly suggest that in Europe the virus became more transmissible during the first and second winters. “This seems to have been due to a real change in the virus rather than to the fact that the virus circulating during the first winter was a blend of the new pandemic virus and the preceding seasonal A (H2N2) virus,” the authors wrote.The big question now is whether there will be enough susceptible people to sustain transmission, given the observed low transmissibility of the pandemic H1N1 virus, the report says. Transmission will depend on how many people have pre-existing immunity, how many have already been infected, and how many have been immunized. Though the European Medicines Agency is gathering vaccination information from member states, some countries rolled out the pandemic vaccine so quickly that immunization records may be sparse or slow to be tabulated.However, early indications, such as the absence of a major resurgence in most of Europe through January, suggest that there aren’t enough susceptible people to sustain large-scale transmission, the ECDC says. Modeling estimates for the United Kingdom suggest that the probability of another flu wave in the spring or summer is very low, but the ECDC experts emphasize that that prediction might not apply to other countries and that there may be populations in the European Union that have been relatively unaffected by pandemic virus transmission so far.German experts have estimated that the country would need to reach an immunity threshold of 29% to 38% to prevent continued pandemic flu transmission, the report says. Modeling calculations suggest Germany has reached an immunity level of 25%, which is close to the threshold.Given the low-level transmission and that the pandemic virus is likely to dominate the next flu season, the ECDC experts recommend that EU citizens receive the pandemic vaccine if it is offered to them. They also recommend that children, pregnant women, and those with underlying medical conditions be vaccinated, because they are still at risk for flu complications.In the meanwhile, the group recommends that EU countries continue clinical and virologic surveillance, conduct high-quality seroprevalence studies, and review and revise their risk groups. The report also advises countries to strengthen surveillance for severe respiratory infections and deaths and determine if any patterns are seen in specific age-groups.Countries should consider adjusting risk estimates for their own citizens and examine flu mortality patterns by age-group and risk factors, the report says. In particular, it suggests determining H1N1 mortality in different age and risk groups and comparing it with seasonal flu mortality using measures such as years of potential life lost.See also:Mar 9 ECDC risk assessmentJan 21 CIDRAP News story “Serologic study finds H1N1 infections surged past official estimates”last_img read more

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More Salmonella cases linked to recalled eggs

first_imgAug 17, 2010 (CIDRAP News) – Reports of Salmonella illnesses in California, Colorado, and Nevada emerged today in the wake of an Iowa company’s nationwide egg recall, as federal officials continued their investigation.Yesterday the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released a recall notice that said Wright County Egg, based in Galt, Iowa, was recalling certain Julian dates of shell eggs after state and federal health officials found the products might be linked to a fourfold surge in Salmonella Enteritidis (SE) infections. About 200 SE infections were identified in June and July.One of the first clues that contaminated eggs might explain the national spike in SE infections was restaurant-linked illness clusters detected by health officials in Colorado, California, and Minnesota. Unusual patterns with SE illnesses can be difficult to detect, because the strain is common year-round.The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment said yesterday that it typically receives reports of about seven SE cases during June and July, but this year it received 28 during that time span. It said some of the increase is likely related to the recall and to a restaurant outbreak in Jefferson County.Today the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health warned the public not to eat the recalled eggs and a fruit pulp product that was recently linked to a Salmonella Typhi outbreak. The department said so far the recalled eggs have been linked to 266 SE infections in California, including 43 in Los Angeles County.Elsewhere, the Southern Nevada Health District has reported 30 SE cases since January, about four times as many as it usually sees by this time of year, according to a report from KTNV, the Las Vegas ABC News affiliate.A spokeswoman for the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services told CIDRAP News that officials haven’t linked any SE cases to the egg recall yet, but the state’s public health lab is reviewing some cases to see if they are related.Wright County Egg’s recall notice contained few details about the company. Hinda Mitchell, an egg industry spokeswoman with CMA Consulting in Columbus, Ohio, told CIDRAP News that the farm produces 2.5 million eggs per week from fives sites in Iowa. She added that the farm is compliant with the FDA’s new food safety rules and participates in the United Egg Producers’ five-star quality assurance food safety program, which covers cleaning and disinfection of poultry houses, pest control, proper egg washing, biosecurity, and refrigeration from packing through delivery.On Jul 9, new federal rules aimed at reducing SE contamination in eggs took effect, targeting operations that have more than 50,000 laying hens, which account for about 80% of the US egg market. Egg producers who have between 3,000 and 50,000 laying hens will be subject to the new rules in 2 years, and those with 3,000 or fewer birds or who sell their products directly to consumers are exempt from the rules.The rules are designed to reduce SE contamination in eggs and appear to be similar to the United Egg Producers’ voluntary quality assurance program.In a related development today, NuCal Foods of Ripon, Calif., recalled specific Julian dates of eggs that it packaged from shipments it received from Wright County Egg. NuCal’s recall applies to eggs distributed to wholesalers and retailers under four brands: Bayview, Mountain Dairy, Nulaid, and Sun Valley.See also:Aug 16 CIDRAP News story “Surge in Salmonella Enteritidis prompts egg recall”Aug 16 CDPHE press releaseAug 17 Los Angeles Department of Public Health press releaseAug 17 NuCal press releaselast_img read more

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NEWS SCAN: Cholera aid, norovirus in nursing homes, ricin vaccine patent, universal flu vaccine, virus sensor

first_imgNov 23, 2010PAHO: Cholera outbreak outpacing aid donationsHealth officials responding to Haiti’s cholera outbreak recently put out a plea for $124 million for outbreak response, but so far only 10% of that amount has been delivered, Dr Jon Andrus, deputy director of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), said today at a press briefing. Medical groups predict they will need enough medical supplies, equipment, and staffing to treat 400,000 cases over the next year, with about half of the illnesses expected to occur over the next 3 months. Authorities are investigating clusters of cases in new areas, Andrus said, adding, “Cholera is virtually everywhere in the country.” PAHO is doubling its staff in Haiti, though he said civil unrest has confined some workers to their living quarters. According to preliminary data today from Haiti’s health ministry, 60,240 people have been treated for cholera, of whom 25,248 were hospitalized and 1,415 died.Norovirus outbreak hits 129 Illinois nursing-home residentsThree nursing homes in McHenry County, Illinois, have reported 129 people sick with suspected norovirus, according to the Northwest Herald, a county newspaper. Norovirus has been confirmed in 14 of the cases, and 5 people have been hospitalized due to the outbreak, according to the McHenry County Department of Health. Norovirus, which is very contagious, affects the gastrointestinal tract and causes nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea, with symptoms typically lasting 1 to 2 days.Nov 22 Northwest Herald storyFirm receives third patent for ricin vaccineSoligenix Inc. of Princeton, N.J., yesterday reported receiving a third patent for its vaccine against ricin, a potent poison that is derived from castor beans and is viewed as a potential biological weapon. The vaccine, called RiVax, contains a recombinant subunit of the A chain of ricin and induces neutralizng antibodies in humans and animals, the company announcement said. The patent covers claims about alteration of sequences in the A chain that affect vascular leak, one of ricin’s toxic effects, the company said. The induced mutations in the A chain eliminate the toxic effects of the molecule without changing its structure. Soligenix received two previous patents, in 2003 and 2005, for defined changes in the molecule. One phase 1 clinical trial of the vaccine has been completed and a second one, involving a more potent formulation, is under way, the company reported. The development of RiVax has been supported by the National Institutes of Health through challenge and cooperative grants to Soligenix and the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, where the vaccine originated. The second phase 1 trial is being supported by the US Food and Drug Administration’s Office of Orphan Products Development.Nov 22 Soligenix news releaseAustralian ‘universal’ flu vaccine to get clinical trialAn influenza vaccine that was developed in Australia and is described as a potential “universal” flu vaccine will get its first clinical trial in Indonesia, according to an Australian Broadcasting Corp. (ABC) News report today. The vaccine, called Gamma-Flu, was developed at the Australian National University in Canberra and is made by Canberra-based Gamma Vaccines. According to the company, the vaccine consists of a whole flu virus that is inactivated by gamma radiation, which destroys the virus’s genetic material, preventing replication, but leaves its proteins intact. The company said the vaccine stimulates effective cytotoxic T-cell activity that, in mice, protects against different influenza A strains.Nov 23 ABC News storyCompany information on Gamma-Flu vaccineMiniature sensor said to sniff out Ebola, Marburg virusesResearchers at Boston University (BU) say they have developed a biosensor the size of a quarter than can rapidly detect RNA-based viruses such as Ebola and Marburg in blood and other biologic samples, according to a BU press release. The findings were first described in a Nov 5 early online report from Nano Letters. Unlike PCR and ELISA testing, the samples don’t need any preparation such as amplification or fluorescent tagging. Instead, the method uses nanohole arrays that transmit light more strongly at certain wavelengths. Measuring the shifts in resonance frequency can reveal the presence and concentration of virus in the solution. Dr Hatice Altug, assistant professor of engineering at BU, said in the press release that the testing platform can be adapted for point-of-care use to detect a broad range of viral pathogens in limited clinical settings, including defense and homeland security applications.Nov 22 BU press releaseNov 5 Nano Letters abstractlast_img read more

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Egypt reports 5 H5N1 infections, 3 fatal

first_imgJun 16, 2011 (CIDRAP News) – Egypt recently announced five new H5N1 avian influenza infections that occurred in May, three of them fatal, the World Health Organization (WHO) said today.The infections were reported from four different governorates, and four of the case-patients are adults. The WHO said investigations revealed all five of the patients had been exposed to poultry that had suspected avian influenza. Their infections push Egypt’s H5N1 totals to 149 cases, including 51 deaths.The first case is in a 40-year-old woman from Aswan governorate who got sick May 14. She was hospitalized, where she was treated with oseltamivir (Tamiflu). She recovered and has been discharged from the hospital.Two of the patients are from Menoufia governorate’s Ashmoun district, a 21-year-old pregnant woman and a 16-year-old boy. The report didn’t say if the two cases had any connections, besides the geographic location. They both started having symptoms on May 21.The woman died on May 29 after she was hospitalized and treated with oseltamivir. The boy was in critical condition, but is recovering in the hospital after antiviral treatment.The fourth case-patient is a 31-year-old man from Qaliobia governorate who got sick on May 21 and died on Jun 5 after he was hospitalized and treated with oseltamivir.The fifth H5N1 infection was detected in a 32-year-old man from Cairo governorate who became ill on May 23 and was hospitalized and received oseltamivir. He died on Jun 2. The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) reported a fatal H5N1 infection in an Egyptian patient from Cairo governorate in a Jun 8 report, with few other details available other than a May 23 observation date. It’s not clear if the WHO and FAO reports are referring to the same patient.So far Egypt has reported 30 H5N1 infections this year, which exceeds the 29 cases it reported for all of 2010. However, the number of infections is still below 2009 levels, when the country saw its H5N1 case count hit 39, its highest yearly total.Egypt’s latest H5N1 infections raise the global count to 561 cases, including 328 deaths.See also:Jun 16 WHO statementJun 8 FAO reportlast_img read more

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NEWS SCAN: Global H1N1 patterns, flu-strain predictions, antiviral mask, paid sick leave, H9N2-H1N1 reassortant, DRC cholera spread

first_img Cholera spreads to more Democratic Republic of Congo areasHealth officials in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) announced that a cholera outbreak has spread to three more provinces, which has prompted Doctors Without Borders teams to open several cholera treatment centers, according to a Jul 4 press release from the group. So far the outbreak, which has struck locations along the Congo River, has sickened 2,787 people and killed 153. The outbreak began in March and has spread to several areas, including the outskirts of the country’s capital, Kinshasa. The group said three cholera risk factors are all in place in the DRC: a dense urban population, poor sanitation, and little access to clean water.Jul 4 Doctors Without Borders press releaseIn other developments, the DRC recently received a $30 million grant from the World Bank to improve polio vaccine coverage and strengthen its capacity to deliver vaccines for other infectious diseases, according to a Jun 28 World Bank press release. The grant is part of $413 million in new financing to help the country build its social protection systems.Jun 28 World Bank press release Connecticut mandates paid sick leaveConnecticut will enact the nation’s first law to mandate paid sick leave when a law signed by Gov. Dannel Malloy takes effect Jan 1, according to the Hartford Courant yesterday. The law, signed on Jul 1, applies only to companies with 50 or more workers that don’t already offer at least 5 paid days off for full-time workers. It is available to workers after 4 months on the job and exempts manufacturers, salaried workers, temporary workers, and employees of nationally chartered nonprofits. In response to the law, Debra L. Ness, president of the National Partnership for Women & Families (NPWF) said in a news release, “Because of Connecticut’s new law, soon hundreds of thousands of workers in the state will no longer have to make impossible choices between their health and their economic security when illness strikes.” Studies have shown that not having mandatory paid sick leave was an impediment to ill workers’ taking time off during the 2009 H1N1 influenza pandemic.Jul 5 Hartford Courant storyJul 5 NPWF news release FDA clears first antiviral surgical maskThe US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has granted market clearance to BioMask, the first treated surgical face mask claimed to inactivate virtually all influenza strains in 5 minutes, according to Medscape News yesterday. The BioFriend BioMask (series A), made by Hong Kong–based Filligent, has an inside layer treated with copper and zinc ions, which have been shown in vitro to destroy most influenza viruses. Its outer layer is plastic coated. In a release, the company said, “Market clearance was granted under a new medical device classification for anti-microbial surgical facemasks, ‘OUK,’ created by the FDA to accommodate Filligent’s innovations in infection control and respiratory protection.” The company notes on its Web site that “Correlation between in-vitro testing results and any clinical event has not been tested,” according to Medscape, and that no clinical study has compared the treated face masks with untreated masks.Jul 5 Medscape News storyJun 27 Filligent press release Report shows global patterns for severe 2008 H1N1 infectionsIn the most comprehensive overview of severe 2009 H1N1 influenza patterns so far, a World Health Organization (WHO) working group reported yesterday that young children were more likely than other groups to be hospitalized from their infections, and though illnesses were less frequent in seniors, they were more likely to die from their infections. The study includes health ministry data on hospitalizations, intensive care unit admissions, and deaths collected from April 2009 to January 2010 from 18 countries and Hong Kong. The group found that the proportion of patients with one or more risk factors increased by severity level. When the researchers looked at individual risk factors, they found that the proportion also increased by severity level for all conditions except for asthma, pregnancy, and obesity. Pregnant women were seven times more likely than the general population to be hospitalized and twice as likely to die, which the group said could show that doctors had a lower threshold for admitting and aggressively treating pregnant women. Morbid obesity also stood out as a risk factor, with a proportion that increased by severity level. Indigenous populations in Australia, Canada, and New Zealand had a higher burden of disease, but not Mexico or Thailand. Researchers concluded that concerns about high-risk groups during the pandemic were justified and that improved surveillance can help track differences between countries.Jul 5 PLoS Med study Study: Reassortant H9N2-H1N1 viruses transmit well in ferretsUS researchers have found that combining surface genes from H9N2 avian flu with internal genes from 2009 pandemic H1N1 flu produces reassortants that transmit readily to ferrets. In 2009 the researchers showed that an H9N2-H3N2 reassortant virus gained efficient respiratory transmission in ferrets. In the current study they created four reassortant H9N2-pH1N1 genes and found that three showed “efficient respiratory droplet transmission” in the animals. They conclude, “The results clearly indicate that H9N2 avian influenza viruses and pH1N1 viruses, both of which have occasionally infected pigs, have the potential to reassort and generate novel viruses with respiratory transmission potential in mammals.”Jul 5 Proc Natl Acad Sci abstract Early-season strains may foretell flu-strain dominanceUsing mathematical modeling, researchers may be able to predict how influenza strains will behave throughout a flu season based on which strains are circulating early in the season. Writing in PLoS Medicine, researchers from Harvard and the National Institutes of Health studied surveillance data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on strains of influenza A/H3N2, A/H1N1, and B from 1997 to 2009. They found that early-season prevalence of a particular strain predicted its higher prevalence later to the detriment of the other two strains. They then devised a statistical algorithm that accurately predicted the whole-season prevalence for a particular strain until either it or one of the other strains exceeded a specific threshold. An editorial summary of the study states, “These findings suggest that early circulation of one influenza strain is associated with a reduced total incidence of other strains, possibly because of cross-subtype immunity.” It also said the algorithm needs to be tested over more flu seasons.Jul 5 PLoS Med study Jul 6, 2011last_img read more

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