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March 15th

Super-gonorrhoea Symptoms and treatment

It’s been reported that two women who contracted a rare form of super-gonorrhoea did so while having unprotected sex in Ibiza.

According to a new study, published in medical journal Eurosurveillance, one of the women first showed symptoms of the condition when she visited a sexual health clinic in October 2018.

A month later, the second woman, who was part of the “same sexual network” as the first, also discovered she’d contracted the STI after visiting a health clinic.

Super-gonorrhoea is far more rare than gonorrhoea, which is the second most common bacterial sexually transmitted infection in the country.

So what are the symptoms of super-gonorrhoea, how can it be treated and how can it be prevented?

Here’s everything you need to know:

What is it?</h2>

Gonorrhoea is a sexually transmitted disease otherwise known as “the clap”.

It’s caused by bacteria called Neisseria gonorrhoeae, also called gonococcus, which is usually found in penis discharge and vaginal fluid.

It can be spread through vaginal, oral or anal sex, or by fingers if they’ve been in contact with the disease.

Super-gonorrhoea is a more severe strain of gonorrhoea, as medical director of Terrence Higgins Trust Michael Brady explains.

“So called ‘super gonorrhoea’ refers to strains of the infection that have become resistant to the antibiotics we usually prescribe to treat gonorrhoea; which means an alternative treatment needs to be found,” he tells The Independent.

While using a condom doesn’t completely eliminate the risk of spreading the disease, the risk can be “substantially reduced“ if condoms are used consistently and responsibly, says Dr Nick Phin, deputy director of the National Infection Service at Public Health England.

What are the symptoms?

Symptoms of gonorrhoea in men may appear within 10 days. However, often women affected by the disease experience no symptoms at all.

Men who’ve been infected with gonorrhoea may experience a yellow, white or green discharge from the penis, a burning feeling during urination and swelling around the foreskin, the Terrence Higgins Trust states.

For women, they may notice a change in their vaginal discharge, a burning feeling during urination and excessive bleeding in between their periods.

If an individual has been infected with gonorrhoea in their throat or rectum, they may not have any symptoms.

However, gonorrhoea in the rectum can lead to discharge or feelings of discomfort.

How can it be treated?

When getting tested for gonorrhoea, a swab may be used to take a sample from a woman’s vagina or from a man’s penis. Alternatively, men be asked to provide a urine sample instead.

Brady recommends getting tested for sexually transmitted diseases regularly if you’re having unprotected sex or sleeping with more than one partner.

Gonorrhoea can typically be treated with a course of antibiotics. However, super-gonorrhoea is a strain of gonorrhoea that’s far more difficult to treat.

According to the NHS, a diagnosis of gonorrhoea shouldn’t lead to any long-term complications as long as it’s treated early. 

If a case of gonorrhoea isn’t treated appropriately, then it can spread to other parts of your body and lead to other more serious health complications.

Treatment for the disease usually involves having an antibiotic injection and an antibiotic tablet, with symptoms expected to dissipate within a few days.

The two antibiotics used to treat gonorrhoea are azithromycin and ceftriaxone.

While super-gonorrhoea is resistant to azithromycin, it isn’t resistant to ceftriaxone, the Terrence Higgins Trust states.

However, in the recent cases of the two women who contracted super-gonorrhoea, they were resistant to both the drugs, despite being successfully treated by doctors.

“Antibiotic resistance is a growing problem both within sexual health and in other areas of medicine,” says Brady.

How can it be prevented?

In order to prevent the spread of gonorrhoea during sex, it’s important to use contraception such as condoms or Femidoms.

“Condoms remain the best way of protecting yourself against gonorrhoea and other STIs,” Brady advises.

“If you’ve struggled with condom use in the past, I would advise trying out the range of different shapes and sizes available to find one that works for you and your partner.”

Other forms of contraception, such as the contraceptive pill, don’t provide protection against gonorrhoea, the Terrence Higgins Trust outlines.

The charity also suggests using condoms or dental dams during oral sex to reduce your risk of contracting the disease.

If a pregnant woman has been diagnosed with gonorrhoea, it’s possible for the disease to be spread to her baby during childbirth, which can lead to the baby becoming infected with conjunctivitis.

The mother can prevent this by taking a course of antibiotics during pregnancy or while she’s breastfeeding.

Feb 20th

Urine test detects organ transplant rejection

The early detection of the onset of transplant rejection is critical for the long-term survival of patients. The diagnostic gold standard for detecting transplant rejection involves a core biopsy, which is invasive, has limited predictive power and carries a morbidity risk.

In a new study by the Georgia Institute of Technology, scientists have developed a novel approach using sensor particles and a urine test. The method could potentially catch rejection much earlier, more comprehensively, and without a biopsy needle.

Scientists validated the method in a mouse model, and they have built the sensor with exceptionally biocompatible parts, which could make the way to potential future trials easier.

A patient may feel fine, and a biopsy may look misleadingly perfect when T cells have just started assaulting a transplanted organ. The sensor molecule, a nanoparticle, detects a T cell weapon, a catalyst called granzyme B, that pushes a transplanted organ’s cells into the self-destruction procedure called apoptosis.

Gabe Kwong, a co-principal investigator in the study and an assistant professor in the Wallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering at Georgia Tech and Emory University said, “Before any organ damage can happen, T cells have to produce granzyme B, which is why this is an early detection method.”

“This is sensitive enough to possibly detect budding rejection before you see the significant injury to the transplanted organ and that could help clinicians treat early to prevent damage. Right now, most tests are aimed at organ dysfunction, and sometimes they don’t signal there is a problem until organ function is below 50 percent.”

To develop this strategy, scientists put nanoparticles together with iron oxide in the middle like a ball. They then double coated with dextran, a sugar, and polyethylene glycol, a typical fixing in intestinal medicines, to shield the body from disposing of it too rapid.

Bristles made of amino acids stand out from the iron ball with fluorescent reporter particles appended to their tips.

The particles are infused intravenously. They are too huge to gather in native tissue or to go through the kidneys and out of the body however little enough to aggregate in the tissue of battling transplanted organs, where they keep a post for dismissal.

Kwong said, “Once T cells start secreting granzyme B, it severs amino acid strands in the transplanted organ’s cells, triggering the cells to unravel and die.”

“The nanoparticles’ bristles mimic granzyme’s amino acid targets in the cells, so the enzyme cuts the bristles on the nanoparticle at the same time. That releases the reporter molecules, which are so small that they easily make it through the kidney’s filtration and go into the urine.”

“In the experiment, the animals’ urine glowed and could be seen in their bladders in near-infrared images.”

Scientists are planning to augment their method to identify the other major cause of transplant rejection, attacks by antibodies, which are not living cells but proteins the body creates to neutralize foreign entities.

Kwong said, “Antibodies kill their target cells through similar types of enzymes. In the future, we envision a single sensor to detect both types of rejection. This method could be adapted to tease out multiple problems like rejection, infection or injury to the transplanted organ. The treatments for all of those are different, so we could select the proper treatment or combination of treatments and also use the test to measure how effective treatment is.”

Dr. Andrew Adams, co-principal investigator and an associate professor of surgery at Emory University School of Medicine said, “Biopsies are currently the gold standard in detection but they can go wrong, and the wide, long needle can damage tissue. The biggest risk of a biopsy is bleeding and injury to the transplanted organ.”

“Then there’s the possibility of infection. You’re also just taking a tiny fraction of the transplanted organ to determine what’s going on with the whole organ, and you may miss rejection or misdiagnose it because the needle didn’t hit the right spot. The urine test gets a more global reading on the whole organ, and it has other advantages over biopsies.”

Kwong said, “The biopsy is not predictive. It’s a static snapshot. It’s like looking at a photo of people in mid-jump. You don’t know if they’re on their way up or on their way down. With a biopsy, you don’t know whether the rejection is progressing or regressing. Our method measures biological activity rates, and that tells us where things are going.

Kwong and Adams published the study’s results in the journal Nature Biomedical Engineering on February 18, 2019.


Feb 18th

Children's Vaccines – The Ultimate Myth-Busting Guide For Parents

Measles cases surged by 50% globally in 2018. The World Health Organisation (WHO) attributes the increase in cases to a lack of access to the vaccine in poorer countries – but some experts believe in wealthier areas, misinformation led by the anti-vaccine movement is causing a decrease in vaccine uptake.

Articles written and shared on social media promoting anti-vaccine information have been deemed problematic – and most recently, Facebook said it would consider removing such material from its recommendations of things to read, Bloomsberg reported.

This anti-vaccine movement has been a “wake-up call” for all GPs, says Dr Kenny Livingstone, a GP and chief medical officer for online private doctor service, ZoomDoc. 

“We are hugely concerned,” he tells HuffPost UK. “The reality is stark and clear: with decreased vaccine uptake, there are now increasing numbers of young children and adolescents being exposed to measles, mumps and rubella (MMR), amongst other illness.”

Last year there were nearly 1,000 laboratory confirmed cases of measles in England alone, and it killed 72 children and adults in Europe in 2018. 

Data from Public Health England (PHE) shows that uptake of most childhood vaccines has been steadily decreasing since 2012-13. Surveys by the health body suggest parental confidence in vaccines is high, with “very few” refusing to get their children vaccinated. There is “little evidence” that anti-vaccine social media activity has had a major impact on vaccine coverage in England, a spokesperson for PHE said.

That said, research from the health body shows almost one quarter (22%) of parents think social media is a trusted source of information, and the worry is that some children may miss out on jabs and remain vulnerable to serious or even fatal infections.

What Vaccines Should Kids Have?

In the UK the vaccinations available to children include the six-in-one vaccinefor babies (which covers off things like diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough and polio), the pneumococcal jabrotavirus vaccinemeningitis vaccine and MMRvaccine (for measles, mumps and rubella). You can read about them on the NHS Choices site.

Vaccines are important in the first few years of a child’s life because their immune systems are still developing and might not be strong enough to fight off illnesses.

What Are The Myths Surrounding Vaccination?

Some parents shy away from giving their kids the MMR vaccine over fears that it may cause autism, yet there is no proven link between the two. “The misconceptions surrounding autism and the MMR vaccine are proven to be categorically false, based on a flawed study,” says Dr Livingstone. “It’s important to be clear that there is no science behind anti-vaxxers ideas and myths.”

Some people believe giving a child lots of vaccines can overload their immune system. This isn’t true, confirms the NHS – studies have shown there are no harmful effects from having several vaccines at the same time.

Newborn babies have some protection from diseases passed down from their mothers (otherwise known as passive immunity), but this only lasts for a few weeks or months, and the recommended vaccines top this up. 

Furthermore, homeopathy should never be used as an alternative to vaccines as there is no evidence it works, PHE warns.

[Read More: Meningitis B vaccine now given to babies across the UK]

What Happens If You Don’t Vaccinate Your Child?

When a high percentage of the population is protected against a disease through vaccination, it becomes harder for the disease spread – also known as ‘herd immunity’.

But it doesn’t take much of a decline in vaccination uptake for herd immunity to be less effective. This is especially true for highly infectious diseases – in both Europe and England, measles outbreaks have occurred and killed people.

Children who are not vaccinated have a higher risk of contracting the illness they haven’t been protected against – and experiencing lifelong effects. If a young boy gets mumps, for example, this can affect his testicles and result in infertility later in life, Dr Livingstone explains.

If a young girl does not have the MMR jab and, once grown up, is exposed to rubella while pregnant with her own children, it could cause problems with her unborn child’s sight, hearing, heart or brain.

Meanwhile young children exposed to measles are at risk of complications including pneumonia, convulsions, meningitis or encephalitis – and this can lead to death.

“As a GP and a parent with three young children, I have looked at and studied the science and evidence behind vaccines,” says Dr Livingstone. “I have vaccinated all of my children as it will protect both them and also young children that are unfortunately unable to have vaccines.”

Is The Anti-Vaccine Movement Being Monitored?

PHE said it is “not complacent” when it comes to vaccine uptake and will monitor the situation closely. “The overwhelming weight of evidence and scientific opinion, worldwide, is that vaccines save lives and prevent millions of people from getting life-threatening diseases,” says PHE’s spokesperson.

“We know that inaccurate claims about the safety and effectiveness of vaccines can affect public confidence and lead to rejection of vaccination. This then puts people at risk of serious illness.”

“We are working closely with the NHS, and with staff in general practice where most vaccinations are delivered, to improve uptake.”


Feb 13th

Debunking HPV myths is an ongoing process

We often discuss the alarmingly prevalent stigma surrounding sexually transmitted infections in abstract terms. It’s bad, we say, things should have moved on by now.

But they haven’t. Because what often slips under the radar, are the far-reaching effects of treating those things as inherently shameful, when in reality it’s often just a matter of being more vigilant, and seeing healthcare professionals more regularly. In other words, treating it as calmly as we approach contracting chickenpox

Unfortunately, it’s no different when it comes to the human papilloma virus, or HPV, as it’s commonly known. According to a survey of over 2,000 women by Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust, a shocking number may put off getting checked out over the misguided belief that a positive diagnosis of HPV – which isn’t an STI, but can cause things like genital warts – would mean that their partner is cheating on them.

Instead of embracing cervical cancer screenings, which have been proven to prevent 75 per cent of cases of cervical cancer, 40 per cent of the women surveyed associated a potentially life-saving smear test with that negative connotation of an HPV diagnosis.

Two thirds of women also believed that testing positive for HPV equated to an immediate cancer diagnosis, which, unfortunately, doesn’t surprise me. I hadn’t heard of HPV until I was about 15, around the same time that reality star Jade Goody died from cervical cancer at the age of 27. It was about a year after the HPV vaccination programme for girls was first introduced in the UK. Before finding out otherwise, I thought HPV was a synonym for cervical cancer.

It wasn’t until my form tutor at the time shared her own story with us, and drove home the importance of making sure we were doing all we could to protect ourselves, that I realised the extent to which taking preventative measures could save lives.

I learned that HPV can lay dormant for long periods of time, that you can get it from non-penetrative, or skin-to-skin contact, that not all strains are life-threatening. I also learned, crucially, that while getting vaccinated would be helpful, it still wouldn’t provide the same protection that going for a screening would.

Because of the time that was taken to explain exactly what HPV was, and how you could or couldn’t get it, it hadn’t occurred to me that it should be seen as something to be ashamed of. Of course, not everyone will have had the same exposure to myth-busting lessons, or healthcare, that many of the teenagers in my school received.

If more of us knew how common it was – as many as eight in 10 women will contract a strain of HPV at some stage in their lifetime, again, many of which are harmless – perhaps things would be different.

There’s also a lot to be said for those who, for reasons ranging from embarrassment, to surviving sexual trauma, to having a learning disability, understandably find cervical cancer screenings difficult, or triggering. Rates of screenings might also increase if more nurses and doctors were aware of the easily enforced practices of adapting their language or behaviour to suit a patient’s needs.

We have a long way to go when it comes to affording women the support they need to be free of the shame and fear that often restricts them from seeking life-saving help, especially when sex or intimacy is a factor.

But one thing that could take us one step closer to that goal, is debunking the myth that remaining ignorant about HPV is in any way a viable means of avoiding it, let alone understanding what it really is.

Jan 15th

Do cold and flu home remedies really work

When we feel the sniffles coming on, it's common to reach for a herbal remedy before heading to the chemist. But do they really work?

In a bid to tackle the growing problem of antibiotic resistance, new guidance from Public Health England (PHE) and The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) is urging doctors to recommend honey and over-the-counter remedies as the 'first point of call' for coughs rather than antibiotics.

But just how effective is honey, lemon, zinc or chicken soup in beating the dreaded cold and flu? We ask the experts:

1. Echinacea➡️ Can echinacea reduce the severity of a cold?

A 2014 Cochrane review looked at the evidence for the effectiveness of echinacea in preventing and treating the common cold, reviewing 24 controlled clinical trials. It concluded that echinacea does NOT reduce the length of colds significantly, but may offer weak benefits.

⚠️ The most important recommendation for consumers and clinicians is a caution that echinacea products differ greatly, and the majority of these products have not been tested in clinical trials.

The verdict: 'As there is no real risk in taking echinacea (other than side effects reported from continuous, preventative use), I would hesitate to say "do not take", when some people may find this useful,' says Dietitian and BDA spokesperson Aisling Pigott. 'Professionally, I would not advocate the use of echinacea as there is insufficient evidence. However, I wouldn't tell somebody to stop if they found it beneficial.'

2. Honey➡️ Will honey soothe a sore throat?

A drink of honey mixed with lemon and hot water is a common go-to when it comes to soothing sore throats and a runny nose. PHE recommends patients should try using honey or cough medicines containing pelargonium, guaifenesin or dextromethorphan, which have some evidence of benefit for symptom relief. 

The verdict: 'Although there is insufficient evidence to support its effectiveness, who are we to argue with someone who finds something useful for them?' says Pigott. 'I would always remind people that honey is high in sugar and calories, so as a regular addition to the diet it may not be beneficial. Also, honey should never be given to children under one, due to the risk for botulism.'

3. Zinc lozenges➡️ Does zinc reduce the severity of colds and flu?

'There is some evidence that zinc reduces the duration of cold symptoms such as nasal congestion, sneezing, coughing and a sore, scratchy and hoarse throat,' says Dietitian Lauren McGuckin. 'Zinc is an important nutrient for regulating immunity.'

The verdict: 'Zinc lozenges are likely to contain sugar, and therefore can be detrimental to teeth as well as contributing unnecessary calories,' says McGuckin. 'However, zinc supplementation may be beneficial to individuals who aren't meeting dietary intakes.'

Zinc-rich foods include seafood, lamb, beef, wholegrains, pumpkin seeds and baked beans.

4. Chicken soup➡️ Can chicken soup cure the common cold?

'There is little evidence to suggest that chicken soup reduces the symptoms of a cold,' says Pigott. 'However, we know that protein and energy requirements increase during illness, while appetite and gastric functioning reduce. Therefore, based on that evidence, warming and nutritious food (eg chicken soup) may help restore energy during times of illness.'

Chicken soup with plenty of vegetables contains lots of healthy nutrients, increases hydration and tastes delicious!

The verdict: 'It is not a cure!' warns McGuckin. 'However, as a warming, hearty, protein and nutrient rich comfort food, chicken soup is an ideal meal for someone who is feeling under the weather.'

6. Vitamin C➡️ Can foods high in vitamin C treat the common cold?

Vitamin C is key to the immune system functioning, and there is evidence to suggest it may reduce the length of colds - but not prevent them.

The verdict: 'The sharpness of citrus can be helpful with relief from catarrh and congestion and taken with warm water and other ingredients such as honey can be very soothing - a key part of recovery,' says Dietitian and BDA spokesperson Amanda Squire.

Foods rich in vitamin C include citrus fruits, red pepper, blackcurrants, kale, broccoli and strawberries.

'Cold symptom relief and illness recovery is generally about allowing your body to recover and fight the infection,' concludes Squire. 'An overall well-balanced and varied diet gives our bodies the best chance of maintaining a strong immune system.'


Jan 7th

Seven ways to dodge a cold – or recover faster

Blocked nose, watering eyes, a sore throat – the signs of a cold are all too familiar. Here are seven ways to dodge the lurgy, or shrug it off sooner

Look after yourself

Studies have suggested that being active can help prevent respiratory infections, but cutting out smoking, reducing alcohol intake and keeping to a healthy diet also help. “Plenty of exercise, good nutrition – keep yourself fit and healthy – and that will keep your immune system strong,” says Peter Barlow, associate professor of immunology and infection at Edinburgh Napier University.

Get enough sleep

Sleep is critical for health, says Aric Prather, associate professor in psychiatry at University of California, San Francisco. In a study published in 2013, Prather and colleagues provided 164 individuals with sleep trackers and sleep diaries, exposed them to the common cold and then quarantined them in a hotel for monitoring. After taking into account factors including age, sex, smoking habits and alcohol consumption, the team found that sleep was a factor in who fell ill. “We found that people who get less than six hours of sleep on average are about four times more likely to get the cold than people who sleep more than seven hours,” says Prather.

Why bingeing on health foods won’t boost your immune system
Wash your hands

There are about 160 types of rhinovirus, which are behind the majority of common colds, says Barlow: “Anything you can do to avoid exposing yourself to that virus will reduce your chances of catching it.” He says many health agencies advise people to wash hands frequently with soap and water, to avoid touching nose, eyes and mouth with dirty hands, and to stay away from people who are sick.

Steer clear of children – if you can

Prof Mieke van Driel, head of primary care and general practice at the University of Queensland, says children get several colds a year because their immune systems are still developing – and they tend to pass the colds on. “Parents of young children are at higher risk than people who don’t get in touch with children a lot, and so staying away from them is probably a good thing.”

If you are sick, be mindful of others

Presenteeism is on the rise – but if you are oozing snot you may want to consider having a duvet day. “If you are constantly coughing and sneezing, it is probably a good idea not to be around other people, spreading the cold,” says Van Driel.

Why can’t we cure the common cold?
Save your cash

In a recent study, Van Driel and colleagues looked at whether there are any remedies that help with nasal symptoms. For many treatments, the results were inconclusive, but decongestants – either on their own, or with painkillers or antihistamines – appear to help adults. (For young children, nasal irrigation is better.) However, there is little evidence that many popular remedies, such as echinacea and vitamin C, can prevent or treat a cold – plus they can be expensive. “You might as well just take a hot toddy, or a hot lemon and a bit of honey,” says Van Driel. One medicine to avoid, she adds, are antibiotics, which “really don’t work”. Unnecessary prescription is one of the factors fuelling the current antibiotic-resistance crisis.

Remember you will get over it

“The immune system in a healthy person is perfectly capable of dealing with colds and most viruses,” says Van Driel. “The cold virus is a benign, self-limiting disease. It is annoying, but it is self-limiting.” She adds that we should have confidence in our bodies to manage pathogens – in the vast majority of cases, even if we do nothing, we will get better.


Jan 4th

What is norovirus? Symptoms, incubation period and how to treat the winter bug

The dreaded winter vomiting bug norovirus has reportedly returned and has been sweeping across the UK over the festive period.

Families have complained of being struck down by the highly infectious bug as it spreads from household to household and closing hospital wards as a result.

Public Health authorities are warning us of the danger as the virus can survive the winter, with nausea, cramping, vomiting and diarrhoea just a few of the gruelling symptoms.

Here is everything you need to know about norovirus.

This bug causes inflammation of the stomach and intestine – stopping the absorption of fluids from intestinal lining cells. However, unlike salmonella these cells are not killed, hence a quicker recovery time.

Other less obvious symptoms to look out for include: low grade fever, fatigue, muscle aches and headaches.

Norovirus symptoms

According to the NHS, the main symptoms of norovirus are nausea, diarrhoea and vomiting. You may also be suffering from a high temperature of 39C or above, a headache and aching limbs.

Symptoms usually start suddenly, within one to two days of being infected.

Is norovirus a winter bug?

Norovirus can strike at any time and typically lasts between one to three days, but for most people it is most common to contract this virus from November to April.  It affects millions around the world and symptoms typically develop 12 to 48 hours after being exposed it.

How is it transmitted?

It can only be transmitted if particles from vomit or faeces are passed on and ingested. This could be by eating food or drinking liquids that are contaminated and touching surfaces or objects that are contaminated by putting them near your mouth.

How long does the incubation period last?

In humans, the incubation period usually lasts between 12 to 48 hours. Symptoms appear very suddenly but only last for two to three days before the bug clears.

How to prevent norovirus

Hygiene is a top priority to easily avoid contracting the virus or containing it.

The easiest thing is make sure you practise proper hand hygiene especially after rush hour, when using the bathroom or before touching or preparing food.

When preparing food, all fresh produce should be washed thoroughly and all surfaces should be wiped down and disinfected before cooking.  

It is highly contagious, so when cleaning contaminated surfaces use bleach-based household cleaners and handle garments with plastic gloves. Wash these items of clothing separately on a high heat to kill the germs.

How to treat norovirus

First and foremost avoid crowded places including: care homes and office spaces.

Unfortunately antibiotics don’t work, so drink plenty of fluids with plenty of electrolytes to balance salts in your body and stay hydrated.

For aches and pains take paracetamol, but most importantly get plenty of rest and eat plain foods such as bread and rice.

Dec 25th 2018

Is it food poisoning or a stomach bug?

I am often asked the difference between food poisoning and gastroenteritis, or diarrhoea and vomiting caused by a bug. The truth is that in many cases the two terms can be used interchangeably. And unfortunately, it's difficult to tell clinically whether your symptoms are from eating contaminated food or because someone's passed on a nasty bug to you.

Though it's worth noting that diarrhoea illnesses are often caused by viruses rather than bacteria and are usually what we call "self limiting", in other words, they can be managed at home without the need to see a doctor.

But how do you know when that isn't the case, and what if you suspect your illness is related to food you have eaten? Food poisoning is caused by eating contaminated food and the symptoms may be caused by a bug or by toxins produced by the bug. We can sometimes predict which bug is likely to be to blame by the time frame.

Food poisoning is caused by eating contaminated food and the symptoms may be caused by a bug or by toxins.

Diarrhoea due to staphylococcus aureus for example, develops within one to six hours of eating contaminated food, while food poisoning from salmonella, E Coli or norovirus is more likely to develop a day or two after eating contaminated food and may even occur several weeks later.

How to test for food poisoning

The only real way of knowing which bug is to blame though is to send a sample to the laboratory for assessment and as most cases of diarrhoea and vomiting settle within a couple of days, we don't always do this.

Food can become contaminated at any point in its preparation. Common causes include not cooking meat thoroughly or not reheating foods previously cooked foods, leaving food out in warm temperatures or next to other foods which are contaminated, and not washing hands properly before preparing food.

Diarrhoea serves a purpose

If we ingest harmful bacteria, diarrhoea is our body's way of getting rid of that bug and that is why we ask patients to keep well hydrated by drinking plenty of fluids and we don't give medication to stop the diarrhoea in the first 24 hours. It is important that we allow our system to get rid of the infection. If you are suffering severe dehydration as a result of sickness, rehydration products such as Dioralyte can aid recovery.

We all have two kilos of "good" bacteria living in our intestines and they are vital to our health.

But not all bacteria in our gut are bad. In fact we all have two kilos of "good" bacteria living in our intestines and they are vital to our health. They help us digest our food. When we develop diarrhoea, we lose those some of those good bacteria along with the harmful ones and that means that even after the infection has cleared, we struggle to digest our food properly and diarrhoea can persist. It's at this stage that we encourage patients to use anti-diarrhoeal medicines and I also recommend a daily probiotic to top up our "good" bacteria.

When to visit your GP

You should see your doctor if diarrhoea persists for more than a few days and certainly if there is blood in the motions. A high fever or severe tummy pains should also be checked out and if you have reason to believe that your symptoms are related to eating contaminated food from a restaurant or other food outlet, your GP will want to send a sample to the laboratory.

If food poisoning is confirmed, he or she will report the results to the local environmental health department for further investigation to prevent others being infected.

Am I contagious?

Even if it's probably food poisoning, it's best to assume that you are infectious for as long as you have symptoms and take extra care with hand washing after using the toilet and before preparing or eating food and should avoid preparing food for others wherever possible until the diarrhoea has settled.


Nov 13th 2018

Brit dies from rabies after being bitten by cat in Morocco

A Briton has died after contracting rabies while on holiday in Morocco, Public Health England has said.

The UK resident contracted the disease after being bitten by a rabid cat.

No further details have been released about the case but Public Health England has issued a warning to travellers. 

It has urged the public to avoid coming into contact with animals when travelling to rabies affected countries due to the risk of catching the disease.

Rabies does not circulate in either wild or domestic animals in the UK, but between 2000 and 2017 five UK residents became infected with rabies after "animal exposures abroad", PHE added.

No human cases of rabies acquired in the UK from animals other than bats have been reported since 1902.

In 2002 in Scotland, a human caught rabies after being repeatedly bitten by a bat. Public Health England said in a statement: "Rabies is common in other parts of the world, especially in Asia and Africa.

"All travellers to rabies affected countries should avoid contact with dogs, cats and other animals wherever possible, and seek advice about the need for rabies vaccine prior to travel."

It added: "This reminder comes after a UK resident sadly died after becoming infected with rabies following a cat bite during a visit to Morocco. There is no risk to the wider public in relation to this case but, as a precautionary measure, health workers and close contacts are being assessed and offered vaccination when necessary."

PHE said anyone who is bitten, scratched or licked by an animal in a country with rabies or has direct contact with a bat in the UK should immediately wash the wound with plenty of soap and water and seek medical advice even if they have previously been vaccinated.

Dr Mary Ramsay, Head of Immunisations at PHE said: "This is an important reminder of the precautions people should take when travelling to countries where rabies is present. If you are bitten, scratched or licked by an animal you must wash the wound or site of exposure with plenty of soap and water and seek medical advice without delay."

Oct 24th 2018

Hundreds of salmonella cases reported in last few months

An urgent health warning has been issued to meat lovers after hundreds of Brits have fallen ill from eating mince.

The Food Standards Agency has launched an investigation following the spike in people contracting salmonella linked to lamb and mutton.

And the watchdog is urging people to take care when handling raw meat and to cook food such as steaks and chops fully on the outside.

It is also reminding cooks to wash their hands thoroughly with soap and warm water when preparing food.

It comes as there have been almost 300 cases of Salmonella Typhimurium in the last few months.

It first started to appear in the UK in July 2017 but control measures were put in place which led to a significant decline.

By May this year, 118 people had fallen ill from it.

And since June, a further 165 cases have been reported – meaning a total of 283 people have been struck down by the nasty bug.

A FSA spokesperson said: "We’re quite clear that people can still enjoy their steaks, chops, joints and cutlets pink on the inside but cooked fully on the outside.

"If it’s minced meat, a kebab, sausage or a burger then cook it thoroughly throughout so there’s no pink meat at all, making sure it’s steaming hot and the juices run clear."

Salmonella usually results from ingestion of the bacteria from contaminated food, water or hands. Symptoms may include fever, diarrhoea, loss of appetite, headache, stomach cramps, nausea and vomiting.

Young children, the elderly and people whose immune systems are not working properly have a greater risk of becoming severely ill with food poisoning caused by salmonella.

Colin Sullivan, FSA chief operating officer, said: 'We are advising care when preparing all meat, including lamb and mutton, to reduce the likelihood of becoming ill with Salmonella Typhimurium.

"Our advice is to purchase food as normal but to take care when storing, handling and cooking raw meat.

"People should wash their hands after touching raw meat, avoid contaminating other food in the kitchen by storing it separately in the fridge and using different chopping boards and knives, and ensure that meat, particularly diced and minced lamb, is cooked properly."

Nick Phin, deputy director, National Infection Service, PHE said: "The likely cause of the increased numbers of this specific strain of Salmonella Typhimurium is considered to be meat or cross-contamination with meat from affected sheep.

"People can be infected with Salmonella Typhimurium in a number of ways such as not cooking their meat properly, not washing hands thoroughly after handling raw meat, or through cross-contamination with other food, surfaces and utensils in the kitchen."

Oct 22nd 2018

Flu jab Who needs the vaccine and where to get it

The NHS is calling for people to get their flu jab, not only to protect themselves but also to limit the impact on the health service which last year experienced a record-breaking crisis - in part because of a particularly bad strain of flu.

The influenza virus causes coughs, tiredness and fever in most people but can have serious complications like pneumonia that may require emergency treatment, and not getting ill is the best protection.

Adults who are more at risk of infections turning serious, including those over the age of 65, people with long-term medical conditions, and pregnant women can get the flu jab free from their GP, pharmacist, or midwifery service.

Children age two and three can also be vaccinated at their GP practice, while those in school up to year five will be offered the flu vaccination in a nasal spray at school.

This will protect them, but it is also a way to protect vulnerable grandparents and relatives as children are often in very close contact with each other and less likely to cover coughs and sneezes.

High street pharmacists also offer the jab privately. In most cases this costs between £10 and £12 but some of the cheapest options are in big supermarkets, such as Asda and Tesco, with in-store chemists.

Check your local options as some might need you to book an appointment beforehand.

Does it work?

No flu jab is 100-per-cent effective as the virus is constantly spreading and mutating, and international travel allows an exotic strain from Japan to pop up in Manchester in a matter of days.

The World Health Organisation evaluates these global trends and it has to forecast which strains are going to be dominant a year later so that there is enough time to build up stocks and get people vaccinated.

Last year there were signs the jab was less effective than hoped, but there were also three 3 million vulnerable people who had not had the jab by January. There is ample evidence to suggest that a flu jab improves your chances of not getting ill and the head of the NHS in England, Simon Stevens, said in October 2018 that this year’s jab is “more effective than ever”.

This is thanks to a “quadrivalent” vaccine, which protects against four types of flu and is available across the UK this year.

For most children and adults this is the standard option but over 65s are still being offered the trivalent – three strains – vaccine as it is more effective for them.

Is it safe?

The jab is given to millions of people every year and side effects are rare. For most the worst effects they can expect are a sore arm and occasionally some tiredness or headaches.

A recent poll showed a fifth of UK adults fear the jab will give them the flu, but this concern is misplaced and can put people at risk if they have long-term conditions where flu is a threat.

In some rare cases a patient can have a severe allergic reaction, whichi will occur within a few minutes or hours and should treated as serious.

There were also reports this year, in a study funded by the US Centre for Disease Control, about miscarriage rates being higher in women who had the jab. These findings will obviously be of concern to mothers – who are in the group where the jab is recommended – but the design of the study means it cannot prove the jab caused the miscarriages, and can only show an association.



There are a number of factors the study cannot take into account and the trend is being thoroughly investigated. In the meantime neither the CDC or NHS have changed their recommendation on vaccinations in pregnancy.

Do I need it?

Twelve months ago, Simon Stevens was warning that a “heavy outbreak” was coming as early signs from Australia and New Zealand – whose winter is during our summer – was of a record-breaking flu season.

That prediction came to pass but news from the southern hemisphere has so far been more reassuring this year, thanks in part to the quadrivalent jab.

While there are stories each year of healthy young people who die from flu, the fact that they make headlines if because they are so rare and people outside the at risk groups should not be worried.

Those who are concerned can look at getting a jab, and doing so in October or November for best protection.

Sept 27th 2018

I caught monkeypox off a patient because of useless NHS gloves

 now I fear I've given it to my husband': Hospital worker becomes the third person in Britain to be struck down with the illness

·       A mother-of-two is thought to have caught the virus while changing bedding

·       The woman, from Lancashire, said the gloves didn't adequately cover skin

·       Her 50-year-old husband is also feared to have the disease after he fell ill 

·       She is being treated in specialist unit at the Royal Victoria Infirmary, Newcastle

·       Do you know any of the patients affected by monkeypox? Email stephen.matthews@mailonline.co.uk 

·       A hospital worker who became the third person in the UK to be struck down with deadly monkeypox has blamed 'pathetically small' NHS gloves for failing to protect her - and fears she may have passed it to her builder husband.

·       The mother-of-two, from Fleetwood, Lancashire, is thought to have caught the possibly fatal virus while changing bedding at Blackpool Victoria Hospital.

·       The 40-year-old said: 'The gloves were too short to cover my arms and left my skin exposed while changing the bed. I think that's how I got infected'.

·       The healthcare assistant, who has not been identified, developed flu-like symptoms after working at the hospital, where one of the previous victims had been.

·       Her 50-year-old husband is also believed to have got the disease after his face broke out in spots - the tell-tale sign of the virus.  

·       She also told The Sun: 'They told us we weren't at risk – but that's obviously nonsense. I'm terrified about what may happen to me and my family.' 

·       The woman is the first person to catch monkeypox in the UK. She is now being treated by doctors in isolation at the specialist unit at the Royal Victoria Infirmary, Newcastle.

·       The previous two victims caught the virus in Nigeria before travelling to the UK. Officials today confirmed they are both also still receiving care in hospital.     

·       Public Health England (PHE) has yet to reveal what level of care the patients are receiving. 

·       However, its own guidance asks people to wear respirator masks, eye protection and disposable gowns, gloves and shoe covers, for people cleaning or decontaminating rooms monkeypox patients have spent time in. 

·       PHE revealed the unnamed medic had treated the second patient at Blackpool Victoria Hospital.

·       However, officials on Wednesday said she had come into contact with the patient before they were confirmed to have monkeypox.

·       PHE repeatedly claimed the risk of infection was low and staff, patients and visitors were safe. However, yesterday it said the new case was 'not wholly unexpected'.

·       It comes after PHE issued an urgent monkeypox warning in the wake of the first two cases, warning it could be spread through bedding.

·       In guidance aimed at doctors and nurses, the Government agency urged them to avoid touching suspected cases with their hands and to always wear gloves. 

·       PHE said the health worker was following standard guidance because the patient they were treating had not been confirmed to have monkeypox. 

·       Commenting on the third case, Dr Nick Phin, deputy director of the National Infection Service at PHE, said: 'This healthcare worker cared for the patient before a diagnosis of monkeypox was made. 

·       'We have been actively monitoring contacts for 21 days after exposure to detect anyone presenting with an illness so that they can be assessed quickly. 

·       'It is therefore not wholly unexpected that a case has been identified.

·       'This person has been isolated and we are taking a highly precautionary approach to ensure that all contacts are traced.' 

·       Andy Welch, medical director of The Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said: 'We are currently treating a patient who has been diagnosed with monkeypox. 

·       'The patient is in isolation and being cared for by specialist and highly trained staff who are experienced in dealing with a variety of infectious diseases.

·       'There is no risk to other patients and visitors and we have robust procedures in place to ensure our patients and staff are protected. In order to maintain patient confidentiality we will not release any further information.' 

·       PHE said it was following up with close contacts of the new patient to provide advice and monitor their health. 

·       The Government agency is also seeking to make contact with anyone who made contact with the individual in the 24 hours before they noticed a rash.

·       The viral disease was recorded for the first time in the UK on September 7 in a Nigerian national staying at a naval base in Cornwall.

·       The patient was transferred to the expert infectious disease unit at the Royal Free Hospital in London the following day.

·       A second person was then confirmed to have been struck down with the virus on September 11. 

·       The unidentified patient first went to Blackpool Victoria Hospital with symptoms, before they tested positive for monkeypox. They were then sent for treatment at the Royal Liverpool University Hospital, a specialist centre.

·       Further information on the state of the first two patients has not yet been released.

·       Officials believe both the first two patients caught the virus, often spread through handling monkeys and proves fatal in 10 per cent of cases, in Nigeria before flying to England. 

·       Nigeria was hit hard by a virulent outbreak of monkeypox last September, with 89 people infected and six deaths recorded in March.

·       The country had not previously reported a case of the disease since 1978.

·       The most recent government figures, released last year, estimate there are 190,000 people that were born in Nigeria who currently live in the UK. 

·       Monkeypox is a rare viral infection that was first discovered in monkeys in 1958. While similar to smallpox, it is not as deadly.

·       The first case in a human was discovered in the Democratic Republic of Congo in 1970, and since cases have been reported in central and west African countries.  

·       Initial symptoms include fever, headache and chills. As the illness develops large welts can appear over the face and body.

·       Monkeypox resides in wild animals but humans can catch it through direct contact with animals, such as handling monkeys, or eating inadequately cooked meat.



·       Monkeypox - often caught through handling monkeys - is a rare viral disease that kills around 10 per cent of people it strikes, according to figures.

·       The virus responsible for the disease is found mainly in the tropical areas of west and central Africa.

·       Monkeypox was first discovered in 1958, with the first reported human case in the Democratic Republic of Congo in 1970. Human cases were recorded for the first time in the US in 2003 and the UK in September 2018.

·       It resides in wild animals but humans can catch it through direct contact with animals, such as handling monkeys, or eating inadequately cooked meat. 

·       The virus can enter the body through broken skin, the respiratory tract, or the eyes, nose or mouth.

·       It can pass between humans via droplets in the air, and by touching the skin of an infected individual, or touching objects contaminated by them. 

·       Symptoms usually appear within five and 21 days of infection. These include a fever, headache, muscle aches, swollen lymph nodes, chills and fatigue.

·       The most obvious symptom is a rash, which usually appears on the face before spreading to other parts of the body. This then forms skin lesions that scab and fall off.

·       Monkeypox is usually mild, with most patients recovering within a few weeks without treatment. Yet, the disease can often prove fatal.

·       There are no specific treatments or vaccines available for monkeypox infection, according to the World Health Organization. 


Sept 10th 2018

Monkeypox: Everything you need to know about the rare virus

A case of Monkeypox has been diagnosed in Cornwall prompting Public Health England to issue a warning.

The victim is getting treatment for the virus, which can be transmitted to humans.

It is the first time ever this infection has been diagnosed in the UK, Public Health England (PHE) said.

The World Health Organisation has the main facts, but we've broken down your main questions below.

What is monkeypox?

Monkeypox is a rare viral infection that can be transmitted to humans from animals.

It's predominantly found in remote parts of central and west Africa, near tropical rainforests.

In Africa human infections have been documented through the handling of infected monkeys, Gambian giant rats and squirrels, with rodents being the most likely reservoir of the virus. Eating inadequately cooked meat of infected animals is a possible risk factor.

The causative agent (monkeypox virus) is a double-stranded DNA virus from the family Poxviridae and the genus Orthopoxvirus.

Monkeypox symptoms

Symptoms initially include fever, headache, muscle aches, backache, swollen lymph nodes, chills and exhaustion.

A rash may develop on the face before spreading to other parts of the body.

It may first be seen on the middle of the body, then later it spreads to the arms, legs, and head.

Rashes may start as a blister or a raised bump filled with pus and later get crusty, scab over, and fall off.

Why is it called Monkeypox?

The disease got its name because it was first found in 1958 in laboratory primates.

Blood screening of animals in Africa later found that other types of animals also had monkeypox. In 1970 the first case was reported in humans.

Is Monkeypox contagious?

The virus does not spread easily between people.

The infection can be spread when someone is in close contact with an infected person; however there is a very low risk of transmission to the general population.

The incubation period is usually from 6 to 16 days but can range from 5 to 21 days.

Can it be fatal?</h3>

Monkeypox infection is usually a mild illness and most people recover within several weeks. However, severe illness can occur in some individuals.

But in some cases it can be fatal.

How is Monkeypox diagnosed?

What is the treatment?

You may be given medicine to treat fever or pain, but there are no specific treatments or vaccines available for monkeypox infection, but outbreaks can be controlled.

A smallpox vaccination may be given to help your body fight the virus.

You may need immune globulins or antiviral medicines if your symptoms are severe.

Doctors will advise sufferers to stay at home so the virus does not spread.


Sept 6th 2018

Meat testing: A fifth of samples reveal unspecified animals' DNA

More than a fifth of meat sample tests in 2017 found DNA from animals not on the labelling, the BBC has learned.

Out of 665 results from England, Wales and Northern Ireland collected by the Food Standards Agency, 145 were partly or wholly made up of unspecified meat.

The FSA said the levels were consistent with "deliberate inclusion" - but added testing had targeted those businesses suspected of "compliance issues".

The samples came from 487 businesses, including restaurants and supermarkets.

A BBC Freedom of Information request to the FSA revealed that in total 73 of the contaminated samples came from retailers - including three supermarkets. A further 50 came from restaurants, while 22 originated from manufacturing or food processing plants.

It also showed:

§  Some samples contained DNA from as many as four different animals, while others contained no trace of the meat that appeared on the product's label

§  Meat labelled as lamb was most likely to contain traces of other animals' DNA, followed by beef and goat

§  Cow DNA was the most commonly-found contaminant, followed by pig, chicken, sheep and turkey

§  The most commonly mis-labelled product was mince meat, while sausages, kebabs and restaurant curries also featured prominently

§  Other products in the dataset include ready meals such as spaghetti Bolognese and curries, pizzas and a portion of ostrich meat, which contained only beef

An FSA spokesman said it was up to the relevant local authorities - which procured the samples before sending the results to the FSA - to lead individual investigations and take "appropriate action" such as prosecutions.

He added the results were "not representative of the wider food industry".

However, a clear picture of the wider food industry is not readily available as less than half of local authorities actually submitted meat sampling data to the United Kingdom's Food Surveillance System - part of the FSA - in 2017.

Some councils may have focused their food testing priorities "in areas other than meat substitution", the FSA said - adding that others may have carried out tests later in the financial year.

'Lack of transparency'

Experts say replacing expensive meat with a cheaper product is a common reason behind food fraud - a global problem that has existed for centuries.

This latest data comes five years after the horsemeat scandal, when processed beef products sold by a number of UK supermarket chains were found to contain significant amounts of horse DNA.

While none of the 2017 samples contained horsemeat, the lack of transparency surrounding the quality and origin of meat products in the UK has raised concerns.

§  Q&A: The 2013 horsemeat scandal

§  What is the Food Standards Agency?

Compassion in World Farming, which campaigns for better animal welfare in the meat industry, said untraceable ingredients made it hard for animal welfare to be "part of consumers' shopping decisions".

Responding to the examples of pork hidden in meat sold as lamb, kosher agency the Kashrut Division London Beth Din (KLBD) said there was "a lack of transparency" in some parts of the food industry.

The KLBD added, however, that there were "robust protocols in place to avoid mislabelling" in products labelled as kosher.

How were the tests conducted?

Local authorities gathered samples from businesses in their area before sending them to laboratories for analysis. The results were then submitted to the FSA.

The FSA explained the "majority" of samples were tested for cow, pig, sheep, goat, horse, chicken and turkey DNA because those animals represent the "overwhelming majority" of livestock reared, slaughtered and imported in the UK.

DNA from other animals could have been present in some samples, but may not have been identified as testers were not looking for it.

According to the FSA, the inclusion of DNA at a proportion of 1% or greater should be considered consistent with "deliberate inclusion".

Samples contaminated by un-named DNA at a level of less than 1% were excluded from the results on the basis they could have been caused by poor hygiene.


Aug 2nd 2018

How a Lick from a Dog Led to a Man's Leg and Arm Amputations

A 48-year-old man from Wisconsin recently contracted a rare blood infection that led to the amputation of his legs and parts of his arms, according to news reports. And the most likely source of the devastating infection was his own dog.

Greg Manteufel went to the hospital with what he thought was the flu, local news outlet Fox 6 Now reported yesterday (July 30). But within a week, the doctors had to amputate both of his legs and, later, portions of his hands and forearms. The amputations were necessary after the infection caused Manteufel's blood pressure to drop drastically, which severely reduced blood flow to his limbs and led to tissue death.

Blood tests revealed that Manteufel's infection was caused by a bacterium called Capnocytophaga, according to Fox 6 Now. [11 Ways Your Beloved Pet May Make You Sick]

These bacteria are found in the mouths of cats and dogs, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Up to 74 percent of dogs and 57 percent of cats have Capnocytophaga, but the bacteria don't cause illness in dogs and cats, the CDC says.

In humans, however, it's a different story. In very rare cases, the bacteria can spread to humans through bites, scratches or close contact with cats and dogs. The people most at risk for this infection are those with weakened immune systems, according to the CDC. (It's unclear if Manteufel had a weakened immune system).

If a person becomes infected with Capnocytophaga, the bacteria can spread to the bloodstream and cause infections in various parts of the body, including a blood infection known as sepsis. Sepsis occurs when the immune system responds overwhelmingly to an infection, triggering body-wide inflammation and, potentially, organ failure.

Most people who get sick with the bacteria typically start experiencing symptoms within three to five days of becoming infected, but symptoms may occur anywhere from one to 14 days after infection, according to the CDC. Symptoms include blisters, redness, swelling, pus or pain around the animal bite location (if a bite was involved), fever, diarrhea, headache, vomiting and muscle or joint pain.

As in Manteufel's case, the infection can sometimes lead to gangrene, or tissue death, and require amputations to save the rest of the body.

Dr. Silvia Munoz-Price, an infectious-disease specialist with Froedtert & the Medical College of Wisconsin told Fox 6 Now that the case is extremely rare. "More than 99 percent of the people that have dogs will never have this issue. It's just chance," she said.

July 4th 2018

Dozens of people in Texas have been sickened by a parasite called Cyclospora in recent months, health officials announced this week.

So far, health officials have identified 56 illnesses due to Cyclospora since May, according to a statement from the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS). Officials are still investigating the source of the illnesses.

Cyclospora cayetanensis is a microscopic, single-celled parasite that causes an intestinal illness known as cyclosporiasis in people, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). [8 Awful Parasite Infections That Will Make Your Skin Crawl]

People become infected with Cyclospora when they consume food or water that's contaminated with feces containing the parasite. However, the infection typically isn't spread directly from person to person, because once the parasite is passed in stool, it needs to spend at least one to two weeks in the environment (outside the body) before it can infect another person, the CDC says. (The parasite needs time outside the body, where temperatures are lower, in order to mature.)

Cyclosporiasis is most common in tropical and subtropical countries, so people living in or traveling to these areas may be at increased risk for infection, the CDC says. But in the United States, outbreaks of cyclosporiasis have been linked with imported fresh produce, including raspberries, basil, snow peas, mesclun lettuce and cilantro. In recent years, Texas has had several outbreaks of Cyclospora tied to cilantro.

The main symptom of cyclosporiasis is watery diarrhea that lasts a few days to a few months, according to the DSHS. Other symptoms may include loss of appetite, fatigue, weight loss, abdominal cramps, bloating, increased gas, nausea, vomiting and a low fever.

People who have symptoms of cyclosporiasis should see their health care provider, the DSHS said in the statement. The infection is typically treated with a combination of two antibiotics, according to the CDC.

Last month, the CDC announced that it was investigating an outbreak of Cyclospora that sickened 185 people in four states: Minnesota, Iowa, Wisconsin and Michigan. That outbreak was linked to Del Monte Fresh Produce vegetable trays containing broccoli, cauliflower, celery sticks, carrots and dill dip. Health officials have not determined whether that outbreak and the Texas outbreak have a common source.

The DSHS recommends thoroughly washing all fresh produce, although this may not eliminate the risk of Cyclospora infection, because the parasite can be difficult to wash off. Cooking foods will kill the parasite, DSHS said.


June 19th 2018

The giant hogweed (Heracleum mantegazzianum) is a towering weed that can cause vision loss and intense burns. But no, this poisonous plant doesn't come from Professor Sprout's botany syllabus at Hogwarts; instead, it's very real and was recently identified in Virginia, according to news reports.

A Virginian came across the giant plant and suspected that it could be bad news. So, he contacted local experts about it, including Jordan Metzgar, a curator with the Virginia Tech Massey Herbarium who helped identify the plant.

Sure enough, the towering weed — which can grow to over 14 feet (4.3 meters) tall and is topped with white flowers — turned out to be a giant hogweed. Though this was the first time the invasive plant was identified in Virginia, giant hogweed has already established a home across many parts of the mid-Atlantic, Northwest and New England regions; there are at least 400 giant hogweeds in 239 sites across New York alone, according to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation

But what makes this plant so dangerous?

"The [plant's] sap is toxic and basically strips the body's ability to control the UV radiations from sunlight," said Joellen Lampman, an educator with the New York State Integrated Pest Management program at Cornell University. Without this ability, a person is much more susceptible to sunburns. [Naughty by Nature: The Most Disgusting and Deadly Flowers]

In particular, the sap contains compounds called "photosynthesizing furanocoumarins," Lampman told Live Science. Sunlight activates these compounds, which can lead to severe burns on a person's skin, according to Metzgar. The burns can worsen with moisture like from sweat or dew and heat, according to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC).

The medical term for this type of burn is "phytophotodermatitis," a skin condition caused by extreme sensitivity to sunlight. "It's pretty horrific," Metzgar told Live Science. "It causes pretty severe burns …  worse than [the typical] sunburn."

Phytophotodermatitis can also cause rashes, painful blisters, scarring and long-term sensitivity to sunlight, Lampman said. And if the sap gets into the eye, the toxins lead to vision loss.

"The recommendation is that if you think you've come into contact with [a giant hogweed] to wash with soap and water as soon as possible … stay out of the sun for 48 hours and see a physician," Lampman said.

"What's really scary about this one is the impacts it could have on children," Lampman said. "It … kind of looks like an umbrella, so you can envision children seeing that and breaking [the plant] off and carrying it around with them." But this would expose kids to the sap, she added.

People can encounter the sap all over the plant, but they primarily come into contact with it by breaking the plant's stem or leaves or even by touching its bristles, according to the NYSDEC.

Because of this, Lampman said that people should not try to get rid of the plants on their own, as this could expose them to the toxic sap. Instead, if you think you've seen a giant hogweed, Lampman recommends that you contact your state's department of environmental conservation, who can remove it. According to the NYSDEC, you should not use a "weed whacker" or brush cutter to get rid of the plant, as it could lead to sap spreading.

Metzgar noted that not every towering, scary-looking plant is a giant hogweed. Indeed, a native species called cow parsnip looks a lot like the giant hogweed and is much more widespread.

"If you're out and see a giant plant with white flowers, it's a good chance it's a cow parsnip," Metzgar said. Still, you should take some photos and report it to local agencies, he added. "You don't need to panic right away."


April 11th 2018

Rubber ducks are a menace, full of germs.

Sepsis kills 44,000 people a year in Britain – what is it and what are the signs?

It’s described as the silent killer. Sepsis – more commonly known as blood poisoning - is often mistaken for everyday illnesses, such as flu or a virus.

But the disease is far more dangerous and can kill quickly if not caught and treated early.

Sepsis is more common than heart attacks and kills more people than bowel, breast and prostate cancer combined. It costs our severely stretched NHS a staggering £2.93billion a year.

Every year, 150,000 people in the UK develop sepsis. Of those, 44,000 die.

A quarter of survivors – another 26,500 people – suffer life-changing disabilities, such as organ failure and amputated limbs.

Yet unlike heart attacks or cancer, awareness of the condition remains alarmingly low. Few of us know the symptoms of sepsis, and doctors regularly struggle to diagnose it early enough.

That is why bereaved families have joined forces with survivors of sepsis, doctors and the Government to launch a new campaign to raise awareness about the deadly disease.

Dr Ron Daniels, chief executive of the UK Sepsis Trust, says: “We could save 12,500 lives a year and improve the quality of life for another 100,000 survivors just by recognising sepsis earlier and delivering good basic care.

“That doesn’t require any costly drugs or investment in more intensive beds, just increasing awareness to make sure cases are caught early.”

Sepsis is caused by the body’s attempts to fight germs that enter it. They could be germs we come into contact with on a daily basis, such as bacteria on our skin or a chest infection.

A cut on the skin normally becomes red and swollen as the body sends more blood to the area to deliver more white blood cells to fight infection and platelets to stem the bleeding.

But if the immune system “overreacts” to an infection, the entire body becomes red and swollen. As too much blood leaks out of vessels, blood pressure plummets and vital organs, such as the heart and kidneys, become starved of blood and oxygen.

While diseases such as cancer are more likely to affect certain age groups or smokers, sepsis is an indiscriminate killer that can strike anyone at any time. It is also unpredictable, and the speed of the disease varies from case to case. Sometimes it takes three to four days to develop, whereas other people become seriously ill in just 12 hours.

Dr Daniels says: “It can affect athletes who have never smoked or drunk and who eat healthily. It can affect innocent babies and it can affect the elderly

“And in typically fit, healthy people in the prime of life it progresses more quickly because their immune system is more active anyway.”

William Meade, from Cornwall, was just one when he died from sepsis in September 2014. His tragic death has inspired local Lottery millionaire Peter Congdon, from Truro, to donate £6,000 to print new information leaflets which will be handed out to pregnant women. They will form a key part of the UK Sepsis Trust’s campaign, Ask Sepsis, to raise awareness.

'I thought I was going to die as I couldn't catch my breath' says sepsis survivor

The campaign, which launches on World Sepsis Day on September 13 and is backed by the Department of Health, will also include posters and symptom cards in GP surgeries and a 90-second video released on social media. A second campaign, Think Sepsis, aims to raise awareness about the symptoms among health professionals to ensure fewer cases are missed.

And healthcare regulator NICE (National Institute for Clinical Excellence) issued new guidelines last month demanding that doctors and nurses treat sepsis as an emergency on the same level of heart attacks to ensure patients get rapid treatment.

Dr Daniels says: “We will only have a reliable system when sepsis is given the same priority as heart attacks, cancer and strokes .

“If you or a loved one has an infection and starts to feel worse, and you know something is just not right, ask a health professional if it could be sepsis.”

Be aware of the warning signs

All ages should watch out for:

Slurred speech or confusion

Extreme shivering or muscle pain

Not passing urine in a day

Severe breathlessness

Skin mottled, discoloured or unusually pale


Symptoms in children can also include:


A raised temperature – over 38C in tiny babies or over 39C in children over three months

Not wanting to play, being hard to wake or confused

Not eating or drinking for more than eight hours when awake, or being unable to keep fluid down

Only having one wee or wet nappy in an eight-hour period

A cough that sounds like a seal barking

The soft spot on a baby’s head bulging

Sunken-looking eyes, cold hands or lips turning blue

'My baby’s heart rate was so high doctors thought the monitor was broken'

Niamh Hodgkins was a happy, active one-year-old who loved chasing her two older sisters around – until she was struck down by sepsis.

At first mum Natalie thought Niamh was just teething, but when she stopped eating she took her to a GP and was told she had a viral infection.

The following day, a second GP diagnosed her with a chest infection and prescribed antibiotics.

Working in a GP surgery, Stella Benson was surrounded by doctors and nurses – but that didn’t help her spot the symptoms.

She felt suddenly tired while walking along the seafront one day in March 2011. The following day she struggled to do her job of practice administrator, suffering with a sore throat and earache. Her condition then deteriorated overnight.

By the next morning her lips were blue and she was in so much pain she couldn’t bear to be touched. She was also suffering from sickness and diarrhoea. Stella says: “I began to feel I was so ill I wasn’t going to make it through. I remember thinking, I’ve got the most appalling flu and it’s going to kill me.”

Stella’s husband Mark, an accountant, called an ambulance after she passed out and she was rushed to the Royal Sussex County Hospital, where she was taken straight to intensive care.

Stella 67, from Brighton, East Sussex, says: “I’m lucky my husband wasn’t at work that day, otherwise I wouldn’t be here now.”

She was put into an induced coma for two-and-a-half weeks and put on dialysis to ease the burden on her ailing kidneys.

Her family feared she wouldn’t survive.

When she eventually woke up, she had gangrene in her hands and legs as blood had stopped flowing to her extremities.

She had to have all her fingers amputated and lost both legs below the knee. She spent three months in hospital, then another three months in an intermediate care centre, learning to live independently.

Stella, who has two daughters and two grandchildren, says: “I’m alive and that’s what matters. I could lie in bed and feel sorry for myself, but I would rather be the badly behaved granny I always wanted to be.

“I knew about sepsis but it is so hard to spot. We are told that you shouldn’t go to the GP and waste their time if you have a sore throat, but that’s exactly how my ordeal started.

“People need to be aware of what symptoms to look out for if they start feeling worse.”

Jan 14th 2016

With regard to biological-contamination and home hygiene it is important that you get your children into the habit of washing their hands regularly, a particular point to note, make sure they wash their hands for at least 20 seconds after using the toilet and before they empty the dishwasher, as I'm sure you do.

I personally consider medical biological- contamination as a life-threatening issue as they can bring diseases, infections and many illnesses that can be fatal to human life, prevention can be helped by going through the information that buzcall.com provides.

But don’t worry we will tell you  many things you need to know about biological contamination. Firstly, we will give you the definition for “living organisms” which include bacteria, fungi and viruses, or their products that can be hazardous to animal or human health if contacted.

You must prepare. Medical prevention is important and better than cure, below is some advice on what to do and some preventative measures that can make a big difference to you and your family well being and safety, what is money if you are not healthy enough to enjoy life.

Medical biological-contamination is a global problem and knowing the causes and prevention that we provide you will be a big help in keeping you and your family healthy.

Cleanliness and sterilization are very good ways to help prevent medical biological-contamination, by keeping everything clean as much as possible indoor and outdoor you prepare well.

Biological-contamination can give us sickness and health problems, buzcall.com suggests that we should build up a GOOD MEDICAL RESISTANCE so that we can fight these bad bacteria, enzymes, fungi, and viruses.

Taking good vitamins by eating healthy foods and drinking plenty of clean water will help boost our natural resistance.

To those who love eating street foods then we advise you to minimize or more importantly AVOID STREET FOOD as such foods could be contaminated, they are mostly not hygienic in their preparation, and under cooking is another cause of medical health problems.

Clean drinking water is very important and you should choose processed or purified water to avoid ingesting any biological contamination.

The symptoms of biological disease are fever, inflammation and malaise which is a feeling of bodily discomfort and weakness, If you any of these symptoms then we suggest that you to CONSULT A MEDICAL DOCTOR for a check-up and for laboratory tests if necessary.

Since biological contamination brings many different types of diseases, we advise you to prepare and ensure your vaccinations are up to date, this is especially important for your children and any  infants.

When you prepare any foods be HYGIENIC, cook thoroughly and for your safety make sure the ingredients of the foods are clean and not gone off.

If you think that buying expired foods makes you save a lot of money then we advise you to think AGAIN of your medical  safety; you may think you save money but it will cost you a lot more if you and your family become infected.

If you or your family have any contact with a person who may have a biological disease, we recommend you to stay well away at a distance to avoid any contamination being transmitted to you.

Always sterilize your utensils at home and never share the utensils or glass with anyone who you suspect has a biological disease of any sort.

Most importantly always wash your hands thoroughly after you have been to the toilet for at least 20 seconds is the recommended time.

Fortunately with modern communication systems these dangerous situations can be monitored easily and warnings issued by local government, civil defense, police, local radio and television.

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we advise the World

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