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U.S. agencies press food companies to prevent disease outbreaks

By Julie Steenhuysen

CHICAGO (Reuters) – U.S. regulators want food companies to be more proactive in preventing food-borne diseases, citing new data showing that multistate outbreaks – which involve widely distributed products – cause more than half of all food poisoning deaths, even though they account for just 3 percent of all outbreaks.

The call to action comes amid multistate E. coli outbreaks involving 167,427 pounds (76,000 kg) of ground beef made by All American Meats of Omaha, Nebraska, and the closing of 43 Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc restaurants in Washington and Oregon. The outbreak is Chipotle’s third this year.

Just three germs – Salmonella, E. coli, and Listeria – cause 91 percent of outbreaks, contaminate widely distributed foods such as vegetables, beef, chicken and fresh fruits, and end up sickening people in many states, according to a new report by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Top officials from the CDC were joined by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the U.S. Department of Agriculture in issuing the warning on Tuesday.

“Reacting to problems isn’t sufficient in today’s food system, […]

By |November 3rd, 2015|blogs|0 Comments

Infant whooping cough infection tied to later epilepsy risk

By Kathryn Doyle

(Reuters Health) – Children in Denmark who were diagnosed with pertussis, or “whooping cough,” in early childhood appear to have an increased risk of epilepsy later in childhood, according to a new study.

“Although the association we identify may be important on a population level, the individual child admitted to hospital with pertussis will have a very low risk of epilepsy,” said lead author Dr. Morten Olsen of the Aarhus University Hospital in Denmark.

Pertussis is an acute respiratory infection common in childhood, affecting about 16 million people per year. The resulting coughing spells are so bad that it is hard for infants to eat, drink, or breathe. The spells can last for weeks and may lead to pneumonia, seizures, brain damage and even death, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

In the U.S., children get five doses of pertussis vaccine as part of the DTaP schedule, at two, four, six and 18 months of age and at four to six years. These shots also protect against diphtheria and tetanus, other bacterial diseases.

For the new study, researchers […]

By |November 3rd, 2015|blogs|0 Comments

A diabetes test could soon be possible with just a saliva sample and a smartphone

A few days ahead of World Diabetes Day (on November 14), information has been revealed about a new device, currently in the development phase, but which could improve early detection of the condition, particularly in disadvantaged communities. Only a smartphone and a saliva sample are needed to find out if you have diabetes.

Type 2 diabetes is a disorder which is characterized by difficulty in assimilating, using and storing sugar from food. It affected 9% of adults worldwide in 2014 and led to 1.5 million deaths in 2012 according to the World Health Organization. Over 80% of these deaths occurred in low- and middle-income countries.

This new device, which has been developed by a multidisciplinary team from the US and Mexico, has been primarily designed to improve early detection in people on low incomes who do not always have access to healthcare.

Scientists at Tec de Monterrey in Mexico, in partnership with colleagues at the University of Houston in the US, have developed a device that is able to detect type 2 diabetes in saliva (or another biological marker), according to the press release published on October 31 in the science journal Investigacion y Desarrollo.

Avoiding the use of needles, this micro-cartridge adaptable to a smartphone tells the user whether they have type 2 diabetes in just a few seconds. The result is positive if a compound present in saliva reacts by becoming fluorescent. This is made possible by an enzymatic reaction and a technological process adapted to biochemistry.

“We wanted a device which could identify […]

By |November 3rd, 2015|blogs|0 Comments

Sanofi, BioNTech sign cancer treatment partnership

PARIS (Reuters) – Sanofi and BioNTech said they signed a collaboration and license agreement to discover and develop up to five cancer immunotherapies, the companies said in a statement on Tuesday.

BioNTech will receive $60 million in upfront and near-term milestone payments and could receive over $300 million in development, regulatory and commercial milestones and other payments per product, the companies said.

BioNTech would also be eligible for tiered royalties on net sales up to double digits if the treatments are successfully brought to market, the companies added.

(Reporting by Alan Charlish and James Regan; Editing by Miral Fahmy)

By |November 3rd, 2015|blogs|0 Comments

End ‘disease’ of statelessness in West Africa with better laws, education: U.N

By Kieran Guilbert

DAKAR (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – Better laws, concrete data and widespread education are needed to tackle the “disease” of statelessness that blights the lives of more than a million people across West Africa, the United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR) said on Tuesday.

With no nationality, stateless people are denied basic human rights and are often unable to work, have access healthcare or send their children to school. These “legal ghosts” are vulnerable to abuse and exploitation, including slavery and prostitution, the UNHCR said.

“Statelessness is like a disease, you pass it on to your children. If you are born stateless, you start life in poverty and will never have the means to break this vicious cycle,” said UNHCR senior regional protection officer Emmanuelle Mitte.

One year ago, the UNHCR launched a campaign to end the plight of at least 10 million stateless people with no country to call home within a decade.

Many people in West Africa are left stateless by laws which prevent women passing their nationality to their children and a lack of birth registrations, Mitte said. An absence […]

By |November 3rd, 2015|blogs|0 Comments