FDA Bans Some Drugs in Foods

The FDA last week has banned some drugs in foods such as chicken, turkey, cattle and swine as ensuring the antibiotic drugs remain effective in people. The ban takes effect April 5, 2012. Since 2001 the American Medical Association went on record opposing the routine feeding of medically important antibiotics to livestock and poultry. It has taken over a decade for this ban to happen.

FDA bans antibiotics in poultry

The FDA has banned antibiotics in poultry

Some medical experts are saying the ban does not go far enough as the new order doesn’t limit the use of cephapirin, an older cephalosporin drug, and veterinarians can still prescribe cephalosporins for limited extra-label use as long as they follow the proper dosing instructions. But some livestock groups said there’s no proof the practice is associated with resistance in humans.

Almost 80 percent of antibiotics sold in the U.S. in 2010 were for use in food animals, mostly to promote growth and prevent disease, leading to antibiotic resistance in people, according to Keep Antibiotics Working. (is a coalition of health, consumer, agricultural, environmental, humane and other advocacy groups with more than eleven million members dedicated to eliminating a major cause of antibiotic resistance: the inappropriate use of antibiotics in food animals.)  

Medical experts have been warning this has become a public health crisis as everyone is at risk from antibiotic-resistant infections, but children, seniors, and people with weakened immune systems are particularly vulnerable.

According to the CDC people infected with antibiotic-resistant infections are more likely to have longer, more expensive hospital stays, and may be more likely to die from it. These infections include MRSA, or methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, and E. coli.

Do you think the FDA went far enough with this ban?

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Can A Microchip Tell You In Minutes If You Have An infectious Disease or Cancer?

Toronto’s medical community is excited today about a new way health care professionals can screen for infectious diseases or cancer.  It is a device that works with a blood sample or swab placed on a microchip. It then reads and can even recognize certain types of cells.

They believe there will eventually be a cartridge that would be disposable containing the samples. (It has been tested at the University of Toronto for the past 10 years.) You would no longer have to wait for days or weeks to find out what is ailing you or a patient and be able to start treatment immediately.  This device would be able to detect what is wrong with you or your patients in 15 minutes. Imagine what you could do knowing what is wrong in such a short time period? 

This microchip could save a lot of lives by detecting diseases much  quicker. Patients may be willing to go to the doctors sooner knowing that this would save them time in awaiting answers and having lengthy testing done.  This device probably would save a lot of money on healthcare costs. There is hope that this will be available in the next few years as Canada, the United States and an European country have invested money in this life saving device.

Would you like to see this device come to market as soon as possible?

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Will The ER Give You An Infection?

Most people visit the ER to get well from being quite sick. Either they have become ill or hurt suddenly and head right to the ER or if they have called their doctor and were told to go to the Emergency Room. There’s new research claiming not so fast with the elderly heading to the emergency room.

ER Visits

ER visits may not be best for seniors

The findings of a new Canadian study published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal today claims that elderly patients who have visited an emergency department are three times more likely to develop respiratory or gastrointestinal infections in the week following their return to a long-term care facility. They found there is a benefit for isolating the patients once they return to their facility. The study was conducted for 2 years in Canada during non-summer months (September through May) involving 1269 patients.

The seniors who went to an emergency department had a higher rate of chronic illnesses and tended to be less independent than those who did not go to an emergency department.

Our immune system may not work as effectively as we get older, which increases our risk even more for infections. This “winding down” of the immune system is a major reason why infections become more common as we age. Specific types of immune cells are less able to produce the antibodies needed to fight off infections.

Having other illnesses or disorders probably has the greatest effect on the body’s natural ability to fight infections too. Fever is the most common sign of an illness in the elderly. Not all seniors will have a fever but an infection will appear as a rapid loss of function for no apparent reason like falling or just not eating well. They may not be able to communicate well at this point either. Anytime you see a senior that is just not their “regular self” is a good time to take them to their doctor for a check-up.

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Manganese May End Deadly Bacterial Poisons

A mineral supplement, Manganese helps detoxify Shiga toxin, which is produced by a host of bacteria, including the type of E. coli that killed scores and sickened more than 3,700 people in Europe last year.  The finding comes from researchers at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh and appears in the January 20 Science. Manganese is a chemical element and is found as a free element in nature often with iron and in many minerals. Manganese has been known to be used since the stone ages and it was used in cave paintings.


Manganese Supplements

Although antibiotics can wipe out germs responsible for these infections, such drugs are strongly discouraged. Killing the bugs only expedites their release of Shiga toxin, increasing a patient’s risk of kidney failure, stroke and death. Overuse of antibiotics can also create a high resistance to them and causing them not to work when needed again. MRSA is also blamed for the overuse of antibiotics.

Vascular injury, which is the most dramatic consequence of infection with Shiga toxin-producing E. coli, “is likely to be well under way by the time infected patients seek medical attention for diarrhea,”  according to researchers. The researchers claim although it can take up to seven days for it to pass between the onset of bloody diarrhea and catastrophic vascular effects, as the toxin breaks out of the gut and begins circulating. So there would probably be a brief window when manganese treatment could save lives.

Overuse of manganese also can cause its own set of problems including chronic low-dose manganese intoxication which is strongly implicated in a number of neurodegenerative disorders including:  Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis. It may also play a role in the development of Multiple Sclerosis, restless leg syndrome, and Huntington’s disease.  Manganese can be found in some drinking waters and caused intellectual impairment in children from a 2010 study. It is hypothesized that long-term exposure to the naturally occurring manganese in shower water puts up to 8.7 million Americans at risk.

As always before taking any minerals or supplements check with your doctor.

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New Bird Flu Deaths In Indonesia

There have been 2 bird flu deaths reported in Indonesia – one being a five year old girl after her uncle died from it a few days earlier.  Officials believe that they were infected by sick pigeons as they lived in the same house with livestock in the nearby village.


Bird flu claims 2 in Indonesia

Fears have risen in the area as deaths from China were reported in December after 18 months of having no cases of bird flu there.  Egypt and Indonesia had reported new cases of the H5N1 recently. In both cases in Egypt they had exposure to backyard poultry. Scientists worry that bird flu may be able to mutate so that it is able to pass from human to human through the air, in the droplets produced by an infected person’s cough or a sneeze.

Could these new cases be related to the  weather as researchers discovered a link between La Nina and the past flu pandemics? We are in a back-to-back La Nina pattern now.

There is an international debate raging now on whether research can be done to find out more on these deadly bird flu cases. In December a U.S. advisory board asked two leading journals, Nature and Science, to withhold details of the research for fear it could be used by bioterrorists if it is leaked out. Sad that research may be halted because of the possible threat.

Researchers argued for the release of this research to help public health officials prepare more for a scenario where the virus could mutate and become more deadly, spreading from person to person via coughs and sneezes. Researchers believe that they are one to three mutations away before the viruses used may become transmissible via airborne particles.

Which threat do you think is most fearful,  a pandemic or a bio-terrorist attack

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Is La Nina Weather To Blame For New Flu Strains and Pandemics?

Researchers from Columbia and Harvard Universities have discovered a link between the La Nina weather pattern and the flu pandemics of 1918, 1957, 1968 and 2009.  This research was published in the PNAS (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences).

how weather affects the flu pandemics

How weather can affect the flu pandemics

La Nina periodically brings cool water to the surface of the Pacific Ocean making for warmer, dryer winters and lasts about 5 months. As La Nina weather patterns arrive birds migrating patterns become altered thus promoting new strains of the flu to begin. The study authors noted research that showed the La Nina pattern alters the migration, stopover time, fitness and inter-species mixing of migratory birds. These conditions may favor the kind of gene swapping, or genetic re-assortment, that creates new and potentially more variations of the influenza virus.

The migration patterns may also affect how birds come in contact with domestic animals like pigs who are known to carry swine flu and are common throughout pig populations. Though rare, Swine flu transmission can occur over to humans as in the case with the Minnesota infant boy last month.

On average La Nina weather patterns occur every 3-5 years and can be back-to-back as in the case this season.  We wonder though why did the flu pandemics occur only during certain La Lina patterns of 1918, 1957, 1968 and 2009? And can La Nina also lead to other infectious diseases to spread more easily? Drop us your thoughts in the comments.

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Flu Season Is Not Yet In High Gear

The 2012 flu season is not yet in high gear. Infectious disease specialists are on alert for new strains of the flu virus as another swine flu virus emerged in the United States and a drug resistant flu is circulating in the Southern Hemipshere. Australia wrapped up its flu season months ago. Public health officials there have claimed that the version of so-called swine flu that is resistant to the drug Tamiflu is spreading more easily in the land Down Under.

swine flu

Officials on alert for new strains of the flu

There were 12 cases reported in the United States in December.  Federal authorities are preparing another flu vaccine to combat these latest strains of the flu.

The flu season is about to get underway as February typically tends to be the month with the highest activity. The full season is typically October through mid-May.

Peak Flu Chart

Peak Flu Chart from CDC

 What do you do to prepare for the flu season? 

Experts Advise:

1. Get Vaccinated – Everyone over 6 months old can be vaccinated and it’s important for the very young, old and those with compromised immune systems to be vaccinated.

2. Cover your nose and mouth when coughing and sneezing.

3. Avoid touching your face, especially your eyes, nose and mouth as that’s how germs can spread.

4. If you think you may have the flu stay home for 24 hours and be sure to get anti-viral drugs as soon as possible from your doctor.

5. Avoid close contact with those who are sick – if there is a flu outbreak in your area avoid crowded places.

6. Wash hands thoroughly by singing happy birthday two times – if soap and water are not available use alcohol based hand rubs.

And we advise if you are a healthcare worker, purchase fluid repelling medical uniforms that will prevent fluids such as bodily fluids from spreading from patients to you and from you to your patients and family members.

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