Signs point to a global influenza outbreak
Indonesia’s first human bird flu case, coupled with more birds dying elsewhere, including Russia, are signs of a long-dreaded global influenza pandemic which may be approaching, says the World Health Organisation (WHO). According to a Reuters report, health officials fear the virus will mutate and mix with human influenza, creating a deadly pandemic strain that will become easily transmissible and could kill millions of people. Indonesia has confirmed its first death from the virus, which has so far killed more than 50 people since late 2003 in Vietnam, Thailand and Cambodia. Last week, Russia said it had discovered a disease in poultry in a remote village in Siberia, its first suspected case of bird flu. Around 300 birds died and specimens are being analysed.
DDT found in mothers’ milk
High levels of DDT were found in the breast milk of new mothers in Hong Kong even though the pesticide has long been banned, a scientist told Reuters last week. The findings by Hong Kong’s Baptist University suggest that DDT is still being illegally used in mainland China, on which Hong Kong depends for most of its food supplies. The study of a group of 37 Hong Kong mothers was carried out between 1999 and 2000. DDT was banned in 1972 in the US after it caused reproductive damage to birds such as the brown pelican and bald eagle. The chemical can remain in the environment for a long time. It also has been shown to increase the growth of breast cancer cells.
Leafy green cuts stroke risk
Folate, found in green leafy vegetables, fruits and dried beans, appears to reduce the risk of haemorrhagic stroke, which is caused by bleeding in the brain, according to a study published in the recent issue of Stroke, a Journal of the American Heart Association. In the study, researchers at the Umea University in Sweden examined blood and dietary levels of folate and vitamin B12 in 62 patients who previously had a haemorrhagic stroke, and 334 who had an ischaemic stroke, which is caused by blood flow blockage in the brain. The researchers found that dietary folate was inversely associated with the risk of haemorrhagic stroke, but not with ischaemic stroke.
Lethal drug killed George III
Far from curing his mental illness, the medication used on the British monarch King George III might actually have made him worse, according to a research published in the journal Lancet. A team of scientists from Britain and Australia says the principal tonic administered to the king, until his death in 1820, was emetic tartar ' which contained near-lethal doses of arsenic.