Next flu outbreak can kill 7.4 million
The World Health Organisation (WHO) says 2.0-7.4 million deaths is a reasonable working forecast for a global influenza pandemic, distancing itself from a top UN officialís figure of up to 150 million. The UN figure, which was widely quoted in news reports, would be some three times the toll from the most lethal flu pandemic so far recorded ' the 1918-19 ĎSpanish fluí outbreak in which up to 50 million may have died. The WHO conceded that all forecasts were guesswork and the UN officialís comments had merely reflected widely diverging expert opinion. The organisation, however, is very worried about the latest strain of avian flu which has hit a number of Asian countries and which it fears has the potential to trigger a new pandemic. It is monitoring if the avian flu bug has undergone genetic changes to turn more lethal.
Cholesterol links to Parkinsonís
cholesterol profile that reduces the risk of heart disease may increase the risk of Parkinsonís disease too ' at least for men. At the annual meeting of the American Neurological Association in San Diego, California, researchers from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill said they had measured the fat levels of 124 Parkinsonís patients and a group of 112 similar people free of the disease. They found that men with low total and LDL (bad) cholesterol levels had an increased risk of Parkinsonís. They proposed several possible mechanisms to explain the link between low cholesterol and risk of Parkinsonís. One is that cholesterol helps rid the body of environmental toxins that may trigger the disease.
Barricade against superbugs
Finally scientists seem to have close in on an antibiotic capable of fighting resistant superbugs. At a meet organised by the American Chemical Society in Washington recently, Shahriar Mobashery of Notre Dame University unveiled a novel type of antibiotic that has shown promise against bacteria that survive in the face of conventional medications, including the methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) bacteria. MRSA carries a unique protein called PBP 2a on the cell membrane that plays a key role in helping defend against antibiotics. Mobashery identified specific components of the bacterial cell wall that interact with PBP 2a to form a chemical barricade.
Clowns in operating theatres
Although the presence of a clown in the operating room were found to relax anxious children who were about to undergo surgery in an Italian childrenís hospital, the effort annoyed doctors and nurses. Clowns succeeded in reducing anxiety in both children and their parents, yet a majority of the hospital staff perceived them as interfering in the surgical procedures.