World Health Organization announces flu pandemic alert change
GENEVA The current situation regarding the outbreak of swine influenza A(H1N1) is evolving rapidly, the World Health Organization stated in a press release Monday.
“As of 27 April, the United States government has reported 40 laboratory confirmed human cases of swine influenza A(H1N1), with no deaths. Mexico has reported 26 confirmed human cases of infection with the same virus, including seven deaths. Canada has reported six cases, with no deaths, while Spain has reported one case, with no deaths,” WHO stated.
In responose, WHO Director-General Margaret Chan has raised the level of influenza pandemic alert from the current phase 3 to phase 4. The change to a higher phase of pandemic alert indicates that the likelihood of a pandemic has increased, but not that a pandemic is inevitable.
In Phase 3, an animal or human-animal influenza reassortant virus has caused sporadic cases or small clusters of disease in people, but has not resulted in human-to-human transmission sufficient to sustain community-level outbreaks. Limited human-to-human transmission may occur under some circumstances, for example, when there is close contact between an infected person and an unprotected caregiver. However, limited transmission under such restricted circumstances does not indicate that the virus has gained the level of transmissibility among humans necessary to cause a pandemic.
Phase 4 is characterized by verified human-to-human transmission of an animal or human-animal influenza reassortant virus able to cause “community-level outbreaks.” The ability to cause sustained disease outbreaks in a community marks a significant upwards shift in the risk for a pandemic. Phase 4 indicates a significant increase in risk of a pandemic but does not necessarily mean that a pandemic is a forgone conclusion.
Phase 5 indicates an imminent pandemic and phase 6 signifies an actual pandemic.
Researchers discover protein can inhibit colorectal cancer cells
MILWAUKEE, Wis. Medical College of Wisconsin Cancer Center researchers in Milwaukee have learned that a protein, CXCL12, that normally controls intestinal cell movement, has the potential to halt colorectal cancer from spreading.
These studies represent a potential mechanism by which CXL12 may slow cancer spreading. Controlling this process could lead to new biological therapies for colorectal cancers.
“Colorectal cancer ranks third in cancer-related deaths in the United States in 2008,” stated principal investigator Michael Dwinell, professor of microbiology and molecular genetics. “Finding therapies to prevent its spread to secondary organs would increase patient prognosis considerably.”
The abstract was presented at the American Association for Cancer Research meeting in Denver, April 21.
Normal intestinal cells stick to underlying proteins, which provide survival signals to maintain cell health. If they become unstuck, the floating cells undergo a programmed cell death. In cancer, cells have acquired genetic changes that allow them to survive during loss of attachment. Previously, the researchers found that colorectal cancer cells lacked CXCL12 expression. In these studies, they re-introduced CXCL12 expression in colorectal cancer cells which prevented their ability to adhere to underlying proteins.
Study: UTIs more frequent in women with increased sexual activity, alcohol consumption
LINTHICUM, Md. Increased sexual activity and alcohol consumption were associated with an increased risk of developing urinary tract infections, according to new research presented at the 104th Annual Scientific Meeting of the American Urological Association on Sunday.
From July 2001 through April 2005, researchers studied 181 women with their first UTI who presented to the student health care facility at the University of Florida. The control group consisted of 80 women attending the clinic without a UTI. A clinic nurse administered a survey that addressed lifestyle habits and dietary intake. Results showed that frequency and urgency were the most common symptom, and that UTIs were most commonly found in women who had increased sexual activity and recent alcohol consumption. The use of sanitary napkins during menstruation also increased the risk for a first-time UTI.
Co-existing chlamydia, gonorrhea and yeast infections did not contribute significantly to urinary symptoms.
“If you are experiencing urinary frequency and urgency, you should seek medical attention,” stated Anthony Smith, an AUA spokesman. “A woman experiencing her first UTI might not recognize these symptoms immediately. But, medical attention is necessary because UTIs can lead to kidney infection and even sepsis. So, it is important for women who notice these symptoms to seek medical attention.”