Referendum in Novalja: Strategic tourism development or status quo?

first_imgIn the crowded hall of the Novalja hotel Liburnija, a public tribune was held at which the UPU of the Port of Novalja was presented, all before the referendum which will be held on that occasion on November 20. 2016 and where citizens will have the opportunity to express their voices reads: “Are you in favor of accepting the Urban Development Plan of the Port of Novalja in accordance with the proposed Preliminary Design of the Port and Marina of Novalja owned by the City of Novalja”The final proposal of the UPU of the Port of Novalja is presented, from which it is evident that this project represents a certain compromise of living and tourism, ie it contains communal berths for the local population, berths for fishing boats, catamaran, commercial reception of ships and two smaller cruisers. 60 meters and about three hundred berths for boaters.At the very beginning of the forum, Mayor Ante Dabo presented to the citizens of Novalja UPU Luka Novalja and all its characteristics, emphasizing that its implementation would be a step forward for Novalja and its tourist offer, but also bring a better way of life to the local population. By developing several types of tourism, including nautical, we would establish a balance between the current situation and a certain monoculture of tourism, and that is party tourism which is dominant and which is certainly not and should not be the only thing Novalja offers to its guests. Mayor Ante Dabo emphasized that this issue is of great importance for all residents and that its solution should not be approached from a political basis, especially not an oppositional one, but the importance of common goals and development should be recognized.This is the fourth presentation of the project, which has undergone certain changes so far, wanting to meet the criteria of citizens, traditionally related to the sea, fishing and seafaring, but also to shape new aspects of nautical tourism that could significantly strengthen the destination in terms of tourism. to bring new guests who have now, due to the impossibility of the port, ie a safe connection and the lack of a marina, mostly bypassed Novalja. This was a certain shortcoming in the current tourist offer, and according to the Tourism Development Strategy, the development is defined focused on mosaic tourist offer, which certainly includes nautical tourism, the fastest growing form of tourism in recent years on our coast and in the world.”Personally, I believe, like my associates in the city of Novalja, that in the long run we can not develop quality tourism without investment and development of the Port of Novalja. We need to make a strong and rounded tourist product and this is one of the first steps. We want to brand ourselves as a serious tourist destination, not just as a party destination. We have the potential, we develop from year to year, and the whole project of the Port of Novalja is quite integrated into the whole city and gives much greater value only to the city, especially the facilities along the coast. Novalja must live with the sea, and this project brings us a prerequisite for year-round tourism. We need quality, not quantity – in this direction, investing in the Port of Novalja is important as a first prerequisite. “Points out the mayor of Novalja, Ante Dabo.The question of whether Novalja has the strength to step into a new chapter in tourism also arose at the tribune. Among those present were those who believe the marina should be separated from the port and positioned elsewhere, and the issue of the concession and the future concessionaire is also a cause for more concern. The mayor and his associates, Dr. Nevena Škunca and Vesna Šonja Allena, President of the City Council, who also spoke at the forum about the UPU project of the Port of Novalja, explained that the City of Novalja is the owner of the project, and the UPU is sufficiently protected and that the interest of the city and citizens the decisions made on the dimensions of the Port of Novalja must never be changed without a new referendum, which means that citizens make decisions on everything and must give their consent for everything. The public forum was held in a lively and very constructive atmosphere, and over two hundred and fifty participants showed that they really care about this topic and the new UPU Port, which also reflects on the future of Novalja, its tourist offer and further development.This is the first referendum that has been held in Novalja since the beginning of Croatian statehood and certainly has historical significance as such, and the citizens will decide whether to accept the proposal of the UPU of the Port of Novalja in the referendum. Whichever way the referendum goes, democracy and the will of the citizens will win, and that is the most important thing. Tourism without local people is not self-sustainable and long-term, and as much as tourism development, according to analyzes, brings advantages, it must not be an end in itself. On the contrary, it must directly affect the increase of the quality of life of local residents as well as the use of local resources as much as possible, and if the locals do not want it, their decision should be respected and other strategic developments should be used.Visualization of the conceptual design of the port and marina of Novalja Related news:INTERVIEW / Ante Dabo, Mayor of Novalja: I want to get feedback from citizens for this project of the generation or century of the city of Novaljalast_img read more

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Having wealthy neighbors may skew beliefs about overall wealth distribution

first_imgShare Email Share on Twitter Share on Facebook Wealthy people may be likely to oppose redistribution of wealth because they have biased information about how wealthy most people actually are, according to new research published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science. The findings indicate that people use their own neighborhoods and communities as a gauge of how much wealth other people possess, leading wealthy people to perceive the broader population as being wealthier than it actually is.“If you’re rich, there’s a good chance you know lots of other rich people and relatively few poor people; likewise, if you’re poor, you’re likely to know fewer wealthy people and more poorer ones,” says study co-author Robbie Sutton. “Even if people think objectively and follow rules of statistical inference, richer and poorer people may be led, by the information available to them, to very different conclusions about how wealthy their fellow citizens are, on average, and how wealth is distributed across society.”“These results suggest that the rich and poor do not simply have different attitudes about how wealth should be distributed across society; rather, they subjectively experience living in different societies,” adds psychological scientist Rael Dawtry at the University of Kent, the study’s lead author. “In the relatively more affluent America inhabited by wealthier Americans, there is perhaps less need to distribute wealth more equally.”center_img LinkedIn Pinterest The findings suggest that attitudes toward wealth distribution stem from more than just an economic motivation to protect one’s self-interest or a fiscally conservative political ideology – the information provided by our surrounding environment also plays an important role.The research, also co-authored by Chris Sibley of the University of Auckland, recruited over 600 US adults to complete an online survey in two studies. The participants were asked to estimate the distribution of annual household income for their social contacts and also for the entire US population — in one study, they estimated what percentage of people fell into each one of 11 income bands; in the other study, they estimated the average income of people within each income quintile.Then, the participants were asked how fair they thought income distribution in the US was and how satisfied they were with it. The participants also answered questions gauging their attitudes toward redistribution.The resulting statistical model revealed a link between participants’ personal household income and their attitudes toward redistribution that was driven by average social-circle income. Starting with household income, the researchers found evidence for a chain of associations: Household income was linked to estimated social-circle income, which was linked to estimated population income, which was linked to perceived fairness, which was finally linked to attitudes toward redistribution.This chain-like relationship remained even after the researchers took participants’ political orientation and perceived self-interest into account.To ensure that the findings were actually related to individual’s social circles and not some other psychological bias, the researchers then analyzed data from over 4000 voters in New Zealand. The data showed that the relationship between voters’ household income and their perceptions of economic fairness in New Zealand was driven by the level of economic deprivation in their neighborhood.“These results highlight the importance of examining ecological processes, in addition to political ideologies or self-interest, for understanding economic preferences,” says Dawtry. “Attitudes to redistribution and the economic status quo appear to be subject to informational biases in the environment as well as biases in the mind.”According to Sutton, the findings may also help to explain the political polarization observed in countries liked the United States:“As richer and poorer people increasingly live segregated lives, the information available to becomes increasingly distorted, and increasingly different,” he notes. “People are, effectively, living in an informational bubble, surrounded by people with incomes like theirs but unlike many other Americans’.”last_img read more

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Study links physical activity to greater mental flexibility in older adults

first_imgPinterest Email Share on Facebook Share One day soon, doctors may determine how physically active you are simply by imaging your brain. Physically fit people tend to have larger brain volumes and more intact white matter than their less-fit peers. Now a new study reveals that older adults who regularly engage in moderate to vigorous physical activity have more variable brain activity at rest than those who don’t. This variability is associated with better cognitive performance, researchers say.The new findings are reported in the journal PLOS ONE.“We looked at 100 adults between the ages of 60 and 80, and we used accelerometers to objectively measure their physical activity over a week,” said University of Illinois postdoctoral researcher Agnieszka Burzynska, who led the study with Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology director Art Kramer.center_img Share on Twitter LinkedIn The researchers also used functional MRI to observe how blood oxygen levels changed in the brain over time, reflecting each participant’s brain activity at rest. And they evaluated the microscopic integrity of each person’s white-matter fibers, which carry nerve impulses and interconnect the brain.“We found that spontaneous brain activity showed more moment-to-moment fluctuations in the more-active adults,” said Burzynska, who now is a professor at Colorado State University. “In a previous study, we showed that in some of the same regions of the brain, those people who have higher brain variability also performed better on complex cognitive tasks, especially on intelligence tasks and memory.”The researchers also found that, on average, older adults who were more active had better white-matter structure than their less-active peers.“Our study, when viewed in the context of previous studies that have examined behavioral variability in cognitive tasks, suggests that more-fit older adults are more flexible, both cognitively and in terms of brain function, than their less-fit peers,” Kramer said.The new research highlights yet another way to assess brain health in aging, Burzynska said.“We want to know how the brain relates to the body, and how physical health influences mental and brain health in aging,” she said. “Here, instead of a structural measure, we are taking a functional measure of brain health. And we are finding that tracking changes in blood-oxygenation levels over time is useful for predicting cognitive functioning and physical health in aging.”last_img read more

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Mindfulness-based stress reduction diminishes chemo brain

first_imgLinkedIn Participation in a mindfulness-based stress reduction program yields robust and sustained improvement in cancer-related cognitive impairment, a prevalent and potentially debilitating condition that affects attention, memory and executive function in survivors, according to a new study from the Regenstrief Institute and Indiana University School of Medicine.Although cancer-related cognitive impairment, sometimes referred to as chemo brain or post-cancer cognitive fuzziness, is common among survivors — disrupting social relationships, work ability, self-confidence, and quality of life — clinicians have few treatment options to offer. Cognitive deficits have been seen to persist for more than a decade following cancer treatment for many survivors.“Randomized Controlled Pilot Trial of Mindfulness-based Stress Reduction for Breast and Colorectal Cancer Survivors: Effects on Cancer-related Cognitive Impairment,” published online in advance of print in the Journal of Cancer Survivorship, is the first randomized clinical trial to evaluate the effects of mindfulness-based stress reduction, known as MBSR, on fatigued breast and colorectal cancer survivors, the majority of whom had been treated with chemotherapy. Share on Facebook In the study, MBSR participants reported significantly greater improvement in the ability to pay attention, and also made fewer mistakes on difficult cognitive tasks than those in the control group, which received patient education materials and supportive counseling. Both groups attended eight weeks of two-hour classes led by skilled facilitators.Retention rates in the trial exceeded 95 percent, strongly suggesting that participants found the program to be worthwhile. Previous studies by the Regenstrief-IU research group have found MBSR to have a positive impact on post-cancer fatigue, depression and sleep disturbance.Mindfulness training is thought to improve cognitive functioning through mechanisms of focused attention and non-reactive coping with one’s internal experiences, such as thoughts, feelings, and bodily sensations. Programs in MBSR include a variety of meditation and yoga practices and other elements. These programs typically range in cost between $200 and $800 for an eight-week program, and are widely available in communities and over the Internet.Those who participated in the MBSR arm of the Regenstrief-IU study reported significant engagement with high rates of self-reported home practice of mindfulness techniques during the study. The majority continued to practice mindfulness throughout the six-month period following conclusion of the program.“More people than ever are surviving cancer due to the development of targeted and effective treatments,” said Shelley Johns, Psy.D., the clinical health psychologist and health services researcher who led the Regenstrief-IU study. “Yet many cancer survivors are living with difficult and persistent side effects of these treatments, which can be incapacitating.“Mindfulness meditation practices enable cancer survivors to better manage cancer-related cognitive impairment, reported by approximately 35 percent of cancer survivors who have completed treatment,” said Dr. Johns, who is a Regenstrief Institute investigator and assistant professor of medicine in the IU School of Medicine. “MBSR provides a creative solution for survivors whose social and occupational functioning may have been negatively impacted by cognitive difficulties.”While some oncologists provide patients with information on cancer-related cognitive impairment, the majority of clinicians do not address this symptom due to lack of evidence-based treatments for the condition according to Dr. Johns. Sharecenter_img Share on Twitter Pinterest Emaillast_img read more

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Study: Only half of antidepressant prescriptions are for depression

first_imgShare Pinterest During the study period, 101,759 antidepressant prescriptions (6 percent of all prescriptions) were written by 158 physicians for 19,734 patients. Only 55 percent of antidepressant prescriptions were indicated for depression. Physicians also prescribed antidepressants for anxiety disorders (18.5 percent), insomnia (10 percent), pain (6 percent) and panic disorders (4 percent). For 29 percent of all antidepressant prescriptions (66 percent of prescriptions not for depression), physicians prescribed a drug for an off-label indication, especially insomnia and pain.Physicians also prescribed antidepressants for several indications that were off-label for all antidepressants, including migraine, vasomotor symptoms of menopause, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, and digestive system disorders.“The findings indicate that the mere presence of an antidepressant prescription is a poor proxy for depression treatment, and they highlight the need to evaluate the evidence supporting off-label antidepressant use,” the authors write. Email LinkedIncenter_img Share on Twitter Share on Facebook In a study appearing in the May 24/31 issue of JAMA, Jenna Wong, M.Sc., of McGill University, Montreal, Canada, and colleagues analyzed treatment indications for antidepressants and assessed trends in antidepressant prescribing for depression.Antidepressant use in the United States has increased over the last 2 decades. A suspected reason for this trend is that primary care physicians are increasingly prescribing antidepressants for nondepressive indications, including unapproved (off-label) indications that have not been evaluated by regulatory agencies. For this study, the researchers used data from an electronic medical record and prescribing system that has been used by primary care physicians in community-based, fee-for-service practices around 2 major urban centers in Quebec, Canada.The study included prescriptions written for adults between January 2006 and September 2015 for all antidepressants except monoamine oxidase inhibitors. Physicians participating in the study had to document at least 1 treatment indication per prescription using a drop-down menu containing a list of indications or by typing the indication(s).last_img read more

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Neuroscience study finds the brain’s response to emotional conflict predicts antidepressant treatment outcomes

first_imgLinkedIn “Prior to this study, it has been unclear whether the apparent small difference in treatment outcome between antidepressants and placebo historically have been due to problems with the medications (i.e. they are not particularly effective) or problems with the diagnosis (i.e. definition of the disorder in broad clinical terms lumps together people with very different biology.)”The researchers examined functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) data from the EMBARC trial. “EMBARC is by far the largest placebo-controlled neuroimaging study of antidepressants,” Etkin said.The trial randomly assigned 309 depressed outpatients to receive either the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor sertraline or placebo for 8 weeks.The participants also underwent brain imaging prior to treatment, during which they were shown photographs in quick succession that offered sometimes conflicting messages such as an fearful face with the word “happy” or a smiling face with the word “fear.” The participants were instructed to identify the facial emotion with a key press, while trying to ignore the word.The researchers then used machine learning analyses to identify specific brain regions that predicted whether participants would benefit from the SSRI treatment. The results showed that participants who had abnormal neural responses during emotional conflict were less likely to improve within eight weeks of starting the medication.“We found two very interesting things. First, it was very clear from our results that there are strong biological reasons for why a depressed patient responds to an antidepressant versus to a placebo,” Etkin told PsyPost.“In other words, it seems that it is the catch-all way we make the clinical diagnosis of depression that is imprecise, and there are people for whom antidepressants work much better than placebo but others for whom there is no such difference. We were able to define these brain signatures in people using both conventional and machine learning analyses.”“Second, we found that the reason people respond better to an antidepressant is that they seem to be better able to regulate emotion processing in an automatic manner. The better their brains did this, the greater the difference between the antidepressant and placebo,” Etkin explained.Another analysis of EMBARC data, published in the American Journal of Psychiatry, found that patterns of functional connectivity in the brain “appear to play an important role in identifying a favorable response for a drug treatment for major depressive disorder.”But there is still a need for more research.“As with any study, even one of a large population of patients studied over the course of a very detailed and exhaustive study, replication is needed to confirm the results. Such replications are unlikely to take the same form as EMBARC, which was a costly and effort-intensive study, and thus care must be taken to make sure that we progressively learn through each attempt at extension and generalization of these findings,” Etkin said.“It would be nice in future work to see whether this kind of signal can be found with more clinic-ready brain imaging tools, such as EEG. Likewise, we have only started to scratch the surface of what it is that makes medication responders different from those who do not respond to medication, and thus a lot more work is needed at multiple levels (genetics, behavior, sleep, etc.)”“Nonetheless, the general message from this paper is that it does seem that the imprecision inherent in our diagnoses is in large part to blame for the poor outcomes of the trial-and-error approach we currently rely on in psychiatric treatment,” Etkin concluded.The study, “Brain regulation of emotional conflict predicts antidepressant treatment response for depression“, was authored by Gregory A. Fonzo, Amit Etkin, Yu Zhang, Wei Wu, Crystal Cooper, Cherise Chin-Fatt, Manish K. Jha, Joseph Trombello, Thilo Deckersbach, Phil Adams, Melvin McInnis, Patrick J. McGrath, Myrna M. Weissman, Maurizio Fava, and Madhukar H. Trivedi. Share on Facebook Pinterest Share on Twittercenter_img Neuroimaging data from a large randomized controlled trial indicates that how people respond to antidepressant medication is predicted by how their brain processes conflicting emotional information. The findings have been published in Nature Human Behaviour.“This study addressed two questions central to the ability to meaningfully use biology to understand and guide psychiatric treatment and drug development,” said study author Amit Etkin, the founder and CEO of Alto Neuroscience as well as a professor at Stanford University.“One was whether there are identifiable biological differences between patients with depression that determine who responds to an antidepressant compared to a placebo. The second was what role emotion regulation plays in defining those biological attributes.” Share Emaillast_img read more

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The neuroscience of loneliness – and how technology is helping us

first_imgShare LinkedIn Email Pinterest Share on Facebookcenter_img Share on Twitter Large numbers of people around the globe have been forced into solitude due to the coronavirus pandemic. However, social distancing is utterly at odds with our drive for social connection, the cornerstone of human evolution.Suddenly confronted with a lack of social interactions, many of us are now experiencing more loneliness. We are missing that reassuring hug or shoulder pat from another human – things we might normally expect in times of adversity. To cope, we try to fill the void with online social activities, such as synchronised Netflix viewings, games and video chat dance parties. But do these help?The lonely brainWhen we spend quality time with another person, we experience intrinsic joy. Brain scanning studies show that subcortical brain regions, such as the ventral striatum, which plays an important role in motivation, are activated when receiving monetary and social rewards. When we feel lonely and rejected, brain regions associated with distress and rumination are activated instead. This may be due to evolution driving us to establish and maintain social connections to ensure survival. Lonely people also have a more negative focus and anxiously scrutinise people’s intentions. Sometimes this can become so strong that it makes us feel even more lonely – creating a vicious cycle.Not everyone relishes social connection to the same extent though. People with a more extrovert personality type seek more social activities, have access to larger social networks, and report lower perceived loneliness. People who score highly on neuroticism tend to report more perceived social isolation.Loneliness has for some time been recognised as a significant threat to physical and mental health and has been found to be predictive of mortality.So how can you best cope with loneliness and isolation? Analysis has suggested that the most successful interventions find ways to address the distorted thinking that loneliness creates. So if you are feeling lonely, try identifying automatic negative thoughts – such as assuming people don’t want to hear from you – and reframing them as hypotheses rather than facts.Another recent review of literature found that targeting coping strategies can also be beneficial. It discovered that approaches such as joining a support group to remove feelings of loneliness work particularly well. Emotion-based coping strategies, such as lowering expectations about relationships, were not as effective.Technological solutionsSocial media is often vilified in public discourse. But many people who are self-isolating now rely on online social tools. An important aspect missing in instant messaging and social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, however, is the nonverbal cue – such as a smile, gesture or glance. These allow us to gauge the tone and context of a social encounter. When this information is missing, we perceive fewer friendly cues from others.So while online tools can be helpful during periods of isolation, embodiment and social presence are nevertheless missing. But there are ways to boost the rewards of online communication. One study used augmented reality to enable two people to interact with each other’s video chat images and found that they reported higher sense of social presence and a more engaging experience. Similarly, participating in shared activities benefits the formation of close relationships with others. So whether it is a virtual pub quiz or a dance party, this may be particularly valuable during lockdown.Robots designed to engage us on a social level could also help isolated people feel less lonely, as they carry the benefit of embodiment. In a randomised control trial with Paro, a cuddly baby seal robot, residents in a care home who interacted with it reported reduced feelings of loneliness.Research from our own laboratory seeks to identify how robotic features or behaviours influence our ability to feel socially connected to these machines. For example, a new study highlights that people conversationally engage with a humanoid robot to a similar extent as another person, and more so than with a voice assistant like Alexa or Siri.New advances in mobile brain imaging technologies, along with the increasing social sophistication of some robots, provide opportunities for examining how people establish and maintain social connections with robots in real time.While the rise of social robots appears futuristic, they are already moving out of factories and into our homes, supermarkets and hospitals. They even have new social roles in the coronavirus crisis – for example as supermarket assistants, reminding shoppers of new health and safety rules.Until we all have a sophisticated social robot to keep us company, perhaps the best remedy is to keep in touch with our loved ones online, especially through shared activities. And let’s focus on the fact that close human contact will soon be safe again.By Emily S. Cross, Professor of Social Robotics, Macquarie University and Anna Henschel, PhD Candidate in Psychology & Neuroscience, University of GlasgowThis article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.last_img read more

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NEWS SCAN: E coli O26 testing, Florida cholera case, dengue sequelae

first_imgNov 30, 2010 Florida reports second cholera caseA woman who moved from Haiti to the Orlando, Fla., area within the past month was diagnosed as having cholera and has recovered, raising the state’s number of cholera cases to two, the Orlando Sentinel reported yesterday. Health officials from Orange County Health Department said the case was identified through Florida’s disease surveillance system and that the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) analyzed samples from the patient and confirmed the infection. Florida is also investigating a possible third cholera case, reportedly in a doctor who got sick on a flight from the Dominican Republic. Health authorities have said they expect to see cases related to Haiti’s cholera outbreak turn up in the United States. The risk of spread in the United States is low because of good sanitation conditions. Cholera typically spreads through contaminated water or food. Florida is home to a large Haitian population.Nov 29 Orlando Sentinel story USDA issues E coli O26 beef sampling noticeThe US Department of Agriculture (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) today issued an advisory for inspectors on how to collect samples in the event that illnesses with Escherichia coli O26 are linked to ground beef. Federal officials routinely test only for E coli O157:H7, but USDA officials have signaled that they may soon be monitoring for six non-O157 strains of Shiga-toxin-producing E coli that are known to be pathogenic in humans, including O26. Regulators have lacked tests to rapidly detect the strains, but earlier this month a USDA official told meat producers that the USDA has so far validated tests for four of the strains. In August Cargill Meat Solutions Corp., based in Pennsylvania, recalled 8,500 pounds of its ground beef after Maine and New York officials linked the product to an E coli O26 illness cluster. In today’s notice the FSIS advises inspectors to follow sample collection procedures similar to those for E coli O157:H7.Nov 30 FSIS noticeNov 2 CIDRAP News ScanAug 30 CIDRAP News Scancenter_img Dengue may cause long-term symptoms, autoimmune disturbanceMore than half of patients who contracted dengue fever experienced symptoms in the 2 years after infection, as well as alterations in autoimmune markers, according to a new study. Cuban researchers observed clinical data from 68 patients who had dengue fever, 29 patients who had dengue hemorrhagic fever (DHF), and 42 who had asymptomatic infections. They found that 55 of the 97 symptomatic patients (57%) had persistent clinical symptoms following recovery from the initial infection, even as much as 2 years after contracting the disease. Such sequelae were more common among women, with 44 of 55 (80%) experiencing them. In addition, alterations in autoimmune markers occurred in 20 of a subset of 26 symptomatic patients (77%), which the authors said “could suggest an autoimmune-based disturbance.”Nov 29 Int J Infect Dis abstractlast_img read more

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Camel with MERS-CoV had signs of illness

first_imgA camel that might have passed the Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) to its Saudi Arabian owner had signs of illness, a Saudi health official said today in revealing a little more information about the situation.Saudi officials reported yesterday that a camel had tested positive for MERS-CoV, a few days after its owner, a 43-year-old man from Jeddah, was confirmed to have the virus. The case marks the first time of the virus has been found in an animal.In a ProMED-mail post today, Ziad A. Memish, MD, the Saudi deputy minister for public health, wrote, “Camels owned by the patient which were symptomatic with fever and rhinorrhea were tested for MERS-CoV and tested positive.” ProMED-mail is the online reporting service of the International Society for Infectious Diseases.Memish added, “This is the first time that a camel related to a case tests positive for MERS-CoV by PCR. Further testing is ongoing to sequence the patient [virus] and the camel virus and compare genetic similarity level to conclude causality.”He also said the 43-year-old patient, who has no underlying chronic diseases, is still in an intensive care unit.His comments left it unclear whether more than one camel tested positive for the virus. Today the Saudi Ministry of Health (MOH) posted an English-language version of yesterday’s Arabic statement about the findings, which said, “The initial laboratory test conducted on one of those animals was positive.”Recent studies revealed that camels in Oman, the Canary Islands, and Egypt carried antibodies suggesting past exposure to MERS-CoV or a closely related virus, but the Saudi report marks the first finding of the virus itself in an animal.Search for animal sourceScientists have been searching for the animal reservoir and immediate source of MERS-CoV since the virus was discovered in September 2012. Bats and camels have been suspected to harbor the virus, and this week’s report supports the view that camels may pass the virus to humans.Contact with domestic animals has been cited in a few previous MERS-CoV cases. In commenting on Memish’s ProMED post today, a ProMED moderator noted that a Qatari man who got sick with MERS-CoV in October 2012 owned a camel and goat farm and that some of the goats and a caretaker were sick at the time.If camels can pass the virus to humans, exactly how they do it is unknown. Another ProMED moderator, Artak Stepanyan of Yerevan State Medical University in Yerevan, Armenia, commented today that camels are known to spit, which “may add effectiveness and range to their potential role as virus disseminators.”Serologic study finds no positivesIn other developments, a serologic study published yesterday showed no evidence of MERS-CoV antibodies in two groups of Saudi Arabians who were tested in October 2012, shortly after the virus was discovered.Saudi Arabian and German researchers tested 130 blood donors in Jeddah and 226 abbatoir workers in Mecca, using three different serologic tests, according to their report in the Journal of Infectious Diseases (JID). Eight samples were reactive in one test, but further testing indicated that the antibodies were specific for established human coronaviruses.”There is no evidence MERS-CoV circulated widely in the study region in fall 2012, matching an apparent absence of exported disease during the 2012 Hajj,” the authors wrote.The findings fit with a few previous serologic studies that have found no MERS-CoV antibodies in residents in or visitors to Saudi Arabia.In an accompanying commentary in JID, a pair of experts from the United Kingdom and Hong Kong, David F. Hui and Alamuddin Zumla, write, “these antibody studies do not provide proof of absence or presence of MERS-CoV because of limitations imposed by the restricted study design and small numbers studied.”They add that the MERS-CoV serologic tests that have been developed need to be independently evaluated and validated by using them on blinded samples from known positive and negative MERS cases.Hui is with the Centre for Clinical Microbiology at University College London, while Zumla works in the Division of Respiratory Medicine and Stanley Ho Center for Emerging Infectious Diseases at the Chinese University of Hong Kong.Macaques as MERS-CoV modelsAnother report published yesterday in JID adds to previous findings suggesting that rhesus macaques are good stand-ins for humans in studying MERS-CoV infections.Researchers from Beijing and Hong Kong used intratracheal inoculation to infect macaques with MERS-CoV. The infected monkeys showed clinical signs of disease, virus replication, histologic lesions, and neutralizing antibody production, the authors said.”The MERS-CoV rhesus macaque model will be instrumental in developing and testing vaccine and treatment options for an emerging viral pathogen with pandemic potential,” Hui and Zumla wrote in their commentary.See also: Nov 12 ProMED post by Ziad MemishNov 11 Saudi MOH statement in EnglishNov 11 JID serologic studyNov 11 JID commentary by Hui and ZumlaNov 11 JID study of MERS-CoV in macaquesSep 23 CIDRAP News story about MERS-CoV in macaqueslast_img read more

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News Scan for Oct 27, 2016

first_imgTortilla chips blamed for GI illness outbreak at Wyoming prisonIn today’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and local health officials said rancid tortilla chips were to blame for an outbreak of gastrointestinal illness that sickened 79 workers and inmates at a correctional facility in Wyoming a year ago.The patients fell ill 1 to 3 hours after eating lunch on Oct 11, 2015, and reported gas, bloating, and diarrhea (70% of patients) and vomiting (21%). Within 3 weeks of the outbreak, the Wyoming Department of Health and county health department conducted a case-control study to identify the outbreak source.Epidemiologic investigation pointed to tortilla chips as the only food associated with the illness, and markers for rancidity (hexanal and peroxide) were found in the chips through composite food samples. There was no evidence of an infectious source or chemical agent. Very few case-control studies exist that prove that rancidity, caused by the decomposition of oils and fats, can lead to gastrointestinal illness.”This outbreak serves as a reminder to consider alternative food testing methods during outbreaks of unusual gastrointestinal illness when typical foodborne pathogens are not identified,” the authors said.Oct 27 MMWR study WHO: 1 million successfully treated for hepatitis C with new drugsThe World Health Organization (WHO) in a report today titled, Global Report on Access to Hepatitis C Treatment: Focus on Overcoming Barriers, said 1 million people in low and middle-income countries have been successfully treated for hepatitis C with a new class of drugs, direct-acting antivirals (DAAs).When the drugs were introduced in 2013, many critics feared DAAs were too expensive for poorer countries, and would fail to reach the 80 million people who have chronic hepatitis C worldwide. Through cost-lowering strategies, such as competition from generic medicines through licensing agreements, local production, and price negotiations, the WHO said some member states were able to offer wider access to the drug.Costs for the drug vary greatly: Some countries, such as Romania, price a 3-month course of DAAs at almost $80,000. But other countries, such as Egypt, used local production and dropped their cost from $900 in 2014 to less than $200 in 2016, the report said.Hepatic C kills 700,000 people each year. DAAs have a cure rate of 95%, but their high costs have led to restricted use in even high-income countries. Earlier this year, the World Health Assembly said that its goal for viral hepatitis was to treat 80% of infected people by 2030.Oct 27 WHO press release C Diff DNA found on hospital surfaces during outbreakIn a study today in the American Journal of Infection Control, the authors found Clostridium difficile DNA on 71% of hospital surfaces during a C difficile outbreak, and on 28% of the surfaces 2 years after the outbreak ended.The disease is easily spread in hospitals because its spores are resistant to most disinfectants. The bacteria can also live on inert surfaces and is one of the leading causes of diarrhea in elderly hospital patients.From January through July 2009, a C difficile outbreak linked to a mortality rate of 11% occurred in a Costa Rican general hospital. Twenty-four surface samples were collected during the outbreak, with another 54 surface samples collected 2 years later. Overall, C difficile DNAwas detected in 40% of the 75 environmental samples, with a 2.5-fold increase during the outbreak.About 67% of bedrails and walls were C difficile–positive during the outbreak.”These results reinforce the relevance of strict hygiene procedures and cleaning measures in the control of C difficile infections in hospitals, even in the absence of outbreaks,” the authors concluded.Oct 27 Am J Infect Control studylast_img read more

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