Survey suggests children of gay fathers are well adjusted

first_imgAccording to the study, 36 percent of their children had been born in the context of a heterosexual relationship, 38 percent by adopting or fostering children, and 14 percent with the assistance of a surrogate carrier. Many of the fathers described having encountered barriers to sharing custody of their children (33 percent), to adopt a child (41 percent) or to become a father through a surrogate carrier (18 percent). In addition, between 20 and 30 percent of respondents reported stigmatizing experiences because of being a gay father, primarily from family members, friend, and some people in religious contexts. One-third of parents reported that their children had been subjected to teasing, bullying or other stigmatizing experiences by friends.Dr. Perrin noted that despite these barriers, there is a growing number of children whose parents are gay, reflecting a rapidly changing legal and social climate for prospective gay and lesbian parents. She cites the 2015 Supreme Court decision affirming the right to same-sex marriage, for example, as well as increased access to alternative reproductive technologies and adoption for openly gay individuals or couples.“Because stigma continues to interfere with the efforts of gay men to become parents and with the lives of gay men and their children, our research underscores the need for social and legal protections for families headed by same-sex parents,” said principal investigator Ellen C. Perrin, MD, MA, FAAP. “Our data add to those of other investigators showing that children of same-sex parents do as well in every way as children whose parents are heterosexual.” Compared to a national sample of heterosexual parents, gay fathers report similar parenting behavior and measures of wellbeing in their children, according to new research to be presented at the Pediatric Academic Societies (PAS) 2016 Meeting.The study, “Experiences of Children with Gay Fathers,” was conducted via an online survey, receiving responses from 732 gay fathers in 47 U.S. states. Participants responded to the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire, which includes questions about children’s well-being, such as academic achievement, self-esteem and peer relationships.Responses from gay fathers were virtually no different when compared with those in a federally assembled, national comparative sample, according to study authors. For example, 88 percent of the study respondents said it was “not true” that their child is unhappy or depressed, compared with 87 percent of the comparative sample. Similarly, 72 percent of participants responded that their child does not “worry a lot,” compared with 75 percent of the general population. Share on Twitter Share on Facebook LinkedIncenter_img Pinterest Share Emaillast_img read more

Some neurons choose mom’s gene and others choose dad’s

first_imgLinkedIn “We usually think of traits in terms of a whole person, or animal. We’re finding that when we look at the level of cells, genetics is much more complicated than we thought,” says Christopher Gregg, Ph.D., assistant professor of neurobiology and anatomy and senior author of the study which publishes online in Neuron on Feb. 23. “This new picture may help us understand brain disorders,” he continues.Among genes regulated in this unorthodox way are risk factors for mental illness. In humans, a gene called DEAF1, implicated in autism and intellectual disability, shows preferential expression of one gene copy in multiple regions of the brain. A more comprehensive survey in primates, which acts as a proxy for humans, indicates the same is true for many other genes including some linked to Huntington’s Disease, schizophrenia, attention deficit disorder, and bipoloar disorder.What the genetic imbalance could mean for our health remains to be determined, but preliminary results suggest that it could shape vulnerabilities to disease, explains Gregg. Normally, having two copies of a gene acts as a protective buffer in case one is defective. Activating a gene copy that is mutated and silencing the healthy copy – even temporarily – could be disruptive enough to cause trouble in specific cells.Supporting the idea, Gregg’s lab found that some brain cells in transgenic mice preferentially activate mutated gene copies over healthy ones. “It has generally been assumed that there is correlation between both copies of a gene,” says Elliott Ferris, a computer scientist who co-led the study with graduate student Wei-Chao Huang. Instead, they found something unexpected. “We developed novel methods for mining big data, and discovered something new,” Huang explains.The investigators screened thousands of genes in their study, quantifying the relative levels of activation for each maternal and paternal gene copy and discovered that expression of the two is different for many genes. Surprised by what they saw, they developed statistical methods to rigorously test their validity and determined that they were not due to technical artifacts, nor genetic noise. Following up on their findings, they examined a subset of genes more closely, directly visualized imbalances between gene copies at the cellular level in the mouse and human brain.Results from Gregg and colleagues build on previous research, expanding on scenarios in which genes play favorites. Imprinted genes and X-linked genes are specific gene categories that differentially activate their maternal and paternal gene copies. Studies in cultured cells had also determined that some genes vary which copy they express. The results from this study, however, suggests that silencing one gene copy may be a way in which cells fine tune their genetic program at specific times during the lifecycle of the animal, or in discrete places.“Our new findings reveal a new landscape of diverse effects that shape the expression of maternal and paternal gene copies in the brain according to age, brain region, and tissue type,” explains Gregg. “The implication is a new view of genetics, one that starts up close.” Share on Facebook Email Share on Twittercenter_img Share Most kids say they love their mom and dad equally, but there are times when even the best prefers one parent over the other. The same can be said for how the body’s cells treat our DNA instructions. It has long been thought that each copy – one inherited from mom and one from dad – is treated the same. A new study from scientists at the University of Utah School of Medicine shows that it is not uncommon for cells in the brain to preferentially activate one copy over the other. The finding breaks basic tenants of classic genetics and suggests new ways in which genetic mutations might cause brain disorders.In at least one region of the newborn mouse brain, the new research shows, inequality seems to be the norm. About 85 percent of genes in the dorsal raphe nucleus, known for secreting the mood-controlling chemical serotonin, differentially activate their maternal and paternal gene copies. Ten days later in the juvenile brain, the landscape shifts, with both copies being activated equally for all but 10 percent of genes.More than an oddity of the brain, the disparity also takes place at other sites in the body, including liver and muscle. It also occurs in humans. Pinterestlast_img read more

Genetic analysis can help predict treatment response in depression, study finds

first_imgNew evidence from mice suggests why an antidepressant treatment can alleviate depression in one person but not another.The study, publishing December 28 in the open access journal PLOS Biology, was led by Marianne Müller and an international team at the University Medical Center Mainz and the Max Planck Institute of Psychiatry. The researchers developed a mouse model that allowed them to identify blood signatures associated with response to antidepressant treatment and could show the importance of the stress-related glucocorticoid receptor in recovery from depression.Major depression is the leading cause of disability according to the World Health Organization, affecting an estimated 350 million people worldwide, but only one-third of patients benefit from the first antidepressant prescribed. Although the currently available treatments are safe, there is significant variability in the outcome of antidepressant treatment. So far there are no clinical assessments that can predict with a high degree of certainty whether a particular patient will respond to a particular antidepressant. Finding the most effective antidepressant medication for each patient depends on trial and error, underlining the urgent need to establish conceptually novel strategies for the identification of biomarkers associated with a positive response. Share on Facebook Pinterest Share Emailcenter_img Share on Twitter To tackle this challenge, scientists established a novel experimental approach in animals focusing on extreme phenotypes in response to antidepressant treatment. This model simulated the clinical situation, by identifying good and poor responders to antidepressant treatment. The researchers hypothesized that conditions in the mouse model would facilitate the identification of valid peripheral biomarkers for antidepressant treatment response and could potentially apply to humans.“We were able to identify a cluster of antidepressant response-associated genes in the mouse model that we then validated in a cohort of depressed patients from our collaborators from Emory University, Atlanta”, explains Tania Carrillo-Roa from the Max Planck Institute of Psychiatry. This suggests that molecular signatures associated with antidepressant response in the mouse could in fact predict the outcome of antidepressant treatment in the patient cohort. Additional analyses indicated that the glucocorticoid receptor, which is one of the most important players in fine-tuning the stress hormone system, shapes the response to antidepressant treatment.Ultimately, identification of biomarkers predictive of individual responses to treatment would dramatically improve the quality of care/ treatment for depressed patients by taking the trial and error out of prescribing antidepressants. In the future, this cross-species approach might serve as a template for the discovery of improved and tailored treatment for patients who suffer from depression. LinkedInlast_img read more

Giving up Facebook leads to a drop in the stress-related hormone cortisol, study finds

first_imgPinterest Share Share on Twitter Share on Facebook LinkedIncenter_img For their experiment, the researchers recruited 138 active Facebook users. Sixty participants were randomly assigned to a condition in which they were instructed to completely give up Facebook for five days, while the remaining 78 participants continued to use Facebook as normal.Vanman and his colleagues surveyed the participants regarding their life satisfaction, stress, mood, and loneliness before and after the experiment. They also tested the participants’ salivary cortisol levels, a physiological measure of stress.The researchers found that the short break from Facebook had both positive and negative impacts on the participants’ stress and well-being.“People have long reported in other research that Facebook can make them feel bad about themselves or that it stresses them. Many people quit Facebook permanently because of it. Others take ‘Facebook Vacations’, in which they either deactivate or quit Facebook for a few days, weeks, or even months,” Vanman told PsyPost.“Our research shows that ‘quitting’ Facebook for just five days is enough to reduce one’s levels of the stress hormone cortisol. The control group, who didn’t give up Facebook, did not show this.” “We also found, however, that people who were instructed to give up Facebook for 5 days were less satisfied with their lives. Many were openly happy when the study was finished because they could return to Facebook,” Vanman added. “One unexpected finding is that people in the No Facebook condition spent more time in Face-to-Face contact with friends on the Sunday during the study.”The study, like all research, has some limitations.“We don’t know long it takes to get this reduction in cortisol or when it would start to increase again before someone decided to get back on Facebook,” Vanman explained. “For example, it could be that being off Facebook for the first few days reduces stress, but, the longer one feels like he or she is missing out, cortisol starts to increase again. We also don’t know if this would apply to giving up other social media like Twitter or SnapChat. We suspect these effects aren’t unique to Facebook.”“We consider this preliminary research and we would like to conduct a much bigger study where we could look at these effects on cortisol over a much longer time,” he added. “However, our initial findings here suggest that people should try to take breaks from Facebook whenever they feel like it’s getting to be ‘too much.’” The study, “The burden of online friends: the effects of giving up Facebook on stress and well-being“, was authored by Eric Vanman, Rosemary Baker and Stephanie Tobin. Email Quitting Facebook for five days was associated with a drop in the stress hormone cortisol, according to a preliminary study published in the Journal of Social Psychology.“I have been a Facebook user for 10 years. I had talked to my co-authors about how I occasionally had to ‘quit’ Facebook from time to time because I found it overwhelming as the number of my friends grew,” said Eric Vanman, a senior lecturer in the School of Psychology at the University of Queensland and lead author of the study.“We talked and realised that this was happening to them and their friends too. Whenever I would quit Facebook, I’d feel an immediate sense of relief that lasted for days. But then I would start feeling like I was missing out (FOMO!) and I would have to rejoin. The cycle would start all over.”last_img read more

FLU NEWS SCAN: US flu picture still quiet, H1N1 and viral co-infection, protection against H1N1

first_imgNov 11, 2011Some US flu indicators up slightly; overall activity still lowSome measures of US influenza activity ticked up faintly last week, but activity remained low overall, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported yesterday. The proportion of outpatient visits for influenza-like illness (ILI) in the CDC surveillance network was 1.3%, up from 1.2% the week before but well below the national baseline of 2.4%. Forty-nine states, the same number as last week, reported minimal ILI activity; Idaho had low activity. From the standpoint of geographic spread, Virginia reported local flu activity, 25 states had sporadic cases, and 24 states reported no activity; in the previous week, 20 states had sporadic cases and 30 states had none. The fraction of deaths attributed to pneumonia and flu was 6.3%, compared with an epidemic threshold of 6.8%. No pediatric deaths related to flu were reported. Only 11 (0.6%) of 1,833 respiratory specimens tested and reported to the CDC were positive for flu.CDC flu update for week ending Nov 5Previous weekly updateViral co-infection rates similar for hospitalized, community H1N1 casesA UK study published today found no difference in levels of respiratory virus co-infection between hospitalized and non-hospitalized patients with 2009 H1N1 pandemic flu (pH1N1). Researchers analyzed data from 450 respiratory specimens taken during the 2009-10 pandemic from patients with flu-like illness in the UK West Midlands region who were tested by polymerase chain reaction for other viruses. Of the specimens, 231 were from hospitals, of which 151 (65%) were H1N1-positive, and 219 were from the community, of which 126 (58%) were pH1N1-positive. (No other influenza virus was detected in the samples.) Of the pH1N1-positive hospital specimens, 5.3% (8/126) contained another virus, compared with 6.3% of the pH1N1-positive community specimens. Of the pH1N1-negative specimens, co-infection rates were 30.0% (24/80) for hospital samples and 33.3% (31/93) for community samples. Rhinovirus was the most common pathogen found, accounting for 47.4% (36/76) of detections, followed by parainfluenza and adenovirus. The researchers conclude that, because of a lack of statistical difference in co-infection rates between inpatients and outpatients, “underlying factors were likely to be more significant than viral co-infections in determining severity of influenza A(H1N1) disease.”Nov 11 Epidemiol Infect abstractStudy: Antibodies to seasonal H1N1 may have protected against 2009 H1N1Having antibodies to seasonal H1N1 influenza viruses appeared to protect against pH1N1 flu, according to a study of 513 healthy adults published yesterday in Clinical Infectious Diseases. Texas researchers measured volunteers’ serum antibody levels at enrollment in fall 2009 as well as in spring 2010, after the pandemic had peaked. They excluded those who had received the pH1N1 vaccine. Of the 513 adults, 23% became infected, 31 of whom had moderate to severe illness. As expected, the investigators found fewer pH1N1 infections with increasing pH1N1 antibodies. But they also found a decreasing frequency of pH1N1 infections as antibodies to seasonal H1N1 increased.Nov 10 Clin Infect Dis abstractlast_img read more

CDC says norovirus sickens up to 21 million a year

first_imgGetting a handle on the nation’s norovirus burden is difficult, because reporting isn’t required and there’s not a widely used test for the disease, but experts from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) who analyzed the latest data reported new estimates yesterday—up to 21 million infections each year, as many as 800 fatal.The new estimates provide some detailed and surprising numbers. For example, the CDC experts predict that the disease strikes five times during a typical American’s lifespan.Before yesterday’s new numbers, reported in Emerging Infectious Diseases, the most often cited norovirus burden numbers were from a 1999 report that covered a broad array of foodborne illnesses. While the new annual illness estimate is slightly lower than the earlier one, the CDC researchers reported overall upticks in hospitalization and death numbers.A new variant that emerged in Australia has fueled norovirus outbreaks in the United States over the past several months. The genotype II.4 (GII.4) Sydney variant has led to disease spikes in the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Japan, Australia, France, and New Zealand, as well.Earlier this year the CDC said norovirus has passed rotavirus as the leading cause of gastroenteritis in US kids.For hospitalizations, the group put the annual number at 56,000 to 71,000 compared with the previous estimate of 50,000. The authors projected that the number of deaths from norovirus ranges from 570 to 800 each year, up from the 310 deaths listed in the 1999 report.Though not all patients with norovirus seek medical care for their norovirus infections, many do, and the new estimates suggest that the disease is linked to as many as 1.9 million outpatient visits each year and 400,000 emergency department visits.The new estimates also break the burden down by age, which could help public health professionals target their norovirus prevention strategies. Americans age 65 and older are at greatest risk for norovirus death, while children younger than 5 had the highest rates of norovirus-linked medical visits.CDC researchers said they based their estimates on studies published over the past 5 years that provided population-based norovirus incidence rates. They noted that all the studies they looked at showed increases during the winter months and in years when norovirus pandemic strains emerged.When they compared the US norovirus estimates to those of other industrialized countries, they found similar patterns, despite differences in healthcare delivery systems, especially for the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, and Canada. “The substantial incidence of norovirus disease burden is clearly not unique to the United States,” they wrote.Though health officials have made great progress in characterizing the disease, several knowledge gaps remain, such as more detailed information about age prevalence and the role of the virus in deaths, the team observed. They added that the findings lend support to the usefulness of a norovirus vaccine, which is in the late stages of clinical trials.In a related development, another CDC team yesterday published results from the first 2 years of gastroenteritis data from a new national surveillance system, which also shows a leading role for norovirus.The findings are from the National Outbreak Reporting System (NORS), which launched in early 2009 and is designed to follow gastroenteritis outbreaks caused by other transmission modes, besides just foodborne and waterborne.States and territories reported 4,455 outbreaks during the first 2 years of NORS surveillance, and norovirus was the leading cause of single-source outbreaks, implicated in 1,908 (68%). The group also found that norovirus was the leading cause of acute gastroenteritis-linked hospitalizations and deaths.The next most frequently reported causes were Salmonella, Shigella, and Shiga-toxin–producing Escherichia coli.Hall AJ, Lopman BA, Payne DC, et al. Norovirus disease in the United States. Emerg Infect Dis 2013 (published online Jul 10) [Full text]Hall AJ, Wikswo ME, Manikonda K, et al. Acute gastroenteritis surveillance through the National Outbreak Reporting System, United States. Emerg Infect Dis 2013 (published online Jul 10) [Full text]See also:Jan 24 CIDRAP News story “CDC: New norovirus strain fueling US outbreaks”Mar 21 CIDRAP News story “Norovirus overtakes rotavirus as leading GI illness in US kids”last_img read more

News Scan for Feb 04, 2015

first_imgDuration of MRSA colonization might be shorter than thoughtThe median duration of colonization with community-based methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) in ambulatory patients is 21 days, shorter than the previously thought duration of 6 to 9 months, and treatment with clindamycin is associated with more rapid clearance of the infection, say findings of a study published yesterday in Clinical Infectious Diseases.The authors, many of them from academic centers and hospitals in Philadelphia, carried out a prospective cohort study of 243 community-based patients presenting at any of five academic hospitals in Pennsylvania between Jan 1, 2010, and Dec 31, 2012, with skin soft-tissue infection (SSTI) that was found to be MRSA.Patients and their household members (total, 803) performed self-sampling (or, for children, sampling by parents) from the nares, axillae, and groin for MRSA colonization every 2 weeks for 6 months. Clearance of the organism was defined as negative results in two consecutive sampling periods.The median duration of MRSA colonization, defined as the period from diagnosis to clearance, was 21 days (95% confidence interval [CI], 19 to 24). In 19.8% of patients, MRSA had not been cleared at 6 months.Clindamycin treatment of SSTI was associated with earlier clearance (hazard ratio [HR], 1.72; 95% CI, 1.28 to 2.30; P < 0.001). Older age was associated with longer colonization (HR, 0.99; 95% CI, 0.98 to 1.00; P = 0.010). An increasing number of colonized household members was associated to a borderline-significant degree with a longer duration of colonization of the index case (HR, 0.85; 95% CI, 0.71 to 1.01; P = 0.064).The authors say future studies "should examine the predictors of persistent colonization, the impact of prolonged duration of colonization on development of MRSA reinfection, and the potential role of total household decolonization in adults and children" as well as further elucidate the role of clindamycin as treatment. Feb 3 Clin Infect Dis study abstract Trial: One dose of H3N2v vaccine immunogenic in most adultsAn experimental vaccine provided protection against variant H3N2 influenza (H3N2v) after one dose in healthy adults 18 years and older, according to a study yesterday in the Journal of Infectious Diseases.H3N2v viruses first emerged in 2011, but concern spiked in the summer of  2012 when the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported 306 cases. The incidence of known cases has since declined dramatically.The study comprised 211 people, 104 of whom were 18 to 64 years old, and 107 of whom were age 65 and older. Researchers administered two doses of the H3N2v vaccine (15 micrograms of hemagglutinin per dose) 21 days apart to measure serum hemagglutinin inhibition (HAI) titers, neutralizing antibody (Neut Ab) titers, and memory B cell response.HAI titers at or greater than 40 were present in 87% (95% CI, 79%-93%) of those under 65 and 73% (95% CI, 63%-81%) of those 65 and older after 21 days. HAI seroconversion occurred in 51% (95% CI, 41%-61%) of the younger group and 52% (95% CI, 41%-62%) of the older group, but neither seroconversion rate was statistically significant.A Neut Ab response occurred in 91% (95% CI, 84%-96%) of the younger group, and 59% (95% CI, 49%-69%) of this group seroconverted after 21 days. In older group, 82% (95% CI, 73%-89%) had Neut Ab titers, and 67% (95% CI, 57%-77%) seroconverted after 21 days.The authors said that, because 93% of the study population already had antibodies to H3N2v prior to vaccination, one dose of the vaccine should prove effective for a healthy adult population.Feb 3 J Infect Dis study Study: H3N2 viruses isolated from canine nasal swabsChinese researchers found two H3N2 influenza subtypes in pet dogs that contain both human and swine characteristics, according to a study yesterday in Virology Journal.Researchers obtained 261 nasal swabs and 315 blood samples from pet dogs in eight Chinese provinces during 2013. After identifying influenza A canine isolate virus (CIV) in 35 nasal swabs from dogs in Guangxi province, subtyping showed the presence of H3N2 in two samples.During subtyping, the viruses clustered with the human H3N2 Moscow/10/99 strain and most swine flu viruses. All blood samples were negative for CIV.The findings suggest that dogs may be regarded as intermediate H3N2 hosts, even though the virus has not firmly established itself in canine populations, the authors said.Feb 3 J Virol studylast_img read more

Plague total grows in Madagascar as response builds

first_imgThe World Health Organization (WHO) said today in an update on Madagascar’s plague outbreak that the number of infections as of yesterday has climbed to 684, an increase of 297 cases since its last update on Oct 9.Also, health officials in Seychelles are closely monitoring 11 people in hospital isolation, a step that follows the announcement 3 days ago of a probable imported case in a man who had traveled to Madagascar.Of Madagascar’s new cases, 197 are pneumonic, putting that total at 474. Twelve more deaths have been reported, lifting that number to 57. The WHO said the latest totals reflect an overall reduction in the case-fatality rate, which over the past few days has dropped from 11.6% to 8.3%.Outbreak nears 700 casesIllnesses have now been reported in 35 of Madagascar’s 114 districts, 8 more since the previous update, the WHO said. The hardest-hit area is Antananarivo Renivohitra District, a large urban area surrounding the country’s capital.Of the 684 cases, 63 are confirmed, 271 are probable, and 350 are suspected. In addition to the 474 pneumonic cases, 156 are bubonic, 1 is septicemic, and 54 are unspecified.So far 11 Yersinia pestis strains have been isolated, and tests show that all are sensitive to antibiotics recommended for treatment.The WHO has said that the overall threat of disease spread within Madagascar is high, while the regional risk is moderate and the overall global risk is low.Madagascar and its global health partners have scaled up surveillance and contact tracing, and the Pasteur Institute has sent 1,918 rapid diagnostic tests to outbreak hot spots and to the health ministry.The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) announced today that it is deploying its first-ever plague treatment center in Madagascar. It said the 50-bed facility will include a full medical team, using national health staff to isolate and treat patients sick with plague. It is also releasing about $1 million from its disaster relief emergency fund to scale up the local Red Cross medical treatment capacity.Fatoumata Nafo-Traore, MD, IFRC regional director for Africa, said in a statement, “Our past experience in outbreak response had underlined the importance of responding quickly and effectively.”Medicine du Monde is setting up five isolation and treatment centers, and Doctors without Borders has deployed 70 people to help support the response in Toamasina, another hot spot that is also Madagascar’s main seaport. The WHO has delivered personal protective equipment (PPE) and antibiotics, and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has donated PPE and vehicles to help the country’s health officials.Seychelles monitoring, testing more peopleIn a Facebook update yesterday, the Seychelles Ministry of Health (MOH) said there have been a few more hospital admissions linked directly or indirectly to the initial probable case. One is a foreign national who had not had contact with any other known cases and presented with fever and mild respiratory symptoms on Oct 10, which prompted isolation. The rapid screening test was weakly positive for plague, but the finding hasn’t been confirmed yet by the Pasteur Institute.Yesterday, a 26-year-old woman was transferred to the hospital with symptoms, where she was isolated and put on antibiotics while testing is under way. The ministry said a total of 12 people have been admitted and are receiving treatment as a precaution. One is a child who may have had contact with some children at a school, and health officials will offer the students antibiotic prophylaxis.Today the MOH said all of the patients, apart from the index case, are stable and are on treatment with no respiratory distress.More than 320 people who had contact with the imported probable case have been prescribed antibiotic prophylaxis.Earlier this week, Air Seychelles cancelled all flights to and from Madagascar, and health officials there are isolating everyone entering from Madagascar and are temporarily advising against travel to Madagascar.The WHO has said it advises against any restriction on travel or trade to Madagascar, is aware of the Seychelles measure restricting travel from Madagascar, and is in contact with authorities to confirm the information and learn the public health rationale and scientific evidence, based on the International Health Regulations.See also:Oct 12 WHO situation updateOct 13 IFRC statementOct 12 Seychelles MOH Facebook postOct 13 Seychelles MOH Facebook postOct 11 CIDRAP News scan “Seychelles reports imported plague in Madagascar traveler”last_img read more

More Ebola cases reported from Beni; WHO update covers more ‘red zone’ risks

first_imgThe Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) health ministry today reported three more lab-confirmed Ebola cases, all from Beni, the current outbreak hot spot.In related developments, field teams are making headway in the main outbreak areas in recent weeks, but big risks remain, given continuing cases from Beni and near Kasenyi, which is in a security “red zone” and close to internally displaced person camps, the World Health Organization (WHO) said yesterday in its weekly situation report.Beni cases, plus more community deathsThe new cases lift the overall total to 223, which includes 188 confirmed and 35 probable cases. Also, the health ministry reported two more deaths, raising the fatality count to 144. Both involved people from Beni who died in the community, an event known to increase the risk of spread, but were buried safely.Health officials are also investigating 46 suspected cases.In other outbreak developments, DRC Health Minister Oly Ilunga Kalenga, MD, traveled to Beni today to unveil a new response plan, based on a review of the strengths and weaknesses during the first 2 months of the response.Goals of the plan are to step up response capacity targeting active households to stop the epidemic by the end of November, with a further monitoring, prevention, and control phase put in place until the end of January 2019. Some highlights of the new plan include boosting ownership and community engagement, tying the response to local health systems, and preparing other provinces to tackle the possible spread of the virus.So far 18,998 people have been vaccinated, including 8,422 in Beni.Security still a problemThe WHO said there’s evidence of ongoing transmission in communities, especially Beni. In more than half of new cases, investigations are still under way to establish the epidemiologic links.Also, searches are being conducted for lost contacts in Beni and Komanda health zones, according to the report.Security is still a problem for safe burial teams in Beni and Butembo. Also, because of the fragile situation in Butembo (the urban outbreak location), the Red Cross still hasn’t fully resumed burial activities since an incident on Oct 2 injured some of its workers.On a positive note, negotiations with an armed group in a territory where a confirmed case had been lost to follow-up resulted in the group agreeing to allow a response team into the area to administer vaccine. “This is a critical step forward to reach populations in the red zones,” the WHO said.See also:Oct 18 DRC updateOct 17 WHO situation reportlast_img read more

Studies find Ebola gene differences in recent DRC outbreaks

first_imgToday The Lancet Infectious Diseases published two new studies that show how the response to the current Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) has been shaped by the lessons gleaned from the West African outbreak of the viral disease from 2013 to 2015.In a separate development, the DRC’s health ministry reported nine new infections today, part of an ongoing surge of cases.Novel strain triggered earlier outbreakMost notably, the DRC has used in-country genomics to provide real-time analysis of the virus. In 2018, the DRC played host to its 9th and 10th Ebola outbreaks, drastically different in size and scope.The newly published studies prove the virus strain responsible for the current outbreak, the world’s second largest, is genetically different from a smaller outbreak in the western reaches of the DRC that ended in July of 2018.From the earlier outbreak, which involved 54 cases, Placide Mbala-Kingebeni, MD, and colleagues sequenced 16 Ebola virus (EBOV) genomes to identify the novel strain, named “Tumba.” That outbreak had a case-fatality rate of 60%, similar to the West African outbreak. The Tumba strain of the virus, however, was not as susceptible to current Ebola treatments.”We show the feasibility of using genomics to rapidly characterise a new Ebola virus variant within the timeframe of an outbreak,” concludes the authors of the study.A second study, also authored by Mbala-Kingebeni and colleagues, focused on the coding of two Ebola virus genomes collected 5 days after the current outbreak, in the DRC’s North Kivu and Ituri provinces, broke out. The current outbreak has a case-fatality rate of 62%, the highest of any documented Ebola outbreak.The authors determined that this outbreak was not caused by the Tumba strain of Ebola virus, and was more susceptible to monoclonal antibody therapeutics (mAb114 and ZMapp), which are currently being used as treatment options.Writing in a commentary on that study, a group led by Anise Happi, PhD, of the University of Ibadan in Nigeria, said the work supports the establishments of national and regional hubs of infectious diseases genomics in regions with a high risk of outbreaks “where untargeted metagenomic sequencing analysis would be done. Thus, providing a potential one-step solution for outbreak pathogen detection of both known and novel pathogens would replace the need for multiple individual pathogen assays.”Outbreak grows to 1,273 casesAccording to the ministry of health’s daily update, the DRC today confirmed 9 new cases, including 3 each in hotspots Katwa and Butembo, and one each in Masereka, Mandima, and Kyondo, raising the cumulative outbreak total to 1,273 cases, including 821 deaths. Seven deaths of confirmed cases were noted today, including four community deaths.The DRC also updated its epidemiologic assessment of the outbreak, focusing on the week that began on Apr 8. Since then, 54.5% of all newly confirmed 110 cases came from Katwa.”The number of new confirmed cases notified weekly has increased significantly in the last 5 weeks following targeted attacks against the Katwa and Butembo CTEs” the ministry of health said.Of the 83 deaths recorded last week, 49 were community deaths, or 59%, and 34 occurred in a treatment facility.Vaccination efforts continue, with 101,249 people vaccinated with rVSV-ZEBOV, including 26,316 in Katwa, 22,059 in Beni, 12,447 in Butembo, and 6,556 in Mabalako.Today Felix Tshisekedi, the president of the DRC, visited an Ebola treatment center in Beni, and made a speech calling on the local community to work with outbreak response workers.See also: Apr 16 Lancet Infect Dis study Apr 16 Lancet Infect Dis North Kivu studyApr 16 Lancet Infect Dis commentary Apr 16 DRC updatelast_img read more