Mutant mosquitoes ‘resist malaria’

US scientists say they have bred a genetically modified (GM) mosquito that can resist malaria infection.

If the lab technique works in the field, it could offer a new way of stopping the biting insects from spreading malaria to humans, they say.

The scientists put a new “resistance” gene into the mosquito’s own DNA, using a gene editing method called Crispr.

And when the GM mosquitoes mated – their offspring inherited the same resistance, PNAS journal reports.

In theory, if these mosquitoes bite people, they should not be able to pass on the parasite that causes malaria.

About 3.2bn people – almost half of the world’s population – are at risk of malaria.

Bed nets, insecticides and repellents can help stop the insects biting and drugs can be given to anyone who catches the infection, but the disease still kills around 580,000 people a year.

F.G Promises To Reduce Spread Of Bird Flu

bird fluThe Minister of State for Agriculture, Senator Heineken Lokpobiri, has assured poultry farmers in the country that adequate measures have been put in place to contain the spread of Avian Influenza, otherwise known as Bird Flu in the country.

Senator Lokpobiri, who spoke at a meeting in Abuja decried the economic loss incurred as a result of the disease.

He, however, promised that the federal government would intensify its surveillance measures to contain the spread of the disease.

FG Launches Public Health Emergencies Call Centres

lassa fever Public healthThe Federal Government has launched a Public call centre at Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) to take care of all Public Health emergencies.

Launching the call centre on Thursday, the Minister of Health, Professor Isaac Adewole, reiterated the determination of the present administration to provide access to health care information that will keep diseases away from Nigeria.

In a statement by the spokesperson of the Ministry of Health, Boade Akinola, the Minister urged Nigerians to avail themselves of the opportunity provided by the centre to help the government prevent diseases, especially the current Lassa fever outbreak.

The Minister called on citizens, who have symptoms of Lassa fever, to call any of the 10 numbers 097000010 to 19 from anywhere in the country for direction to the appropriate state Epidemiologist or the nearest health facility.

The Minister also said, where possible, patients could be picked-up from their locations and taken to the nearest health facility.

He assured the public that anyone that would use the call facility would certainly receive help.

Lassa Fever: Death Toll Now 2 In Lagos

lassa feverThe number of deaths from Lassa Fever outbreak in Lagos State has risen to two.

The latest being a 27-year old lady who was said to have travelled to Edo State in December 2015 and returned to Lagos on January 2.

According to a statement from Lagos State Ministry of Health, “the lady became ill on January 14 and received care in one private hospital and three churches before she was referred on January 23 to Ijede General Hospital with fever, vomiting, diarrhoea and body weakness. The patient died within a few hours of admission”.

Lagos State has recorded 20 suspected cases of Lassa Fever as at January 26, 2016, since the outbreak of the disease in the nation.

The statement further read that 14 suspected cases tested negative, four suspected cases were confirmed positive of Lasssa Fever, while the results of two suspected cases were pending.

The Ministry has line-listed 537 contacts of the confirmed cases with 99 per cent of the contacts currently being monitored.

Bird Flu Hits Nasarawa State

bird fluAn outbreak of bird flu has been reported in Nasarawa State, with over 25,000 birds infected in Jenash Farms in Akwanga Local Government Area.

The State Commissioner for Agriculture and Water Resources, Lawee Yusuf, confirmed the outbreak on Wednesday.

He also told reporters that 6,000 additional birds died of natural causes.

The government official also said that the Livestock and Veterinary Services Department of the ministry had decontaminated the infected birds.

Mr Yusuf affirmed that state authorities were intensifying efforts to contain the outbreak through community sensitisation on the dangers of the disease.

The Commissioner urged farmers to register their farms in the ministry for incentives from the government in the case of any outbreak.

Ogun Govt. Confirms Case Of Lassa Fever

lassa feverThe Ogun State government in southwest Nigeria has confirmed a case of Lassa fever being the first to be detected officially in the state.

Briefing journalists in Abeokuta, the state capital, the State Commissioner of Health, Dr Babatunde Ipaye, said that laboratory test has confirmed the case of a 28-year-old lady, a resident of Otta, in Ado-Odo Local Government Area of the state.

The Commissioner explained that while the victim has been immediately isolated at the centre provided at the Ogun State University Teaching Hospital in Sagamu, 60 other primary contacts have been listed for monitoring.

While asking residents not to exercise any unnecessary panic, the Commissioner said that proactive measures are being taken by the government to ensure the virus does not spread beyond control.

Lassa Fever: Ahmmadiyyah Hospital In Lagos Sealed

The Ahmmadiyyah Hospital in the Ojokoro area of Lagos State where the patient diagnosed with the first case of Lassa fever visited before going to LUTH is now under surveillance and sealed off from the public until further notice.

The Lagos State Commissioner for Health, Dr. Jide Idris said 15 in-patients, as well as 25 health workers in the facility are being monitored for the next 21 days.

The doctor further said that contact tracing is ongoing and there are currently 92 contacts being followed up including those at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital.

The patient, a 25 year old male undergraduate of the Ahmadu Bello University, Kaduna, is presently being managed at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital and his condition is stable.

The first case of Lassa fever was confirmed in Lagos on Friday.

Refined sugar blamed for obesity & ill-health

oo much refined sugar is blamed for a wave of obesity and ill-health, so the search is on for the perfect sweetener. But it’s not an easy task, writes Michael Mosley.

I have had a love affair with sugar that has lasted all of my life. I adore the sweet stuff and in my youth knocked back gallons of sugary drinks and ate as many desserts as I could sink my teeth into.

Unfortunately it is a love affair that has brought me nothing but grief. The sugar I gleefully ate and drank rotted my teeth, so that almost every tooth in my face has had to be filled, drilled or replaced. All those sugary carbs also helped pile on the fat, which sent my blood sugar levels soaring.

Recently I have managed to cut down my sugary intake but never quite managed to quit. So, not surprisingly I’ve been on a quest to find a substitute, something that will satisfy my sweet teeth (or what remains of them) without the unfortunate side effects. I’ve tried aspartame, saccharin, xylitol and stevia. I haven’t found any of them convincing, though pure stevia isn’t bad when you mix it with sugar and add to stewed fruit.

Miracle berryThe Miracle Berry                                                                                          Image copyright Istock 

So I was intrigued when the team making a new series for BBC One, Tomorrow’s Food, invited me to try the extract of an African fruit, called the miracle berry. Derived from a plant called Synsepalum dulcificum, it is unlike any artificial sugar I’d tried before – because it works not by making foods sweeter, but by making them taste sweeter.

Zika virus: first US case was sexually transmitted

Patient in Dallas caught disease from partner who had visited infected country

Mario Tama/Getty Images

 

Health officials have confirmed that the first Zika virus contracted in the US was passed on through sexual contact.

So far, 31 people in the US have been diagnosed with the mosquito-borne virus, but the infected person, who has not been named, is believed to be the first to contract Zika without visiting one of the nations where the disease is running rampant.

“Now that we know Zika virus can be transmitted through sex, this increases our awareness campaign in educating the public about protecting themselves and others,” Zachary Thompson, the director of Dallas County Health and Human Services, told Sky News.

He also stressed the importance of using condoms to prevent the spread of the disease.

Zika’s symptoms are relatively mild and include sensitivity to light, joint pain and fever. The major concern is the virus’s ability to infect the amniotic fluid of pregnant women, which can lead to birth defects. In affected countries, cases of microcephaly – a condition where a baby is born with an undersized head and brain – have increased sharply since the virus was first detected in May 2015. In the worst affected areas of Brazil, the BBC reports that one per cent of all newborns are diagnosed with microcephaly – nearly 4,000 infants in total.

Women in El Salvador have been advised to put off pregnancy until 2018 – a tall order in a nation where contraception is frowned upon and abortion totally outlawed. Similar advice has been issued in Colombia and Ecuador.

Sexually transmitted Zika virus reported in Dallas

While cases of the Zika virus have been identified since the 1950s, the latest outbreak is becoming increasingly difficult to contain. The virus first appeared in May, in Brazil, and has since been detected in 35 countries in the Americas and Caribbean.

The World Health Organisation says the virus is “spreading explosively” and has declared a global public health emergency on the same scale as the Ebola outbreak that claimed more than 11,000 lives in West Africa between 2013 and 2016.

Zika virus: threat has reached ‘alarming proportions’

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has set up an emergency taskforce to respond to the Zika virus as experts warn the disease has “explosive pandemic potential”.

The mosquito-borne virus isn’t harmful to most people, but it has been linked to severe birth defects in babies. Women in affected areas have been urged to delay pregnancy until further notice.

The outbreak has spread to at least 23 countries in Latin America, with the WHO warning up to four million people could be infected this year. There is currently no known cure or vaccine.

“The level of alarm is extremely high,” WHO director general Margaret Chan told a specially convened meeting in Geneva. “[It has gone] from a mild threat to one of alarming proportions.”

Dr Carissa Etienne, the regional director for WHO’s Pan American Health Organization, cautioned that the link between Zika and microcephaly in babies has not yet been confirmed, the BBC reports.

But she added: “We cannot tolerate the prospect of more babies being born with neurological and other malformations and more people facing the threat of paralysis.”

The committee will convene on Monday to discuss whether or not to declare a global emergency. The last time this happened was in response to the Ebola outbreak in West Africa. The global health body has since faced widespread criticism for failing to respond soon enough to the crisis.