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With the presence of autochthonous, or locally transmitted Zika virus infection in nine countries in South and Central America and Mexico in 2015, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued travel notices for people traveling to the following countries: Mexico, ZikaEl Salvador, Guatemala, Panama, Brazil. Columbia, Suriname and Venezuela today.  Local transmission means that mosquitoes in the area have been infected with Zika virus and are spreading it to people.

CDC recommends that travelers to these countries protect themselves from mosquito bites. The Ministry of Health of Brazil is concerned about a possible association between the Zika virus outbreak and increasedZika 1.png numbers of babies born with birth defects. For this reason, pregnant women should take extra precautions to avoid mosquito bites.

There is no vaccine or medicine to prevent Zika virus infection. Travelers can protect themselves by preventing mosquito bites by covering exposed skin by wearing long-sleeved shirts and long pants; use an insect repellent approved by the Environmental Protection Agency as directed such as products containing DEET, Picaridin and Oil of lemon eucalyptus and staying and sleeping in screened-in or air-conditioned rooms.

Source: Outbreak News Today

The Center offers  travel vaccinations and advice.

Ovarian tumors are often deadly as they are caught too late.

A 14-year study on 200,000 women, published in the Lancet, has been welcomed as a potentially landmark moment in cancer screening.

But the researchers and independent experts say it is still too soon to call for mass screening because of concerns about the analysis.Ovary 2

Ovarian cancer is difficult to pick up as symptoms, including abdominal pain, persistent bloating and difficulty eating, are common in other conditions.

The UK Collaborative Trial of Ovarian Cancer Screening is one of the biggest clinical trials ever conducted and is supposed to give the definitive verdict on screening.

It monitored levels of a chemical called CA125 in women’s blood.

Doctors tracked changes in the levels of CA125, which is produced by ovarian tissue, over time and if levels became elevated then the women were sent for further tests and ultimately surgery.

The results are now in, but the interpretation is a bit messy and the Ovary 1.pngresearchers admit it is “controversial”.

Their initial statistical analysis of the data showed no benefit to screening. But there was a benefit when they removed the data from any women who may have already started to develop ovarian tumors.

The researchers then performed a more forgiving statistical analysis, which also showed a benefit.

Source: BBC

chikon 3.pngRegions in the Americas and Caribbean reported 17,398 recent cases of chikungunya, bringing the outbreak total to 1,788,058, according to a Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) update late last week.

The agency’s previous two updates included 4,370 and 2,556 new cases, respectively, but last week’s update, on Dec 4, included 2 weeks of data. The new infections bring the total this year to 641,289 suspected and confirmed cases. PAHO also reported 1 death, raising that total to 77. chikon 1.jpg

Honduras, reporting on 12 weeks of data, had the most cases, 10,168, to raise its 2015 total to 82,008. Colombia, which often has the most cases, was next, with 3,450 new cases to bring its 2015 total to 354,298 cases. Brazil, reporting 6 weeks of data, had 2,506 new cases and 15,650 for the year. Many countries, however, have not reported on chikungunya for weeks.

The epidemic began in December 2013 with the first locally acquired chikungunya case ever reported in the Americas, on St. Martin in the Caribbean.

Source: Center for Infectious Disease Research & Policy

The U.S. infant mortality rate declined 2.3% from 2013 to 2014, reaching a record low of 582.1 per 100,000 live births, according to data released on Wednesday by the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics. At the same time, deaths from Alzheimer disease rose 8.1%, to 25.4 per 100,000 population.  As in 2013, Alzheimer’s was the sixth leading cause of death in 2014.Since 2012, life expectancy at birth has held steady at 78.8 years — the highest it’s ever been. Infant 1

Life expectancy at birth represents the average number of years that a group of infants would live if the group was to experience, throughout life, the age- specific death rates present in the year of birth. In 2014, life expectancy at birth was 78.8 years for the total U.S. population – 81.2 years for females and 76.4 years for males, the same as in 2013. LifeInfant 2 expectancy for females was consistently higher than life expectancy for males. In 2014, the difference in life expectancy between females and males was 4.8 years, the same as in 2013.

Life expectancy at age 65 for the total population was 19.3 years, the same as in 2013. Life expectancy at age 65 was 20.5 years for females, unchanged from 2013, and 18.0 years for males, a 0.1-year increase from 2013. The difference in life expectancy at age 65 between females and males decreased 0.1 year, to 2.5 years in 2014 from 2.6 years in 2013.

Source: CDC

A new review—the largest and most comprehensive of its kind—reports that daily consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs) is associated with a 35% increased risk of heart attack or fatal heart disease.Soda 1

The report also examines the risk of developing type 2 diabetes and stroke associated with SSB consumption, and the role of fructose in the development of these conditions and obesity.

In order to explore effects of added sugars, researchers conducted a review of data from recent epidemiological studies and meta-analyses.

They found that consumption of 1-2 SSBs per day was linked to a 26% higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes, a 35% increased risk of heart attack or fatal heart disease, and a 16% increased risk of stroke.

After examining the role of fructose in weight gain and the development of metabolic conditions, researchers explained that “part of the problem is how fructose behaves in the body.” Unlike glucose, which is absorbed directly into the bloodstream, fructose is metabolized in the liver and converted into triglycerides, which can lead to fatty liver disease and insulin resistance.Soda 2

“Since we rarely consume fructose in isolation, the major source of fructose in the diet comes from fructose-containing sugars, sucrose and high fructose corn syrup, in sugar-sweetened beverages,” they wrote.

“Although reducing the consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages or added sugar alone is unlikely to solve the obesity epidemic entirely, limiting intake is one simple change that will have a measurable impact on weight control and prevention of cardio-metabolic diseases,” they concluded. 

Source: Consultant 360 

 

Current information suggests that ISIL (aka Da’esh), al-Qa’ida, Boko Haram, and other terrorist groups continue to plan terrorist attacks in multiple regions.  These attacks may employ a wide variety of tactics, using conventional and non-conventional weapons and targeting both official and private interests.  This Travel Alert expires on February 24, 2016.Tracel 1

Authorities believe the likelihood of terror attacks will continue as members of ISIL/Da’esh return from Syria and Iraq.  Additionally, there is a continuing threat from unaffiliated persons planning attacks inspired by major terrorist organizations but conducted on an individual basis.  Extremists have targeted large sporting events, theatres, open markets, and aviation services.  In the past year, there have been multiple attacks in France, Nigeria, Denmark, Turkey, and Mali.  ISIL/Da’esh has claimed responsibility for the bombing of a Russian airliner in Egypt.

U.S. citizens should exercise vigilance when in public places or using transportation.  Be aware of immediate surroundings and avoid large crowds or crowded places.  Exercise particular caution during the holiday season and at holiday festivals or events.  U.S. citizens should monitor Travel 2media and local information sources and factor updated information into personal travel plans and activities.  Persons with specific safety concerns should contact local law enforcement authorities who are responsible for the safety and security of all visitors to their host country.  U.S. citizens should:

  • Follow the instructions of local authorities.  Monitor media and local information sources and factor updated information into personal travel plans and activities.
  • Be prepared for additional security screening and unexpected disruptions.
  • Stay in touch with your family members and ensure they know how to reach you in the event of an emergency.
  • Register in our Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP).

Foreign governments have taken action to guard against terrorist attacks, and some have made official declarations regarding heightened threat conditions.

Source: U.S. State Department

If you have a daily coffee habit, here’s something to buzz about: A new study finds those cups of joe may help boost longevity.

“In our study, we found people who drank three to five cups of coffee per day had about a 15 percent lower [risk of premature] mortality compared to people who didn’t drink coffee,” says one of the study authors, nutrition researcher Walter Willett of the Harvard School of Public Health. coffee 1Decaf drinkers also saw benefits.

The findings, published in the journal Circulation, build on a body of evidence linking a coffee habit to potential health benefits.

As we’ve reported, previous research has pointed to a decreased risk of stroke. And, there’s some evidence that a coffee habit cuts the risk of Type 2 diabetes, too.

Now, of course, it’s possible to overdo it with caffeine. Research has shown that consuming more than 400 milligrams of caffeine can interfere with sleep and create feelings of unease. And some of us are even more coffee 10.jpgsensitive. (I feel jittery if I have more than one strong cup!)

One study found that 200 milligrams of caffeine (the equivalent of about two cups of coffee) is an optimal amount to enhance cognitive function and mood among sleep-deprived people. But we don’t all metabolize caffeine the same way.

As we’ve reported, the caffeine amounts in coffee vary wildly. One analysis, conducted by Bruce Goldberger, found a 16-ounce cup of caffeinated coffee from Starbucks could contain anywhere from 250 milligrams to more than 500 milligrams of caffeine.

“Not everyone reacts to coffee in the same way,” says Andrew Maynard, who studies risk assessment at Arizona State University. He summarizes the benefits documented in this study as “small.”

Source: NPR

Researchers from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health have found a link between higher levels of a specific kind of air pollution in major urban areas and an increase in cardiovascular-related hospitalizations such as for heart attacks in people 65 and older.

The findings, published in the November issue of Environmental Health Perspectives, are the strongest evidence to date that coarse particulate matter – airborne pollutants that range in size from 2.5 to 10 microns in Pollution 10diameter and can be released into the air from farming, construction projects or even wind in the desert – impacts public health. It has long been understood that particles smaller in size, which typically come from automobile exhaust or power plants, can damage the lungs and even enter the bloodstream. This is believed to be the first study that clearly implicates larger particles, which are smaller in diameter than a human hair.

“We suspected that there was an association between coarse particles and health outcomes, but we didn’t have the research to back that up before,” says study leader Roger D. Peng, PhD, an associate professor of biostatistics at the Bloomberg School. “This work provides the evidence, at least for cardiovascular disease outcomes. I don’t feel like we need another study to convince us. Now it’s time for action.”pollution 11

The researchers also studied respiratory diseases but did not find a correlation between high levels of coarse particles and hospitalizations for those illnesses.

For the national study, Peng and his colleagues studied data from an air monitoring network set up by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in 110 large urban counties in the United States and linked it to Medicare data on hospitalizations in those same areas from 1999 to 2010. The hospitalizations covered people ages 65 and older.

Source: Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health

A National Institutes of Health study found that non-invasive brain stimulation decreased calorie consumptionHead 1 and increased weight loss in adults who are obese. The findings suggest a possible intervention for obesity, when combined with healthy eating and exercise. Results were published in Obesity (link is external) concurrent with a presentation at the 2015 Obesity Society meeting.

Led by scientists at the Phoenix Epidemiology and Clinical Research Branch, part of NIH’s National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), the team studied a total of nine men and women with obesity who resided in the Branch’s metabolic ward on two separate visits, each for eight days. On each visit, the participants ate a weight-maintaining diet for five days. Then for three days, they unknowingly received either active or sham (fake) transcranial direct current stimulation, or tDCS. Participants then ate and drank as much as they Head 2wanted from computerized vending machines. Applied to the scalp, the active tDCS targeted the brain region controlling behavior and reward.

The four people who got the sham stimulation during both visits consumed the same number of calories from the vending machines on each visit and did not lose weight. But the five people who got inactive stimulation on the first visit, and active tDCS at the brain target on the second visit, consumed an average of 700 fewer calories and lost an average of 0.8 pounds on the second visit.

Next, the researchers will compare a group getting only active tDCS with a separate group getting only sham stimulation. More study is needed to confirm the safety and effectiveness of tDCS for weight loss.

Source: NIH

Energy drinkThere’s been a lot of controversy about caffeine-spiked energy drinks in recent years following a spate of deaths and overdoses related to the beverages. In one of the most heartbreaking cases, 14-year-old Anais Fournier of Maryland died after consuming two 24-ounce cans of an energy drink. Food and Drug Administration has been studying such cases to try to determine if there’s a causal link and, if so, what to do about it. Makers of energy drinks, meanwhile, have insisted that the beverages are safe and that some of the cases of bad reactions may have been due to pre-existing conditions that the individuals in question had.

In an effort to get more information about exactly happens in your body after you consume one of the drinks, Mayo Clinic researcher Anna Svatikova and her colleagues recruited 25 volunteers.enerrgy drink 3

All were young adults age 18 or older, nonsmokers, free of known disease, and not taking medications. They were asked to drink a 16-ounce can of a Rockstar energy drink and a placebo — with the same taste, texture, color and nutritional contents but without the caffeine and other stimulants — within five minutes on two separate days.

The energy drink had the following stimulants: 240 mg of caffeine, 2,000 mg of taurine and extracts of guarana seed, ginseng root and milk thistle.

Researchers took numerous measurements first before they drank and 30 minutes after. With the placebo, energy drink 2there was very little change. With the energy drink, however, many of the changes were marked:

-Systolic blood pressure (the top number) – 6.2 percent increase

-Diastolic blood pressure (the bottom number) – 6.8 percent increase

-Average blood pressure – 6.4 percent increase

-Heart rate – none

-Caffeine in blood – increase from undetectable to 3.4 micrograms/mL

-Norepinephrine level (the stress hormone, which can give you the shakes when you have too much caffeine) in blood – increase from 150 pg/mL to 250 pg/ML

Writing in JAMA, the researchers said that these changes may predispose those who drink a single drink to increased cardiovascular risk.

Source: The Washington Post

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