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Archive for July 16th, 2009

Jul 16 2009

WHO chief fears the poor will be hit hard by swine flu

Posted by: Paul Chinnock - Editorial Team

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The UK Guardian has published a lengthy interview with Margaret Chan, director-general of the World Health Organization. While also revealing something of the DG as a person, the interview focuses largely on swine (H1N1) flu.

Dr Chan believes that the epidemic will be very severe. In wealthy countries it is likely to be self-limiting. “But,” she asks, “is it going to be the same in a country where they have a high proportion of people suffering from HIV? Or chronic malnutrition? Or diabetes? [all of which damage immune systems]?”

Jul 16 2009

Progressing against polio, but India still has high-risk areas

Posted by: Paul Chinnock - Editorial Team

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India is the most populous of the four remaining countries where transmission of wild poliovirus (WPV) has never been interrupted. The others are Afghanistan, Nigeria, and Pakistan.

An article in Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report updates previous reports and summarizes India’s progress toward polio eradication since January 2007. Vaccination programmes were improved during the period and overall case rates declined, but there were outbreaks of the diseases in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. The report concludes that eradicating polio in the country is dependent on “ongoing efforts to interrupt remaining WPV transmission simultaneously in high-risk areas”.

Jul 16 2009

Sleeping sickness: facing up to the challenge of improving diagnosis

Posted by: Paul Chinnock - Editorial Team

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Human African trypanosomiasis (HAT, sleeping sickness) is difficult to diagnose. Presently, it requires a lumbar puncture and microscopy to search for parasites in the spinal fluid. Left untreated, HAT is fatal but most cases go undiagnosed because of poor surveillance programmes and the difficulties of performing the antiquated diagnostic technique in low-resource settings.

Efforts to improve the diagnosis of neglected infections such as HAT have been few and far between. The Foundation for Innovative New Diagnostics (FIND) is, however, making progress. It is evaluating a low-cost microscope suitable for field use and attempting to develop a molecular detection kit hat does not require a sophisticated lab or specialized personnel. More details are provided by IRIN, in an interview with Joseph Ndung’u, head of trypanosomiasis at FIND.