Make Chiangmai Mail | your Homepage | Bookmark

Chiangmai 's First English Language Newspaper

Pattaya Blatt | Pattaya Mail |

 

Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Update November, 2019


Home
Thailand News
World News
World Sports
Arts - Entertainment - Lifestyles
Book Review
Health & Wellbeing
Odds & Ends
Science & Technology
Update by Natrakorn Paewsoongnern
 
 
 
Health & Wellbeing
 

Measles saps kids’ ability to fight other germs

Vials of measles, mumps and rubella vaccine sit in a cooler at the Rockland County Health Department in Pomona, N.Y. Research released in Oct. shows yet another reason to vaccinate children against measles. After a bout of measles, youngsters are more vulnerable to other germs - from chickenpox to strep - that they once could fend off. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig, File)

Lauran Neergaard

Washington (AP) — Measles has a stealth side effect: New research shows it erases much of the immune system’s memory of how to fight other germs, so children recover only to be left more vulnerable to bugs like flu or strep.

Scientists dubbed the startling findings “immune amnesia.” The body can rebuild those defenses — but it could take years.

And with measles on the rise, “it should be a scary phenomenon,” said Dr. Michael Mina of Harvard’s school of public health, lead author of research published Thursday in the journal Science.

“This goes under the radar” because doctors wouldn’t necessarily connect a child’s pneumonia to measles they suffered a year earlier, Mina explained. “But would they have gotten it if they hadn’t gotten measles?”

The Harvard team analyzed blood samples taken from 77 children before and after a measles outbreak in an unvaccinated community in the Netherlands. They looked for antibodies, which remember viruses and bacteria they encounter to guard against a repeat infection. After recovering from measles, the youngsters were left with plenty of antibodies against that virus — but ones they’d previously harbored against other germs had plummeted.

In the most severe cases, “they’re just as vulnerable as if they were infants,” said study senior author Stephen Elledge, a Harvard geneticist. Elledge is paid by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, which also supports AP’s Health & Science Department.

A separate study, published Thursday in Science Immunology, supported the findings. Researchers from Britain’s Wellcome Sanger Institute used the Dutch blood samples to genetically test antibody-producing cells, and concluded measles is eliminating enough to re-set the immune system to a baby-like state.

If protection against the misery — and sometimes life-threatening effects — of measles isn’t enough reason to vaccinate children, specialists said the two studies offer a powerful new rationale.

“There really are profound gaps and holes” in someone’s immunity after measles, said Dr. Anthony Fauci of the U.S. National Institutes of Health, which helped fund the Harvard work. “You ultimately recover but after a year or two or sometimes more.”

“It’s doubly important to vaccinate children,” agreed Dr. Mark Mulligan of NYU Langone Health, who wasn’t involved with the new research. “It’s a vaccine that protects against the specific target, measles virus, but also against immune suppression.”

Measles is one of the world’s most contagious viruses, able to spread through coughs and sneezes for four days before someone develops the characteristic rash. It sometimes leaves children with brain damage or hearing loss, and while deaths are rare in the U.S., measles killed 110,000 people globally in 2017.

The vaccine offers powerful protection but a lack of access means measles remains rampant in many lower-income countries. Even the U.S., where most children are immunized, has seen a resurgence fueled by outbreaks in unvaccinated communities that in turn threaten people too young or sick to be immunized. So far this year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has counted more than 1,200 U.S. measles cases, the most since 1992.

Doctors have long known that people temporarily experience weakened immunity after measles. Using decades of health records, Mina previously reported that child deaths from other infections jumped after a measles outbreak, increases that lasted two or three years.

But no one knew why, until the new study.

The Dutch children started out pretty healthy: Technology developed in Elledge’s lab found antibodies in their blood against typical childhood germs. But two months after recovering from measles, the children had lost on average 20 percent of their usual antibody mix. Some lost up to 70 percent of protection against specific bugs, limiting their ability to respond if they encounter that germ again.

Importantly, researchers didn’t find loss of antibodies in “control” populations that didn’t get infected with measles — or in children after they received the measles vaccine.


Vaccine shows promise for preventing active TB disease

This 1966 image made available by the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention shows a chest x-ray of a tuberculosis patient. An experimental vaccine has proved 50% effective at preventing latent tuberculosis infection from turning into active disease in a three-year study of adults in Africa. (CDC via AP)

Marilynn Marchione

An experimental vaccine proved 50% effective at preventing latent tuberculosis infection from turning into active disease in a three-year study of adults in Africa.

Doctors were encouraged because protection declined only a little after two years, and even a partially effective vaccine would be a big help against TB. The lung disease kills more than a million people a year, mostly in poor countries, and about one-third of the world’s people harbor the bacteria that cause it.

Results were reported Tuesday at a conference in India, the country hardest hit by TB, and published by the New England Journal of Medicine.

There is a TB vaccine now, but it’s given only to very young children and partly prevents severe complications. Researchers have been seeking a vaccine that also works in adults, to curb spread of the disease.

GlaxoSmithKline’s experimental vaccine was tested in nearly 3,600 adults in Kenya, South Africa and Zambia who were infected with TB but who did not also have HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.

Half were given two doses of vaccine a month apart and the rest got dummy shots. Thirteen people in the vaccine group and 26 in the other group developed active TB.

The new results show that “the vaccine is holding up” over time, and mark an important step toward having a prevention tool that’s been sought for 100 years, said Dr. Paula Fujiwara, scientific director of the International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease, the group hosting the conference in Hyderabad, India.

Plans are underway for another, definitive study, which will take at least several more years, she said.

After two-year results were announced last year, the World Health Organization called the vaccine a major breakthrough and has been holding meetings to discuss how to further its development.


J&J agrees to $117M settlement over pelvic mesh devices

In this July 30, 2013, file photo, large banners hang in an atrium at the headquarters of Johnson & Johnson in New Brunswick, N.J. Johnson & Johnson has agreed to a $117 million multistate settlement over allegations it deceptively marketed its pelvic mesh products, which support women’s sagging pelvic organs. (AP Photo/Mel Evans, File)

Linda A. Johnson

Trenton, N.J. (AP) — Johnson & Johnson has agreed to a $117 million multistate settlement over allegations it deceptively marketed its pelvic mesh products, which support women’s sagging pelvic organs.

Ohio’s attorney general said Thursday an investigation found that J&J, the world’s biggest health products maker, violated state consumer protection laws by not fully disclosing the devices’ risks.

Numerous women who had the once-popular, hammock-like devices implanted claim they caused severe pain, bleeding, infections and other complications.

Johnson & Johnson and its Ethicon surgical products unit reached the settlement with 41 states and the District of Columbia.

“These companies didn’t paint a clear picture of the device’s medical risks, preventing patients from making well-informed decisions,” Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost said in a statement.

The products, also called transvaginal mesh, are a synthetic material surgically implanted through the vagina of women whose pelvic organs have sagged or who suffer from stress urinary incontinence — bladder leakage when they cough, sneeze or lift heavy objects. Such incontinence is estimated to affect 3% to 17% of women and sometimes becomes severe after age 70.

Some of the products are still on the U.S. market, and hundreds of thousands of women have had the devices surgically implanted, according to Yost’s office.

An Ethicon spokeswoman noted the settlement doesn’t include admission of any misconduct, and said the devices “are considered by many to be the gold standard for the treatment of stress urinary incontinence.”

“Ethicon has acted appropriately and responsibly in the research, development and marketing of our transvaginal mesh products,” which were launched around the world in 1998, she added.

About 25,000 U.S. women with complications have sued Johnson & Johnson, the company said. Those lawsuits aren’t affected by the settlement.

It comes as J&J is swamped with thousands of lawsuits claiming patients were harmed by products including baby powder, opioid painkillers and prescription drugs such as its schizophrenia drug Risperdal. Headlines about the litigation and big jury verdicts against J&J, including an $8 billion punitive award to a young man who grew breasts while taking Risperdal, have depressed J&J’s stock price for nearly a year. Most of the verdicts against J&J have been overturned or are being appealed.

The pelvic mesh deal requires the company to cease its claims that surgical technique can eliminate any risks, as well as to disclose a list of risks, including loss of sexual function, mesh eroding into the vagina and the possible need for corrective surgery.

The settlement covers the District of Columbia and these states: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia and Wisconsin.

Ethicon said it settled separately with Washington State and has cases pending in California, Kentucky, Mississippi and West Virginia.

J&J shares closed Thursday up $1.00 to $136.17, still well below their 52-week high of $148.99 late last fall.


Vaping-related illnesses still rising, though at slower pace

In this Friday, Oct. 4, 2019 photo, a man using an electronic cigarette exhales in Mayfield Heights, Ohio. Vaping-related illnesses in the U.S. are still rising, though at a slightly slower pace. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)

Mike Stobbe

New York (AP) — Vaping-related illnesses in the U.S. are still rising, though at a slightly slower pace.

Health officials of Thursday said there have been 1,479 cases and at least 33 deaths in the mysterious outbreak.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has been releasing new case counts each week. The latest jump — 180 cases — was the lowest increase since mid-September. But CDC officials say there’s no indication that the outbreak is waning.

The outbreak appears to have started in March. Symptoms of the illness include severe shortness of breath, fatigue, and chest pain. No single ingredient, electronic cigarette or vaping device has been linked to all the illnesses.

Most who got sick said they vaped products containing THC, the high-inducing ingredient in marijuana. Investigators say they are increasingly focused on black-market THC products.

About 1 in 10 of the outbreak cases said they used only nicotine but that percentage has been falling. It was 13% last week. In some cases, people who initially claimed they had used only nicotine admitted later they had vaped THC.

Until a cause is pinpointed, the CDC is advising Americans to refrain from vaping.

Forty-nine states and one U.S. territory have reported illnesses. Only Alaska has not seen a case. The vast majority of cases are people in their teens, 20s or early 30s, according to the CDC..

  


HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]

Measles saps kids’ ability to fight other germs

Vaccine shows promise for preventing active TB disease


J&J agrees to $117M settlement over pelvic mesh devices

Vaping-related illnesses still rising, though at slower pace