Posts filed under ‘medicine’

Translation: Environmental exposure impacts antibiotic resistance in children:

Exposure to antibiotics at home and in the broader environment influences the risk of children carrying antibiotic-resistant Escherichia coli bacteria, according to a study published in the The American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene.

The study was based in four areas of Peru with poor health systems, where antibiotics are used indiscriminately and without prescription. It covered coastal, mountain and jungle environments and focused on children between the ages of three months and three years.

The study suggests that environmental exposure to antibiotic-resistant E. coli can be as important as the consumption of antibiotics, according to the paper’s principal author, Henry Kalter, from the School of Public Health at Johns Hopkins University.

A risk factor at home was the use of antibiotics by other family members. The study demonstrated that children who hadn’t taken particular antibiotics themselves still carried bacteria resistant to them.

At the community level, living in a place where many families raised chickens themselves was a protective factor against the transport of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. According to Kalter, high consumption of home-raised chickens probably protects a community against exposure to antibiotics. He contrasted home-raised chickens with market-bought chickens, which may be given high doses of antibiotics and therefore have high levels of antibiotic-resistant E. coli.

“An important aspect of our conclusions is that the protective effect was not due to the fact that the children were eating certain types of chicken; rather that their communities were,” he said.

Kalter suggested that communities consuming more chickens raised at home presumably had less resistant bacteria in the environment, such as in open sewers and uncovered wells.

“This study reinforces the message that exposure to antibiotics leads to the development of antibiotic resistance, by studying the role of different types of exposure on small children carrying of antibiotic-resistant E. coli,” he continued.

According to Kalter, examining these factors provides a better understanding of how antibiotic resistance spreads in the developing world.

“These findings suggest that unnecessary use of antibiotics in humans and animals should be minimised as much as possible,” he added.

“Many tons of the antibiotics consumed each year on the planet are given to stock animals. This study demonstrates that this use has a very real cost to human health,” Edward T. Ryan, president of the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, said in a press release from Johns Hopkins University.

The study was run by the Johns Hopkins University School of Public Health, the Peruvian charity PRISMA and the infectious disease laboratory of the Cayetano Heredia University in Peru.

The original paper in The American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene is here.

This is my translation of a story written by Zoraida Portillo on the Science and Development Network, “Antibióticos propician resistencia infantil a E. coli”, published on June 14, 2010. You can read the original in Spanish here.

SciDev.Net stories are published under a Creative Commons attribution license; my translation is available under the same license. Note this license is only for this page. Other works on this website are subject to other licenses; please contact me for details if you’d like to republish other parts of this site.

June 16, 2010 at 1:13 pm Leave a comment

World Nomads podcast documentary scholarship

World Nomads offered a podcast documentary scholarship to Cambodia, to visit the Fred Hollows eye camp and produce a travel podcast. Entrants produced a short travel-focused podcast on the theme, ‘it opened my eyes’.

The winner put a lot more effort into audio production than I did and definitely deserved to win – congratulations Kylie!

I was shortlisted; my story was about my experience covering health issues in the developing world, from my base in the UK.

You can access it direct, or through the page about the podcast documentary scholarship, where you can also hear the other finalists.

January 30, 2008 at 11:53 pm Leave a comment

The Cloning Debate

What is cloning? Is it ethical? What impact could it have on society? Recent advances in science have provoked debate about where cloning will take us. This book considers the social and ethical considerations of cloning, including whether cloning humans is acceptable, whether people are willing to eat cloned food and whether we should take advantage of medical therapies associated with cloning.

The information in this book comes from a wide range of sources including government reports and statistics, newspaper features, magazine articles, surveys and literature from lobby groups and charitable organisations.

You can read more about this book on the publisher’s website; you can buy it there, or on Amazon.

Editors: Lisa Firth and Cobi Smith
Publisher: Independence Educational Publishers
ISBN: 978 1 86168 410 3
Published: September 2007

January 10, 2008 at 1:10 pm Leave a comment

Mental health

Research suggests that mental disorders affect one in four people, yet stigma around mental disorders continues. Mental Health gives an overview of some chronic mental illnesses and looks at the difficulties we have in dealing with them – especially when friends or relatives are affected. This book also covers common psychological challenges and how to cope with them.

The information in this book comes from a wide range of sources including government reports and statistics, newspaper features, magazine articles, surveys and literature from lobby groups and charitable organisations.

You can read more about this book on the publisher’s website; you can buy it there, or on Amazon.

Editors: Cobi Smith and Sophie Crewdson
Publisher: Independence Educational Publishers
Price: £6.95
Cover: Paperback
ISBN: 978 1 86168 407 3
Published: September 2007

November 21, 2007 at 6:50 pm 1 comment

Suriname has already hit malaria MDG

The country of Suriname in northern South America has already exceeded its 2015 Millennium Development Goal target for the reduction of malaria.

Leopoldo Villegas, consultant for the Global Fund Malaria Program in Suriname, presented a poster on the success at the Royal Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene conference in London last week (14 September).

Part of Millennium Development Goal six is to halt and begin to reverse the incidence of malaria.

Villegas said that rates of malaria in Suriname fell by 70 per cent between 2001 and 2006, and there have only been 700 cases of malaria this year – a 90 per cent reduction since 2001.

Suriname’s malaria decline is the result of an intensive campaign that began in 2005, Villegas said.

“We have the whole population of the interior of Suriname covered with insecticide-treated nets, we have passive case detection through the primary healthcare system and we have active case detection – so we don’t wait for patients to come to us, we look for them, we have mobile teams,” said Villegas.

These measures are complemented by insecticide spraying in high-risk areas, a comprehensive public awareness campaign and good detection systems for possible epidemics.

“When we had a lot of malaria our epidemic detection was at 70 or 200 cases. Now the epidemic starts when you have three cases reported,” he said.

“If three cases are coming from the same place we automatically activate a team who go there and have a mass screening of people to see who have parasites.”

Chris Curtis, professor of entomology at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, said Suriname’s progress was excellent, but warned the campaign must be maintained.

“They can’t afford to relax – the parasites and the mosquitoes are still there and if they do relax then there is the risk that eventually it will come back,” he told SciDev.Net.

He said the need for constant vigilance was demonstrated by the situation in neighbouring French Guyana.

“I think now French Guyana has the worst malaria rates in South America, which is a great shame because in the late 1940s they eradicated malaria in the inhabited north using DDT house spraying,” he said.

Villegas said Suriname’s malaria prevention measures have reduced the number of cases in French Guiana, and there are plans to replicate efforts in other South American countries.

“We’re now trying to put down all the data and start publishing to show that we can work in border areas between two governments, it doesn’t need to be one side,” he said.

Read this story on the Science and Development Network.

October 9, 2007 at 9:24 pm Leave a comment

Antimalarials ‘give children an edge’ at school

Preventative malaria treatment could improve schoolchildren’s performance in endemic areas, a study suggests.

The research was presented at the Royal Society of Tropical Medicine’s conference in London, United Kingdom, last week (14 September).

Benson Estambale, director of the Institute of Tropical and Infectious Diseases at the University of Nairobi, Kenya, investigated whether giving preventative antimalarial drugs to primary schoolchildren improved their educational performance.

More than 6000 students from 30 schools in the Bondo district of West Kenya were administered antimalarial drugs three times in 2005–2006.

“[Preventative treatment] is very much recommended for pregnant women and has been tried in infants and young children, but nothing had been done in children over five years of age,” Estambale said.

“We found that quite a number of people wanted to have their children treated for malaria, because they said that malaria was causing a lot of absenteeism in school and the children were coming home when they had fever.”

Treatment cut the students’ risk of malaria parasite infection by more than a third, as well as reducing anaemia. Researchers found that treated children performed better in cognitive tests and also did slightly better in school exams.

Previous studies of malaria-infected regions indicate that up to 50 per cent of all preventable absenteeism in schools is due to malaria, and the research team found that a number of people wanted to have their children treated for malaria because of absenteeism, Estambale told delegates.

Estembale said the Kenyan Ministry of Education had expressed interest in the study and the researchers hope it could lead to the introduction of routine preventative therapy for schoolchildren, as the government has done with de-worming.

“De-worming has become official policy in the country and school health programs are now de-worming the children twice in a year to remove all the intestinal worms that could impact negatively on children’s performance in schools,” Estambale said.

Nick White, head of tropical medicine at Mahidol University in Thailand and a WHO advisor, said the results were exciting but future research should further examine the exact relationship between drug efficacy and educational performance, and whether the findings applied in other malaria-affected regions.

Nick White, head of tropical medicine at Mahidol University in Thailand and a WHO advisor, said the results were exciting but future research should further examine the exact relationship between drug efficacy and educational performance, and whether the findings applied in other malaria-affected regions.

Further studies are planned for Kenya and Senegal, but Estambale also hopes to hear from other potential partners.

“We would like to get partnerships even in Asia as well as South America, because children are children, and we know that in malaria-endemic areas, although quite a number of them are semi-immune, they continue having malaria impacting negatively on educational performance,” he said.

Read this story on the Science and Development Network.

October 5, 2007 at 1:09 pm Leave a comment


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