ASCLS eNewsBytes
Jan. 2, 2014

Flu cases rise across US; severe season feared
HealthDay News
From Jan. 8: This year's influenza season got off to an early start, and according to published accounts it's ramping up as peak flu season nears. Flu season usually peaks in late January or early February but by November the flu was already severe and widespread in some parts of the South and Southeast. Farther north, activity has escalated in the Mid-Atlantic states, including Virginia, in addition to Illinois and Rhode Island.More

Could urine test replace the mammogram?
From June, 18: Yinfa Ma, Ph.D., Curators' Teaching Professor of chemistry at Missouri University of Science and Technology, has developed a new screening method that uses a urinalysis to diagnose breast cancer — and determine its severity — even before it can be detected with a mammogram. The clinical trial is ongoing at Mercy Breast Center in Springfield, Mo., and the researchers are actively seeking participants.More

Banned for life: Why gay men still can't donate blood
Men's Health via Today
From July 16: Even with a clean bill of health, a gay man is considered more of a threat to the blood supply than a straight man who was treated for chlamydia, syphilis, gonorrhea, venereal warts, and genital herpes within the past year. That's because gay men, the Food and Drug Administration argues, are at "increased risk of certain transfusion transmissible infections" like AIDS and hepatitis B. And that argument isn't necessarily without merit: Gay men make up roughly half of the patients living with HIV in the United States, despite accounting for just 4 percent of the population.More

Report: Holy water contaminated with human waste
Reuters via The Guardian
From Oct. 8: Holy water at religious shrines and churches in Austria is often contaminated with fecal matter and bacteria, researchers have found, advising the faithful not to drink it, especially in hospital chapels. Scientists at Vienna University medical school's institute of hygiene and applied immunology came to the conclusion after analyzing the water quality at 21 "holy" springs and 18 fonts at churches and chapels at various times of yearMore

Australian researchers use HIV to prevent AIDS
Voice of America
From Jan. 22: : Australian scientists at the Queensland Institute of Medical Research say they have found a way to use the human immunodeficiency virus, or HIV, to prevent AIDS, describing the technique as "fighting fire with fire." Senior researcher David Harrich has designed a way to modify a protein in HIV to alter the virus so that it provides long-lasting, and possibly permanent, protection against AIDS, the disease that HIV causes.More

Emerging infectious diseases remain a dire threat
From July 16: When HIV/AIDS first began to emerge widely in the early 1980s, we weren't too far removed from an era when doctors believed humanity was on the verge of essentially wiping out infectious disease. HIV — a virus that initially jumped from chimpanzees to humans more than a century ago — shattered that illusion fast, as did the new infections that would emerge in the years to follow: Nipah virus, SARS, H5N1 avian influenza, hantavirus pulmonary syndrome.More

Hospitals try yogurt to prevent infections in patients
The Wall Street Journal
From Nov. 26: At Holy Redeemer Hospital in Meadowbrook, Pa., a worrisome trend emerged in 2011: an uptick in cases of one of the most virulent hospital infections, despite measures to battle the bug by scrubbing surfaces with bleach and isolating affected patients. But the hospital was able to drive down cases last year after adding a new weapon to its arsenal: probiotics, the small organisms that help maintain the natural balance of bacteria in the intestines.More

Study finds reservoir of hidden HIV bigger than once thought
Fox News
From Oct. 29: Over the past decade, scientists have made incredible strides in the field of HIV research — leading to the development of numerous medications that can effectively manage the disease and provide patients with a near normal life expectancy. But a cure for the human immunodeficiency virus has still eluded scientists and now a new report from Howard Hughes Medical Institute has revealed that completely eradicating the virus may be much more difficult than previously thought.More

Measles outbreak rises from Texas pulpit, spreads across counties
From Sept. 3: An outbreak of measles in and around Texas' Tarrant and Denton counties — which has thus far affected 21 people — is expected to go from church to state before its spread comes to a close. Although 138 cases of measles have already been reported this year, the latest and most considerable surge has emerged from a Lone Star megachurch, Eagle Mountain International Church, where vaccination has been questioned and contested.More

Exercise can ease pain from breast cancer drugs
USA Today
Supervised exercise may help relieve treatment-related pain among breast cancer patients, a new study finds. The study focused on hormonal therapies called aromatase inhibitors, which certain post-menopausal breast cancer patients take for up to five years after surgery. More

Why do tumors become resistant to chemotherapy?
Bellvitge Biomedical Research Institute via Science Codex
A common observation in oncology is the phenomenon that a patient with a tumor receives a drug and responds very well, but after a few months the cancer comes back and is now resistant to previously administered chemotherapy. What happened? More

Hospitals try yogurt to prevent infections in patients
The Wall Street Journal
Holy Redeemer Hospital in Meadowbrook, Pa., was able to drive down cases of hospital infections after adding a new weapon to its arsenal: probiotics, the small organisms that help maintain the natural balance of bacteria in the intestines.More

In US, flu vaccine worked in just over half of those who got it
A U.S. government analysis of this season's flu vaccine suggests it was effective in only 56 percent of people who got the shot, and it largely failed to protect the elderly against an especially deadly strain circulating during flu season. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the findings underscore the need for more effective weapons in the fight against influenza, which kills between 3,000 and 50,000 people in the United States each year depending on the severity of the flu season.More