Media Centre


Access to diagnosis and treatment for cryptococcal meningitis

April 02 2013

Better outcomes for AIDS patients with cryptococcal meningitis are in prospect following a crucial sharing and planning meeting in Geneva, March 18-19 2013. At the instigation of the US Centres for Disease Control, attendees from LIFE, WHO, Medicines Sans Frontieres (MSF), Clinton Health Access and numerous universities and public health institutions, the key barriers to access to cryptococcal antigen testing and antifungal drugs amphotericin B, flucytosine and fluconazole were identified. Key recommendations were:
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Ensuring Public Health Neutrality

March 26 2013

An article just published in the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine by Lee Roberts and Michael Van Rooyen has reported that twelve Deans from prominent US schools of public health have written to President Obama calling for the US government to desist from covert military or intelligence actions disguised as public health activities. Protesting against the sham vaccination programme undertaken in Pakistan by the CIA - who employed a Pakistani doctor to go house to house on the pretext of vaccinating children - but was illicitly taking blood samples which were used to try and trace Osama bin Laden through DNA records. The doctor was convicted of treason in Pakistan and sent to prison for 33 years. Pakistan then expelled staff from the international aid agency Save the Children which undermined a 30 year health network that SAVE the Children had established. The repercussions continued with the death of 8 polio vaccination workers in Pakistan in what seems a co-ordinated attack. There were protests locally against this attack - but in the meantime the UN suspended its polio- eradication efforts in Pakistan - where 150,000 children die annually of vaccine preventable illnesses. This has also jeopardised the global eradication of polio - which now only occurs in Afghanistan, Nigeria and Pakistan. This vaccination programme is a multi-million dollar programme supported largely by both the US government and the Gates Foundation.
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US Outbreak of Fungal Meningitis

March 18 2013

As reported in October 2012, officials in the USA are investigating an outbreak of fungal meningitis and other infections linked to contaminated steroids. At time of writing, a total of 720 cases have been reported in twenty states, with 48 deaths.1 The affected patients received preservative-free methylprednisolone acetate (MPA) epidural injections to treat back or joint pain. Three hundred and two patients presented with spinal infection or abscess at the injection site, 240 with meningitis, 32 with septic arthritis and the remaining patients presented with a combination of conditions. These infections do not transmit from person to person and have been linked to three batches of MPA released since May 2012. The main agent appears to be Exserohilum rostratum, it has been detected in 141 patients as of 14/01/13.1 A further 12 different environmental moulds have been detected in 23 patients. These organisms rarely cause invasive infections in immunocompetent individuals. E. rostratum is a black mould showing elongated, brown, beak-like conidia upon microscopic examination. It is mainly a plant pathogen but has been associated with sinusitis and skin infections. The implicated organisms will grow on standard fungal isolation media but recovery may be poor, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have used polymerase chain reaction to aid detection. Meningitis is characterised by fever, chills, headache, neck stiffness, photophobia and vision changes. Onset is invariably sudden for bacterial and viral causes but in this outbreak patients have presented with slowly progressing symptoms (weeks to months after MPA injection). Cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) findings include high protein, low glucose and high neutrophil count. Some patients in this outbreak have suffered strokes due to the fungal infection. Joint infection is characterised by swelling, redness, tenderness and reduced range of movement of the affected joint(s).
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ECDC issues risk assessment on azole resistance in Aspergillus from environmental azole fungicide.

February 28 2013

Today the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) issued a risk assessment report on azole resistance in Aspergillus spp. and its possible link to environmental usage of azole fungicides. An increase of strains of Aspergillus causing serious human infection showing resistance to azole antifungals has been detected in several European countries although the number of studies is small. However, a high rate of therapy failures has been reported in patients having Aspergillus isolates resistant to triazole antifungals. The majority of resistant isolates are multi-azole-resistant and therefore, triazole drugs would be marginalised in the management of azole resistant aspergillosis. Although the environmental link of the resistance has not been fully proven, there are several findings that point at a relationship.
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New Pan Asia fungal working group

February 19 2013

For the first time a pan-Asia network of fungal expertise has taken root. With nearly half the world’s population in only 3 asian countries (China, India and Indonesia) and many other populous contries, the lack of diagnostic capabilities in Asia is being addressed. The Asia Fungal Working Group (AWFG) was founded to improve the understanding and education, diagnosis and management of fungal diseases in Asia. The AWFG is now under the umbrella of ISHAM. The executive committee of AFWG consists of Professor Arunaloke Chakrabarti (Chandigarh), Professor Yee-Chun Chen (Taipei), Dr Ariya Chindamporn (Bangkok), David Ellis (Adelaide), Ruoyu Li (Beijing), Tan Ai Ling (Singapore), Zhengyin Liu (Beijing), Atul K Patel (Ahmedabad), Pei-Lun Sun (Taipei), Tan Ban Hock (Singapore), Siriorn Watcharananan (Bangkok).
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