Thursday, December 15, 2005

Bird Flu Vaccine

The AP reports on a bird flu vaccine recently tested by Sanofi pasteur (Sanofi-Aventis):

After inoculating 300 healthy volunteers with a vaccine candidate for H5N1, the bird flu strain of most concern, immune responses were "at levels consistent with requirements of regulatory agencies for licensure of seasonal influenza vaccine" in a significant number of volunteers, the company said in a statement.

Sunday, December 04, 2005


ProMED-mail reports on the medical consequences of the benzene spill in China as it makes its way toward Russian border towns and more Chinese cities:

Benzene exposure increases the risk of leukemia. Toxic metabolites may also play a role in affecting bone marrow. Consequently, hematopoiesis is affected and aplastic anemia is very likely. Inhalation of benzene vapors has been linked to lung cancer.
Clinical signs associated with ingestion of benzene, short term exposure, include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, chest pain, difficulty breathing, irregular heartbeat, headache, drowsiness, symptoms of drunkenness, disorientation, visual disturbances, bluish skin color, lung congestion, lung damage, liver damage, paralysis, convulsions, and coma. However, long term ingestion of benzene has resulted in impotence and cancer.
Gastric lavage may be the best means of evacuating the gastric track in the event of benzene ingestion. However, the residences in the affected towns may not know when or if they have consumed benzene in the water.
Although there is a large risk of exposure, we know nothing about the actual dose that these people may be exposed to.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Ebola Bats

Via ProMED-mail: In the current issue of Nature, scientists consider Fruit bats as reservoirs of Ebola virus:

The first recorded human outbreak of Ebola virus was in 1976, but the wild reservoir of this virus is still unknown. Here we test for Ebola in more than a thousand small vertebrates that were collected during Ebola outbreaks in humans and great apes between 2001 and 2003 in Gabon and the Republic of the Congo. We find evidence of asymptomatic infection by Ebola virus in three species of fruit bat, indicating that these animals may be acting as a reservoir for this deadly virus.