- Public Christmas celebrations have been banned in Sierra Leone where spiralling cases of Ebola infections continue to spread alarm.
- A team of researchers from Australia, Vietnam and London have discovered an antibody that neutralises all four forms of the potentially deadly virus, including one carried by mosquitoes.
- A food-additive designed to make people feel fuller has been tested by UK and Australian clinicians in London, and shown to be effective at preventing weight gain in overweight volunteers.
News on Health Professional Radio. Today is the 17th December 2014. Read by Rebecca Foster. Health News
Public Christmas celebrations have been banned in Sierra Leone where spiralling cases of Ebola infections continue to spread alarm.
Sierra Leone has overtaken Liberia to report the most cases of the killer virus, recording 1,319 new infections in the last three weeks.
Islam is the dominant religion, but more than a quarter of the population is Christian and public gatherings are common during the festive period.
Soldiers are to be deployed throughout the festive period to force people venturing onto the streets back indoors, the government’s Ebola response unit said.
Under current emergency regulations, bars and nightspots have been shut down and public gatherings are outlawed but there is no general ban on wandering outdoors or working.
Palo Conteh, head of the department, told reporters in the capital Freetown there would be “no Christmas and New Year celebrations this year”.
In previous local and nationwide anti-Ebola curfews, people have been allowed out to worship and for “essential business”.
The UN children’s agency (UNICEF) has announced it is scaling up efforts to fight Ebola, including measures to help thousands of children in West Africa orphaned by the deadly virus.
The agency said it had already received the US$200 million ($242 million) it had previously appealed for but now estimated it would need $300 million more over the next six months.
The expanded budget would, among other things, help provide protection services to many of the estimated 10,000 children who have lost one or both parents to the deadly disease, UNICEF spokeswoman Sarah Crowe said.
The additional funds would also allow UNICEF to help strengthen health care systems which were already poor before Ebola began its murderous rampage through the impoverished countries nearly a year ago.
Scientists say the have made a large step towards developing an effective vaccine for dengue fever.
A team of researchers from Australia, Vietnam and London have discovered an antibody that neutralises all four forms of the potentially deadly virus, including one carried by mosquitoes.
University of Melbourne professor Cameron Simmons said it had been through successful clinical trials in Vietnam but was yet to be used in Australia.
He said an effective vaccine was still a while away.
“This is still early discovery days and so future work will focus on trying to make vaccines that can raise this particular type of immune response and we hope these types of vaccines might be very valuable for stopping the challenge of dengue,” he said.
Professor Simmons said it was one of the biggest steps towards finding a cure for the disease in 20 years.
A food-additive designed to make people feel fuller has been tested by UK and Australian clinicians in London, and shown to be effective at preventing weight gain in overweight volunteers. Developed at the University of Glasgow, the additive is known as ‘inulin-propionate ester’ (IPE). It combines ‘inulin’, a naturally occurring fibre, with propionate, a normal by-product of fibre fermentation by intestinal bacteria, and delivers much larger quantities of propionate than people can acquire with a normal diet. This is desirable because propionate stimulates the gut to release hormones that act on the brain to reduce hunger. Dr Alexander Viardot, endocrinologist from Sydney’s Garvan Institute of Medical Research and St.
Vincent’s Hospital, undertook the study with Dr Edward Chambers and Professor Gary Frost while at Imperial College, London.
First, 20 volunteers were given either IPE or inulin and were allowed to eat as much as they liked from a buffet. Those given IPE ate 14 per cent less on average, and had higher concentrations of appetite-reducing hormones in their blood.
Next, 60 overweight volunteers took part in a 24-week study in which half were given IPE as a powder to add to their food and half given inulin. Fewer of those given IPE gained a significant amount of weight.
After 24 weeks, the IPE group also had less fat in their abdomens and livers compared with the inulin group. The findings are published today in the eminent journal Gut.
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