The News – 28 August 2014

Overview

  • Ebola outbreak: A snapshot of life in the ‘hot zone’ as Australian experts work to contain deadly virus. A Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) worker at an Ebola emergency clinic in Sierra Leone has become a full-time carer to a young girl — literally overnight.
  • A New South Wales MP has demanded an urgent briefing from the State Government on the state of mental health services and security at Shellharbour Hospital.
  • Researchers exposed mice to peanut allergens to explore the theory that early changes in gut bacteria play a role in the development of food allergies.


Stories Discussed
News on Health Professional Radio. Today is the 28th August 2014. Read by Rebecca Foster.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-08-26/ebola-outbreak-a-snapshot-of-life-in-the-hot-zone/5690906

A Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) worker at an Ebola emergency clinic in Sierra Leone has become a full-time carer to a young girl — literally overnight.

Mush Tiah works the night shift at the MSF clinic in Kailahun, a market town of about 30,000 people at the centre of a region with a population of almost half a million.

The town is near the border with Liberia and Guinea, at the epicentre of West Africa’s Ebola epidemic, which has so far killed more than 1,300 people across West Africa.

Now she is the only person left able to care for little Lansanna Kamara, who saw almost all of her family — 17 people in all — die from the Ebola virus.

Her mother died a month ago and was quickly followed by nearly all the remaining members of her family. Lansanna’s father survived, but tested positive to the virus and is still being treated in isolation.

Ms Tiah says some people still refuse to believe that Ebola exists.

..

Australian doctor Richard Broome normally works in New South Wales, but has recently returned from Sierra Leone after spending a month assessing the situation for the International Red Cross.

He told Foreign Correspondent that difficult living conditions, combined with aspects of local culture and politics, were fuelling the rapid spread of Ebola in the region.

Dr Broome said the mortality rate from Ebola in Sierra Leone was about 60 per cent. The virus spreads through contact with infected body fluids and overwhelms the immune system, causing organ failure.

It is not surprising that healthcare workers are some of those who are most at risk.

Since March, 170 medical workers have contracted Ebola in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, and 83 have died.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-08-26/nsw-heath-department-under-fire-over-patient-staff-security/5697204

A New South Wales MP has demanded an urgent briefing from the State Government on the state of mental health services and security at Shellharbour Hospital …

Member for Shellharbour Anna Watson said she had written to Health Minister Jillian Skinner asking for information on the adequacy of patient care and patient and staff safety at the Shellharbour Hospital’s Eloura West unit.

Ms Watson said she saw a former patient of the hospital last week, who complained about a lack of care and treatment at the facility.

The call comes after the ABC revealed at least three former psychiatric patients of the hospital had died in the past three years after being released from the facility. This follows an alleged murder inside the same hospital last month.

Nurses have told the ABC they fear not only for patient safety, but also their own. Ms Skinner’s office has been contacted for comment.

The family of the man who was murdered at the hospital is also demanding answers from health authorities.

http://www.abc.net.au/science/articles/2014/08/26/4073918.htm

A common group of bacteria found in the gut may protect against food allergies, a study in mice shows.

The study, reported … in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science suggests that probiotic therapies could be developed to help prevent potentially life threatening anaphylactic reactions to foods such as peanuts.

Although causes of food allergy are unknown, efforts to reduce exposure to infection have been implicated in the rising prevalence of food allergies over a short period of time, say the study’s authors.

“Environmental stimuli such as antibiotic overuse, high fat diets, caesarean birth, removal of common pathogens and even formula feeding have affected the microbiota with which we’ve co-evolved,” says the study’s senior author Professor Cathyrn Nagler from the University of Chicago.

To explore the theory that early changes in gut bacteria play a role in the development of food allergies the study authors exposed several groups of mice to peanut allergens.

The first group of mice was raised in sterile conditions and had no gut bacteria, while the second group was fed antibiotics, known to reduce levels of gut bacteria.

The researchers discovered that mice in both groups had a strong immunological response to peanuts and produced higher levels of antibodies against peanut allergens compared to mice with normal gut bacteria.

The sensitisation to food allergens could be reversed however by reintroducing a mix of Clostridia bacteria back into the mice. Another group of major intestinal bacteria, Bacteroides, did not have the same effect.

Allergy expert Professor Mimi Tang from the Royal Children’s Hospital and Murdoch Children’s Research Institute in Melbourne says the study is exciting because it identifies a particular bug and the mechanism by which it may protect against food allergies.

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