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EOC KP confirmed first polio case of 2018 in KP

F.P. Report

PESHAWAR: The Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) for Polio Eradication of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa has confirmed the first polio case of the province from Charsadda district where a 19-month-old boy of Mohalla Miangan Tehbana, UC Sarki Titara has tested positive. However, the child has been protected from life-long paralysis and death because of the vaccinations he has received under the Sehat Muhafiz campaign.

According to medical records, the boy has received all three essential immunization doses of the polio vaccine (IPV) and more than seven doses of the Oral Polio Vaccine (OPV) which boosted the immunity of the child and protected him from a life-long paralysis.

“The multiple vaccine doses have given the boy an immunity boost to fight off the poliovirus attack. He has no residual weakness in the limbs and can walk like a normal child,” said EOC Coordinator

Muhammad Abid Khan Wazir. “While all us are thankful for this, it’s testimony of why it’s important for every under five child to be vaccinated in every round, so immunity levels are high enough to fight off the virus in its entirety.”

The EOC Coordinator thanked the boy’s parents for their cooperation with the Sehat Muhafiz vaccinators in supporting the polio vaccination campaign. He urged them to continue their support to the teams till the virus has been stamped out from the country.

“A thorough field investigation is underway,” Mr. Abid Wazir said adding that atypical cases like this one can occur at end stages of an eradication campaign, Abid Wazir said that it was unfortunate that wild poliovirus is still circulating in the environment and posing constant threat to children in the country.

“Due to highly sensitive surveillance system of the polio campaign in Pakistan the case was detected,” said Abid Wazir, appreciating the hard work and commitment of the teams under the leadership of the Government for reaching every child under the age of five with two drops of polio vaccine in every campaign.

Mr. Abid Wazir said that the wild poliovirus is circulating in Peshawar as evidenced from the detection of the same in sewage water, adding that the virus can travel from Peshawar to any part of the province or the country or even outside Pakistan.

Giving example, he explained that historically the program has observed multiple occasions where virus from one country was exported to other countries or even continents.

Reflecting on this new case, the EOC Coordinator said it was similar with the last polio case reported from Lakki Marwat district in 2017 where a female child Zunaira was hit by the poliovirus but escaped paralysis due to the protection provided by repeated polio doses.

So far in 2018, the number of polio cases so far in 2018 has reached four with three cases from Dukki Balochistan and this latest case in Charsadda.


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Congo records first Ebola case

GOMA (Reuters):  Congo has recorded its first case of Ebola in the eastern trading hub of Butembo, a city of close to a million with strong trade links to neighboring Uganda, the health ministry said on Wednesday.

The current Ebola outbreak is believed to have killed 85 people since July and infected another 39. Most have been in villages but about 20 cases have been in Beni, a city of several hundred thousand people with close links to Uganda. But Butembo, about 55 kilometers (35 miles) away, is two or three times the size of Beni.

It straddles a major trading route for consumer goods entering Congo from East Africa, and for Congolese exports of artisanal gold, coltan, timber and other goods to East African ports via Uganda. “We call on the population to exercise caution, and to respect all hygiene measures recommended by health workers,” Butembo’s mayor Sylvain Kanyamanda told Reuters by telephone, estimating Butembo’s population at 900,000.


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Higher cholesterol at a young age could create health issues at older age

Monitoring Desk

NEW YORK: It’s long been established that high levels of low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C) — colloquially known as “bad” cholesterol — can lead to serious cardiovascular problems in older individuals.

But a new study suggests that young people with elevated LDL-C levels, even if they’re otherwise healthy, should take notice.

That’s because what may seem like a minor health issue when you’re young can lead to big problems later in life.

The observational study was published earlier this month in the medical journal Circulation.

The study set out to determine whether or not people considered to be at low risk for developing cardiovascular disease and coronary heart disease could see some benefit from lowering their cholesterol levels before they lead to complications.

The health progression of more than 36,000 participants, aged 42 on average, was examined over a period of 27 years.

Participants who were considered low risk for cardiovascular issues but had high LDL-C levels had a 30- to 40-percent greater chance of dying prematurely due to heart health problems.

The lead study author told Healthline that the findings underline the importance of lifestyle changes, while a cardiologist interviewed by Healthline said it’s a teachable moment for patients and physicians alike.

Dr. Shuaib Abdullah, a lead study author and assistant professor at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, told Healthline that researchers were looking for answers to the question of when to start statin therapy for low-risk patients with high LDL-C levels.

“I would frequently come across relatively healthy patients in their 40s and 50s with elevated LDL-C levels, but few or no other risk factors. When discussing their risk for cardiovascular outcomes with them, I felt that data on cardiovascular prognosis were limited in low-risk individuals with LDL-C, with even less data for those patients with LDL-L with more moderately elevated levels,” he wrote in an email to Healthline.

“There was no clear consensus on what LDL-C level to start statin therapy at, or whether to treat LDL-C at all in low-10-year-risk individuals,” he added.

While Abdullah says the findings were not especially surprising, they provide valuable insights into the risk factors that can lead to cardiovascular issues later in life.

Dr. Andrew Freeman, the director of Cardiovascular Prevention and Wellness, as well as Clinical Cardiology and Operations at National Jewish Health, agrees.

“In a lot of ways, LDL cholesterol has been likened to cigarettes, where one cigarette probably won’t hurt you, but the packs that accumulate will,” Freeman told Healthline. “With this, it’s the same thing: When you’re exposed to higher LDL levels for longer periods of time, it seems to be associated with higher cardiovascular risk.”

Abdullah says the research helps explain why older people who were previously thought to be healthy are sometimes found to have serious cardiovascular issues.

“Not too infrequently, we do see patients in their 50s, 60s, or early 70s admitted with a myocardial infarction or other condition related to advanced coronary artery disease, who previously appeared to be healthy, but had moderately elevated cholesterol levels in their records,” he wrote.

He points out that another important finding was that other cholesterol sub-fractions — in other words, cholesterol that isn’t LDL-C or high-density lipoprotein (HDL-C) — were also associated with increased cardiovascular risk.

When it comes to lowering risk factors for heart disease, it comes down to the same old advice: Exercise and eat right.

Ultimately, the patients themselves are the only ones who can make these changes. But Freeman says it’s important for physicians to properly educate their patients.

“This is a great opportunity for physicians to spend time counseling patients about lifestyle,” he said. “The only problem is that lifestyle is not very well trained during medical school.”

He points to a 2017 study that he co-authored, where it was found that the vast majority of cardiologists polled had next-to-no training on nutrition.

“It’s pretty scary — like, 90 percent of us have zero or minimal training,” he emphasized. “I think this is another underscore, that we, as physicians, need to get better at applying lifestyle medicine, use it as a tool in our arsenal, and counsel our patients appropriately. I would argue that it’s pretty much not done in the vast majority of cases, to any extensive level, where a patient walks away and changes their behavior. I think we can do a lot better.”

Freeman says this points to a line in the Hippocratic oath that compels physicians to do their best to prevent disease before it manifests.

Indeed, the effects of diet intervention can yield dramatic results when it comes to reducing LDL-C levels.

“A lot of people underestimate the power of diet in reducing cholesterol,” said Freeman. “As an example, by increasing soy protein, decreasing saturated fat, boosting exercise and losing just a few pounds, it’s possible to get significant cholesterol reduction — I’m talking 40 to 50 percent, believe it or not, just with lifestyle alone. I think, before we commit our young population to large amounts of medication, we really should use these tools because they really are effective.”


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36 dengue cases registered in Peshawar

F.P. Report

PESHAWAR: As many as 36 dengue fever cases have been registered in different areas of the provincial capital so far.

This was told during a meeting regarding prevention of dengue held here Monday with District Nazim, Mohammad Asim Khan in the chair.

Besides, District Health Officer (DHO), Dr. Gul Mohammad, Dr. Abdul Waheed, DDHOs of all TMAs.

Briefing the meeting, DHO told the District Nazim that 20 dengue cases in Abdara, Achni 6, Landi Akhund 2, one each case has been registered in Canal Road, Ring Road and Pishtakhara respectively while five other have been reported from other areas of the district.

The meeting was told that steps including conducting spray, dengue awareness campaign, cleanliness and other measures are being taken in these affected areas to bring the situation under control.

Similarly, effective steps are also being taken for the eradication of the larva of dengue, which has brought the reproduction of larva to zero rate in most of the areas.

Speaking on the occasion, District Nazim, Mohammad Asim Khan pledged the utilization of all available resources for the arrest of dengue and directed the ensuring of the availability of sufficient medicines for the purpose.

He directed the presentation of daily report by all four towns and direct monitoring of the virus. He also directed the initiating of other necessary steps like conducting anti-dengue spray and cleanliness.


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Eight days IPV campaign to be started from today

F.P. Report

QUETTA: The eight days Injectable Polio Vaccine (IPV) campaign will start from Monday in two polio high risk districts of Balochistan. Provincial Coordinator of Emergency Operation Centre (EOC) Syed Fasial Ahmed said in the campaign some 2,07,454 children would be vaccinated in Quetta and Pishin.

“During the IPV Campaign children under age of 4 to 23 months would be injected with polio vaccine which would be helpful to halt polio virus from moving to rest of the province,” Syed Fasial Ahmed added that upto 23 months children are most vulnerable to polio and more than 85% cases are reported in this age group, therefore, Government of Balochistan with support of its partners will be launching a special campaign in Quetta and Pishin.

“This campaign is to further strengthen immunity against polio virus in most venerable community,” Syed Fasial Ahmed said.

Syed Fasial Ahmed appealed to the parents to vaccinate their children at the nearest Center to help prevent their children from lifetime paralysis. IPV will boost their immunity and IPV plus OPV will ensure that children are safe from polio.

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UK considers ban on sale of energy drinks to young people

LONDON (AFP): Britain´s government launched a public consultation Thursday over plans to ban the sale of energy drinks to young people, as it grapples with some of Western Europe´s worst child obesity rates.

Prime Minister Theresa May wants to prevent retailers from selling popular energy drinks to children because of their high levels of sugar and caffeine.

The government estimates more than two-thirds of 10 to 17-year-olds and a quarter of six to 9-year-olds consume the drinks, which are linked to a host of health and behaviour problems, from headaches to hyperactivity.

“Childhood obesity is one of the greatest health challenges this country faces,” May said in a statement.

“With thousands of young people regularly consuming energy drinks, often because they are sold at cheaper prices than soft drinks, we will consult on banning the sale of energy drinks to children.”

The plans were first announced in June, alongside a commitment to halve childhood obesity rates by 2030.

The 12-week consultation will ask whether the restrictions should apply to children under 16 or under 18 and if the law should be changed to prevent children from buying them in any situation.

The proposed legislation will prevent the sale of energy drinks that contain more than 150 milligrams of caffeine per litre to children.

A 250-millilitre can may contain double that amount — the equivalent of nearly three cans of cola, according to the department of health.

On average, non-diet energy drinks also contain 60 per cent more calories and 65 per cent more sugar than regular soft drinks, it said.

Meanwhile nearly a quarter of children in England are obese or overweight by the age of five, rising to one third by the time they leave primary school aged 11.

Public health advocates welcomed the plans but Tam Fry, of Action On Sugar, said it was “astounding that the government feels that a consultation is required”.

“It has been told for years that these drinks are quite unsuitable for children even if they play a lot of sports.

“We need a government that leads rather than going cap-in-hand to the court of popular approval.”

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Fish oil supplements not helpful in prevention of heart attacks or strokes

WASHINGTON: Fish oil supplements do not help prevent heart attacks or strokes in people with diabetes, said a study Monday that adds to a growing body of research on the ineffectiveness of pills containing omega-3 fatty acids.

More than 15,000 people with diabetes but no signs of heart disease enrolled in the study in Britain, the results of which were published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Half the participants were given a daily capsule of omega-3, while the other half received a placebo pill containing olive oil. The study was randomized and blinded, meaning that participants had no idea which they were taking.

Patients were followed for an average of just over seven years.

Among those taking fish oil pills, 8.9 percent suffered a heart attack or stroke, compared to 9.2 percent in the placebo group, which was not a significant difference.

“Our large, long-term randomized trial shows that fish oil supplements do not reduce the risk of cardiovascular events in patients with diabetes,” said principal investigator Louise Bowman of the University of Oxford.

“This is a disappointing finding, but it is in line with previous randomized trials in other types of patient at increased risk of cardiovascular events which also showed no benefit of fish oil supplements.”

Bowman concluded: “There is no justification for recommending fish oil supplements to protect against cardiovascular events.”

In January, an analysis of 10 studies involving 78,000 people published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) Cardiology also concluded that fish oil pills did not prevent heart disease among people at high risk.

Some observational studies have pointed to an association between higher consumption of fish and lower risks of coronary artery disease and stroke, but more rigorous, randomized trials have not supported this link. (AFP)

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Health experts for creating awareness on Dyslexia

F.P. Report

PESHAWAR: Medical practitioners  advised to create awareness on Dyslexia and to educate people about the interventions to properly deal with the affected children.

According to them, currently Dyslexia occurs in at least one out of 10 people, which means that in a world with population of 7 billion, more than 700 million children and adults are at risk of life-long illiteracy and social exclusion.

They said that 90% of the students can achieve success if taught in regular inclusive classrooms with timely intervention.

They said that according to international statistics, 15% to 20% of the children in each class have some form of learning difficulties.

Based on this ratio it’s estimated that approximately 12 million children in Pakistan out of the 60 million need help, said Dr Wasim Khawaja, a medical practitioner from Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (PIMS).

He said that due to the lack of awareness about dyslexia, maximum parents of dyslexic children are in denial while educational institutes are not dyslexia friendly.

He shared the indicators for parents included delayed milestones, difficulty in rhyming, short attention span, does not like going to school, confusion between left – right, up – down, tires very quickly when reading or writing, difficulty with buttoning up, colouring, cutting, late in learning to tie shoelaces, tell the time, etc.

He advised the teachers to encourage families to get involved in the life of their child, stimulate students’ motivation, empathize with children to understand their point of view and use multi-sensory methods to analyze the potential of the child.

Dr Sharif Astori from Federal Government Poly Clinic (FGPC) defined dyslexia as a general term for learning difficulties involving reading, writing and interpreting words, letters and symbols, regardless of general IQ.

He said that there is no cure because dyslexia is not a disease. He said that with support, proper instruction, and hard work, many people with dyslexia can get successes academically and in their later lives.

He said that Dyslexia is a life-long condition, but intervention can have a positive effect on a person’s symptoms and outcomes. An evaluation determines the specific area of difficulty and disability.

He said that it is very important that the child’s school or instructor are prepared to help implement a specific plan for intervention. There are many specific reading approaches that rely on a multisensory experience to strengthen the child’s weaknesses while using his or her strengths, he added.

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Experts track how yellow fever raced through Brazil

BRAZIL: The yellow fever virus lurked deep in the Amazon jungle until around July 2016 when it leapt toward the highly populated south of Brazil, carried by monkeys and the mosquitoes that liked to bite them.

At a speed of about two miles (3.3 kilometers) per day, the virus made its way to the outskirts of the big cities of Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, places it had not circulated in decades, and where more than 35 million people were not vaccinated against the illness.

Two years later, 676 people were dead in the worst epidemic of yellow fever in Brazil in a century.

Yellow fever can kill a person in less than 10 days, wreaking havoc on the body with symptoms like jaundice, abdominal pain, vomiting, and bleeding from the mouth, nose, eyes and stomach.

Now, for the first time, the virus´s path has been retraced in detail by an international team of scientists, and experts say this new genetic and geographic mapping could help fight future outbreaks of the disease.

“This is the first time that we are able to estimate how rapidly the virus is moving in space and time,” said Nuno Faria, professor in the zoology department at Oxford University, co-author of the study in the journal Science.

Their work rules out the long-feared hypothesis that yellow fever was jumping from person to person — via the bites of Aedes aegypti mosquitoes — in an urban environment.

Instead, the latest outbreak was carried to people by wild jungle mosquitoes that had previously bitten contaminated monkeys.

‘Great potential’

The people infected — 85 per cent of them men in their 30s, 40s and 50s — lived or worked within a few miles of the jungle habitat of these monkeys.

Researchers tracked the movements of the virus by noting when and where monkeys, and then people, began to be contaminated and turn up dead.

Cases among monkeys tended to precede humans by about four days, they found.

But the virus moved even faster than the monkeys did, which suggests that people had a role in moving the disease to new areas, such as by illegally trafficking monkeys or driving vehicles in which mosquitoes had hitched a ride.

Analyzing the genomes of people and monkeys that were infected confirmed the source of the epidemic.

Researchers say this combined method could help better tailor real-time responses to future outbreaks.

“It´s high-end work,” David Hamer, professor of global health and medicine at Boston University, told AFP.

“Their approach is intriguing and has great potential, although it requires a lot of data,” added Hamer, who was not involved in the study.

That means the findings are not likely to help much in poor countries in Africa, where yellow fever often strikes, because they do not have the infrastructure necessary to create such a surveillance system or alert network, Hamer said.

Vaccine shortages

The best tool against yellow fever is the vaccine, which has been around since 1938.

The Brazilian government launched a massive campaign to vaccinate millions of people at the beginning of this year, primarily in the regions of Sao Paulo, Rio and Bahia.

But there were not enough doses, sparking shortages in the country of 208 million people.

Researchers say priority needs to be given to those at high risk, including those nearest to rural areas and forests, such as the middle aged men at the center of the outbreak in southeast Brazil.

“We need this information to control future outbreaks — to vaccinate the right people, in the right place, at the right time,” said co-author Oliver Pybus, professor of evolution and infectious disease at Oxford University.

Vigilance is needed, even though the virus did not enter a cycle of urban transmission, as feared.

“We´re learning that so many of our most worrisome infectious diseases are emerging in humans due to deforestation and closer proximity of humans to animals,” said Peter Hotez, dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston.

“For example, Ebola in Sub-Saharan Africa now appears to have originated from bats, as did SARS and MERS coronaviruses in China and Saudi Arabia, respectively, and Nipah virus as recently described in India.” (AFP)


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Pakistan safe haven for Chikungunya virus

F.P. Report

Karachi: The recent full-scale outbreaks of chikungunya arbovirus infection in Pakistan suggests the country has become a safe haven for chikungunya virus, while Sindh tops the list as the most affected province with chikungunya virus, according to the findings of an international study.

Published in the latest edition of ‘Infection, Disease and Health,’ an international science journal, the research has found that the constant spread of chikungunya represents a serious new challenge to the nation’s public health both in the short and long term.

In the face of an already undermined healthcare system in Pakistan, the great burden of morbidity among the workforce caused by the outbreaks is another blow to the country’s shrinking economy, according to the international study. In this retrospective study of successive epidemics that started in 2016-17 to mid-2018, thousands of clinical cases were reported that led to a significant number of fatalities in various cities right across the country.

The study recommended that to curb the threat of chikungunya-related febrile illness in Pakistan, there is a dire need for a consolidated programme of improved vector control, accurate infection diagnosis, dedicated disease surveillance and well-managed border enforcement measures to be implemented as a public health priority.