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Ebola death toll rises to 55

BENI, DR CONGO (AFP): The Ebola outbreak in eastern DR Congo has claimed 55 lives since the start of the month, the authorities said Monday, as the government announced free treatment against the disease for the next three months.

The health ministry´s latest bulletin said that the death toll had been increased following five new victims in Mabalako-Mangina, close to Beni, the epicentre of the outbreak in the North Kivu province.

In all, “96 cases of haemorrhagic fever were reported in the region, 69 of which had been confirmed and 27 were seen as probable,” the ministry said.

At the same time, the medical team in charge of fighting the disease revised downwards the estimated number of “contacts” — people who may have had contact with the virus — from 2,157 to 1,609, following epidemiological tests.

Beni´s mayor Jean Edmond Nyonyi Masumbuko Bwanakawa announced that the government had decided to make treatment free in Beni, Mabalako-Mangina and Oicha for three months starting Monday.

The aim was to “remove the financial barrier that could dissuade the population from going to the health centre,” said Dr. Bathe Ndjoloko Tambwe, in charge of coordinating the fight against the disease.

The average earnings of the 80 million people in the Democratic Republic of Congo are estimated at $1.25 per day.

The current Ebola outbreak began on August 1 in Mangina in North Kivu.

It is the 10th outbreak to strike the DRC since 1976, when Ebola was first identified and named after a river in the north of the country.

Ebola has long been considered incurable, though swift isolation and the rapid treatment of symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhoea and dehydration has helped some patients to survive.

The quest for a vaccine grew increasingly urgent during an Ebola epidemic that killed more than 11,300 people in the West African states of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone in 2013-15.

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Another case of Congo virus reported

F.P. Report

KARACHI: Another case of Congo virus has surfaced in the city, taking the reported count of affected patients to nine this year.

According to reports, 23-year-old Salman was taken to Karachi’s Jinnah Hospital after he showed symptoms of the Congo Crimean Hemorrhagic Fever (CCHF).

So far in 2018, nine cases of Congo virus have been reported in Karachi. Two of the affected patients died.

The CCHF is caused by the Congo virus, which is found on a tick that attaches itself to the skin of cattle. People who come into contact with these infected ticks or animals can contract the viral disease, which is highly contagious and has a 40-50 per cent mortality rate.

The onset of CCHF is sudden, with initial signs and symptoms including headache, high fever, rashes, back pain, joint pain, stomach pain, and vomiting.



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Family, friends can help quit smoking: Study

F.P. Report

PESHAWAR: A new study has suggested that family, friends and loved ones can play a crucial role to help quit smoking, if they go for a supportive approach.

John Spangler, M.D., a professor of family medicine at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center, North Carolina said that quitting smoking was difficult, and for some people it was extremely difficult.

Nicotine replacements like a patch or gum and other medications could double or triple the chances of successfully quitting, and coaching and counseling were definitely useful too, Science Daily reported.

Spangler continued that the coaches and counselors need not be professionals.

Spangler added that few tips for people trying to offer smoking-cessation can also be helpful such as one should ask the smoker why he or she wanted to quit and one can have the smoker set a specific quit date and help them stick to it among other pointers.


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Healthy diet could lower risk of multiple sclerosis

Monitoring Desk

NEW YORK: Eating a healthful diet that is rich in vegetables, fish, legumes, eggs, and poultry is tied to a lower risk of multiple sclerosis, a long-term disease that affects the brain, spinal cord, and optic nerve in the eyes.

How can a healthful diet lower your risk of MS?

This was the conclusion that researchers from Australia came to after studying links between diet and central nervous system (CNS) demyelination, which is often the first stage of multiple sclerosis (MS).

The condition occurs when there is loss of, or damage to, the fatty insulation surrounding nerve fibers that carry signals to and from brain cells.

The researchers analyzed data on nearly 700 people across Australia. They report their findings in a paper now published in the Multiple Sclerosis Journal.

“There are a number of known environmental risk factors for MS,” explains lead study author Dr. Lucinda J. Black, from the School of Public Health at Curtin University in Perth, Australia.

She gives examples such as low levels of vitamin D, having had glandular fever, insufficient exposure to sunlight, and smoking.

However, as she and her colleagues note, the evidence on links between diet and MS was “inconclusive.”

MS is a long-term and unpredictable disease. Its symptoms might persist and gradually worsen, or they may come and go. There are four types of MS, depending on the pattern of symptoms and how they progress.

Many researchers believe that in MS, the immune system attacks healthy myelin in the brain, spinal cord, and optic nerve as if it were a threat. Eventually, the damage also affects the fibers and cells and disrupts signals from the senses and for controlling movement.

Symptoms vary widely, depending on the location and severity of the myelin damage. They include but are not limited to: vision problems, loss of coordination and balance, speech difficulties, numbness, tremors, memory and concentration problems, acute fatigue, and paralysis.

According to the National MS Society, there are more than 2.3 million people worldwide living with MS.

An accurate official figure for the number of people diagnosed with MS in the United States is not available, but a study that released preliminary findings in 2017 suggests it is around 1 million.

While MS can develop at any age, most cases are diagnosed in people aged 20–50. Women are three times more likely to develop MS as men.

Dr. Black and her colleagues investigated links “between dietary patterns and risk of a first clinical diagnosis” of CNS demyelination.

They analyzed data from the 2003–2006 Ausimmune Study, which took place in several centers across Australia.

The data included answers to detailed questionnaires about the types of food that people ate and how often they ate them. By analyzing the main food components, the researchers identified two main eating patterns.

One “dietary pattern” was a healthful diet that was high in fish, eggs, poultry meats, legumes, and vegetables.

The other was a “Western-style” diet that was high in full-fat dairy foods and red meats and low in nuts, fresh fruits, wholegrains, and low-fat dairy foods.

The researchers note that the two diets accounted for 9.3 and 7.5 percent of the variability in the eating patterns, respectively.

Of the 698 people whose data the team analyzed, 252 were diagnosed with CNS demyelination and 446 were “healthy” controls.

The results showed that a higher consumption of healthful foods was linked to a lower risk of a first diagnosis of CNS demyelination.

Compared with the individuals who consumed the least, the reduction in risk in those people who consumed the highest amounts of healthful foods was around 50 percent, says Dr. Black.

“This finding is especially relevant to those who currently consume low amounts of these foods,” she adds.

The scientists suggest that there is a need to improve education about how to follow a healthful diet for those who are at high risk for MS.


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Gastro suffering patients on the rise in Multan

F.P. Report

MULTAN: Virus causing chicken pox and AIDS has been confirmed in patients of Multan. According to details, patients under treatment in Nishtar Hospital, Multan, have been diagnosed with fatal diseases like AIDS and chicken pox. 15 years old Humaira has been diagnosed with chicken pox, while virus of AIDS has been revealed in 42 years old Perveen. Many Gastro cases have also been brought in multiple government hospitals of Multan.

According to hospital sources, patient of chicken pox, Humaira belongs to Vehari, while AIDS patient Perveen is resident of Dunyapur, Lodhran. 57 gastro patients have been admitted to multiple government hospitals of Multan. Out of which, 21 patients are admitted in Nishtar Hospital and Children Complex. 16 patients have been admitted in DHQ Shahbaz Sharif Hospital. 47 patients have been discharged as their health improves.

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PMA concerned over rise in Congo cases

F.P. Report

KARACHI: Pakistan Medical Association (PMA) expressed its concern about the increasing cases of Crimean-Congo Hemorrhagic Fever(CCHF) across Pakistan. These cases can go high as Eid-ul-Azha is almost around and people getting in contact with sacrificial animals will be at risk.

PMA Secretary General Dr SM Qaisar Sajjad in his statement said while purchasing or handling animals, one should wear light colored full sleeved clothes and shoes with socks. Apply insect repellent on the exposed areas of the body. Inspect yourself for ticks and take bath when return home.

“During slaughtering your animal, you should wear gloves on your hands and cover your mouth and nose with a mask. Hands must always be washed immediately after removing gloves, keep animal pelt separately in plastic sheets as they may have ticks. Do not dispose of waste or blood on the street. Avoid contact with infected humans,” he added.

He said in case of high fever, muscle aches, backache, headache, vomiting, severe bruising and nose bleeds immediately see your physician. He said PMA feels its responsibility to aware/guide people for safety measures to avoid the risk of Congo Virus. It is spread by the bite of ticks.


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Turnips healthful in maintaining good health

Monitoring Desk

NEW YORK: The turnip is a vegetable with a creamy white color and a purple top, where it has been exposed to the sun. It is a cruciferous vegetable.

A popular staple in the European diet since prehistoric times, the turnip is often grouped in with root vegetables like potatoes and beets, but is actually a cousin of broccoli, Brussels sprouts, arugula, and kale.

Like other cruciferous vegetables, turnips are rich in nutrients and low in calories.

Both the turnip itself and its leafy greens are tasty and nutritious to eat, but this article will focus on the dietary benefits of the root.

It will look at the nutritional content, the possible health benefits and risks of consuming turnips, and some tips on how to eat more turnips.


The nutrients in turnips are believed to offer a wide range of health benefits.

1) Intestinal problems

High-fiber diets have been linked to a lower risk of intestinal problems, such as colorectal cancer and diverticulitis.

Turnips and other high-fiber foods can help reduce the prevalence of flare-ups of diverticulitis by absorbing water in the colon and making bowel movements easier to pass.

Fiber can help reduce pressure and inflammation in the colon. One cup of cooked turnips weighing 156 grams (g) provides 3 g of fiber.

Although the cause of diverticular disease is unknown, it has repeatedly been associated with a low fiber diet.

2) Lowering blood pressure

According to a 2013 study published in the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology, foods containing dietary nitrates, such as turnips and collard greens, can have multiple vascular benefits.

These include reducing blood pressure, inhibiting platelet aggregation, and preserving or improving endothelial dysfunction.

However, the long-term risks of a high-nitrate diet and its effect on cardiovascular health remains unclear.

In general, a diet rich in all fruits and vegetables has been shown to lower blood pressure Turnips also have potassium, which is thought to help decrease blood pressure by releasing sodium out of the body and helping arteries dilate.

3) Fighting cancer

Since the 1980s, consuming high amounts of cruciferous vegetables, such as turnips, cauliflower and cabbage, has been associated with a lower risk of cancer.

More recently, studies have suggested that the sulforaphane compound that gives cruciferous vegetables their bitter bite might also be what makes them active against some types of cancer.

Promising results in studies testing sulforaphane’s ability to delay or impede cancer have been seen with multiple types of cancers including melanoma, esophageal, prostate and pancreatic cancer.

Foods containing sulforaphane could potentially be an integral part of cancer treatment in the future.

4) Weight loss and digestion

Turnips and other cruciferous vegetables that are high in fiber help to keep you feeling full longer and are also low in calories. Eating high fiber meals helps keep blood sugar levels stable.

The fiber content in turnips also may prevent constipation and promote regularity for a healthy digestive tract. Regular, adequate bowel movements are crucial for the excretion of toxins through bile and stool.

Recent studies have shown that dietary fiber may play a role in regulating the immune system and inflammation. This may decrease the risk of inflammation-related conditions, such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancer, and obesity.


According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) National Nutrient Database, one cup of cooked turnip cubes, weighing about 156 grams (g), contains:

  • 34 calories
  • 11 g of protein
  • 12 g of fat
  • 89 g of carbohydrate (including 4.66 g of sugar)
  • 1 g of fiber
  • 51 milligrams (mg) of calcium
  • 28 mg of iron
  • 14 mg of magnesium
  • 41 mg of phosphorus
  • 276 mg of vitamin K
  • 25 mg of sodium
  • 19 mg of zinc
  • 1 mg of vitamin C
  • 14 micrograms (mcg) of folate

Turnip is a good source of vitamin C, manganese, potassium, vitamin B-6, folate, and copper.

When buying turnips, choose those that are small and heavy for their size.

Turnips that are harvested while young and small will have a sweet, mild flavor. As they continue to grow or age, the flavor gets spicier, and the texture will become rough and woody.

Look for green tops that are brightly colored and fresh. You can use the greens for cooking or in a salad.

Store turnips in a cool, dim area, similar to potatoes, and wash, trim, and peel them before use.

Turnips have a crisp white inner flesh and a zesty, peppery flavor.

They can be eaten raw or cooked, but roasting turnips tends to bring out their best flavor and qualities.

Here are some easy ways to use turnips.

  • Boil and mash turnips for a fun alternative to mashed potatoes
  • Chop or shred raw turnips for a salad topper
  • Add turnips to soup or stew at the same stage you would add potatoes
  • Include cubed turnip into your next slow-cooked roast
  • Add shredded turnip to your favorite coleslaw recipe

Try some of these healthy and delicious turnip recipes developed by registered dietitians:

A high-nitrate diet may interact with certain medications, such as organic nitrate (nitroglycerine) or nitrite drugs used for angina, sildenafil citrate, tadalafil, and vardenafil.

Turnips can be a healthful addition to a balanced diet. Eating a diet with variety is better than concentrating on individual foods as the key to good health.

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More dengue cases surface 

F.P. Report

KARACHI: Nineteen more dengue fever cases were detected across Karachi in a week, taking the reported cases toll to 669 in the city since 1st January 2018. According to the weekly report issued by Prevention and Control Program for Dengue in Sindh, at least 20 new dengue fever cases emerged throughout Sindh province out of which 19 were in Karachi and one in other district of the province in a week.

In August, 39 dengue positive cases were detected across the province out of them, 38 were in Karachi and one fin other district of the province. This year, a total of 710 dengue cases surfaced across the province out of them, 669 happened in Karachi and 41 in rest of Sindh.

A death due to dengue was also reported in Karachi city this year.


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Estrogen could help protect women against Dementia

Monitoring Desk

NEW YORK: Researchers at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference (AAIC) in Chicago revealed some interesting research for women approaching menopause.

New research has found a link between dementia and estrogen levels — the more estrogen a woman receives from pregnancy, for example, the less the risk of diseases like Alzheimer’s.

Additionally, there’s new evidence that hormone replacement therapy (HRT) may affect cognition in some subgroups of women.

“I think it’s very interesting,” said Dr. Verna R. Porter, director of programs for dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, and neurocognitive disorders at Pacific Neuroscience Institute at Providence Saint John’s Health Center in California.

The recent findings reported at the AAIC in July included a large-scale epidemiological investigation in the United States by researchers, including Paola Gilsanz, ScD, staff scientist at Kaiser Permanente Northern California Division of Research in Oakland, California, and Rachel Whitmer, PhD, a professor at UC Davis.

The team looked at women’s first menstrual period, the number of children they had, and when they started menopause to see what link there may be to dementia risk.

The researchers found that women in the study with three or more children had a 12 percent lower risk of dementia compared to those with only one child.

Also, women who reported having their first menstrual period at 16 or older had a 31 percent greater risk of developing dementia than those who reported having their first period at 13.

And, there was a 28 percent greater dementia risk for women experiencing menopause at 45 or younger compared to women who started after age 45.

Another study reported at the conference, from researchers at the Wisconsin Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center and other institutions, found no negative cognitive effect in women who had started hormone therapy between ages 50 and 54.

However, those who started hormone therapy between ages 65 and 79 did show reductions in global cognition, working memory, and executive functioning.

Women on hormone therapy with type 2 diabetes also demonstrated a higher risk of cognitive impairment compared to women without diabetes on hormone therapy and women with diabetes who were given a placebo.

“It may be that it’s critical when you give it,” said Porter regarding determining success or failure of hormone replacement therapy (HRT), and adding that risk factors like diabetes may also provide some context in whether to prescribe HRT.

These findings join previous research which found that estrogen and progestin therapy actually increased the risk for dementia in postmenopausal women 65 years and older.

Porter said the question remains whether estrogen is directly affecting cognitive function or if it’s something else.

She said that women experience an increase in certain immune cells during pregnancy, promoting regulatory T cells.

Alzheimer’s patients have fewer regulatory T cells, which promotes inflammation. Could the T cell increase during pregnancy be involved with the lower dementia risk?

“I think one of the main possibilities that is being postulated based on all these different studies [is] it’s not that it’s female sex hormones on their own,” said Porter.

Instead, it may be that these hormones have additional effects on other factors that influence cognition, said Porter.

Porter said based on the new findings, there may be some cognitive benefit of hormone replacement therapy when given at the right time.

This could mean giving HRT during the transition into menopause, as long as women don’t have risk factors for dementia, like bad cardiovascular health.

But any decisions about HRT should be based on gynecological history, including menopausal symptoms like hot flashes — not just potential cognitive benefit.

She said it should be something where many factors are taken into account.

“This new information is one important piece of the puzzle,” said Porter.

Dr. William R. Shankle, The Judy & Richard Voltmer endowed chair in memory and cognitive disorders at Pickup Family Neurosciences Institute at Hoag in California, recommends that women get a second opinion if their doctor says to not take estrogen because it’s bad for you.

However, there are certain circumstances when estrogen replacement therapy (ERT) can’t be prescribed, including for women with estrogen-sensitive breast cancer.

“If you are approaching menopause, are in menopause, or have completed it within the past five years, get a gynecologist who is knowledgeable about ERT so you can decide whether to take it,” said Shankle. “If you have not taken ERT and [are] more than five years past menopause, the current science indicates that ERT is not helpful and may increase risk of dementia due to [Alzheimer’s disease] or other causes.”

Dr. Russell Swerdlow, director of the University of Kansas Alzheimer’s Disease Center, said there are still no firm answers on the question of whether estrogen can help prevent dementia.

“This [research] adds to the list of reported associations between female hormones, such as estrogen, and cognitive performance,” said Swerdlow. “Associations such as these have spurred interest into the question of whether hormone replacement can benefit cognition.”

Swerdlow pointed out currently “the aggregate of results is not promising” but said that continuing research may eventually help clarify the benefits and risks.

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10 dead in Ebola flareup in DR Congo

BENI (AFP): Ten people have died in an outbreak of Ebola in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, according to a toll issued Friday that said 27 other deaths were suspected to be Ebola-related. Forty-four confirmed and probable cases have been recorded since the disease broke out in the province of North Kivu on August 1, the health ministry said.

Two suspected cases in Goma, a city of about a million people, “turned out to be negative” on Thursday after lab tests, it said. The outbreak is the country’s 10th since 1976, when the disease was first identified in the DRC near the Ebola River, a tributary of the Congo. The latest outbreak is centered in North Kivu’s Beni region, which shares borders with Uganda and Rwanda.

The area is plagued by violence — a problem that the World Health Organization (WHO) has said will hamper the emergency response. Targeted vaccination, aiming primarily at front-line health workers, began on Wednesday. Ebola causes serious illness including vomiting, diarrhea and in some cases internal and external bleeding. It is often fatal if untreated.

In the worst Ebola epidemic, the disease struck the West African states of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone in 2013-15, killing more than 11,300 people. The outbreak in North Kivu was declared a week after WHO and the Kinshasa government hailed the end of a flareup in northwestern Equateur province which killed 33 people.