Tuesday, 8 January 2008

Computer Keyboards Spread Stomach Flu

Norovirus, the highly contagious agent that causes the so-called "stomach flu", is passed from person to person through contact with commonly shared items including computer keyboards and mice (United States health officials report). The virus is common in winter, is the most frequent cause of outbreaks of vomiting and diarrhea in the US, and is often contracted in schools, workplaces and on cruise ships. It is second only to the common cold in terms of numbers of infections.

Last Thursday, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported on a norovirus outbreak last February at an elementary school in Washington, D.C. when some of the victims picked up the virus from contaminated computer equipment.

Sunday, 6 January 2008

Rise In UK Hepatitis B Cases

Recent data (Source: Hepatitis B Foundation) indicates that the number of UK cases of Hepatitis B has doubled within the 5 years. The number of people having chronic hepatitis B infection now stands at 325,000, but when considering under-reporting, the actual number could be considerably greater. Government estimates in 2002 reported 180 000 UK cases of chronic hepatitis B.

David Mutimer of Birmingham University, UK stated: “The report clearly shows that Britain is seeing a steady, ongoing, and dramatic increase in the number of chronically infected people”, and called on the UK government to develop a strategy and set in place an action plan to halt the upwards surge in cases.

Jane Zuckerman of University College London, UK has suggested that the rise is attributed to a substantial increase in recent migration. There has been available for 25 years an effective and safe vaccine but the UK and several other European countries only target vaccination at high risk groups. “The UK policy has been defended because of the presumed low endemicity of hepatitis B in the UK … these new data support arguments that it is now time to change UK policy on the prevention of hepatitis B”, added Zuckerman.