Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Risks of spread of avian influenza virus: useful article

The current Nursing Times, 102(12), dated 21-27 March, has a useful looking article by Ann Shuttleworth on the risks of spread of the virus. Nurses, the author says, are likely to be asked about the risks of avian flu spreading to the UK, and the article provides them with information to help them answer that question. It includes information on transmission methods, treatment, why H5N1 might cause a pandemic, and whether it is safe to eat poultry.

The details: Shuttleworth, A. (2006). Understanding the risks of the spread of the avian flu virus. Nursing Times 102(12), 25-26.

Tuberculosis special reports

The Lancet of the 18th March is full of papers and things about TB (quite possibly because it is World TB Day at the end of this week).

Subjects include global epidemiology, TB in sub-Saharan Africa, drug development, DOTS, and global plans to stop the disease.

See the contents page in ScienceDirect.

Asthma gene

The Guardian reported this study, by researchers in Dundee, which found a genetic mutation present in 2 thirds of eczema cases and a quarter of asthma cases.

I think, after a quick (possibly too quick!) search that the paper might be
this letter in Nature Genetics.

Ophthalmological eponyms

Who was Behcet (he of the Disease), or Marfan (he of the Syndrome)? A site called Doyne's Hall of Fame, mounted on the Success in MRCOphth site maintained by Mr. C. Chua, an ophthalmologist in (I think) Oxford, will tell you.

The site is at (at is another useful eponym site.

Data on influenza

An editorial in Nature argues for an accessible repository for data on influenza. There is no one central place, and some of the places that exist are not readily accessible for reasons of commercial confidentiality. Recently an Italian researcher refused to put her genomic findings into a private data repository, placing them in the publically accessible GenBank instead.

>>Read the editorial

Limits in PubMed

PubMed's limits page has changed. The limits page is now made up of tick boxes and drop down boxes.

University members can of course
contact the library if they have any questions or problems.

This is a portal to science websites provided by US government agencies, covering all sorts of sciences and science education. is at, and you can search across all the sites at once. The health and medicine list is at

Online homoeopathy books

The Taubman Medical Library of the University of Michigan is scanning around 500 items from its homoeopathy collection, to make them available online.

The project has a website at, where you can search, or browse for a particular book by title or author. You can then view an individual page, or the whole book (the site warns you about how long this will take before it does it, which is nice).

Directory of persecuted scientists, engineers and health professionals

I found this some time ago, and bookmarked it, then forgot it was there. I have just discovered it again...

It is a PDF document (73 pages) produced by the AAAS Science and Human Rights Action Network, based on their alerts from 2003 and 2004. There is some general information, and then case studies arranged by country.

Arjan Erkel of Medecins sans Frontieres, who was kidnapped in the Caucasus, is pictured on the front cover.

Read the report at

Global Health Facts

This is an online database of statistics on HIV/AIDS, TB, malaria and other infections including avian flu. It also includes information on funding, and demographic data.

The database is produced by the Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonprofit foundation based in Menlo Park, California.

Mouse genetics

I have been meaning to mention this for some time: Nature has published an online supplement looking at tools and resources on this, called "User's guide to the mouse".

It is at

The role of amoebae in MRSA

This is discussed in a paper in Environmental Microbiology. MRSA replicates within amoebae, and emerge more virulent. The paper looks at the implications for infection control strategy of this.

>>Read the paper (an online early publication). You will need to use University Athens authentication off campus.

Influenza activity in the USA

I cannot now remember where I saw this, but Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) publishes weekly updates on this subject.

That for
February 12-18 is here, and you can find others via a search of PubMed: there is a link to a specific search of PubMed from our avian and pandemic influenza webpage (scroll to United States and then find Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report)

Cytotoxic treatment for avian influenza

The Lancet has published a paper on this, arguing that specific treatment usually used in haemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis (HLH) could be used to treat infection with H5N1, as there are clinical similarities between the conditions, including the presence in H5N1 infection of haemophagocytosis similar to that found in patients with HLH.

>>Read the Lancet paper (via ScienceDirect: Athens needed off campus)


The University eBulletin reports the CAFE trial (part of the larger ASCOT trial), which has been looking at the use of an amlodipine based calcium channel blocker, and how it reduces blood pressure near the heart. It is more effective than the usual atenolol based treatment.

The trial has involved researchers from the Department of Cardiovascular Sciences.

Read the eBulletin.

Applied medical informatics for the chest physician

Chest is publishing a series of papers on this theme, by William Bria . The papers will look at the electronic medical record and how it works, and what benefits it can bring to patients and physicians.

The first in the series is available here.

Fine particulate air pollution and hospital admission

A paper in JAMA by researchers from Johns Hopkins and Yale looks at hospital admissions for cardiovascular and respiratory diseases associated with exposure to fine particulate air pollution. Short term exposure increases the risk for hospital admission, especially for heart failure, for which there was the largest increase in risk.

>>Read the JAMA paper

Addition to the CONSORT statement

The CONSORT statement is a set of recommendations covering the reporting of randomised controlled trials. JAMA has just published an extension to the statement, covering reporting of noninferiority and equivalence RCTs.

>>Read the extension in JAMA

Effects of music on patients undergoing surgery

A paper in the Journal of Advanced Nursing looks at the effect of music on pain and other parameters in patients undergoing the application of a C clamp after percutaneous coronary interventions. The music group experienced a reduction in heart and respiratory rate and in oxygen saturation.

>>Read the paper (University Athens authentication required off campus)

Call for a national TB archive

This piece in Science argues for the creation of a national data resource for TB in the USA, which would store isolates along with genomic and epidemiological data. It argues that the infrastructure is already in place, as cases of TB have to be notified to the CDC.

>> Read the piece in Science

World TB Day

World TB Day is this Friday. There is information at, where you can also sign the Call to Stop TB.

There is also new NICE guidance on TB (mentioned on the BBC Today programme this morning), which is at

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Keep track of your favourite orbiting objects

This is the invitation at J-TRACK, a NASA website that enables you to tell where a particular satellite or spacecraft is at this moment in time. I discovered it when reading about the spacesuit that was filled with rubbish of various sorts, plus a transmitter, and which was put into space from the International Space Station. People who heard the broadcast were invited to let NASA know (and you can see where they were by visiting

That suit has now burnt up in the atmosphere, but there are plenty of other things to track, including weather satellites and satellites that search for rescue and emergency beacons.

Visit J-TRACK at

Books to Iraq

Books to Iraq is raising funds to send textbooks to schools of pharmacy in Iraq. Their website gives more details about who is involved, and about their recent mention in the BMJ.

>>>Books to Iraq website

UK Medicines for Children Research Network

This is one of the Department of Health's "Topic Specific Research Networks" and will facilitate the conduct of RCTs and other studies of medicines for children.

>>>Read more in Archives of Disease in Childhood.

The Lancet's Paper of the Year

Read about this, and discover the winner, in the Lancet of 25 February.

Insects and entomologists

I have mentioned the Archives Hub before, and its "Collections of the Month". This month it is insects and entomologists. Visit to learn more about archive collections in the UK on this subject, and to see a list of links to relevant resources including SpringWatch and National Insect Week.

Christian supporters of science

I was interested to see this in the BMJ. An Alliance for Science was launched at the recent AAAS meeting in St. Louis, to counter moves to promote intelligent design and "anti-evolution". The alliance includes clergy, as well as scientists. This project seems to be linked to a project called the Clergy Letter Project, launched in 2004 to oppose the introduction of creationism into the curriculum of a school in Wisconsin. The letter project is based at the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh and the letter states:

"We the undersigned, Christian clergy from many different traditions, believe that the timeless truths of the Bible and the discoveries of modern science may comfortably coexist"

>>>Read more in the BMJ
>>>Go to the Clergy Letter Project

Healthcare associated infections

The BMA has published a review of the guidance currently available, which is at Somewhere in the press this was picked up, as it apparently suggests that ties are a reservoir of infection and ought not to be worn (I can find a recommendation that health professionals pay attention to dress code). It includes a review of the present position, recommendations and strategies.

The language barrier in medicine

This is the subject of an editorial in PLoS Medicine, entitled Ich weiss nicht was soll es bedeuten. The editorial looks at machine translation, and the decision of PLoS to publish summaries in languages other than English if the authors are fluent in any other languages. Although, the editorial says, it is difficult to be a successful medical scientist if you do not have English, there are many people who need to access health information who may not have that skill.

Ich weiss nicht was soll es bedeuten - I think this is Heine, about the Lorelei rock in the Rhine, and continues "dass ich so traurig bin" ("I do not know what it means that I am so sad"). Perhaps a reader of this blog knows for sure! I could ask a librarian....

>>>Read the editorial in PLoS Medicine

Gastroenterology and Liver Diseases Specialist Library

This is a new part of the National Library for Health, giving access to high quality, up to date evidence in the field. You can search it, or browse by disease.

Find the Library at


Some recent papers:

COPD exacerbations: epidemiology, published in Thorax
COPD exacerbations: aetiology (second in the series, also published in Thorax)

Improvement in household stoves and risk of COPD, published in BMJ. This is a study from Xuanwei, China.

Thorax is Athens authenticated off campus.

Genome of the USA300 clone of MRSA

The Lancet has published the genome of this organism, a major cause of MRSA in the USA, Canada and Europe. The study aimed to find genes responsible for its virulence.

>>>Read the paper in the Lancet (Athens authentication needed off campus)

Lancet calling for asthma papers

The Lancet is calling for papers on asthma, for a special issue to be published to coincide with a European Respiratory Society meeting on the subject in September.

>>> Read more in the Lancet (Athens authentication required off campus).

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Global lab network for avian flu?

Today's Guardian has picked up on this commentary in Nature. Jean-Paul Chretien, director of the US DoD-GEIS, and colleagues from there and elsewhere, are arguing that there should be a global network of laboratories to improve preparedness for a flu pandemic. The DoD-GEIS is an alerting system for infectious diseases, and is listed on my bird flu webpage. The authors argue that the existing network of military labs provides a model for such a network.

Read the Guardian
Read the Nature commentary (on campus only).

Wednesday, March 01, 2006


Some recent papers:

A paper on TB case finding through a village outreach programme, published in the Bulletin of the WHO. This describes a programme where health workers took sputum samples from people who they suspected of having TB. The study took place in southern Ethiopia.

A systematic review of risk factors for multidrug resistant TB in Europe, published in Thorax. The study concludes that one determinant for the spread of multidrug resistant TB is previous, inadequate, treatment. You will need Athens authentication to access the full text of this paper off campus.

Law resources

Courtesy of an exchange of messages on the lis-medical mailing list, here are some places to look for legal information, full text of court judgments, and that sort of thing:

British and Irish Legal Information Institute: - access to freely available legal information including cases and legislation.

Lawlinks, from the University of Kent at Canterbury Library - - cases, legislation, portals, and more.

Her Majesty's Court Service Judgments - - contains judgments back to 1996, with suggestions for other places to look.

Eek! Aargh!

Is it really almost a month since I posted anything? So much for current awareness!

My excuse is that I am working on our institutional repository, Leicester Research Archive. You can read more about this project at .