Friday, July 14, 2006

Some tuberculosis things I have seen

A "Perspectives" piece in the New England Journal of Medicine issue about health care workers transmitting tuberculosis.

The competitive cost of antibiotic resistance in Mycobacterium tuberculosis, in Science.

An editorial on tuberculosis and social exclusion, in developed countries, in the BMJ.

And lastly, The Big Picture Book of Viruses, a catalog(ue) of images of viruses, arranged by virus name or family, or by genome type, host, or disease. The site is produced by the research lab of Dr. Robert Garry at Tulane University, New Orleans.

Some microbiology things I have seen

Antibiotic stress induces genetic transformability in the human pathogen Streptococcus pneumoniae, by Marc Prudhomme and colleagues, published in Science for 7th July.

ENTER-NET, an international surveillance project for human gastrointestinal infections, namely Salmonella and E. coli. The website includes quarterly reports back to 1998.

"Perspectives" piece in the New England Journal of Medicine on hand hygiene, arguing that we need a systems approach to hospital acquired infections, which deals with systems failures that lead to contamination, but that individuals also need to accept responsibility for their part in transmission and wash their hands. (This might also have a systems element, as the piece points out).

The recommendations of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices on the Prevention and Control of Influenza (a posting on MEDLIB-L alerted me to these).

A review in Trends in Microbiology about marine microbial diversity. Easiest way to get to this is to copy this line:


go to, and paste it in.

Open access update

Leicester Research Archive is now included in OAIster, which indexes the contents of open access repositories. Thanks to them for that.

Nature this week reports moves to encourage researchers to try to keep the rights to their published article, by using documents that can be added to the standard copyright transfer agreement that publishers give them to sign.

And a letter in Science for 7th July looks at the success (or otherwise) of the NIH's policy asking people to place their work in PubMed Central - the uptake has been small, and some things have been archived before the embargo period is over.

Enhancements to MedlinePlus

The excellent MedlinePlus has added clickable body maps to its health topics section. MedlinePlus contains links to consumer health information, and is produced by the National Library of Medicine. The body maps provide another way to get to the information you want: it is the words in black that are the links, or you can point at the appropriate anatomical bit.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Access to BIOSIS

We are losing access to BIOSIS, the biological sciences bibliographical database, through EDINA, but gaining access through Web of Knowledge. Please contact me if you have any questions. Access via EDINA ends at the end of July.

Meadow and Southall cases

There is an article looking at these two cases, in Pediatrics. The article concludes that both doctors gave "responsible" opinions, and that the conduct of the hearings in both cases was unfair. Read the article (June 2006, 117(6), pp. 2247-51).

PLoS Clinical Trials

Another new open access journal from the Public Library of Science. The journal is now accepting submissions, and aiming for a launch in March 2006.

Later note: this is now launched (thanks to the Librarians' Rx for this). The blog entry is at, the journal at

Mercy Ships drug formulary

Mercy Ships is a Christian organisation that runs hospital ships, that visit developing countries (see It has produced a drug formulary, which lists the drugs which it tries to make available to its ships. The list is based on the recommendations of the WHO Model Essential Medicines List.

The formulary is downloadable, as one file, or in sections, from There are also Powerpoint presentations about the formulary, available from the same site.

Antimicrobial resistance data

This has been on my list of things to blog for some weeks... At last, here it is! is the home of the British Society for Antimicrobial Chemotherapy survey of antimicrobial resistance. Two surveys are being run, one covering lower respiratory infection and the other bacteraemia. Results are presented here for the use of microbiologists and medical professionals, and you can find data for particular organisms and for particular antimicrobial agents. The methodology of the project is presented in articles in Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy, which are referenced on the site itself (in the disclaimer). The site includes data on the resistance of MRSA to other antimicrobials.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Salmonella and chocolate

Today's Guardian reports (in the third of three stories of interest that I saw at lunchtime!) that the "scare" over salmonella montevideo in chocolate is spreading, because the "crumb" that contained the bacteria has been used by other manufacturers. Here are some things to read about the story, or about the bug:

Today's Guardian
CDR Weekly (for 22 June 2006) (there are also links from the HPA home page, for S. montevideo, but they seem to me to lead to material about S. ajioba, which Saturday's Guardian is reporting about also: more details later!)
The Food Standards Agency website (this includes a list of products recalled by Cadbury's)

Friday, July 07, 2006


Science reports that the recent cases of avian influenza in Indonesia were due to human-to-human transmission, but that there is no sign that the virus is becoming more dangerous. They also report the death in 2003 of a man in China which was put down to SARS but which has been found to be die to avian influenza. I mentioned this a few days ago in another posting.

Science and Nazism

I read the work of Dietrich Bonhoeffer (or some of it), the theologian, some years ago, and discovered that his father was a psychiatrist. Working in a prominent medical library at the time, I was able to get some material about his father, Karl Bonhoeffer, who had worked in Berlin. He was an interesting man (I was going to write an article about him, but haven't done it yet). He seems to have argued in favour of sterilising mentally ill people - as did many people, and not just in Nazi Germany. But he seems not to have been a sympathiser of Hitler, and was apparently indirectly involved in a plot to kill him, when a bomb designed to do that was driven to the train station in his car.

So, my eye was caught by a piece in Science about the Dutch born chemist Peter Debye. A recently published book in Dutch took a harsh view of Debye, documenting behaviour that might indicate Nazi sympathies. The University of Utrecht has removed his name from one of its institutes. But there have also been pro-Debye books (the publication of one of which has just been halted), and others have argued that signing letters "Heil Hitler" (as he apparently did) might just have been something people did without necessarily believing in Hitler's doctrines.

Read the piece in Science.

There is also material in Wikipedia (in
English, and in Dutch - the Dutch link is not working at the moment), and I found this article in De Volkskrant written at the time of the decisions of Utrecht and Maastricht universities to stop using his name.

New NLH Specialist Library for theatre staff

The National Library for Health now has a Surgery, Theatres and Anaesthesia Specialist Library, with links to resources for any member of the theatre team. Perioperative management, surgery, infection control, safety, theatre management and equipment are among the topics covered. You can browse the Library, or search it. There is a related blog, at

The Library itself is at

Contaminated surgical instruments

The Guardian today reports a NICE study which finds that hospitals don't always keep sets of instruments together. This is designed to make it easy to trace instruments if one particular instrument is found to be contaminated.

This finding was discovered by a team drafting guidance on preventing transmission of CJD. This would appear to be the 2nd draft of the 2nd consultation on Patient safety and reduction of risk of transmission of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD) via interventional procedures, available via

On a related matter, a paper in the most recent Annals of the Royal College of Surgeons of England looks at the quality of new surgical instruments - do they work properly, do they break, and so on. Fifteen percent of the instruments examined (at hospitals in London) had a problem. Local quality control, the paper concludes, is vital. (This link is to Ingenta: you will need a subscription - which Leicester has - to read the full paper).

Whooping cough

The Guardian also reports this BMJ paper, which finds a high incidence of whooping cough among children taken to their GP with a persistent cough. Although vaccination against it is common, vaccinated children can still get a milder form of the disease. The BMJ paper, by Anthony Harnden and colleagues from Oxford (and elsewhere) is in fact a BMJ Online First paper.

Read the Guardian
>> Read the BMJ paper

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Cochrane Library enhancements

Cochrane Library has made some enhancements, which you can read about here. There is also a useful summary of these changes, in the Royal Children's Hospital (Melbourne) Update at (thanks to my colleague Sarah Sutton for this).

On a related topic, we have access till the end of the year to the Wiley journal Evidence Based Child Health, which presents new and updated reviews from the Cochrane Library. If you are University of Leicester and find this journal useful, I would be interested to know. The journal is within Wiley Interscience, or you can go straight to I am here.

Human TB gene

Researchers have identified a gene that could determine West Africans' susceptibility to TB, according to a report on SciDev.Net. The research is published in PNAS, and investigated whether the SP110 gene was associated with TB symptoms.

>> Read SciDev.Net
>> Read the PNAS paper

Space Shuttle launch

The Space Shuttle Discovery is scheduled to launch this evening (British Summer Time). This is the first launch since the one that we were lucky enough to see on our holiday last year, so I am following it with some interest.

There is full information at

Monday, July 03, 2006

Who should you cheer for?

Can't decide who to support? (I know, it is getting a bit late...) . This World Development Movement website presents significant data about each country in the World Cup finals, to help you decide who to support. Data includes life expectancy, national income per person, military expenditure, debt, and (here is my excuse for mentioning it here!) health expenditure.

Go to before it really is too late!

Athens problem?

Are you University of Leicester, using Athens to gain access to resources off campus? If you are, and you are having problems, please get in touch. I am particularly interested in problems accessing Taylor and Francis, as I am trying to resolve that for someone at this time. But problems with other things would be of interest as well. Thank you.

Some papers that caught my eye

Here are some recent papers that caught my attention:

CRB-65 predicts death from community acquired pneumonia, by T. Bauer and others, in Journal of Internal Medicine 2006; 260: 93-101. CURB is a score comprising confusion, blood-urea nitrogen, respiratory rate and blood pressure.

Censorship of medical journals, by S. Hickey, a letter in BMJ 2006; 333: 45. This argues that because Medline has no explicit guidelines to help it decide what journals to index, it tends to ignore journals that don't "conform to the conventional paradigm". A rapid response points out that it doesn't index papers from certain statistical journals, and so will miss papers of obvious medical importance. As the writer of the rapid response points out, these papers are picked up in Web of Science. The immediate message from this present librarian is: sometimes you need to search in more than one database to ensure that nothing is missed.

The BMJ reports a NEJM letter in which Chinese scientists report that a man who died of suspected SARS in November 2003 in fact died of H5N1 avian influenza. The BMJ letter is here, and the NEJM letter is available free here.

Nature presents a composite picture of the scientific research that was going on during the longest day, 21 June.

Future immunological meetings

There are websites devoted to forthcoming meetings, but the journal Immunology has a column. Go to for the latest list of future meetings. There are links to websites for the meetings concerned.

The same journal also has a "Forthcoming papers" column - for this issue's column.