Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Pandemic influenza

Two things from a search alert that runs for me in PubMed (ask me if you would like to know how to do this):

First, a paper in Primary Care Respiratory Journal that summarises the literature about any imminent influenza pandemic from a primary care perspective. Their conclusions:

"We need to update ourselves and keep our staff and patients informed to make infection control measures part of our daily activities. In areas where there are contacts with animal reservoirs of influenza A, patients need to be reminded that they need to protect themselves from being infected."

The paper is available online through ScienceDirect (if you are a University of Leicester member or member of another institution with a subscription). There is no link (at the moment anyway) from PubMed directly to the article.

Second, a letter in the British Journal of Anaesthesia looking at the preparedness of intensive care units in the south east of England (or "south east UK", as the authors term it) for a pandemic. The authors found hospitals with no contingency plans, so urge that all hospitals develop one. There is a link to full text, which ought to work if you are a University of Leicester member.


The latest issue of id21 Insights, a web magazine "enabled" by DFID and produced by the Institute for Development Studies at the University of Sussex, has a malaria theme. It looks at household and community responses to malaria in Africa, with several articles about mosquito nets, and others about cultural and social factors, and about malaria control in refugee camps.

SciDev.Net reports a programme that will use home computers to investigate how malaria spreads. Africa @ Home will use spare capacity of home PCs to run a simulation of how malaria spreads.

SciDev.Net also reports a paper published in Nature Chemical Biology, in which researchers used a drug library to find drugs with possible activity against the malaria parasite. The Johns Hopkins Chemical Compound Library provided the information, and this library is now being expanded. Researchers report that astemizole (an anti allergy drug) looked as if it might have this activity: it proved effective in mice. Read more about this in SciDev.Net.

This issue of id21 Insights is at You can read more about Africa @ Home at

Child Health Information and Learning Discussion Group

This is an email discussion group, hosted by Dgroups (which hosts the HIF-Net list, which I belong to, and which alerted me to this).

The list hopes to stimulate debate about how to improve child healthcare worldwide. Full details about how to join and what sort of thing to post are at


Two items in the New England Journal of Medicine (may not be available in full online) caught my eye:

A "Perspective" column in the 27th July issue (355:339-41) about the health effects of illiteracy. The column reports a patient who was not taking their medication properly, despite having it explained carefully (the physician thought) and having a note written for them. It was the medical student who suspected that the patient might not be able to read, and this proved to be the case. No one else out of the team of people who had met the patient had thought of this.

"Perspective" column in the issue for the 20th July (355:229-31) looks at language barriers to health care in the United States, focusing on the case of a 12 year old boy with Spanish as a first language and with little English. His mother, who described the symptoms, had no English. The physician had no Spanish. This obviously led to some confusion, and there are descriptions of other cases where inappropriate care was the result.

Research Councils policies on institutional repositories

Revised posting, revised 2nd August:

For some time, the UK Research Councils have been deliberating about whether researchers they fund should place their research into open access repositories. After a consultation, they have decided to leave the decision up to each individual research council.

The Medical Research Council will mandate researchers to place their publications into PubMed Central, from October 2006. The Economic and Social Research Council will encourage people to put their publications into the "ESRC awards and outputs repository" (I am not clear at this precise moment exactly what this is). The Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council will require publications resulting from research that they fund to be put in an "appropriate e-print repository". For University of Leicester researchers, this "e-print repository" is Leicester Research Archive.

The other councils have yet to decide or are awaiting the results of a RCUK investigation into publishing as a whole.

You can read more about this in these places:

ScieCom Info (in Swedish) - this is a bulletin compiled by Ingegerd Rabow, project leader of Svenskt Resurscentrum for vetenskapelig kommunikation, based in Lund.

SPARC Open Access Newsletter

The Guardian

and on the RCUK website, which links to statements from each council.

and, in Science of 7th July and the BMJ of 14th July.

New bit:

The ALPSP (Association of Learned and Professional Society Publishers) have responded to the RCUK statement, and you can read about it via the UK Serials Group's Serials e-news.

Knowledge for practice, MRSA, personal protective equipment to prevent respiratory infection

A lazy shorthand title, so I can mention three pieces from the latest CMAJ, all in one entry!

First, knowledge. The idea of "clean, clear knowledge" is one that NHS staff may have seen, as it is a slogan that has been used to promote the National Library for Health (ask me, if this is new to you!). Sir Muir Gray, director of the project, writes this guest editorial in CMAJ, about developments in providing this knowledge to Canadian practitioners. Read the editorial - in English - en francais.

Then, MRSA. The same issue of CMAJ (that for the 18th July) has a practitioner's guide to community acquired MRSA. Presumably some of the information will apply only to Canada (notification, what to prescribe), but hopefully some of it will apply in other countries too.

Lastly, respiratory infections. That same issue has a
commentary looking at personal protective equipment (gloves, gowns, masks). It refers to an article in the same issue which compares two different systems.

Presenting data

An article in BMJ Career Focus, by Grant Hutchison, looks at presenting data using graphs, with discussion of use of colour and labels. Read it at

Meningitis Learning

This was mentioned in a magazine my son brought home from school. Meningitis Learning is a site made by the Meningitis Trust, and has information about the disease and its signs and symptoms. There are sections for primary and secondary aged children, and also for teachers. Go to


Silence on this site due to the blogger being on the Isle of Mull, Scotland, for a fortnight.