Friday, August 10, 2007

Nonpharmaceutical interventions during an influenza pandemic

A paper in JAMA looks at this in relation to the 1918-1919 influenza pandemic, looking whether variation in mortality in certain US cities was related to the implementation of school closure, bans on public gatherings, that sort of thing.

Reference to article:

Markel H, Lipman HB, Navarro A, Sloan A, Michalsen JR, Stern AM, Cetron MS. Nonpharmaceutical Interventions Implemented by US Cities During the 1918-1919 Influenza Pandemic JAMA 2007 298: 644-654

And readers from the University of Leicester can access it (with specific password) here.

Updated BTS/SIGN guideline on asthma

SIGN Guideline 63, the British guideline on the management of asthma, has been updated, and details of the update are on the web at The PDF version has already been updated and there will be an updated paper version in due course.

Thanks to Nursing Times for this one also.

Hospital acquired infection

Two things brought to my attention in a recent Nursing Times:

1. Lactococcus lactis, a bacterium used in cheese making, produces a substance that is effective against C. diff. Read the paper in Journal of Medical Microbiology (doi: 10.1099/jmm.0.47085-0)

2. Dry steam cleaning can be effective against HAIs, according to a report in Chemistry and Industry, which I have not yet traced.

The trouble with blogs

Is that I find it very easy to get very behind! Some of the gap since the last posting is accounted for by two weeks on the Isle of Mull (western Scotland, if you are not sure), but the rest is for other reasons.

Friday, July 13, 2007

European Commission report on bioterrorism

The European Commission has produced a green paper on bio-preparedness, which you can see at Its recommendations include some relating to people working with potential bioagents.

Thanks to an email from the European Information Association for alerting me to this.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Journal of Perioperative Practice July 2007

The July 2007 issue of JPP includes articles about anaesthesia for day surgery, preoperative assessment by phone, bunions, hernia repair, palliation of tracheobronchial carcinoma, and standardised analgesia packs after day case orthopaedic surgery.

There is no online access to the journal (though NHS England can access it through Proquest). The Clinical Sciences Library has the printed journal.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Host resistance to lung infection mediated by major vault protein in epithelial cells

This is a paper in the most recent Science, by researchers from Boston (MA) and other places. The introduction says:

"The airway epithelium plays an essential role in innate immunity to lung pathogens. Ribonucleoprotein particles primarily composed of major vault protein (MVP) are highly expressed in cells that encounter xenobiotics. However, a clear biologic function for MVP is not established. We report here that MVP is rapidly recruited to lipid rafts when human lung epithelial cells are infected with Pseudomonas aeruginosa, and maximal recruitment is dependent on bacterial binding to the cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator. MVP was also essential for optimal epithelial cell internalization and clearance of P. aeruginosa. These results suggest that MVP makes a substantial contribution to epithelial cell–mediated resistance to infection. "

The paper is Kowalski MP, Dubouix-Bourandy A, Bajmoczi M, Golan DE, Zaidi T, Coutinho-Sledge YS et al. Host Resistance to Lung Infection Mediated by Major Vault Protein in Epithelial Cells. Science 317 (5834), 130. [DOI: 10.1126/science.1142311]

Friday, July 06, 2007

Bulletin of the World Health Organization - July 2007 issue

In addition to the call for papers on childhood pneumonia (see previous posting), this issue includes papers about: the Hib vaccine in Kenya, lymphatic filariasis, and the effect on indoor air pollution of reducing smoking. There is also a paper on global health partnerships.

>>Read the table of contents

Bulletin of the WHO: pneumonia theme issue

The Bulletin of the WHO is planning a theme issue on childhood pneumonia, with contributions invited by 1 October 2007.

>>Read more here.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

New tuberculosis resource

The Science and Development Network have a new page about TB, with facts and figures, news, features, key documents, and more.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Health information for all by 2015 - campaigning lists


Some information supplied by Neil Pakenham-Walsh.

Two dynamic email groups working towards 'Healthcare Information For All by 2015'

HIFA2015 is a global email discussion group with a focus on the information and learning needs of healthcare providers in developing countries. The main focus is at the local level: households and communities, primary health workers, and health professionals working in district hospital facilities. Its goal is linked with the Millennium Development Goals:

"By 2015, every person worldwide will have access to an informed healthcare provider."

CHILD2015 focuses specifically on the information and learning needs of people responsible for the healthcare of the newborn, infants and children. Its goal: "By 2015, every child worldwide will have access to an informed healthcare provider."

HIFA2015 & CHILD2015 are open to anyone with an interest in improving healthcare in developing countries and membership is free.

Why join?

* Be part of a worldwide community of more than 800 people dedicated to meet the information and learning needs of healthcare providers
* Learn from others
* Share your experience
* Make new contacts and collaborations
* Let others know about your interests, activities, services, publications
* Find out about funding and training opportunities, useful websites, new publications...
* Collaborate to achieve common goals

Join today: send an email to and/or with:
1. your name
2. your organization and country of residence 3. a brief description of your professional interests.
To post a message, email: or
HIFA2015 email archive:
CHILD2015 email archive:
HIFA2015 Campaign website:

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Fair Trade Football Petition

Fair Trade Football Petition

I discovered this through Facebook (have been experimenting in Facebook), where a Fair Trade Football group comes up if you view the most popular groups. And on the petition site there is a link that says "share via Blogger". So I clicked it, and here it is!

Genomics database for humanities and social sciences

Egenis, the ESRC Centre for Genomics in Society (based at the University of Exeter) has produced this online bibliography of material dealing with genomics, but annotated to make it more accessible to social scientists, philosophers, and so on.

The database is at

Thanks to a posting from Frank Norman (picking up on something in the PHG Foundation Newsletter) to the lis-genome list for this.

Infection control in health care settings

A posting from Peg Allen to the MEDLIB-L list alerts me to this new CDC publication:

Guideline for Isolation Precautions: Preventing Transmission of Infectious Agents in Healthcare Settings 2007

which can be seen at

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Social, Technological and Environmental Pathways to Sustainability

STEPS is a new centre at the University of Sussex, looking at science and development. There is an article in the Guardian today.

>>Read the Guardian article

Friday, June 22, 2007

Fifth World Congress on Vaccines, Immunisation and Immunotherapy - influenza

Vaccine, vol. 25, no. 16, 2007, contains papers from the Fifth World Congress on Vaccines, Immunisation and Immunotherapy, held in Montreal. Several papers relate to influenza. One is a useful looking overview:

Poland GA, Jacobson RM, Targonski TV. Avian and pandemic influenza: An overview. Vaccine 2007; 25(16): 3057-3061.

Genome of Aedes aegypti mosquito - updated

The genome of this beastie is published online in Science (17th May) - as a Science Express paper that we cannot access with our subscription. Once it is published in the print journal, we will have access and I will put the details here.

Aedes aegypti is the primary vector for yellow fever and dengue.

The abstract is viewable at

Update>> The full paper is now available at to University of Leicester members.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Cystic fibrosis: patients' experience

An interesting article appears in the BMJ today:

Wicks E. A patient's journey: cystic fibrosis. BMJ 2007; 334(7606): 1270-1.

DOI: 10.1136/bmj.39188.741944.47

Two things especially caught my eye:

1 - when the author was diagnosed, her parents went to the library, having had no information about CF from the hospital. This was in the days before the Internet, so was some time ago. They found a 15 year old book, which advised that they should bond with their new baby too much. There are areas where books do get very out of date!

2 - "Patients need access to information about cystic fibrosis. If professionals do not provide the right information at the right time, patients will go and look for themselves. Plenty of good quality information is available, but there is just as much incorrect information, too, especially on the internet. Patients need to be able to filter out misleading facts, or have access to people who can guide them. " And so do students, and health professionals!

Friday, June 08, 2007

Space Shuttle Atlantis launches later - updated

Atlantis launches later on mission STS117, to take things to the International Space Station. Launch time is scheduled to be 7.38 pm EDT.

I think this must be 00.38 BST tomorrow (Saturday). There are two countdown clocks on the NASA website. The one which I think is giving the actual time to launch is saying (at 2320 BST Friday) that there is 1 hour and 17 minutes to go. The other clock (saying 20 minutes or so) includes all the holds that take place in the countdown.

Anyway, I am watching on NASA TV, so will be able to tell you, if I am still awake!

There is mission information at with links to a blog (not active yet) and information about NASA-TV coverage. You can watch NASA-TV on the web.

>>Later additions - the blog is now active.

Science for April 20th - updated

The 20th April issue of Science is a special issue on germ cells. Read the table of contents

There is a report that the research team that published the "controversial" Lancet study into deaths in Iraq have released their data, but have apparently set some conditions over who can access it, in terms of the requestor's expertise.

Added information, 8th June>> A letter in Science, 8th June 2007, suggests that this is true, but that the authors have not been releasing data to "persons or groups with connections to pro-war or anti-war organizations".

Reed Elsevier to exit defence exhibitions - updated

An email from Rizwana Zafar of the Kostoris Medical Library at the Christie Hospital in Manchester, to the lis-medical list alerted me to this announcement from Reed Elsevier:

This goes to show that things can change for the better if enough people make it so. It is also good to see that a large company like Reed Elsevier are listening and can change what they do: well done to them.

Added information>> The BMJ's report of this is here.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Journal of Perioperative Practice - June 2007

The June 2007 issue of this journal includes articles on:

Safety (an opinion piece);
Clinical pathway in fluid management;
Decontamination and traceability of flexible endoscopes;

There is also a summary of a Cochrane review on drugs to prevent postoperative nausea and vomiting, and a piece by Harold Ellis on the history of the Hopkins rod-lens system, a fibre optic system used in endoscopes. Harold Hopkins, I notice, was born in Leicester, although he worked at the University of Reading. You can read a DNB article about him, and see the results of a PubMed search for articles about him.

This Library has the journal in print. There is no online version, although it is available to the NHS in England through Proquest - go to and search for the word "perioperative". You will need an NHS Athens username and if you are one of "my" ODP students reading this, you can ask me for a reminder about this! The June issue is not in Proquest yet.

Heelys (or should that be heelies?)

I don't have any, but an online only study in Pediatrics looks at injuries sustained by children travelling by heely (roller shoe, street glider - some of these are trade names, I think). There has certainly been coverage in the media in the UK, with some towns and shopping centres banning them.

The study reports 67 cases of injury, reported to a hospital in Dublin, Ireland. 56 were girls, and most injuries were sustained when using the things for the first time.

Genes and disease - Wellcome Trust Case Control Consortium

The media today is reporting the first results from the Wellcome Trust Case Control Consortium, which aims to find the genes associated with common diseases. Some results for Crohn's disease, diabetes (type 1 and type 2), bipolar disorder, coronary heart disease, hypertension, rheumatoid arthritis .

The Study as a whole has a webpage at

>>Read a report in the Guardian

The results are published in Nature and Nature Genetics (a letter and a brief communication).

And there is a report on the Biochemist e-volution news site as well (mentioned in an email from Frank Norman at the NIMR to a discussion list).

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

JAMA (May 16, 2007) includes a paper on the present state of affairs with, the registry of clinical trials, maintained by the NLM. The article includes a list of other registries, and outlines some of the present challenges - the need for unambiguous names for trials, the need for a good search engine, and the need to avoid duplicate registration.

>>Read the paper.


I was experimenting with Scientific Commons, a search engine for open access material being developed at the University of St. Gallen in Switzerland. It includes the content of Leicester Research Archive, our institutional repository, and has rather a nice interface that displays references to material on the right hand side of the screen, and details of where the reference is from, on the left, when you point.

I searched, rather pompously, for myself, using just surname. I did find me but also:

Cheryl Elizabeth Ferris Nockels, who was the first female graduate in animal nutrition at Colorado State University, in 1957. A search of the CSU site for Nockels finds other Nockels, as well;

Christiane Nockels, a student on the history of medicine and science program at Yale, and originally from Luxembourg (previous Googlings for Nockels have found some in Luxembourg, some of whom, I think from memory, went to Iowa)

and (stretching things a little):

Jens Uwe Nockel (or Noeckel), at the University of Oregon.

Greetings to you all! And now back to work.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007


I'd been meaning to mention this, having found out about through ResourceShelf, but appear not to have done.

So, here it is!

HEALTHMap comes from the Children's Hospital Informatics Program, Boston, MA, and Harvard and MIT. It presents data on the incidence of several important infectious diseases, but in graphical form. Information is fed from a number of sources including Promed-Mail, and Euro Surveillance, and you can select the diseases you are interested in. You can also look at a particular country in detail.

Read about HEALTHMap in ResourceShelf
Look at HEALTHMap

Monday, June 04, 2007

Encyclopedia of Life

This is a project to create an electronic page of information for each known species on Earth, with partners including the Natural History Museum. A pilot site is now up, at, with some demonstration pages.

Friday, June 01, 2007

Maritime history of Massachusetts

This - - is lovely and nothing to do with work! Thanks to the Internet Scout Project for this one.

Management of fever

NICE have issued guidance on assessment and initial management of fever in the under 5s, and you can read about it in the BMJ and read the thing itself here.

Journal of Infection: June 2007

Some of the articles in this issue are:

Assessing the burden of influenza and other respiratory infections in England and Wales;
Meningococcal disease deaths and the frequency of antibiotic administration delays;

My eye was caught by:

Family saliva sharing behaviors and age of human herpesvirus-6B infection

[A new way, it seems, to describe kissing your children]

Online only papers include:

A large outbreak of tinea capitis in a primary school

Everything is available to University of Leicester users via

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Tuberculosis in the news

And now back to work.

The Guardian carries a story of a man with XDR-TB who flew from the USA to Europe and then back again.

BBC Look East, the television news for the eastern counties, has been carrying the story of a school in Luton where several pupils have been found to be carrying TB. There is a story on the BBC website here. While looking for it, I also found a story about (inactive) TB being found in patients at Cornhill Hospital, Aberdeen.


I have been in Cromer - look at this BBC webcam for a live picture of the sea there and here for information about the lifeboat.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Social management of TB

A paper in the Journal of Advanced Nursing looks at this. Everyone diagnosed at one London hospital with TB was interviewed with regard to factors such as housing, past imprisonment, drug use. 32 percent of those interviewed were homeless (as defined by the authors), 39 percent were in receipt of welfare, 13 percent had no income, and over a third of people had no one to remind them to take their medications.

The paper is:

Craig GM, Booth H, Story A, Hayward A, Hall J, Goodburn A, Zumla A. The impact of social factors on tuberculosis management. Journal of Advanced Nursing 2007; 58 (5): 418–424.

Drug target database, and hepatitis B information

Two items of interest in Lancet Infectious Diseases for June 2007:

The Drug Target Prioritization Database is a WHO initiative, containing drug target information relating to the agents responsible for TB and malaria, and other things. The database is at, and the item in Lancet Infectious Diseases is here.

A list of websites relating to hepatitis B, including sites from CDC and Health Protection Agency.

Plagiarism uncovered by systematic review

A piece in today's BMJ (26 May) leads me to read a paper from last year describing how plagiarism was uncovered by a systematic review. Iain Chalmers, while working on a systematic review of epidural anaesthesia, discovered a paper which repeated data from another, unacknowledged, paper of some years before.

The case continues - it is the outcome of a Croatian government investigation that is reported in today's BMJ.

Drugs as weapons

Today's BMJ (26th May) reports a report (as it were) from the BMA on the use of drugs as weapons, something that gets around conventions on chemical weapons. The report discusses the ethical implications of such things as the apparent use of fentanyl in the Moscow theatre siege. The same report was discussed in yesterday's Guardian.

Read the BMJ
Read the Guardian
Read the actual BMA report "The use of drugs as weapons"

Thursday, May 24, 2007

BBSRC review of microbial science research

The Horizon Press Microbiology Blog had information about this, so I will post it on this blog!

The BBSRC have produced a report for their strategy board, on microbial research. It is dated September 2006, although I don't remember seeing mention of it before. It is at

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Virginia Tech

I have wanted since hearing about it on the radio news at breakfast to just write this note, but have not had the chance until now.

As a member of another higher education community, I want to say that my thoughts and prayers are with those affected by the terrible events at Virginia Tech.

I was struck by Justin Webb's thought on that radio news (BBC Radio 4 "Today" programme) that now people will associate Virginia or this particular institution with this event, and lose sight of all the other things that the state and institution are. Perhaps a rather trivial example, and I am sure others will have their own, better, examples, but in our house we think of the excellent Judy Moody books when we hear the word Virginia, and we will continue to do so. There is more to a place than any one event.

Later amendment: a regular update from Ruth Rikowski, that I receive by email, drew my attention to the April 16 Archive site, which collects people's stories, and stories of events held to mark the massacre.

AORN Journal: May 2007

This issue (available to University of Leicester people through Science Direct - use Leicester e-link to find the link) includes:

Research on:

Family centred care in the perioperative area
Continuous infusion of local anesthetics
Evaluation of a numbered surgical sponge product - does numbering the sponges reduce the incidence of lost sponges?
Unplanned postoperative hypothermia


Patient literacy

And, AORN recommendations on:

Managing the patient receiving local anesthesia
Prevention of unplanned perioperative hypothermia
Reducing radiological exposure in the perioperative practice setting

Friday, May 18, 2007

National Heart Lung and Blood Institute Information for Health Professionals

Internet Scout (mentioned here before) brought this to my attention. It (at includes applications for PDAs, mortality maps, educational resources, and tools like a BMI calculator. Perhaps too much of a US emphasis to be useful in the UK? I don't know, so here it is, for you to decide.

Peer review as literary genre

An article in The Chronicle of Higher Education (Unearthing a genre, by Leon Fink, published in the issue of 18th May) looks at peer review, arguing that peer review is a literary genre.

This came to me from the Library Link of the Day , which I find very useful.

Teams, or solo researchers?

Research published in Science for 18 May shows that teams increasingly dominate the production of knowledge, over solo authors. The authors looked at almost 20 million papers, over 50 years, and over 2 million patents, and found a shift towards team research, and an increase in the size of the team. There is some discussion of the reasons why this is so.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Elizabeth Blackwell, First Woman Doctor

I wonder if Judy Moody would enjoy a new biography of Blackwell, "The excellent Doctor Blackwell", by Julia Boyd, reviewed in the New England Journal of Medicine? Perhaps her parents would?

Guillain Barre syndrome

I heard about a case of this yesterday (although I had heard of it before) and quick look at a neurology book I happened to see this morning reveals that it can occur after a viral or bacterial infection, so it is of interest to this blog.

Here is some information about Guillain Barré syndrome, also known as acute inflammatory or postinfective polyradiculoneuropathy):

NHS Direct Health Encyclopaedia

Guillain Barré Syndrome Support Group


Who was Guillain? And Barré? (Information from

(Pedantic linguistic note: I know I have missed off the accent in the title of this post but if I include it, I fear it will not be found in searches for "barre").


We usually get involved in this in our house, and will be watching the television programmes later this month, I am sure.

Meanwhile, Springwatch is looking for first sightings on a number of Spring phenomena - seven spot ladybirds, red tailed bumblebees, swifts (seen!), hawthorn (probably seen!), frogspawn, and peacock butterflies.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Pandemic influenza preparedness

An editorial in the BMJ (12 May) brought my attention to new Department of Health/Cabinet Office guidance on this. The editorial thinks it replaces existing guidance from 2005. That original guidance was produced by all the UK health departments, not just one of them, so I am not sure.

But I have added the new draft (consultation period ends tomorrow: sorry!) to our avian and pandemic influenza webpages, and annotated it and the 2005 guidance.

Bulletin of the WHO

The latest issue is a theme issue on tuberculosis, to coincide with a resolution on TB that is being considered by the World Health Assembly which is meeting now.

See the contents page of this issue here.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Silencing Genomes

Another site "found" via the Internet Scout Project.

Silencing Genomes is to do with RNAi. The discovery of RNAi won the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine in 2006.

I quote from the Silencing Genomes site:

"RNAi is a mechanism that down-regulates gene expression when double-stranded RNA (ds-RNA) molecules that correspond to a part of a "target gene" are present in a cell. By deliberately introducing defined sequences of dsRNA into living organisms, biologists can observe the physiological consequences of "silencing" virtually any gene in C. elegans, as well as other plants and animals."

There are parts of the site dealing with culturing E. coli, C. elegans, observing wild type and mutant C. elegans, and with RNAi.

Stop the Traffik

Yes, that is Traffik with a K, and yes, it is lunchtime!

At a church service for Christian Aid Week last night, my attention was drawn to this organisation, which is a group of organisations campaigning for the abolition of present day slavery - people trafficking, sex trafficking, call it what you like. You can sign a pledge on their website (also available as a postcard, which you can order), and also find out more about children being trafficked to Cote d'Ivoire to work on cocoa plantations (for chocolate). A substantial proportion of cocoa for chocolate comes from Cote d'Ivoire.

The site is at - sign the pledge, see if your organisation can sign up en bloc, and read about where to buy slavery-free chocolate.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Ranalexin and lysostaphin in MRSA

A tiny snippet in Nursing Times mentioned research done at St. Andrews, which looked at inhibiting MRSA with a combination of the antibiotic lysostaphin and ranalexin, a peptide found in bullfrogs.

This is, I am sure, a paper in the Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy:

Graham S, Coote PJ.
Potent, synergistic inhibition of Staphylococcus aureus upon exposure to a combination of the endopeptidase lysostaphin and the cationic peptide ranalexin.J Antimicrob Chemother. 2007 Apr;59(4):759-62. Epub 2007 Feb 26.

The PubMed record is here - and the full text link should work for University of Leicester members (you may need to login with Athens off campus).

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Reed Elsevier and arms fairs

A recent CMAJ ( carries an editorial on this issue, with details of the campaign so far. See my previous postings also, for details.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

MRSA and maggots

I remember hearing about this on the radio news, but have just discovered a piece about it in the Guardian.

Researchers at Manchester University tried bluebottle maggots on patients with MRSA-infected diabetic foot ulcers and found that in all but one case, the infection was cleared up.

I couldn't find the published research that led to this article, until I found the University's own press release which made me remember the first rule of literature searching for authors: can the author be spelt some other way? The Guardian has him as Bolton, but he is in fact Boulton, and the press release cites the publication.

The Guardian does report that the Manchester team has been given a grant by Diabetes UK to run an RCT on this.

Islamic contributions to medical science

The same issue of Canadian Medical Association Journal (see earlier posting) has an interesting article on early Islamic contributions to medicine. The authors seek to counteract the view that all early Islamic scientists did was transmit Greek science to the Renaissance.

The article is:

Islam's forgotten contributions to medical science
Ingrid Hehmeyer and Aliya Khan
CMAJ 2007;176 1467-1468

Genetics articles in CMAJ

The latest Canadian Medical Association Journal has this article:

Testing for HER2-positive breast cancer: a systematic review and
cost-effectiveness analysis
Nandini Dendukuri, Karim Khetani, Michelle McIsaac, and James Brophy
CMAJ 2007;176 1429-1434

and an associated commentary:

HER2 testing: The patent "genee" is out of the bottle
Brian Goldman
CMAJ 2007;176 1443-1444

and a commentary about preimplantation testing:

Where are we going with preimplantation genetic diagnosis?
Timothy Krahn
CMAJ 2007;176 1445-1446

WHO clinical trials search

The WHO have a project called International Clinical Trials Registry Platform, which includes a search engine for clinical trials, available at

This searches a database containing information from a number of sources. It is not itself a clinical trials registry. I can't immediately find a list of these sources, but there may be one somewhere.

I saw mention of this resource in an email from Virginia Ballance, Hilda Bowen Library, College of the Bahamas, to the MEDLIB-L discussion list.

Friday, May 04, 2007

Australian Genome Alliance

The Australian Genome Alliance is lobbying the federal Australian government to get it to fund research into the genomes of things Australian. These things might include the cane toad and boll moth, which are major agricultural pests, and indigenous animals like the wallaby. It is worried that this work will end up being done by other countries if the government does not move quickly.

Their website is at and I am grateful to Kevin Ahern's "Webwatch" column in the journal BioTechniques for this site.

Pneumococcal vaccine

Today's BMJ reports that in Alaska, vaccine against pneumococcal disease has been very effective against the serotypes of pneumococcus covered by the vaccine, but that new serotypes are now emerging that are not resistant. This is a report of a study in JAMA - an article and an editorial (if you are University of Leicester, the Library can supply the password)

Duplicate publication

The BMJ of last weekend discusses a paper in Korean, which was allegedly translated, and then published in an English language journal but with a different title and with different authors.

The BMJ of 5th May reports the decision of the journal Fertility and Sterility, which published the paper in English, which is to withdraw the paper as a duplicate publication. "Plagiarism" has not been mentioned, which has annoyed the author of the original Korean language paper, who was arguing that he was the true author of the English language paper, which was published without his knowledge, and without his name on it.

Stockpiling influenza vaccine

Today's BMJ reports a recent meeting at the WHO, which backed calls for vaccine effective against H5N1 influenza to be stockpiled. The meeting also discussed access to the vaccine.

C. diff rates

Health Service Journal (3 May 2007, p. 8) reports that C. diff rates are up 8 percent, with 55681 cases reported to the HPA in 2006, against 51767 the previous year. The number of cases in January - March 2006 was 15335, but 12814, in October - December. The HPA say it is too early to say if this is a trend. No doubt everyone will view the increase year on year from 2005 to 2006 as a trend, but there we are!

The HPA has been tasked with producing new guidance on C. diff. I shall mention it here when I spot it.

Today's BMJ discusses this as well.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Journal of Medical Microbiology: May issue

The May issue of Journal of Medical Microbiology includes:

A paradigm for the molecular identification of Mycobacterium species in a routine diagnostic laboratory, by authors from the Royal Free and UCL in London;

Real-time RT-PCR for H5N1 avian influenza virus detection, by authors from Beijing and Wenzhou;

Rapid determination of hospital acquired meticillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus lineages, by authors from St. Georges and Guy's, King's and St. Thomas' in London.

And a lot more besides: see the contents page here.

Monday, April 30, 2007

NICE guidance on life threatening blood clots in surgical patients

NICE have issued new guidance on preventing blood clots in surgical patients. The NICE website says:

"New guidelines launched today by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) are set to tackle the continuing problem of potentially life-threatening venous thromboembolism (deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolism) in patients who have undergone surgery. The guideline, produced for NICE by the National Collaborating Centre for Acute Care (NCC-AC), is the culmination of the most comprehensive review and analysis of the available evidence on ways to reduce the risk of venous thromboembolism (VTE) yet carried out. The guideline covers all patients admitted to hospital for an operation requiring an overnight stay."

Seven hundredth posting!

No postings for a week: we were in Boston, MA, for a week's holiday (vacation) - highly recommended, with lots of history, whale watching, a baseball game, a concert at the Boston Symphony, and more. Also visited Ipswich, MA - since I am from Ipswich, England, this was very good!

Now back to work.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Open Medicine

Open Medicine is a new open access medical journal, based in Canada, and founded by former members of the editorial team of the Canadian Medical Association Journal.

The journal will accept no pharmaceutical advertising, brooks no embargoes, and will fund itself by donations and "ethical" advertising. Everything published is open access by a Creative Commons non commercial licence.

Vitamin D - edited post

Saturday's Independent newspaper had vitamin D on its front page: studies indicating that there are great health benefits, and that it may be more useful in preventing colds and flu than using vitamin C.

I couldn't locate the study in Epidemiology and Infection that they are referring to, but it turns out to be an item of correspondence. I am very grateful to Mandy Guest, Knowledge Service Manager at the Islington Primary Care Trust in London, for the DOI of the item, which is

The December 2005 systematic review in American Journal of Public Health is, I think, this:

Garland CF, Garland FC, Gorham ED, Lipkin M, Newmark H, Mohr SB, Holick MF.
The role of vitamin D in cancer prevention.Am J Public Health. 2006 Feb;96(2):252-61. Epub 2005 Dec 27.

This appeared as an advance online publication in December 2005.

Phylogeography of avian influenza

Yesterday I found a paper on the phylogeography of Mycobacterium tuberculosis, and today have found one on the phylogeography of H5N1 avian influenza.

This came to me in a Web of Science search alert - I tend not to blog things from this although I do use the alert to identify new information sources for our avian influenza webpage.

Anyway, this paper is in PNAS and looks at how the virus has spread, using information about genetic sequences of the virus found in different places.

Report into Suffolk bird flu outbreak

Defra and other agencies have published reports into the outbreak earlier this year of avian influenza at the Bernard Matthews turkey farm/factory in Holton, Suffolk.

There is a Defra press release, detailing what has been published, namely a Defra epidemiological report, and a joint final report by the Food Standards Agency and others.

There is another Defra press release about their epidemiological report, which links to the epidemiological report itself.

There is an FSA press release about their investigation. I cannot immediately find this final FSA and other agencies report.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Pediatrics, April 2007

Here is what caught my eye in Pediatrics 119(4), April 2007:

An article about the journal Pediatrics online - it is ten years since it went online;
An article about parental knowledge of antibiotics - how often are they used for a particular condition, are they helpful in treating bacterial or viral infections, that sort of thing;
Articles about "intimidation" (the title word) of British paediatricians and about the role of the GMC in child protection.
Clinical report from the Committee on Infectious Diseases (of the American Academy of Pediatrics) on Antiviral therapy and prophylaxis for influenza in children.

Lancet Infectious Diseases, latest issue

Vol. 7, no. 5 of this journal is available online and includes news about a meningitis outbreak and vaccination programme in Sudan, Burkina Faso, DRC and Congo, and about sharing of influenza data; letters about white coats and hospital acquired infections, and articles about the role of statins in modulating inflammatory responses in sepsis, imported malaria in children (who have visited malarious areas and then returned home infected), and the global phylogeography (differences between strains found in different places, I think?) of M. tuberculosis.

See the contents page

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

John Crofton

Issue 37 of the DFID magazine Developments has an article about Professor John Crofton, who is now 95, and has been working in tuberculosis research and treatment for 70 years. He devised the "Edinburgh Method", the combination of three drugs that was the standard treatment. The use of that regimen apparently led to TB being virtually wiped out in Edinburgh within 6 years.

Failure to comply with the course of treatment led to the development of multidrug resistant TB, which in turn has led to the development of extreme drug-resistant TB (XDR-TB).

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

New Main Library entrance arrangements from Monday 23rd April

Of interest only to visitors to the University of Leicester main library, related to the Library building project:

The front entrance to the existing Main Library building will no longer be in use after the building closes at midnight on Sunday 22 April. From Monday 23 April, for the duration of Phase 2 of the New Library Project, entry to the Library and to AVS Design & Print will be through the extension at the back of the existing building. When the whole project is completed, entry to the Library will revert to the front of the building.

To get to the new entrance from the former entrance to the existing building there is a signposted route. This takes you past the front of the Fielding Johnson Building (FJB) towards Cannons Health Club, with a left turn before you reach the Security Lodge towards a covered walkway between the side of the FJB and the builders' compound which leads to the temporary library entrance, which is ramped for accessibility.

(Please note that the roadway between the existing building and the Engineering Building is part of the builders' site, and there is no way through in that direction.) From campus Entrance 1 on University Road, go down the road towards Wyggeston & QE College and turn left beyond the Security Lodge, to join the route to the covered walkway mentioned above.

For detailed information about the arrangement of the collections and services during Phase 2, please see the links from the Library home page at

Monday, April 16, 2007

Genetics website (Glaxo Smith Kline)

The Internet Scout Project (mentioned before in this blog) has alerted me to this site produced by Glaxo Smith Kline.

The GSK site includes an introduction to genetics, information on chromosomes and heredity, genes and diseases, genes and medicines, and a timeline. Definitions of hyperlinked terms appear in little pop up boxes, which is quite neat (you need to turn off any pop up blockers in order to enjoy this feature!).

Friday, April 13, 2007

Science, 13th April - macaques, and obesity

Science for the 13th of April is a special issue on the macaque genome.

It also contains news about the research that is all over the radio news today about a gene for obesity. This is research by people at Peninsula Medical School (Exeter) and Oxford, which has found that people with two copies of the FTO gene are on average 3 kg heavier than people who do not. There has been earlier work on obesity genes, according to a "News of the week" column in this issue of Science, and that column discusses the significance of this latest work. The research itself is in "Science Express" and so you will need a subscription to Science Express to read it in full. This University does not have such a subscription. Once the paper is published in print copies of Science, it will be available to us online.

Read the table of contents for this issue of Science

Read the "News of the week" about the obesity gene

Read the paper on the obesity gene (see note above) - paper now available to UoL members at (note added 24th May)

BMJ, 14th April

The BMJ for the 14th of April has these articles, which might be of interest:

An editorial and a "head to head" debate on whether stockpiles of smallpox virus, held in Russia and in the United States, should be destroyed;

A research article interventions to improve water quality to prevent diarrhoea;

A 10 minute consultation on COPD;

Netlines, which includes the Medicines Dispatch literature alerting newsletter that is published at the Leicester Royal Infirmary -

A piece about Keats' La Belle Dame sans Merci.

The table of contents is at:

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Genetics Resources on the Web (GROW)

Genetics Resources on the Web is at, and is maintained by the National Coalition for Health Professional Education in Genetics (NCHPEG), based in Maryland. It is aimed at health professionals and the public and aims to provide high quality information related to human genetics.

It was mentioned in:

Guttmacher AE, Porteous ME, McInerney JD. Educating health-care professionals about genetics and genomics. Nature Reviews Genetics 2006; 8: 151-7

which also talks about OMIM and Entrez Gene.

Scopus downtime 14th April

Scopus is likely to be unavailable this coming Saturday, 14th April, for four hours starting at 1200 GMT, that is, 1300 British time. Scopus have scheduled maintenance for this time.

New version of NCBI Entrez - beta test

Entrez is the search engine for the NCBI suite of databases, and there is a new version, with enhancements, in beta test. There is more about this in the NLM Technical Bulletin.


I am reminded about DIRLINE by something I read in an email update from the NLM.

DIRLINE ( is a directory of health organisations - perhaps North American, but still could be useful to track down websites to use when looking for patient information.

Genetically modified mosquitoes and malaria

Edited 12th April 2007.

The Guardian (20th March) reports work done at Johns Hopkins University which has created mosquitoes which cannot pass on the Plasmodium parasite that causes malaria. This has indeed been done by genetically modifying the insects. The work is published in PNAS. There is a report on the BBC website.

I was struck while watching Comic Relief by the enormity of malaria: they reported a village in (I think) Tanzania, where a Comic Relief funded project had given mosquito nets to all pregnant women and mothers of young children. The number of deaths in the village dropped by 80 percent. All that is from memory, so not necessarily a reputable and reliable source!

New bit added 12th April:

SciDev.Net has discussion of other work in this field: mosquitoes have been made that are resistant to malaria and dengue fever. For this to help stop the spread of these diseases to humans, those resistant mosquitoes need to do well in the wild - those mosquitoes need to be dominant there. SciDev.Net discusses a paper in Science (which our subscription does not include, so at present the link does not go to full text) which does similar things with Drosophila. I suspect the Science paper will become available in full when it is published in the print journal.

Yuri Gagarin

Google today has a special logo, which has a spacecraft orbiting the Earth, and which says "Yuri Gagarin" if you point your mouse at it.

Gagarin became the first person in space, and the first person to orbit the Earth, this day in 1961. Read more in Wikipedia (subject to the usual caveats about Wikipedia: lots of debate about this in various places, and maybe I will blog about it. But now I need to do some work).


Wilfing (from "what was I looking for") is apparently surfing the web without any real purpose, being distracted by pop up adverts and the like.

Now, when the web was new, and online journals were still an optional extra, I had concerns that browsing - finding things you did not know you were looking for - would become too difficult and would die out. It would no longer be possible to go to a shelf of journals and just flick through pages of journals you wouldn't think to read. I do that still a little bit with printed journals that make their way across my desk. But of course, we don't take that many journals in print any more, so there are a lot of journals that I cannot see like that.

But perhaps wilfing is the online equivalent? I am not sure if wilfing would work with academic journals, because you can't really flick through pages of journals you did not know you were interested in. But perhaps if you use publisher sites like Blackwell Synergy or Science Direct, or news sites in your field, you can wilf, and start to go places you did not know you wanted to go.

Browsing was and is, of course, the point of this blog, so perhaps this blog can become a starting place for wilfing.

There is an article in the Guardian about wilfing, which refers to a survey by YouGov.

Okinawa Infectious Diseases Initiative

This was in a Life Sciences magazine email I get from Elsevier, and is described in an article in Trends in Parasitology.

The Initiative was launched in 2000 and pledged to spend 3 billion US$ on combating infectious disease in developing countries. The article describes the achievements of the Initiative, which concentrated initially on Asia and is now moving to look at Africa.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Clostridium difficile

Last week's BMJ had an editorial discussing the rise in cases of C. diff in hospitals, and asking if it is appropriate to view outbreaks in the same way as outbreaks of MRSA. Read the editorial at

Today's Daily Mirror, I noticed, had an article telling how a hospital somewhere (Dudley?) had decided not to continue using its hi-tech cleaning equipment, and to go back to using bleach, as the new equipment was not having the desired effect.

There is at present an outbreak of C. diff. at James Paget Hospital, Gorleston. Google finds their press release at . For news sources from the area, try the Eastern Daily Press, East Anglian Daily Times and Lowestoft Journal.

Buzzard sighted from my garden

Nothing to do with any of the interests of this blog, but yesterday while idling in my garden, I happened to look up into the sky and saw a buzzard, which circled round, then moved so I had to go to the front garden, and then got lower in the sky and headed off towards a neighbouring village.

Thought I would share that with you!

Sterilisation of surgical instruments

While I was off work over Easter, this was on the radio news.

The government wants sterilisation of surgical instruments to be carried out in regional centres, rather than individual hospitals. The British Orthopaedic Association is concerned that this will delay operations.

The BBC website talks about this at The British Orthopaedic Association site is at but I have not found any more information there (admittedly I had only a quick look).

Journal of Clinical Pathology

This BMJ published journal is now available online back to vol. 1, 1947. It is the first of the BMJ titles to be made available back to its beginnings. The archives are free to access although registration may be required. (The BMJ publicity says it will be, but I have just accessed the first issue of this journal without registering - is that because we subscribe here? See below).

University of Leicester members can use Leicester e-link to access Journal of Clinical Pathology.

Information added 11th April: registration not necessary if your institution has a subscription. Material less than 12 months old needs a subscription. Information contained in an email posted to the lis-medical discussion list on 5th April.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Journal of Infection - April 2007 issue

This issue has just crossed my desk and contains papers on:

Performance of a predictive rule to distinguish bacterial and viral meningitis;
Risk factors for isolation of low level mupirocin-resistant versus -susceptible MRSA from patients in intensive care units;
Emergence of community associated MRSA in Hawaii, 2001-2003
RSV inhibits interferon-alpha-inducible signaling in macrophage-like U937 cells.

Find the contents page in Science Direct with links to full text (for University of Leicester members, with Athens authentication) at

National Electronic Library for Health

This, NeLH, is now officially retired, replaced by the National Library for Health at

The NeLH site is scheduled to be replaced by an automatic redirect.

Monday, April 02, 2007


This is a National Library of Medicine database covering drugs to which breastfeeding mothers may be exposed, and their possible effects on lactation and on the infant. Alternative drugs may be suggested.

LactMed is at

LactMed has been expanded, and there is more information about that, with a link to a fact sheet, at

Registering a clinical trial in is one of the major registries for clinical trials. The International Committee of Medical Journal Editors endorse the use of such registries. Chest for March 2007 contains an article from two members of the National Library of Medicine, describing how to register your trial in this registry.

Your local library can help you with choosing MeSH headings: I would certainly be pleased to do that for people in "my" departments here at Leicester.

The Chest paper is available here:

Friday, March 30, 2007


This is the study of the DNA of entire communities of microbes, and is the subject of a new report from the US National Research Council.

Read the NRC report.

Read about the report in The Biochemist (it is thanks to an email from Frank Norman, Librarian of the NIMR in London, to a discussion list, that I know about this) and in Science.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Canadian Medical Association Journal

Two things in the issue for 27th March 2007 that caught my eye:

An editorial about research misconduct, and its investigation in Canada;

A news item about Universities Allied for Essential Medicines, a North American student led organisation that lobbies universities to research neglected diseases and to make drugs available at affordable rates.

Friday, March 23, 2007

World Tuberculosis Day

Is tomorrow, 24th March.

SciDev.Net have a page of news, commentary and features. Stop TB Partnership also have a page of resources.
Reed Elsevier and the arms trade - updated again

I was interested last week (this was in October 2005) to hear that the Lancet had published an editorial questioning how Reed Elsevier (the publisher of the Lancet) can be involved in organising arms fairs, and at the same time be a major health publisher. Reed Elsevier sent a PR person to the Today programme to argue that the arms trade is legitimate and it is better that someone organises things like this responsibly, and that each Elsevier journal was able to hold its own opinions. Perusal of the Lancet itself reveals that there was a letter signed by a dozen or so people, some signing on behalf of campaigning organisations, protesting that Reed Elsevier's involvement with the fair was incompatible with the Lancet's principles. I imagine the editorial was a response to the letter.

The editorial, the letter and a response from Reed Elsevier to that letter are all available via ScienceDirect

The BMJ published a news piece about all of this, also, at the time.

Updated bit: The BMJ today (16th March 2007) has an editorial about this whole issue: There are links to campaign materials on this topic. The editorial argues that this is not the BMJ attacking a rival journal, and that the BMJ does not want to see the Lancet "diminished". Personally, I remember being struck in my first professional post, in a library with vast collections of historic medical journals, by the campaigning nature of the Lancet. I personally wonder how compatible this campaigning nature is with a publisher that organises arms fairs, however independent each journal is from the publisher that owns it.

Second updated bit: Guardian, 23rd March, has a report about the number of letters published in this week's Lancet about this.

Kidney Diseases Specialist Library

This is a new part of the National Library for Health, at, and includes information on renal tract infection and kidney diseases in adults and children, and basic information on renal tract cancer. Information is aimed at health professionals and at patients and carers.

In our time: microbiology

While driving the other day, I found this BBC Radio 4 programme, which at the time was talking about the place of microbes in evolution. You can listen again to the programme at

Thursday, March 22, 2007

AORN Journal : March 2007

March 2007, 85(3) is on my desk and contains articles on total anomalous pulmonary venous connection, perioperative care of the immunocompromised patient, research into whether preoperative anxiety level predicts postoperative pain, research into factors influencing how perioperative nurses report errors. Then there are papers on distance learning in perioperative nurse education, and from Walter Reed Medical Center on whether "loaner" instruments were decontaminated - these are instruments owned by a company and loaned to the hospital. The "clinical issues" column includes discussion of antibiotic resistance and of C. Diff.

AORN Journal is

Neurologic complications of influenza

Plenty of things being published about influenza, of course - use our influenza webpages to link to a PubMed search that will update you - but this caught my eye:

Newland JG et al. Neurologic complications in children hospitalized with influenza: characteristics, incidence, and risk factors. Journal of Pediatrics 2007; 150(3): 306-10.

The authors reviewed all children hospitalized in the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia with influenza, looking for neurologic complications, which included encephalopathy and seizures.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Reed Elsevier and arms fairs

More about campaigns on the Campaign against the Arms Trade site at See an earlier posting on this blog for more background.

Lancet special issue on COPD

The Lancet is planning a special issue on COPD, to coincide with the European Respiratory Society's annual meeting in September. They have issued a call for papers, especially those based on work that is to be presented at the meeting, papers to be submitted by 18th May. More details here (Athens login needed if off campus).

Friday, March 16, 2007

Pi Day

Thanks to the Internet Scout Report I now know about Pi Day, but unfortunately I have missed this years, which was on the 14th March. The official Pi Day website is at, and if you want to see the digits of pi beyond what my old school calculator would go to (3.1415926, I think?), you can see them at, or at

And Internet Scout Report, which sends a weekly update of useful websites, is at

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Where renal research is published

A paper in Kidney International in December last year (brought to my attention in an email from Cathy Jordan, Medical Librarian at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington DC, to the MEDLIB-L list) examined where renal research was published. The authors looked at 2779 primary studies, identified through 195 systematic reviews. 49 percent were published in the top 20 journals on the resulting list. 10 of those journals were not renal journals. The remaining 51 percent of papers were published in 446 different journals. Therefore, almost half of renal research is published in non renal journals, and the authors say in the abstract:

"Browsing the top journals is important. However, relevant studies are also scattered across a large range of journals that may not be routinely scanned by busy physicians, and keeping up with this literature requires other continuing education strategies."

Browsing can be done in a library, if they happen to have the top journals in print, or by signing up to receive electronic tables of contents for those journals. Your "other continuing education strategies" could include setting up an alert search in Medline or another database, for material in a particular subject. Or your librarian could do this for you. The whole of renal medicine might be too big for this, but your particular interests in it might not be.

The authors of the paper include McKibbon and Haynes of McMaster University, and the abstract is here: Links to full text will work if you subscribe (we do, at Leicester). The reference is:

Garg AX, Iansavichus AV, Kastner M, Walters LA, Wilczynski N, McKibbon KA, et al. Lost in publication: Half of all renal practice evidence is published in non-renal journals. Kidney Int. 2006;70(11):1995-2005.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Electron microscopy, kinases and C. elegans

Three websites I now know about, thanks to the WebWatch column in the journal Biotechniques (

That column in the March issue contains details of an elcetron microscopy site at the Eidgenoessische Technische Hochschule Zurich, at It has information on how the various techniques work, as well as selected images.

The same column also has details of BANMOKI, a database of bacterial nucleoside monophosphate kinases (, and WormBook, an online review of the biology of C. elegans ( This is open access and includes protocols, biology, genomics and a lot else.

Friday, March 09, 2007


A colleague and I taught a "Google and beyond" class recently, looking at advanced search techniques and other web tools. We included a bit on Web 2.0 (or some of it - I think I am too old for some of it) and mentioned Wikipedia.

So it was interesting to see this - - in today's Independent. Someone who has edited many entries on Wikipedia, who appeared to be a professor of religion, turns out to be a "twenty something" with no expertise in the area. He has been used as an expert in factual disputes at Wikipedia, and has been quoted as an expert by the New York Times.

I don't think that everyone who edits entries on Wikipedia is pretending to be someone they are not. I imagine many are knowledgeable enthusiasts for their subject. There was an article in the Times (or London) last weekend about some of the editors. I do wonder if particular subjects attract this sort of controversy, or the sort of tampering that has been talked about in various places, with people editing their own entries, or adding in scurrilous things to other people's. But it is an interesting phenomenon to talk about in our classes...

Here are links to two ResourceShelf posts about Wikipedia, one from 24 February and one from 7 March.

And here is a link to a Guardian story about a course at University of East Anglia (Norwich, UK) which assesses students on their editing articles for Wikipedia.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Freedom of Information

Interesting piece in the Education Guardian today outlining changes to the Freedom of Information Act.

Apparently it will be permissible for organisations to amalgamate separate enquiries and deal with them as one. There is already a "cap" on the cost of dealing with an enquiry, and if the cost goes over the cap, the organisation does not have to answer the enquiry. Two amalgamated enquiries will be more expensive and the article argues that it will be easier for organisations to decline to answer. This will, they argue, harm research.

Read the article at,,2027123,00.html

Monday, February 26, 2007

Recent articles I have seen

Here are some things I have noticed recently, which are relevant to the interests of this blog:

15 minutes with the man who revolutionised anaesthetic practice, BMJ Career Focus 334(7590). This is an interview with Cecil Gray.

Doubts over head injury studies, BMJ 334(7590) - article about studies of mannitol in head injury, where there are doubts over whether the studies ever took place.

A report of an article by Richard Smith in which he urges the boycott of Elsevier because of their involvement in organising arms fairs, in the same BMJ. (The report is in the BMJ, the article is in the Journal of the RSM). I read recently somewhere else that the Rowntree Trust had sold their shares in the same company.

Two from Science:

Quantitative Phylogenetic Assessment of Microbial Communities in Diverse Environments
C. von Mering, P. Hugenholtz, J. Raes, S. G. Tringe, T. Doerks, L. J. Jensen, N. Ward, and P. Bork
p. 1126

Staphylococcus aureus Panton-Valentine Leukocidin Causes Necrotizing Pneumonia
Maria Labandeira-Rey, Florence Couzon, Sandrine Boisset, Eric L. Brown, Michele Bes, Yvonne Benito, Elena M. Barbu, Vanessa Vazquez, Magnus Höök, Jerome Etienne, François Vandenesch, and M. Gabriela Bowden
p. 1130

and a Perspectives piece from the same Science:

MICROBIOLOGY: Mayhem in the Lung (about S. aureus infection)
Barbara C. Kahl and Georg Peters
p. 1082


I was following a link from a search alert to a paper about pandemic influenza, in PLoS Medicine, when this caught my eye:

Dorling D. Worldmapper: The Human Anatomy of a Small Planet. PLoS Med 2007 4(1): e1

This is a mapping application that enables you to make a world map with the proportions of the countries determined by the variable that you put in. There are examples in the paper of maps showing malaria cases, and public health spending, and more.

There is an episode of the West Wing in which the senior staff of the White House are shown the Peters Projection map, and in which their way of looking at the world is changed. This could be a similar experience...

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Friday, February 09, 2007

Avian influenza in Suffolk

I maintain a webpage of resources on avian and pandemic influenza, and have annotated the home page to indicate which resources are carrying news of this outbreak.

The webpage is at

This is a slightly different URL and if you have the site bookmarked, you might want to check that you have this address bookmarked.

Medical milestones

I found this in the Guardian on the train on the way home, and thought I had missed it in the BMJ that I read earlier - but it turns out to be in a supplement.

This is a list of the 15 most important medical discoveries made since the foundation of the BMJ in 1840. This is the list of 15, shortlisted from a list of 100:

Chlorpromazine - a drug to treat schizophrenia
Evidence based medicine
Germ theory
Magic bullets - monoclonal antibodies
Oral rehydration
The (contraceptive) pill
Risks of smoking - recognition of
Tissue culture

It is interesting, in closing, that some of these are still goals, rather than milestones, in some parts of the world.

Later note: I reworded this entry this morning (9th January). It appears in Libworm, and Libworm only gives the first few words of the original entry, and this gives a false impression of what I was saying.

Another later note: sanitation "won", with antibiotics and anaesthesia close behind. See

Monday, February 05, 2007

Tuberculosis resources

EurasiaHealth Knowledge Network is a project of the American International Health Alliance, and their website is a searchable collection of resources relating to TB. This includes links to websites, and details of publications of various sorts.

The contents of the site are particularly aimed particularly at people working in Eastern Europe.

In the 50 days leading up to World TB Day (24th March, this year), there is an online campaign designed to raise awareness of drug resistant TB. One in ten cases of TB are apparently drug resistant. I learnt about this campaign through an email sent to the HIF-NET discussion list: there is more here - look for the link that says One-in-Ten.

Friday, February 02, 2007

Importing doctors (or exporting them)

An article in the New England Journal of Medicine looks at the situation in Ghana, where, as in many African countries (and others) many physicians train, then go abroad. Currently there are 532 Ghanaian doctors practising in the USA, which is in absolute terms a small number, but there are only 2600 physicians in Ghana. 25 percent of doctors in the USA trained outside the USA, and the same figure is true for the UK.

The article talks about some of the measures that the Ghanaian government is taking to try and keep Ghanaian trained health professionals in the country.

The article is available free in full text, here.

Antibacterial drugs in the films

The BMJ reports this paper, in Revista Espanola de Quimioterapia, which lists 70 films in which antibacterial drugs play a role. Films include Captain Corelli's Mandolin, The Lost World: Jurassic Park, and Out of Africa, among many others.

The BMJ item is here.
The journal itself is here, but this issue does not appear to be online yet.

Ghost authorship

Today's BMJ reports a paper in PLoS Medicine, that found that it is quite common for people significantly involved in clinical trials, not to be listed as an author on the resulting paper. These people are quite likely to be statisticians, the paper found.

There is a discussion in PLoS Medicine of this paper, also.

Read the BMJ
Read PLoS Medicine

Mutation in influenza viruses

A paper in Science this week reports that a small mutation to the 1918 influenza virus makes it far less likely to be transmitted between ferrets. An accompanying news item looks at some of the implications of this: perhaps a similar and small mutation might make the H5N1 virus more easily transmissible between humans?

Updates from the Child Health Specialist Library

I may have mentioned this before (and I should, I suppose, check whether I have or not, but there we are).

The Child Health Specialist Library of the National Library for Health is full of all sorts of useful information, and you can sign up to receive monthly email updates that tell you about the new things added in the previous month.

The Library is at, and there is a link on the home page to sign up to the alerts.

Patient information from Great Ormond Street Hospital

This is included in the Child Health Specialist Library of the National Library for Health - covering a range of tests, conditions, and more general things like your child having a general anaesthetic or being asked to fast for diagnostic reasons.

New edition of "Green Book"

The Department of Health have published a new edition of the "green book", Immunisation against infectious disease. It appeared in December 2006.

More details in the Child Health Specialist Library of the National Library of Health - use the "link to full text here" link to read the whole book online via the Department of Health website.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Traffic fumes and lung damage

The Daily Mirror and the Guardian (and no doubt other newspapers) today are reporting a study in the Lancet that found that children living within 500 metres of a motorway had "pronounced deficits" in lung development. The study was undertaken in California and is an "article in press" on the Lancet website - doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(07)60037-3

Read more in the Guardian

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Robert Burns

Burns' Night is tonight, although I suppose that if you are in Australasia and other places, it was yesterday.

The National Library of Scotland have a site about Burns, who was born on this day in 1759.

At you will find a searchable archive of Burns' poetry.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Patron saint of librarians

I did not know this until today, but the patron saint of librarians (and archaeologists, archivists, Bible translators and school children, among other groups) is apparently Saint Jerome. Wikipedia has an article about him. He translated the Bible into Latin (the Vulgate translation). There also appears to be a story about him removing a thorn from the paw of a lion, which explains the lion that appears in some paintings of him.

Later note: a correspondent to this blog comments that St. Lawrence is the patron saint of librarians. Wikipedia certainly lists him as such, as well, along with him being the patron saint of students and chefs, among others. Thanks to my correspondent for alerting me to St. Lawrence. Another correspondent (living in the same house as me, and a theologian, to boot) points out that Jerome had some rather difficult views about women. Discussion of this is beyond the scope of this blog, but I did want to mention it in case I appear to be supporting everything he ever wrote. I am not a theologian, so I will stop there before I appear to be more knowledgeable than I actually am.

So, librarians have two patron saints! St. Lawrence was a deacon of Rome, martyred (on a gridiron, hence the chefs) during a persecution by Emperor Valerian in 258. My home town (Ipswich, Suffolk, UK) has a church dedicated to him.

New open access infection journal

The Journal of Infection in Developing Countries is a new open access journal, aimed at providing researchers from developing countries with a place to publish their research. There is more information at, and a link on the home page of the Open Learning on Enteric Pathogens site.

Information about the journal was emailed to the HIF-NET email discussion list.

New influenza articles

I have an alert running in Web of Science, and here are some things from the latest alert:

An abstract on quality assessment of laboratories in Germany - how good were they at detecting influenza virus in samples:

Zeichhardt, H; Schweiger, B; Lindig, V; Grunert, HP. First national external quality assessment scheme for avian influenza A virus (H5N1). JOURNAL OF CLINICAL VIROLOGY 36: S13-S14 Suppl. 3 AUG 2006

Using prediction mechanisms (like the markets do) to predict influenza activity, using clinical data supplied by health care workers:

Polgreen, PM; Nelson, FD; Neumann, GR. Use of prediction markets to forecast infectious disease activity. CLINICAL INFECTIOUS DISEASES 44 (2): 272-279 JAN 15 2007

A useful looking general article, interestingly published in Biochemical Society Transactions:

Schuklenk, U; Gartland, KMA. Confronting an influenza pandemic: ethical and scientific issues.

Lastly, a news piece in Science about "participatory epidemiology", which uses information from local people to know where outbreaks are happening:

Normile D. Indonesia taps village wisdom to fight bird flu - Participatory epidemiology is Indonesia's first step on a long road to controlling avian influenza. SCIENCE 315 (5808): 30-33 JAN 5 2007

Thursday, January 18, 2007

New drugs for MRSA?

Several of yesterday's papers were reporting this: identifying drugs that targeted specific proteins has led scientists at Newcastle upon Tyne to identify existing drugs that may kill MRSA. This is the Guardian's report. I will blog other reports as I discover them.

Interestingly, a quick Google search reveals at least two previous stories on the same topic, one from December 2006 about a cream that attacks MRSA in the nose, and another from May 2006 about platensimycin, a new antibiotic.

Efficiency of aid to Africa

CMAJ also has a piece on a report by the aid agency CARE, which argues that if international aid was spent differently, it could go a lot further. Money needs to be spent on longer term projects which help prevent the emergency arising again, the report says.

Read more in CMAJ

Macrolide resistance

The Canadian Medical Association Journal reports a study in Clinical Infectious Diseases, that finds increased incidence of resistance to macrolide antibiotics, used to treat pneumonia. The study was conducted in Toronto.

Read more in CMAJ

Muslims and health care

Last week's BMJ has two pieces arguing for (one piece) and against (the other piece) faith based health services for Muslims. There is quite a bit of debate through the Rapid Responses, as well.

The pieces are at and

The most recent Journal of Advanced Nursing has a paper looking at a small Muslim community in Canada, and how things changed after 9/11. It reports that the community passed from "cultural safety" to "cultural risk" - from a situation of social integration and invisibility to one of visibility as a minority and being in a media spotlight.

PLoS One

I am grateful to Alan Cann (, among other places, and a member of staff at Leicester) for pointing me to a piece in Nature about this Public Library of Science initiative. The piece is at

PLoS One publishes reports from all areas of science. Before publication, reports are reviewed but only with an eye for their methodology. Anything published is made available for open peer review, that is, anyone can make comments, and the paper can be rated. Papers are viewed as the start of the discussion, as the Nature piece quotes a PLoS person saying, and not as the end. Papers are published on payment of a fee, on the same model as used with other PLoS journals, and journals from other publishers, so that they are then open access.

The Nature piece does articulate the view that this is PLoS' way to make money (it has not been making much, thus far). It also argues that new journals often struggle to attract papers until the journal has an impact factor, and seems to suggest that this new journal may not be able to get an IF, as it "accepts everything". We shall see.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Protection of sex workers

Not, I guess, strictly within the remit of this blog, but as a native of Ipswich (Suffolk, UK, that is), my eye was caught by this editorial in the BMJ, arguing that sex work needs to be decriminalised so that workers get more protection. There are already some rapid responses to carry on the debate.

UK PubMed Central

This is now live, as reported in many places.

UKPMC mirrors the journal archive content of PubMed Central but will contain manuscripts submitted by people mandated to do so by the conditions of their grant. Several grant awarding bodies, among them the MRC and the Wellcome Trust, are mandating people who they fund to place the final manuscript of their work into UKPMC.

Go to
UKPMC itself.

Read more from the
Wellcome Trust or from JISC.

Directly observed tuberculosis therapy

A paper in the latest Journal of Advanced Nursing looks at these questions:

'What does qualitative research tell us about the facilitators and barriers to accessing and complying with tuberculosis treatment?"

"What does qualitative research tell us about the diverse results and effect sizes of the randomized controlled trials included in the Cochrane review?"

A Cochrane review apparently did not find anything to distinguish directly observed treatment with people treating themselves.

The abstract is at and the bibliographical details are:

Jane Noyes, Jennie Popay (2007). Directly observed therapy and tuberculosis: how can a systematic review of qualitative research contribute to improving services? A qualitative meta-synthesis. Journal of Advanced Nursing 57 (3), 227–243.

Death toll in Iraq - posting revised again

This study, published in the Lancet, made the headlines on the 10 o'clock news on BBC1 on 11th October, and the headline in the Guardian on the 12th October. It is interesting (as a teacher of critical appraisal) to see how it is being treated.

The BBC found the head of a policy institute to criticise the figures, and, judging by a comment by one of their correspondents in the studio afterwards, that institute is a staunch supporter of George Bush (who also disputes the figures). This makes it clear that you should always ask who has produced the publication or website that you are looking at.

They also stated that the publisher supported the research, and backed this up by producing the editor of the Lancet (who wrote an article in the Guardian on the 12th).

The Guardian headlines the story "One in 40 Iraqis "killed since invasion"". Not sure where that quote comes from, but I want to read the paper to see if that is really what it is saying. 1 in 40 may well be so, but I thought the paper was talking about excess deaths from all causes, not just people killed. (Reading the paper: most of the deaths are attributable to violence).

The paper has now appeared in the Lancet, as Lancet 2006; 368: 1421–28. You can also find it by going to and pasting this DOI:


into the search box.

Science (20th October 2006, p.396) reports a debate that has now started over the methods of this paper, and whether the sampling method and extrapolation is valid. The Guardian, certainly, has picked up on this debate as well.

The Lancet of 13-19 January 2007 includes several letters in response to the original article.


Thursday, January 11, 2007

Antibiotic resistant organism targets

A Department of Health memo, leaked to the Health Service Journal, is being reported this morning. It was on the Today programme this morning, and it is in the Guardian as well, and elsewhere too, no doubt.

The memo reports that targets for the reduction of MRSA are not being met (although MRSA incidence is falling), and also reports concern over Clostridium difficile.

The Guardian's discussion is at,,1987602,00.html.

This Library has a short list of resources about Clostridium difficile, downloadable from our website (scroll down, past the lovely picture, to find it). The site also enables you to run a PubMed search for the latest articles.