Polio was recently detected in sewage in the UK – here’s what else scientists look for in our wastewater

Polio was recently detected in sewage in the UK – here’s what else scientists look for in our wastewater DedMityay/Shutterstock We recently learned that poliovirus had been detected in sewage in north and east London between February and May 2022. Poliomyelitis (polio) is an infectious disease that can cause paralysis and death, mainly in children. But polio is also a triumph of vaccination. The last known case of polio in the UK was in 1984, and the country was declared polio free in 2003. While the UK Health Security Agency has said that the risk to the public is very…

Depeche Mode keyboardist Andrew Fletcher died of an aortic dissection – here’s what it is

Depeche Mode keyboardist Andrew Fletcher died of an aortic dissection – here’s what it is It was revealed this week that Depeche Mode keyboardist Andrew “Fletch” Fletcher, died in May from an aortic dissection. Aortic dissections are relatively uncommon compared to other cardiovascular conditions such as heart attacks – but their outcomes are often very poor. The aorta is the body’s main artery. It carries oxygen and nutrient rich blood from the heart to the rest of the body, providing our tissues with everything they need to function properly. An aortic dissection is a tear of the innermost lining of…

Four ways to stop thinking the worst will happen when you’re stressed

Four ways to stop thinking the worst will happen when you’re stressed Catastrophising can lead to undue stress and anxiety. Rawpixel.com/ Shutterstock Imagine you have an interview for a new job tomorrow. Some people might think about what kind of questions they will be asked so that they can prepare, or imagine the interview going well. For others, the thought of an interview will cause them to toss and turn all night thinking of every worst case scenario possible – no matter how outlandish these may be. If you’re someone who has a tendency to do the latter, you are…

Five things you can do to help you have a more positive birth experience

Five things you can do to help you have a more positive birth experience Don't be afraid to make your preferences clear to your care provider. Syda Productions/ Shutterstock Whether you’re a first time parent or have had children before, you’re probably willing to try anything to ensure you have the most positive birth experience you can. After all, the kind of birth experience you have can not only affect your own mental health, but can have an affect on parent-child bonding, as well as partner-to-partner relationships for years after giving birth. It can be confusing to know what to…

England appoints first ever women’s health ambassador – here’s what she should focus on

England appoints first ever women’s health ambassador – here’s what she should focus on Andrey Popov/Shutterstock The government recently appointed Dame Lesley Regan, professor of obstetrics and gynaecology at Imperial College London, as the first women’s health ambassador for England. The new role has been created to help close the gender health gap. Women make up 51% of the population in England and Wales, yet persistent gender-based inequalities in health, social care, living standards and employment mean women spend more years than men in poor health. And for the first time in a century, their life expectancy is declining –…

Monkeypox may not mutate as fast as coronaviruses, but that doesn’t mean it can’t adapt to its new hosts

Monkeypox may not mutate as fast as coronaviruses, but that doesn’t mean it can’t adapt to its new hosts The recent outbreak of monkeypox virus has called into question the capabilities of these kinds large DNA viruses to evolve, adapt and change their biology. Compared with small RNA viruses such as coronavirus, monkeypox virus and other large DNA viruses are thought to evolve slowly. Yet there’s clear evidence that this really isn’t a hindrance to these viruses. In fact, they can adapt to new environments like us. Although most infections remain mild, monkeypox can be a serious life-threatening disease, resulting…

Belfast’s silent public health crisis? Why we need widespread testing for lead-contaminated water

Belfast’s silent public health crisis? Why we need widespread testing for lead-contaminated water Eduardo Blanco/Alamy The water crisis at Flint, a town in Michigan, US in 2014 has focused public attention on the dangers of lead exposure, especially in children. A late 2016 investigation found that nearly 3,000 other communities in the US had even worse lead water levels than Flint. A recently published study claims that “half of US population was exposed to adverse lead levels in early childhood”. Lead exposure during the critical brain development window between the ages one and five has the most adverse effects on…

Five billion people can’t afford surgery – a team of innovators could soon change this

Five billion people can’t afford surgery – a team of innovators could soon change this Gasless laparoscopic surgery performed by Dr Biju Islary using the RAIS system. Dr. Hampher Kynjing, Nazareth Hospital, Shillong, Author provided Have you or a loved one ever needed surgery? Imagine what your life would be like if you couldn’t have it. Billions of people around the world lack access to surgery because equipment and general anaesthesia are too expensive or unsuitable in their region. When we think about technological progress people tend to picture faster, shinier, more hi-tech upgrades of what we already have. But…

Polio: we’re developing a safer vaccine that uses no genetic material from the virus

Polio: we’re developing a safer vaccine that uses no genetic material from the virus Recent reports of poliovirus detected in samples from a sewage treatment works in London have rightly generated significant concern among public health agencies and medical staff. The poliovirus detected is what is called vaccine-derived poliovirus – this is not “wild poliovirus”. There are currently two poliovirus vaccines: the oral poliovirus vaccine (OPV) and the inactivated poliovirus vaccine (IPV). Vaccine-derived poliovirus is linked to the use of the OPV as this vaccine uses weakened poliovirus to produce an immune response. The weakened poliovirus can still infect people…

Poliovirus in London sewage – what you need to know

Poliovirus in London sewage – what you need to know Child receiving the polio vaccine. Asianet-Pakistan/Shutterstock Just as we thought that monkeypox would be the new virus scare for 2022, the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) declared a national incident of repeated poliovirus detection in sewage in north and east London. Repeated positive readings for polio suggest that there is an ongoing infection and likely transmission in the area. This is unexpected since the UK had been declared polio-free since 2003. Here’s what you need to know. Poliomyelitis (polio) is a devastating disease that historically has caused paralysis and death…

Diamorphine shortage could be more than just a problem for drug users

Diamorphine shortage could be more than just a problem for drug users The UK has experienced many shortages of essential medicines, especially since the beginning of the pandemic. The latest shortage is of diamorphine, a painkiller that can be prescribed to drug users who have not responded well to other treatments. While only around 200 people in England are prescribed diamorphine as a treatment for drug addiction, these shortages could have dire consequences for those who rely on it to help them live a normal life, hold down jobs and be part of society. Diamorphine is also used as a…

Vegan cheese: what you should know

Vegan cheese: what you should know Vegan cheese made with cashew nuts is a healthier option. Nina Firsova/ Shutterstock For many people who go vegan, one of the hardest things to give up is cheese. Fortunately, thanks to the increasing popularity of veganism, food manufacturers have begun producing a greater variety of vegan cheeses – with some success in replicating everything people love most about cheese, including its texture and taste. However, not all vegan cheeses are equal – and many have little nutritional value. People who buy vegan cheese may expect it to be as nutritious as dairy cheese.…

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