Brazil Zika cases raise concern of virus transmission beyond mosquitoes
Two cases of Zika being transmitted through blood transfusions were reported
in Brazil on Thursday, adding to concerns over the virus that has been
linked to severe birth defects and is typically spread through mosquito
The disclosure of the blood transfusion cases in the industrial city of
Campinas near Sao Paulo came two days after Texas authorities said a person
became infected through sex. Concern over the virus is mounting as Brazil
prepares to host the Olympic Games in August, with tens of thousands of
athletes and tourists anticipated.
There is no vaccine or treatment for Zika, which has caused outbreaks in at
least 26 countries in the Americas. Brazil researchers hope to develop a
treatment that could be tested in humans in a year.
Dr. Marcelo Addas Carvalho, director of the blood center at the University
of Campinas, said genetic testing confirmed that a man who received a blood
transfusion from a Zika-infected man in March 2015 became infected with the
virus, although he did not develop symptoms. Another man, who had suffered
gunshot wounds, became infected with Zika after receiving multiple blood
transfusions that included blood donated by an infected person in April
2015, Carvalho said.
Carvalho said that infection probably was caused by the transfusion but
genetic tests have not yet been conducted to confirm it. He said it was very
unlikely the infection was caused by a mosquito bite because the patient was
in a hospital intensive care unit for three months.
Florida Governor Rick Scott on Thursday expanded a Zika public health
emergency in the state, adding a fifth locale, Broward County, to the four
counties he announced on Wednesday. "With over 20 million residents and 100
million tourists, we must stay ahead of the possible spread of the Zika
virus and take immediate action to ensure Florida is prepared," Scott said.
Florida Senator Bill Nelson, a Democrat, called for President Barack Obama
to appoint a Zika "czar" to coordinate the federal government's response as
Obama did during the Ebola outbreak last year.
Sexual contact and blood transfusions as modes of transmission have been
matters of concern for experts since the Zika outbreak's outset, said
infectious diseases expert Dr. William Schaffner of the Vanderbilt
University School of Medicine in Nashville, TN.
But Schaffner questioned whether either will lead to widespread Zika
Procedures for blood donations have been tightened in countries including
Brazil to protect blood supplies from Zika. U.S. health officials are still
working on national guidelines.
Following word of the Texas case on Tuesday, U.S. health officials urged the
use of condoms to prevent spreading sexually transmitted infections.
Brazil said it was reinforcing instructions to blood banks that people
infected with Zika or dengue not be permitted to donate blood for 30 days
after full recovery from the active stage of Zika infection.
The American Red Cross has urged prospective donors who have visited Zika
outbreak zones to wait at least 28 days before giving blood, but called the
risk of transmitting it through blood donations "extremely" low in the
continental United States.
In the Texas case, authorities said a person in Dallas became infected with
Zika after having sex with another person who had traveled in Venezuela,
where the virus is circulating. Local health officials said on Thursday both
those people have fully recovered from the virus.
Schaffner said uncertainties remain about sexual transmission of the virus,
including how long a person might be able to transmit it or whether an
infected person must have had symptomatic Zika in order to be able to
transmit Zika through sex. Most infected people do not develop any symptoms.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo expanded his state's free Zika testing to
include all pregnant women who have traveled to countries where people have
Visit Reuters for the article.
C.D.C. issues Zika advisory for pregnant women and sex partners
Pregnant women whose male sexual partners have spent time in a country with
confirmed transmissions of the Zika virus should either abstain from sex or
use condoms during intercourse for the duration of their pregnancy, the
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has announced.
The recommendation on Wednesday came a day after public health officials in
Dallas reported the first case in the United States of the Zika virus being
transmitted by sex. The disease, which is primarily transmitted by
mosquitoes, has been recorded in more than 24 countries, primarily in Latin
America and the Caribbean.
Global health officials are investigating a potential link between pregnant
women infected with the virus and the development of birth defects,
including brain and cranial abnormalities, in their newborns.
‚ÄúThe potential hazard to the fetus is so substantial and so tragic that this
looks like a very prudent recommendation until we learn more,‚ÄĚ said Dr.
William Schaffner, an infectious disease specialist from Vanderbilt
University Medical School.
Visit the New York Times for the story.
probe at Broward Health allegedly blocked by district‚Äôs lawyer
Broward‚Äôs Health‚Äôs general counsel failed to cooperate with the FBI and
withheld evidence, according to an explosive e-mail sent last week by a
private investigator hired by the late Dr. Nabil El Sanadi, to look into
alleged corruption at the public hospital system.
The email, obtained by Floridabulldog.org, is from Wayne Black, a noted
Miami-based investigator, and was received at Broward Health‚Äôs headquarters
on Friday, just hours after El Sanadi‚Äôs memorial service following his death
by suicide. El Sanadi had been president and chief executive of
taxpayer-supported Broward Health for 14 months.
Black‚Äôs email blasted Broward Health General Counsel Lynn Barrett. ‚ÄúI can no
longer sit quietly while needed evidence and information is being withheld
from the corruption squad at the FBI,‚ÄĚ Black told Barrett. Black wrote that
Barrett had shut him out of ‚Äúvarious investigations‚ÄĚ and accused her of
wrongfully asserting a claim of legal privilege to block law-enforcement
access to a laptop used by an executive suspected of improprieties.
Black‚Äôs email was sent to Barrett, with copies to members of Broward
Health‚Äôs board of commissioners. The day it arrived, Florida‚Äôs chief
inspector general also informed Broward Health that she has opened an
inquiry into millions of dollars in contracts that the hospital district has
awarded since July 2012.
Black‚Äôs email states that El Sanadi hired him in April 2015 at the direction
of David Di Pietro, the board chairman, to investigate ‚Äúinformation and
allegations of corruption at Broward Health‚ÄĚ given to him by El Sanadi.
‚ÄúI discovered the irregularities in the security RFP [request for proposals]
and Nabil put a hold on the RFP process at my request. There was obvious
corruption and the matter is still not resolved to this day. I later
developed witnesses regarding kickbacks and other crimes and immediately
referred the matter to the FBI corruption squad,‚ÄĚ Black wrote. ‚ÄúWe [myself
and FBI agents] promised witnesses that they would not be known unless they
testified. We kept that promise and will continue to do so.‚ÄĚ
El Sanadi was informed and told Black to keep working. Black‚Äôs frustrations
with Barrett, who was hired last summer, began shortly after her arrival
when ‚Äúone of your outside attorneys demanded that I turn over the names of
FBI witnesses in the ongoing federal investigation. I refused, of course.‚ÄĚ
The two ‚Äúbumped heads‚ÄĚ again later, Black wrote. ‚ÄúYou had no experience with
evidence handling in ongoing criminal investigations and I wrote you about
that several times. Rather than turning over potential evidence to me for
the FBI, your outside law firm, under some privilege argument, made copies
and did their ‚Äėprivilege research,‚Äô which I am sure, resulted in huge
billings to the taxpayers of Broward County. I then wrote you that long memo
about obstructing justice appearances.‚ÄĚ
Black and Ryan Stumphauzer, a former Miami federal prosecutor working with
him, asked El Sanadi ‚Äúto simply make a decision on who was doing the
corruption investigation internally ‚Ä¶ us or you and your Tampa law firm‚ÄĚ ‚ÄĒ
identified by Broward Health officials as Foley Lardner.
The email suggests a possible change of heart by El Sanadi for the
corruption investigations he‚Äôd initiated.
Black indicated he‚Äôs surprised the FBI has yet to serve subpoenas in the
Visit the Miami Herald for the story.
Merit Medical acquires the HeRO Graft From CryoLife, Inc.
Merit Medical Systems, Inc., a manufacturer and marketer of proprietary
disposable medical devices used in interventional and diagnostic procedures,
particularly in cardiology, radiology and endoscopy, announced that it has
purchased the HeRO Graft device and related assets from CryoLife, Inc.
The HeRO Graft is a fully subcutaneous vascular access system that is
intended for use in maintaining long-term vascular access for chronic
hemodialysis patients who have exhausted peripheral venous access sites
suitable for fistulas or grafts. The product has received 510(k) clearance
from the FDA and has the CE marking. Additional information can be reviewed
Merit believes that during 2015, HeRO Graft revenues were approximately $7.5
million, and gross margins were approximately 55%. Merit purchased the HeRO
Graft assets for $18.5 million and financed the deal under existing banking
Visit Globe Newswire for the release.
ethics standards for DNA replacement therapies
In a news release medical researchers laid out ethical standards for
clinical investigations into mitochondrial replacement therapy, or MRT. MRT
is "ethically permissible" only when "significant conditions and principles
are met," according to a new report from the National Academies of Sciences,
Engineering, and Medicine.
Human MRT is not currently conducted in the United States, but the
technology holds promise. The therapy involves the removal of nuclear DNA
from the egg of a woman who is at risk of passing a mitochondrial DNA
disease onto her child. The nuclear DNA is then transferred to a nuclear
DNA-free egg provided by a woman with healthy mitochondria. The resulting
egg would have genetic material from two women.
The new report suggests the FDA only review MRT clinical trials for women at
risk of passing on a serious mitochondrial disease. Because mitochondrial
DNA can only be passed on through the mother, researchers with the National
Academies also recommend that only male embryos be implanted during initial
clinical investigations to prevent heritability of changes.
"FDA could consider extending MRT research to include the transfer of female
embryos if clear evidence of safety and efficacy from male cohorts using
identical MRT procedures is available," researchers wrote.
Furthermore, the report recommends that only research clinics with
"demonstrated expertise" be approved for such investigations -- and only
after exhausting pretrial research options with in vitro tests, animal, and
human embryos, nonviable whenever possible.
Researchers say strong standards need to be in place, as the stakes are
Visit UPI for the report.
Untold cities across America have higher rates of lead poisoning than Flint
By now, the public health emergency resulting from lead-contaminated water
in Flint, MI, has been made abundantly clear. The city changed its water
source from the Detroit system to the Flint River in April 2014 as a
cost-saving measure, exposing its residents to untreated water replete with
lead leached from aging pipes. Last September, a local health center found
that the proportion of children with elevated lead levels in their blood had
nearly doubled since the switch was made.
Flint has experienced ‚Äúa man-made disaster,‚ÄĚ a press release from the city
said last December. Similar official declarations of emergency followed from
county commissioners, Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder (R) and, most recently,
As attention grew around the issue, so too did the public alarm ‚ÄĒ with good
reason. Photos showed Flint residents standing in long lines to collect
bottled water and get their children‚Äôs blood tested, or standing in court
calling for compensation.
And then there were the photos of people holding up samples of the water
that had come out of their taps for more than a year. The liquid appears a
translucent yellow-brown instead of colorless and clear; if images could
emit odor, these ones would be foul.
But the truly terrifying fact about the water crisis in Flint is invisible.
It is the insidious effect of growing up or growing old while unknowingly
allowing lead into your bloodstream. According to the World Health
Organization, lead creates developmental and behavioral issues in children
that are believed to be irreversible.
This is the real emergency for which city and state officials are bracing:
the rising demand for special education and juvenile corrections programs
that will emerge once lead is translated into reduced IQs, shortened
attention spans and greater incidences of violence.
This is the poisoning that has occurred not just in Flint but all over the
country, for decades ‚ÄĒ and not from water, but (primarily) from the paint
that colors old homes.
Data collected by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention shows that
over 40 percent of the states that reported lead test results in 2014 have
higher rates of lead poisoning among children than Flint.
In Flint, 4 percent of kids aged five and under tested with blood-lead
levels of at least 5 micrograms per deciliter, the threshold of lead intake
that necessitates public health action, as defined by the federal
government. Elsewhere in the country, 12 states reported that a greater
percentage of kids under six years old met or surpassed that threshold. The
most egregious example is Pennsylvania, where 8.5 percent of the children
tested were found to have dangerously high levels of lead in their blood.
Only 27 states (including Washington, D.C.) reported childhood blood lead
surveillance results to the CDC‚Äôs national database for 2014, the most
recent statistical set available.
These represent just a slice of the infant population. In Texas, for
instance, only 184 kids were tested for lead poisoning. The state‚Äôs
population of kids under six exceeds 2 million.
On the federal level, then, there is no comprehensive understanding of the
extent to which the population is being exposed to hazardous amounts of
lead. While the percentage of children with more than 5 micrograms per
deciliter of lead has been steadily declining, the CDC says no blood-lead
level in children has been determined to be ‚Äúsafe.‚ÄĚ
Lead poisoning has a variety of sources, nearly all of them household items.
The most common source of lead poisoning is paint peeling inside older
houses or apartment buildings.
As Flint has raised the specter of lead, advocacy groups elsewhere are
seizing on the attention to raise awareness about contamination in their own
At a press conference in Trenton, NJ, this week, a coalition of groups led
by community development nonprofit Isles, Inc. urged Gov. Chris Christie (R)
to devote $10 million towards the Lead Hazard Control Assistance Fund, which
oversees the removal of lead from old homes and other lead abatement
Using state data from New Jersey and Michigan, Isles pointed out that 11 New
Jersey cities have a higher proportion of children with dangerous lead
levels than Flint.
Meanwhile, in Michigan itself, reports from Detroit News and MLive have
pointed out that several cities outside of Flint have higher rates of lead
poisoning ‚ÄĒ again, not from water, but old paint and soil contaminated by
factory emissions from yesteryears.
Visit the Washington Post for the article.
AHRQ study: Joint replacement to become the most common
elective surgical procedure in the next decades
By 2030, about 11 million Americans will have either a hip or knee
replacement, making it one of the nation‚Äôs most common elective surgical
procedures, according to an AHRQ-funded study.
Using data from AHRQ‚Äôs Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project State
Inpatient Database, researchers analyzed general population trends by year,
state, gender and age group from 1990 to 2010. In 2010, researchers estimate
that approximately 7 million Americans had had a total hip or knee
replacement, including 620,000 individuals who had both procedures,
according to the study.
Researchers attributed the increase in joint replacement surgeries to
several factors: the aging of the baby boomer population, high rates of
diagnosis and treatment of arthritis and demands for improved mobility and
high quality of life.
Also contributing to the trend are younger individuals undergoing these
procedures, coupled with improvements in life expectancy. In some cases,
researchers said, younger patients will outlive their implants and require
expensive revision surgeries with substantial cost implications. The
majority of the individuals (70 percent) who have undergone total hip and/or
knee replacement surgery are alive today. The study and abstract were
published in The Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery.
Visit NIH for the study.
White House proposes new funding for heroin, prescription opioid abuse
President Obama will seek an extra $1.1 billion to pay for drug treatment
for people addicted to opioid medications and heroin, which the White House
says kills more people than automobile crashes, officials said Tuesday. The
extra money will be included in the upcoming fiscal year 2017 budget
Prescription opiods - which are painkillers - and heroin are closely linked.
Healthcare providers wrote 259 million prescriptions for painkillers in
2012, enough to give every American adult a bottle of pills, according to
the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Many believe people addicted
to prescription painkillers are turning to heroin because it's cheaper and
easier to get after government crackdowns on prescription drug abuse.
Between 2002 and 2013, the rate of heroin-related overdose deaths nearly
quadrupled, and more than 8,200 people died in 2013, CDC says.
This funding includes:
million to support cooperative agreements with states to expand access to
medication-assisted treatment for opioid use disorders. States will receive
funds based on the severity of the epidemic and their strategy to respond to
it. States can use these funds to expand treatment capacity and make
services more affordable.
million in National Health Service Corps funding to expand access to about
700 substance use treatment providers, including medication-assisted
treatment, in areas across the country most in need of mental health
million to evaluate the effectiveness of treatment programs using
medication-assisted treatment and help identify opportunities to improve
treatment for patients with opioid use disorders.
The budget also includes about $500 million ‚ÄĒ an increase of more than $90
million ‚ÄĒ to build on efforts at the Justice Department and the Department
of Health and Human Services to expand state prescription overdose
prevention strategies, increase the availability of medication-assisted
treatment programs, improve access to the overdose-reversal drug naloxone,
and support enforcement activities. Part of the funding is directed
specifically to rural areas. HHS Secretary Sylvia Burwell, who is from West
Virginia, said the issue is a top priority of hers as her state is one of
the most hard hit by drug abuse.
Visit USA Today for the announcement.