A Weekly Compilation of Clinical Laboratory and Related Information
from The Division of Laboratory Science and Standards
May 16, 2013
View Previous Issues - Healthcare News Archive
Senate Confirms Tavenner as CMS Administrator
Marilyn Tavenner was easily confirmed Wednesday as the first permanent CMS administrator since 2006. The 91-7 vote followed glowing bipartisan praise for Tavenner, who has served as acting administrator since late 2011, when Dr. Donald Berwick stepped down. Since then, Tavenner has come to be seen as an apolitical and effective administrator of one of the federal government's largest agencies, even as it implements the still-controversial Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.
“We need a confirmed administrator with all of the work that she has to do, especially implementing the Affordable Care Act,” Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.), chairman of the Finance Committee, said in a floor speech shortly before her approval.
Validating Whole Slide Imaging for Diagnostic Purposes in Pathology, Guideline from the College of American Pathologists Pathology and Laboratory Quality Center
The document serves as a practical guide for pathologists and laboratories to confirm the accuracy and concordance of their own whole slide imaging (WSI) systems for diagnostic work while ensuring the digital tool is being used properly for its intended clinical purpose in an effort to deliver optimal patient care.
Twelve practical recommendations are outlined in the guideline, including the following key items:
- Validation of the entire WSI system, involving pathologists trained to use the system, should be performed in a manner which emulates the laboratory’s actual clinical environment.
- It is recommended that such a validation study include at least 60 routine cases per application, assessing intraobserver diagnostic concordance between digitized and glass slides viewed at least two weeks apart.
- It is important that the validation process confirms that all material present on a glass slide to be scanned is included in the digital image.
California Weighs Expanded Role for Nurse Practitioners
As state governments get ready for the Affordable Care Act coverage expansion, some are taking a close look at their networks of health care professionals to make sure they will be able to meet increased demands as more people gain health insurance. California is one of 15 states expected to consider legislation this year that would give advanced practice nurses more independence and authority. Right now, California law says nurses must follow procedures set after consulting a doctor. But lawmakers are considering eliminating that requirement. And that idea doesn't sit well with some doctors.
Cytologists Diagnose on the Front Lines
May 13 was National Cytotechnology Day, honoring cytotechnologists for their contributions to health care and commemorating the birthday of George N. Papanicolaou, MD, who developed the Pap test. “Cytotechnologists are the one laboratory professional that report patient samples without having any input other than oversight from the pathologist because they report negative specimens in the gynecology lab,” adds David Wilbur, MD, FASCP, a cytopathologist at Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston. “That responsibility requires that they have a close, interactive relationship with the pathologist who oversees that.”
Professional Societies Delineate Concerns, Offer Recommendations Regarding Interim Pricing for Molecular Tests
A coalition representing over 120,000 medical and laboratory professionals and institutions that perform the vast majority of clinical molecular pathology testing in the United States released a joint statement regarding new Medicare prices for those tests.
The groups include American Association for Clinical Chemistry (AACC), American Clinical Laboratory Association (ACLA), American College of Medical Genetics and Genomics (ACMG), American Society for Clinical Pathology (ASCP), American Society for Histocompatibility and Immunogenetics (ASHI), Association for Molecular Pathology (AMP), California Clinical Laboratory Association (CCLA), College of American Pathologists (CAP) and Society for Inherited Metabolic Disorders (SIMD).
The coalition’s concerns include cuts in reimbursement for molecular pathology tests, denials of claims without publication of sufficient information on the basis for those decisions, and incorrect determinations that certain tests are investigational.
LDL Cholesterol Blood Level Declines Found to Have Abruptly Ended in 2008
Decades of declines in LDL cholesterol blood levels, a key marker of death risk from heart disease, abruptly ended in 2008, and may have stalled since, according to a multi-year, national study published in PLOS ONE. The study, by researchers at Quest Diagnostics (NYSE: DGX), examined low-density lipoprotein, or LDL, blood-serum cholesterol test results of nearly 105 million individual adult Americans of both genders in all 50 states and the District of Columbia from 2001-2011. The study is the largest of LDL cholesterol levels in an American population, and the first large-scale analysis to include data from recent years 2009-2011. “Our study suggests that significant improvements in heart disease risk through declines in LDL cholesterol blood levels over the past several decades came to an unexpected and sudden end in 2008,” said investigator Robert Superko, M.D., medical director, cardiovascular disease, Quest Diagnostics.
Early Malaria Diagnosis
Scientists in Japan have developed a technique that could diagnose malaria just one day after infection. Nicholas Smith and colleagues at Osaka University have shown that Raman spectroscopy can detect changes in haem and hemozoin in plasma samples to identify malarial infection. Haem and hemozoin are chemicals released into the bloodstream when infected cells rupture. ‘By looking for the parasite by-product which spreads through the serum, instead of the parasite itself, we are effectively sampling a much greater volume and could provide a more robust and automated detection method,’ says Smith. The team demonstrated that their technique could detect raised levels of hemozoin in infected mice just one day after infection.
Prostate Cancer Gene Test May Aid Surveillance
A gene-based assay for prostate cancer significantly improved identification of high-risk tumors, which could aid selection of men for active surveillance, according to researchers. For every 20-point increase in the 100-point gene-assay, the risk of adverse pathology doubled. Evaluation of 395 prostate biopsy samples with the assay led to at least a 5% change in risk (higher or lower) in half the cases, Matthew Cooperberg, MD, of the University of California San Francisco, reported at the American Urological Association meeting. The gene score added to the precision of other risk-assessment tools, more than doubling the proportion of men who might be considered for active surveillance. The genomic prostate score (GPS) maintained its predictive value independent of Gleason grade, Cooperberg said.
New DNA Blood Test Could Increase Access to Herceptin
A new blood test for women with breast cancer could identify more women who will benefit from the targeted treatment Herceptin without the need for uncomfortable biopsies. The new 'liquid biopsy' uses cutting-edge genetic techniques to detect breast cancer DNA in the bloodstream, and was developed by a team at The Institute of Cancer Research, London, and The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust.
Currently, if a patient's breast cancer relapses after initial treatment, doctors perform tumour biopsies to determine which treatments the cancer is most likely to respond to. But biopsies are uncomfortable, intrusive and only test part of a tumour - and it's not possible to biopsy cancer repeatedly. The new technique was able to accurately identify HER2-positive breast cancer 64% of the time, and HER2-negative cancer 94% of the time.
A Blood Sample Predicts if Cancer Patients Respond to Therapy
Karolinska Institutet and University Hospital have shown that a simple blood test can predict breast cancer patients response to therapy, how long treatment will be effective and survival. The results [were] presented at the IMPAKT scientific conference in Brussels, May 2-4. The analysis measures growth rate and this is the first time ever that one test has documented this by analysing a blood sample. The test, DiviTum(TM), analyses cell-division rate in blood taken from patients before treatment initiation.
Columbia Lab Launches Exome Test on HiSeq; Superpanel, WGS, Cancer Panel Close Behind
Columbia University's Laboratory of Personalized Genomic Medicine has launched a whole-exome sequencing test for inherited genetic disorders, likely the first such test with conditional approval from the New York State Department of Health. In addition to offering the exome test and an existing mitochondrial genome sequencing test, the lab is working on other NGS-based diagnostics – among them a 1,000-gene "superpanel," a whole-genome sequencing test, and a cancer panel – all of which it plans to release later this year.
Source: Source: http://www.genomeweb.com/
FDA Approves New Roche Test to Evaluate Response to Hepatitis C Therapy
Roche has received approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for a next-generation viral load test to be used in the management of patients with chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection. The COBAS AmpliPrep/COBAS TaqMan HCV Test, v2.0 provides a novel dual-probe approach in detecting and quantifying the virus. The test is designed to accurately determine the amount of hepatitis C virus ribonucleic acid (RNA) in order to assess a patient’s response to antiviral therapy
Nova Scotia Halts Colon Cancer Screening Kit Program After Abnormal Test Results
Nova Scotia has suspended the mailout of colon cancer home screening kits after technicians detected unusually high rates of abnormal test results. Dr. Bernard Badley, medical director of the province's Colon Cancer Prevention Program, said that a monitoring system that tracks the kits discovered about three months ago that positive test results had doubled.
Mary Luthy, a spokeswoman for Beckman Coulter, the company that manufacturers the agent, said they are investigating the matter but that the product is "meeting its release specifications." Badley said the home screening tests won't be mailed out until the supplier has fixed the problem, which he expects will be done in six months.
Dignity Health Laying off 148 Lab Workers in Region
A total of 148 Sacramento-area workers at Dignity Health are being laid off in connection with the health system’s pending sale of its nonhospital clinical laboratory draw and testing stations to Quest Diagnostics. The transaction is expected to be completed in June.
Minnetonka’s ViroMed to Close a Lab
A Minnetonka-based company is closing a lab and laying off 79 workers, Twin Cities Business reported. ViroMed Laboratories Inc., a subsidiary of Laboratory Corporation of America Holdings (LabCorp), recently notified the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development that it plans to cut 79 of 104 employees beginning July 1 and concluding in September, according to Twin Cities Business.
Computer Breast Imaging Not as Good as Film
Computer-interpreted digital mammography identified significantly fewer breast cancers than did standard screen-film mammography (SFM) or direct digital radiography (DDR), results of a large screening study showed. Computed radiography (CR) had a cancer detection rate about 20% lower than either DDR or SFM. The recall rate was lower with CR than with DDR, but the 6.6% CR rate did not differ significantly from that of the SFM group in an adjusted analysis, as reported online in Radiology. "For CR, the risk of cancer detection is significantly lower -- by 21% -- among all screening examinations," Anna M. Chiarelli, PhD, of Cancer Care Ontario in Toronto, and co-authors concluded. "Compared with SFM, this could result in about 10 fewer cancers detected per 10,000 women screened.
Single Dose of EPO Pre-Cardiac Op Cuts Need for Blood
A single high dose of human recombinant erythropoietin (HRE) administered two days before cardiac surgery is associated with reduced need for transfused blood, according to a study presented at the annual meeting of the American Association for Thoracic Surgery, held from May 4 to 8 in Minneapolis. Luca Weltert, M.D., from the European Hospital in Rome, and colleagues conducted a randomized prospective study involving approximately 600 patients undergoing cardiac operations. Patients in the HRE group received a receptor-saturating dose of 80,000 international units administered in a bolus two days before surgery. The researchers found that patients in the HRE group needed significantly less blood than controls (0.39 versus 1.12 blood units per patient; risk ratio, 0.338).
Re-sensitizing Resistant Bacteria
Researchers use a protein-lipid complex found in human breast milk to increase the activity of otherwise-ineffective antibiotics against drug-resistant pathogens.
A protein-lipid complex that naturally occurs in human breast milk can increase the sensitivity of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and other drug-resistant strains to multiple classes of antibiotics in animal models, according to a study published (May 1) in the PLOS ONE. The findings suggest that the molecule—known as HAMLET (human alpha-lactalbumin made lethal to tumor cells)—could be useful as an antimicrobial adjuvant to boost otherwise ineffective antibiotics against MRSA and other “superbugs” that can cause lethal infectious outbreaks in hospitals. HAMLET is one of the first antimicrobial adjuvant therapies to show efficacy in vivo, said Anders Hakansson, a microbiologist at the University of Buffalo and lead author of the study.
Spontaneous Gene Mutations Tied to Child Heart Defects
About 10 percent of congenital heart defects may come from spontaneous, rather than inherited, gene mutations, according to a study that offers new insight into a condition that can range from simple to severe. Scientists investigated the DNA of 362 newborns with serious defects in families where neither the parents nor the child’s siblings had a history of cardiac problems. The research, reported online in the journal Nature, found hundreds of mutations that existed only in the affected children.
Study Finds an Increase in Arsenic Levels in Chicken
Researchers at Johns Hopkins University said they found levels of arsenic in chicken that exceeded amounts that occur naturally, and warned that they could lead to a small increase in the risk of cancer for consumers over a lifetime. The levels were well below danger levels set in federal safety standards, though the researchers pointed out that those were first established in the 1940s. And the chicken samples tested were from 2010 and 2011, before sales of the drug that researchers say was a major driver of the elevated arsenic levels, roxarsone, were suspended.
Malaria Hope: Bacteria That Make Mosquitoes Resistant
Researchers have found a strain of bacteria that can infect mosquitoes and make them resistant to the malaria parasite. The study, in the journal Science, showed the parasite struggled to survive in infected mosquitoes. Malaria is spread between people by the insects so it is hoped that giving mosquitoes malaria immunity could reduce human cases. Experts said this was a first, distant prospect for malaria control.
Flu in Pregnancy 'may Raise Bipolar Risk for Baby'
Flu during pregnancy may increase the risk of the unborn child developing bipolar disorder later in life, research suggests. A study of 814 expectant women, published in JAMA Psychiatry, showed that infection made bipolar four times more likely. The overall risk remained low, but it echoes similar findings linking flu and schizophrenia. Experts said the risks were small and women should not worry. Bipolar leads to intense mood swings, which can last months, ranging from depression and despair to manic feelings of joy, overactivity and loss of inhibitions.
Immune Cell Discovery May One Day Lead to Herpes Vaccine: Study
A specialized kind of immune cell that patrols the skin of people infected with the herpes virus appears to prevent the outbreak of painful sores, a new study suggests. Researchers think the cells may be key to developing a potential vaccine against genital herpes, which afflicts more than 24 million people in the United States, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
US Researchers Develop New Tool in HIV Vaccine Fight
US researchers have developed a new test to identify antibodies capable of fighting most strains of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, in a breakthrough that could accelerate the hunt for a vaccine. A report published in the journal Science said that scientists at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases had studied HIV-infected individuals whose blood had shown "powerful neutralization" qualities of the virus.
Harvard Stem Cell Researchers Find Protein That Rejuvenates Aging Mouse Hearts
A team of Harvard Stem Cell Institute scientists have discovered a protein that circulates in blood that can turn old hearts young, causing a mouse’s heart that has thickened and enlarged with age to revert back to a more youthful state. The researchers hope that the discovery will lay a foundation for a new approach to therapy for a common form of heart failure that strikes elderly people, although much more research is needed before it could be tested in people. “The change was unbelievably obvious,” said Dr. Richard T. Lee, a cardiologist at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and one of the leaders of the study, published in the journal Cell.
Carnivorous Plant Proves ‘Junk’ DNA Unnecessary
Genes make up about two percent of the human genome. The rest consists of a genetic material known as noncoding DNA, and scientists have spent years puzzling over why this material exists in such voluminous quantities. Now, a new study offers an unexpected insight: the large majority of noncoding DNA — which is abundant in many living things — may not actually be needed for complex life, according to research set to appear in the journal Nature. The clues lie in the genome of the carnivorous bladderwort plant, Utricularia gibba.
Fat Hormone Controls Diabetes
The small protein aP2, thought to only be involved in shuttling lipids throughout fat cells, is actually excreted outside the cell where it acts as a long range signaling molecule or hormone, controlling glucose levels, according to new research published (May 7) in Cell Metabolism. The findings suggest a new target for treating obesity-related diabetes.
Fluoride Reduces the Ability of Decay-Causing Bacteria to Stick
In an advance toward solving a 50-year-old mystery, scientists are reporting new evidence on how the fluoride in drinking water, toothpastes, mouth rinses and other oral-care products prevents tooth decay. Their report appears in the ACS journal Langumir. The report describes new evidence that fluoride also works by impacting the adhesion force of bacteria that stick to the teeth and produce the acid that causes cavities.
No Benefit Seen in Sharp Limits on Salt in Diet
In a report that undercuts years of public health warnings, a prestigious group convened by the government says there is no good reason based on health outcomes for many Americans to drive their sodium consumption down to the very low levels recommended in national dietary guidelines. Those levels, 1,500 milligrams of sodium a day, or a little more than half a teaspoon of salt, were supposed to prevent heart attacks and strokes in people at risk, including anyone older than 50, blacks and people with high blood pressure, diabetes or chronic kidney disease — groups that make up more than half of the American population. Some influential organizations, including the American Heart Association, have said that everyone, not just those at risk, should aim for that very low sodium level. The heart association reaffirmed that position in an interview with its spokesman, even in light of the new report.
But the new expert committee, commissioned by the Institute of Medicine at the behest of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said there was no rationale for anyone to aim for sodium levels below 2,300 milligrams a day. The group examined new evidence that had emerged since the last such report was issued, in 2005. “As you go below the 2,300 mark, there is an absence of data in terms of benefit and there begin to be suggestions in subgroup populations about potential harms,” said Dr. Brian L. Strom, chairman of the committee and a professor of public health at the University of Pennsylvania. He explained that the possible harms included increased rates of heart attacks and an increased risk of death.
The Next Contagion: Closer Than You Think
THERE has been a flurry of recent attention over two novel infectious agents: the first, a strain of avian influenza virus (H7N9) in China that is causing severe respiratory disease and other serious health complications in people; the second, a coronavirus, first reported last year in the Middle East that has brought a crop of new infections. While the number of human cases from these two pathogens has so far been limited, the death rates for each are notably high.
Alarmingly, we face a third, and far more widespread, ailment that has gotten little attention: call it “contagion exhaustion.” News reports on a seemingly unending string of frightening microbes — bird flu, flesh-eating strep, SARS, AIDS, Ebola, drug-resistant bugs in hospitals, the list goes on — have led some people to ho-hum the latest reports.
Some seem to think that public health officials pull a microbe “crisis du jour” out of their proverbial test tube when financing for infectious disease research and control programs appears to be drying up. They dismiss warnings about the latest bugs as “crying wolf.” This misimpression could be deadly.
- Sickle cell anemia — 31.9 percent of patients were readmitted.
- Gangrene — 31.6 percent of patients were readmitted.
- Hepatitis — 30.9 percent of patients were readmitted.
- Disease of white blood cells — 30.6 percent of patients were readmitted.
- Chronic renal failure — 27.4 percent of patients were readmitted.
- Systemic lupus erythematosus and connective tissue disorders — 27.2 percent of patients were readmitted.
- Mycoses — 27.0 percent of patients were readmitted.
- HIV infection — 26.4 percent of patients were readmitted.
- Screening and history of mental health and substance abuse — 26.0 percent of patients were readmitted.
- Peritonitis and intestinal abscess — 25.0 percent of patients were readmitted.
Hospitals Show Scant Progress on Safety
An update to the Hospital Safety Score that assigns grades "A" through "F" to more than 2,500 hospitals in the United States shows they have made only incremental progress in addressing errors, accidents, injuries and infections that kill or hurt their patients. The Leapfrog Group, a hospital watchdog group, conducts the surveys. Leapfrog Group President and CEO Leah Binder told Healthcare IT News she was “disappointed” in the slow progress. She added that the data are a year old, so she is hoping the next study will show much more improvement. Binder called on the consumers to press their hospitals for transparency and safety, and to be vigilant in healthcare settings.
Immigration Bill Aims to Ease Doctor Shortage
Sweeping reforms proposed to update U.S. immigration policy would include additional visa waivers for foreign physicians who agree to practice medicine in rural areas and other regions with underserved patient populations. Organized medicine groups praised the Senate legislation, introduced on April 16, for aiming to improve international physicians' and medical graduates' ability to immigrate to and work in the U.S.
U.S. Says It's on Track to Make Health Exchanges Work
The federal government has met its deadlines, tested its system and collected insurance plan information critical to rolling out the 2010 health care law, White House and other federal officials say, despite the rumors of train wrecks, delays and bare-bones health care exchanges rocking Washington.
So far, White House and HHS officials say the government has taken the following steps:
- Insurers met deadline to download their plan information into the exchange system without problems, said Chiquita Brooks-LaSure, deputy director for policy and operations at the Center for Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). "We are meeting our timelines, and we are on schedule and meeting our benchmarks."
- HHS officials have determined the federal website for exchanges can support the expected large volumes of traffic. They brought in people from Medicare who already have experience handling large numbers.
- HHS has started reaching out to populations that will have to buy health insurance on the new exchanges with a push targeted to the neighborhood level. Half of uninsured people ages 18 to 35 are in three states—including Texas.
CMS Won’t Penalize Hospitals in States Slow to Expand Medicaid
The Obama administration announced that for the next two years, it doesn’t plan to penalize states that have yet to expand Medicaid coverage under the federal health law by targeting them for reduced Medicaid funding, according to an unveiled proposed rule. That money goes to hospitals that treat large numbers of poor people.
The health law is funded in part by a gradual reduction in extra Medicaid payments, called disproportional share hospital, or DSH. Those payments help hospitals that care for a large proportion of poor patients who are covered by Medicaid, or who are uninsured.
White House Orders Agencies to Follow New Open Data Standards
Government agencies must collect and publish new information in open, machine-readable and, whenever possible, non-proprietary formats, according to a White House executive order and open data policy published. The new policy also gives agencies six months to create an inventory of all the datasets they collect and maintain; an updated list of datasets that are open to the public; and an online system to gather feedback from users about how they’d like such information to be presented. “Starting today, we’re making even more government data available online, which will help launch even more new startups,” President Obama said in a statement. “And we’re making it easier for people to find the data and use it, so that entrepreneurs can build products and services we haven’t even imagined yet.”
CMS: Do EHRs Lead to Upcoding?
The Medicare agency is probing whether physicians are using paperless systems to bill costlier services, but doctors say EHR complexity is the real problem. The accuracy of physician documentation has been scrutinized for years, but a relatively new focus of complaints involves how doctors use features of electronic health record systems to support their claims. Concerns that doctors are taking advantage of EHR automation to bill higher-level services — intentionally or not — are misplaced, physicians said during a May 3 forum at the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services headquarters.
EHR Incentive Payments Surge to $13.7B
Continuing the upward trajectory of EHR reimbursements flowing out into the healthcare industry, CMS said that the total paid as of March’s end is more than $13.7 billion. “March was a very big month,” said Rob Anthony of CMS’ office of e-health standards and services during a HIT Policy Committee meeting. “We have a large majority of hospitals at this point.” Anthony added that 86 percent of eligible hospitals have registered for the meaningful use program, and 77 percent have received reimbursement payments.
Patient ID With the Swipe of a License?
Headed to the doctor's office in Texas? Soon, you may be able to bring only your driver's license. A bill proposed in the Texas state Senate calls for providers to be able to swipe licenses electronically to obtain patient information. This kind of data collection, taking shape in Senate Bill 166, is one of several initiatives that the Texas Medical Association is pushing for, in an attempt to modernize medical practices in the Lone Star State. They're also backing bills that would standardize preauthorization forms for prescription drugs and healthcare services--Senate Bills 644 and 1216--according to an article in the Texas Tribune.
Survey Polls Laboratories’ Capacity for Electronic Information Exchange
This month, 12,000 hospitals and laboratories nationwide will be asked to complete the National Survey on Health Information Exchange in Clinical Laboratories, administered by the U.S. Office of the National Coordinator (ONC) for Health Information Technology. Results of the survey will provide policymakers with a comprehensive understanding of electronic laboratory information exchange capacity and activity among medical laboratories across the nation.
HIMSS Network Study Shows IT Challenges, Priorities
Health information technology leaders generally cite similar infrastructure priorities and challenges faced within the industry, but they disagree on approaches to addressing network scalability, executive support and cloud computing security, according to a new HIMSS Analytics study.
“We found that IT network priorities for all participating hospital systems were consistently focused around accommodating greater mobile and wireless connectivity to their networks,” said Jennifer Horowitz, senior director of research for HIMSS Analytics, in a press statement. The study’s key findings include:
- Current hospital IT network environments are both wired and wireless.
- Reliable IT networks are critical.
- IT networks are sufficient for now, but healthcare organizations will need to prepare for a wireless paradigm shift.
End-of-Life Care Guidelines Updated
The Hastings Center has updated and expanded its landmark 1987 consensus guidelines for ethical care of terminally ill patients. Oxford University Press published this second edition of The Hastings Center Guidelines for Decisions on Life-Sustaining Treatment and Care Near the End of Life. The guidelines target all healthcare professionals involved in caring for terminally ill patients. They discuss ethical and legal options in the United States for use of life-sustaining technologies, offer comprehensive guidance on informing patients and surrogates of their options, and include detailed strategies to optimize healthcare delivery.
Saudi Arabia Confirms Six New Cases of Deadly SARS-like Virus
Saudi Arabia has confirmed six new cases of the SARS-like novel coronavirus in its Eastern Province, state media reported, citing the health ministry. Saudi Arabia said it had a total of 24 confirmed cases since the disease was identified last year, of whom 15 had died. World Health Organization officials visiting Saudi Arabia to consult with the authorities on the outbreak said on it seemed likely the new virus could be passed between humans, but only after prolonged, close contact.
French authorities announced that a second man had been diagnosed with the disease after sharing a hospital room with France's only other sufferer, who had recently traveled in the Middle East.
British Teen Builds DNA Testing Analyzer in His Bedroom, Wins Award as UK Young Engineer of 2013
PCR testing moves out of the clinical pathology laboratory and into a teen-aged boy’s bedroom laboratory
In a demonstration of how evolving technologies make it easier and cheaper to operate clinical laboratories, a teen-age boy in Yorkshire, England, has built his own DNA analyzer and identified the gene mutation that gives his brother red hair. That demonstration allowed Fred Turner, age 17, to silence the endless teasing from friends about how he and his red-haired brother, Gus, probably had different fathers. It also won for Fred the award of “UK Young Engineer of the Year 2013.”
Queensland Lab First in Australia to Test for New Bird Flu
Queensland laboratory technicians are the first in Australia to develop a test for the new bird flu; H7N9. Health Minister Lawrence Springborg said the existing influenza test had been modified to include specific detection of the H7N9 virus. "We believe there is no similar screening test incorporating the H7N9 strain in Australia - this is an Australian first," Mr Springborg said.
Mobile Health Technologies to Rapidly Test and Track Infectious Diseases
Early-warning sensor systems that can test and track serious infectious diseases – such as major flu epidemics, MRSA and HIV – using mobile phones and the internet are being developed by a major new Interdisciplinary Research Collaboration (IRC) led by UCL. The new £11 million IRC, funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (total investment £16 million), will develop mobile health technologies that allow doctors to diagnose and track diseases much earlier than ever before. The IRC will pioneer low cost, easy to use mobile phone-connected diagnostic tests based on advances in nanotechnology for use in GP surgeries, pharmacies, elderly care homes, developing countries and at home. The mobile tests aim to identify diseases with high sensitivity and specificity and give results within minutes from just a pin-prick of blood or a simple swab. Rapidly transmitting results into secure healthcare systems will alert doctors to potentially serious outbreaks with geographically linked information.
Eating Insects Could Help Fight Obesity, U.N. Says
The authors of a U.N. report said the health benefits of consuming nutritious insects could help fight obesity. More than 1,900 species of insects are eaten around the world, mainly in Africa and Asia. The authors of the study by the Forestry Department, part of the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), said many insects contain the same amount of protein and minerals as meat, and more healthy fats.
Eva Muller of the FAO said restaurants in Europe were starting to offer insect-based dishes, presenting them to diners as exotic delicacies.
Disclaimer- The information provided in this news digest is intended only to be general summary information. It does not represent the official position of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and is not intended to take the place of applicable laws or regulations.
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