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Health: News In Brief


Thursday, August 26, 1999 Published at 07:23 GMT 08:23 UK

Seawater not the source of E. coli outbreak

Fears that a holiday resort's seawater might have been the source of an E.coli bug which killed one child and infected a woman and eight other children have been officially discounted by scientists.

The waters off Dawlish Warren, south Devon, have been cleared of blame after scientific tests on 45 samples.

Four families were hit by the same E.coli 0157 strain after visiting Dawlish Warren at around the same time in late July.

The Environment Agency said on Friday that the 45 samples of sea and estuary water were taken last week at 15 sites along the coast between Exmouth and Teignmouth - either side of the Warren - as well as the Exe estuary.

The samples, taken by boat at sea over three days, did not contain the E.coli 0157 strain connected with the outbreak in the Dawlish area, said the agency.


Cancer cells grow their own blood vessels

Aggressive cancer cells are supported by blood vessels they create themselves, according to research.

Until now, it was thought that tumours attracted nearby blood vessels to provide them with nutrition.#

But a study published in the American Journal of Pathology, has found that some tumours can generate their own vascular networks.

The finding could change the way cancers are diagnosed and treated.

The research team focused on skin and ocular melanoma.


Single dose drug 'could save babies from HIV'

A short course of an anti-HIV drug can cut the risk of early mother-to-child transmission by up to 50% in a breastfeeding population, according to research.

Two Ugandan studies in this week's Lancet show that one dose of the drug nevirapine given to mothers at the start of labour and to newborn babies within 72 hours of birth is twice as effective at cutting transmission rates as several doses of AZT given to mothers during labour and to babies in the first week of life.

They calculate that a single nevirapine dose for both mother and baby only costs $400, 10% of the cheapest longer-term regimes.

They conclude that nevirapine therapy "could have a major public health impact" in developing countries, where mass use of anti-HIV drugs is not considered to be cost effective.


Trauma of NI troubles 'goes untreated'

The psychological impact of the Northern Ireland "Troubles" has not received the attention it deserves, according to a leading psychiatrist.

Writing in the British Journal of Psychiatry, Dr Oscar Daly says he believes post-traumatic psychological problems have been under-diagnosed and, even when diagnosed, are often properly treated.

He adds that support given by voluntary organisations varies in quality and that some areas have been much worse affected than others.

He argues for more research into the issue, for greater availability of local services and for GPs, clergy and primary care workers to be more aware of the potential problems.


Young given ECT without specialist opinion

Some young people are being given the controversial electro-convulsive therapy (ECT) before specialist advice has been obtained and other treatments have been tried, according to research published in the British Journal of Psychiatry.

A study of ECT use on British people under 18 in the 1996/97 period found that the therapy was only used on 12 patients with schizophrenia or severe depressive illness.

Most were female and had been forcibly detained in hospital.

However, in breach of Royal College of Psychiatrists recommendations, ECT was sometimes given without the opinion of a child or adolescent psychiatrist being sought.

And, although most had not responded to drug treatments and for some the procedure was deemed life-saving, several had not been given a full range of alternatives to ECT.



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