Three babies dead within one week at Madrid Hospital

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Sunday, March 4, 2007

A Spanish hospital reported today that three premature babies have died within one week from the same infection. The babies, who were being cared for in the neonatal intensive care unit of Madrid‘s 12 de Octubre Hospital, all died after being infected with Klebsiella pneumoniae bacterium. Authorities also suspect that a fourth baby has become infected with the bacterium. The Spanish patients’ association ADEPA has asked the public prosecutor of the Madrid Region, Manuel Moix, to open an investigation into the matter.

This morning, hospital authorities stated that the first death occurred on 26 February. A baby born eight weeks prematurely and weighing just under one kilo died due to septic shock arising from the infection, which was unconnected with the symptoms of his premature birth, according to hospital reports.

Shortly afterwards, two babies in the same unit died on 2 March. They appear to have died from the same infection; however the hospital stated that they are still waiting for confirmation of the cause of death. A fourth baby has been found to have the bacteria on his skin, but as yet there is no confirmation of whether he has been infected. The hospital states that although the baby is in a serious condition, this is to be expected when a baby is born so premature, and that his condition is also due to other factors, unrelated to the bacterium, which have arisen since his birth.

The hospital authorities have asserted that all of the babies in its care are under close supervision, and are being periodically monitored by the Preventive Medicine Centre, in order that the most up-to-date information may be had on the state of any and all patients in the hospital.

To prevent further infections, the hospital has taken several measures. The first is of course rigorous medical hygiene. High-risk patients are referred to other hospitals. The hospital has been divided into two separate zones, one for those already infected and the other for those who have not yet been affected. As a consequence, 25 children who were staying in the hospital while the 3 premature babies died, remain separate from the others, to make sure newly admitted children are not exposed. The nursing staff has also been restricted to one or other of these two areas. Visits from specialists of other hospital services, and from families, has been restricted. Furthermore, an epidemiological study is being undertaken to determine the origin of the situation.

The newspaper El País reports that the bacterium Klebsiella pneumoniae is to be found in hospitals as a matter of course and is often contracted by those who have been in hospital for prolonged periods (termed a nosocomial infection). The mortality rate from the bacterium is extremely high in those cases where it’s contracted by people with serious illnesses, as is often to be expected in the case of a premature birth, which can result in newborn babies weighing less than 500 grammes.

According to the Spanish daily, this type of bacterium is prevalent in hospitals throughout the world, but the incidence of infection in Madrid hospitals is lower than the Spanish average. The head of the Neonatal Unit at 12 de Octubre Hospital, Carmen Payás, explained that the bacterium is very adaptable “and keeps on learning”. The father of the dead baby, an Ecuadorian named Angel Marcelo, was quoted as saying that the progress of the baby had at first been “tremendous”, and that he had even been taken off the respirator, but that a few days later he began to cough up blood, dying soon afterwards.

The chair of ADEPA, Carmen Flores, has appealed to the Madrid public prosecutor to open an investigation into the situation and to find those responsible. ADEPA have suggested that the investigation centre on the number of casualties among infants in the hospital, and on the question of whether conditions in the neonatal unit were a direct contributor to the incidence of the infection.

José Quero, head of the Neonatology Department of the La Paz hospital in Madrid said that, “sadly enough”, this situation was “not something exceptional,” but rather something neonatologists have to watch out for.

UK’s ‘ban Trump’ petition passes half-million mark

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Saturday, December 12, 2015

A petition on the UK government’s website, calling for US Presidential hopeful Donald Trump to be barred from entering the country, has now passed a half-million signatories becoming the most-popular petition ever posted on the site. The signatories include a majority of UK MPs.

The petition was originally submitted late November by campaigner Suzanne Kelly from Aberdeen, preceding Trump’s remarks which prompted the overwhelming response. Kelly, saying her attention was drawn due to concerns over Trump’s golfing developments in the area, noted, “I never in my wildest dreams imagined it would get so many signatures”. Locally, Robert Gordon University have stripped an honorary degree from Trump, and First Minister Nicola Sturgeon removed him from the GlobalScot network of business ambassadors.

Following the tycoon’s call for a “complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States”, an NBC/WSJ survey found the majority of adults in the United States disagree with him. The remarks also prompted global criticism of Trump.

London mayor Boris Johnson said the demand made him “unfit to hold the office of the president of the United States”. French Prime minister Manuel Valls stated on Twitter, “Mr. Trump, like others, fuels hatred […] our only enemy is radical Islamism.” The director of the American university in Cairo’s Kamal Adham Center for Television and Digital Journalism, Hafez Al Mirazi, said: “What we are getting now is really terrible […] Stuff that only the Ku Klux Klan and others would say.” Kassem Allie, from the Islamic Center of America, accused Trump of evoking fear “reminiscent of Nazi Germany”.

In contrast, a humorous petition calling on NASA to “send Donald Trump into Space and Leave Him There” on the change.org site has exceeded 30,000 signatures. Autumn Boehle from Michigan, who started the petition last Wednesday, says, if the petition garners sufficient signatures, she will provide a link where people can: “donate to make this happen. It wont be cheap, but it will be worth while.”

The petition to ban Donald Trump from the UK, having passed 100,000 signatures, is now eligible for debate in the House of Commons.

Under-reporting of human Bird Flu infections poses worldwide threat

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Monday, November 21, 2005

Possible under reporting of bird flu infections in China and other Southeast Asian countries may be promoting an illusory sense that human infections are very limited. Common press reports only describe fewer than 130 people as infected with H5N1 avian flu and that fewer than 70 have died worldwide. Yet, there are enormous problems getting accurate data, especially in a country like China with a population of more than a billion.

“Reporting a suspected bird flu infection in bird or humans is a very unlikely event,” said Dr. Shoshana Zimmerman of the eHealth Institute. She is also a founder of www.birdflubeacon.com, a site dedicated to bird flu issues. “There are very few incentives to report, and lots of reasons to refrain from reporting. From the viewpoint of local rural small farmers, there is little to be gained and much to be lost by reporting an infection. The worse threat is that their flocks could be killed, leaving them destitute.”

There are many factors which mitigate against reporting bird or human infections of bird flu.

  • The deaths of chickens, ducks, and birds are common events for farmer. Even when a large number die at one time they may see no purpose in reporting the deaths.
  • When a human dies in locations with little or no medical services, the rural farmer’s priority for discerning the cause of death may be low.
  • In rural areas most people are not taken to hospitals when they are sick.
  • Bird flu symptoms are not widely known. If the symptoms are not known, they will not be recognized and reports of possible bird or human infections can not be made.
  • The expenses required for detection are those of proper collection and shipment of samples to one of approximately 200 laboratories worldwide, as well as the testing procedure that requires a two week period of waiting before results are obtained.
  • The lack of incentive for countries to report large scale outbreaks as it may lead to widespread panic and economic loss, as occurred with SARS. These factors can be seen at work in the way that the first bird flu death was reported in China,” Dr. Zimmerman stated.

A young woman, Zhou Maoya, died after returning home to the village of Yantan in Annui province to prepare for her wedding. Her family has stated that they did not take her to the hospital because they thought it would not do any good. Officials also note rural Chinese also often cite relatively expensive medical costs as a reason for not seeking treatment when sick.

Although initially authorities attributed her death to pneumonia the resulting political pressure prompted China to invite the World Health Organization to send experts to investigate. The authorities then rescinded the previous position and attributed her death to bird flu based on the similarity of the symptoms that she was reported to exhibit with those of bird flu. The village was quarantined and journalists were denied access. It is not known how many others might be infected in the village. Official announcements were made of plans to vaccinate and cull birds.

A local government official, Fan Qian, told AFP that it was believed Zhou was infected while she was outside of the province.

Fan Tan, a local official, told AFP news that 1,000 birds in Yantan had been culled (killed). Plans were announced to vaccinate 2 million poultry in the area, a huge and difficult task.

Zhang, another official, said authorities had met with all villagers to give them flu vaccinations and to tell them how to protect themselves against the bird flu virus, including not consuming poultry products. It is known that flu vaccinations do not protect against bird flu.

Villagers and local officials minimized the threat. In outlying areas of Yantan, residents said that they did not know of any new outbreaks. Other possible infections have been attributed to similar common causes but there have not been any tests performed validating those attributions.

Fan Litan, a peasant woman from Fantu village, about 2 miles from Yantan, lost many of her ducks, and chickens and also a dog; she has attributed these deaths to the acts of hooligans. She said her family had been extremely frightened when her animals suddenly died. “We were scared to death,” said Fan, standing next to a red sign posted on the outside wall of her home that said: “Prevention and control by the masses is basic for people.” Fan said ducks and chickens are all healthy but she admitted that she had stopped eating poultry. No testing of these birds has been reported yet.

According to a recent AFP report from Liuchang, 59 miles south of Yantan, the obstacles to identifying infections are enormous.

Like many, one Liuchang villager named Wang Hemin said he was concerned and would keep a closer eye on his ducks and chickens, but felt no immediacy since the infection was not in his province. He learned about bird flu on TV, and is aware that officials have come to his village of 2,700 people to warn residents about the virus. They offered guidelines: they told people that poultry which die suddenly could have contracted bird flu and should not be eaten or sold and that such an incident should also immediately be reported. However, the symptoms of H5N1 bird flu were not directly described.

Residents have not yet been fully informed of what symptoms to look for in ill poultry–they are fever, diarrhea, teary eyes and swelling in the legs of the birds. Though a pledge was made earlier in the week to vaccinate 2 million birds immediately, no bird vaccinations in this area have been reported yet.

In another nearby village, Nazahuang, chickens scuttle in and out of houses. One resident, Fan Jiexu, 73, said no officials had yet warned her village to take precautions. Throughout rural areas, it is customary for chickens to scuttle in and out of homes. Ducks and bird often die and are eaten by villagers when it is believed safe to do so.

China has reported 17 avian flu outbreaks as of this week. Despite the Chinese government issued high alerts, critical information is not being adequately communicated to some rural villages. The size of the poultry population, the common and normal occurrence of poultry death on farms, and status of roughly 70% of the poultry population as being kept in backyards are factors complicating infection control.

The head of World Health Organization’s China office, Henk Bekedam, is aware that slow reaction to bird flu threats and difficulty monitoring poultry in the world’s most populous country makes control of its spread challenging.

Testing is required to confirm H5N1 virus, and positive test results lead to the killing of nearby flocks. The incentive for many villagers, officials, and governments to minimize reports of H5N1 virus infections and severe medical and economic complications for making confirmations of infection are obstacles opposing complete and full reporting of the spread and infection rates of the virus.

Works valued at €100 million stolen from the Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris

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Thursday, May 20, 2010

Five paintings, in total valued at almost €100 million. were stolen from the Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris overnight on Wednesday. The works were Le pigeon aux petits pois by Pablo Picasso, La Pastorale by Henri Matisse, L’Olivier Près de l’Estaque by Georges Braque, La Femme a l’Eventail by Amedeo Modigliani and Nature Morte aux Chandeliers by Fernand Léger.

The museum itself has been closed and cordoned off by police investigating the theft. The thief is believed to have entered the museum by climbing through a window and the museum is investigating how the theft took place despite the presence of guards and a complex security system.

Christophe Girard, deputy mayor of Paris with responsibility for culture, told a press conference: “This is a serious crime to the heritage of humanity”, adding that the perpetrator or perpetrators were “obviously organised”. It is thought that the paintings are too well known to be easily sold and there has been speculation that they will be used as “currency” by criminal gangs, as opposed to having been “stolen for hire” on behalf of a collector.

An unnamed source told The Daily Telegraph: “It’s an enormous crime, one of the biggest in art history” while the mayor of Paris, Bertrand Delanoe, called the theft “an intolerable attack on Paris’s universal cultural heritage” and art historian Tim Marlow commented that the thief obviously “knew what he was taking”.

The theft was discovered at approximately 7a.m. local time (5a.m. UTC) by museum staff. The Paris prosecutor’s office said that a single masked man was captured on CCTV walking away with the works, which had been removed from their frames with care rather than being sliced out. The paintings belong to the museum’s permanent collection.

Investigators are questioning museum staff after speculation that the perpetrator may have had assistance from somebody on “the inside”. The investigation into the thefts is being led by the Brigade de Répression du Banditisme, an elite French police unit.