New 'river blindness' drug shows promise
GENEVA, Switzerland, July 3 (UPI) -- A new drug to be tested in three African countries could greatly reduce cases of onchocerciasis, commonly called "river blindness," health officials said.
"This is a devastating illness that has plagued 30 African countries for centuries," said Dr. Uche Amazigo, director of the African Program for Onchocerciasis Control. More than 100 million Africans are at risk of infection from the disease, Amazigo said.
The drug, moxidectin, developed by Wyeth Pharmaceuticals, kills the larvae and adult worms of Onchocerca volvulus, which gives the disease its name. Moxidectin is to be tested for the next couple of years on 1,500 people at four clinical sites in Ghana, Liberia and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the World Health Organization said in a release Friday from its Geneva, Switzerland, headquarters.
For more than 20 years, river blindness has been controlled with ivermectin, a drug developed by Merck & Co. Ivermectin, however, kills only the larvae so treatments of at least 11 to 14 years are needed to ensure disease control.
Onchocerciasis is transmitted by a black fly that breeds in fast flowing rivers. Blindness is the most incapacitating symptom of the disease, which also causes debilitating skin ailments, WHO officials said.
Tamiflu-resistant swine flu reported
ATLANTA, July 3 (UPI) -- Health officials in Japan and Hong Kong said each had a H1N1 flu patient resistant to the anti-viral drug Tamiflu, days after a Denmark patient was resistant.
Japanese Health Ministry official Takeshi Enami said the swine flu strain developed in a Japanese patient who was on the drug Tamiflu to prevent the illness. The patient has since recovered after taking Relenza -- another anti-viral influenza drug, WAtoday.com.au reported.
Hong Kong health officials said a Tamiflu-resistant strain of swine flu was found in a 16-year-old girl who tested positive for the flu when she arrived from San Francisco last month. She has recovered without taking Tamiflu or Relenza, but the flu showed sensitivity to Relenza.
However, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the drug company Roche Holding AG told the Wall Street Journal they consider Tamiflu effective against influenza A H1N1 even though a patient in Denmark developed resistance to the drug.
The Danish patient, who has since recovered, was taking the drug as a preventative to avoid the flu, but the patient was probably already infected with the virus and resistance to the drug emerged because of the lower preventative dose, the Journal said.
Older forests store more carbon
CORVALLIS, Ore., July 3 (UPI) -- Letting Pacific Northwest forests age longer would increase carbon storage and help mitigate greenhouse gas emissions, researchers in Oregon said.
If, for example, the region's forests were allowed to increase in age by 50 years, their potential to store atmospheric carbon would increase by 15 percent, researchers at Oregon State University, Corvallis, said.
That would significantly offset the nation's carbon budget since the Pacific Northwest accounts for 14 percent of the live biomass in the United States, said Beverly Law, a professor of forest science at the university.
Law's team analyzed two decades worth of information from 15,000 forest plots in the North American Carbon Program. The team concluded carbon storage could be increased with reduced timber harvests and better forest management, a release from the university said Friday.
"Increasing carbon storage in this region might be one contribution to what clearly is a much larger global issue, something that policy makers could consider," Law said.
NOW Foods recalls whey products
WASHINGTON, July 3 (UPI) -- NOW Foods is recalling products containing whey protein concentrate because of possible Salmonella contamination, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration said.
The voluntary recall of 12 products and 29 lots is an extension of the recall being conducted by NOW supplier Plainview Milk Products Cooperative, FDA officials said in a release Friday.
The products being recalled include Strawberry Whey Protein, lot 1125277; Vanilla Whey Protein Economy, lot 1066010 and Vanilla Whey Protein with Glutamine, lot 1104205. Customers can return the products to the store where purchased for a full refund,
For questions, call NOW Foods at 1-888-NOWFOODS (1-888-669-3663).
Salmonella can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in children, the elderly and people with compromised immune systems. Symptoms include fever, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting and stomach pain.