Testing It Up » March 2011

Monthly Archives: March 2011

Early Disease Detection Health & Wellness

Parents Complain About Accommodations for Girl with Peanut Allergy

Published by:

Special accommodations being provided by a Florida elementary school, for a girl who is suffering from severe peanut allergies, has triggered complaints from the parents of the young girl’s classmates, according to various news reports.

peanut allergyThe girl, who is in first grade at Edgewater Public School, is suffering from severe allergy to nuts. In order to accommodate her condition, her classmates have been obliged to rinse their mouths upon arriving at school, and once again after lunch. Restrictions were also being implemented on classroom snacks, and the students are also asked to wash their hands and faces at school, in order to ensure that no nut residue is introduced to the classrooms.

The girl could develop breathing problems due to contact with nuts, but the restrictive measures became the subject of protests among the other parents, who claimed that the measures were a bit overboard. Some parents have staged a protest outside the school, even going as far as calling for the withdrawal of the student from the school. The accommodations, the other parents say, are “taking away from their own children’s learning,” according to a CNN report.

The school initially stood solidly by its decision to accommodate the special needs of the child.

A report on the Los Angeles Times, however, revealed that the school has already eased up the more severe restrictions that they have imposed. Students, for instance, will no longer be required to rinse out their mouths twice daily. They will still, however, need to wash their hands and faces.

Los Angeles Health Screening

Early Disease Detection

Drug Treats Diabetes Before It Starts

Published by:

A feature on Time.com shared the results of a study that indicated that the drug pioglitazone, being sold as Actos, can be taken by people who are at risk of developing type 2 diabetes, in order to prevent the onset of the disease. Pioglitazone is a drug commonly used for diabetes treatment.

diabetesExperts warn, however, that this should not be taken to mean that anyone whose blood sugar levels are high should start taking the medication.

Diabetes starts from impaired insulin sensitivity. For quite some time, doctors have been searching for medications or lifestyle changes that can delay the onset of full-blown diabetes for as long as possible – or prevent its onset altogether.

A study led by Dr. Ralph DeFronzo, at the Texas  Diabetes Institute and University of Texas Health Science Center, determined that pioglitazone can be a useful tool to help patients control their blood sugar levels, and prevent the onset of full-blown diabetes.

Researchers found that among more than 600 patients who had elevated blood sugar levels and at least one other risk factor for diabetes, only 2% of those who took pioglitazone developed diabetes, as opposed to 7.6% in those who only took placebo. The study, which had a 2-year follow-up period, saw a 72% reduction in risk for those who took pioglitazone.

The study authors were quick to warn, however, that the encouraging results of the study should not be considered as a reason to prescribe the drug to anyone with a high risk of developing diabetes.

Early Disease Detection Health & Wellness

Online Map Provides Information on Radiation Levels in the US

Published by:

Despite the fact that experts have predicted that the United States will not be affected by radiation exposure due to the disaster at the Fukushima Dai-Ichi nuclear power plant in Japan, there are some people who simply could not shake away concern over radiation.

Radiation NetworkA feature on AllVoices.com shared a National Radiation Map, which can be found on the home page of Radiation Network. The map depicts the environmental radiation levels across the United States, and is being updated real time. It is said to be the first website where “the average citizen (or anyone in the world) can see what radiation levels are anywhere in the USA at any time.”

The website is not government-owned; it is actually operated by Mineralab, LLC, from Prescott, Arizona. Mineralab warned, however, that it is not able to verify radiation levels or radiation alerts indicated on the map independently. The monitoring stations, according to the feature, are operated by grassroots volunteers, and high readings may be caused by such incidents as malfunctioning Geiger counters, or the proximity of counters to medical procedures or radioactive items.

There are several monitoring stations indicated in the map, including stations in Washington, California, Arizona, Colorado, Indiana, and two stations on the East Coast.

The general public is welcome to contribute to the monitoring effort, according to the feature. Requirements include having a digital Geiger counter, software (available from the Radiation Network), a computer that is running on a Windows operating system, and direct access to the Internet.

Early Disease Detection Health & Wellness

Elizabeth Taylor Passes Away

Published by:

The legendary Elizabeth Taylor, undoubtedly one of Hollywood’s beloved icons, has passed away, according to a feature on The Washington Post. She was 79.

Elizabeth TaylorIn a statement issued by her publicist, it was revealed that Ms. Taylor passed away at Cedar-Sinai Hospital in Los Angeles, surrounded by her family.

She has been in the public eye for more than six decades, winning two Academy Awards and starring in more than 60 films. Her first film appearance was in the motion picture There’s One Born Every Minute, at the age of nine. Elizabeth Taylor’s claim to fame, however, came at the age of 12, when she played the role of Velvet Brown in the film National Velvet in 1944.

Her last movie appearance was in The Flintstones in 1994, where she played Fred Flintstone’s mother-in-law.

In the 1980s, Elizabeth Taylor received treatment for alcoholism. She met her 8th husband, Larry Fortensky, in the late 1980s at the Betty Ford Clinic, where they were both receiving treatment.

In her lifetime, Ms. Taylor had faced several challenges, a number of them with regards to her health. The Post shared that Dame Elizabeth had once commented: “I’ve been through it all, baby… I’m Mother Courage.”

In 2004, she was diagnosed with congestive heart failure. She broke her back five times, underwent hip replacement for both hips, underwent a benign brain tumor operation, and survived skin cancer. She had life-threatening bouts with pneumonia, and towards the end of her life, she attributed her use of a wheelchair to osteoporosis, and to the fact that she was born with scoliosis.

Los Angeles Health Screening

Real Drug Stories Substance Abuse

NY Ice Cream Truck Sells Drugs!

Published by:

When one sees an ice cream truck, it is not at all unreasonable to expect frozen treats from a sliding side door – or to expect that nothing else will be sold by it. One ice cream truck, however, sold more than frozen treats; according to a feature on NY Daily News, it also allegedly made stops to meet with customers who were looking for a different kind of treat.

Lickety Split ice cream truckLouis Scala is accused of being part of a drug ring that raked in more than $1 million in a year. His actual job is selling ice cream to kids from the “Lickity Split” truck. At certain pre-arranged spots, though, another item appears on the menu: oxycodone. Customers knew that they could get these treats from Scala, according to the New York Office of the Special Narcotics Prosecutor.

The ice cream truck operation is allegedly part of a 30-person drug ring, which also included more than two dozen “runners” whose jobs were to fill fake prescriptions. Scala’s role, based on the accusations hurled against him, involved illegally selling these prescription drugs; he reportedly sold more than 40,000 oxycodone pills, in the Staten Island borough.

Also accused along with Scala for her role in the drug ring is Nancy Wilkins, an assistant at an orthopedic office in Manhattan. Her involvement in the operations consisted of stealing blank prescription pads, which she allegedly sold for a whopping $100 per page, according to prosecutors.

The drug ring reportedly charged as much as $20 for a pill. Bridget Brennan, Special Narcotics Prosecutor, commented: “This narcotics organization was as predatory as any I have ever seen — in its structure and distribution practices.”


New York Drug Screening


Early Disease Detection Health & Wellness

CDC Calls for Additional HIV Testing for Organ Donors

Published by:

The Wall Street Journal reported that the first case of transmission of HIV through a live organ donor in more than twenty years has led to a recommendation calling for more HIV testing for organ donors. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has recommended that hospitals test living donors for the HIV virus at seven days at most before the removal and transplantation of their organs.

blood sampleThis recommendation was spurred by the case involving a kidney transplant in 2009, where a kidney transplant recipient contracted the virus from a donor. The male donor admitted to having intimate relations – without protection – after undergoing HIV testing, but before he donated the organ. The procedure was performed in an unnamed hospital in New York; the donor was tested 79 days before the transplant, and at that time, he showed no evidence of infection. He was not, however, tested again at a date that was closer to the removal, and subsequent transplant, of the organ.

These details were based on an investigation conducted by the CDC, and the city and state health officials of New York.

The incident also triggered the revision of the 1994 guidelines of the center, which did not yet consider the timing of screening tests. In addition, the CDC recommends that a test that detects the HIV virus within 8 to 10 days of infection be used.

The WSJ report also reported, however, that the chance of contracting HIV due to a transplant is remote, due to the screening of organ donors for the virus.


New York Health Screening


Early Disease Detection

New Insulin Drug to Reduce Frequency of Injections in Diabetes Patients

Published by:

A study funded by manufacturer Novo Nordisk, and published in The Lancet, indicated that the drug degludec showed potential in reducing the frequency of insulin injections in type 1 diabetes patents.

diabetes injectionThe study documented the result of phase II trials of the drug, which consisted of the random assignment of receiving the drug metformin orally, in conjunction with any of the following regimens: degludec insulin once a day, degludec three times a week, or Lantus once a day for 16 weeks. Lantus (glargine), manufactured by Sanofi-Aventis, is the most widely used long-acting insulin. Study participants consisted of 245 adults with diabetes, or HbA1c levels between 7% and 11%.

The results of the study indicated that patients who were injected with degludec three times a week exhibited controlled blood sugar level as effective as daily injections of Lantus, and similar reductions in hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c) compared to daily injections of Lantus.

In addition, it was determined that the rates of hypoglycemia were at their lowest in patients who took degludec once a day, despite the fact that the rates were generally lower across all treatment groups.

Professor Bernard Zinman, Samuel Lunenfeld Research Institute, Mount Sinai Hospital, University of Toronto, gave the following comment: “Because of its ultra-long action profile, insulin degludec injected three times weekly appears to provide similar glucose control to insulin glargine once daily. This new basal insulin analogue might be a valuable addition to clinical practice…However the safety, efficacy, and optimum use of treatment regimens for insulin degludec will need to be established in larger phase 3 trials.”

Real Drug Stories Substance Abuse

Increase in Number of Meth Labs in Georgia

Published by:

A report on The Augusta Chronicle shared that the number of meth labs in the state of Georgia has increased over the past three years. In the city of Augusta, statistics indicate a 79 percent increase in the number of meth labs discovered by the police. The percentage statewide is 82 percent.

meth labSgt. Allan Rollins of Richmond County Sherrif’s Office shared: “We’ve been on a surge recently… (The labs are) getting much more portable and easier to carry. It used to be you almost had to have a high school chemistry laboratory to make, but now you can basically make it out of a suitcase in a jar.”

Douglas Kahn, a spokesman for the Drug Enforcement Administration in Atlanta, explained that only an estimated 20 percent of the methamphetamine in Georgia is actually made in-state. The meth, according to Kahn, is coming into Georgia from Mexico; the purpose of the labs being set up in the state is to extract crystal meth.

Jim Langford, the executive director of the Georgia Meth Project, described the city of Atlanta, Georgia, as a “distribution hub for meth.” He explains further: “[Meth] is easy to ingest… You can snort it or inject it… you can also put it in a soft drink or in chewing gum.” It is for this reason, according to Langford, that teens are drawn to the drug; the state of Georgia actually has the third-worst meth problem among teenage users in the United States.

Based on a poll conducted by the Georgia Meth Project last year, 35 percent of teens and young adults do not see any risk in trying the meth; 23 percent, on the other hand, said that they believe that using the drug will be beneficial.

Health & Wellness

Voluntary Evacuation of Navy Families in Japan Starts Amid Health Concerns

Published by:

Family members of service members who live in Navy bases in the Tokyo area may start evacuating as early as Thursday night, according to a feature on Stars and Stripes.

Command officials revealed that voluntary evacuations will start with the families of emergency first responders and deployed Sailors. The plan involves evacuation by bus from Yokosuka Naval Base, then a transfer to planes at Naval Air Facility Atsugi and Narita International Airport. The families will then be flown to South Korea.

Japan evacuationsDuring a live broadcast conducted Thursday evening Japan time, Col. Michael Rothstein, commander of the 35th Fighter Wing at Misawa Air Base, announced that families who are currently on Misawa may also evacuate from Japan voluntarily. There are still unanswered questions regarding the administrative process of evacuating, though, and Col. Rothstein provided assurance that his staff is working towards straightening these issues out.

There have been increasing concerns about the threat of radiation among residents in the bases. The damaged Fukushima Dai-Ichi nuclear power plant is about 200 miles from the bases, and there are concerns that radiation may spread to Yokosuka and Atsugi.

The Navy, according to the feature, has the ability to evacuate up to 10,000 people per day. This number can be increased to 18,000 is the Navy is able to secure additional aircraft. Estimates provided indicate that of the 25,000 people at Yokosuka, 19,000 are Americans or family members with Defense Department ID cards. Meanwhile, there are an estimated 6,500 people in Atsugi, but the number of Americans was not known to Stars and Stripes at the time of the feature’s release.

Early Disease Detection Health & Wellness

Radiation Protection Drugs In Demand After Japan Radiation Crisis

Published by:

Various news reports reveal an increase in demand for drugs, as well as devices, that manage exposure to radiation. Sales of Geiger counters and potassium iodide supplements have been brisk all over the United States, due to the fact that some Americans are concerned about the possible spread of radiation from damaged nuclear power plants in Japan – all the way to the United States.

Japan radiationPotassium iodide is used mainly for protection against thyroid cancer, which is induced by radiation, as shared in a feature on The New York Times. Jim Small, the president of the Swedish company Recipharm in America, shared that they have “sold more in the past three days than we have in the past three years.” Recipharm is a major supplier of potassium iodide in the United States.

Manufacturers of the drug shared that the drugs were not just being bought by individual consumers seeking protection; their customers also include companies that would like to provide the drugs to their employees in Japan.

Experts say, however, that there is no need for Americans to buy the pills. Americans are currently not, or likely to be, exposed to dangerous radiation levels from the nuclear plants in Japan. Kathryn A. Higley, head of nuclear engineering and radiation health physics at the Oregon State University, said: “There’s a huge body of water between us and Japan… I have two kids. I’m not concerned for my kids one iota.”

Elmer Lewis, a nuclear expert and professor emeritus of mechanical engineering at Northwestern University, shared: “I think it’s exceedingly improbable — I’d say impossible — that this accident would deliver any detectable amount of radiation at ground level in the United States… It would be barely detectable and have absolutely no health consequences.”

New York Drug Screening