Tuesday October 22, 2019

Europe Suffers From a Severe Measles Outbreak

The U.N. agency on Monday called for better surveillance of the disease and increased immunization rates to prevent measles from becoming endemic.

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Measles
Doctor Roberto Ieraci vaccinates a woman in Rome as Italy battles one of its worst epidemics of measles in recent years. VOA

The World Health Organization says the number of measles cases in Europe jumped sharply during the first six months of 2018 and at least 37 people have died.

The U.N. agency’s European office said Monday more than 41,000 measles cases were reported in the region during the first half of the year — more than in all 12-month periods so far this decade.

The previous highest annual total was 23,927 cases in 2017. A year earlier, only 5,273 cases were reported.

The agency said half — some 23,000 cases — this year occurred in Ukraine, where an insurgency backed by Russia has been fighting the government for four years in the east in a conflict that has killed over 10,000 people.

France, Georgia, Greece, Italy, Russia and Serbia also had more than 1,000 measles infections each so far this year.

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An undated electron microscope image of a measles virus particle. VOA

Measles, among the world’s most contagious diseases, is a virus that’s spread in the air through coughing or sneezing. It can be prevented with a vaccine that’s been in use since the 1960s, but health officials say vaccination rates of at least 95 percent are needed to prevent epidemics.

Vaccine skepticism remains high in many parts of Europe after past immunization problems.

Measles typically begins with a high fever and also causes a rash on the face and neck. While most people who get it recover, measles is one of the leading causes of death among young children, according to the WHO.

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Italy has introduced a new law requiring parents to vaccinate their children against measles and nine other childhood diseases. Romania also passed a similar bill, including hefty fines for parents who didn’t vaccinate their children.

The U.N. agency on Monday called for better surveillance of the disease and increased immunization rates to prevent measles from becoming endemic.(VOA)

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Fatty Tissues Accumulate Inside Lungs of Obese People: Study

The researchers examined post-mortem samples of the lungs that had been donated for the research and stored in the Airway Tissue Biobank

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Excess fat accumulates in the airway walls of Obese people where it takes up space and seems to increase inflammation within the lungs. Pixabay

Researchers have found that fatty tissues accumulate in the airway walls, particularly in people who are overweight or obese.

The study, published in the European Respiratory Journal, suggested that the fatty tissue alters the structure of people’s airways and this could be one reason behind the increased risk of asthma.

“Our research team studies the structure of the airways within our lungs and how these are altered in people with respiratory disease,” said the study’s author John Elliot from Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital in Australia.

“Looking at the samples of lungs, we spotted fatty tissue that had built up in the airway walls. We wanted to see if this accumulation was correlated with body weight,” Elliot said.

The researchers examined post-mortem samples of the lungs that had been donated for the research and stored in the Airway Tissue Biobank.

They studied samples from 52 people, including 15 who had no asthma, 21 who had the disease but died of other causes and 16 who died of asthma.

Using dyes to help visualise the structures of 1373 airways under a microscope, they identified and quantified any fatty tissue present.

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Fatty tissue alters the structure of Obese people’s airways and this could be one reason behind the increased risk of asthma. Pixabay

They compared this data with each person’s body mass index (BMI).

The study showed that fatty tissue accumulates in the walls of the airways. The analysis revealed that the amount of fat present increases in line with increasing BMI.

“We’ve found that excess fat accumulates in the airway walls where it takes up space and seems to increase inflammation within the lungs,” said the study’s co-author Peter Noble.

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“We think this is causing a thickening of the airways that limits the flow of air in and out of the lungs, and that could at least partly explain an increase in asthma symptoms,” Noble said. (IANS)