Thursday January 17, 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.

Also Read: Meteor Shower Lights Up Bosnia, Southeastern Europe

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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Here’s How Fasting Can Improve Your Overall Health

This study opens new avenues of investigation that could ultimately lead to the development of nutritional strategies to improve health in humans

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Wikimedia commons
Wikimedia commons

Fasting may not be just a religious or political practice. It may actually protect you against age-related diseases and improve your overall health, researchers say.

The study, led by a team from the University of California-Irvine (UCI), found that fasting affects circadian clocks in the liver and skeletal muscle, causing them to rewire their metabolism, which can ultimately lead to improved health and protection against age-related diseases.

The circadian clock operates within the body and its organs as intrinsic time-keeping machinery to preserve homeostasis in response to the changing environment.

And, while food is known to influence clocks in peripheral tissues, it was unclear until now how the lack of food influences clock function and ultimately affects the body.

“We discovered fasting influences the circadian clock and fasting-driven cellular responses, which together work to achieve fasting-specific temporal gene regulation,” said lead author Paolo Sassone-Corsi, Professor of Biological Chemistry at UCI.

“Skeletal muscle, for example, appears to be twice as responsive to fasting as the liver,” Sassone-Corsi added.

Water fasting can be harmful Wikimedia commons
How fasting can improve your overall health. Wikimedia commons

The research, detailed in the Cell Reports journal, was conducted using mice, which were subjected to 24-hour periods of fasting.

While fasting, the mice exhibited a reduction in oxygen consumption (VO2), respiratory exchange ratio (RER), and energy expenditure, all of which were completely abolished by refeeding, which parallels results observed in humans.

“The reorganisation of gene regulation by fasting could prime the genome to a more permissive state to anticipate upcoming food intake and thereby drive a new rhythmic cycle of gene expression. In other words, fasting is able to essentially reprogram a variety of cellular responses,” Sassone-Corsi said.

Also Read- Silence Prevails in Manali Hamlets to Appease Gods

“Therefore, optimal fasting in a timed manner would be strategic to positively affect cellular functions and ultimately benefiting health and protecting against age-associated diseases.”

This study opens new avenues of investigation that could ultimately lead to the development of nutritional strategies to improve health in humans. (IANS)