Skip the Handshake and Fist Bump Instead to Keep From Getting Sick

Indirect transfer via surfaces such as computer keyboards and door handles is a potential route of transmission for infectious diseases and efforts are made to control such transfer, particularly in hospitals.  However, direct contact between individuals has the potential for greater efficiency of pathogen transmission, and handshakes are known to transmit bacteria, including potential pathogens.  Nevertheless, some social/professional contexts place great value in the handshake and its quality.  Indeed, health professionals have been specifically encouraged to offer handshakes to meet patients’ expectations and to develop a rapport with them.

Source: The fist bump: A more hygienic alternative to the handshake

It’ll take a while for culture to accept this without thinking you’re desperate to look current. 😉

Typical American Diet Can Damage Immune System

…Many reports have observed that heavier patients appear more likely to come down with infections during a hospital stay, acquire weaker protection from vaccinations and, as with River, suffer more complications from the flu.

Weight alone may not be the entire explanation. A tantalizing line of evidence suggests that unhealthful foods — fatty, salty, sugary, processed foods — may disrupt the body’s defenses in a way that promotes inflammation, infection, autoimmune diseases and even illnesses like cancer.

Source: Typical American diet can damage immune system

I think it was QI (highly recommended) where I heard about the study into hereditary genetics, how what grandparents ate was believed to affect grandchildren.

A $25 Blood Test Could Detect Every Virus That’s Ever Infected You

You’ll probably remember the last time you had the flu, but what about that time you had measles – or was it chicken pox? Your blood knows: it keeps a record of every virus you’ve ever been infected with. A tiny drop of the stuff can now be tested to reveal a person’s viral history.

The test, called VirScan, reveals that adults around the world tend to have been infected by an average of 10 viruses over their lifetime. It could also be used to identify links between viral infections and mysterious diseases like chronic fatigue syndrome.

Source: Cheap blood test reveals every virus you’ve ever been exposed to

The article goes on to largely dismiss the use of the test, as the immune response takes time to build up the antibodies necessary to register an indication of infection.  And points out that we have established symptoms…

Thankfully, Doctors Are Making a Catheter That Hurts Less

If you’ve ever had a urinary catheter, you’ll know they’re unpleasant. If you haven’t, imagine someone threading a tube up through your urethra into your bladder and … yes, yes they hurt. Mercifully, scientists are working out how to make the process less painful. Here’s how.

Source: Thankfully, Doctors Are Making a Catheter That Hurts Less

Surely, someone is taking the piss?

Craigslist Personals Associated with 16% Boost in HIV Infections

A new study focused on the role of something that’s a bit of a hybrid between old and new school: Craigslist classifieds, which have also become a popular way of arranging hookups. By comparing areas before and after the arrival of a local Craigslist, Jason Chan and Anindya Ghose found that the availability of these classifieds are associated with a 16 percent increase in new HIV infections.

The study was prompted by a couple of well-described phenomena. One is that people are using the convenience and relative anonymity of the Internet to find partners; interviews with users of various services show that they post ads not only for what the authors term “no-strings-attached relationships,” but they’re also looking for more diverse sexual experiences, and part of that includes having multiple partners (not necessarily at once).

The other thing that intrigued the authors is the fact that HIV rates in most of the US had either been steady or falling through the early part of this century. But starting in 2005, that trend reversed, and rates have continued to climb since. This trend has often been attributed to the development of effective viral control strategies, which have reduced the fear of infection.

Source: Craigslist personals associated with 16 percent boost in HIV infections

While lab test shows that the latex barrier can stop all the virus, other test results about the uncontrolled real life usage of condoms demonstrates that a sock made of a delicate barrier, placed by an operator under not quite cool headed conditions, after being stored for who knows how long, in unsuitable conditions (think the car glovebox)…  The estimates for actual efficacy goes down to about 70%…  If the condoms are new, having been in proper storage and checked to be properly in place – they work much closer to the theoretical effectiveness.  That’s still 70% better than no condom…

Just One Fix: How to Know When You Actually Need Antibiotics

Antibiotics are strong medicines that can kill bacteria. But we have overused antibiotics for many years. As a result, we now have bacteria that resist antibiotics. Resistant bacteria cause infections that are harder to cure and more costly to treat.

Antibiotic-resistant infections can strike anyone. They can be passed on to others. For example, more and more healthy young people are getting skin infections from MRSA, a bacteria that resists many common antibiotics. MRSA is spreading in households, daycare, schools, camps, dorms, gyms, team sports, and the military.

Try to protect yourself and your loved ones. Here’s what you need to know to help prevent resistance:

Source: Antibiotics: When you need them—and when you don’t

The CDC provides similar information for adults, but more detail.  Reducing antibiotic prescribing is something that requires awareness from both doctors and patients.

No, it's not a tumour!

Maybe it’s a tumour?

Common Cold ‘Prefers Cold Noses’

The virus behind the common cold is much happier in a cold nose, US researchers suggest.

Their study showed the human immune system was weaker in cooler temperatures, allowing the virus to thrive.

The researchers suggested keeping your nose warm and avoiding cold air while infected.

Source: Common cold ‘prefers cold noses’

It’s likely to be much more complex than that. Dry air causing dry mucous membranes and skin which makes for easier portal of entry. Maybe change in activity or interactions of some animals that act as reservoirs. Probably a dozen other things… This study only focused on mouse cells growing in a culture dish. While they controlled for humidity and whatnot, but not at all in the context of an intact organism breathing in virus.

Silk: Enabling Implantable WiFi Devices

For a variety of medical reasons, it’s useful to implant devices inside the body. These devices may be needed to help regulate the cardiovascular system, or they can release drugs inside the body. Unfortunately, they’re also problematic. Once such a device has served its function, it must be removed, which necessitates another surgery. Plus, its presence can lead to complications such as infection, inflammation, and pain.

To address some of these problems, scientists have developed new kinds of circuitry that can safely dissolve in the body. While these water-soluble devices don’t need to be removed, they come with a new problem—they dissolve too quickly for many purposes. So a group of researchers have now reported that they’ve developed a new way to control how long the devices last. The researchers propose that dissolving devices could be encased in a material made from silk protein and magnesium. The advantage of this approach comes from a property of the silk: its crystallinity.

Source: A silk casing enables long-lasting, implantable Wi-Fi medical devices

Side effects may include:

  • Premonitions of danger
  • Women screaming
  • Sticking to walls
  • Getting swatted
  • Fear of being eaten alive by your partner after sex

Attractive (Symmetrical) faces and Good Health may not be Related

The “good genes hypothesis” provides an appealing explanation of this finding. It argues that deviation from facial symmetry is due to difficulties arising during development caused by malnutrition, infection or genetic mutation. The degree of facial symmetry may therefore be a marker of health and resilience, indicating how well people cope with environmental or genetic challenges. So we may find facial symmetry desirable in a mate because these qualities prove beneficial to potential offspring.

Source: ArsTechnica

The heart wants what the heart wants…

I’m not getting stronger – just better muscle definition as my body fat percentage decreases.  But we correlate muscle visibility with gym/exercise…  We’re also seeing people who have low body fat/BMI, but bad cholesterol, blood pressure, etc because they aren’t triggered to review their health because they aren’t getting fat.