Disease Updates - 1/12 to...

Peter Petrisko ptp at primenet.com
Fri Jan 16 02:04:00 EST 1998


1/15/98 UPDATE -
Pittsburgh PA meningitis / HONG KONG H5N1 / East Africa Outbreaks / KENYA
/ Rwanda announcement / CONGO cholera / DEA calls for study /
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Pittsburgh, PA (US) - A 4-year old girl contracted bacterial meningitis
and is being treated at a local hospital, while about 90 children at the
day care center she attends are now being treated for possible exposure to
the bacterial infection, according to the state's health department, by
being given antibiotics for two days. Health officials downplayed any
chances of an outbreak occurring.

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HONG KONG -  A 25-year old woman, who contracted influenza A/H5N1 before
the chicken slaughter here, became the sixth person to die from the
outbreak.
   Her death, on Wednesday, wasn't expected to change an official
assessment, made earlier this week, that the 'bird flu' has been stopped.

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REGIONAL REPORT  --  East Africa
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   An Agence France-Presse article today cited torrential rains in the
past three months as the cause of flooding in southern Somalia, which has
killed close to 2,000 people, and for cholera and malaria reaching
epidemic proportions. It has also resulted in a sharp increase in people
dying from respiratory infections and other flood-related illnesses,
including the recently diagnosed Rift Valley fever in parts of Kenya and
Somalia.

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Nairobi, KENYA -  Doctors and politicians demanded, on Thursday, emergency
action be taken to control a Rift Valley fever outbreak, called "out of
control" by Red Cross & Red Crescent officials in the region. The death
figure is now estimated, by the Red Cross & Red Cresecent Societies, to be
over 450 people.
   WHO officials made no rebuttal statements concerning disputes, made
earlier this week, about the cause of illness in Kenya - at least none
that were reported.

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Kigali, RWANDA - State Radio Rwanda announced the launch of both domestic
and personal hygiene programs, to combat cholera now raging in the region.
It will include laws against the roadside sales of raw foods, more
inspections of food & drink businesses, and the implementation of more
public awareness programs on personal hygiene both during and after
natural disasters (such as recent flood conditions).

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Kinshasa, DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF THE CONGO -  As Kinshasa Governor
Theopile Mbomba, quoted by radio, urged residents to stay in their homes,
heavy rains further swelled Congo River waters. An associated outbreak of
cholera has killed over 200 soldiers at military camps in Kinshasa.

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MEDICINE NEWS -- United States
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   On Wednesday, the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) requested the Dept. of
Health & Human Services (HHS) review whether marijuana has medicinal uses.
   This followed an Administrative Petition co-filed by a former National
Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) president and Trans
High Corp. (publisher of 'High Times' magazine).
   Supporters of this Admin. Petition said the DEA could've rejected it
outright, that the agency doesn't ask for HHS studies lightly.  
   The request, and apparent change in attitude - no matter how slight -
at the DEA,  came after the petition was submitted with a number of
specific studies on the medicinal effects of marijuana attached.
   Marijuana, currently a "Schedule 1" drug (meaning 'illegal to possess &
no medicinal value') , cannot be used in clinical studies. Nor can it be
prescribed by doctors in the U.S. - with the exceptions of California &
Arizona, where voters recently passed 'medical marijuana' laws.
Unfortunately, the federal gov't and, in AZ at least, state legislators
are attempting to change and/or out-and-out outlaw these laws, citing
"voter stupidity" for their passage in the first place. (i.e. the old "you
didn't know what you were voting for" argument.)
   People with multiple sclerosis, glaucoma, AIDS, and those suffering
side effects from chemotherapy, have all praised the medicinal qualities
of marijuana.
   
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