Here is some rather worrying news if you live in Houston Texas; giant meningitis carrying snails are heading into town. The giant African snails should not be touched as they "may" carry meningitis. The disease is so feared though who would want to take the risk?The reality is that the snails
carry the bacteria or the virus which can lead to meningitis. That news however will not reassure worried residents. With snails there is always the problem of what they leave behind. Sticky silver snail trails may be tounched, sniffed or licked by pets, other animals or children often without even knowing.Local experts are advising locals to wash their hands thoroughly after any contact with the snails. Perhaps more frequent and thorough handwashing would be a good idea, until the snail problem is resolved Then again perhaps that should be par for the course in these treacherous days?
The Mail Onlne reports "the snails ‘can cause a lot of harm to humans and sometimes even death,’ Autumn Smith-Herron, director of the Institute for the Study of Invasive Species at Sam Houston State University told local NBC affiliate KPRC.
The snails often contract the worms by eating rat feces, scientists say".
A woman in the area discovered the first snail invader Tuesday but it got away before scientists arrived in response to her call. The problem of giant African snails in Houston will not simply go away. The snails can grow up to 8 inches in length and up to 4 inches in diameter and lay 100 eggs per month. There is the potential then for an epidmeic of the creatures. Source:Mail Online
Medical advances have resulted in various treatments and surgical procedures which have been life changing for patients. What about a new penis though?Andrew Wardle, 39, from Greater Manchester was born without a penis. Andrew was born with an ectopic bladder, reports the Daily Mail. During childhood his bladder was moved inside his body. In a peculiar twist of medical fate Andrew was born with testicles but no penis. That birth defect will now be rectified.Mr Wardle will undergo a series of operations performed by surgeons at
University College London. Finally Andrew will get a penis and it is being made from his arm. A large flap skin from his arm will be used to create a penis. Surgeons will remove a flap of skin with and blood vessels which will be rolled into a type of tube creating a penis.Recently British TV aired a documentary showing a man with a very small penis undergoing a similar operation. However Mr Wardle's operation is a first. 'I never thought this day would come and I still can’t believe it is possible for me to actually have a fully functioning penis. If it’s a success, I can finally start living like a normal man.'Things like having sex and starting a family, something which so many people take for granted, could actually become a possibility,' said Andrew.Life has been a rollercoaster affair for him. At times he was open and honest about his lack of penis. A hit with the ladies in general his "disability" eventually left him at an all time low.
After a failed suicide attempt he sought medical help and learned how surgical advances meant he could at last undergo successful surgery.If all goes well Andrew plans to write a book about his experiences and train to become a counsellor. The challenges he has faced in life will
serve him well in both cases. Andrew was given up for adoption, suffered urinary problems during his young years and faced many surgical procedures to rectify his bladder defect. This led to many sick absences from school and inevitably bullying. He managed to keep his lack of penis a secret at school and one can easily imagine what a horrible time he had.Best wishes to Andrew for successful surgery and a bright new future.
As many around the world face severe famine, and poor diet due to poverty, all too many other people in the West have a different problem. A more sedentary life added to a more affluent life-style, than that of years gone by, is steadily increasing people's overall weight. There is of course more to it than that, but those two factors are a good place to start. To understand obesity though you need to know its definition.What is obesity?
Obesity is more than simply carrying around a few extra pounds of weight. That said you may surprised at the level of weight which can be classed as obese. In general these days medical professionals use a BMI, or Body Mass Index, to calculate whether a person is underweight, the correct weight, overweight, fat, obese or morbidly obese. That word morbid should tell you that too much weight is not good for you. It can shorten your lifespan and also ruin your quality of life.
A BMI calculates where you fall in those categories using your weight to height ratio. It takes into account the difference between men and women also. In general an obese person has so much fat accumulated around their body that it compromises their health.Getting it into perspective.
Weight is just one factor of health and a good quality of life. It is important that you do not become over anxious about a few excess pounds. Under pressure some people find they diet to excess damaging their health, even becoming anorexic or bulimic. A sensible long term approach is the best way to reduce weight and ensure that the extra pounds stay off.Natural body weight and genetics.
We may all be "what we eat" but we are also the product of our parents. Family failings such as fat thighs can be inherited. Luckily good family traits such as a slim waist could also be. However, remember not to simply blame genetics. They just mean that your natural healthy body weight could be a little more than another persons. We can always improve our weight and appearance with a little effort but if you have inherited short, stumpy legs you are stuck with them. Even those though will look better with less excess weight on them.UK and US obesity Study
The results of a recent study into obesity have been revealed and they send out a stark warning. If we carry on as we are right now the levels of obesity by 2030 will be frightening. The figures estimate that the number of obese people will rise from 99 million in 2008 to 164 million in the US, by 2030, plus the number of obese people in the United Kingdom will increase from 15 million to 26 million. A nation of fatties on both sides of the Atlantic then.Causes
Apart from a more sedentary life added to a more affluent life-style, as discussed earlier, other contributing factors in the increase in obesity include:
- An increase in fast-food, such as ready-microwavable-meals
- An increase in the consumption of junk food
- Poor diet
- Limited diet
- Spoiled children
- Cheap non-essential food such as sweets, candies, chocolate and take-away foods
- Excessive use of a personal vehicle
- More disposable income
- More food stuffs readily available
- Cheap supermarket foods
- People choosing the wrong foods.
- Poverty, which means people often buy the cheaper alternatives no matter how unhealthy they are
There are many reasons for obesity and for some it will simply be greed. With so many different, tasty foods on offer these days it can be hard to resist.During the current economic downturn you may not feel more affluent but most people are compared to their parents. Poverty can lead to obesity though. Unhealthy foods are often cheap.Statistics.
The increased incidence in overweight people in the UK and US has led to many other problems. Obese patients are more likely to develop diabetes, heart problems, joint and bone problems, cancer and so much more. This leads to a drain on resources as people require more medical intervention and become unable to work. All in all obesity, in a way similar to smoking and alcohol abuse
, costs countries, such as the UK and the US, a small fortune. If they continue to increase it will be a large fortune.
Government involvement in tackling obesity
As the staggering figures sink in the government is looking at various means available to tackle this weighty problem. These include a "fat tax" on certain foods. However, that hits everyone and infringes on people's freedoms. Fighting the Flab
Losing weight slowly and steadily is the best way. Lose too much too soon and it will return quickly. Plus this is about getting healthier. Plan a sensible diet which allows you a life also. Diets which are too restrictive can cause health problems. Include some regular exercises and the pounds will shift. With age it can be harder to lose weight. Hormones play havoc with a woman's weight and body shape. It is still possible to lose weight
but requires more determination and time.
On the whole remember if you eat more than you burn off each day you will put on weight. The odd pound or two here and there can soon be moved but if you are not careful a few pounds may become a few stones. It is easier to keep on top of a weight problem than have lots of weight to lose.
Some people find though that to lose weight they simply need to change their lifestyle. It is all about finding the right balance for you. Alcohol is fattening but in moderation it is ok. We all need some pleasures in life. However, if you don't want to be part of the INCREASE IN OBESITY STATISTICS, heed the warning NOW.
BBC News 24 carried a report, Thursday, about aging. It included a baby and its family, plus a man who was over 100. As the report pointed out the baby is predicted to live till at least the age of 100. The elderly gentleman was speaking about longevity and what he believes has helped him live a long live, remaining fit and reasonably healthy. He credited a great deal of his good fortune to his wife, and their love for each other.Across the world in Japan one Minister has a different approach to the elderly. Japanese Finance Minister Taro As, just wishes they would 'hurry up and die'.
The UK, rightly so, is often derided for its treatment of the elderly. Unlike some countries it does not respect its elderly generation. With an increasingly large proportion of the population now falling into the term elderly, perhaps it is rethinking some of its policies. It is a fact that the Tories are looking to woe the elderly voters in the electorate. Older people usually use their right to vote and vote with their 'pockets'. That is if they are financially hit by one party they will vote elsewhere. A large proportion of older voters are conservative but that may not be cast in stone. It is doubtful however that any UK minister, unless he was insane or had a 'death wish', would tell older people to; 'hurry up and die'!Using what most people will call offensive words the Japanese Minister referred to the elderly, who can no longer feed themselves, as
"tube people". He 'put himself in their shoes' saying if he were in the same position he would want to die. Not because life had become so dreadful but because he would feel, "increasingly bad knowing that [treatment] was all being paid for by the government." He then said the situation will only be resolved when these people 'hurry up and die'.Japan is one country that in the past has shown great respect for its elderly citizens. Is the Minister's view simply his rantings or a shift in ideology?Are only healthy elderly Japanese citizens worthy of respect?Source
The National Health Service in the UK faces many challenges. Some are just an ageing population, a diversity of patients in the 21st Century, the availability of more treatments and modern day expectations. Then there is money. Yes that old chestnut.The UK Coalition government has proposed reform of the NHS which will see funding reverting back to General Practitioners. This was the way of the NHS sometime ago. It will be a costly exercise to implement such changes. It always is. This means that money which could be better spent on patient care will end up being used for administration and planning. New posts will be created to implement the changes and they will not come cheaply.Whether the changes will benefit patients or make real savings we will find out in the future. If they don't then it could be another costly exercise to change things once more. And so on it goes.Already most hospital trusts are having to cut their work forces. Wards have been closed, staff numbers reduced and some services shifted into the private sector. This means that in an emergency situation many cannot cope. They are already working under pressure so an outbreak of the winter vomiting bug, which is ongoing now, can tip services over the edge.Today there is news once more that the NHS is failing the elderly.There have been many stories regarding poor health care of the elderly in the UK and the latest is with regard to cancer treatements. The report follows a poll by British cancer charity
Macmillan Cancer Support. SkyNews
45% of 155 GPs, oncologists and specialist cancer nurses surveyed said they have dealt with a cancer patient who has been refused treatment on the grounds that they were too old.
Macmillan said the UK has some of the worst cancer survival rates in Europe for older people.
Ciaran Devane, chief executive at Macmillan Cancer Support, said: "Health professionals' concerns about the prevalence of age discrimination in cancer care mustn't be ignored.
"Unless staff are given the time and training to carry out a proper assessment of a patient's overall physical and mental wellbeing, some patients will be unfairly written-off as 'too old' for treatment.
"The number of older people (aged 65 and over) living with cancer in the UK is set to rocket in the next 20 years from 1.3 million to 4.1 million.
"Unless the barriers to timely treatment are tackled now, many older people could die unnecessarily from cancer and services will become unaffordable."
Government Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt claims that the government is working with the Macmillan charity in order to address these issues. He accepts that there is still a great deal of work to be done to ensure that tose aged over 70 receive appropriate care. Look online though and you will see stories relating to this have been around for at least a year. That means that whilst Ministers procrastinate lives are lost.
13 years of working in the NHS has shown this blogger that if you work there long enough you will see all reforms come around again. The if it is not broke why fix it scenario never applies. Then when it is broken change is a long time coming.
Elederly patients with cancer tend to end up on Medical Elderly Wards rather than on the modern oncology wards. This is sometimes true of other specialities such as heart failure patients. When there is a bed shortage being moved is acceptable when it is due to an emergency situation. When it is normal practice something must be done.
There may be nothing wrong with a ward you are admitted to but if it does not have the level of care or facilities you need your prognosis will be poor.
Time to cut the management tier at the top of the NHS and reopen wards which are needed with the right staff.
The current government in wanting to move services away from the NHS into the private sector must take responsibility.
BBC Scotland has acquired a series of reports regarding the NHS in Scotland. Under the Freedom of Information Act it is now possible for people and agencies to request documents which have been kept a secret in the past.The once secret documents relate to serious incidents
in which 105 died. The fact that an incident does not lead directly to death does not necessarily make it any less serious. One report details an older woman who was admitted to hospital for treatment on an infected foot. Whilst in hospital her other foot was affected due to pressure sores. With proper hospital care pressure sores are preventable and treatable. The woman needed to have the newly affected foot amputated. The amputation was below the knee with obvious serious implications for her life back home.A page at the BBC website offers a link to the areas of Scotland included with details of their associated
incidents. Some were obviously not preventable but others are shocking.
The reports include a person being blown up while on oxygen therapy after lighting a cigarette.
They also detail deaths from fatal doses of medicine and missing equipment during a cardiac arrest.
Other reports show procedural problems in hospitals meaning patients died before they could be transferred and supplies of drugs or emergency equipment not being available
At the heart of this report is how the NHS treats its serious incidents. Do the hospitals have efficient procedures in place to recod such incidents and how are any reports acted upon? It is no good documenting incidents unless lessons are learned. In an ideal world srious incidents should be reported, the lesson learned and the number of such incidents significantly reduced.
In Scotland this appears to be far from the case. Now that the information is in the public domain hopefully there will be change for the better.
Across the UK there is a similar picture of the NHS which many have said is confusing. A one size fits all national policy would make more sense, as far as incident reporting and improvements go.
This blogger has two pet hates or perhaps that should be fears. Needing eye surgery and the thought of a parasite living in her body. This report then is the stuff of nightmares.
An Indian man, 75-year-old PK Krishnamurthy from Mumbai, had suffered eye irritation for some time. It was getting worse and his eye was becoming red and inflamed. Visits to the doctor had resulted in various treatments but no cure.
A further consultation with his Doctor though, which involved a more thorough examination, showed the problem. PK had a live, five inch worm living behind his eye ball.Yuk.
The eye surgery was carried out immediately and the doctor admitted that in the end PK was lucky. Such a parasite could have caused lasting health problems and may have reached the man's brain. The surgery lasted a brief 15 minutes and finally PK's eye problems are over.
The worm may have looked slight but that does not mean that it did not have life threatening potential. The worm has been sent for analysis. PK and the medical team have no idea as yet just how this worm managed to enter the man's body and thrive. PK is now recovering but is said to be well.
Before you all have nightmares though bear in mind such cases are extremely rare. What worries this blogger though is that they are not unknown. Still better to have the correct diagnosis and treatment than the alternative!
Tags: Indian man, PK Krishnamurthy, Mumbai, worm behind eye, five inch worm, surgery to remove worm from eye socket
Many Western countries are taking what means they think appropriate to try and stamp out smoking. Lately it seems that smokers have faced one onslaught after another. In the UK smoking paraphernalia in stores now has to be kept under the counter, that is out of sight, and the products will soon be sold in plain packaging.
New Zealand is aiming at making the country smoke free by 2025. A tall order it would seem. One of its proposals in the war against smoking is increasing the price of a packet of cigarettes to %100 that is £50. If this price increase is approved it will be in place by 2020, just 8 years away. New Zealand's Official Information Act has led to the revelations of possible changes.
Media sources reported that, "One option being considered is a 10% increase on a pack of 20 cigarettes year-on-year from 2013 to 2025, meaning it would cost $40 (£20) a pack by 2024.But a second scenario would see packs at $100 each by 2020, achieved by an immediate shock rise of 30% to 60%, with on-going increases of 30% each year after that."
Other changes being considered include, regulating tobacco as a highly toxic substance, a ban on smoking in cars with children, a doubling of anti-smoking media campaigns and removing tobacco from duty-free sale.
The New Zealand Ministry of Health has since said that the document detailing the possible measures is an internal document and not part of the Government's policy. It is fair to say though, watch this space.
Tags: quitting smoking, price of cigarettes, tobacco prices, taxation, health, New Zealand smokers