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Friday, 18 January 2013 13:12

Risk of Chikungunya and Dengue

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Last year, during the same period, cases of chikungunya and dengue, though only a few, were noted in the country. Preventive measures are thus strongly recommended to avoid a re-emergence of these diseases.
During summer, the risk of gastroenteritis is usually higher. And the recent rainfall due to tropical depression Dumillé has only increased the risk. The main concerns are a surge in gastroenteritis infections and the proliferation of mosquitoes which may result in several mosquito-borne diseases.

There is a risk of the re-emergence of chikungunya and dengue due to the increased proliferation of mosquitoes during this period of the year. These infectious diseases are transmitted by the mosquito Aedes Albopictus.

“This mosquito bites only during the day. This is why applying a mosquito-repellent creams during the day is necessary,” says Dr Fazil Kodabacus from the Ministry of Health.

Signs and symptoms
Chikungunya is characterised by an abrupt onset of fever frequently accompanied by joint pain. Other common signs and symptoms include muscle pain, headache, nausea, fatigue and rash. These symptoms generally appear four to seven days after being infected by the mosquito. The joint pain is often very debilitating, but usually ends within a few days or weeks. Most patients recover fully, but in some cases joint pain may persist for several months, or even years.

Occasional cases of eye, neurological and heart complications have been reported, as well as gastrointestinal complaints. Serious complications are not common, but in older people, the disease lead to death.

Dengue has almost the same symptoms and may include nose bleeding. The diagnostic of these diseases is carried out through medical exams and blood tests in the laboratory. Recently, the Ministry has set up a new screening system for Mauritians who are travelling.

A slight rise in the number of cases of gastroenteritis (from 500 cases per week to 600 cases per week) has been rgistered by the Ministry following cycolne Dumilé., Dr Kodabacus remarks that children are more vulnerable to the infection and thus require more protection.

The symptoms are diarrhea, nausea, fever. “Children risk rapid dehydration and it is essential to give them serum regularly to rehydrate them. If the symptoms persist, they should be taken to the doctor immediately or, if the need be, call the Service d’Aide Médicale d’Urgence (SAMU),” he insists.

The doctor stresses that the preparation of the serum is very crucial and that the directions should be followed accurately. “It can prove to be dangerous for the child if the serum is too concentrated or too diluted,” he says.

Preventive measures
The main preventive measure consists of protecting oneself from mosquito bites. The Ministry recommends:
  • Wearing of clothes which minimise the risk of skin exposure
  • Using mosquito nets
  • Using mosquito-repellents product
  • Ensure that there is no accumulation of water on the roofs
  • Properly cover water tanks to avoid mosquito proliferation
  • Discard objects that can become a breeding place for mosquitoes (used tyres, used cans, domestic waste)
  • Throw away excess water found in flower pots
  • Discard fallen leaves

Ancient migration: Genes link Australia with India
Australia experienced a wave of migration from India about 4,000 years ago, a genetic study suggests. It was thought the continent had been largely isolated after the first humans arrived about 40,000 years ago until the Europeans moved in in the 1800s. But DNA from Aboriginal Australians revealed there had been some movement from India during this period. The researchers believe the Indian migrants may have introduced the dingo to Australia.

In the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, they say that the fossil record suggests the wild dogs arrived in Australia at around the same time. They also suggest that Indians may have brought stone tools called microliths to their new home. To study the early origins of Australia's population, the team compared genetic material from Aboriginal Australians with DNA from people in New Guinea, South East Asia and India.

By looking at specific locations, called genetic markers, within the DNA sequences, the researchers were able to track the genes to see who was most closely related to whom. They found an ancient genetic association between New Guineans and Australians, which dates to about 35,000 to 45,000 years ago. At that time, Australia and New Guinea were a single land mass, called Sahul, and this tallies with the period when the first humans arrived. But the researchers also found a substantial amount of gene flow between India and Australia.

Grown hearing-hairs ‘beat’ deafness in mice
Tiny hairs in the ear which detect sounds have been regenerated to reverse deafness for the first time, say US researchers in the journal Neuron. An injection of a drug led to the creation of new hairs in tests on mice. Normal hearing was not restored, rather the mice went from hearing nothing to detecting sounds such as a door slamming or traffic. Experts said it was “tremendously exciting” but warned treating humans was still a distant prospect. To hear anything sound waves have to be converted into electrical signals which the brain will understand.

The first step in the process takes place deep inside the inner ear where vibrations move tiny hairs and the movement creates an electrical signal. The study, by Massachusetts Eye and Ear and Harvard Medical School, looked at mice which were completely deaf and had virtually no hairs remaining in their ears. A drug was used to target cells which normally support the individual hairs. It changed the destiny of the cells, by altering which genes were being used in the cells.
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