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Milk and fish poison
Two people were killed and 53 others poisoned after drinking fresh milk and eating poisonous fish in two separate cases in Xi'An, capital of northwest China's Shaanxi province, last week. Most of those poisoned were residents in the district's Qinling village. They all bought bulk fresh milk from a fellow villager and dairy farmer. Initial results from the local health department's investigation suggest the milk had been accidentally contaminated, rather than deliberately poisoned. In another incident, two people died and nine others were hospitalised in Xi'An city after they ate globe-fish. The breeding, selling and cooking of globe-fish is forbidden by the Ministry of Health since globe-fish is a potentially toxic fish found in China's coastal areas and some inland rivers.

Medication after heart surgery
A drug used to help the heart pump blood and lower blood pressure may reduce the risk of deteriorating heart function among infants and children soon after heart surgery, says a study by the American Heart Association. Milrinone has been used before to treat young patients who developed low cardiac output syndrome after surgery. But, the study led by researchers at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, is the first to examine the use of the drug as a preventative measure.
The study also indicated that children did not face the side-effects like low blood pressure, blood platelet abnormalities and irregular heart rhythms, which have been reported in adults using the same drug.

Chiron Vaccines in India
Chiron Vaccines, the vaccine business unit of California-based Chiron Corporation has confirmed its plans for making India a regional base.
"Chiron Vaccines is committed to bringing new generation, innovative vaccines to India, enabling its participation in all the key segments of the vaccine market," said Mr. John Lambert, President, Chiron Vaccines, at the end of the Vaccines Executive Committee Meeting held in Mumbai, last week.
Dr. Rino Rappuoli, Vice President, Vaccines Research, said Chiron Vaccines expects to make innovative vaccines available in India to reduce the burden of various diseases in the country in the area of paediatric infectious diseases. "We will do it by building on our current successful operations in India, which includes rabies vaccine production," he stated.



Did you know that your home is one of the places that poses the maximum amount of health risk to your family? It is very essential to keep your home clean and germ-free. But it is also equally important to clean your home in the right manner. That's is exactly what the discussion on 'Health risks in our homes,' organised by the Ladies' Wing of the Indian Merchants' Chamber recently, dealt with. The discussion was presided over by Dr. Rohini Kelkar, Professor and Head of Microbiology, Tata Memorial Hospital and Dr. Jehangir Sorabjee, consultant physician and specialist in infectious diseases at the Bombay Hospital. Taking the indulgent audience through the daily chores of the day, Dr. Kelkar gave them the scientific and the right way to go about household chores. Here are some tips:

Cleaning the house:

  • Avoid sweeping the house, it raises dust particles, which may carry micro-organisms. Encourage wet mopping, which will remove the dirt and the micro-organisms.
  • Dry clothes in the sun as the ultraviolet rays kill the germs present in the clothes.
  • Remove footwear before entering the home or hospital as it is a carrier of dirt, germs and infections.
  • Hand washing:

  • Encourage hand-washing with a liquid soap, as it is the single most effective means of preventing transmission of infective diseases.
  • The mechanical process of washing hands should take atleast one minute to be effective.
  • Use liquid soap as opposed to a bar of soap. A wet bar could be a site for germs and bacteria. Using a wet bar is as ineffective as not washing your hands, not to mention there is an added risk of picking more germs from the contaminated bar.
  • If you are taking care of a person who is sick, it is advisable to use antiseptic soap.
  • Water storage:

  • Storing water overnight in a copper container will sterilise it. Even drinking water in a silver glass will help sterilise it.
  • Refrain from using plastic containers, one can never be sure of the toxins that may be present in it. Glass or stainless steel containers are the safer and more desirable option.
  • Make sure that your source of water is clean. Inspect your overhead water tank and get it cleaned atleast once a year to avoid contamination.
  • Refrigeration and food:

  • Low temperatures do not kill the bacteria or germs, they just inhibit the multiplication.
  • Always buy a cutting board which does not have grooves, this will prevent bacterial growth.
  • Avoid eating bread as the yeast in the bread has been known to cause infection in people with compromised immune systems.
  • Interiors:

  • Carpets in homes should be cleaned regularly, as micro-organisms called dust mites are present in them, which can cause wheezing and can aggravate asthmatic attacks in certain people.
  • The use of varnishes and paints should be restricted as they let out carcinogens which are cancer-causing agents.
  • Discover your DNA

    By A Staff Reporter

    In 1953, scientists Francis Crick and James Watson, made an extraordinary discovery: the structure of DNA. Commemorating the 50th anniversary of this remarkable achievement, Discovery Channel examines how this single finding has revolutionised the world we live in - and where the cutting research of today will take us next.

    DNA: The Promise and The Price premieres on Discovery Channel around the world on Sunday April 6 from 7 to 10 p.m. Featuring emotional true-life stories of how the latest genetic developments are saving lives and opinion from the leading figures in the field, DNA: The Promise and The Price examines how far we have come and poses some challenging questions for our genetic future.

    DNA: The Promise and The Price assesses the benefits and the risks of the genetic revolution. The film attempts to balance the tremendous developments currently being achieved with the vast potential of what lies ahead.

    There are currently 72,000 DNA experiments taking us to the frontiers of genetic research. Gene therapy - manipulating genes - seems like the ultimate promise for diseases caused by single gene defects.

    DNA: The Promise and The Price takes an in-depth look at these and many other developments and also examines the ethical dilemmas surrounding them. The film reminds us that almost everybody watching will die of a genetic disease. But while genetic science is being used to combat devastating hereditary illnesses, and potentially bring an end to many cancers and diseases, these procedures and others raise many questions - in manipulating the very essence of our biology, are we playing God?

    The special features interviews and debate from many of the key players in genetics, including comment and insight from Nobel Prize winner Sir John Sulston of the Human Genome Project; J. Craig Venter, whose company Celera went head to head with the Human Genome Project and introduced a commercial aspect to gene sequencing; Stephen Jones, one of the UK's leading geneticists, educators and commentators in the field, specialising in the study of population genetics of humans and animals; and author Jeremy Rifkin, Presidential Advisor on Genetics and an influential advocate for responsible government policies on a variety of environmental, scientific and technology issues.

    DNA: The Promise and The Price presents case studies like: Tackling cancer at the University of York, England; Growing new organs at The Tokyo University, Japan; Pre-Implantation Genetic Diagnosis (PGD); The world's first cancer gene test; Adult stem cell research - Regenerating damaged organs; Human Cloning - How close are we?

    Key DNA milestones
    2003: Dolly the sheep is euthanised because of health problems that raise questions about cloning safety.
    2002: Scientists at the Australian Museum in Sydney announce the discovery of intact Tasmanian Tiger DNA from a preserved pup.
    2002: Rice is the first crop to have its genome decoded.
    2000: Traces of genetically modified corn, approved only for animal feed, are found in taco shells, prompting recalls.
    2000: The Human Genome Project presents its preliminary results: each of the body's 100 trillion cells contains some 3.1 billion nucleotide units.
    2000: President Clinton issues an order barring Federal Agencies from using genetic information in hiring, firing or promotion.
    1998: Researchers for the first time sequence the entire DNA of an animal, the roundworm C. elegans.
    1998: DNA testing links President Clinton to the stain on Monica Lewinsky's dress.
    1997: DNA from a 40,000-year-old Neanderthal bone indicates that modern humans did not interbreed with these prehistoric people.
    1997: Scotland's Roslin Institute announces the birth of Dolly the lamb, the first mammal to be cloned from an adult cell.
    1994: The Flavor Savor tomato, designed to ripen slowly, is the first genetically altered food approved by the FDA.

    Homoeopathic cures for impotency


    Impotency is a sexual problem affecting a significant section of the human population which may disastrously affect the sex life of an individual and his partner.

    Dr. Mahesh Kalra, eminent homoeopath, says that impotency, although curable, is often not treated as disclosure is thought to affect the "macho" masculine mind rather adversely. The most prominent example is that of King Pandu in the 'Mahabharata', who is said to have lost all interest in ruling his kingdom after being cursed to suffer from impotency!

    Impotency is defined as an inability to achieve or maintain an erection in an otherwise healthy male. However, impotency may be the first sign which helps the treating physician to detect other diseases like diabetes or hypertension. These cases are labelled as organic impotency as the cause is reduced blood supply to the male organ, leading to failure in achieving erection.

    Hence care should be taken, while treating impotency, to rule out major diseases like the above-mentioned causes. Another likely cause of impotency is -- impotency due to certain group of drugs used to treat hypertension. Drugs like Atenolol and Propanolol, known as beta blockers in medical parlance, are known causes of decreased erectile capacity known as symptomatic impotency.

    Alcohol abuse and excessive cigarette smoking are also significant causes of impotency. Other causes include advanced age (decreased blood flow to the organ due to hardening of the penile arteries), partner incompatibility, etc.

    Lastly, psychic impotency caused due to mental stress, anxiety, or hectic lifestyle common to our metropolitan cities. This cause is said to contribute to a large number of cases which then may get complicated by alcohol, tobacco and hypertension.

    Homoeopathic treatment
    Impotency is treated in homoeopathy after an initial case-history session of careful and sympathetic counselling. The patient's life history is elicited in detail with regard to his day-to-day activities -- the presence of any anxiety, insecurity or hostility with regard to to his partner, profession or family.

    The patient's habits like cigarette smoking, alcohol intake or past history of sexual abuse, or sexually-transmitted diseases are taken into account. The patient is counselled to learn relaxation techniques like yoga, meditation etc.

    Also, the patient is taught `Kegel's exercises' to enhance the tone of his pelvic muscles, which aid in increasing the strength of his erections. In Kegel's exercises the patient is told to tighten those muscles that could be used to prevent defaecation or urination. These exercises can be performed even while travelling in a local bus or train without others knowing about it! Some commonly used homoeopathic drugs and their indications are given below. However these are best taken under the able guidance of a trained homoeopath.

  • Agnus Castus is useful in cases of prematurely aged men with neurotic depression and loss of nervous energy secondary to what the patient terms as "excessive sex".
  • Conium Maculatum, on the other hand, is of use in men with history of abnormally suppressed sexual desire due to socio-religious reasons like the "Brahmacharya" ideology or circumstantial causes like widowers or bachelors.
  • Caladium Seguinum is a useful remedy in treating impotency of chronic tobacco users with a history of tobacco-related heart diseases.
  • Lycopodium Clavatum is useful in treating age-related impotency where the desire exists without the ability to perform the act.
  • Selenium is useful for treatment of impotency among the elderly with prostate gland enlargement and dribbling of the semen during stool and urine.
  • Yohimbinum is a remedy useful in treating psychological impotency with great congestion of the sexual organs and mental agitation.
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