EMEA Health and Science Correspondent
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Jul 4, 2013

Study finds MERS virus has not yet reached pandemic potential

LONDON, July 5 (Reuters) – The Middle East coronavirus that
has killed 40 people since emerging late last year has not yet
reached pandemic potential and may simply die out, according to
new estimates of how easily it is transmitted.

In a study in The Lancet medical journal, researchers from
France’s Institut Pasteur in Paris analysed data on Middle East
respiratory syndrome (MERS) clusters and found its likelihood of
developing into a SARS-like worldwide epidemic was low.

Jul 4, 2013

Three million Europeans catch infections in hospital annually

LONDON (Reuters) – On any given day, some 80,000 patients in Europe are fighting an infection they picked up in hospital, often while in intensive care, the EU’s disease monitoring agency said in a survey published on Thursday.

Although some of these infections can be treated easily, others – like the superbug MRSA and other drug-resistant bugs – can be fatal or affect patients’ health very seriously, taking several months of costly hospital care and medication to beat.

Jul 3, 2013

Risk of birth defect doubles for cousin couples -study

LONDON (Reuters) – Children whose parents are cousins run more than double the risk of being born with a congenital abnormality, although the overall rate of such birth defects remains low, according to new research findings.

A large study in a British city with a large Pakistani community, where marriage between blood relatives is fairly common, found that so-called consanguineous parents accounted for more than 30 percent of birth defects in babies of Pakistani origin.

Jul 3, 2013

Scientists create human liver from stem cells

LONDON (Reuters) – Scientists have for the first time created a functional human liver from stem cells derived from skin and blood and say their success points to a future where much-needed livers and other transplant organs could be made in a laboratory.

While it may take another 10 years before lab-grown livers could be used to treat patients, the Japanese scientists say they now have important proof of concept that paves the way for more ambitious organ-growing experiments.

Jul 2, 2013

Some forms of IVF linked to risk of autism, mental disability

LONDON (Reuters) – Couples who have certain types of fertility treatment have a higher chance of having a child with autism or learning difficulties – although the overall risk is still extremely small, scientists said on Tuesday.

The experts said couples should not consider abandoning or avoiding in-vitro-fertilization (IVF) on the basis of their research findings.

Jun 30, 2013

WHO wants HIV patients treated sooner to save lives, halt spread

LONDON, June 30 (Reuters) – Doctors could save three million
more lives worldwide by 2025 if they offer AIDS drugs to people
with HIV much sooner after they test positive for the virus, the
World Health Organisation said on Sunday.

While better access to cheap generic AIDS drugs means many
more people are now getting treatment, health workers,
particularly in poor countries with limited health budgets,
currently tend to wait until the infection has progressed.

Jun 27, 2013

Britain plans world’s first go-ahead for ’3-parent’ IVF babies

LONDON (Reuters) – Britain is planning to become the first country in the world to offer controversial “three-parent” fertility treatments to families who want to avoid passing on incurable diseases to their children.

The methods, currently only at the research stage in laboratories in Britain and the United States, would for the first time involve implanting genetically modified embryos into women, and raise serious ethical questions.

Jun 25, 2013

Heart disease deaths show dramatic decline in Europe

LONDON, June 26 (Reuters) – The number of people dying from
heart disease in Europe has dropped dramatically in recent
decades, thanks largely to the success of cholesterol-lowering
drugs and drives to persuade people to quit smoking, scientists
said on Wednesday.

Cardiovascular disease death rates have more than halved in
many countries in the European Union since the early 1980s,
according to their study in the European Heart Journal.

Jun 25, 2013

Seven African countries cut child HIV infections by half

LONDON (Reuters) – Seven countries in sub-Saharan Africa, the world’s worst-hit region in the global AIDS epidemic, have cut the number of new HIV infections in children by 50 percent since 2009, the United Nations AIDS program said on Tuesday.

The dramatic reductions – in Botswana, Ethiopia, Ghana, Malawi, Namibia, South Africa and Zambia – mean tens of thousands more babies are now being born free of HIV, UNAIDS said in a report on its Global Plan to tackle the disease in around 20 of the worst affected countries.

Jun 23, 2013

Scientists warn against complacency on deadly H7N9 bird flu

LONDON (Reuters) – A new and deadly strain of bird flu that emerged in China in February but seems to have petered out in recent months could reappear later this year when the warm season comes to an end – and could spread internationally, scientists said on Monday.

A study by researchers in China and Hong Kong found only one human case of the H7N9 bird flu strain has been identified since early May.

    • About Kate

      "I cover health and science news for the region of Europe, Middle East and Africa -- from flu pandemics to the newest planetary discovery to the latest drug and research developments. I joined Reuters in 1993 and worked in London, Amsterdam and Frankfurt before moving to BBC television to work on European politics for Newsnight for 2 years. Since returning to Reuters, I have also worked as a parliamentary correspondent in Westminster and on the main news desk of the London bureau."
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