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Saturday, August 9, 2014

Ebola virus Guinea shuts Liberia and S Leone borders

Guinea has closed its borders with Liberia and Sierra Leone to contain the spread of Ebola, which has killed 959 people in the three countries.
The latest outbreak is thought to have begun in Guinea, but Liberia and Sierra Leone are currently facing the highest frequency of new cases.
The World Health Organization (WHO) said on Friday the spread of the virus was a global health emergency.
The Ebola virus is transmitted between humans through bodily fluids.
Animals such as fruit bats carry the virus, which can be transmitted to humans through contact with blood or consumption of bushmeat.
In recent weeks, countries around the world have advised their citizens not to travel to the affected countries.
The infections have spread to Nigeria, which has recorded two deaths and several more cases.
The total number of cases in the current outbreak stands at 1,779, the WHO said on Friday.
The most recent figures from 5 and 6 August showed 68 new cases and 29 deaths.
They included 26 new cases in Sierra Leone and 38 in Liberia, but no new cases in Guinea, where the outbreak began.
Guinea said it was closing its borders in order to stop people from entering the country.
"We have provisionally closed the frontier between Guinea and Sierra Leone because of all the news that we have received from there recently," Health Minister Remy Lamah told a news conference.
He added that Guinea had also closed its border with Liberia.
Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia have already declared varying levels of emergency over the spread of the virus.

The most intense outbreak in Guinea was located in the region along the border with Liberia and Sierra Leone.
The WHO had said the worst-affected area, which straddles the borders between the three countries, would be isolated and treated as a "unified zone".
It is not clear what effect Guinea's announcement will have on the strategy.

In other developments:
  • Nigeria allocates more than $11m (£6.5m) for isolation centres and treatment facilities
  • Zambia bars travellers from affected countries from entering its territory
  • Two Americans being treated with an experimental drug in Atlanta are apparently improving
  • Canada isolates a patient in Brampton, Ontario, suffering flu-like symptoms, as a precaution.


The WHO said a co-ordinated response was essential.

"The possible consequences of further international spread are particularly serious in view of the virulence of the virus," WHO said after a meeting on Friday
The Ebola virus was first discovered in the Democratic Republic of Congo in 1976.
Experts say the current outbreak is unusual because it started in Guinea, which has never before been affected, and is spreading to urban areas.
  • Symptoms include high fever, bleeding and central nervous system damage
  • Fatality rate can reach 90% - but the current outbreak is about 55%
  • Incubation period is two to 21 days
  • There is no vaccine or cure
  • Supportive care such as rehydrating patients who have diarrhoea and vomiting can help recovery
  • Fruit bats are considered to be virus' natural host
Source  BBC HEALTH
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Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Wikipedia reveals Google 'forgotten' search links


Wikipedia has begun naming links to its online encyclopaedia that have been removed from EU search results under "right to be forgotten" rules.
The deleted links include pages about European criminals, a musician and an amateur chess player.
The Wikimedia Foundation, which operates the site, said the internet was being "riddled with memory holes" as a result of such takedowns.
The action follow a European Court of Justice ruling in May.
The judges involved decided that citizens had the right to have links to "irrelevant" and outdated data erased from search engine results.
Wikipedia is publishing copies of the removal notices it has received

A fortnight ago Google briefed data regulators that it had subsequently received more than 91,000 requests covering a total of 328,000 links that applicants wanted taken down, and had approved more than 50% of those processed.
The search engine is critical of the court's decision, but has set up a page that people can use to request removals.
At a press conference in London, the Wikimedia Foundation revealed that Google had notified it of five requests involving Wikipedia that it had acted on, affecting more than 50 links to its site.

A dedicated page on Wikipedia states that they include:
"We only know about these removals because the involved search engine company chose to send notices to the Wikimedia Foundation," theorganisation's lawyers wrote in a blog.
"Search engines have no legal obligation to send such notices. Indeed, their ability to continue to do so may be in jeopardy.
"Since search engines are not required to provide affected sites with notice, other search engines may have removed additional links from their results without our knowledge. This lack of transparent policies and procedures is only one of the many flaws in the European decision."
EU regulators have expressed concern that Google is notifying website administrators of the links it removes, suggesting this undermines the point of the law.
While the links do not appear on Google.co.uk and other versions of the search engine created for specific EU countries, they do still appear on Google.com, which can be accessed in Europe.
Wikipedia has refused to remove this photo of a monkey from its site

Data requests

The Wikimedia Foundation has also published its first transparency report - following a similar practice by Google, Twitter and others.
It reveals that the organisation received 304 general content removal requests between July 2012 and June 2014, none of which it complied with.
They included a takedown request from a photographer who had claimed he owned the copyright to a series of selfiestaken by a monkey.
Gloucestershire-based David Slater had rotated and cropped the images featured on the site.
But the foundation rejected his claim on the grounds that the monkey had taken the photo, and was therefore the real copyright owner.
The foundation also revealed it had received 56 requests for data about its users.
It said it had complied with eight of these requests, affecting 11 accounts. All of these resulted in information being passed to US-based bodies."If we must produce information due to a legally valid request, we will notify the affected user before we disclose, if we are legally permitted and have the means to do so," the foundation said."In certain cases, we may help find assistance for users to fight an invalid request."
Source :BBC
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Daily aspirin 'cuts bowel and stomach cancer deaths'

Aspirin seems to offer most protection against cancers of the digestive system
Taking aspirin every day can reduce the chance of developing or dying from bowel and stomach cancers, a review of all available evidence suggests.

And scientists predict if everyone aged 50 and above in the UK took the drug for 10 years, some 122,000 deaths could be prevented over two decades.
But they warn aspirin can cause internal bleeding and say medical advice must be sought before using it.
The Queen Mary University of London report is in the Annals of Oncology.

Weighing up benefits

Scientists examined some 200 studies investigating the benefits and harms of taking aspirin - an area of continuing medical debate.
They found the drug reduced the number of cases and deaths from bowel, stomach and oesophageal cancer by some 30-40%.
There was weaker and more variable evidence that the drug reduced deaths from breast, prostate and lung cancer too.
And the study found people needed to take the drug for at least five years to see any benefits.
Prof Jack Cuzick, at Queen Mary University of London, who led the research, urged all healthy people aged 50 and above to consider taking a small dose (75mg) of the drug every day for a decade.
Researchers predicted if 1,000 individuals aged 60 took the drug for 10 years, a further decade later there would be:
  • 16 fewer deaths from cancer
  • One fewer death from heart attack
  • Two extra deaths from bleeding
Prof Cuzick, who has been taking aspirin for four years, said: "Whilst there are some serious side-effects that can't be ignored, taking aspirin daily looks to be the most important thing we can do to reduce cancer after stopping smoking and reducing obesity, and will probably be much easier to implement."

Individual risks



They found benefits continued even when people stopped taking the drug, but say it is unclear exactly how long people should use it for.

As the risk of internal bleeding rises as an individual gets older, they suggest a cut-off point of 10 years.

There is still uncertainty whether other doses of the drug could offer more protection.

Aspirin's well known possible side-effects include bleeding in the stomach and the brain.

And while the study suggests 122,000 lives could be saved if everyone in the UK aged 50-64 took the drug, this is balanced against the estimated 18,000 deaths from side-effects.

Experts warn anyone at high risk of bleeding, including people with blood disorders who take blood thinning medication, or are frequent smokers or drinkers, are more likely to suffer these side-effects.

They recommend anyone considering daily medication should speak to their doctors to discuss individual risks.

Dr Julie Sharp, at Cancer Research UK, said: "Aspirin is showing promise in preventing certain types of cancer, but it's vital that we balance this with the complications it can cause.

"Before aspirin can be recommended for cancer prevention, some important questions need to be answered and tests need to be developed to predict who is likely to have side-effects."

Exactly how aspirin protects against cancer is unknown. Scientists suggest it may reduce inflammation or act on blood cells that would otherwise encourage the spread of the disease.
source:BBC
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Tuesday, August 5, 2014

How does the internet really work?

There are over 300 million images uploaded to Facebook every day, and over 5 billion gigabytes of material on the web in total, but have you ever thought how it all gets there?
This is how the internet works… get ready….
One click downloads, say, a picture from a cloud server. The request is picked up by your computer, stuffed into a packet (a cluster of electrical pulses), stamped with the address of the cloud server; and blasted out of your house, or wherever you are. Along with trillions of packets all around it, your request reaches hub computers that can read the address and pass it from hub to hub along the least congested route, until it reaches the sea.
Here, a landing station illuminates an underwater fibre optic superhighway cable, transforms your request from electricity to pulses of light, and fires it off. Your download photo request travels under the sea on a 10 gigabyte per second wavelength of light along with 10,000 other download requests, video streams and emails. In the same fibre are up to 70 other message wavelengths, and there are eight fibres in each cable.

Thanks to this, your requests can travel several thousand kilometres in a fraction of a section. Their destination is one of over 100 million server farms, found anywhere from Sweden to the US Midwest. These servers would quickly heat up as they crunch numbers, so they use around 1.5% of the world’s electricity just to keep our data cool. A digital picture is around 5,000 times the size of a data packet, so to send it back the server has to smash it into 5,000 pieces which will then travel back to you in little bits before reassembling itself. Simple, really.
source bbc future
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Monday, August 4, 2014

What is Diabetes ?

Diabetes is a chronic disease characterised by high levels of glucose in the blood. Blood sugar levels are controlled by insulin, a hormone produced by the pancreas. Diabetes occurs when the pancreas is unable to produce enough insulin, or the body becomes resistant to insulin, or both. or in other word Diabetes is a disease in which the body does not produce or properly use insulin, a hormone that is needed to convert sugar, starches and other food into energy needed for daily life. The cause of diabetes is a mystery, although both genetics and environmental factors such as obesity and lack of exercise appear to play roles. There are three types of diabetes

  • Type 1
  • Type 2
  • Gestational Diabetes

Type 1

The body does not produce insulin. Some people may refer to this type as insulin-dependent diabetes, juvenile diabetes, or early-onset diabetes. People usually develop type 1 diabetes before their 40th year, often in early adulthood or teenage years. Type 1 diabetes is nowhere near as common as type 2 diabetes. Approximately 10% of all diabetes cases are type 1. Patients with type 1 diabetes will need to take insulin injections for the rest of their life. They must also ensure proper blood-glucose levels by carrying out regular blood tests and following a special diet.
Type 2
The body does not produce enough insulin for proper function, or the cells in the body do not react to insulin (insulin resistance). Approximately 90% of all cases of diabetes worldwide are of this type.
Some people may be able to control their type 2 diabetes symptoms by losing weight, following a healthy diet, doing plenty of exercise, and monitoring their blood glucose levels. However, type 2 diabetes is typically a progressive disease - it gradually gets worse - and the patient will probably end up have to take insulin, usually in tablet form.
Overweight and obese people have a much higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes compared to those with a healthy body weight. People with a lot of visceral fat, also known as central obesity, belly fat, or abdominal obesity, are especially at risk. Being overweight/obese causes the body to release chemicals that can destabilize the body's cardiovascular and metabolic systems.
Being overweight, physically inactive and eating the wrong foods all contribute to our risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Drinking just one can of (non-diet) soda per day can raise our risk of developing type 2 diabetes by 22%, researchers from Imperial College London reported in the journal Diabetologia. The scientists believe that the impact of sugary soft drinks on diabetes risk may be a direct one, rather than simply an influence on body weight.
The risk of developing type 2 diabetes is also greater as we get older. Experts are not completely sure why, but say that as we age we tend to put on weight and become less physically active. Those with a close relative who had/had type 2 diabetes, people of Middle Eastern, African, or South Asian descent also have a higher risk of developing the disease.
Men whose testosterone levels are low have been found to have a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Researchers from the University of Edinburgh, Scotland, say that low testosterone levels are linked to insulin resistance.

3) Gestational Diabetes

This type affects females during pregnancy. Some women have very high levels of glucose in their blood, and their bodies are unable to produce enough insulin to transport all of the glucose into their cells, resulting in progressively rising levels of glucose.
Diagnosis of gestational diabetes is made during pregnancy.
The majority of gestational diabetes patients can control their diabetes with exercise and diet. Between 10% to 20% of them will need to take some kind of blood-glucose-controlling medications. Undiagnosed or uncontrolled gestational diabetes can raise the risk of complications during childbirth. The baby may be bigger than he/she should be.
Scientists from the National Institutes of Health and Harvard University found that women whose diets before becoming pregnant were high in animal fat and cholesterol had a higher risk for gestational diabetes, compared to their counterparts whose diets were low in cholesterol and animal fats.

What are the symptoms of diabetes?


People can often have diabetes and be completely unaware. The main reason for this is that the symptoms, when seen on their own, seem harmless. However, the earlier diabetes is diagnosed the greater the chances are that serious complications, which can result from having diabetes, can be avoided.
Here is a list of the most common diabetes symptoms:
  • Frequent urination
    Have you been going to the bathroom to urinate more often recently? Do you notice that you spend most of the day going to the toilet? When there is too much glucose (sugar) in your blood you will urinate more often. If your insulin is ineffective, or not there at all, your kidneys cannot filter the glucose back into the blood. The kidneys will take water from your blood in order to dilute the glucose - which in turn fills up your bladder.
  • Disproportionate thirst
    If you are urinating more than usual, you will need to replace that lost liquid. You will be drinking more than usual. Have you been drinking more than usual lately?
  • Intense hunger
    As the insulin in your blood is not working properly, or is not there at all, and your cells are not getting their energy, your body may react by trying to find more energy - food. You will become hungry.
  • Weight gain
    This might be the result of the above symptom (intense hunger).
  • Unusual weight loss
    This is more common among people with Diabetes Type 1. As your body is not making insulin it will seek out another energy source (the cells aren't getting glucose). Muscle tissue and fat will be broken down for energy. As Type 1 is of a more sudden onset and Type 2 is much more gradual, weight loss is more noticeable with Type 1.
  • Increased fatigue
    If your insulin is not working properly, or is not there at all, glucose will not be entering your cells and providing them with energy. This will make you feel tired and listless.
  • Irritability
    Irritability can be due to your lack of energy.
  • Blurred vision
    This can be caused by tissue being pulled from your eye lenses. This affects your eyes' ability to focus. With proper treatment this can be treated. There are severe cases where blindness or prolonged vision problems can occur.
  • Cuts and bruises don't heal properly or quickly
    Do you find cuts and bruises take a much longer time than usual to heal? When there is more sugar (glucose) in your body, its ability to heal can be undermined.
  • More skin and/or yeast infections
    When there is more sugar in your body, its ability to recover from infections is affected. Women with diabetes find it especially difficult to recover from bladder and vaginal infections.
  • Itchy skin
    A feeling of itchiness on your skin is sometimes a symptom of diabetes.
  • Gums are red and/or swollen - Gums pull away from teeth
    If your gums are tender, red and/or swollen this could be a sign of diabetes. Your teeth could become loose as the gums pull away from them.
  • Frequent gum disease/infection
    As well as the previous gum symptoms, you may experience more frequent gum disease and/or gum infections.
  • Sexual dysfunction among men
    If you are over 50 and experience frequent or constant sexual dysfunction (erectile dysfunction), it could be a symptom of diabetes.
  • Numbness or tingling, especially in your feet and hands
    If there is too much sugar in your body your nerves could become damaged, as could the tiny blood vessels that feed those nerves. You may experience tingling and/or numbness in your hands and feet.

Treatment for diabetes - how is diabetes managed?

A long time ago
Before insulin was discovered in 1921 Diabetes Type 1 was a fatal disease - most patients would die within a few years of onset. Things have changed a great deal since then.
You can lead a normal life
If you have Type 1 and follow a healthy eating plan, do adequate exercise, and take insulin, you can lead a normal life.
Balance insulin intake with food and lifestyle
The quantity of insulin intake must be closely linked to how much food you consume, as well as when you eat. Your daily activities will also have a bearing on when and how much insulin you take.
Checking your blood glucose levels
A person with diabetes has to have his/her blood glucose levels checked periodically. There is a blood test called the A1C which tells you what your average blood glucose levels were over a two-to-three month period.
Type 2 patients need to eat healthily, be physically active, and test their blood glucose. They may also need to take oral medication, and/or insulin to control blood glucose levels.
Prevent developing cardiovascular disease
As the risk of cardiovascular disease is much higher for a diabetic, it is crucial that blood pressure and cholesterol levels are monitored regularly.
Healthy eating, doing exercise, keeping your weight down will all contribute towards good cardiovascular health - some patients will need oral medication for this.
Stop smoking!
As smoking might have a serious effect on the cardiovascular health the patient should stop smoking.
A health care provider
A health care professional (HCP) will help the patient learn how to manage his/her diabetes. The HCP will also monitor the diabetes control. It is important that you know what to do and that a professional is helping and monitoring the management of your diabetes.
In most countries the GP (general practitioner, primary care physician, family doctor) provides this regular care. There are also diabetitians, endocrinologists, cardiologists, nurses, internists, pediatricians, dietitians, podiatrists, ophthalmologists, optometrists, sports specialists and many others.
If a diabetes patient is pregnant she should see an obstetrician who specializes in diabetes (gestational diabetes). There are pediatricians who specialize in caring for the infants of diabetic mothers.
The aim of diabetes management
The main aim of diabetes management is to keep the following under control:
  • Blood glucose levels
  • Blood pressure
  • Cholesterol levels
High and low blood glucose
The patient will need to make sure his/her blood glucose levels do not fluctuate too much.

Hypoglycemia - low blood glucose - can have a bad effect on the patient. Hypoglycemia can cause:
  • Shakiness
  • Anxiety
  • Palpitations, Tachycardia
  • Feeling hot, sweating
  • Clamminess
  • Feeling cold
  • Hunger
  • Nausea
  • Abdominal discomfort
  • Headache
  • Numbness, pins and needles
  • Depression, moodiness
  • Apathy, Tiredness, Fatigue, Daydreaming
  • Confusion
  • Dizziness
  • Bad coordination, slurred speech
  • Seizures
  • Coma

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Wikipedia link hidden by 'right to be forgotten'

A Wikipedia entry has been removed from certain Google search results, under the new EU "right to be forgotten" law.

The landmark ruling, passed in May, allowed Europeans to ask for links to "irrelevant" and outdated personal data to be removed from search engines.
The Wikipedia incident, first reported in The Observer, marks the first time an entry on the online encyclopaedia has been targeted, the BBC understands.
Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales has expressed his opposition to the law.
The "right to be forgotten" ruling has been the subject of much controversy since the decision by European Union Court of Justice (ECJ).
While the law has been welcomed by some privacy advocates, many groups have said it contravenes the right to free speech, with some even calling it censorship.
Last week, the Lords Home Affairs EU Sub-Committee said it was wrong to give search engines such as Google the job of deciding what should be removed, and called the law unreasonable.
More than 90,000 removal requests have been received by Google in the months since the law was imposed, and other search engines, such as Bing, have also implemented procedures to accept public requests.
In July, an article written by the BBC's Robert Peston was removed from Google search results, and links to articles on the Guardian, Telegraph and Independent news sites have also been taken down.
Jimmy Wales, the founder of Wikipedia, has long expressed his concerns about the "right to be forgotten".
Speaking on the BBC Radio 4 Today programme in July, Mr Wales said: "The law as it stands right now is quite confusing.
"We have this one ruling of the ECJ which is very open-ended and very hard to interpret.
"I would say the biggest problem we have is that the law seems to indicate Google needs to censor links to information that is clearly public - links to articles in legally published, truthful news stories.
"That is a very dangerous path to go down, and certainly if we want to go down a path where we are going to be censoring history, there is no way we should leave a private company like Google in charge of making those decisions."
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