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An American biotech company says it created a coronavirus vaccine three hours after getting access to the virus’ genetic sequence on Jan. 9, and now scientists are racing to get the vaccine on the market in record time.

Inovio Pharmaceuticals is based in Pennsylvania, but scientists in its laboratory in San Diego made the discovery.

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lassa fever – an old curse stages a comeback

Origin of the Name Lassa Fever

I am sure many Nigerians may not know the source of the name given to the viral hemorrhagic disease that goes by the name, Lassa Fever. The name is derived from the sleepy town in Borno State from where the first set of isolates were taken and discovered in 1969. 

The MultiMate Ratmouse

An Old Curse

Though first described in the 1950s, the virus causing Lassa disease was not identified until 1969. The virus is a single-stranded RNA virus belonging to the virus family Arenaviridae.

About 80% of people who become infected with Lassa virus have no symptoms. 1 in 5 infections result in severe disease, where the virus affects several organs such as the liver, spleen and kidneys.

The clinical course of the disease can take many forms, detection of the disease in affected patients has been difficult. When presence of the disease is confirmed in a community, however, prompt isolation of affected patients, good infection prevention and control practices, and rigorous contact tracing can help to stem the outbreak.

                              Lassa Fever virus

Here are the Basic Facts Concerning Lassa Fever

  • Lassa fever is an acute viral hemorrhagic illness of 2-21 days duration that occurs in most part of West Africa.
  • The Lassa virus is transmitted to humans via contact with food or household items contaminated with rat urine or feces.
  • Person-to-person infections and laboratory transmission can also occur, particularly in hospitals that lack adequate infection prevention and control measures.
  • Lassa fever is known to be endemic in Benin, Ghana, Guinea, Liberia, Mali, Sierra Leone, and Nigeria, but probably exists in other West African countries as well.
  • The virus causing Lassa fever is in the same family as that causing Ebola, but it is not as deadly.
  • The overall case-fatality rate is 1%. Observed case-fatality rate among patients hospitalized with severe cases of Lassa fever is 15%.
  • Early supportive care with rehydration and symptomatic treatment improves chances of survival.

West Africa – Endemic area for Lassa Fever

The Most Recent Outbreak – Coming Back with a Vengeance

The Federal Ministry of Health and the Lagos State Commissioner of Health have notified the public of another outbreak of Lassa Fever since December 2019.

About 29 deaths were reported in December 2019.

As at 24th of January 2020, 195 confirmed cases and 29 deaths had been reported in eleven states,” the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) said in a statement recently.

A national emergency operations centre had been activated to coordinate the response “to the increasing number of Lassa fever cases” across the country.

Nigeria declared an outbreak of Lassa fever a year ago and around 170 people died from the virus in 2019.

Almost 90 percent of the recent confirmed cases have been in Edo, Ondo and Ebonyi state in southern Nigeria, but there have also been reports of deaths in the north. Hard figures are still hard to come by.

The NCDC said that compared to the same period last year the fatality rate had dropped from 23.4 percent to 14.8 percent. This is could be due to a combination of early detection and better – case management in the facilities.

Treatment and prophylaxis

The use of Ribavirin, an antiviral agent has been reported to be effective if treatment is started early at the onset of the disease. There is currently no vaccine that protects against Lassa fever.

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Corona virus – what you need to do to save your life

Corona virus – what you need to do to save your life

The recent out break of corona virus in China has been described as a tragedy of epic proportions. It is worse than both SARS. This SARS is different from the popular Special Anti – Robbery Squad in Nigeria, which has been notorious for illegal killings and sundry human rights abuses. This SARS is the acronym for Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome. and the EBOLA hemorrhagic fever combined.

Image result for coronavirus outbreak

The corona virus


It is believed to have emerged from illegally traded wildlife at a seafood market in Wuhan. Although bats and possibly snakes have been named in recent research from China as a possible source of the virus.

According to Aljazeera, the reported death toll has reached over 420 globally, while over 20,000 persons have been infected. Yet, we are still counting. Beyond the walls of China, we have started hearing reports of death. Two deaths have now been reported outside China, the first being a 44-year-old man from the Philippines, the latest being the 39-year-old Hong Kong resident, who recently returned from Wuhan in China’s Hubei province.

The virus has spread to at least 26 countries, including China. In Africa, Botswana has reported five suspected cases of the corona virus. There was a report in the media of a case of corona virus in Lekki, Lagos, Nigeria but the Lagos State Commissioner of Health, Professor Akin Abayomi has denied the report as being untrue. But there is no denying the fact that Nigeria currently has an outbreak of Lassa fever, another virus – caused hemorrhagic fever, which has claimed over 24 lives.

Image result for coronavirus outbreak in nigeria"

Port Health Officials in Lagos, Nigeria


The question being asked by knowledgeable observers and public health experts is “Is China telling the world the truth, the whole truth on about this pandemic”? According to Aljazeera, China admitted “shortcomings and difficulties” in its response to the flu – like infection.  

Also reported in www.verge.com

China lied to the WHO about SARS. Are they lying about this, too?

During the SARS outbreak, Chinese officials attempted to conceal cases from WHO inspectors and limit information, both internally and externally. This time, officials quickly reported the outbreak of the new virus to the WHO, which praised their quick response and transparency in a press conference. China is also allowing a team of WHO experts to assist Chinese public health officials with the ongoing work, the organization announced January 28th.

The US Department of Health and Human Services also said China has been more transparent than they were with SARS. “The Chinese government’s level of cooperation is completely different from what we experienced in 2003,” said department Secretary Alex Azar during a press conference.


Patients have reported symptoms similar to those associated with pneumonia, such as fever, coughing, chills, headache, difficulty breathing, and a sore throat.

The virus can be transmitted between people through respiratory droplets such as saliva or mucus. It can be passed before a person shows symptoms .


The World Health Organization’s official advice for the public on the new coronavirus suggests that you should avoid eating  “raw or undercooked animal products”.

There is currently no vaccine against the virus but standard recommendations to prevent infections apply.

These include:

  • Regular hand washing
  • Covering your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing and sneezing or, failing that, with the crook of your arm
  • Thoroughly cooking meat and eggs
  • Avoiding close contact with anyone showing symptoms of a respiratory illness, such as coughing or fever

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Brain tumor

Brain Tumor – Sypmtons and Causes


A woman whose psychosis was dismissed as bipolar disorder later discovered she has a tennis-ball sized tumor in her brain. Laura Skerritt, 22, from Templecombe in Somerset – began suffering migraines, sickness and psychosis in 2016. The swimming instructor went to her GP, who put the symptoms down to anxiety or depression. After being prescribed anti-depressants, Miss Skerritt deteriorated, with her struggling to walk and enduring seizures by November 2018.
A scan eventually revealed a central neurocytoma tumor, which required immediate surgery to prevent her suffering a life-threatening stroke.
Just over a year later, it has grown, with her having to go under the knife yet again.

A brain tumor is a mass or growth of abnormal cells in your brain.
Many different types of brain tumors exist. Some brain tumors are noncancerous (benign), and some brain tumors are cancerous (malignant). Brain tumors can begin in your brain (primary brain tumors), or cancer can begin in other parts of your body and spread to your brain (secondary, or metastatic brain tumors).
How quickly a brain tumor grows can vary greatly. The growth rate as well as location of a brain tumor determines how it will affect the function of your body system.
Brain tumor treatment options depend on the type of brain tumor you have, as well as its size and location.
The signs and symptoms of a brain tumor vary greatly and depend on the brain tumor’s size, location and rate of growth.

General signs and symptoms caused by brain tumors may include:
• New onset or change in pattern of headaches
• Headaches that gradually become more frequent and more severe
• Unexplained nausea or vomiting
• Vision problems, such as blurred vision, double vision or loss of peripheral vision
• Gradual loss of sensation or movement in an arm or a leg
• Difficulty with balance
• Speech difficulties
• Confusion in everyday matters
• Personality or behavior changes
• Seizures, especially in someone who doesn’t have a history of seizures
• Hearing problems
Make an appointment with your doctor if you have persistent signs and symptoms that concern you.

brain cancer

Secondary brain cancer

Acoustic neuroma (schwannoma)
Primary brain tumors originate in the brain itself or in tissues close to it, such as in the brain-covering membranes (meninges), cranial nerves, pituitary gland or pineal gland.
Primary brain tumors begin when normal cells acquire errors (mutations) in their DNA. These mutations allow cells to grow and divide at increased rates and to continue living when healthy cells would die. The result is a mass of abnormal cells, which forms a tumor.
In adults, primary brain tumors are much less common than are secondary brain tumors, in which cancer begins elsewhere and spreads to the brain.
Many different types of primary brain tumors exist. Each gets its name from the type of cells involved. Examples include:
• Gliomas. These tumors begin in the brain or spinal cord and are among the most common tumours.
• Meningiomas. A meningioma is a tumor that arises from the membranes that surround your brain and spinal cord (meninges). Most meningiomas are noncancerous.
• Acoustic neuromas (schwannomas). These are benign tumors that develop on the nerves that control balance and hearing leading from your inner ear to your brain.
• Pituitary adenomas. These are mostly benign tumors that develop in the pituitary gland at the base of the brain.
• Medulloblastomas. These are the most common cancerous brain tumors in children. A medulloblastoma starts in the lower back part of the brain and tends to spread through the spinal fluid.
• Germ cell tumors. Germ cell tumors may develop during childhood where the testicles or ovaries will form. But sometimes germ cell tumors affect other parts of the body, such as the brain.
• Craniopharyngiomas. These rare, noncancerous tumors start near the brain’s pituitary gland, which secretes hormones that control many body functions. As the craniopharyngioma slowly grows, it can affect the pituitary gland and other structures near the brain.

Secondary (metastatic) brain tumors are tumors that result from cancer that starts elsewhere in your body and then spreads (metastasizes) to your brain.
Secondary brain tumors most often occur in people who are suffering from one type of Cancer or the other in other parts of the body.
These are more common in adults than the primary brain tumors.

Virtually any Cancer can spread to the brain, but common types include:
• Breast cancer
• Colon cancer
• Kidney cancer
• Lung cancer
• Melanoma

In most people with primary brain tumors, the cause is not often clear. But the following factors may increase the risk of a brain tumor.

Risk factors include:
• Exposure to radiation. People who have been exposed to a type of radiation called ionizing radiation have an increased risk of brain tumor. Examples of ionizing radiation include radiation therapy used to treat cancer and radiation exposure caused by atomic bombs.
• Family history of brain tumors. A small portion of brain tumors occurs in people with a family history of brain tumors or a family history of genetic syndromes that increase the risk of brain tumors.

By Gbola Adebisi, Community Pharmacist

(References: yahoo.com, mayoclinic.com)

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California may declare the world’s most common painkiller, paracetamol, a carcinogen.

California may declare the world’s most common painkiller, paracetamol, a carcinogen.


SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — A fight is coming to California over whether to list one of the world’s most common over-the-counter drugs as a carcinogen, echoing recent high-profile battles over things like alcohol and coffee.
The drug is acetaminophen, known outside the U.S. as paracetamol and used to treat pain and fevers.

It is the basis for more than 600 prescription and over-the-counter medications for adults and children, found in well-known brands like Tylenol, Excedrin, Sudafed, Robitussin and Theraflu.

Acetaminophen has been available in the U.S. without a prescription since 1955. Concerns about its potential link to cancer come from its relationship to another drug: phenacetin. That drug, once a common treatment for headaches and other ailments, was banned by the FDA in 1983 because it caused cancer.

State regulators have reviewed 133 studies about acetaminophen, all of which were published in peer-reviewed journals. Some studies reported an increased risk of some types of cancers, while others did not. Overall, the review noted acetaminophen has been difficult to examine because it is hard to isolate it from other variables that could contribute to cancer, such as smoking.

A state law known as Proposition 65 says California must warn people of any chemical known to cause cancer or reproductive toxicity. The state’s list has grown to about 900 chemicals, including toxic pesticides and flame retardants, and is more extensive than any in the U.S. Some critics say California regulators have been overzealous, requiring warning labels for countless products that confuse instead of inform consumers when the risk of cancer is disputed.

Supporters of Prop 65 say it protects not only Californians but consumers nationwide by compelling manufacturers to make products safer.

Evidence for acetaminophen’s link to cancer has been weak enough that the International Agency for Research on Cancer declined to list it as a possible carcinogen following reviews in 1990 and 1999. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has warned state officials that labeling acetaminophen as cancer-causing would be “false and misleading” and also illegal under federal law.

A panel of scientists appointed by the governor can add chemicals to this list. In 2011, the panel voted to make acetaminophen a “high priority” for consideration because it believed there was relevant evidence to consider, according to Sam Delson, spokesman for the California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment.

The review process has been slow, but the panel is scheduled to have a public hearing on the listing this spring after the public comment period closes on Jan. 27.

“It’s a difficult issue because it’s a very commonly used drug. But that doesn’t make any difference. That’s not what our mandate is,” said Thomas Mack, chairman of the Carcinogen Identification Committee and a professor of preventive medicine at the University of Southern California.

Adding a chemical to the list can have broad repercussions. After the state listed glyphosate — widely known as the weed killer Roundup — as a carcinogen in 2017, a jury ordered the company that makes Roundup to pay a California couple with cancer more than $2 billion. A judge later reduced that award to $87 million. That’s just one of the estimated 13,000 pending lawsuits involving the chemical.

That’s one reason why the industry is pushing back on a potential listing. The Consumer Healthcare Products Association, a trade group representing over-the-counter medicines and dietary supplements, conducted its own review and found most studies suggest no risk for most forms of cancer, although some studies did show increased risk for kidney, liver and some forms of blood cancer.

The association urged California regulators to have a “cautious interpretation” of studies that show an increased risk of cancer.

Some listings in California require warning labels. But the state has made exceptions. Alcohol has been listed as a carcinogen since 1988. But instead of warning labels, the state directs the alcohol industry to provide signs to California retailers to post where alcohol is sold.

Acrylamide, a byproduct of roasting coffee beans, has been listed as a carcinogen since 1990. But when a court ruling would have resulted in warning labels for coffee, state regulators stepped in and exempted the drink.


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