Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Open house planned for Wingate University's new physical therapy program

Last month, Wingate University launched a new three-year doctoral degree program in physical therapy with 42 students enrolled. 

The program is having an open house Friday, Feb. 21, from 1 to 3 p.m. on the Wingate campus. 
Applications are now open through May 2014 for the class entering in Jan. 2015. 

Physical therapist ranks number eight in U.S. News and World Report’s list of 100 Best Jobs. Wingate also offers doctorates in pharmacy, physical therapy and education. For more information:

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Researchers on Gulf War illness seek veterans

Researchers at East Carolina University will spend another year studying the causes of Gulf War illness and medicines that might be able to treat it.

Forty veterans from North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia who developed Gulf War illness have participated in the East Carolina study so far. But study leader, Dr. William Meggs, a medical toxicologist and professor of emergency medicine at the Brody School of Medicine at East Carolina University, hopes to recruit another 20. 

Gulf War illness is the name given to the chronic fatigue, chronic pain and difficulty with mental tasks suffered by some who served in the 1991 Gulf War and its aftermath. It affects almost one-third, or about 250,000, of the veterans who served, according to the National Institute of Medicine.

The $1.1 million study, funded by the Department of Defense, is researching the effectiveness of generic drugs that control inflammation in the brain that may have been triggered by neurotoxin exposures. 

Immediately after the war, Gulf War illness was attributed to post traumatic stress disorder. Others claimed that it was a psychological illness. The Department of Veterans Affairs founded a research advisory committee, including Meggs, to direct research efforts in the disease.

Research has shown that exposure to neurotoxic chemicals is most strongly associated with development of Gulf War illness. Those serving in the Gulf War had exposures to sarin nerve gas from Scud missiles and demolition of ammunition dumps containing sarin. Neurotoxic insecticides related to sarin were used to spray tents to control sand fleas. Troops also received a drug to prevent sarin from binding irreversibly at nerve junctions but that has similar toxicities. Soldiers were also exposed to smoke from oil well fires in Kuwait, depleted uranium, multiple vaccinations and oil sprayed on the sand in camps to reduce sand dust.

Gulf War veterans interested in knowing more about the study may contact Allison Mainhart at 252-744-5568.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Young, unvaccinated adults account for severest flu cases in North Carolina, Duke study shows

A review of the first 55 patients treated for flu at Duke University Hospital in Durham from November through Jan. 8 shows that only two of the 22 patients who required intensive care had been vaccinated prior to getting sick.
The  findings were published online in the American Journal of Respiratory  and Critical Care Medicine.

“Our  observations are important because they reinforce a growing body of evidence that the influenza vaccine provides protection from severe illness requiring  hospitalizations,” said the lead author, Dr. Cameron Wolfe, assistant professor of  medicine at Duke.

“The public health implications are important, because not only could a potentially deadly infection be avoided with a $30 shot, but costly hospitalizations could also be reduced.”

Wolfe  said this year’s flu season was marked by hospitalizations of previously healthy young people with a median age of 28.5 years. Of the 55 patients hospitalized at Duke, 48 were infected with the H1N1 virus, the so-called swine flu virus that caused the 2009 pandemic. That outbreak also hit young adults particularly  hard.

Of  33 patients admitted to regular wards rather than the ICU, only 11 had been vaccinated. Most of those were chronically ill or had weakened immune systems for other reasons, or were taking medicines that weakened the  vaccine’s protection.

The study also highlighted problems with the rapid test for influenza. Wolfe said 22 of the patients treated at Duke had been given a rapid influenza test that came up negative even though other tests showed they did have the flu. As a result, the patients had not received anti-viral medicines that might have eased flu symptoms if taken shortly after the onset of symptoms.

“...Our observations support previous findings that vaccination reduces the severity of disease and should be encouraged as recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and  Prevention,” Wolfe said.

To  read the article in full,

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Young women know dangers of tanning beds, and don't care

New research shows that young women who use tanning beds are generally aware of -- but choose to ignore -- the health risks.

Two UNC Chapel Hill researchers surveyed sorority women to find out what motivates young people to use tanning beds and how to develop messages that could discourage their uses.

The study, published in JAMA Dermatology, was co-authored by Seth Noar, of the UNC School of Journalism and Mass Communication, and Dr. Nancy Thomas, of the UNC School of Medicine.

They found that most women start using tanning beds in their teens, often accompanied by a parent or friend.

As a next step, the researchers plan to work with UNC graduate students to develop messages about the dangers of tanning beds that target young audiences. 

Changing behavior will require "very strategic" messages that don't focus solely on the health risks, Noar said. The messages might suggest alternatives, such as self-tanning products that do not rely on UV rays, he said.

Of the women surveyed, 45 percent said they had used tanning beds, 30 percent in the past year. Nationally, more than 28 million people use tanning beds each year, and the population most at risk from developing skin cancer as a result are users younger than 35.

Since the introduction of tanning beds in the late 1970s, indoor tanning has grown to a $2.6 billion a year industry. The number of tanning parlors in most U.S. cities is greater than the number of Starbucks or McDonalds.

The growing awareness of the dangers has led to major efforts to curtail tanning bed use, especially among teens. Five states ban the use of tanning beds for minors under 18, and 33 states and the District of Columbia have passed regulations limiting minors’ access to indoor tanning. 

In North Carolina, a tanning bed bill targeting minors was introduced in 2012 but did not reach a final vote.