Immunology

Some broad-spectrum antibiotics that disrupt the gut microbiome may raise the risk of complications from stem cell transplantation, according to a new study evaluating data from more than 850 transplant patients, as well as from mice.

The findings suggest that selecting antibiotics that spare "good" bacteria may help protect against graft-versus-host disease (GVHD), which occurs when transplanted donor cells, recognizing their new home as foreign, attack the recipient's body.

Transplant patients vulnerable to life-threatening bacterial infections are often treated with broad-spectrum antibiotics.


A new study presented today demonstrates the potential challenge posed to public health systems across Europe as a result of the prevalence of Hepatitis B among new refugee populations. 

With nearly 1,000,000 asylum applications lodged in Germany alone last year, the European Union (EU) is experiencing an unprecedented wave of immigration by refugees and asylum seekers. With many coming from the mid-east, health authorities in the EU face serious challenges in responding to the spread of communicable diseases among both refugee and native populations. 


The World Health Organisation has declared the yellow fever outbreak in Angola a grade 2 emergency.This means that it can have moderate public health consequences. This requires an emergency support team run from the organizations regional office providing support. Health and medicine editor Candice Bailey spoke to Jacqueline Weyer, a senior medical scientist from the National Institute for Communicable Diseases in South Africa, to understand the latest outbreak.

How serious is the outbreak in Angola? When last did this happen?

Hydrolyzed infant milk formula doesn't protect against allergic or autoimmune disorders, finds a new study.

Allergic and autoimmune disease diagnoses have increased in prevalence in many countries and are leading causes of chronic illness among young people. Some studies suggest that early dietary exposures in infancy, such as intact cows' milk protein in the form of infant formula, can increase the risk of these diseases, while others say early exposure is necessary to prevent allergies.


Microbirthing, which involves taking a swab from the mother's vagina and wiping this over the baby's mouth, eyes, face and skin shortly after birth by Cesarean section, is a growing fad, but there is no evidence this 'vaginal seeding' does anything positive, according to an editorial in the BMJ. Around one in four babies are born via caesarean section in the UK. 


A new editorial warns that newborns may develop infections from exposure to vaginal bacteria, and suggest that encouraging breast feeding and avoiding unnecessary antibiotics may be a much better idea for creating a healthy immune system in infants.

The term vaginal seeding, also called microbirthing, describes wiping babies with vaginal fluid after they have been born by Cesarean. The belief is that this boosts poorly-defined beneficial gut microbes that keep our immune systems healthy and so may reduce the risk of developing conditions such as asthma, food allergies, and hay fever in later life.


When Ebola hysteria broke out in the United States in 2014, mainstream media got a little crazy. While one person was afflicted, 28,000 people got heart disease with far less fanfare. Meanwhile, the National Institutes of Health engaged in political theater and claimed it couldn't work on Ebola because they lacked the budget. Science 2.0 noted that they had gotten $300 billion while one tiny company strugged to get money for clinical trials - and it's only help was from the Defense Threat Reduction Agency, rather than the NIH. Nonetheless, Congress gave the NIH more money.


In a study of patients entering the hospital for acute stroke, researchers have increased their understanding of an association between certain types of stroke and the presence of the oral bacteria (cnm-positive Streptococcus mutans). 

Strokes are characterized as either ischemic strokes, which involve a blockage of one or more blood vessels supplying the brain, or hemorrhagic strokes, in which blood vessels in the brain rupture, causing bleeding.


Scientists have identified a genetic mutation responsible for a rare form of inherited hives induced by vibration, also known as vibratory urticaria. Running, hand clapping, towel drying or even taking a bumpy bus ride can cause temporary skin rashes in people with this rare disorder. By studying affected families, researchers discovered how vibration promotes the release of inflammatory chemicals from the immune system's mast cells, causing hives and other allergic symptoms. 


Cover your coughs in the Carolinas and don't double dip in Denver, because when your team is in the Super Bowl, health can wait.

A new paper in the American Journal of Health Economics found cities with teams in the Super Bowl see a rise in flu deaths. That's right, deaths. 

Lead author Charles Stoecker of Tulane University School of Public Health along with economists Alan Barreca of Tulane and Nicholas Sanders of Cornell University looked at county-level statistics from 1974-2009. The researchers found having a team in the Super Bowl resulted in an average 18 percent increase in flu deaths among those over 65 years old, a population more vulnerable to serious complications from influenza.