News you can use

News you can use

Dengue scare & dark clothes

Health authorities in Thailand are urging young women not to wear fashionable black leggings to avoid attracting unwanted attention from dengue-carrying mosquitoes.

A statement issued recently by deputy health minister Pansiri Kulanartsiri warned of a dengue outbreak and reminded people that mosquitoes are attracted to dark clothing. Thailand has recorded 43 deaths and more than 45,000 cases of dengue in the first seven months of the year, an increase of around 40% from the 31,929 cases and 30 deaths in the same period last year.

Dengue cases typically rise during the rainy season, which runs roughly from June through September.

The warning suggests people avoid wearing black leggings—or any dark-coloured clothing—so as not to attract mosquitoes. Wear thick clothing such as jeans, particularly during this period, because mosquitoes can bite through thin clothing.

Dengue is endemic in South-East Asia and a chronic problem during the rainy season, when stagnant water and insanitary urban environments provide fertile breeding ground for mosquitoes that transmit the disease.

Scientists fear rising temperatures and longer rainy seasons will allow more vector-borne diseases such as dengue and malaria to flourish.



Cholesterol clues

A scan of all human DNA has turned up 95 genes that affect blood cholesterol, including a few affected by drugs on the market and others that might be the basis of new drugs, researchers said recently.

Their findings demonstrate that regulating cholesterol levels is even more complex than many people knew, but also point to some short cuts to prevent heart disease.

The variations they found account for between a quarter and one-third of the inherited variation in cholesterol levels and triglycerides, the researchers report in the journal Nature. Diet and exercise can also greatly affect cholesterol levels. “These results help refine our course for preventing and treating heart disease, a health problem that affects millions of people worldwide," says Francis Collins, director of the US’ National Institutes of Health, who was part of the research team.

The large international team of researchers mapped the DNA of more than 100,000 people to identify the genes affecting various forms of cholesterol, including high-density lipoprotein, also known as HDL or “good" cholesterol; low-density lipoprotein—LDL or “bad" cholesterol; and triglycerides.

These blood fats are essential for cells but they can also clog and harden the arteries.

Doctors know some people inherit naturally high levels of cholesterol, some people inherit naturally low levels, and people also vary in whether the food they eat makes their cholesterol go up or down.

Statin drugs to control cholesterol such as Pfizer Inc.’s Lipitor and AstraZeneca Plc’s Crestor are the best-selling drugs of all time globally, with billions of dollars in sales.

A variety of other drugs can also help control cholesterol but with heart disease the No. 1 killer of people in industrialized countries, doctors want to know more.

The researchers said their findings vindicate a labour-intensive approach called a genome-wide association study, which involves looking at the entire genetic map for clues that scientists would otherwise have no way of finding.


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