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QJM - recent issues

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Proton pump inhibitors in IPF: beyond mere suppression of gastric acidity


Proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) are structurally composed of benzimidazole core; a pharmacologically common scaffold that makes up nearly one quarter of the hundred most selling drugs including anticancer, opioid, antihistaminic and antihelmintic drugs. In medicinal chemistry, benzimidazoles are coined as privileged scaffolds due to their ability to recognize and bind diverse biological targets. In this regard, PPIs have been linked to other extra-intestinal functions including direct modulation of airway epithelial, vascular endothelial and immune cells. PPIs have been reported to improve outcomes in idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) including slowing the decline in measures of lung function, reducing episodes of acute exacerbations and prolonging transplant-free survival. Recently, the evidence-based guidelines for IPF treatment conditionally recommended the use of PPIs in IPF. However, no prospective clinical trial has been conducted to empirically evaluate the safety and efficacy of PPIs in IPF. Here, we discuss emerging anti-inflammatory and antifibrotic activity of PPIs in the context of IPF. We also discuss possible molecular mechanisms by which PPIs may unleash their beneficial effect in IPF.

How we will diagnose IPF in the future


The recent approval of two safe and effective treatments for patients with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) had as a direct consequence the absolute need for an accurate and early diagnosis. The standard approach to IPF diagnosis has proven to be effective and emphasized the importance of clinical and laboratory evaluations to exclude known causes of pulmonary fibrosis. At the same time, chest high-resolution computed tomography (HRCT) has proven to be the crucial initial diagnostic test, by identifying those patients who should undergo surgical lung biopsy to secure a confident diagnosis and an adequate treatment. However, this diagnostic approach showed over the years some limitations. First, many suspected IPF patients present with atypical HRCT appearances and at the same time are unfit (or unwilling) for surgical lung biopsy, therefore making a confident diagnosis of IPF impossible. Although the current recommendations indicate the need for an iterative multidisciplinary process incorporating available clinical, laboratory, imaging and histological features, recent work has identified new tools which might improve the overall accuracy of this process. Genomic techniques have been already applied to molecularly phenotype patients with interstitial lung disease and it is likely that in the near future clinicians will utilize blood or lung-specific molecular markers in combination with other clinical, physiological, or imaging features. The availability of new sampling procedures (e.g. transbronchial cryobiopsies), together with innovative imaging technologies (e.g. microCT) will most likely support and enhance diagnostic efforts, refine prognostic recommendations and ultimately influence therapeutic options.

Antipsychotic prescription amongst hospitalized patients with dementia


Background: Antipsychotic drugs are used to treat behavioural and psychological symptoms of dementia, despite significant safety concerns regarding increased risk of stroke and mortality. The numbers of patients with dementia and related behavioural symptoms being treated in acute hospitals is increasing.

Aim: (i) to determine pre-admission and in-hospital prevalence of antipsychotic use in a national sample of patients with dementia and acute illness; (ii) identify reasons for antipsychotic use; (iii) assess features of the ward environment which impact on patients with dementia; (iv) determine availability of dementia-specific policies, training, appraisal and mentorship programs which influence service delivery.

Design and Methods: Four-part standardized audit in 35 public acute hospitals comprising (i) retrospective healthcare record review (n = 660); (ii) prospective assessment of ward environment (n = 77); (iii) ward organization interview with clinical managers (n = 77); (iv) hospital organisation interview with senior managers (n = 35).

Results: Antipsychotic drugs were prescribed to 29% of patients with dementia before hospitalization and to 41% during hospitalization; one quarter received new or additional prescriptions. Assessments for delirium (45%), dementia symptoms (39%), mood (26%), mental state (64%) and distress-provoking factors (3%) were suboptimal. Drug indications were documented in 78%. Non-pharmacological interventions were not documented. Most wards lacked environmental cues to promote orientation. Dementia-specific care pathways existed in 2 of 35 hospitals. Staff support and training programmes were suboptimal. 12% of patients were discharged with new antipsychotic prescriptions.

Conclusion: Antipsychotic medications are commonly prescribed for hospitalized patients with dementia in Ireland. Ward environments and dementia-related governance structures are suboptimal.

Cytomegalovirus infection is associated with an increase in systolic blood pressure in older individuals


Background: Cytomegalovirus (CMV) is a chronic infection that is widely distributed in the population. CMV infects a range of tissues, including endothelium, and viral replication is suppressed by the host immune system. Infection is associated with increased risk of mortality from vascular disease in older people, but the mechanisms behind this have not been determined.

Aim: We investigated the association between CMV infection and cardiovascular phenotype in a cohort of healthy elderly donors.

Design: CMV serostatus and cardiovascular parameters were determined in the Lothian Birth cohort, which comprises 1091 individuals aged 70 years in whom many environmental, biochemical and radiological correlates of vascular function have been determined.

Methods: CMV serostatus was determined by enzyme-linked immunosorbant assay and correlated with a range of biochemical and phenotypic measures.

Results: Sixty-five percent of participants were CMV seropositive, which indicates chronic infection. The mean sitting systolic blood pressure (SBP) was 149.2 mmHg in CMV seropositive individuals compared with 146.2 mmHg in CMV seronegative subjects (SD 18.7 vs. 19.7; P < 0.017). This association between CMV infection and SBP was not attenuated after adjustment for a wide range of biological and socio-economic factors.

Conclusions: These data show that CMV infection is associated with an increase in SBP in individuals at age 70 years. The magnitude is comparable to environmental variables such as obesity, diabetes or high salt intake. This is the first evidence to show that a chronic infection may be an important determinant of blood pressure and could have significant implications for the future management of hypertension.

Qualitative effects of omalizumab on concomitant IgE-mediated disease in a severe asthmatic population: a real life observational study


Introduction: Omalizumab is a recombinant humanized monoclonal antibody (anti-IgE) licensed for use in GINA 5 asthma or for chronic idiopathic urticaria. Many patients with asthma have concomitant allergic diseases such as dermatitis and sinusitis. IgE is also implicated in allergic-bronchopulmonary disease (ABPA). In addition, extreme sensitivity to allergen can prevent the initiation of allergen immunotherapy.

Aim: The aim of this study was to assess the efficacy of omalizumab on symptoms of concomitant non asthmatic IgE-mediated allergic disease in a population of severe GINA 5 in a real life observational setting.

Design: This study is a retrospective, observational study assessing patients reported allergic, non-asthmatic symptom response to omalizumab treatment.

Methods: Fifty-six severe asthmatics treated with omalizumab were studied. Thirty-seven patients had concomitant rhino-sinusitis, 13 had dermatitis and 4 ABPA. Subjects were asked to grade the improvement in their symptom scores on an analogue scale from 0 (no response) to 10 (excellent response).

Results: Mean improvement from baseline was 5 and 1.8 in patients with allergic rhino-sinusitis and dermatitis, respectively. Mean improvement from baseline in respiratory symptoms in patients with ABPA was 4.0.

Conclusions: The results from our study suggest that omalizumab may have a role in allergic disease outside of its current license.

Medical undergraduates contributions to publication output of worlds top universities in 2013


Background: Medical undergraduates’ (UGs) involvement in research activities is thought to be mutually beneficial to students, their mentors and the scholarly productivity of their universities. However, most evidence in favor of such assumption relies on subjective measures such as the self-reported gains in skills or knowledge rather than robust objective estimates for assessing impact.

Aim: We aimed to objectively track and describe publications with UG co-authors—their proportion to the total publication output of world’s top universities, their characteristics and their potential impact on biomedical literature.

Methods: We contacted the corresponding authors of the 2013’s Medline-indexed publications affiliated to world’s top 10 universities to investigate if any of their co-authors was an UG. Articles with UG co-authors were further assessed to determine, along with other variables: the type of study design, field of the article, publishing journal and its impact factor (IF), and number of received citations.

Results: Out of 25 152 publications, 2537 articles (10.1%) contained at least one UG co-author who was the first author in 635 papers (25%). Articles with UG co-authors were published in 1114 journals with a median IF of 3.661. Most UGs’ co-authored publications (82.7%, n = 2098) were cited at least once within 1 year, for a median of three citations per article.

Conclusion: UGs contributed to one in every 10 publications affiliated to top universities. Their papers were published in journals with good IFs and received a fair number of citations, which would reflect the relatively good quality and impact of these articles.

Thyrotoxic hypokalemic periodic paralysis


Osler-Weber-Rendu syndrome


Hepatoid adenocarcinoma of the lung


Pneumothorax and deep sulcus sign


Left atrial myxoma


Chilaiditi syndrome


Pericardial mesothelioma


'Epidemic of hand deformities in the French Renaissance paintings of Jean and Francois Clouet


This article analyses the nature of the multiple finger anomalies found in portraits by the French Renaissance artistic dynasty, the Clouets. The multiplicity of finger anomalies could be either innocent congenital variants, or pathological and traumatic deformities. In view of the presence of such `beautifying variations' in the works of other Renaissance artists, the authors decided that these features were not the result of an epidemic of deformities, but instead represented a stylistic approach in paintings of this period at the French Court.

Elements: in this months issue


Inhaled treatment for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease: whats new and how does it fit?


Since chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is characterized by progressive airflow obstruction, inhaled bronchodilators form the mainstay of treatment. A variety of new inhaled drugs and inhaler devices have recently been licensed and approved for prescribing to patients with COPD; many such drugs have been formulated in devices to deliver two different drugs at the same time. The evidence based review article highlights all of the drugs now licensed, describes some of the evidence surrounding their use and highlights practical steps in helping decide when these drugs should be considered in the context of guidelines.

Normal fasting plasma glucose predicts type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease in elderly population in Taiwan


Background: Hyperglycemia increases prevalence of metabolic syndrome (MetS), type 2 diabetes (T2D) and cardiovascular disease (CVD). But the role of normoglycemia on the development of T2D and CVD in elderly population remains unclear.

Aim: To determine an optimal cut-off for fasting plasma glucose (FPG) to predict MetS and subsequent risk of T2D and CVD in an elderly Taiwanese population with normal FPG levels.

Design: Two stages included cross-sectional (Stage 1) and prospective (Stage 2) cohort study.

Methods: In Stage 1 18 287 subjects aged ≥60 years were enrolled; of these, 5039 without T2D and CVD advanced to Stage 2 and a mean follow-up of 3.8 years. MetS components were analysed, and in Stage 1, FPG cut-offs for MetS risk were calculated using receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curve analyses. In Stage 2, subjects without T2D and CVD in Stage 1 were classified into high-FPG and low-FPG groups based on cut-offs, and sex specific differences in incidence for T2D and CVD were calculated.

Results: ROC curve analysis gave an optimal FPG cut-off for MetS of 93 mg/dl and 92 mg/dl for males and females, respectively. The high-FPG group had a 1.599- and 1.353-fold higher chance of developing T2D compared with the low-FPG group for males and females, respectively (95% CI: 1.606–2.721 and 1.000–1.831, P = 0.015 and 0.05). The high-FPG group had a 1.24-fold higher chance of developing CVD for females (95% CI: 1.015–1.515, P = 0.035); however, there was no difference for males.

Conclusions: Our results suggest that FPG within the normal range was associated with MetS, and elderly subjects with high normal levels have a higher incidence of developing T2D for both sexes, and CVD for females, over the short-term.

Critical care admission trends and outcomes in individuals with bronchiectasis in the UK


Background: There are limited data on admission trends and outcomes of individuals with bronchiectasis admitted to intensive care (ICU). Using national critical care data, we analysed admissions to ICU and estimated outcomes in terms of mortality in individuals with bronchiectasis and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) admitted to ICU.

Methods: Using data from the Intensive Care National Audit and Research Centre, admissions from bronchiectasis and COPD from 1 January 2009 to 31 December 2013 were extracted. Crude admission rates for bronchiectasis and COPD were calculated and Poisson regression was used to estimate unadjusted annual admission rate ratios. We investigated changes to length of stay on ICU, ICU mortality and in-hospital mortality during the study period. We also compared mortality rates in people with bronchiectasis and COPD aged 70 or above.

Results: We found an annual increase of 8% (95% Confidence Interval [CI] 2–15) in the number of ICU admissions from bronchiectasis, whilst the yearly increase in ICU admissions from COPD was 1% (95% CI 0.3–2). ICU and in-hospital mortality was higher in individuals with bronchiectasis compared with those with COPD, especially in people aged 70 years or above.

Conclusion: Admission to ICU in people with bronchiectasis are uncommon, but are increasing in frequency over time, and carries a substantial mortality rate. This needs to be considered allocating health care resources and planning respiratory services.

Healthcare professionals are less confident in managing acute toxicity related to the use of new psychoactive substances (NPS) compared with classical recreational drugs


Background: The features of acute classical recreational drugs or new psychoactive substances (NPS) toxicity fall into three broad groups: (i) stimulant; (ii) hallucinogenic and (iii) depressant. Currently, there is no information available on healthcare professionals knowledge/confidence in managing the acute toxicity related to NPS use.

Aim: We have compared knowledge and confidence of managing acute toxicity related to use of NPS with that seen with the use of to classical recreational drugs.

Design and Methods: Physicians/nurses completed a questionnaire survey to self-assess on a 5-point scale their knowledge (1—little knowledge; 5—very knowledgeable) and confidence (1—little confidence; 5—very confident) of managing acute toxicity related to the use of classical recreational drugs or NPS. Differences between knowledge and confidence for classical recreational drugs and NPS were assessed using paired Student’s t-test; comparison between doctors, nurses and the frequency of managing acute classical recreational drug/NPS toxicity was assessed using unpaired Student’s t-test.

Results: One hundred and eighty-eight (82 physicians, 106 nurses) completed the survey. Classical drug compared with NPS knowledge: nurses 2.9 ± 1.0 vs. 2.1 ± 1.0, P < 0.001; physicians 3.1 ± 0.8 vs. 2.1 ± 1.0, P < 0.001. There was no difference between nurses and physicians in classical drug (P = 0.11) or NPS (P = 0.89) knowledge. Confidence in managing classical drug toxicity compared with NPS confidence: nurses 3.0 ± 1.1 vs. 2.3 ± 1.1, P < 0.001; physicians 3.0 ± 0.9 vs. 2.1 ± 1.0, P < 0.001. There was no difference between nurses and physicians in classical drugs (P = 0.85) or NPS (P = 0.33) confidence.

Conclusions: Physicians/nurses are less confident in managing acute NPS toxicity. Management of toxicity is not dependent on knowing the drug/NPS, but should be on the basis of these clinical signs/symptoms. Training/education should focus on the concept of managing the pattern of toxicity that an individual presents with rather than the actual drug(s).

Association between non-alcoholic hepatic steatosis and hyper reactive blood pressure response on the exercise treadmill test


Aims: Non-alcoholic hepatic steatosis (HS) is associated with hypertension and increased cardiovascular risk. While Blood pressure hyper-reactive response (HRR) during peak exercise indicates an increased risk of incident hypertension and increased cardiovascular risk, no data on the association of non-alcoholic HS and HRR exists. In this study, we have evaluated the association of HS with HRR.

Methods: We included 13 410 consecutive individuals with a mean age: 42.4 ± 8.9 years, 3561 (26.6%) female with normal resting blood pressure and without a previous diagnosis of hypertension, who underwent symptom limited exercise treadmill test, abdominal ultrasonography and clinical and laboratory evaluation. HS was detected by abdominal ultrasonography. HRR was defined by a peak exercise systolic blood pressure >220 mmHg and/or elevation of 15 mmHg or more in diastolic blood pressure from rest to peak exercise.

Results: The prevalence of HS was 29.5% (n = 3956). Overall, 4.6% (n = 619) of the study population presented a HRR. Subjects with HS had a higher prevalence of HRR (8.1 vs. 3.1%, odds ratio 2.8, 95% CI 2.4—3.3, P < 0.001). After adjustment for body mass index, waist circumference, fasting plasma glucose and low density lipoprotein cholesterol, HS (odds ratio 1.4, 95% CI 1.1–1.6, P = 0.002) remained independently associated with HRR. HS was additive to obesity markers in predicting exercise HRR.

Conclusions: Non-alcoholic HS is independently associated with hyper-reactive exercise blood pressure response.

Opportunistic screening for atrial fibrillation in a rural area


Introduction: Opportunistic screening is an effective means of identifying subjects with Atrial Fibrillation (AF). Previous studies of opportunistic screening have been performed areas with high population density and before the development of novel oral anticoagulant drugs. We performed a study to determine feasibility of AF screening in a predominantly rural, low population density area.

Methods: Over 6 months, subjects 65 years and older were screened by local General Practitioners using radial pulse palpation confirmed by 12 lead Electrocardiogram. Data were recorded electronically and those with newly identified AF were followed up to examine management post diagnosis.

Results: In total, 7262 subjects were screened and an irregular pulse was found in 916 (12.6%) of whom 735 (10.1%) had known AF and 55 (0.76%) had newly detected AF. Of these 55 patients with newly documented AF, 28 (50.9%) were women, 38 (69.1%) had hypertension and eight (14.5%) had a smoking history. Mean body mass index in subjects with newly documented AF was 28.9 kg/m2(SD 5.6) There was no significant difference in gender mix (P = 0.4), smoking history (P = 0.8) or alcohol history (P = 0.8) with the overall population. Fifty-one (92.7%) subjects had a CHA2DS2VaSC score ≥ 2 of whom 33 (64.7%) were eventually anticoagulated and nine (17.6%) commenced on Aspirin. The rate of newly identified patients in AF was lower than in previous reported key studies because of a higher rate of subjects with known AF.

Conclusion: Opportunistic AF screening in a rural environment identified a substantial number of new cases, although less than in previous screening studies.

Primary pulmonary myxoma


Phthiriasis palpebrarum


Chondrocalcinosis and Gitelman syndrome


Arsenic poisoning and Mees lines


Pulmonary mesothelioma


Scrub typhus


Facial swelling


Elements: in this months issue


Changing guards: time to move beyond body mass index for population monitoring of excess adiposity


With the obesity epidemic, and the effects of aging populations, human phenotypes have changed over two generations, possibly more dramatically than in other species previously. As obesity is an important and growing hazard for population health, we recommend a systematic evaluation of the optimal measure(s) for population-level excess body fat. Ideal measure(s) for monitoring body composition and obesity should be simple, as accurate and sensitive as possible, and provide good categorization of related health risks. Combinations of anthropometric markers or predictive equations may facilitate better use of anthropometric data than single measures to estimate body composition for populations. Here, we provide new evidence that increasing proportions of aging populations are at high health-risk according to waist circumference, but not body mass index (BMI), so continued use of BMI as the principal population-level measure substantially underestimates the health-burden from excess adiposity.

Professionalism of physicians at a major teaching hospital during the Fukushima nuclear disaster


It poses a serious problem if physicians leave a hospital without having a replacement or without permission. A huge earthquake followed by a devastating tsunami seriously damaged the Fukushima-Daiichi nuclear power plant. This disaster overwhelmed a major teaching hospital in the local area and many hospital employees, including some resident physicians, left the premises. Since the threat of severe radiation exposure poses a potentially greater lifetime risk to younger individuals, letting the young resident physicians leave the hospital was not only allowed, it was actually recommended by many attending physicians and hospital administrators. The hospital administrator was required to make the difficult decision of whether to make all efforts to provide the highest level of medical care, including keeping all of the physicians on the premises, or to evacuate the resident physicians in order to preserve their health and their potential future contributions to healthcare. Consideration and compassion needed to be provided to all people, regardless of the reason they wanted to leave. From an ethical perspective, the roles of performance under these complex circumstances should be understood and embraced by us as individuals, professionals, supervisors and society as a whole.

Residual enzymatic activity as a prognostic factor in patients with Gaucher disease type 1: correlation with Zimran and GAUSS-I index and the severity of bone disease


Background: Gaucher disease (GD) is an autosomal recessive disorder produced by mutations in the glucocerebrosidase gene (GBA), causing storage of glucosylceramide in reticuloendothelial cells in multiple organs. Traditionally, the prediction of the phenotype based on the genotype has been reported to be limited.

Subjects and Methods: We investigated the correlation between the enzymatic residual activity (ERA) and the phenotype at diagnosis of the disease in 45 GD Spanish patients (44 with type I and 1 with type III GD). The genotype involved two of the following previously expressed proteins: c.517A > C (T134P), 1%; c.721G > A (G202R), 17%; c.1090G > T (G325W), 13.9%; c.1208G > A (S364N), 4.1%; c.1226A > G (N370S), 17.8%; c.1246G > A (G377S), 17.6%; c.1289C > T (P391L), 8.5%; c.1448T > C (L444P), 3%; and c.1504C > T (R463C), 24.5%. Recombinant alleles, deletion of 55 bp in exon 9 and 84GG mutation were considered as mutations with no residual enzymatic activity.

Results: The ERA showed a statistically significant correlation with chitotriosidase (P < 0.001), age (P < 0.001), spleen size (P < 0.001), ‘Zimran’s Severity Score Index’ (P < 0.01) and the ‘Gaucher Disease Severity Score Index—Type I’ (P < 0.0001) at diagnosis of the disorder. Previous to any medical intervention, a comparison between the ERA and bone involvement, demonstrated a statistically significant relationship (P < 0.01) between the two variables.

Conclusions: This study data allowed us to define a new criterion for prognostic assessment of the disease at diagnosis, called Protein Severity Index, which expresses the theoretical severity of the genotype presented by patients, according to the corresponding ERA.

Hypomagnesemia and mortality in patients admitted to intensive care unit: a systematic review and meta-analysis


Background: Reports of mortality due to magnesium dysregulation in the critical care setting are controversial. We performed a systematic review and meta-analysis to evaluate the association between hypomagnesemia and mortality in patients admitted to the intensive care unit.

Methods: Eligible studies assessing the association between hypomagnesemia or hypermagnesemia and mortality in the critical care setting were comprehensively searched in MEDLINE and EMBASE from their inception to September 2015. Inclusion criteria were published observational studies in adults who were admitted to the intensive or critical care setting with initial serum magnesium measurement. We used the definition of abnormal magnesium level defined by each study. Primary outcome was all-cause mortality. We performed meta-analysis using random-effects model and calculated pooled effect estimate of outcome comparing between hypomagnesemia and normal magnesium category.

Results: From 30 full-text articles, 6 studies involving 1550 participants were included in the meta-analysis. There was a statistically significant higher risk of mortality in critically ill patients who had hypomagnesemia with RR of 1.90 (95% CI: 1.48–2.44, P < 0.001, I2 = 63.5%). Risk for needing mechanical ventilation was also higher in the hypomagnesemia group with RR of 1.65 (95% CI: 1.12–2.43, P = 0.01, I2 = 84%). Length of ICU stay was also higher in the hypomagnesemia group with mean difference of 4.1 days (95% CI: 1.16–7.04, P = 0.01).

Conclusion: The findings of this meta-analysis indicate hypomagnesemia is associated with higher mortality, the need of mechanical ventilation and also the length of ICU stay in patients admitted to ICU.

Associations of sugar- and artificially sweetened soda with nonalcoholic fatty liver disease: a systematic review and meta-analysis


Background/Objectives: Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is the major concern of public health worldwide. The risk of NAFLD in subjects who regularly drink soda is controversial. The aim of this study was to assess the association between consumption of sugar-sweetened soda and NAFLD.

Methods: A literature search was performed using MEDLINE, EMBASE, and Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews from inception through June 2015. Studies that reported relative risks, odd ratios, or hazard ratios comparing the risk of NAFLD in patients consuming a significant amount of either sugar or artificially sweetened soda vs. those who did not consume soda were included. Pooled risk ratios (RRs) and 95% confidence interval (CI) were calculated using a random-effect, generic inverse variance method.

Results: Seven observational studies were included in our analysis to assess the association between consumption of sugar-sweetened soda and NAFLD. The pooled RR of NAFLD in patients consuming sugar-sweetened soda was 1.53 (95% CI: 1.34–1.75, I2 = 0). When meta-analysis was limited only to studies with adjusted analysis, the pooled RR of NAFLD was 1.55 (95% CI: 1.36–1.78, I2 = 0). The data on association between consumption of artificially sweetened soda and NAFLD were limited; one observational study reported no significant increased risk of NAFLD in artificially sweetened soda consumption.

Conclusions: Our study demonstrates statistically significant association between sugar-sweetened soda consumption and NAFLD. This finding may impact clinical management and primary prevention of NAFLD.

Sexual practices, myths and misconceptions among long distance truck drivers in North India


Background: Long distance truck drivers and helpers constitute a high risk group for human immunodeficiency virus /acquired immune deficiency syndrome (HIV/AIDS). Despite increasing awareness of HIV/AIDS and safe sex practices, they still have a high incidence of new cases of HIV.

Aims: This study carried out at an ART (anti-retroviral treatment) centre in North India aimed to evaluate the sexual myths and misconceptions prevalent among long distance drivers and helpers.

Design: This was a retrospective study carried out at apex ART centre.

Methods: Data were collected retrospectively from ART records of 129 long distance Truck drivers and 68 helpers. Details of socio-demographic characteristics, contact with commercial sex workers (CSW’S), pattern of condom usage with CSW’S and factors influencing it were studied.

Results: We found that a significant number of drivers and helpers had sexual contact with CSW’s and out of these, 30% of drivers and 50% of helpers reported not using condoms and instead resorting to methods like washing genitalia after sex with battery water/urine to avoid getting HIV. There was no significant relationship between pattern of condom usage and educational status, marital status and age. We also found that certain myths like sex with young CSW’s was less likely to cause sexually transmitted diseases (STD’s) and HIV were also widespread.

Conclusion: Owing to continuing prevalence of such sexual myths, long distance truck drivers and helpers do not use condoms while having sex with CSW’s as they feel that they can enjoy sex with CSW’s and still stay protected against STD’s/HIV. It is imperative that this battery water/urine antiseptic myth be specifically targeted for better HIV control in this high risk group.

Hospitalized acute patients with fever and severe infection have lower mortality than patients with hypo- or normothermia: a follow-up study


Objectives: Severe infection is a frequent cause of admission to an acute medical unit (AMU). However, not all infected patients present with fever. The aim was to assess differences in 30-day mortality among patients hospitalized with community-acquired severe infection presenting with hypothermia, normothermia or fever.

Methods: A retrospective single-center follow-up at an AMU from August 1, 2009 to August 31, 2011. Patients were included the first time they presented with severe infection within the study period. Temperature was categorized into hypothermia (<36.0ºC), normothermia (36.0ºC–38.0ºC) and fever (>38.0ºC). Severe infection was defined as a discharge diagnosis indicating infection combined with organ failure within the first 24 h after arrival. Multivariable Cox regression analysis was computed to assess the association between temperature and 30-day mortality.

Results: A total of 2128 patients with severe infection were included. 3.0% (N = 64) were hypothermic, 57.1% (N = 1216) normothermic and 39.9% (N = 848) had fever at arrival. Crude 30-day mortality was 16.1% (N = 342, 95%CI 14.5–17.7%); 37.5% (N = 24, 95% CI 25.7–50.5%) for hypothermic patients, 18.3% (N = 223, 95%CI 16.2–20.6%) for normothermic patients and 11.2% (N = 95, 95%CI 9.2–13.5%) for patients with fever. Compared to normothermic patients, the adjusted hazard ratio of 30-day mortality among hypothermic patients was 1.62 (95%CI 1.06–2.49) and 0.74 (95%CI 0.58–0.94) among patients with fever.

Conclusions: Over half of the patients admitted to an AMU with severe infection were normothermic at arrival. Hypothermia was associated with an increased risk of short-term mortality, whereas patients with fever were associated with a lower risk compared to those with normothermia.

Cerebral toxoplasmosis


A case of hypermucoviscous Klebsiella pneumoniae liver abscess syndrome in an Iraqi male


A 53-year-old man presented with fevers, productive cough and decreased appetite. He emigrated from Iraq 4 years ago. Chest x-ray revealed a left lung consolidation. Respiratory cultures and two sets of blood cultures grew out pan-susceptible Klebsiella pneumoniae. Liver ultrasound revealed a 6.4-cm complex lesion in the left hepatic lobe. A biopsy of the liver lesion produced bloody purulent aspirate; abscess cultures yielded a highly viscous pan-susceptible K. pneumoniae. Klebsiella pneumoniae liver abscess syndrome is a newly described invasive syndrome due to a hypermucoviscous phenotype associated with serotypes K1 and K2 of Klebsiella. Although it is more commonly endemic to the Asian-Pacific region, it has been increasingly reported as an emerging global disease. We present the first case of this syndrome in a patient of middle-eastern descent. We also present pictorial evidence of the microbe’s unique viscous, muculent texture grown on agar.