Early flu season
FLU cases in Queensland have increased by more than half since last year, causing concern among doctors about an early onset of flu season, the Brisbane Times reports. AMA Queensland has revealed close to 1600 cases of flu have been reported across the state so far this year, with as many as 460 cases reported in the past 5 weeks alone. As many as 30% of the cases reported were caused by the pandemic (H1N1) 2009 influenza virus.

Cancer discovery
A NEW Australian discovery could lead to the first drug treatment for people battling the most aggressive form of breast cancer, the Sydney Morning Herald reports. In a world first, researchers at the Garvan Institute in Sydney identified the “hedgehog” molecule, blamed for the spread of basal breast cancer. The molecule, named because of its spiky structure, usually lies dormant during adulthood, but becomes active in some cancers, including a common skin cancer, child brain cancer and some lung cancers. Scientists said tests on 279 women with basal-like breast cancer revealed those packed with hedgehog molecules “did very badly”.

Dying from fear
RESEARCH suggests people experiencing intense distress and a fear of dying during a heart attack could suffer a worse outcome, BBC News reports. London-led researchers asked 208 patients to rate their levels of fear following a severe cardiac event. The study, reported in the European Heart Journal, found people who reported acute distress and a fear of dying during an attack had higher levels of chemical markers linked to inflammation in their blood.

Costly dispute
AN ophthalmologist in Bundaberg, Queensland, will pay more than $750,000 in damages and costs for a breach of contract that forced two eye clinics to close, the Bundaberg News reports. The ophthalmologist had a dispute with the company he was working for and quit before his contract had expired, which led to the closure of both clinics, as the company could not find a replacement ophthalmologist. A settlement was reached before the case was due to go before the Supreme Court.

Blast brain injuries
A NEW study may help explain why some military personnel exposed to blasts have symptoms of brain injury even though their computed tomography and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans look normal, the New York Times reports. Using a highly sensitive type of MRI, researchers studied 63 servicemen wounded by explosions in Iraq or Afghanistan and found evidence of brain injuries in some that were too subtle to be detected by standard scans. The study, reported in the New England Journal of Medicine, found all the men already had a clinical diagnosis of mild (uncomplicated), traumatic brain injury.

Flying rats
RATS were found in the medical cupboard that stored a defibrillator on a Qantas aircraft, the ABC’s AM program reports. A Qantas spokeswoman said a safety check uncovered five baby rats on one of its 767s in Sydney last week. Qantas said it was a rare occurrence, but the Transport Workers Union said it was not an isolated incident.

Posted 6 June 2011

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