Tuesday, January 17, 2012
Drug Resistant TB - At least a dozen people in India are infected with a type of tuberculosis that is resistant to all antibiotics used to treat the disease. In December, the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases published an online report that documented four of the cases. This weekend, news outlets in India reported that there were actually at least 12 people with the drug-resistant lung disease. Officials fear that what they've seen so far is just the beginning, and that many more cases are lurking undetected. "It's estimated that on average, a tuberculosis patient infects 10 to 20 contacts in a year, and there's no reason to suspect that this strain is any less transmissible," study co-author Zarir Udwadia of the Hinduja National Hospital and Medical Research Centre in Mumbai told New Scientist. "Short of quarantining them in hospitals with isolation facilities till they become non-infectious – which is not practical or possible – there is nothing else one can do to prevent transmission." Patients with TB must take antibiotics for a long time to cure the disease. Many don't get the right medications, or don't take their medications properly, which allows the evolution of drug-resistant strains. Over time, TB-causing bacteria have become resistant to more and more types of antibiotics -- and, now, apparently, all antibiotics. This is not the first outbreak of totally drug resistant TB. According to the New Scientist report, in 2007, two patients were identified with the disease in Italy; in 2009, 15 patients were identified with the disease in Iran. Drug Resistant TB
Tissue Holder Recall - A metal tissue holder is being recalled by Bed, Bath & Beyond because it may contain radioactive material. The Dual Ridge Metal boutique tissue holder, with the UPC number 8476820004980, was sold in more than 20 states, including California, and online since July 2011. Officials say the recalled product contains man-made cobalt-60, which is used in medical devices and industrial applications. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission says there's no real threat to anyone's health, but that it's better to avoid unnecessary exposure to radiation. The NRC also says that the material is believed to be in the tissue holder itself and cannot be inhaled nor can it contaminate other objects, such as tissues. Bed, Bath & Beyond has pulled the tissue holders off store shelves and removed them from its website. The company is asking customers to return the tissue holders to any Bed, Bath & Beyond store for a full refund. Customers with questions can contact the company at 1-800-462-3966. Tissue Holder Recall
Was Zappos Hacked? - Online shoe store Zappos has been hacked, exposing the names, e-mail addresses, addresses, phone numbers and partial credit card numbers of its 24 million customers, the company said late Sunday night. Citing an "illegal and unauthorized access" to customer account information, the company reset its customers' passwords. Zappos then urged customers to change their login credentials on any other sites, for which they use the same password and username. Zappos said customers' passwords were exposed in the hack, but the online retailer insisted that they were encoded and that attackers had no access to customers' actual passwords. Resetting its users' passwords was just an added precaution, since its highly unlikely the hackers will be able -- or would take the time -- to unlock the encryption. Customers of Zappos' discount shoe store 6pm.com were also affected, and their passwords were reset as well. The "better news" was the cybercriminals that stole the information had no access to full credit card numbers or other payment data, since the database containing that information was not hacked. All that was revealed were the last four digits of customers' credit card numbers -- just like the information that appears on a printed receipt at a physical store. The last four digits of a credit card number serve as a way to identify a customer, but they are even more worthless than the last four digits of a Social Security number -- in terms of actually matching a real credit card number to a person. Was Zappos Hacked?
Madonna Elton John Feud - There was plenty of drama at the post-awards parties for the Golden Globes. While Madonna publicly laughed it off, it’s clear Elton John and his spouse David Furnish were furious about the Material Mom beating out Sir Elton for best film song on Sunday. Furnish posted an angry note on Facebook (“Madonna. Best Song? F--- off!”) and the two men continued to harp at post-Globes parties about both the award and Madonna’s acceptance speech, which they called self-indulgent. John was especially angry Madonna admitted that the song was very much an afterthought, added only after the movie was basically finished. The two superstars have long had a testy relationship. The feud started years ago, when John snipped about Madonna being merely a “lip-syncher.” Backstage Sunday, Madonna told the press she hopes John “speaks to me for the next couple of years. He’s been known to get mad at me, so I don’t know. He’s brilliant, and I adore him, so he’ll win another award. I don’t feel bad.” However, I’m hearing her private comments — after she read Furnish’s remarks on Facebook — were far less gracious. In addition, she is irked by John and Furnish constantly dissing her “fake British accent” and also is unhappy about their unflattering digs at her “W.E.” film about the Wallis Simpson-Edward VIII romance. Madonna Elton John Feud
Red Cross Gets Fines - Federal health officials have fined the American Red Cross nearly $9.6 million for sloppy and unsafe blood management practices, the second multi-million-dollar penalty levied against the agency in the last two years. The new Food and Drug Administration fine follows inspections at 16 Red Cross blood centers between April and October 2010 that revealed ongoing problems that appeared to endanger donors and to allow potentially contaminated blood into the nation’s supply. An FDA spokeswoman said the agency found no evidence of actual harm to blood recipients and that officials remain confident about sources of blood in the U.S. “FDA cannot definitively say there was never any danger to the blood supply since the violations can create conditions that could lead to potential safety consequences,” said El-Hinnawy. The violations were outlined in a 32-page letter sent Jan. 13 to J. Chris Hrouda, executive vice president of Biomedical Services for the Red Cross. They describe a blood collection system plagued with poorly trained staff and inadequate record-keeping where donated blood was mishandled or misplaced and, in some cases, potentially infected blood was transfused into patients. “ARC has known of these continuing problems and has failed to take adequate steps to correct them,” wrote Evelyn Bonnin, director of FDA’s Baltimore District. But a Red Cross spokeswoman said in a statement that the problems primarily centered on an inspection at a Philadelphia site conducted 15 months ago and that the agency has since addressed many of the issues. “We are disappointed that the FDA believed it necessary to impose a fine for an inspection conducted so long ago,” wrote Stephanie Millian, director of biomedical communications. “We are not aware of any adverse donor reactions or patient issues due to the problems in the FDA report.” The latest fine, however, follows a $16 million fine in June 2010 for similar failures and caps nearly two decades of trouble at the Red Cross. Red Cross Gets Fines