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Health related news, articles & facts:
What is Mad Cow Disease?
Mad cow disease, or bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), is a fatal brain disorder that occurs in cattle and is caused by some unknown agent. In BSE, the unknown agent causes the cow's brain cells to die, forming sponge-like holes in the brain. The cow behaves strangely and eventually dies. The connection between BSE and humans was uncovered in Great Britain in the 1990s when several young people died of a human brain disorder, a new variation of a rare brain disorder called Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (CJD), which typically strikes elderly people. The new variation was called new variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (nvCJD), was similar to BSE and its connection to BSE was based on the following findings:
  • The nvCJD victims had lived in areas where outbreaks of BSE had occurred in cattle years earlier. No victims were found in areas without BSE outbreaks.

  • The brains of nvCJD victims had proteins called prions (pronounced "pree-ahnz") that were similar to those from the brains of BSE-infected cows, but different from those found in victims of classic CJD.

  • The time between the BSE outbreaks and the deaths of the victims was similar to the time that it takes for Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease to develop.

  • Brain tissue from BSE-infected cows caused experimental animals to develop symptoms and brain tissue disorders similar to those of the nvCJD victims.
The British government concluded that BSE was probably the cause of nvCJD, and that the victims contracted the disease probably by eating meat from BSE-infected cows.
What is Avian Influenza (Bird Flu)?

Avian influenza is an infection caused by avian (bird) influenza (flu) viruses. These influenza viruses occur naturally among birds. Wild birds worldwide carry the viruses in their intestines, but usually do not get sick from them. However, avian influenza is very contagious among birds and can make some domesticated birds, including chickens, ducks, and turkeys, very sick and kill them.

Infected birds shed influenza virus in their saliva, nasal secretions, and feces. Susceptible birds become infected when they have contact with contaminated secretions or excretions or with surfaces that are contaminated with secretions or excretions from infected birds. Domesticated birds may become infected with avian influenza virus through direct contact with infected waterfowl or other infected poultry, or through contact with surfaces (such as dirt or cages) or materials (such as water or feed) that have been contaminated with the virus.

Infection with avian influenza viruses in domestic poultry causes two main forms of disease that are distinguished by low and high extremes of virulence. The “low pathogenic” form may go undetected and usually causes only mild symptoms (such as ruffled feathers and a drop in egg production). However, the highly pathogenic form spreads more rapidly through flocks of poultry. This form may cause disease that affects multiple internal organs and has a mortality rate that can reach 90-100% often within 48 hours.

Human infection with avian influenza viruses

There are many different subtypes of type A influenza viruses. These subtypes differ because of changes in certain proteins on the surface of the influenza A virus (hemagglutinin [HA] and neuraminidase [NA] proteins). There are 16 known HA subtypes and 9 known NA subtypes of influenza A viruses. Many different combinations of HA and NA proteins are possible. Each combination represents a different subtype. All known subtypes of influenza A viruses can be found in birds.

Usually, “avian influenza virus” refers to influenza A viruses found chiefly in birds, but infections with these viruses can occur in humans. The risk from avian influenza is generally low to most people, because the viruses do not usually infect humans. However, confirmed cases of human infection from several subtypes of avian influenza infection have been reported since 1997. Most cases of avian influenza infection in humans have resulted from contact with infected poultry (e.g., domesticated chicken, ducks, and turkeys) or surfaces contaminated with secretion/excretions from infected birds. The spread of avian influenza viruses from one ill person to another has been reported very rarely, and transmission has not been observed to continue beyond one person.

“Human influenza virus” usually refers to those subtypes that spread widely among humans. There are only three known A subtypes of influenza viruses (H1N1, H1N2, and H3N2) currently circulating among humans. It is likely that some genetic parts of current human influenza A viruses came from birds originally. Influenza A viruses are constantly changing, and they might adapt over time to infect and spread among humans.

During an outbreak of avian influenza among poultry, there is a possible risk to people who have contact with infected birds or surfaces that have been contaminated with secretions or excretions from infected birds.

Symptoms of avian influenza in humans have ranged from typical human influenza-like symptoms (e.g., fever, cough, sore throat, and muscle aches) to eye infections, pneumonia, severe respiratory diseases (such as acute respiratory distress), and other severe and life-threatening complications. The symptoms of avian influenza may depend on which virus caused the infection.

Studies done in laboratories suggest that some of the prescription medicines approved in the United States for human influenza viruses should work in treating avian influenza infection in humans. However, influenza viruses can become resistant to these drugs, so these medications may not always work. Additional studies are needed to demonstrate the effectiveness of these medicines.

Avian Influenza A (H5N1)

Influenza A (H5N1) virus – also called “H5N1 virus” – is an influenza A virus subtype that occurs mainly in birds, is highly contagious among birds, and can be deadly to them. H5N1 virus does not usually infect people, but infections with these viruses have occurred in humans. Most of these cases have resulted from people having direct or close contact with H5N1-infected poultry or H5N1-contaminated surfaces.

Human health risks during the H5N1 outbreak

Of the few avian influenza viruses that have crossed the species barrier to infect humans, H5N1 has caused the largest number of detected cases of severe disease and death in humans. In the current outbreaks in Asia and Europe more than half of those infected with the virus have died. Most cases have occurred in previously healthy children and young adults. However, it is possible that the only cases currently being reported are those in the most severely ill people, and that the full range of illness caused by the H5N1 virus has not yet been defined. For the most current information about avian influenza and cumulative case numbers, see the World Health Organization (WHO) avian influenza website.

So far, the spread of H5N1 virus from person to person has been limited and has not continued beyond one person. Nonetheless, because all influenza viruses have the ability to change, scientists are concerned that H5N1 virus one day could be able to infect humans and spread easily from one person to another. Because these viruses do not commonly infect humans, there is little or no immune protection against them in the human population. If H5N1 virus were to gain the capacity to spread easily from person to person, an influenza pandemic (worldwide outbreak of disease) could begin. For more information about influenza pandemics, see the CDC Pandemic Influenza website and

No one can predict when a pandemic might occur. However, experts from around the world are watching the H5N1 situation in Asia and Europe very closely and are preparing for the possibility that the virus may begin to spread more easily and widely from person to person.

Treatment and vaccination for H5N1 virus in humans

The H5N1 virus that has caused human illness and death in Asia is resistant to amantadine and rimantadine, two antiviral medications commonly used for influenza. Two other antiviral medications, oseltamavir and zanamavir, would probably work to treat influenza caused by H5N1 virus, but additional studies still need to be done to demonstrate their effectiveness.

There currently is no commercially available vaccine to protect humans against H5N1 virus that is being seen in Asia and Europe. However, vaccine development efforts are taking place. Research studies to test a vaccine to protect humans against H5N1 virus began in April 2005, and a series of clinical trials is under way. For more information about H5N1 vaccine development process, visit the National Institutes of Health website.

What is a Brain Tumor?

Approximately 190,000 people in the United States will be diagnosed with a primary or metastatic brain tumor. Brain tumors are the leading cause of SOLID TUMOR death in children under age 20 now surpassing acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL), and are the third leading cause of cancer death in young adults ages 20-39. Brain tumor patients, including those with certain "benign" brain tumors, have poorer survival rates than breast cancer patients.

Metastatic brain tumors (cancer that spreads from other parts of the body to the brain) occur at some point in 10 to 15% of persons with cancer and are the most common type of brain tumor. The incidence of brain tumors has been increasing as cancer patients live longer. In the United States, the overall incidence of all primary brain tumors is more than 14 per 100,000 people.

There are over 120 different types of brain tumors, making effective treatment very complicated. Because brain tumors are located at the control center for thought, emotion and movement, their effects on an individual's physical and cognitive abilities can be devastating.

At present, brain tumors are treated by surgery, radiation therapy and chemotherapy, used either individually or in combination. Only 31 percent of males and 30percent of females survive five years following the diagnosis of a primary or malignant brain tumor.

Brain tumors in children are different from those in adults and are often treated differently. Although as many as 69 percent of children with brain tumors will survive, they are often left with long-term side effects.

Enhancing the quality of life of people with brain tumors requires access to quality specialty care, clinical trials, follow-up care and rehabilitative services. Improving the outlook for adults and children with brain tumors requires research into the causes of and better treatments of brain tumors.

Brain Tumor symptoms can include headaches (headaches that wake you up in the morning), seizures in a person who does not have a history of seizures, cognitive or personality changes, eye weakness, nausea or vomiting, speech disturbances, or memory loss. While these are the most common symptoms of a brain tumor, they can also indicate other medical problems.

Look after your brain and the kind of thoughts that you allow to pass through it!

What are vericose veins (kalava velikosi) & spider veins:

Varicose veins are the largest ropey veins seen in the legs and spider veins are the smaller, often red or blue colored, veins. Varicose veins occur when the vein is not functioning correctly to help bring blood back up towards the heart. The walls of the veins are thinner, much less elastic and weaker then the walls of arteries. The veins start to enlarge most often in response to pressure on them and this creates a vicious cycle and a worsening venous condition. The pressure is typically from the forces of gravity, the bodies weight and the column of venous blood that has not yet finished its trip back to the heart. As a varicose vein enlarges it will contain larger volumes of blood, thus putting even greater pressure on the valve below. If the pressure becomes severe enough to exceed the strength of the valve, then the varicosity enlarges further, thus putting even more pressure on the next valve it encounters, as the condition continues to worsen. The effects of gravity, body weight and the "uphill journey" are the primary reasons varicose veins occur almost exclusively in the legs and may be present in either one or both legs.

Spider veins are the thread-like colored veins most often seen on the surface of the skin. They are most often not as painful as enlarged varicose veins but they are still liable to bleed and worsen without treatment. Spider veins occur most commonly in the legs but are often seen in the face and elsewhere. These spider veins, medically referred to as telangectasias, will not worsen to the point where they will ever become the large bulging varicose veins

What is Alzheimers Disease?

Forgetting stuff is a part of life and it often becomes more common as people age. But Alzheimer disease, which affects some older people, is different from everyday forgetting. It is a condition that permanently affects the brain, and over time, makes it harder to remember even basic stuff, like how to tie a shoe.

Eventually, the person may have trouble remembering the names and faces of family members - or even who he or she is. This can be very sad for the person and their families. It's important to know that Alzheimer disease does not affect kids. It usually affects people over 65 years of age. Researchers have found medicines that seem to slow the disease down. And there's hope that someday there will be a cure.

You probably know that your brain works by sending signals. Chemical messengers, called neurotransmitters, allow brain cells to communicate with each other. But a person with Alzheimer disease has decreased amounts of neurotransmitters. People with Alzheimer disease also develop deposits of stuff (protein and fiber call amyloid plaques) that prevent the cells from working properly. When this happens, the cells can't send the right signals to other parts of the brain. Over time, brain cells affected by Alzheimer disease also begin to shrink and die.

Lots of research is being done to find out more about the causes of Alzheimer disease. There is no one reason why people get Alzheimer disease. Older people are more likely to get it, and the risk gets greater the older the person gets. For instance, the risk is higher for someone who is 85 than it is for someone who is 65. And women are more likely to get it than men.

Researchers also think genes handed down from family members can make a person more likely to get Alzheimer disease. But that doesn't mean everyone related to someone who has Alzheimer disease will get the disease. Other factors, combined with genes, may make it more likely that someone will get the disease. Some of them are high blood pressure, high cholesterol, Down syndrome, or having a head injury.

On the positive side, researchers believe exercise, a healthy diet, and taking steps to keep your mind active (like doing crossword puzzles) may help delay the onset of Alzheimer disease.

The first sign of Alzheimer disease is a continuous pattern of forgetting things. This starts to affect a person's daily life. He or she may forget where the grocery store is or the names of family and friends. This stage of the disease may last for some time or quickly progress, causing memory loss and forgetfulness to get worse.

It can be hard for a doctor to diagnose Alzheimer disease because many of its symptoms (like memory problems) can be like those of other conditions affecting the brain. The doctor will talk to the patient, find out about any medical problems the person has, and will examine him or her.

The doctor can ask the person questions or have the person take a written test to see how well his or her memory is working. Doctors also can use medical tests (such as MRI or CT Scans) to take a detailed picture of the brain. They can study these images and look for the deposits of proteins and fiber that are typical of Alzheimer disease.

Once a person is diagnosed with Alzheimer disease, the doctor may prescribe medicine to help with memory and thinking. The doctor also might give the person medicine for other problems, such as depression (sad feelings that last a long time). Unfortunately the medicines that the doctors have can't cure Alzheimer disease; they just help slow down the disease.

You might feel sad or angry - or both - if someone you love has Alzheimer disease. You might feel nervous around the person, especially if he or she is having trouble remembering important things or can no longer take care of himself or herself.

You might not want to go visit the person, even though your mom or dad wants you to. You are definitely not alone in these feelings. Try talking with a parent or another trusted adult. Just saying what's on your mind may help you feel better. You also may learn that the adults in your life are having struggles of their own with the situation.

If you visit a loved one who has Alzheimer disease, try to be patient. He or she may have good days and bad days. It can be sad if you no longer are able to have fun in the same ways together. Maybe you and your grandmother liked to go to concerts. If that's no longer possible, maybe bring her some wonderful music on a CD and listen together. It's a way to show her that you care - and showing that love is important even if her memory is failing.

What is Cancer?

Cancer is actually a group of many related diseases that all have to do with cells. Cells are the very small units that make up all living things, including the human body. There are billions of cells in each person's body.

Cancer happens when cells that are not normal grow and spread very fast. Normal body cells grow and divide and know to stop growing. Over time, they also die. Unlike these normal cells, cancer cells just continue to grow and divide out of control and don't die. Cancer cells usually group or clump together to form tumors.

A growing tumor becomes a lump of cancer cells that can destroy the normal cells around the tumor and damage the body's healthy tissues. This can make someone very sick.

Sometimes cancer cells break away from the original tumor and travel to other areas of the body, where they keep growing and can go on to form new tumors. This is how cancer spreads. The spread of a tumor to a new place in the body is called metastasis.

People with cancer may feel pretty sick at times - but can usually still do lots of normal things. Unless they are very sick, kids and teens with cancer may still be able to go to school. They may be tired or bruise easily, but they can sometimes go to camp, movies, and sleepover parties. People with cancer still like the same things they did before they got sick.

Cancer in kids is rare - but today, many kids who do get cancer go on live normal lives. The number of kids who beat cancer goes up every year because of new cancer treatments. So a lot of kids with cancer will some day drive cars, go to college, have careers, and even get married and have families of their own.

Doctors aren't sure why some people get cancer and others don't. They do know that cancer is not contagious. You can't catch cancer from someone else who has it. Cancer isn't caused by germs like colds or the flu are.

Unhealthy habits, especially cigarette smoking or drinking too much alcohol every day, can make you a lot more likely to get cancer when you become an adult.

It is wise to carefully think about the potential pain you will be putting your beloved kids through in life (if they grow up without a mum or dad) if you the parent are consistently over-indulging in cigarettes & alcohol on a daily basis, things that can cause cancer.

What is Alcoholism:
Alcoholism, also known as alcohol dependence, is a disease that includes the following four symptoms:
(i) Craving - A strong need, or urge, to drink.
(ii) Loss of control - Not being able to stop drinking once drinking has begun.
(iii) Physical dependence - Withdrawal symptoms, such as nausea, sweating, shakiness, and anxiety after stopping drinking.
(iv) Tolerance - The need to drink greater amounts of alcohol to get "high."

Alcoholism is a disease. The craving that an alcoholic feels for alcohol can be as strong as the need for food or water. An alcoholic will continue to drink despite serious family, health, or legal problems. Like many other diseases, alcoholism is chronic, meaning that it lasts a person's lifetime; it usually follows a predictable course; and it has symptoms. The risk for developing alcoholism is influenced both by a person's genes and by his or her lifestyle.

Alcoholism can be treated. Alcoholism treatment programs use both counseling and medications to help a person stop drinking. Most alcoholics need help to recover from their disease. With support and treatment, many people are able to stop drinking and rebuild their lives.

A range of medications is used to treat alcoholism. Benzodiazepines (Valium , Librium) are sometimes used during the first days after a person stops drinking to help him or her safely withdraw from alcohol. These medications are not used beyond the first few days, however, because they may be highly addictive. Other medications help people remain sober. One medication used for this purpose is naltrexone (ReVia™). When combined with counseling naltrexone can reduce the craving for alcohol and help prevent a person from returning, or relapsing, to heavy drinking. Another medication, disulfiram (Antabuse), discourages drinking by making the person feel sick if he or she drinks alcohol.

Though several medications help treat alcoholism, there is no "magic bullet." In other words, no single medication is available that works in every case and/or in every person. Developing new and more effective medications to treat alcoholism remains a high priority for researchers.

Tu'usi 'ae va'e 'o David Lange koe suka:
Ihe uike ni na'e ma'u ai ha fakaha kuo tu'usi 'a va'e 'e taha 'oe palemia maloloo 'o NZ ko David Lange koe ma'u 'ehe mahaki suka. Oku pehe foki 'oku uesia foki pea mo hono kofu ua (kidneys), 'aia koe ngaue aipe ia 'ae mahaki suka. Oku ma'u 'ae fakamatala 'o pehe oku ne mo'ui lelei pe.
Koe tupu foki e tu'usi 'o ha va'e pe nima 'o ha taha oku ne ma'u 'ae suka oku tupu ia meihe maumau ae ngaahi neave moe halanga toto ihe ngaahi kupu 'oe sino 'aia 'oku sai ange leva 'a hono tu'usi ke fakahaofi 'ae toenga oe sino meihe palangia kotoa.
Facts on Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus:

Diabetes is increasingly considered a 21st Century epidemic on the rise in the Pacific (including Tonga), New Zealand and Worldwide. It is a disorder often accompanied by heart disease and high blood pressure. It can also be inherited. If not managed carefuly from an early stage in life, it can lead to kidney failure, blindness, and the loss of limbs through amputation (cut off). Because it is to a large degree a life-style disorder, good healthy eating habits and exercise have a large role to play in preventing Type 2 Diabetes.

  • About 177 million people worldwide had been diagnosed with diabetes in 2000 with a projection to exceed 300 million sufferers by 2025.
  • New Zealand is closely following the same global trend with a current estimate of 118,000 diagnosed diabetics, and forecasted to exceed 145,000 sufferers by 2011 with also a similar proportion of undiagnosed cases.
  • Maori and Pacific Islanders are worst affected by Type 2 Diabetes in NZ.
  • Communities such as Mangere, Rotorua, Northland and Manurewa Ihighly populated by Maori & Pacific Islanders) have the highest incidences of diabetes in New Zealand.
  • In 2002 alone, there were 1700 estimated deaths in New Zealand attributed to diabetes.


Facts about baldness & hair loss:


Baldness is the state of losing hair from ones head. It can happen in both males and females (so dont be quick to giggle ladies). It often starts with the progressive thining of the hair on ones head which snow-balls into the absolute losing of hair altogether.


Known causes for baldness include stress (lack of rest & worry), lack of sleep, or it may be genetically inherited. Some studies also believe, though yet to be proven, that balding men are more sexually verile, due to an excessive secretion of the male sex hormone testoterone.

Female pattern baldness, in which the midline parting of the hair appears broadened, is less common. It is believed to result from a decrease in  (A general term for female steroid sex hormones that are secreted by the ovary and responsible for typical female sexual characteristics) estrogen a hormone that normally counteracts the balding effect of testosterone, which normally occurs in women's blood.





HIV is a a sexually transmitted disease. It stands for Human Immunodeficiencey Virus. It is the name of the virus that causes AIDS.  AIDS stands for Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome.

HIV can be transmitted through the blood, sexual fluids, or breast milk of an HIV-infected person. People can get HIV if one of these fluids enters the body and into the bloodstream. The disease can be passed during unprotected sex with a HIV-infected person. An HIV-infected mother can transmit HIV to her infant during pregnancy, delivery or while breastfeeding. People can also become infected with HIV when using injection drugs through sharing needles and other equipment.

Over time, infection with HIV can weaken the immune system to the point that the system has difficulty fighting off certain infections. These types of infections are known as opportunistic infections. These infections are usually controlled by a healthy immune system, but they can cause problems or even be life-threatening in someone with AIDS. The immune system of a person with AIDS has weakened to the point that medical intervention may be necessary to prevent or treat serious illness.

A blood test can determine if a person is infected with HIV, but if a person tests positive for HIV, it does not necessarily mean that the person has AIDS.  A diagnosis of AIDS is made by a physician according to the CDC AIDS Case Definition.  A person infected with HIV may receive an AIDS diagnosis after developing one of the CDC-defined AIDS indicator illnesses. A person with HIV can also receive an AIDS diagnosis on the basis of certain blood tests (CD4 counts) and may not have experienced any serious illnesses.



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