We present new and revised data for the phocine distemper virus (PDV) epidemics that resulted in the deaths of more than 23 000 harbour seals Phoca vitulina in 1988 and 30,000 in 2002. On both occasions the epidemics started at the Danish island of Anholt in central Kattegat, and subsequently spread to adjacent colonies in a stepwise fashion. However, this pattern was not maintained throughout the epidemics and new centres of infection appeared far from infected populations on some occasions: in 1988 early positive cases were observed in the Irish Sea, and in 2002 the epidemic appeared in the Dutch Wadden Sea, 6 wk after the initiation of the outbreak at Anholt Island. Since the harbour seal is a rather sedentary species, such 'jumps' in the spread among colonies suggest that another vector species could have been involved. We discussed the role of sympatric species as disease vectors, and suggested that grey seal populations could act as reservoirs for PDV if infection rates in sympatric species are lower than in harbour seals. Alternatively, grey seals could act as subclinical infected carriers of the virus between Arctic and North Sea seal populations. Mixed colonies of grey and harbour seal colonies are found at all locations where the jumps occurred. It seems likely that grey seals, which show long-distance movements, contributed to the spread among regions. The harbour seal populations along the Norwegian coast and in the Baltic escaped both epidemics, which could be due either to genetic differences among harbour seal populations or to immunity. Catastrophic events such as repeated epidemics should be accounted for in future models and management strategies of wildlife populations.
In the last several years, West Nile virus (WNV) was proven to be present especially in the neighboring countries of Austria, such as Italy, Hungary, and the Czech Republic, as well as in eastern parts of Austria, where it was detected in migratory and domestic birds. In summer 2010, infections with WNV were reported from Romania and northern Greece with about 150 diseased and increasingly fatal cases. We tested the sera of 1,607 blood donors from North Tyrol (Austria) and South Tyrol (Italy) for antibodies against WNV by using IgG enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA). Initial results of the ELISA tests showed seroprevalence rates of 46.2% in North Tyrol and 0.5% in South Tyrol, which turned out to be false-positive cross-reactions with antibodies against tick-borne encephalitis virus (TBEV) by adjacent neutralization assays. These results indicate that seropositivity against WNV requires confirmation by neutralization assays, as cross-reactivity with TBEV is frequent and because, currently, WNV is not endemic in the study area.
OBJECTIVE: To investigate determinants of the acceptability of isoflavone products among postmenopausal women with regard to social and lifestyle factors, dietary habits, health concerns, food beliefs, menopausal symptoms and therapies, and to elucidate preferences for specific products. METHODS: A consumer survey was conducted among postmenopausal women in four European countries (Germany, Denmark, Italy and the UK), including a total of 465 respondents. RESULTS: The declared acceptability of isoflavones was highest in Germany (80%), followed by Italy (75%), the UK (59%) and Denmark (55%; p
Family planning associations (FPAs) in the Scandinavian countries know the importance of addressing the needs of male adolescents and young men. Even though sex education is part of school curricula in Denmark, many young men lack good and confident counsellors to give them advice about sexuality and reproduction. In Denmark, almost half of men aged 16-20 years never talk to their parents about sexuality. It should therefore not be surprising that more than two-thirds of callers to the Danish FPA's, and other European FPAs', anonymous sex counseling telephone line are male. Many of the questions asked by young men indicate insecurity about sexual activity and what is perceived to be sexually normal. FPAs can play a vital role in providing counselling to boys and young men. Male discussion groups can help identify the needs of boys and young. Involving adolescents and the importance of the male perspective are discussed.
A comparative study of adolescent reproductive behavior in the 1980s examined difference in pregnancy, birth, and abortion levels among teenagers in developed countries especially in the US, Canada, the UK, France, the Netherlands, and Sweden. Only 6 of 37 countries with total fertility rates 3.5 and per capita income US$2000/year, and at least 1 million people had adolescent birth rates higher than the US (Bulgaria, Cuba, Puerto Rico, Romania, Hungary, and Chile). The US had the highest abortion rate (42/1000) followed by Hungary (27/1000). Thus the US had the highest adolescent pregnancy rate (96/1000) as well as Hungary (96/1000). The 6 country analysis showed that reducing the level of sexual activity among teenagers is not necessarily needed to achieve lower pregnancy rates. For example, Sweden had the highest levels of sexual activity but its pregnancy rate were 33% as high as those of the US. The rates of sexual activity among teenagers in the Netherlands equaled those of the US, but its pregnancy rates were 14% as high as those of the US. All countries had earlier, more extensive, and better contraceptive use among sexually active teenagers than the US which accounted for their lower pregnancy rates. The more realistic acceptance of sexual activity among teenagers and provision of contraceptives in all the countries except the US differed from the societal ambivalence in the US. Thus ambivalence about sexuality and the appropriateness of contraceptive use results in lower contraceptive use and greater adolescent pregnancy rates. US adolescents constantly receive conflicting messages that sex is romantic, thrilling, and arousing but it is also immoral to have premarital sex. Thus adults need to be more candid about sexuality so they can clearly convey to adolescents their expectations for responsible behavior and to provide the information and services needed to make effective use of contraceptives when sexually active.
In the Scandinavian countries there is no age limit for adolescents' access to contraceptive advice. Denmark deems it important to avoid barriers which prevent young girls from seeking contraceptive advice. Offering easy access to counseling is preferable to adolescent girls having unwanted pregnancies. In Denmark there is no age limit for adolescent girls to see their general practitioner (GP) for instruction in the use contraceptive methods. Without parental consent all can receive such counseling. In addition, the GP is obliged to observe professional secrecy at counseling, hence parents cannot request any information from the GP. There must be exceptionally serious reasons for breaking this professional secrecy. Thus a young woman should not refrain from seeking advice out of fear that her parents will know about her intimate life, and that she protects herself against unwanted pregnancy. It is not desirable to fix any age limit for adolescents' right to seek this advice because it concerns the adolescents' actual sex life. After the introduction of free abortion, many quite young girls sought abortion. The objective is to bolster the development that all children receive the requisite sex education at school, as well as to ensure that there is easy access to information on contraceptive methods. The GP's counseling is provided free of charge. A number of contraceptive clinics are available all over the country to provide alternative contraceptive counseling in case a young woman does not want to consult her GP because perchance the GP is her family doctor. Denmark as well as the other Scandinavian countries characteristically give high priority to promoting and improving the access to information and counseling on contraceptive methods by avoiding all economical, geographical, ethical, or emotional barriers.
Nasopharyngeal carcinoma is a disease with a remarkable racial and geographical distribution. In most parts of the world it is a rare condition and in only a handful of places does this low risk profile alter. These include the Southern Chinese, Eskimos and other Arctic natives, inhabitants of South-East Asia and also the populations of North Africa and Kuwait.
In the last two centuries, age at menarche has decreased in several European populations, whereas adult height has increased. It is unclear whether these trends have ceased in recent years or how age at menarche and height are related in individuals. In this study, the authors first investigated trends in age at menarche and adult height among 286,205 women from nine European countries by computing the mean age at menarche and height in 5-year birth cohorts, adjusted for differences in socioeconomic status. Second, the relation between age at menarche and height was estimated by linear regression models, adjusted for age at enrollment between 1992 and 1998 and socioeconomic status. Mean age at menarche decreased by 44 days per 5-year birth cohort (beta = -0.12, standard error = 0.002), varying from 18 days in the United Kingdom to 58 days in Spain and Germany. Women grew 0.29 cm taller per 5-year birth cohort (standard error = 0.007), varying from 0.42 cm in Italy to 0.98 cm in Denmark. Furthermore, women grew approximately 0.31 cm taller when menarche occurred 1 year later (range by country: 0.13-0.50 cm). Based on time trends, more recent birth cohorts have their menarche earlier and grow taller. However, women with earlier menarche reach a shorter adult height compared with women who have menarche at a later age.
Multiple sclerosis (MS) most commonly affects individuals of Northern European descent who live in countries at high latitude. The relative contributions of ancestry, country of birth and residence as determinants of MS risk have been studied in adult MS, but have not been explored in the pediatric MS population. In this study, we compare the demographics of pediatric- and adult-onset MS patients cared for in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, a multicultural region. The country of birth, residence during childhood, and ancestry were compared for 44 children and 573 adults. Our results demonstrate that although both the pediatric and adult cohorts were essentially born and raised in the same region of Ontario, Canada, children with MS were more likely to report Caribbean, Asian or Middle Eastern ancestry, and were less likely to have European heritage compared with individuals with adult-onset MS. The difference in ancestry between the pediatric and adult MS cohorts can be explained by two hypotheses: (1) individuals raised in a region of high MS prevalence, but whose ancestors originate from regions in which MS is rare, have an earlier age of MS onset, and (2) the place of residence during childhood, irrespective of ancestry, determines lifetime MS risk -- a fact that will be reflected in a change in the demographics of the adult MS cohort in our region as Canadian-raised children of recent immigrants reach the typical age of adult-onset MS.