This selective report notes recent events relating to pregnancy termination in the U.S., France, England, Italy, East and West Germany, Norway, Sweden, and the Netherlands. Due to the Supreme Court decision in January 1973, abortion is now legal in the U.S. Although abortions is illegal in France, an estimated 400,000-1,000,000 clandestine abortions occur each year. Although abortions are legal in Britain, the ease with which they can be obtained varies regionally. As of March 1973, contraceptives are part of Britain's National Health Service. In Italy, a bill to legalize abortion has been introduced in Parliament, though there is little likelihood of its passing. In East Germany, abortion can be granted for medical or social reasons, while in West Germany, the governmental policies are more conservative, resulting in an abundance of illegal abortions performed by physicians. There is a trend toward easier abortion laws in Norway and Sweden. Little is happening in the Netherlands as far as liberalizing the abortion laws. Rather liberal grounds for pregnancy termination exist in China (though emphasis is on contraception), India, Russia, and Eastern Europe (with the exception of Romania). Abortion is frowned upon in Africa, Latin America, and the Middle East resulting in a large number of illegal abortions. It is concluded that there is liberalized abortion in communist bloc countries, there is trend toward liberalizing abortion in a large group of western countries, and tradition and religion are responsible for conservative abortion laws in a third group of countries.
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.
How temperate forests will respond to climate change is uncertain; projections range from severe decline to increased growth. We conducted field tests of sessile oak (Quercus petraea), a widespread keystone European forest tree species, including more than 150 000 trees sourced from 116 geographically diverse populations. The tests were planted on 23 field sites in six European countries, in order to expose them to a wide range of climates, including sites reflecting future warmer and drier climates. By assessing tree height and survival, our objectives were twofold: (i) to identify the source of differential population responses to climate (genetic differentiation due to past divergent climatic selection vs. plastic responses to ongoing climate change) and (ii) to explore which climatic variables (temperature or precipitation) trigger the population responses. Tree growth and survival were modeled for contemporary climate and then projected using data from four regional climate models for years 2071-2100, using two greenhouse gas concentration trajectory scenarios each. Overall, results indicated a moderate response of tree height and survival to climate variation, with changes in dryness (either annual or during the growing season) explaining the major part of the response. While, on average, populations exhibited local adaptation, there was significant clinal population differentiation for height growth with winter temperature at the site of origin. The most moderate climate model (HIRHAM5-EC; rcp4.5) predicted minor decreases in height and survival, while the most extreme model (CCLM4-GEM2-ES; rcp8.5) predicted large decreases in survival and growth for southern and southeastern edge populations (Hungary and Turkey). Other nonmarginal populations with continental climates were predicted to be severely and negatively affected (Bercé, France), while populations at the contemporary northern limit (colder and humid maritime regions; Denmark and Norway) will probably not show large changes in growth and survival in response to climate change.
Cites: Nature. 2009 Dec 24;462(7276):1052-520033047
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.
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.
A recent method of age-standardisation of relative survival ratios for cancer patients does not require calculation of age-specific relative survival ratios, as ratios of age-specific proportions between the standard population and study group at the beginning of the follow-up are used to substitute the original individual observations. This method, however, leads to direct age-standardisation with weights that are different for each patient group if the general population mortality patterns for the groups are different. This is the case in international comparisons, and in comparisons between genders and time periods. The magnitude of the bias caused by the differences in general population mortality is investigated for comparisons involving European countries and the USA. Patients in each country are assumed to have exactly the same age-specific relative survival ratios as those diagnosed in Finland in 1985-2004. An application of a properly functioning age-standardisation method should then give exactly equal age-standardised relative survival ratios for each country. However, the recent method shows substantial differences between countries, with highest relative survival for populations, where the general population mortality in the oldest ages is the highest. This source of error can thus be a serious limitation for the use of the method, and other methods that are available should then be employed.
Data from 12 different European countries show a rapid increase in HIV antibody positivity among drug users or a high degree of contamination already reached wherever studies have been made. Until 31 December 1986, 698 (18%) of AIDS cases were among drug users, of which 600 (15%) of AIDS cases were solely drug users, and 98 (3%) were in addition homosexual or bisexual. A further increase is expected. Because of the epidemiological importance for transmission to the heterosexual population, this problem has become a focus of attention. Drug abusing prostitutes constitute a major source of infection for the heterosexual population and newborns. The increase in the number of AIDS cases in 1986 among male drug abusers was 98 - that is up 61% compared to previous years; among women, the increase was 56%. The 3 main approaches to solution of this problem, i.e. interdiction of the drug trade, availability of sterile needles, and an education program have not proven as successful as anticipated. Relevant indications of the progress of infection in society can only be obtained by systematic observation of conversion rates in differential subgroups, i.e. drug abusers, newly incarcerated drug abusers, male and female prostitutes who use drugs, and individuals newly reporting for treatment. Separation of HIV antibody positives and negatives in therapeutic communities which are not drug free is recommended for epidemiological purposes in view of the developments to date. Nor should forced segregation of the infected from noninfected be dismissed out of hand.
Allergic bronchopulmonary aspergillosis (ABPA) is a disease resulting from a hypersensitivity response to Aspergillus fumigatus, although the pathogenesis of the disease is unknown and its prevalence in cystic fibrosis (CF) is still poorly defined. Data from the Epidemiologic Registry of Cystic Fibrosis (ERCF) on 12,447 CF patients gathered from 224 CF centres in nine European countries were analysed. The ERCF definition of ABPA diagnosis is a positive skin test and serum precipitins to A. fumigatus, together with serum immunoglobulin (Ig)E levels >1,000 U x mL(-1) and additional clinical or laboratory parameters. The overall prevalence of ABPA in the ERCF population was 7.8% (range: 2.1% in Sweden to 13.6% in Belgium). Prevalence was low or =20-12.9% in those with FEV1
Comment In: Eur Respir J. 2001 May;17(5):1052-311488309