Health: Sick Notes

UNDER THE title "Chicken fancier's spleen" the International Journal of Clinical Practice reports a case of a woman with severe left-sided abdominal pain. "She did not report any other gastro-intestinal or respiratory symptoms and there was no past medical or family history of note, though her pastimes included rearing chickens." One laparotomy and a splenectomy later, she was making a good recovery. An epidermoid cyst of the spleen had been the primary problem but a secondary infection of Salmonella enteritidis was blamed on the chickens.

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ACCORDING TO the Center for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, bacteria in raw oysters and other shellfish killed one person and sickened 208 others in North America last summer. Oysters were found to have higher than normal concentrations of `Vibrio parahaemolyticus' bacteria, for which El Nino may perhaps be to blame. The CDC recommends cooking all shellfish before eating them.

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BEFORE SCOTLAND'S last match in the World Cup, Dr Prem Misra, a psychiatrist at Glasgow University, warned that the team's performance could result in sone people needing psychiatric advice. He said that if Scotland won, the effects of lack of sleep, regular alcohol drinking and heightened mental activity could lead to some fans developing anxiety, panic attacks and physical pains.

"The numbers will be higher if Scotland get knocked out but there will still be relatively few cases and even fewer than if Scotland had been thrashed by Brazil in the opening game of the tournament, when disappointment would have been greater because of the significance of the match."

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THE US government has turned down a request by San Bernadino county officials in California to be allowed to kill a rare fly whose breeding ground is on land occupied by a hospital. The Delhi Sands flower-loving fly is a protected species which has lost 97 per cent of its natural habitat and now numbers only a few hundred. The Endangered Species Act generally makes it unlawful to harm or kill wildlife listed as in danger of extinction.

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PROFESSOR RICHARD Smith, editor of the British Medical Journal, told the annual conference of the Royal College of Surgeons that less than 5 per cent of research papers published in the world's 20,000 medical journals met minimum standards of scientific soundness and clinical relevance.

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A BABY girl with two heads has been born in a southern Vietnamese province. According to a Reuters report, she has two heads, two hearts, two spines, but one body with a single liver and one set of lungs. Medical staff at the Ho Chin Minh City children's hospital say she is healthy and doing well.

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THE JOURNAL of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness reports that women tennis players hit balls more accurately and won more matches when they drank a caffeine-laced drink at change-overs. Tests showed that women taking caffeine released more of the "flight or fight" hormone which in turn releases energy in times of stress.

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