Sexual salvation

Sharks have never had a brilliant press but maybe now their moment has come. Researchers at Magainin Pharmaceuticals, Pennsylvania, say that squalamine, a substance isolated from the dogfish shark, can kill off the micro-organisms responsible for the world's most rampant sexually transmitted diseases, including herpes, gonorrhoea and chlamydia. According to a report in New Scientist, shark extract could be used in cream form before sex or as a coating for condoms.

Rash omission

Ask any parent about their worst nightmare and the betting is they will mention meningitis. With acute cases running at 20% higher than last year there is good reason for concern, yet few parents know what the meningococcal rash actually looks like.

Doctors from Birmingham Heartlands Hospital describe in the British Medical Journal the case of a 14-month-old child who died of advanced meningococcal meningitis; her parents had watched a rash develop but could not identify it. They argue that all child health books should contain photos of the rash, which is blotchy, reddish-purple in colour and forms under the skin.

The National Meningitis Trust helpline is available on 0345 538118.

Musical tables

Looking for furniture with that little extra something? Then the Monochord Table may be for you. Invented by Swiss music therapist Joachim Marz, the table is actually a musical instrument that "envelops the senses in a healing environment".

While the stressed-out patient lies on the table, a therapist plucks at some 50-odd strings contained in a "resonance box" below. The result, claims Mr Marz, is enhanced wellbeing and a sense of "prenatal consciousness in the womb".

Telephone 0181 672 5951 for more details.

Pregnancy pains

Stomach pains in pregnancy may set alarm bells ringing, but researchers from the John Radcliffe Hospital, Oxford, say they are usually harmless. Their study of 69 pregnant women admitted to hospital with abdominal pain, published in the Journal of Obstetrics & Gynaecology, found that 62 had no problems with the pregnancy.

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