Tue, Aug 24, 2010 - Page 5 News List

World News Quick Take

AGENCIES

■ CHINA

Hepatitis E vaccine works

An experimental vaccine appears to be safe and effective in protecting people against hepatitis E infection, a trial has found. Hepatitis E virus is shed in feces and spread via tainted water and food. Even though most people recover from it, it can cause severe illness in elderly people and has a mortality rate of 1 percent to 3 percent. It can kill between 5 percent and 25 percent of pregnant women and those who survive can suffer high rates of miscarriage. In a phase 3 trial involving 97,356 healthy participants in ­Jiangsu Province, half of them were given the locally made vaccine and the other half a placebo. The vaccine made by Xiamen Innovax Biotech was given in three doses, the second being a month after the first and the third six months after the first. Within a year after the third dose, 15 of the participants who were given placebo were found infected with hepatitis E, the researchers said in a paper published in the Lancet yesterday. No one in the vaccine group was infected.

■MALAYSIA

Swimmers warned off rivers

The government has closed parks and warned the public about swimming and dumping trash in rivers after 10 people died from a disease spread by rats. The latest reported death from the bacterial disease leptospirosis was on Saturday. The 17-year-old boy in northern Kedah state had swam in a river and had a picnic with friends at a park last month, the New Straits Times and the Star reported. Several parks throughout the country have been closed since the first deaths were reported last month. The Health Ministry’s Web site warns people not to swim in public rivers when it rains and to avoid taking a dip if they have cuts on their body, which makes an infection more likely.

■ BANGLADESH

Officials battle anthrax

Health officials are struggling to contain a major outbreak of anthrax in the north, with at least 52 new infections registered in the past week, the health ministry said yesterday. At least 162 people have been infected with the bacteria in nine separate outbreaks in less than a year, but no one has died so far, said Mahmudur Rahman, a health ministry director. Most of the cases have been in the rural cattle-rearing region in the north. “In the latest outbreak in the northern town of Shajadpur, 52 people became infected in the last week,” Rahman said.

■ PAKISTAN

Blasts kill at least 21

A bomb exploded at a meeting of tribal elders in the Kurram region near the Afghan border yesterday, killing seven people, a government official said. “We have reports that it happened in a jirga. The death toll could be higher,” said the official, Naeemullah Jan. A few hours later a blast inside a mosque in the South Waziristan tribal region killed at least 15 people.

■ INDONESIA

Eight die of moonshine

Eight people died after drinking moonshine alcohol in Jakarta, police said yesterday. The victims, all men, succumbed to poisoning after drinking the toxic beverage they had bought from a shop in South Jakarta on Saturday night, police spokesman Boy Rafli said. “The last victim died today in hospital,” he said. The shopkeeper who made the “lethal” brew had been arrested, he said. Twenty-five people, including four foreigners, died from methanol-laced palm wine last year on Bali, while 13 were killed in similar fashion in Yogyakarta earlier this year.

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