30/05/2012

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RABIES
Seven children have recently died from rabies in Peru, and this week a patient who had been bitten by a dog in Asia died from the same disease in a London hospital.

Rabies is a viral infection found in certain mammals including dogs, foxes and bats and occurs in various places around the world including India, Indonesia and North America.

When a person is bitten by an infected animal, the virus migrates from the skin into the nerves and into the brain, where it causes serious damage. Death from rabies is very unpleasant, with patients often becoming terrified of water and so agitated that they become violent and have to be restrained or put into an anaesthetic coma.

There are very expensive drugs to cure rabies if it is caught within a day or so of being bitten, but they are hard to get hold of and 50,000 people die from the disease every year.

What is unusual about this outbreak in Peru is that the cases have appeared within such a short time-frame. Dr Ron Behrens from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine tells Health Check what he thinks has happened, and how rabies can best be controlled.

TB AND LA BOHEME
What do the great 19th century classics such as La Traviata and La Boheme have in common? In both of these stories, the leading ladies succumb to consumption, or tuberculosis as it is known now.

But despite being commonplace in the literature of centuries ago, TB remains a problem.

In a unique partnership with the Global Fund that aims to increase awareness of TB, the South African theatre company Isango Ensemble is performing a new production of La Boheme. The BBC’s Smitha Mundasad went along to one of their London performances.

TINNITUS
Tinnitus is a condition which affects as many as 15% of people at some point in their lives and can drive people to distraction. Sufferers constantly hear a sound in their ears. This might be a ringing, a screeching, a buzzing or even a roaring and can affect one or both ears.

The curious thing about tinnitus is that no one knows exactly what causes it, but the latest thinking is that brain activity generates the perception of sound. To get relief, some patients try to avoid silent rooms so that they cannot hear it as much. Others try masking the sound with machines that produce white noise.

Rilana Cima, a clinical psychologist from the University of Maastricht, is trying the opposite approach - training people to focus on the sounds in order to get used to them. The results of her study, just published in the Lancet, show that for many it seems to work.

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18 minutes

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Thu 31 May 2012 10:32 GMT