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Simple hand-washing video for visitors could reduce rapidly increasing hospital infection rates
Families visiting sick children significantly improved their hand-washing technique after being shown a simple and inexpensive video. Most hygiene studies have concentrated on health care staff, so this research is very important says Professor Roger Watson, editor of Journal of Clinical Nursing.

Secrets of contrails

David Pescovitz: Air & Space Magazine tells the story of condensation trails, or contrails, the white streams of ice crystals generated by airplanes flying at high altitudes. From the article:
They are created by airplanes flying at high altitudes, where the air is below –38 degrees Fahrenheit. Exhaust from airplane engines contains water vapor as well as other gases and particles of soot and metal. When the exhaust is expelled into and mixes with the cold air, the water vapor condenses into droplets, which instantly freeze into tiny ice crystals…

It’s not only jets that make contrails; piston aircraft do too. So do rockets. So, apparently, do birds. “I have heard of wild geese leaving vapor trails high over the Canadian Rockies,” Guy Murchie wrote in his book Song of the Sky. A goose exhaling warm, moist air into –38-degree air could produce a contrail, Minnis allows, although “it would certainly be a small one…”

There are those who consider contrails to be downright sinister: noxious chemicals sprayed from aircraft to sicken populations and alter weather patterns, according to conspiracy theorists. The claims seem to rest on the notion that thin, short-lived contrails may consist of ice crystals, but the thicker, long-lived ones are not. In reality, the expanded lines are merely contrails that have evolved.

What if a vaccine makes room for a new strain of a disease? http://www.slate.com/id/2168854/fr/rss/

While lay critics blame vaccines for everything from AIDS to autism, among vaccinologists one of the biggest concerns is a phenomenon known as replacement disease. This is the worry that in eliminating one pathogen, vaccines may clear an ecological niche for a new one that is just as bad. It’s why a recent study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association sent a ripple of anxiety through the community of doctors and scientists who fight the world’s most deadly childhood pathogen: Streptococcus pneumoniae, the bacteria also known as pneumococcus…

In the JAMA article, scientists from the Centers for Disease Control’s Arctic Investigations Program reported that serious pneumococcal infections (such as meningitis and pneumonia) were again on the rise among the Native Alaskans [sic] they studied—after an initial dramatic decline that followed the introduction of the first effective childhood vaccine against the bacteria.[more …]

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