brand logo

Am Fam Physician. 2002;66(11):2041

Chickenpox may strike more than once a lifetime. In a population-based study published in Pediatrics, researchers evaluated 9,947 reports of varicella infection in a community of 303,624 persons and found a noteworthy percentage of cases that met their criteria for repeat infection. Evaluating cases from 1995 to 1999, they noted reports of second varicella infection in 4.5 percent of patients in 1995, and in 13.3 percent of patients in 1999. Although the researchers point out that these repeat cases of varicella were not confirmed in a laboratory, they believe their results support further research, particularly in light of vaccination recommendations based on the assumption that patients who have previously had varicella are immune to the virus.

“I'm gonna rub those germs right off of my hands.” Handrubbing with an alcohol-based solution significantly reduces bacterial contamination, according to a study published in BMJ. Twenty-three health care workers were randomized to either handrubbing with an alcohol-based solution or handwashing with antiseptic soap. Before and after each hygiene procedure, imprints were taken of the fingertips and the palm of the dominant hand. Bacterial contamination was reduced by 83 percent after handrubbing compared with 58 percent after handwashing. Handrubbing remained effective after several applications of the alcohol-based solution.

A drug known to boost the memory of patients with Alzheimer's disease may also augment the performance of airplane pilots, according to a study published in Neurology. The study randomly assigned 18 licensed pilots to take donepezil or a placebo. After 30 days of treatment, the pilots took a flight simulator test to see if they had retained the training they received before treatment. Flight performance changed little from initial training to 30 days post-treatment in the donepezil pilots, but it declined in the pilots who took placebo. Researchers theorize that part of the age-related memory decline is caused by loss of function of acetylcholine.

Unfortunately, relief from plantar fasciitis has taken a step backward. Patients who have been turning to extracorporeal shock wave therapy (ESWT) to relieve heel pain have found that it is ineffective against the ailment. Earlier studies suggested that ESWT, usually used to treat kidney stones and gallstones, was also beneficial for plantar fasciitis. However, a study published in JAMA found that after six to 12 weeks of ESWT there was no difference in pain or function among 80 patients who received ESWT and 81 patients who received an identical placebo treatment.

Bicycle handlebars can put children at risk for serious injuries that result in hefty health care costs, states an article published in the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine. Researchers estimated that in 1997, nearly 900 handlebar-related abdominal and pelvic injuries occurred nationwide in persons younger than 20 years. To prevent these injuries in the future, the study suggests new standards for handlebar design, a step that could make bicycles safer for both children and adults.

Something fishy is going on here. According to the FDA Consumer, researchers at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration are experimenting with a new technology that can indicate when seafood is no longer safe to eat by detecting the chemical changes that occur when seafood is decomposing. If this detection system is used along with safe handling and cooking practices, it may help reduce the incidence of food-borne illness.

Continue Reading

More in AFP

Copyright © 2002 by the American Academy of Family Physicians.

This content is owned by the AAFP. A person viewing it online may make one printout of the material and may use that printout only for his or her personal, non-commercial reference. This material may not otherwise be downloaded, copied, printed, stored, transmitted or reproduced in any medium, whether now known or later invented, except as authorized in writing by the AAFP.  See permissions for copyright questions and/or permission requests.