BMJ 2010; 341 doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.c3973 (Published 28 July 2010) Cite this as: BMJ 2010;341:c3973

A classic epidemiological dataset assembled by the school epidemics committee of the UK’s Medical Research Council in the 1930s has been analysed with respect to the outbreaks during term time of six common childhood infections and operated cases of appendicitis in 27 English public boarding schools. The main finding, when confounding factors were removed, was a positive association between the level of appendicitis activity and the recorded rate of mumps—although cause and effect are yet to be established (Epidemiology and Infection 2010;138:1155-65, doi:10.1017/S0950268809991439).

Skin patches may replace hypodermic needles in future influenza vaccination programmes (Nature Medicine 2010; published online 18 July, doi:10.1038/nm.2182). A study in mice confirmed that patches covered in “microneedles” were more efficient than conventional hypodermic needles at clearing the lungs of virus and generating robust antibody and cellular immune responses, providing complete survival against lethal challenge. The microscale needles are constructed from a biocompatible polymer. They painlessly pierce the skin, administering the vaccine, and then dissolve in the skin within minutes.

Pessimism is associated with worse …

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