Reviews Minerva


BMJ 2001; 322 doi: (Published 24 March 2001) Cite this as: BMJ 2001;322:744

The latest in a series of studies on the link between population mixing and leukaemia finds that the incidence of childhood leukaemia in the Scottish islands of Shetland and Orkney went up threefold during the second world war, when the islands were inundated with soldiers, sailors, prisoners of war, and construction workers (Lancet2001;357:858). Between 1941 and 1945 there were nine cases of leukaemia among island children, three times more than expected. The results suggest, once again, that leukaemia is an unusual response to an unfamiliar pathogen. No one knows which one.

Eurosurveillance reports another three outbreaks of Salmonella spp, all of which were traced to undercooked minced beef (2001;6:21-5). In one outbreak, more than a third of the patients, all under 15 years old, became ill after eating hamburgers. Whether they are bought fresh, precooked, or frozen, hamburgers seem to have a central role in transmitting salmonella to human populations. The same goes for Escherichia coli 0157:H7. Both pathogens can colonise the intestines of beef cattle and get into the food chain during slaughter at the abattoir.

An inventor has filed a patent for a cigarette packet that can talk or even …

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