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Breakthrough Listen is a 10-yr initiative to search for signatures of technologies created by extraterrestrial civilisations at radio and optical wavelengths. Here, we detail the digital data recording system deployed for Breakthrough Listen observations at the 64-m aperture CSIRO Parkes Telescope in New South Wales, Australia. The recording system currently implements two modes: a dual-polarisation, 1.125-GHz bandwidth mode for single-beam observations, and a 26-input, 308-MHz bandwidth mode for the 21-cm multibeam receiver. The system is also designed to support a 3-GHz single-beam mode for the forthcoming Parkes ultra-wideband feed. In this paper, we present details of the system architecture, provide an overview of hardware and software, and present initial performance results.
There are no estimates of the heritability of phenotypic udder traits in suckler sheep, which produce meat lambs, and whether these are associated with resilience to mastitis. Mastitis is a common disease which damages the mammary gland and reduces productivity. The aims of this study were to investigate the feasibility of collecting udder phenotypes, their heritability and their association with mastitis in suckler ewes. Udder and teat conformation, teat lesions, intramammary masses (IMM) and litter size were recorded from 10 Texel flocks in Great Britain between 2012 and 2014; 968 records were collected. Pedigree data were obtained from an online pedigree recording system. Univariate quantitative genetic parameters were estimated using animal and sire models. Linear mixed models were used to analyse continuous traits and generalised linear mixed models were used to analyse binary traits. Continuous traits had higher heritabilities than binary with teat placement and teat length heritability (h2) highest at 0.35 (SD 0.04) and 0.42 (SD 0.04), respectively. Udder width, drop and separation heritabilities were lower and varied with udder volume. The heritabilities of IMM and teat lesions (sire model) were 0.18 (SD 0.12) and 0.17 (SD 0.11), respectively. All heritabilities were sufficiently high to be in a selection programme to increase resilience to mastitis in the population of Texel sheep. Further studies are required to investigate genetic relationships between traits and to determine whether udder traits predict IMM, and the potential benefits from including traits in a selection programme to increase resilience to chronic mastitis.
The discovery of the first electromagnetic counterpart to a gravitational wave signal has generated follow-up observations by over 50 facilities world-wide, ushering in the new era of multi-messenger astronomy. In this paper, we present follow-up observations of the gravitational wave event GW170817 and its electromagnetic counterpart SSS17a/DLT17ck (IAU label AT2017gfo) by 14 Australian telescopes and partner observatories as part of Australian-based and Australian-led research programs. We report early- to late-time multi-wavelength observations, including optical imaging and spectroscopy, mid-infrared imaging, radio imaging, and searches for fast radio bursts. Our optical spectra reveal that the transient source emission cooled from approximately 6 400 K to 2 100 K over a 7-d period and produced no significant optical emission lines. The spectral profiles, cooling rate, and photometric light curves are consistent with the expected outburst and subsequent processes of a binary neutron star merger. Star formation in the host galaxy probably ceased at least a Gyr ago, although there is evidence for a galaxy merger. Binary pulsars with short (100 Myr) decay times are therefore unlikely progenitors, but pulsars like PSR B1534+12 with its 2.7 Gyr coalescence time could produce such a merger. The displacement (~2.2 kpc) of the binary star system from the centre of the main galaxy is not unusual for stars in the host galaxy or stars originating in the merging galaxy, and therefore any constraints on the kick velocity imparted to the progenitor are poor.
Vocalisations are commonly expressed by gregarious animals, including cattle, as a form of short- and long-distance communication. They can provide conspecifics with meaningful information about the physiology, affective state and physical attributes of the caller. In cattle, calls are individually distinct meaning they assist animals to identify specific individuals in the herd. Consequently, there is potential for these vocalisations to be acoustically analysed to make inferences about how individual animals or herds are coping with their external surroundings, and then act on these signals to improve feed conversion efficiency, reproductive efficiency and welfare. In the case of dairy farming, where herd sizes are expanding and farmers are becoming more reliant on technologies to assist in the monitoring of cattle, the study of vocal behaviour could provide an objective, cost effective and non-invasive alternative to traditional measures of welfare. The vocalisations of cattle in response to calf separation, social isolation and painful husbandry procedures, alongside changes to feeding and oestrous activity are here reviewed. For future application of sound technology, research is first necessary to analyse the acoustic structure of cattle vocalisations and determine the specific information they encode. This review draws together the latest research in field of cattle bioacoustics highlighting how the source–filter theory and affective state dimensional approach can be adopted to decode this information and improve on-farm management.
The Molonglo Observatory Synthesis Telescope (MOST) is an 18000 m2 radio telescope located 40 km from Canberra, Australia. Its operating band (820–851 MHz) is partly allocated to telecommunications, making radio astronomy challenging. We describe how the deployment of new digital receivers, Field Programmable Gate Array-based filterbanks, and server-class computers equipped with 43 Graphics Processing Units, has transformed the telescope into a versatile new instrument (UTMOST) for studying the radio sky on millisecond timescales. UTMOST has 10 times the bandwidth and double the field of view compared to the MOST, and voltage record and playback capability has facilitated rapid implementaton of many new observing modes, most of which operate commensally. UTMOST can simultaneously excise interference, make maps, coherently dedisperse pulsars, and perform real-time searches of coherent fan-beams for dispersed single pulses. UTMOST operates as a robotic facility, deciding how to efficiently target pulsars and how long to stay on source via real-time pulsar folding, while searching for single pulse events. Regular timing of over 300 pulsars has yielded seven pulsar glitches and three Fast Radio Bursts during commissioning. UTMOST demonstrates that if sufficient signal processing is applied to voltage streams, innovative science remains possible even in hostile radio frequency environments.
The increased use of the MATRICS Consensus Cognitive Battery (MCCB) to investigate cognitive dysfunctions in schizophrenia fostered interest in its sensitivity in the context of family studies. As various measures of the same cognitive domains may have different power to distinguish between unaffected relatives of patients and controls, the relative sensitivity of MCCB tests for relative–control differences has to be established. We compared MCCB scores of 852 outpatients with schizophrenia (SCZ) with those of 342 unaffected relatives (REL) and a normative Italian sample of 774 healthy subjects (HCS). We examined familial aggregation of cognitive impairment by investigating within-family prediction of MCCB scores based on probands’ scores.
Multivariate analysis of variance was used to analyze group differences in adjusted MCCB scores. Weighted least-squares analysis was used to investigate whether probands’ MCCB scores predicted REL neurocognitive performance.
SCZ were significantly impaired on all MCCB domains. REL had intermediate scores between SCZ and HCS, showing a similar pattern of impairment, except for social cognition. Proband's scores significantly predicted REL MCCB scores on all domains except for visual learning.
In a large sample of stable patients with schizophrenia, living in the community, and in their unaffected relatives, MCCB demonstrated sensitivity to cognitive deficits in both groups. Our findings of significant within-family prediction of MCCB scores might reflect disease-related genetic or environmental factors.
Introduction: Many barriers exist to integrating smoking cessation into delivery of lung cancer screening including limited provider time and patient misconceptions.
Aims: To demonstrate that proactive outreach from a telephone counsellor outside of the patient's usual care team is feasible and acceptable to patients.
Methods: Smokers undergoing lung cancer screening were approached for a telephone counselling study. Patients agreeing to participate in the intervention (n = 27) received two telephone counselling sessions. A 30-day follow-up evaluation was conducted, which also included screening participants receiving usual care (n = 56).
Results/Findings: Most (89%) intervention participants reported being satisfied with the proactive calls, and 81% reported the sessions were helpful. Use of behavioural cessation support programs in the intervention group was four times higher (44%) compared to the usual care group (11%); Relative Risk (RR) = 4.1; 95% CI: 1.7 to 9.9), and seven-day abstinence in the intervention group was double (19%) compared to the usual care group (7%); RR = 2.6; 95% CI: 0.8 to 8.9).
Conclusions: This practical telephone-based approach, which included risk messages clarifying continued risks of smoking in the context of screening results, suggests such messaging can boost utilisation of evidence-based tobacco treatment, self-efficacy, and potentially increase the likelihood of successful quitting.
In our attempt to investigate the basic active galactic nucleus (AGN) paradigm requiring a centrally located supermassive black hole (SMBH), a close to Keplerian accretion disk and a jet perpendicular to its plane, we have searched for radio continuum in galaxies with H2O megamasers in their disks. We observed 18 such galaxies with the Very Large Baseline Array in C band (5 GHz, ~2 mas resolution) and we detected 5 galaxies at 8 σ or higher levels. For those sources for which the maser data is available, the positions of masers and those of the 5 GHz radio continuum sources coincide within the uncertainties, and the radio continuum is perpendicular to the maser disk’s orientation within the position angle uncertainties.
Since the IAU (maser-)Symposium 287 in Stellenbosch/South Africa (Jan. 2012), great progress has been achieved in studying extragalactic maser sources. Sensitivity has reached a level allowing for dedicated maser surveys of extragalactic objects. These included, during the last years, water vapor (H2O), methanol (CH3OH), and formaldehyde (H2CO), while surveys related to hydroxyl (OH), cyanoacetylene (HC3N) and ammonia (NH3) may soon become (again) relevant. Overall, with the upgraded Very Large Array (VLA), the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA), FAST (Five hundred meter Aperture Synthesis Telescope) and the low frequency arrays APERTIF (APERture Tile in Focus), ASKAP (Australian Square Kilometer Array Pathfinder) and MeerKAT (Meer Karoo Array Telescope), extragalactic maser studies are expected to flourish during the upcoming years. The following article provides a brief sketch of past achievements, ongoing projects and future perspectives.
The class of radio transients called Fast Radio Bursts (FRBs) encompasses enigmatic single pulses, each unique in its own way, hindering a consensus for their origin. The key to demystifying FRBs lies in discovering many of them in order to identity commonalities – and in real time, in order to find potential counterparts at other wavelengths. The recently upgraded UTMOST in Australia, is undergoing a backend transformation to rise as a fast transient detection machine. The first interferometric detections of FRBs with UTMOST, place their origin beyond the near-field region of the telescope thus ruling out local sources of interference as a possible origin. We have localised these bursts to much better than the ones discovered at the Parkes radio telescope and have plans to upgrade UTMOST to be capable of much better localisation still.
To examine variation in antibiotic coverage and detection of resistant pathogens in community-onset pneumonia.
A total of 128 hospitals in the Veterans Affairs health system.
Hospitalizations with a principal diagnosis of pneumonia from 2009 through 2010.
We examined proportions of hospitalizations with empiric antibiotic coverage for methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and Pseudomonas aeruginosa (PAER) and with initial detection in blood or respiratory cultures. We compared lowest- versus highest-decile hospitals, and we estimated adjusted probabilities (AP) for patient- and hospital-level factors predicting coverage and detection using hierarchical regression modeling.
Among 38,473 hospitalizations, empiric coverage varied widely across hospitals (MRSA lowest vs highest, 8.2% vs 42.0%; PAER lowest vs highest, 13.9% vs 44.4%). Detection rates also varied (MRSA lowest vs highest, 0.5% vs 3.6%; PAER lowest vs highest, 0.6% vs 3.7%). Whereas coverage was greatest among patients with recent hospitalizations (AP for anti-MRSA, 54%; AP for anti-PAER, 59%) and long-term care (AP for anti-MRSA, 60%; AP for anti-PAER, 66%), detection was greatest in patients with a previous history of a positive culture (AP for MRSA, 7.9%; AP for PAER, 11.9%) and in hospitals with a high prevalence of the organism in pneumonia (AP for MRSA, 3.9%; AP for PAER, 3.2%). Low hospital complexity and rural setting were strong negative predictors of coverage but not of detection.
Hospitals demonstrated widespread variation in both coverage and detection of MRSA and PAER, but probability of coverage correlated poorly with probability of detection. Factors associated with empiric coverage (eg, healthcare exposure) were different from those associated with detection (eg, microbiology history). Providing microbiology data during empiric antibiotic decision making could better align coverage to risk for resistant pathogens and could promote more judicious use of broad-spectrum antibiotics.
Psychotic symptoms arise commonly in the context of behavioural and psychological symptoms of dementia (BPSD) in the elderly. While non-pharmacological interventions are preferable to manage such symptoms, antipsychotic medications are frequently used. This is largely unlicensed and associated with significant risks, particularly in dementia (1).
To examine antipsychotic prescribing practices in SJH.
On 23rd February 2016 all inpatients aged over 65 who were prescribed antipsychotic medications were identified. Demographic and medical data were collected from medical and electronic notes and medication kardexes.
Complete data were available for 53 of 59 identified cases. The cohort had a mean age of 80 (range 65–99) and 62% were male. Seventy-four percent (n = 39) had documented cognitive impairment or dementia. Fifty-eight percent (n = 31) were newly prescribed an antipsychotic following admission. The commonest indications for antipsychotics were: delirium (53%) and BPSD (25%). Haloperidol (56%), quetiapine (19%) and risperidone (8%) were prescribed most frequently. Non-pharmacological interventions were documented in 50% however in many cases it is not clear what these interventions were. Antipsychotic use was discussed with patients and/or next of kin in less than 25% of cases. Adverse effects were noted in 6/36 (17%) with equal incidence of falls, EPSEs and ECG changes.
Positive and negative aspects of current antipsychotic prescribing practices are highlighted. Antipsychotics were prescribed for a small number of patients for appropriate indications. However, there was poor consideration of non-pharmacological interventions and a lack of consultation with the patient/NOK. This may reflect, in part, inadequate medical documentation. A guideline needs to specifically address these areas of concern to improve safety and promote best practice.
Disclosure of interest
The authors have not supplied their declaration of competing interest.
Antipsychotic medication use may be associated with prolongation of the QTc interval, increasing the risk of potentially fatal arrhythmias . This is particularly pertinent in the elderly due to comorbid cardiovascular disease and polypharmacy. Attention to the ECG and co-prescribed medications is essential to minimise cardiac risk when prescribing antipsychotics.
On 23rd February 2016 all inpatients aged over 65 who were prescribed antipsychotic medications were identified as part of a hospital-wide survey. Data was collected from medical and electronic patient notes and medication kardexes.
Complete data was obtained for 36 patients aged over 65 who were newly-prescribed an antipsychotic or had their antipsychotic changed. Of these, 39%(n = 13) had a cardiac history. One quarter did not have an ECG in the 12 months preceding antipsychotic initiation. Of the 28 patients with an ECG, 57% (n = 16) had a QTc > 450ms before starting antipsychotic treatment. Only 11% (n = 4) had an ECG within 24 hours of starting the antipsychotic. The average change of the QTc interval in those with a repeat ECG was 30msecs. 42% (n = 15) were co-prescribed another QTc-prolonging medication.
Current monitoring of QTc interval in an elderly population newly prescribed antipsychotic medications is inadequate and a cause for significant safety concerns. Education and clear guidance is warranted to improve safety and minimise risk in this population.
Disclosure of interest
The authors have not supplied their declaration of competing interest.
Toxigenic strains of Vibrio cholerae serogroups O1 and O139 have caused cholera epidemics, but other serogroups – such as O75 or O141 – can also produce cholera toxin and cause severe watery diarrhoea similar to cholera. We describe 31 years of surveillance for toxigenic non-O1, non-O139 infections in the United States and map these infections to the state where the exposure probably originated. While serogroups O75 and O141 are closely related pathogens, they differ in how and where they infect people. Oysters were the main vehicle for O75 infection. The vehicles for O141 infection include oysters, clams, and freshwater in lakes and rivers. The patients infected with serogroup O75 who had food traceback information available ate raw oysters from Florida. Patients infected with O141 ate oysters from Florida and clams from New Jersey, and those who only reported being exposed to freshwater were exposed in Arizona, Michigan, Missouri, and Texas. Improving the safety of oysters, specifically, should help prevent future illnesses from these toxigenic strains and similar pathogenic Vibrio species. Post-harvest processing of raw oysters, such as individual quick freezing, heat-cool pasteurization, and high hydrostatic pressurization, should be considered.
Although mental disorders are significant predictors of educational attainment throughout the entire educational career, most research on mental disorders among students has focused on the primary and secondary school years.
The World Health Organization World Mental Health Surveys were used to examine the associations of mental disorders with college entry and attrition by comparing college students (n = 1572) and non-students in the same age range (18–22 years; n = 4178), including non-students who recently left college without graduating (n = 702) based on surveys in 21 countries (four low/lower-middle income, five upper-middle-income, one lower-middle or upper-middle at the times of two different surveys, and 11 high income). Lifetime and 12-month prevalence and age-of-onset of DSM-IV anxiety, mood, behavioral and substance disorders were assessed with the Composite International Diagnostic Interview (CIDI).
One-fifth (20.3%) of college students had 12-month DSM-IV/CIDI disorders; 83.1% of these cases had pre-matriculation onsets. Disorders with pre-matriculation onsets were more important than those with post-matriculation onsets in predicting subsequent college attrition, with substance disorders and, among women, major depression the most important such disorders. Only 16.4% of students with 12-month disorders received any 12-month healthcare treatment for their mental disorders.
Mental disorders are common among college students, have onsets that mostly occur prior to college entry, in the case of pre-matriculation disorders are associated with college attrition, and are typically untreated. Detection and effective treatment of these disorders early in the college career might reduce attrition and improve educational and psychosocial functioning.
The objective of this research was to evaluate the survival rate of primiparous heifers within a large sample of herds across the United Kingdom and specifically to assess the association between age at first calving (AFC) on their survival. Data from 437 herds were re-structured for analysis. Descriptive statistics were calculated, and a multilevel logistic regression model was used to explore factors associated with the risk of first lactation culling. Potential explanatory variables included AFC, herd size, culling rate within the whole herd, calving season, herd mean 305-day yield and herd mean calving interval. The mean within-herd culling rate for the primiparous heifers was 15.9%. The mean within-herd AFC was 29.6 months, with 35.9% of heifers having an AFC >30 months of age. Multivariable analysis revealed a negative association between survival rate of primiparous heifers and increasing AFC, and also associations with herd culling rate in older cows and calving season. This study highlights the importance of AFC for survival of primiparous heifers, as well as the need to address heifer wastage in herds with high culling rates.
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is associated with elevated risk for metabolic syndrome (MetS). However, the direction of this association is not yet established, as most prior studies employed cross-sectional designs. The primary goal of this study was to evaluate bidirectional associations between PTSD and MetS using a longitudinal design.
A total of 1355 male and female veterans of the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan underwent PTSD diagnostic assessments and their biometric profiles pertaining to MetS were extracted from the electronic medical record at two time points (spanning ~2.5 years, n = 971 at time 2).
The prevalence of MetS among veterans with PTSD was just under 40% at both time points and was significantly greater than that for veterans without PTSD; the prevalence of MetS among those with PTSD was also elevated relative to age-matched population estimates. Cross-lagged panel models revealed that PTSD severity predicted subsequent increases in MetS severity (β = 0.08, p = 0.002), after controlling for initial MetS severity, but MetS did not predict later PTSD symptoms. Logistic regression results suggested that for every 10 PTSD symptoms endorsed at time 1, the odds of a subsequent MetS diagnosis increased by 56%.
Results highlight the substantial cardiometabolic concerns of young veterans with PTSD and raise the possibility that PTSD may predispose individuals to accelerated aging, in part, manifested clinically as MetS. This demonstrates the need to identify those with PTSD at greatest risk for MetS and to develop interventions that improve both conditions.
Our aim was to examine whether cerebral frontal cortex O2 desaturation may be related with the development of delirium symptoms’ after cardiac surgery in the elderly during the intensive care unit (ICU) staying.
Materials and methods
A prospective, before and after, longitudinal study in II-IV ASA class patients scheduled for cardiac surgery and undergoing intravenous general anesthesia with remifentanil plus propofol was done. Clinical and surgical parameters, cardiopulmonary function, intraoperative cerebral oxygen saturation (rSO2) and bispectral index were continuously recorded and corrected throughout the surgery. Severity of delirium was represented as a score of the Intensive Care Delirium Screening Checklist (ICDSC) during the patients’ stay in the ICU under the assumption that higher ICDSC score indicated severe delirium.
Results and discussion
Patients, n = 44, 77.3% male, aged 59.9 ± 1.9 years old, scheduled to coronary (36.4%), aortic valve replacement (18.2%), mitral valve replacement (13.6%), coronary plus valve replacement (13.6%) and others (18.2%) surgery, on pump 98.4% were enrolled. A reduction of the rSO2 higher than 10% at the end of the surgery compared with basal values was detected in a 46.5% of the patients. Reduction of rSO2 higher than 10% at the end of the surgery was related with significantly higher values of delirium symptoms’ development during the intensive care unit post-surgery staying (rSO2 higher ≥ 10% 68.8 vs. rSO2 higher < 10% 31.3%, P < 0.05).
Delirium symptoms’ development during the intensive care unit post-surgery staying is related with reduced intraoperative cerebral oxygen saturation in the elderly subjected to cardiac surgery.
Disclosure of interest
The authors have not supplied their declaration of competing interest.