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Success of any needle-based medical procedures depends on accurate placement of the needle at the target location. However, accurate targeting and control of flexible self-actuating (active) needle are challenging. We have developed a shape memory alloy-actuated flexible needle steered by a 3D Cartesian robot and performed a comparative study of four, non-model-based, coordinated control methodologies for the combined robot steering and flexible-needle insertion process for surgical interventions. Investigated four controllers are: proportional–integral–derivative (PID), PID with the cubic of positional error term (PID-P3), static PID sliding mode controller, and robust adaptive PID sliding mode controller (RAPID-SMC). Relative efficacies of these controllers are demonstrated by performing experiements using a tissue-mimicking soft material phantom. Results from experiments have reavealed that RAPID-SMC is superior to other three controllers.
The role of the Eurasian badger (Meles meles) as a wildlife host has complicated the management of bovine tuberculosis (bTB) in cattle. Badger ranging behaviour has previously been found to be altered by culling of badgers and has been suggested to increase the transmission of bTB either among badgers or between badgers and cattle. In 2014, a five-year bTB intervention research project in a 100 km2 area in Northern Ireland was initiated involving selective removal of dual path platform (DPP) VetTB (immunoassay) test positive badgers and vaccination followed by release of DPP test negative badgers (‘Test and Vaccinate or Remove’). Home range sizes, based on position data obtained from global positioning system collared badgers, were compared between the first year of the project, where no DPP test positive badgers were removed, and follow-up years 2–4 when DPP test positive badgers were removed. A total of 105 individual badgers were followed over 21 200 collar tracking nights. Using multivariable analyses, neither annual nor monthly home ranges differed significantly in size between years, suggesting they were not significantly altered by the bTB intervention that was applied in the study area.
Vitamin D deficiency is associated with an increased risk of falls and fractures. Assuming this association is causal, we aimed to identify the number and proportion of hospitalisations for falls and hip fractures attributable to vitamin D deficiency (25 hydroxy D (25(OH)D) <50 nmol/l) in Australians aged ≥65 years. We used 25(OH)D data from the 2011/12 Australian Health Survey and relative risks from published meta-analyses to calculate population-attributable fractions for falls and hip fracture. We applied these to data published by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare to calculate the number of events each year attributable to vitamin D deficiency. In men and women combined, 8·3 % of hospitalisations for falls (7991 events) and almost 8 % of hospitalisations for hip fractures (1315 events) were attributable to vitamin D deficiency. These findings suggest that, even in a sunny country such as Australia, vitamin D deficiency contributes to a considerable number of hospitalisations as a consequence of falls and for treatment of hip fracture in older Australians; in countries where the prevalence of vitamin D deficiency is higher, the impact will be even greater. It is important to mitigate vitamin D deficiency, but whether this should occur through supplementation or increased sun exposure needs consideration of the benefits, harms, practicalities and costs of both approaches.
This study determined farm management factors associated with long-duration bovine tuberculosis (bTB) breakdowns disclosed in the period 23 May 2016 to 21 May 2018; a study area not previously subject to investigation in Northern Ireland. A farm-level epidemiological investigation (n = 2935) was completed when one or more Single Intradermal Comparative Cervical Test (SICCT) reactors or when one or more confirmed (positive histological and/or bacteriological result) lesion at routine slaughter were disclosed. A case-control study design was used to construct an explanatory set of management factors associated with long-duration bTB herd breakdowns; with a case (n = 191) defined as an investigation into a breakdown of 365 days or longer. Purchase of infected animal(s) had the strongest association as the most likely source of infection for long-duration bTB herd breakdowns followed by badgers and then cattle-to-cattle contiguous herd spread. However, 73.5% (95% CI 61.1–85.9%) of the herd type contributing to the purchase of infection source were defined as beef fattening herds. This result demonstrates two subpopulations of prolonged bTB breakdowns, the first being beef fattening herds with main source continuous purchase of infected animals and a second group of primary production herds (dairy, beef cows and mixed) with risk from multiple sources.
Little is known about parents’ compensatory health beliefs (CHB) surrounding their children’s engagement in physical activity (PA). Our aim was to provide evidence regarding the nature of, and factors underpinning, parents’ PA-related compensatory beliefs for their children.
A qualitative descriptive approach and thematic content analysis were employed.
Parents were recruited from community sport and PA programmes.
Eighteen parents aged 32–52 years (mean age = 40·8 (sd 5·4) years; six males; twelve females).
Analyses indicated that parents compensate through ‘passive’ or ‘active’ means. Among parents who compensated, most described their provision of ‘treat’ foods/drinks and a minority described allowing extended sedentary time to their children. Parents’ reasons underpinning these beliefs related to their child’s general physical/health status and psychological characteristics, and their own motivation and mood state.
These findings provide the first evidence of unhealthy dietary and sedentary behaviour CHB that parents may hold regarding their children’s involvement in PA.
At the European Psychiatric Association's International Congress 2010, we reported on psychiatric staff confidence regarding emergency medical care in our poster: “How Well Prepared is a Psychiatric Ward for Dealing with a Medical Emergency?”. This work highlighted areas for improvement, including staff confidence and familiarity with equipment. Consequently, several aspects of practice were enhanced, including addressing training shortfalls alongside adopting a uniform layout for emergency trolleys. In order to identify improvement, the process was re-audited with a new qualitative component to gather staff opinion.
Our primary objective was to examine whether our interventions had improved staff confidence with regard emergency medical care. Our secondary objectives included exploring staff attitudes toward delivery of such care and to identify further areas for improvement.
Our primary aim was to evaluate the impact of our interventions on delivery of emergency medical care
Our original questionnaire survey was repeated and the results compared with those obtained previously. Additionally, a series of semi-structured qualitative interviews will be performed with staff to compliment the questionnaires.
Results will be available in February 2011.
Given that psychiatric patients often suffer from significant physical health problems, it is imperative that staff are comfortable in delivering initial emergency medical care. We anticipate our results will demonstrate modest improvement. Clinical governance is an ongoing process, therefore the most important conclusions to be drawn will be our recommendations for future work, which will encompass the next step in our efforts to improve delivery of emergency medical care.
Terrestrial plant macrofossils from the sedimentary record of Lake Suigetsu, Japan, provide the only quasi-continuous direct atmospheric record of radiocarbon (14C) covering the last 50 ka cal BP (Bronk Ramsey et al. 2012). Since then, new high precision data have become available on U-Th dated speleothems from Hulu Cave China, covering the same time range (Cheng et al. 2018). In addition, an updated varve-based chronology has also been published for the 2006 core from Lake Suigetsu (SG06) based on extended microscopic analysis of the sediments and improved algorithms for interpolation (Schlolaut et al. 2018). Here we reanalyze the radiocarbon dataset from Suigetsu based on the new varve counting information and the constraints imposed by the speleothem data. This enables the new information on the calendar age scale of the Suigetsu dataset to be used in the construction of the consensus IntCal calibration curve. Comparison of the speleothem and plant macrofossil records provides insight into the mechanisms underlying the incorporation of carbon into different types of record and the relative strengths of different types of archive for calibration purposes.
Biodiversity offsetting aims to achieve at least no net loss of biodiversity by fully compensating for residual development-induced biodiversity losses after the mitigation hierarchy (avoid, minimize, remediate) has been applied. Actions used to generate offsets can include securing site protection, or maintaining or enhancing the condition of targeted biodiversity at an offset site. Protection and maintenance actions aim to prevent future biodiversity loss, so such offsets are referred to as averted loss offsets. However, the benefits of such approaches can be highly uncertain and opaque, because assumptions about the change in likelihood of loss as a result of the offset action are often implicit. As a result, the gain generated by averting losses can be intentionally or inadvertently overestimated, leading to offset outcomes that are insufficient for achieving no net loss of biodiversity. We present a method and decision tree to guide consistent and credible estimation of the likelihood of biodiversity loss for a proposed offset site with and without protection, for use when calculating the amount of benefit associated with the protection component of averted loss offsets. In circumstances such as when a jurisdictional offset policy applies to most impacts, plausible estimates of averted loss can be very low. Averting further loss of biodiversity is desirable, and averted loss offsets can be a valid approach for generating tangible gains. However, overestimation of averted loss benefits poses a major risk to biodiversity.
Polyphenol oxidase (PPO) in red clover (RC) has been shown to reduce both lipolysis and proteolysis in silo and implicated (in vitro) in the rumen. However, all in vivo comparisons have compared RC with other forages, typically with lower levels of PPO, which brings in other confounding factors as to the cause for the greater protection of dietary nitrogen (N) and C18 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) on RC silage. This study compared two RC silages which when ensiled had contrasting PPO activities (RC+ and RC−) against a control of perennial ryegrass silage (PRG) to ascertain the effect of PPO activity on dietary N digestibility and PUFA biohydrogenation. Two studies were performed the first to investigate rumen and duodenal flow with six Hereford×Friesian steers, prepared with rumen and duodenal cannulae, and the second investigating whole tract N balance using six Holstein-Friesian non-lactating dairy cows. All diets were offered at a restricted level based on animal live weight with each experiment consisting of two 3×3 Latin squares using big bale silages ensiled in 2010 and 2011, respectively. For the first experiment digesta flow at the duodenum was estimated using a dual-phase marker system with ytterbium acetate and chromium ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid as particulate and liquid phase markers, respectively. Total N intake was higher on the RC silages in both experiments and higher on RC− than RC+. Rumen ammonia-N reflected intake with ammonia-N per unit of N intake lower on RC+ than RC−. Microbial N duodenal flow was comparable across all silage diets with non-microbial N higher on RC than the PRG with no difference between RC+ and RC−, even when reported on a N intake basis. C18 PUFA biohydrogenation was lower on RC silage diets than PRG but with no difference between RC+ and RC−. The N balance trial showed a greater retention of N on RC+ over RC−; however, this response is likely related to the difference in N intake over any PPO driven protection. The lack of difference between RC silages, despite contrasting levels of PPO, may reflect a similar level of protein-bound-phenol complexing determined in each RC silage. Previously this complexing has been associated with PPOs protection mechanism; however, this study has shown that protection is not related to total PPO activity.
Determination of the proportion of bovine tuberculosis (bTB) breakdowns attributed to a herd purchasing infected animals has not been previously quantified using data from the Animal and Public Health Information System (APHIS) database in Northern Ireland. We used a case–control study design to account for the infection process occurring in the disclosing bTB breakdown herds. Cases (N = 6926) were cattle moving to a future confirmed bTB breakdown where they would disclose as a confirmed bTB reactor or a Lesion at Routine Slaughter (LRS). Controls (N = 303 499) were cattle moving to a future confirmed bTB breakdown where they did not become a bTB reactor or LRS. Our study showed that the cattle leaving herds which disclosed bTB within 450 days had an increased odds of becoming a confirmed bTB reactor or LRS compared with the cattle which left herds that remained free for 450 days (odds ratio (OR) = 2·09: 95% CI 1·96–2·22). Of the 12 060 confirmed bTB breakdowns included in our study (2007–2015 inclusive), 31% (95% CI 29·8–31·5) contained a confirmed bTB reactor(s) or LRS(s) at the disclosing test which entered the herd within the previous 450 days. After controlling for the infection process occurring in the disclosing bTB breakdown herd, our study showed that 6·4% (95% CI 5·9–6·8) of bTB breakdowns in Northern Ireland were directly attributable to the movement of infected animals.
The Taipan galaxy survey (hereafter simply ‘Taipan’) is a multi-object spectroscopic survey starting in 2017 that will cover 2π steradians over the southern sky (δ ≲ 10°, |b| ≳ 10°), and obtain optical spectra for about two million galaxies out to z < 0.4. Taipan will use the newly refurbished 1.2-m UK Schmidt Telescope at Siding Spring Observatory with the new TAIPAN instrument, which includes an innovative ‘Starbugs’ positioning system capable of rapidly and simultaneously deploying up to 150 spectroscopic fibres (and up to 300 with a proposed upgrade) over the 6° diameter focal plane, and a purpose-built spectrograph operating in the range from 370 to 870 nm with resolving power R ≳ 2000. The main scientific goals of Taipan are (i) to measure the distance scale of the Universe (primarily governed by the local expansion rate, H0) to 1% precision, and the growth rate of structure to 5%; (ii) to make the most extensive map yet constructed of the total mass distribution and motions in the local Universe, using peculiar velocities based on improved Fundamental Plane distances, which will enable sensitive tests of gravitational physics; and (iii) to deliver a legacy sample of low-redshift galaxies as a unique laboratory for studying galaxy evolution as a function of dark matter halo and stellar mass and environment. The final survey, which will be completed within 5 yrs, will consist of a complete magnitude-limited sample (i ⩽ 17) of about 1.2 × 106 galaxies supplemented by an extension to higher redshifts and fainter magnitudes (i ⩽ 18.1) of a luminous red galaxy sample of about 0.8 × 106 galaxies. Observations and data processing will be carried out remotely and in a fully automated way, using a purpose-built automated ‘virtual observer’ software and an automated data reduction pipeline. The Taipan survey is deliberately designed to maximise its legacy value by complementing and enhancing current and planned surveys of the southern sky at wavelengths from the optical to the radio; it will become the primary redshift and optical spectroscopic reference catalogue for the local extragalactic Universe in the southern sky for the coming decade.
The most important factors known to influence the eating quality of beef are well established and include both pre- and post-slaughter events with many of the determinants interacting with each other. A substantial programme of work has been conducted by the Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute in Northern Ireland aimed at quantifying those factors of most importance to the local beef industry. Post-slaughter effects such as carcase chilling and electrical stimulation, ageing, carcase hanging and cooking method have been shown to have a significant impact on eating quality when compared with pre-slaughter activities such as animal handling and lairage time in the Northern Ireland studies. However, the effect of animal breed, particularly the use of dairy breed animals, was shown to significantly improve eating quality. Many of these factors were found to interact with each other.
This study aimed to evaluate levels of beef cow fertility using calving interval (CI; measured in days) as a measure, and investigate the effects of breed, season, year and progeny gender on CI. The CI data included 273 764 records collected between 1997 and 2012 and included the seven most common breeds (and their crosses) in Northern Ireland (Charolais, Limousin, Belgian Blue, Simmental, Blonde d’Aquitaine, Aberdeen Angus and Hereford), accounting for 94.1% of beef dams recorded. Mean CI for all cows was 395 days, 30 days longer than the optimum 365 days. Charolais and Belgian Blue dams had the longest CI (P<0.05). Cows older than 144 months had a longer CI (P<0.05) compared with cows younger than 144 months. Charolais sires had a shorter subsequent CI of 392 days (P<0.05) compared with the other breeds. Cows calving in June had the shortest subsequent CI (376 days; P<0.05), whereas cows calving in November had the longest subsequent CI (410 days). Progeny gender did not significantly affect CI. This study establishes the level of beef cow fertility using CI as a measure in Northern Ireland is sub optimal and there are opportunities for improvement. Factors identified as influencing CI included dam breed, sire breed and month of parturition. This knowledge can be used to direct breeding programmes and inform knowledge transfer protocol to improve sustainability of beef production.
The relic “the sack of Saint Francesco” has for the first time been investigated by scientific means. The sack is kept at the Franciscan Friary of Folloni near Montella in southern Italy. According to legend, the sack appeared on the doorstep of the Friary in the winter of 1224 containing bread sent from St Francesco (St Francis of Assisi), who at that time was in France. The bread was allegedly brought to the friary by an angel. We analyzed samples of the sack to obtain a radiocarbon (14C) date and to search for any remaining traces of bread. The 14C date yielded a calibrated age range of AD 1220–1295 (2σ), which places the textile in the right timeframe according to the legend. Chemical analysis by gas-chromatography with mass spectrometric detection (GC-MS) revealed the presence of ergosterol (5, 7, 22-ergostatrien-3b-ol), a known biomarker of brewing, baking, or agriculture. In this paper we have further substantiated the validity of ergosterol as a biomarker for the past presence of bread. It appears that there is a fine correspondence between the Franciscan legend and the two most decisive scientific methods relevant for analyzing the sack. Although it is not proof, our analysis shows that the sack indeed could be authentic.
Schistosomiasis in China has been substantially reduced due to an effective control programme employing various measures including bovine and human chemotherapy, and the removal of bovines from endemic areas. To fulfil elimination targets, it will be necessary to identify other possible reservoir hosts for Schistosoma japonicum and include them in future control efforts. This study determined the infection prevalence of S. japonicum in rodents (0–9·21%), dogs (0–18·37%) and goats (6·9–46·4%) from the Dongting Lake area of Hunan province, using a combination of traditional coproparasitological techniques (miracidial hatching technique and Kato-Katz thick smear technique) and molecular methods [quantitative real-time PCR (qPCR) and droplet digital PCR (ddPCR)]. We found a much higher prevalence in goats than previously recorded in this setting. Cattle and water buffalo were also examined using the same procedures and all were found to be infected, emphasising the occurrence of active transmission. qPCR and ddPCR were much more sensitive than the coproparasitological procedures with both KK and MHT considerably underestimating the true prevalence in all animals surveyed. The high level of S. japonicum prevalence in goats indicates that they are likely important reservoirs in schistosomiasis transmission, necessitating their inclusion as targets of control, if the goal of elimination is to be achieved in China.
To assess the impact of farm management on herd fertility, a survey of 105 beef farms in Northern Ireland was conducted to establish the relationship between management variables and fertility. Each herd's average calving interval (CI) and the proportion of cows with a CI > 450 days (extended calving interval, ECI) was calculated to establish herd fertility. The relationship between each response variable (CI and proportion ECI) and each explanatory variable (respondents’ answers to questionnaire) was examined using univariate linear regression analyses. All response variables found to be associated with the explanatory variables were modelled against each group in turn using a fully automated multivariate stepwise regression algorithm employing the method of forward selection with backward elimination. The optimum 365-day CI and a proportion of 0 cows per hundred calved ECI targets were not widely attained in the current study. The distribution of CI and proportion ECI in the current study suggests more realistic targets would be a 379-day CI and 5 cows per hundred calved with ECI in commercial beef breeding herds. Six management factors were found to be associated with herd fertility: herd vaccination, bull selection, fertility management, breeding female management, perception of extension service (rural education provided by the government) and record keeping. It was found that respondents who vaccinated cows had a reduction of 5 cows per hundred calved in the proportion of cows with ECI, and as the number of vaccines administered to a cow increased, the CI decreased. Regular vaccination of breeding bulls was associated with a 9-day reduction in CI. Bull selection strategy had several associations with herd fertility; most notable was that respondents who used visual selection rather than estimated breeding values (EBVs) to select bulls were found to have a 15-day longer CI and 7 cows per hundred calved higher proportion of cows with ECI. For each 0·01 increase in the proportion of cows served by artificial insemination, CI increased by 0·16 days. Respondents who rated their beef breeding herd fertility as ‘very good’ had lower ECI and CI than those who rated beef breeding herd fertility as poor or satisfactory. Condition scoring of cows at weaning lowered ECI by 5 cows per hundred calved. Those who perceived the extension service to be very useful had the lowest CI and lowest ECI. Respondents who did not keep a record of CI to assess herd fertility had an 11-day longer CI and 6 cows per hundred calved higher proportion ECI than those who did not. In conclusion, the survey found a number of important variables linked to improved fertility including selecting sires based on EBVs and using a robust vaccination programme.
We describe a versatile infrared camera/spectrograph, IRIS, designed and constructed at the Anglo-Australian Observatory for use on the Anglo-Australian Telescope. A variety of optical configurations can be selected under remote control to provide several direct image scales and a few low-resolution spectroscopic formats. Two cross-dispersed transmission echelles are of novel design, as is the use of a modified Bowen-Burch system to provide a fast f/ratio in the widest-field option. The drive electronics includes a choice of readout schemes for versatility, and continuous display when the array is not taking data, to facilitate field acquisition and focusing.
The linearity of the detector has been studied in detail. Although outwardly good, slight nonlinearities prevent removal of fixed-pattern noise from the data without application of a cubic linearising function.
Specific control and data-reduction software has been written. We describe also a scanning mode developed for spectroscopic imaging.