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A new fossil site in a previously unexplored part of western Madagascar (the Beanka Protected Area) has yielded remains of many recently extinct vertebrates, including giant lemurs (Babakotia radofilai, Palaeopropithecus kelyus, Pachylemur sp., and Archaeolemur edwardsi), carnivores (Cryptoprocta spelea), the aardvark-like Plesiorycteropus sp., and giant ground cuckoos (Coua). Many of these represent considerable range extensions. Extant species that were extirpated from the region (e.g., Prolemur simus) are also present. Calibrated radiocarbon ages for 10 bones from extinct primates span the last three millennia. The largely undisturbed taphonomy of bone deposits supports the interpretation that many specimens fell in from a rock ledge above the entrance. Some primates and other mammals may have been prey items of avian predators, but human predation is also evident. Strontium isotope ratios (87Sr/86Sr) suggest that fossils were local to the area. Pottery sherds and bones of extinct and extant vertebrates with cut and chop marks indicate human activity in previous centuries. Scarcity of charcoal and human artifacts suggests only occasional visitation to the site by humans. The fossil assemblage from this site is unusual in that, while it contains many sloth lemurs, it lacks ratites, hippopotami, and crocodiles typical of nearly all other Holocene subfossil sites on Madagascar.
Childhood maltreatment (CM) plays an important role in the development of major depressive disorder (MDD). The aim of this study was to examine whether CM severity and type are associated with MDD-related brain alterations, and how they interact with sex and age.
Within the ENIGMA-MDD network, severity and subtypes of CM using the Childhood Trauma Questionnaire were assessed and structural magnetic resonance imaging data from patients with MDD and healthy controls were analyzed in a mega-analysis comprising a total of 3872 participants aged between 13 and 89 years. Cortical thickness and surface area were extracted at each site using FreeSurfer.
CM severity was associated with reduced cortical thickness in the banks of the superior temporal sulcus and supramarginal gyrus as well as with reduced surface area of the middle temporal lobe. Participants reporting both childhood neglect and abuse had a lower cortical thickness in the inferior parietal lobe, middle temporal lobe, and precuneus compared to participants not exposed to CM. In males only, regardless of diagnosis, CM severity was associated with higher cortical thickness of the rostral anterior cingulate cortex. Finally, a significant interaction between CM and age in predicting thickness was seen across several prefrontal, temporal, and temporo-parietal regions.
Severity and type of CM may impact cortical thickness and surface area. Importantly, CM may influence age-dependent brain maturation, particularly in regions related to the default mode network, perception, and theory of mind.
Congenital and acquired heart diseases are highly prevalent in developing countries despite limited specialised care. Namibia established a paediatric cardiac service in 2009 with significant human resource and infrastructural constraints. Therefore, patients are referred for cardiac interventions to South Africa.
To describe the diagnoses, clinical characteristics, interventions, post-operative morbidity and mortality, and follow-up of patients referred for care.
Demographics, diagnoses, interventions, intra- and post-operative morbidity and mortality, as well as longitudinal follow-up data of all patients referred to South Africa, were recorded and analysed.
The total cohort constituted 193 patients of which 179 (93%) had CHD and 7% acquired heart disease. The majority of patients (78.8%) travelled more than 400 km to Windhoek before transfer. There were 28 percutaneous interventions. Palliative and definitive surgery was performed in 27 and 129 patients, respectively. Out of 156 patients, 80 (51.3%) had post-operative complications, of which 15 (9.6%) were a direct complication of surgery. Surgical mortality was 8/156 (5.1%, 95% confidence interval 2.2–9.8), with a 30-day mortality of 3.2%. Prolonged ICU stay was associated with a 5% increased risk of death with hazard ratio 1.05, 95% confidence interval 1.02–1.08, p=0.001. Follow-up was complete in 151 (78%) patients for more than 7 years.
Despite the challenges associated with a cardiac programme for referring patients seeking intervention in a neighbouring country and the adverse characteristics of multiple lesions and complexity associated with late presentation, we report good surgical and interventional outcomes. Our goal remains to develop a comprehensive sustainable cardiac service in Namibia.
Legionnaires’ disease (LD) incidence in the USA has quadrupled since 2000. Health departments must detect LD outbreaks quickly to identify and remediate sources. We tested the performance of a system to prospectively detect simulated LD outbreaks in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, USA. We generated three simulated LD outbreaks based on published outbreaks. After verifying no significant clusters existed in surveillance data during 2014–2016, we embedded simulated outbreak-associated cases into 2016, assigning simulated residences and report dates. We mimicked daily analyses in 2016 using the prospective space-time permutation scan statistic to detect clusters of ⩽30 and ⩽180 days using 365-day and 730-day baseline periods, respectively. We used recurrence interval (RI) thresholds of ⩾20, ⩾100 and ⩾365 days to define significant signals. We calculated sensitivity, specificity and positive and negative predictive values for daily analyses, separately for each embedded outbreak. Two large, simulated cooling tower-associated outbreaks were detected. As the RI threshold was increased, sensitivity and negative predictive value decreased, while positive predictive value and specificity increased. A small, simulated potable water-associated outbreak was not detected. Use of a RI threshold of ⩾100 days minimised time-to-detection while maximizing positive predictive value. Health departments should consider using this system to detect community-acquired LD outbreaks.
Coinfection with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and viral hepatitis is associated with high morbidity and mortality in the absence of clinical management, making identification of these cases crucial. We examined characteristics of HIV and viral hepatitis coinfections by using surveillance data from 15 US states and two cities. Each jurisdiction used an automated deterministic matching method to link surveillance data for persons with reported acute and chronic hepatitis B virus (HBV) or hepatitis C virus (HCV) infections, to persons reported with HIV infection. Of the 504 398 persons living with diagnosed HIV infection at the end of 2014, 2.0% were coinfected with HBV and 6.7% were coinfected with HCV. Of the 269 884 persons ever reported with HBV, 5.2% were reported with HIV. Of the 1 093 050 persons ever reported with HCV, 4.3% were reported with HIV. A greater proportion of persons coinfected with HIV and HBV were males and blacks/African Americans, compared with those with HIV monoinfection. Persons who inject drugs represented a greater proportion of those coinfected with HIV and HCV, compared with those with HIV monoinfection. Matching HIV and viral hepatitis surveillance data highlights epidemiological characteristics of persons coinfected and can be used to routinely monitor health status and guide state and national public health interventions.
In the United States, cannabis accessibility has continued to rise as the perception of its harmfulness has decreased. Only about 30% of regular cannabis users develop cannabis use disorder (CUD), but it is unclear if individuals who use cannabis regularly without ever developing CUD experience notable psychosocial impairment across the lifespan. Therefore, psychosocial functioning was compared across regular cannabis users with or without CUD and a non-user control group during adolescence (age 17; early risk) and young adulthood (ages 18–25; peak CUD prevalence).
Weekly cannabis users with CUD (n = 311), weekly users without CUD (n = 111), and non-users (n = 996) were identified in the Minnesota Twin Family Study. Groups were compared on alcohol and illicit drug use, psychiatric problems, personality, and social functioning at age 17 and from ages 18 to 25. Self-reported cannabis use and problem use were independently verified using co-twin informant report.
In both adolescence and young adulthood, non-CUD users reported significantly higher levels of substance use problems and externalizing behaviors than non-users, but lower levels than CUD users. High agreement between self- and co-twin informant reports confirmed the validity of self-reported cannabis use problems.
Even in the absence of CUD, regular cannabis use was associated with psychosocial impairment in adolescence and young adulthood. However, regular users with CUD endorsed especially high psychiatric comorbidity and psychosocial impairment. The need for early prevention and intervention – regardless of CUD status – was highlighted by the presence of these patterns in adolescence.
West Antarctic climate and surface mass balance (SMB) records are sparse. To fill this gap, regional atmospheric climate modelling is useful, providing that such models are employed at sufficiently high horizontal resolution and coupled with a snow model. Here we present the results of a high-resolution (5.5 km) regional atmospheric climate model (RACMO2) simulation of coastal West Antarctica for the period 1979–2015. We evaluate the results with available in situ weather observations, remote-sensing estimates of surface melt, and SMB estimates derived from radar and firn cores. Moreover, results are compared with those from a lower-resolution version, to assess the added value of the resolution. The high-resolution model resolves small-scale climate variability invoked by topography, such as the relatively warm conditions over ice-shelf grounding zones, and local wind speed accelerations. Surface melt and SMB are well reproduced by RACMO2. This dataset will prove useful for picking ice core locations, converting elevation changes to mass changes, for driving ocean, ice-sheet and coupled models, and for attributing changes in the West Antarctic Ice Sheet and shelves to changes in atmospheric forcing.
Wet feeding beneficially affects feed intake and growth rates of poultry in hot climates (Forbes 2003). Fermenting liquid feeds for pigs has been shown to reduce microbial contamination of the feed (Beal et al., 2002) and this could be an added advantage in hot climates. The most desired property of fermented feed is a high lactic acid concentration produced by lactic acid bacteria (LAB) as the fermenting organisms. This high lactic acid concentration resulting in a low pH is responsible for the antimicrobial activity of fermented feeds. This activity is important for food and environmental safety. Grain sorghum is widely used as a food and animal feed cereal in many parts of Africa, Asia and the semi-arid tropics world-wide. It is recognised that differences in the colour of sorghum varieties are due mainly to their concentration of polyphenol compounds mainly tannins. These compounds have some antimicrobial properties and may affect the activity of lactic acid bacteria used to ferment liquid feeds. Little is known about the lactic acid fermentation of sorghum grain for fermented feeds in monogastric nutrition. The present study was designed to compare the fermentation of red and white sorghum with LAB for inclusion as a component of poultry diets.
Due to the practical advantages of fermenting the carbohydrate-rich cereal component of fermented feeds separately and combining it with the protein-rich components just before feeding (Beal et al., 2005; Moran et al., 2006), it is desirable to have a high lactic acid concentration in the fermented cereal component so as to minimise the dilution effect on the acid concentration and pH of the feed when mixed with the protein-rich component at feeding. With the same cereal substrate and lactic acid bacteria (LAB), a key factor that might influence lactic acid production is the particle sizes produced at milling which could affect the amount of sugars available for microbial enzymatic fermentation. Further more, Anguita et al. (2006) indicated that technological processing of ingredients promotes higher starch hydrolysis in addition to increasing the amount of soluble non-starch polysaccharides and modifications in the physicochemical properties depending on the nature of the feed ingredients. The present study was designed to investigate the effect of particle size on fermentation of sorghum for poultry feed.
As part of further investigations into three linked haemorrhagic fever with renal syndrome (HFRS) cases in Wales and England, 21 rats from a breeding colony in Cherwell, and three rats from a household in Cheltenham were screened for hantavirus. Hantavirus RNA was detected in either the lungs and/or kidney of 17/21 (81%) of the Cherwell rats tested, higher than previously detected by blood testing alone (7/21, 33%), and in the kidneys of all three Cheltenham rats. The partial L gene sequences obtained from 10 of the Cherwell rats and the three Cheltenham rats were identical to each other and the previously reported UK Cherwell strain. Seoul hantavirus (SEOV) RNA was detected in the heart, kidney, lung, salivary gland and spleen (but not in the liver) of an individual rat from the Cherwell colony suspected of being the source of SEOV. Serum from 20/20 of the Cherwell rats and two associated HFRS cases had high levels of SEOV-specific antibodies (by virus neutralisation). The high prevalence of SEOV in both sites and the moderately severe disease in the pet rat owners suggest that SEOV in pet rats poses a greater public health risk than previously considered.
Healthy adults (n 30) participated in a placebo-controlled, randomised, double-blinded, cross-over study consisting of two 28 d treatments (β2-1 fructan or maltodextrin; 3×5 g/d) separated by a 14-d washout. Subjects provided 1 d faecal collections at days 0 and 28 of each treatment. The ability of faecal bacteria to metabolise β2-1 fructan was common; eighty-seven species (thirty genera, and four phyla) were isolated using anaerobic medium containing β2-1 fructan as the sole carbohydrate source. β2-1 fructan altered the faecal community as determined through analysis of terminal restriction fragment length polymorphisms and 16S rRNA genes. Supplementation with β2-1 fructan reduced faecal community richness, and two patterns of community change were observed. In most subjects, β2-1 fructan reduced the content of phylotypes aligning within the Bacteroides, whereas increasing those aligning within bifidobacteria, Faecalibacterium and the family Lachnospiraceae. In the remaining subjects, supplementation increased the abundance of Bacteroidetes and to a lesser extent bifidobacteria, accompanied by decreases within the Faecalibacterium and family Lachnospiraceae. β2-1 Fructan had no impact on the metagenome or glycoside hydrolase profiles in faeces from four subjects. Few relationships were found between the faecal bacterial community and various host parameters; Bacteroidetes content correlated with faecal propionate, subjects whose faecal community contained higher Bacteroidetes produced more caproic acid independent of treatment, and subjects having lower faecal Bacteroidetes exhibited increased concentrations of serum lipopolysaccharide and lipopolysaccharide binding protein independent of treatment. We found no evidence to support a defined health benefit for the use of β2-1 fructans in healthy subjects.
Recent cases of acute kidney injury due to Seoul hantavirus infection from exposure to wild or pet fancy rats suggest this infection is increasing in prevalence in the UK. We conducted a seroprevalence study in England to estimate cumulative exposure in at-risk groups with contact with domesticated and wild rats to assess risk and inform public health advice. From October 2013 to June 2014, 844 individual blood samples were collected. Hantavirus seroprevalence amongst the pet fancy rat owner group was 34.1% (95% CI 23·9–45·7%) compared with 3·3% (95% CI 1·6–6·0) in a baseline control group, 2·4% in those with occupational exposure to pet fancy rats (95% CI 0·6–5·9) and 1·7% with occupational exposure to wild rats (95% CI 0·2–5·9). Variation in seroprevalence across groups with different exposure suggests that occupational exposure to pet and wild rats carries a very low risk, if any. However incidence of hantavirus infection among pet fancy rat owners/breeders, whether asymptomatic, undiagnosed mild viral illness or more severe disease may be very common and public health advice needs to be targeted to this at-risk group.
The Dark Energy Survey is undertaking an observational programme imaging 1/4 of the southern hemisphere sky with unprecedented photometric accuracy. In the process of observing millions of faint stars and galaxies to constrain the parameters of the dark energy equation of state, the Dark Energy Survey will obtain pre-discovery images of the regions surrounding an estimated 100 gamma-ray bursts over 5 yr. Once gamma-ray bursts are detected by, e.g., the Swift satellite, the DES data will be extremely useful for follow-up observations by the transient astronomy community. We describe a recently-commissioned suite of software that listens continuously for automated notices of gamma-ray burst activity, collates information from archival DES data, and disseminates relevant data products back to the community in near-real-time. Of particular importance are the opportunities that non-public DES data provide for relative photometry of the optical counterparts of gamma-ray bursts, as well as for identifying key characteristics (e.g., photometric redshifts) of potential gamma-ray burst host galaxies. We provide the functional details of the DESAlert software, and its data products, and we show sample results from the application of DESAlert to numerous previously detected gamma-ray bursts, including the possible identification of several heretofore unknown gamma-ray burst hosts.
β2-1 Fructans are purported to improve health by stimulating growth of colonic bifidobacteria, increasing host resistance to pathogens and stimulating the immune system. However, in healthy adults, the benefits of supplementation remain undefined. Adults (thirteen men, seventeen women) participated in a double-blinded, placebo-controlled, randomised, cross-over study consisting of two 28-d treatments separated by a 14-d washout period. Subjects’ regular diets were supplemented with β2-1 fructan or placebo (maltodextrin) at 3×5 g/d. Fasting blood and 1-d faecal collections were obtained at the beginning and at the end of each phase. Blood was analysed for clinical, biochemical and immunological variables. Determinations of well-being and general health, gastrointestinal (GI) symptoms, regularity, faecal SCFA content, residual faecal β2-1 fructans and faecal bifidobacteria content were undertaken. β2-1 Fructan supplementation had no effect on blood lipid or cholesterol concentrations or on circulating lymphocyte and macrophage numbers, but significantly increased serum lipopolysaccharide, faecal SCFA, faecal bifidobacteria and indigestion. With respect to immune function, β2-1 fructan supplementation increased serum IL-4, circulating percentages of CD282+/TLR2+ myeloid dendritic cells and ex vivo responsiveness to a toll-like receptor 2 agonist. β2-1 Fructans also decreased serum IL-10, but did not affect C-reactive protein or serum/faecal Ig concentrations. No differences in host well-being were associated with either treatment, although the self-reported incidence of GI symptoms and headaches increased during the β2-1 fructan phase. Although β2-1 fructan supplementation increased faecal bifidobacteria, this change was not directly related to any of the determined host parameters.
The Fezzan Project completed its five-year fieldwork cycle in 2001. The geographical research team located numerous additional palaeolake sites within the Edeyen Ubari, using a combination of Remote Sensing technology and field visits. Additional samples were taken for analysis and dating from many lake edge locations, relating to both the large Pleistocene lake and to the numerous smaller Holocene lakes that have been identified by the team. The excavations at Old Germa were taken down through Garamantian occupation levels to the natural subsoil below the earliest cultural horizon. The earliest activity, represented by a few mudbrick walls and hearths built directly on the natural soil, is believed to date to c. 400-300 BC. Traces of several phases of Garamantian buildings were uncovered, along with numerous rubbish pits, which yielded a rich assemblage of finds, including, for the first time, examples of Garamantian figurines, small 3-D sculptures of humans and animals. Work on the various classes of finds (pottery, small finds, lithics and other stone artefacts, metallurgical evidence, etc.) complemented the excavation work. In addition, a small amount of further survey work was carried out on sites in the Wadi al-Ajal, along with a contour survey of Old Germa and standing building survey at a number of other sites.
This paper describes the system architecture of a newly constructed radio telescope – the Boolardy engineering test array, which is a prototype of the Australian square kilometre array pathfinder telescope. Phased array feed technology is used to form multiple simultaneous beams per antenna, providing astronomers with unprecedented survey speed. The test array described here is a six-antenna interferometer, fitted with prototype signal processing hardware capable of forming at least nine dual-polarisation beams simultaneously, allowing several square degrees to be imaged in a single pointed observation. The main purpose of the test array is to develop beamforming and wide-field calibration methods for use with the full telescope, but it will also be capable of limited early science demonstrations.