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In Canada, recreational use of cannabis was legalized in October 2018. This policy change along with recent publications evaluating the efficacy of cannabis for the medical treatment of epilepsy and media awareness about its use have increased the public interest about this agent. The Canadian League Against Epilepsy Medical Therapeutics Committee, along with a multidisciplinary group of experts and Canadian Epilepsy Alliance representatives, has developed a position statement about the use of medical cannabis for epilepsy. This article addresses the current Canadian legal framework, recent publications about its efficacy and safety profile, and our understanding of the clinical issues that should be considered when contemplating cannabis use for medical purposes.
Hendra virus (HeV) continues to cause fatal infection in horses and threaten infection in close-contact humans in eastern Australia. Species of Pteropus bats (flying-foxes) are the natural reservoir of the virus. We caught and sampled flying-foxes from a multispecies roost in southeast Queensland, Australia on eight occasions between June 2013 and June 2014. The effects of sample date, species, sex, age class, body condition score (BCS), pregnancy and lactation on HeV antibody prevalence, log-transformed median fluorescent intensity (lnMFI) values and HeV RNA status were assessed using unbalanced generalised linear models. A total of 1968 flying-foxes were sampled, comprising 1012 Pteropus alecto, 742 P. poliocephalus and 214 P. scapulatus. Sample date, species and age class were each statistically associated with HeV RNA status, antibody status and lnMFI values; BCS was statistically associated with HeV RNA status and antibody status. The findings support immunologically naïve sub-adult P. alecto playing an important role in maintaining HeV infection at a population level. The biological significance of the association between BCS and HeV RNA status, and BCS and HeV antibody status, is less clear and warrants further investigation. Contrary to previous studies, we found no direct association between HeV infection and pregnancy or lactation. The findings in P. poliocephalus suggest that HeV exposure in this species may not result in systemic infection and virus excretion, or alternatively, may reflect assay cross-reactivity with another (unidentified) henipavirus.
On-farm hatching systems for broiler chicks are increasingly used in practice. We studied whether or not performance, health and welfare aspects differed between commercial flocks hatched on-farm or in a hatchery (control). In two successive production cycles on seven farms, a total of 16 on-farm hatched flocks were paired to 16 control flocks, housed at the same farm. Paired flocks originated from the same batch of eggs and were subjected to similar on-farm management. On-farm hatched and control flocks only differed with respect to hatching conditions, with on-farm hatched flocks not being exposed to, for example, chick handling, post-hatch feed and water deprivation and transport, in contrast to control flocks that were subjected to standard hatchery procedures, subsequently transported and placed in the poultry house. Day-old chick quality (navel and hock scores), 1st week mortality, total mortality, BW at day (d) 0, d7 and at depopulation, and (total) feed conversion ratio were determined. Prevalence of footpad dermatitis, hock burn, breast discoloration/blisters and cleanliness, litter quality and gait score were determined at d21 of age and around depopulation (d39 on average). Gross pathology and gut morphology were examined at depopulation age in a sample of birds of five flocks per treatment. On-farm hatching resulted in a higher BW at d0 (Δ=5.4 g) and d7 (Δ=11.5 g) (P<0.001), but day-old chick quality as measured by navel (P=0.003) and hock (P=0.01) quality was worse for on-farm hatched compared to control birds. Body weight, 1st week and total mortality, and feed conversion ratio at slaughter age were similar for both on-farm hatched and control flocks. On-farm hatched flocks had less footpad dermatitis (P=0.05), which indicated a better welfare. This was likely related to a tendency for better litter quality in on-farm hatched flocks at 21 days of age in comparison to control flocks (P=0.08). No major differences in gross pathology or in intestinal morphology at depopulation age were found between treatments. In conclusion, on-farm hatching resulted in better 1st week broiler performance and better welfare compared to conventional hatching in a hatchery.
Previous work has identified associations between psychotic experiences (PEs) and general medical conditions (GMCs), but their temporal direction remains unclear as does the extent to which they are independent of comorbid mental disorders.
In total, 28 002 adults in 16 countries from the WHO World Mental Health (WMH) Surveys were assessed for PEs, GMCs and 21 Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition (DSM-IV) mental disorders. Discrete-time survival analyses were used to estimate the associations between PEs and GMCs with various adjustments.
After adjustment for comorbid mental disorders, temporally prior PEs were significantly associated with subsequent onset of 8/12 GMCs (arthritis, back or neck pain, frequent or severe headache, other chronic pain, heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes and peptic ulcer) with odds ratios (ORs) ranging from 1.3 [95% confidence interval (CI) 1.1–1.5] to 1.9 (95% CI 1.4–2.4). In contrast, only three GMCs (frequent or severe headache, other chronic pain and asthma) were significantly associated with subsequent onset of PEs after adjustment for comorbid GMCs and mental disorders, with ORs ranging from 1.5 (95% CI 1.2–1.9) to 1.7 (95% CI 1.2–2.4).
PEs were associated with the subsequent onset of a wide range of GMCs, independent of comorbid mental disorders. There were also associations between some medical conditions (particularly those involving chronic pain) and subsequent PEs. Although these findings will need to be confirmed in prospective studies, clinicians should be aware that psychotic symptoms may be risk markers for a wide range of adverse health outcomes. Whether PEs are causal risk factors will require further research.
Despite increasing evidence for the benefits of psychological treatments (PTs) in low- and middle-income countries, few national health systems have adopted PTs as standard care. We aimed to evaluate the effectiveness of a group interpersonal psychotherapy (IPT-G) intervention, when delivered by lay community health workers (LCHWs) in a low-resource government health system in Uganda. The intended outcome was reduction of depression among caregivers of children with nodding syndrome, a neuropsychiatric condition with high morbidity, mortality and social stigma.
A non-randomized trial design was used. Caregivers in six villages (n = 69) received treatment as usual (TAU), according to government guidelines. Caregivers in seven villages (n = 73) received TAU as well as 12 sessions of IPT-G delivered by LCHWs. Primary outcomes were caregiver and child depression assessed at 1 and 6 months post-intervention.
Caregivers who received IPT-G had a significantly greater reduction in the risk of depression from baseline to 1 month [risk ratio (RR) 0.25, 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.10–0.62] and 6 months (RR 0.33, 95% CI 0.11–0.95) post-intervention compared with caregivers who received TAU. Children of caregivers who received IPT-G had significantly greater reduction in depression scores than children of TAU caregivers at 1 month (Cohen's d = 0.57, p = 0.01) and 6 months (Cohen's d = 0.54, p = 0.03). Significant effects were also observed for psychological distress, stigma and social support among caregivers.
IPT-G delivered within a low-resource health system is an effective PT for common mental health problems in caregivers of children with a severe neuropsychiatric condition and has psychological benefits for the children as well. This supports national health policy initiatives to integrate PTs into primary health care services in Uganda.
A substantial proportion of persons with mental disorders seek treatment from complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) professionals. However, data on how CAM contacts vary across countries, mental disorders and their severity, and health care settings is largely lacking. The aim was therefore to investigate the prevalence of contacts with CAM providers in a large cross-national sample of persons with 12-month mental disorders.
In the World Mental Health Surveys, the Composite International Diagnostic Interview was administered to determine the presence of past 12 month mental disorders in 138 801 participants aged 18–100 derived from representative general population samples. Participants were recruited between 2001 and 2012. Rates of self-reported CAM contacts for each of the 28 surveys across 25 countries and 12 mental disorder groups were calculated for all persons with past 12-month mental disorders. Mental disorders were grouped into mood disorders, anxiety disorders or behavioural disorders, and further divided by severity levels. Satisfaction with conventional care was also compared with CAM contact satisfaction.
An estimated 3.6% (standard error 0.2%) of persons with a past 12-month mental disorder reported a CAM contact, which was two times higher in high-income countries (4.6%; standard error 0.3%) than in low- and middle-income countries (2.3%; standard error 0.2%). CAM contacts were largely comparable for different disorder types, but particularly high in persons receiving conventional care (8.6–17.8%). CAM contacts increased with increasing mental disorder severity. Among persons receiving specialist mental health care, CAM contacts were reported by 14.0% for severe mood disorders, 16.2% for severe anxiety disorders and 22.5% for severe behavioural disorders. Satisfaction with care was comparable with respect to CAM contacts (78.3%) and conventional care (75.6%) in persons that received both.
CAM contacts are common in persons with severe mental disorders, in high-income countries, and in persons receiving conventional care. Our findings support the notion of CAM as largely complementary but are in contrast to suggestions that this concerns person with only mild, transient complaints. There was no indication that persons were less satisfied by CAM visits than by receiving conventional care. We encourage health care professionals in conventional settings to openly discuss the care patients are receiving, whether conventional or not, and their reasons for doing so.