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The animal health and welfare status in European organic dairy production does not in all aspects meet the organic principles and consumers’ expectations and needs to be improved. To achieve this, tailored herd health planning, targeted to the specific situation of individual farms could be of use. The aim of this study was to apply herd health planning in a structured participatory approach, with impact matrix analysis, not previously used in this context, in European organic dairy farms and to assess changes in animal health and welfare. Herd health planning farm visits were conducted on 122 organic dairy farms in France, Germany and Sweden. The farmer, the herd veterinarian and/or an advisor took part in the farm discussions. The researcher served as facilitator. Baseline data on the animal health status of the individual farm, collected from national milk recording schemes, were presented as an input for the discussion. Thereafter a systematic impact matrix analysis was performed. This was to capture the complexity of individual farms with the aim to identify the farm-specific factors that could have a strong impact on animal health. The participants (i.e. farmer, veterinarian and advisor) jointly identified areas in need of improvement, taking the health status and the interconnected farm system components into account, and appropriate actions were jointly identified. The researcher took minutes during the discussions, and these were shared with the participants. No intervention was made by the researcher, and further actions were left with the participants. The number of actions per farm ranged from 0 to 22. The change in mortality, metabolic diseases, reproductive performance and udder health was assessed at two time points, and potential determinators of the change were evaluated with linear regression models. A significant association was seen between change in udder health, as measured by the somatic cell count, and country. At the first follow-up, a significant association was also found between change in the proportion of prolonged calving interval and the farmers’ desire to improve reproductive health as well as with an increase in herd size, but this was not seen at the second follow-up. The degree of implementation of the actions was good (median 67%, lower quartile 40%, upper quartile 83%). To conclude, the degree of implementation was quite high, improvement of animal health could not be linked to the herd health planning approach. However, the approach was highly appreciated by the participants and deserves further study.
Reducing the risk of human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) transmission is still a public health priority. The development of effective control strategies relies on the quantification of the effects of prophylactic and therapeutic measures in disease incidence. Although several assays can be used to estimate HIV incidence, these estimates are limited by the poor performance of these assays in distinguishing recent from long-standing infections. To address such limitation, we have developed an assay to titrate p24-specific IgG3 antibodies as a marker of recent infection. The assay is based on a recombinant p24 protein capable to detect total IgG antibodies in sera using a liquid micro array and enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. Subsequently, the assay was optimised to detect and titrate anti-p24 IgG3 responses in a panel of sequential specimens from seroconverters over 24 months. The kinetics of p24-specific IgG3 titres revealed a transient peak in the 4 to 5-month period after seroconversion. It was followed by a sharp decline, allowing infections with less than 6 months to be distinguished from older ones. The developed assay exhibited a mean duration of recent infection of 144 days and a false-recent rate of ca. 14%. Our findings show that HIV-1 p24-specific IgG3 titres can be used as a tool to evaluate HIV incidence in serosurveys and to monitor the efficacy of vaccines and other transmission control strategies.
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and frontotemporal dementia (FTD) represent a disease continuum with common genetic causes and molecular pathology. We recently identified mutations in the T-cell restricted intracellular antigen-1 (TIA1) protein as a cause of ALS +/− FTD. TIA1 is an RNA-binding protein containing a low complexity domain (LCD) that promotes the assembly of membrane-less organelles, such as stress granules (SG). Whole exome sequencing of two family members with fALS/FTD revealed a novel missense mutation in the TIA1 LCD (P362L). Subsequent screening identified five more TIA1 mutations in six additional ALS patients, but none in controls. All mutation carriers presented with weakness, behavioral abnormalities or language impairments and had a final diagnosis of ALS +/− FTD. Autopsy on five TIA1 mutation carriers showed widespread neurodegeneration with TDP-43 pathology. Round eosinophilic inclusions in lower motor neurons were a consistent feature. Cellular assays revealed abnormal SG dynamics in the presence of TIA1 mutations. In summary, missense mutations in the LCD of TIA1 are a newly recognized cause of ALS/FTD with TDP-43 pathology and strengthen the role of RNA metabolism in the pathogenesis in this disease.
Production diseases in dairy cows are multifactorial, which means they emerge from complex interactions between many different farm variables. Variables with a large impact on production diseases can be identified for groups of farms using statistical models, but these methods cannot be used to identify highly influential variables in individual farms. This, however, is necessary for herd health planning, because farm conditions and associated health problems vary largely between farms. The aim of this study was to rank variables according to their anticipated effect on production diseases on the farm level by applying a graph-based impact analysis on 192 European organic dairy farms. Direct impacts between 13 pre-defined variables were estimated for each farm during a round-table discussion attended by practitioners, that is farmer, veterinarian and herd advisor. Indirect impacts were elaborated through graph analysis taking into account impact strengths. Across farms, factors supposedly exerting the most influence on production diseases were ‘feeding’, ‘hygiene’ and ‘treatment’ (direct impacts), as well as ‘knowledge and skills’ and ‘herd health monitoring’ (indirect impacts). Factors strongly influenced by production diseases were ‘milk performance’, ‘financial resources’ and ‘labour capacity’ (directly and indirectly). Ranking of variables on the farm level revealed considerable differences between farms in terms of their most influential and most influenced farm factors. Consequently, very different strategies may be required to reduce production diseases in these farms. The method is based on perceptions and estimations and thus prone to errors. From our point of view, however, this weakness is clearly outweighed by the ability to assess and to analyse farm-specific relationships and thus to complement general knowledge with contextual knowledge. Therefore, we conclude that graph-based impact analysis represents a promising decision support tool for herd health planning. The next steps include testing the method using more specific and problem-oriented variables as well as evaluating its effectiveness.
Background: Down syndrome is the most common inherited disorder. Some patients develop craniocervical instability. Existing screening guidelines were developed prior to direct imaging of the neuraxis. We present parameters for potential instability using dynamic MRI of the craniocervical junction. Methods: A retrospective review from 2001 – 2015 was carried out. Patients were symptomatic if they had myelopathy or signal changes at the craniocervical junction. Radiographic measurements were taken. Data analysis was performed with SPSS. Results: 36 patients were included. Symptomatic patients had smaller CCD (9.4 mm vs 13.8 mm; p=0.003) and greater ADI (4.4mm vs 3.0 mm; p=0.01) on resting MRI . During dynamic imaging, symptomatic patients had greater changes in CCD (5.2 vs 2.7 mm; p <0.001) and ADI (2.8 vs 1.3 mm; p=0.04). These patients were also more likely to have a bony anomaly (0.5 vs 0.13; p=0.03). Conclusions: This study identifies parameters that can be used to distinguish unstable patients. A CCD of less than 5 mm or ADI greater than 4.4 mm on static MRI; change greater than 3 mm in ADI or 5mm on CCD during dynamic MRI; or any bony abnormality warrants further investigation. Asymptomatic patients should be followed although most do not progress.
Data obtained by the AS&E X-ray Telescope Experiment during the first Skylab mission have revealed a variety of temporal changes in both the form and brightness of coronal structures. Dynamical changes have been noted in active regions, in large scale coronal structures, and in coronal bright points. The coronal activity accompanying a series of Hα flares and prominence activity between 0800 and 1600 UT on 10 June 1973 in active region 137 (NOAA) at the east limb is shown in Figure 1. It is characterized by increases in the brightness and temperature of active region loops and a dramatic change in the shape and brightness of a loop structure. Figure 2 shows the reconfiguration of an apparent polar crown filament cavity between 1923 UT on 12 June 1973 and 1537 UT on 13 June 1973. A ridge of emitting material which attains a peak brightness at least four times that of the surrounding coronal structures appears within the cavity during the course of the event. Typical X-ray photographs with filters passing relatively soft X-ray wavelengths (3–32, 44–54 Å) show 90 to 100 X-ray bright points (Vaiana et al., 1973). On twelve occasions in the data from the first mission, such bright points were seen to increase in intensity by two orders of magnitude in less than 4 min. Such an event is shown in Figure 3.
SWAG (“Survey of Water and Ammonia in the Galactic Center”) is a multi-line interferometric survey toward the Center of the Milky Way conducted with the Australia Telescope Compact Array. The survey region spans the entire ~400 pc Central Molecular Zone and comprises ~42 spectral lines at pc spatial and sub-km/s spectral resolution. In addition, we deeply map continuum intensity, spectral index, and polarization at the frequencies where synchrotron, free-free, and thermal dust sources emit. The observed spectral lines include many transitions of ammonia, which we use to construct maps of molecular gas temperature, opacity and gas formation temperature (see poster by Nico Krieger et al., this volume). Water masers pinpoint the sites of active star formation and other lines are good tracers for density, radiation field, shocks, and ionization. This extremely rich survey forms a perfect basis to construct maps of the physical parameters of the gas in this extreme environment.
We infer the absolute time dependence of kinematic gas temperature along a proposed orbit of molecular clouds in the Central Molecular Zone (CMZ) of the Galactic Center (GC). Ammonia gas temperature maps are one of the results of the “Survey of Water and Ammonia in the Galactic Center” (SWAG, PI: J. Ott); the dynamical model of molecular clouds in the CMZ was taken from Kruijssen et al. (2015). We find that gas temperatures increase as a function of time in both regimes before and after the cloud passes pericenter on its orbit in the GC potential. This is consistent with the recent proposal that pericenter passage triggers gravitational collapse. Other investigated quantities (line width, column density, opacity) show no strong sign of time dependence but are likely dominated by cloud-to-cloud variations.
The AS&E X-ray telescope experiment on Skylab has obtained images of the solar X-ray corona with a variety of time resolutions ranging from 21/2 s to the regular 12 ± 2 h synoptic observation rate. The form and brightness of coronal active region structures are seen to vary on time scales ranging from seconds, for flare associated changes, to several solar rotations for long term evolution of the regions. The extrapolation of photospheric magnetic fields into the corona, using the potential field approximation, results in a good morphological agreement between the form of the computed coronal field lines and the structure of many of the active regions observed. Thus, in general, the coronal active region structures follow potential field lines and the long term evolutionary changes can be explained on the basis of the spreading of the fields. Short term changes in active region structure frequently take the form of selective brightening or dimming of pre-existing loops due to changes in the pressure of the emitting coronal plasma. In these cases, variations in the non-potential component of the coronal fields supporting and containing the plasma are implied.
The classical bomber problem concerns properties of the optimal allocation policy of a given number, n, of anti-aircraft missiles, with which an airplane is equipped. The airplane begins at a distance t >0 from its destination and uses some of the anti-aircraft missiles when intercepted by enemy planes that appear according to a homogeneous Poisson process. The goal is to maximize the probability of reaching its destination. The fighter problem deals with a similar situation, but the goal is to shoot down as many enemy planes as possible. The optimal allocation policies are dynamic, depending upon both the number of missiles and the time which remains to reach the destination when the enemy is met. The present paper generalizes these problems by allowing the number of enemy planes to have any distribution, not just Poisson. This implies that the optimal strategies can no longer be dynamic, and are, in our terminology, offline. We show that properties similar to those holding for the classical problems hold also in the present case. Whether certain properties hold that remain open questions in the dynamic version are resolved in the offline version. Since ‘time’ is no longer a meaningful way to parametrize the distributions for the number of encounters, other more general orderings of distributions are needed. Numerical comparisons between the dynamic and offline approaches are given.
The classical secretary problem for selecting the best item is studied when the actual values of the items are observed with noise. One of the main appeals of the secretary problem is that the optimal strategy is able to find the best observation with a nontrivial probability of about 0.37, even when the number of observations is arbitrarily large. The results are strikingly different when the qualities of the secretaries are observed with noise. If there is no noise then the only information that is needed is whether an observation is the best among those already observed. Since the observations are assumed to be independent and identically distributed, the solution to this problem is distribution free. In the case of noisy data, the results are no longer distribution free. Furthermore, we need to know the rank of the noisy observation among those already observed. Finally, the probability of finding the best secretary often goes to 0 as the number of observations, n, goes to ∞. The results heavily depend on the behavior of pn, the probability that the observation that is best among the noisy observations is also best among the noiseless observations. Results involving optimal strategies if all that is available is noisy data are described and examples are given to elucidate the results.
Among US racial/ethnic minority women, we examined associations between maternal experiences of racial discrimination and child growth in the first 3 years of life. We analyzed data from Project Viva, a pre-birth cohort study. We restricted analyses to 539 mother–infant pairs; 294 were Black, 127 Hispanic, 110 Asian and 8 from additional racial/ethnic groups. During pregnancy, mothers completed the Experiences of Discrimination survey that measured lifetime experiences of racial discrimination in diverse domains. We categorized responses as 0, 1–2 or ⩾3 domains. Main outcomes were birth weight for gestational age z-score; weight for age (WFA) z-score at 6 months of age; and at 3 years of age, body mass index (BMI) z-score. In multivariable analyses, we adjusted for maternal race/ethnicity, nativity, education, age, pre-pregnancy BMI, household income and child sex and age. Among this cohort of mostly (58.2%) US-born and economically non-impoverished mothers, 33% reported 0 domains of discrimination, 33% reported discrimination in 1–2 domains and 35% reported discrimination in ⩾3 domains. Compared with children whose mothers reported no discrimination, those whose mothers reported ⩾3 domains had lower birth weight for gestational age z-score (β −0.25; 95% CI: −0.45, −0.04), lower 6 month WFA z-score (β −0.34; 95% CI: −0.65, −0.03) and lower 3-year BMI z-score (β −0.33; 95% CI: −0.66, 0.00). In conclusion, we found that among this cohort of US racial/ethnic minority women, mothers’ report of experiencing lifetime discrimination in ⩾ 3 domains was associated with lower fetal growth, weight at 6 months and 3-year BMI among their offspring.
While it is clear that self-reported racial/ethnic discrimination is related to illness, there are challenges in measuring self-reported discrimination or unfair treatment. In the present study, we evaluate the psychometric properties of a self-reported instrument across racial/ethnic groups in a population-based sample, and we test and interpret findings from applying two different widely-used approaches to asking about discrimination and unfair treatment. Even though we found that the subset of items we tested tap into a single underlying concept, we also found that different groups are more likely to report on different aspects of discrimination. Whether race is mentioned in the survey question affects both frequency and mean scores of reports of racial/ethnic discrimination. Our findings suggest caution to researchers when comparing studies that have used different approaches to measure racial/ethnic discrimination and allow us to suggest practical empirical guidelines for measuring and analyzing racial/ethnic discrimination. No less important, we have developed a self-reported measure of recent racial/ethnic discrimination that functions well in a range of different racial/ethnic groups and makes it possible to compare how racial/ethnic discrimination is associated with health disparities among multiple racial/ethnic groups.
The Hall scattering factor of holes rH,h(T) in 4H- and 6H-SiC is determined by comparing the temperature-dependent free hole concentration p(1/T) obtained from Hall effect and from the neutrality equation with defect parameters, which are independently determined by SIMS and C-V measurements. rH,h(T) strongly deviates from 1 and assumes values between 1.4 and 0.5 at temperatures ranging from 100K to 800K. rH,h(T) is identical for 4H-and 6H-SiC within the measurement uncertainty. Al-doped SiC epilayers of the 3C-, 4H- and 6H-polytype were investigated with admittance spectroscopy and DLTS prior to and subsequent to processing steps. Depending on the SiC polytype, a different number of shallow acceptors is observed, which are thermally stable up to high temperatures (1700°C).
Cell surface glycosaminoglycans (GAGs) play an important role in the attachment and invasion process of a variety of intracellular pathogens. We have previously demonstrated that heparan sulfate proteoglycans (HSPG) mediate the invasion of trypomastigote forms of Trypanosoma cruzi in cardiomyocytes. Herein, we analysed whether GAGs are also implicated in amastigote invasion. Competition assays with soluble GAGs revealed that treatment of T. cruzi amastigotes with heparin and heparan sulfate leads to a reduction in the infection ratio, achieving 82% and 65% inhibition of invasion, respectively. Other sulfated GAGs, such as chondroitin sulfate, dermatan sulfate and keratan sulfate, had no effect on the invasion process. In addition, a significant decrease in infection occurred after interaction of amastigotes with GAG-deficient Chinese Hamster Ovary (CHO) cells, decreasing from 20% and 28% in wild-type CHO cells to 5% and 9% in the mutant cells after 2 h and 4 h of infection, respectively. These findings suggest that amastigote invasion also involves host cell surface heparan sulfate proteoglycans. The knowledge of the mechanism triggered by heparan sulfate-binding T. cruzi proteins may provide new potential candidates for Chagas disease therapy.
The secretary problem for selecting one item so as to minimize its expected rank, based on observing the relative ranks only, is revisited. A simple suboptimal rule, which performs almost as well as the optimal rule, is given. The rule stops with the smallest i such that Ri≤ic/(n+1-i) for a given constant c, where Ri is the relative rank of the ith observation and n is the total number of items. This rule has added flexibility. A curtailed version thereof can be used to select an item with a given probability P, P<1. The rule can be used to select two or more items. The problem of selecting a fixed percentage, α, 0<α<1, of n, is also treated. Numerical results are included to illustrate the findings.
We consider a sequential rule, where an item is chosen into the group, such as a university faculty member, only if his/her score is better than the average score of those already belonging to the group. We study four variables: the average score of the members of the group after k items have been selected, the time it takes (in terms of the number of observed items) to assemble a group of k items, the average score of the group after n items have been observed, and the number of items kept after the first n items have been observed. We develop the relationships between these variables, and obtain their asymptotic behavior as k (respectively, n) tends to ∞. The assumption throughout is that the items are independent and identically distributed with a continuous distribution. Though knowledge of this distribution is not needed to implement the selection rule, the asymptotic behavior does depend on the distribution. We study in some detail the exponential, Pareto, and beta distributions. Generalizations of the ‘better than average’ rule to the β better than average rules are also considered. These are rules where an item is admitted to the group only if its score is better than β times the present average of the group, where β > 0.