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Needles, condoms and the annual arrival of norovirus

By Laura Passi

Our roundup of health news headlines on Monday 22 November

Toddlers will have jabs for SIX diseases at once' says the Daily Mail, to kick off the week. The vaccinations, to be administered at GPs' surgeries, will include measles, mumps, rubella, two forms of meningitis and bacteria that can cause pneumonia. We're told ‘the change was proposed by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation after research found combining the jabs on one day would cause no health problems for babies'.

Pope signals historic leap in fight against Aids: Condoms can be justified' reports the Independent, following on from stories at the weekend reporting that Pope Benedict XVI has suggested that condom use could be acceptable in the case of, for example, ‘male prostitutes seeking to prevent the spread of HIV'. The Pope explained that for the prostitute 'this can be a first step in the direction of a moralisation, a first assumption of responsibility'.

The statement has prompted a huge amount of discussion about which other situations use of a condom could be considered acceptable in - and the actual translation has also been questioned. ‘In the English, German and French versions the phrase "a male prostitute" is used, but in the Italian translation, the words "una prostituta", meaning a female prostitute, is given.'

Meanwhile the Guardian reports that ‘Heroin shortage in UK is 'putting lives at risk''. The shortage is cause by a fungus, which has blighted the poppy harvest in Afghanistan, reducing it by half. Hospitals are treating a growing number of users who are ‘overdosing on either adulterated heroin, or, in some cases, what has been found to be a combination of a powerful sedative, caffeine and paracetamol', we're told.

And finally, the Daily Telegraph offers something for us all to look forward to. No, it's not the snow, instead we're warned:: ‘Millions of people are expected to fall ill with the winter vomiting bug this year as official figures show the disease is now spreading rapidly'. In the last two weeks calls to NHS Direct about vomiting have exceeded the 'threshold' level of 4.8% of all calls.

The paper adds: ‘Dr Bob Adak, head of epidemiological services in the gastrointestinal diseases department at the HPA, said "Every year millions of people will be affected by a bout of norovirus and for most people it will be an unpleasant but short lived illness lasting around two days. People who are unwell should ensure they take plenty of drinks to replace lost."'

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