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Flu warning, statins and infection and the definitive guide to hospital slang

By Alisdair Stirling

Our roundup of the health news headlines on Thursday 10 March.

Governments must vaccinate children and young adults against the H2N2 influenza virus to prevent a major pandemic, according to a report in The Independent. The warning comes from Gary Nabel, a vaccine researcher at the US National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland writing in the journal Nature.

The last outbreak of the H2N2 flu occurred in 1968 but the virus is now circulating in birds and pigs and could easily cross into the human population where most people under the age of 50 have little or no immunity, the paper says. Previous epidemics of H2N2 occurred between 1957 and 1968 and are estimated to have killed between one million and four million people.

Taking statins could boost the immune system and lower the risk of infection, the Daily Telegraph reports. Scientists have found that the body naturally lowers cholesterol levels during an infection because viruses and bacteria like to 'feed' off it. Limiting its production therefore curbs the invader's ability to thrive, the Telegraph says.

It quotes Professor Peter Ghazal of Edinburgh University as saying: 'A key immune hormone stimulated upon infection can lower cholesterol levels and thereby deprive viral infections of the sustenance they need to grow.

'Drugs currently exist to lower cholesterol levels, but the next step would be to see if such drugs would also work to help bolster our immune systems.'

The Daily Mail carries a useful guide to hospital doctors' slang, claiming that patients are routinely referred to as GLMs (Good Looking Mums), FLKs (Funny Looking Kids) and TBPs (Total Bloody Pains).

An intoxicated man turning up in A&E might well have a UBI, or ‘unexplained beer injury', and if he was particularly rude he might be a CLL or ‘complete low life'. Other terms include ‘house red' for blood, ‘slashers' for general surgeons and the ‘Freud Squad' for psychiatrists. The ‘departure lounge' is the geriatric ward, ‘house red' is blood and ‘PRATFO' is describes ‘patient being reassured and told to f*** off'.


Spotted a story we've missed? Let us know in the comments and we'll update the digest throughout the day...

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