- - Tuesday, September 14, 2010

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA

Study: Antibiotics alter good stomach germs

Antibiotics can temporarily upset your stomach, but now it turns out that repeatedly taking them can trigger long-lasting changes in all those good germs that live in your gut, raising questions about lingering ill effects.

Nobody yet knows whether that leads to later health problems. But the finding is the latest in a flurry of research that raises questions about how the customized bacterial zoo that thrives in our intestines forms - and whether the wrong type or amount plays a role in ailments from obesity to inflammatory bowel disease to asthma.

Three healthy adults collected weeks of stool samples so that scientists could count exactly how two separate rounds of a fairly mild antibiotic caused a surprising population shift in their microbial netherworld - as some original families of germs plummeted and other types moved in to fill the gap.

“Gut communities are fundamentally important in the development of our immune system,” said Dr. David Relman of Stanford University, who led the antibiotic study published Monday in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. “Let’s not take them for granted.”

GEORGIA

TB scare patient seeks to sue CDC

ATLANTA | Attorneys for an Atlanta man who was thrust into the center of a 2007 international tuberculosis scare said Tuesday federal health officials publicized his condition to make an example out of him in an effort to win more funding to fight the disease.

Andrew Speaker’s attorneys told the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention revealed his private medical condition at press conferences beginning in May 2007 to dramatize the possibility that diseases like TB can be transmitted worldwide.

Government attorneys countered that there was no proof that CDC officials leaked his name to the press in May 2007.

Attorney Mark Freeman also countered that Mr. Speaker wrote about parts of his ordeal online, and that discussion of information that he already disclosed doesn’t violate federal privacy rules.

Mr. Speaker’s ordeal earned him international notoriety in May 2007 when he flew to Europe for his wedding even though he was infected with a drug-resistant form of tuberculosis.

He planned to get treatment upon his return home, but he decided to leave immediately when he learned preliminary tests showed he had XDR-TB, a more virulent strain of the disease.He flew to Montreal and drove across the American border despite warnings from health officials not to board another commercial flight.

He said he did so because he wanted to be treated in the U.S. and couldn’t afford a private jet.

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