- - Tuesday, September 14, 2010


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.”


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.


Doctor sentenced in abortion patient death

BARNSTABLE | A Massachusetts doctor has been sentenced six months in jail after pleading guilty to manslaughter in the case of a woman who died after he performed an abortion on her.

Rapin Osathanondh was sentenced Tuesday in Barnstable Superior Court. He pleaded guilty Monday, just as his trial in the 2007 death of Laura Hope Smith was to begin.

He will be eligible for parole after three months and must serve nine months of home confinement with electronic monitoring. He had faced a maximum 20 years in prison.


Soldier admits killing 2 roommates

WATERTOWN | A Fort Drum military policeman has pleaded guilty to fatally stabbing two Army buddies at their apartment in northern New York in November.

Joshua Hunter, 20, pleaded guilty Monday in Jefferson County Court to two counts of second-degree murder in the deaths of Spc. Diego Valbuena, 23, of Port Saint Lucie, Fla., and Spc. Waide James, 20, of Cocoa, Fla. They lived just outside the military base.

Authorities say he repeatedly stabbed each man. He then took one of their cars and fled to Ohio, where he was arrested a few days after the killings.

Local media report that Hunter is expected to be sentenced to 45 years to life in prison.

Hunter’s wife and parents say he returned from Iraq a changed man plagued by flashbacks.


6 injured in plant explosion

MEMPHIS | An explosion and flash fire Tuesday at a plant that makes flares for the military injured six people, three of them critically, authorities said.

The explosion at Kilgore Flares Co. was reported just before noon, said Cris Hill, a dispatcher at the Hardeman County sheriff’s office.

A Memphis hospital reported that three people were brought there in critical condition and a smaller hospital in Bolivar reported that three people there were in good condition.

The company website says Kilgore supplies infrared decoy flares to counter the threat of guided missiles. The company announced earlier this year a $22.5 million Department of Defense order for flares for B-52 aircraft.


Harley board: Plants to stay open

MILWAUKEE | Harley-Davidson Inc. agreed Tuesday to keep open its two Wisconsin production facilities, saying it gained the cost savings it needed when union members agreed a day earlier to a concession-laden contract.

The Milwaukee-based motorcycle company had warned that it would move the production to another state if its three Wisconsin unions rejected the deal. A move would have eliminated about 1,350 jobs.

After reviewing the results of the unions’ votes, the board of directors agreed to call off the search for replacement sites.

The seven-year contract freezes employees’ pay, slashes hundreds of production jobs and assigns large volumes of work to part-time workers.

Some 1,140 union members from the suburban Milwaukee plant voted, approving the contract by a 55 percent to 45 percent margin. Almost 300 ballots were cast at the Tomahawk plant in northern Wisconsin, where workers approved the deal by a margin of 73 percent to 27 percent.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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