Tag: flu

Apple sends in doctors to Shanghai plant

The fruity cargo cult Apple has sent a team of doctors to find out how one of its contractors managed to let a 15 year-old employee work for them and then somehow let him die of pneumonia.

Given that a 15-year-old is supposed to be at home playing with tablets rather than making them means that the Pegatron Shanghai factory was breaking the law hiring him in the first place. But the fact he croaked of pneumonia making some Apple fanboy happy is fairly Dickensian.

Apple insists that its products are not made in sweatshops, particularly after a rash of employee suicides at supplier Foxconn in 2010. Last year, it commissioned the Fair Labor Association to investigate suppliers’ factories.

This time Apple said that Pegatron had assured it that it had found no evidence of any link to working conditions at the plant which contributed to the kid’s death.

“We realise that is of little comfort to the families who have lost their loved ones,” Apple said in a statement.

“Apple has a long-standing commitment to providing a safe and healthy workplace for every worker in our supply chain, and we have a team working with Pegatron at their facility to ensure that conditions meet our high standards,” the statement added.

To be fair to Pegatron the kid should not have been working there. He used his 21 year old cousin’s identification to apply for the job, so the factory did not know he was underage, said Pegatron spokesman Charles Lin.

“Pegatron has strict measures in place to verify workers’ ages before and after they are hired, and we work with health and safety experts to provide a safe working environment for each and every worker,” the statement said.

Pneumonia is not something you can catch from an assembly line environment so was probably not connected to where they work.

The three other employee deaths this year, in March and April, were caused by various medical conditions unrelated to work at the factory.

However, China Labor Watch, a New York-based labour rights group, said the worker’s pre-employment physical examination on September 4 showed he was in good health so he became sick after working at the plant. 

Japanese company makes flu-detecting mirror

Japanese firm NEC Avio Infrared Technologies has today announced the development of a mirror that can detect flu-like symptoms, such as a fever.

The Thermo Mirror has a built-in thermometer, but an individual does not need to make any physical contact with the device for it to measure their temperature, making it a handy reusable instrument for measuring flu.

While a person admires their beauty or frets about how many extra stones they put on over Christmas, the mirror displays their temperature and an alarm sounds if they are deemed feverish.

NEC Avio said that it expects that the device will be used in corporate receptions, schools, hospitals and public facilities, but it could also replace more expensive technology used in airports. Many airports currently use thermography cameras to detect feverish travellers to prevent them from travelling in a constricted air space, a perfect condition for spreading disease. 

These devices are expensive, however, usually costing well over $10,000 each, but the Thermo Mirror can be bought for either 98,000 yen ($1,180) or 120,000 yen ($1,445), depending on the version, which means you can get a lot more for your money.

NEC Avio plans to sell 5,000 units of the Thermo Mirror this year.

With the recent increases in cases of swine flu, we may in future ditch the doctor to turn to our trusted mirror and say: “Mirror, mirror, on the wall, do I have the flu at all?”

Online hypochondriacs make themselves crazy with self-diagnosis

With warnings about flu and the other general ailments we all get during the depressing January month, it’s no surprise that research has shown that the number of people scouring the internet for health advice will grow.

However, in our haste to self diagnose many of us will fail to check where the information comes from according to the researchers at the London School of Economics (LSE), which were commissioned by Bupa to look into this trend.

GPs also warn that self diagnosis sites are “leading to a nation of hypochondriacs”.  

The research said one key factor in the growth of health websites is down to the rise  of smartphones and tablet computers, which mean more health information is available online.

Of the 12,000 people questioned internationally, 81 percent searched for advice about health, medicines or medical conditions.

Russians were found to be the most curious, searching for health advice the most on the internet, followed by China, India, Mexico and Brazil. The French search for online health information the least, according to the survey’s findings.

It also found that 68 percent look for information about specific medicines and nearly 40 percent use it to look for other patients’ experiences of a condition. Over in blighty 60 percent of Brits look for information about medicines and more than half of them, use the information to self diagnose.

According to a family GP, the self diagnosis is leading to a nation of hypochondriacs.  

“There are so many sites out on the internet proffering medical advice. However, they aren’t helpful,” he told TechEye.

“Not only is information on some of these incorrect but it also gives the worse diagnosis leading to a new bout of hypochondriacs. If people are very worried about their health then they should visit a doctor who will be able to carry out tests and give the right information. If they must look at websites to give information then NHS Direct is probably the best option – although even that one can often frighten people.”

We did a little bit of medical research to see if our headache was anything to be worried about. Whilst many sites said it was a migraine, one or two got our hearts pumping far too quickly – apparently a fast beating heart means you have a serious heart defect according to one site – telling us we had a tumour. The diagnosis wasn’t much more positive and one site even told us it could get us some special miracle drugs. All it needed was a credit card number.

This is something the British Medical Association warns against. A spokesman for the organisation told TechEye:  “The internet can be a fantastic source of health information, but does need to be used very selectively.  

“Sites like Best Health and NHS Choices are reliable, whereas people should be extremely sceptical about any sites that promise miracle cures or demand payment.”

A Department of Health spokesman said: “Over the past year NHS Choices has been logged onto more than 100 millions times, and recently topped a Which? investigation into medical websites. Which? confirmed the site ‘excelled for its breadth of information’ and that the site contained  medically robust information’.

“In addition, Nottingham University earlier this year said patients should be signposted to trusted NHS websites such as NHS Choices.”

Fat people forget to fight flu

Being fat stops the immune system from remembering how to fight off illness, meaning that it limits the body from getting an immunity to flu.

The results in the Journal of Immunology said that fat mice were not able to develop protective influenza-specific memory T cells, generated by the body during an initial flu infection.

These cells are vital against protecting a second infection by targeting proteins common among flu viruses. Less fatty mice could develop the infection-fighting T cells and ward off the flu.

“Our work suggests that obese people should be considered at high risk for infection,” said the study’s lead author Erik Karlsson, a doctoral candidate in nutrition.

The lean mice were fed with low-fat food while the fatty mice were fed with a high-fat diet. When the mice recovered from the first bit of flu, they was infected a second time with a more lethal form of flu.

“We lost none of the lean mice, but 25 percent of obese mice died,” Karlsson says.

It builds on other research that sees fat patients struggle more against flu viruses. 

The guess is that fat may restrict lung volume, with obesity causing chronic inflammation and influencing the immune response.

So next time you pick up that pie, it might give you more than indigestion.