In Brief

In Brief

October 28, 2005


Warmer waters stressing reefs

The extremely warm ocean waters fueling the record hurricane season are severely stressing coral reefs throughout the Caribbean and might kill 80 percent to 90 percent of the structures in some areas, scientists reported this week.

These colorful undersea landmarks -- homes for tropical fish -- are turning white, or bleaching, in an area extending from the Florida Keys to Puerto Rico and Panama because warmer than usual water has persisted for months.

In 20 years of satellite monitoring, said Al Strong, coordinator for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Coral Reef Watch, "These levels are like nothing we've ever seen. It's twice the thermal stress that we've ever seen for corals."

Coral bleaching started showing up in the Florida Keys this summer and has spread throughout much of the Caribbean. Puerto Rican scientists report that 85 percent to 95 percent of the coral reefs there were bleached as were 70 percent of the corals in Grenada.


Public health

Children's vaccine benefits adults

A vaccine designed for children has reduced pneumonia and related infections in older Americans who didn't even take the shot, according to a study released this week.

The vaccine, marketed as Prevnar by Wyeth, was approved in 2000 to vaccinate children against pneumococcal bacteria, which can cause pneumonia, meningitis and other fatal infections. Since then, about two-thirds of the children born here have been immunized, which has lowered the number of bacteria circulating in the United States.

People 50 or older reaped the benefits, according to research in Wednesday's Journal of the American Medical Association.

Invasive infections fell 28 percent among adults 50 and older in the two years after the vaccine was marketed, based on a U.S. government program that tracks the disease in eight states. That translates into 12,500 fewer illnesses and 1,100 fewer deaths nationwide in those years, according to the calculations of researchers led by epidemiologist Catherine A. Lexau of the Minnesota Department of Health.

"Vaccinating the kids means they are carriers less often, and ultimately the elderly are less exposed," Lexau said.



Humans may cause asthma in cats

Scottish researchers believe they have discovered a cause of asthma in cats -- their owners.

Human irritants such as cigarette smoke, household dust and dandruff along with pollen and some types of cat litters can create inflammation in the airways of cats, according to the University of Edinburgh veterinarians.

Feline asthma afflicts about 1 in 200 cats, and vets often see an improvement in animals' condition when they are removed from the home for treatment, said Nick Reed, a researcher at the Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies.

The common denominator may be the presence of the bacterium Mycoplasma, which has been implicated as a trigger of human asthma.



King Tut seemed to prefer red wine

King Tutankhamen drank red wine, says a researcher who analyzed very dry traces of the vintage found in his tomb.

Maria Rosa Guasch-Jane, who briefed reporters this week at the British Museum, said she had invented a process which gave archaeologists a tool to discover the color of ancient wine. She also discovered that the most valued drink in ancient Egypt, shedeh, was made of red grapes.

Tutankhamen's were labeled with the product name, the harvest year, the source and the vine grower, Guasch-Jane said, but did not include the wine color. That was impossible to verify until Guasch-Jane invented a process to detect a color compound not found in white wine called syringic acid. The findings were originally reported in the journal Analytic Chemistry.

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.