Health and Science

Flu vaccines not in short supply

NO SHORTAGE: In response to reports of a shortage of flu vaccines, the health and welfare minister said that there were more than 2 million vaccines still available

Taipei Times
Date: Dec 12, 2019
By: Lee I-chia  /  Staff reporter

The nation still has more than 2 million doses of government-funded flu vaccines and shortages at some medical centers might be due to logistical issues, Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) said yesterday, rejecting media reports that flu vaccines were running low.

Local Chinese-language media on Tuesday reported that some public health centers and hospitals had announced that they did not have enough vaccines on the second day of phase two of the government-funded seasonal flu vaccination program.

The government is this year distributing the vaccines in three phases, beginning with elementary and high-school students and medical practitioners on Nov. 15, followed by the second phase, which started on Sunday, for preschoolers and people aged 65 and older.

Out of the 3.165 million doses of government-funded vaccines that have been dispatched to local health departments, only about 1.138 million have been used, leaving about 2.027 million available, and there has not been a shortage of vaccines, Chen said when asked for comment at the Legislative Yuan.    [FULL  STORY]

Ministry considers installing more AEDs

SAFETY PREPARATIONS: A health official said the ministry was mulling installing additional AEDs in public places, such as temples, schools and community centers

Taipei Times
Date: Dec 02, 2019
By: Staff writer, with CNA

The Ministry of Health and Welfare is considering installing automated external defibrillators (AEDs)

An automated external defibrillator (AED) is seen in Taipei yesterday. The Ministry of Health and Welfare is considering installing more AEDs at public places around Taiwan.
Photo: CNA

at more public places, including temples, to reduce fatalities from sudden cardiac arrest, a senior health official said.

The ministry was investigating the feasibility of expanding the current installation of AEDs to more public spaces, such as popular temples, community centers and junior-high and elementary schools, Department of Medical Affairs Director-General Shih Chung-liang (石崇良) said.

AEDs are already installed in public venues, including transportation hubs, tourist attractions, high schools, universities, assembly sites, leisure areas that attract at least 3,000 people a day, large shopping malls, hotels and hot spring areas, Shih said.

The review came after the death on Wednesday of Canadian-Taiwanese actor and model Godfrey Gao (高以翔) in China.    [FULL  STORY]

IKEA travel mugs in Taiwan found to contain dangerous plasticizer levels

TROLIGTVIS  travel mugs imported from India to be returned or destroyed

Taiwan News
Date: 2019/11/26
By: Huang Tzu-ti, Taiwan News, Staff Writer

TROLIGTVIS travel mug. (IKEA website photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — A type of travel mug imported from India by IKEA has been found to contain extremely high plasticizer levels, according to Taiwan’s Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Results from a border inspection indicate that the TROLIGTVIS insulated travel mugs distributed by the renowned European furniture and home accessories group contain 1.6 ppm of dibutyl phthalate (DBP), a compound commonly used as a plasticizer, reported Liberty Times.

Taiwan has put a cap of 0.3 ppm on the chemical, which means the DBP levels detected in the product have exceeded five times the permitted level. Barred from entry, the mugs will be returned or destroyed, said the report.

Yen Tsung-hai (顏宗海), director of the Clinical Toxicology Center at Chang Gung Memorial Hospital, pointed out that a human weighing 60 kilograms should not consume more than 0.6 milligrams of DBP a day. Excessive consumption of the plasticizer could be detrimental to the endocrine system as well as adversely affect the reproductive system, wrote MSN News.    [FULL  STORY]

Diseases added to autonomy law

Taipei Times
Date: Nov 24, 2019
By: Staff writer, with CNA

Eleven rare diseases are to be added to the medical conditions covered by the Patient Right to Autonomy Act (病人自主權利法), the ministry announced on Friday last week.

The act, which went into effect on Jan. 6 and is the first of its kind in Asia, gives people the right to decide in advance what medical treatment or healthcare option they will accept if they are terminally ill, are in an irreversible coma or a permanent vegetative state, have advanced dementia or meet other conditions announced by authorities.

Such patients are entitled to terminate life-sustaining treatment, as well as artificial nutrition.

As part of the act’s implementation and after a series of meetings with experts over the past year, the ministry has named 11 rare diseases — multiple system atrophy, Duchenne muscular dystrophy, hereditary epidermolysis bullosa, Huntington disease, limb-girdle muscular dystrophy, nemaline myopathy, spinocerebellar ataxia, spinal muscular atrophy, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, cystic fibrosis and primary pulmonary hypertension — as conditions that are unbearable or incurable.

Omega-3 fish oil can reduce ADHD symptoms

Children with the lowest levels of omega-3 showed improved attention and vigilance after taking supplements.

BBC Science Focus Magazine
Date: 23rd November, 2019
By: James Lloyd

The fatty acids found in oily fish could provide a new way to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in children, according to a study at King’s College London, UK and China Medical University in Taichung, Taiwan.

ADHD is a behavioural disorder that’s characterised by hyperactivity, impulsiveness, and a difficulty in paying attention. Currently, ADHD is most commonly treated using stimulants such as methylphenidate (Ritalin), which have been shown to reduce symptoms. But a new, natural treatment could be on the cards.

Previous research has shown that children with an omega-3 deficiency are more likely to have more severe ADHD. In this new study, the researchers gave 92 children with ADHD aged 6-18 high doses of the omega-3 fatty acid EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) or a placebo for 12 weeks.

The children with the lowest pre-existing blood levels of omega-3 showed improved attention and vigilance after taking the omega-3 supplements – outdoing even the improvement that’s previously been seen in studies with methylphenidate.    [FULL  STORY]

Doctor claims HPV can be contracted multiple ways

Taipei Times
Date: Nov 01, 2019
By: Fang Chih-hsien and Jake Chung  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

A Kaohsiung urologist has warned people to be wary of personal hygiene when using public facilities, as it is possible to contract human papillomavirus (HPV) through casual contact and not just through sexual intercourse.

Cheng Pin-jui (鄭斌睿) of the Cisian Gaomei Urology Clinic said he treated a 30-year-old man who complained of a constant itch in his anus.

The man said he thought he had felt some protrusions and that he was afraid of having contracted genital warts.

The clinic’s diagnosis confirmed the patient’s suspicion.    [FULL  STORY8]

“Asian Flush”: Taiwan ranks first in the world in enzyme deficiency

Radio Taiwan International
Date: 23 September, 2019
By: Natalie Tso

Stanford study:Taiwanese have highest prevalence of “Asian flush”

Taiwan ranks first in the world in the prevalence of “Asian flush” – or alcohol flush reaction. It’s a phenomenon where people turn red when they consume alcohol, because of an enzyme deficiency that affects 47% of the population in Taiwan.

The “Asian flush” is not just a physical response to drinking alcohol, it’s a sign of an enzyme deficiency.

People who lack the ALDH2 enzyme cannot metabolize alcohol. This results in flushed faces, respiratory problems, nausea, vomiting and possibly diseases.

Nearly half of the people in Taiwan have this deficiency.    [FULL  STORY]

Taipei to require ramen chains to reveal ingredients

Taipei Times
Date: Sep 24, 2019
By: Lee I-chia  /  Staff reporter

The Taipei Department of Health yesterday said it soon plans to require all ramen stores with two or more shops in the city to register their ingredients to ensure food safety and disclose information about food products to the public.

Established in 2013, the city’s food ingredient registration Web site — Food Tracer Taipei — contains results from the health department’s food inspections, as well as data posted by stores and restaurants about the ingredients that they use.

There were 10 major categories of food establishments that need to register ingredients — including chain beverage and iced dessert stores, chain coffee shops, fast food restaurants and chain breakfast shops — and the health department announced that it has opened two new categories: chain Japanese ramen stores and traditional markets.

Fourteen Japanese ramen brands have already registered 95 types of products on the platform, including 682 ingredients, department section head Chen Yi-ting (陳怡婷) said.    [FULL  STORY]

Taiwan develops new scrub typhus rapid test kit

Focus Taiwan
Date: 2019/08/31
By: Chen Wei-ting and Chung Yu-chen

Taipei, Aug. 31 (CNA) The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has developed a locally produced testing kit for quick and effective diagnosis of scrub typhus, a mite-borne infectious disease, the agency announced recently.

According to CDC Deputy Director-General Chuang Jen-hsiang (莊人祥), the newly designed device can analyze 96 samples in four hours, while the existing infection diagnostic system can only examine 60 samples in four hours and requires highly trained personnel to administer the test and interpret the results.

The testing kit is applicable for the detection of the widest range of scrub typhus strains, Chuang said.

The device can not only detect scrub typhus cases in Taiwan, but can also be used for scrub typhus diagnosis in Thailand, Sri Lanka, Malaysia and Australia, the CDC said, citing research results from the U.S. Naval Health Research Center, where the kit was sent for testing in June.

Hygiene item suspected of transmitting HPV

Taipei Times
Date: Aug 23, 2019
By: Hsieh Chieh-yu and Sherry Hsiao  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

A doctor in Nantou County advised people not to share personal hygiene products, after a growth of

Nantou Hospital otolaryngology department physician Wu Chao-kuan points to an image of a surgically removed wart yesterday in an examination room at the hospital.
Photo: Hsieh Chieh-yu, Taipei Times

warts inside a 70-year-old man’s ears was likely caused by a reusable ear pick used at a hair salon.

The man, surnamed Huang (黃), experienced itchiness inside his right ear and occasional pus and bloody discharge, Nantou Hospital otolaryngologist Wu Chao-kuan (吳昭寬) said.

Huang visited the hospital after losing hearing in the ear, Wu said, adding that an endoscopic exam confirmed the growth of warts.

The warts were surgically removed and Huang’s hearing gradually recovered, he added.