Audiology in Brief Researchers at Queen’s University Belfast and the Belfast Health and Social Care Trust in Northern Ireland, UK, have developed a groundbreaking, life-saving test for meningitis that can produce results within an hour. Current tests for meningococcal infections produce results in 24 and 48 hours. Early detection also can potentially ... News in Brief
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News in Brief  |   September 01, 2010
Audiology in Brief
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Hearing Disorders / News in Brief
News in Brief   |   September 01, 2010
Audiology in Brief
The ASHA Leader, September 2010, Vol. 15, 5. doi:10.1044/leader.NIB.15112010.5
The ASHA Leader, September 2010, Vol. 15, 5. doi:10.1044/leader.NIB.15112010.5
New Meningitis Test Could Save Lives
Researchers at Queen’s University Belfast and the Belfast Health and Social Care Trust in Northern Ireland, UK, have developed a groundbreaking, life-saving test for meningitis that can produce results within an hour. Current tests for meningococcal infections produce results in 24 and 48 hours.
Early detection also can potentially improve outcomes for meningitis patients who often are left with life-altering conditions such as deafness and cerebral palsy.
“The new test, called loop mediated isothermal amplification (LAMP), uses a molecular method to detect genes that are common to all strains on the meningococcus,” said researcher Mike Shields. “The real advantage of the new LAMP test is that it has the potential to be a simple bedside test that is rapid, cheap, easy to use, and doesn’t require laboratory trained staff.” Visit Queen’s University Belfast web site for more information.
Wind Turbine Design and Noise
Wind turbines are becoming increasingly popular as a “green” energy source, but a design change may be needed to minimize the effects of their low-frequency sound. As their large rotors move, wind turbines generate a noise in the infrasound range that is challenging the conventional wisdom that what we can’t hear won’t hurt us.
Infrasound—defined as any sound lower than 20 Hz, the lowest frequency that most people can hear—is all around us. Although barely perceptible, it can create problems such as headaches, irritability, or difficulty concentrating in people who live close to wind turbines.
Researchers at the Washington University hypothesize that the outer hair cells (OHC) in the cochlea are highly sensitive to infrasound, but when they encounter it, their proteins don’t contract and expand like they do for sound frequencies in the acoustic range. Instead, the proteins work to prevent movement of the inner hair cells so that sound is not detected. Although the brain may not hear the sound, the OHC responses to it could influence the function of the inner ear and cause unfamiliar sensations. It’s unclear why some people are more sensitive to infrasound than others. Researchers postulate that it may be possible to change the design of wind turbines to minimize infrasound by locating the rotor further away from the pole. For more information, visit the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorder’s web site.
Kidney Disease Linked to Hearing Loss
Children with distal renal renal tubular acidosis (DRTA), a disorder that results in an accumulation of acid in the body, may have hearing loss. In a study that evaluated 51 children with DRTA, 11 patients—or 40.7%—had bilateral sensorineural hearing loss. The researchers also found that a significant percentage of the children with DRTA had sensorineural hearing loss and a mutation in the ATP6VB1 gene. These children showed no recovery of hearing with alkali treatment. The researchers recommend investigating the possibility of hearing loss in all children with DRTA. The full-text article is available in the July issue of theIranian Journal of Kidney Diseases.
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September 2010
Volume 15, Issue 11