Discover the most talked about and latest scientific content & concepts.

Concept: Christmas


A “Christmas holiday effect” showing elevated cardiovascular mortality over the Christmas holidays (December 25 to January 7) was demonstrated previously in study from the United States. To separate the effect of seasonality from any holiday effect, a matching analysis was conducted for New Zealand, where the Christmas holiday period falls within the summer season.

Concepts: United States, Pacific Ocean, Australia, Autumn, New York City, Antarctica, Christmas, Northern Hemisphere


ABSTRACT BACKGROUND: Paper-based diaries and self-report of symptom worsening in COPD studies may lead to under-detection of exacerbations. Epidemiologically, COPD exacerbations exhibit seasonal patterns peaking at year-end. We examined whether use of a BlackBerry-based daily symptom diary would detect 95% or more of exacerbations and enable characterization of seasonal differences between them. METHODS: Fifty participants with GOLD stage l to lV COPD began a community-based study in December 2007. Another 30 began in December 2008. Participants transmitted daily symptom diaries using a BlackBerry. Alerts were triggered when symptom changes, missed diary transmissions or medical care for a respiratory problem occurred. Participant encounters were initiated if COPD exacerbations were suspected. Participants reported returns to normal breathing using their BlackBerry. RESULTS: Participants transmitted 99.9% of 28,514 possible daily diaries. All 191 (2.5/participant-year) COPD exacerbations meeting Anthonisen criteria were detected. During 148/191 exacerbations (78%; 1.97/participant-year) patients were hospitalized and/or ordered prednisone, an antibiotic or both. Respiratory viruses were detected in 78/191 (41%) of exacerbations. Those coinciding with a respiratory viral infection averaged 12.0 days, those without averaged 8.9 days (P <.04), with no difference in Anthonisen score. Respiratory symptom scores before exacerbations and after normal breathing return showed no differences. Exacerbations were more frequent during the Christmas period than the rest of the year but not than the rest of winter alone. CONCLUSIONS: Smartphone-based collection of COPD symptom diaries enables near complete identification of exacerbations at inception. Exacerbation rates in the Christmas season do not reach levels that necessitate changes in disease management.

Concepts: Disease, Participation, Virus, Infection, Difference, Breathing, Christmas, Diary


From November 2008-May 2009 Cairns Queensland Australia was struck by an explosive epidemic of DENV-3 that exceeded the capacity of highly skilled dengue control team to control it. We describe the environmental, virological and entomological factors associated with this outbreak to better understand the circumstances leading to its occurrence. Patient interviews, serological results and viral sequencing strongly suggest that the imported index case was infected in Kalimantan, Indonesia. A delay in notification of 27 days from importation of the index case until Queensland Health was notified of dengue transmission allowed the virus to amplify and spread unchecked through November 2008. Unseasonably warm weather, with daily mean temperatures exceeding 30°C, occurred in late November and would have shortened the extrinsic incubation period of the virus and enhanced transmission. Analysis of case movements early in the outbreak indicated that the total incubation period was as low as 9-11 days. This was supported by laboratory vector competence studies that found transmission by Aedes aegypti occurred within 5 days post exposure at 28°C. Effective vector competence rates calculated from these transmission studies indicate that early transmission contributed to the explosive dengue transmission observed in this outbreak. Collections from BG sentinel traps and double sticky ovitraps showed that large populations of the vector Ae. aegypti occurred in the transmission areas from November - December 2008. Finally, the seasonal movement of people around the Christmas holiday season enhanced the spread of DENV-3. These results suggest that a strain of DENV-3 with an unusually rapid transmission cycle was able to outpace vector control efforts, especially those reliant upon delayed action control such as lethal ovitraps.

Concepts: Epidemiology, Mosquito, Yellow fever, 2008, Aedes aegypti, Aedes, Dengue fever, Christmas


The reciprocity norm refers to the expectation that people will help those who helped them. A well-known study revealed that the norm is strong with Christmas cards, with 20% of people reciprocating a Christmas card received from a stranger. I attempted to conceptually replicate and extend this effect. In Study 1, 755 participants received a Christmas card supposedly from a more versus less similar stranger. The reciprocation rate was unexpectedly low (2%), which did not allow for a test of a similarity effect. Two potential reasons for this low rate were examined in Study 2 in which 494 participants reported their likelihood of reciprocating a Christmas card from a stranger as well as their felt suspicions/threat about the card and their frequency of e-mail use. Reciprocation likelihood was negatively correlated with perceived threat/suspicion and e-mail use. It appears that reciprocating a gift from a stranger in offline settings may be less likely than expected.

Concepts: Cognition, Probability density function, Reciprocity, Similarity, Test, Christmas, The Card, Christmas card


To understand the effect of attendance at departmental Christmas parties on cohesion and teamwork within the healthcare setting. METHOD DESIGN/SETTING/PARTICIPANTS/INTERVENTIONS/OUTCOME MEASURES: We used the ‘Team Development Measure’ questionnaire to assess team cohesiveness among healthcare professionals before and after departmental Christmas parties took place. A pooled mean score (PMS) of responses was used to compare between groups.

Concepts: Christmas, Party


Becky Richardson, Young Vet Network representative on BVA Council, shares her tips for getting through a busy Christmas season as a new graduate vet.

Concepts: Veterinarian, Christmas


Landgrave Philipp of Hesse was one of the leading figures of the reformation period. His morganatic marriage to a young Saxonian lady resulted in a massive impairment of his importance and initiated the division of his territory among his four legitimate sons. Triorchidism ascribed to him was more likely a misdiagnosed spermatozele, and also, there is no reliable account for his syphilis infection. The foundation of the Hessian Grand Hospitals, housing the poor, sick and disabled from the countryside, was his major social-medical achievement.

Concepts: Marriage, Germany, Syphilis, Christmas, Protestant Reformation, Thuringia, Morganatic marriage, Dower


We report the case of a 14-month-old girl suffering from cough and wheeze around Christmas. She was treated with anti-asthmatic drugs with no success, and 3 weeks later a chest X-ray revealed a LED bulb in the left main bronchus. This LED bulb came from a Christmas light garland decorating the Christmas tree. We discuss the different Christmas objects that can be inhaled by young children, the challenge to diagnose bronchial inhalation during this winter period, and the emergence of new foreign bodies, such as LED bulbs, with a particularly aerodynamic shape.

Concepts: Asthma, Respiratory system, Lighting, Incandescent light bulb, Bronchus, Christmas tree, Christmas, Christmas lights


Previous studies have investigated the impact of the Christmas and New Year holiday on suicide rates. However, no such data has yet been published on Swedish suicides.

Concepts: Death, Demography, Sweden, Suicide, Christmas tree, Christmas, New Year's Day


Young wives in South Korea often dread New Year’s Day and Thanksgiving Day because they assume the burden of cooking, cleaning, and other household chores. We used their offspring’s birthweight as an indicator of their stress levels. We included all Korean singletons born in hospitals during 1997-2014 (N = 8,589,426) and regressed birthweight on in utero holiday experience by trimester, along with covariates. Babies who experienced New Year’s Day in the first trimester were 9.4 grams lighter than those who did not; the amount is equivalent to 120% of the reduced birthweight associated with experiencing landmine explosions during the first trimester in Colombia. Higher birthweight was related to being in the first trimester during Thanksgiving Day vs. not. However, experiencing this holiday during the third trimester was associated with less increase in birthweight than during the other trimesters. These results suggest that the New Year holiday may reflect stress for Korean women in their first trimester of pregnancy, resulting in reduced birthweight, but similar stress was not associated with the Thanksgiving Day holiday. Clinicians and policymakers should be aware of this potential high stress level among Korean women during New Year’s Day and seek ways to prevent and alleviate it.

Concepts: Experience, South Korea, Christmas, New Year's Day, Cleaning, New Year, Parade, Thanksgiving