Influenza: it’s wise to immunize


Influenza is a contagious viral respiratory infection, which typically occurs as epidemics during the winter months in temperate zones. It is usually mild and uncomplicated, but may occasionally cause severe disease, particularly in vulnerable populations.

Seasonal influenza vaccination is the single most effective protective measure against the virus.

Since 2008, annual surveys of influenza vaccination policies, practices and coverage have been undertaken in 29 European Union (EU)/ European Economic Area (EEA) countries. In December 2009 the EU Council of Ministers agreed to take action to mitigate the impact of seasonal influenza by encouraging vaccination among older people, people with chronic conditions and healthcare workers. The aim? To increase vaccination coverage of older age groups to a target of 75% vaccination coverage …

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It’s an eyeball with legs! Discovering more about the extinct, enigmatic and altogether bizarre Thylacocephlans

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The origins of Thylacocephalans, bizarre arthropods extinct for over 80 million years, has long been shrouded in mystery. The discovery of a new species, the oldest yet found, is described today in BMC Evolutionary Biology, giving us new insight into the evolution and lifestyle of this remarkable predator.


Extinct and enigmatic

The fossil record contains many bizarre types of animals unlike any species alive today. Thylacocephalans are an excellent example of such a group. Extinct for over 84 million years, they are assumed to be related to crustaceans. However their bizarre morphology, so unlike any modern crustaceans, means their exact relationship to existing animals remains controversial.


Research published today in BMC Evolutionary Biology, sheds new light on these enigmatic animals. New …

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Is dengue fever coming to Europe?


The mosquitoes are swarming. With the raising global temperatures, they are venturing away from their tropical countries of residence and exploring new territories. As the mosquitoes relocate themselves they also bring various diseases with them, including dengue fever. There are regular cases of dengue reported in China, Indonesia, Taiwan and Vietnam, but even these endemic zones are seeing an increase number of infections. For Europeans, dengue might seem distant and only concern themselves with it when planning holidays. However, climate change could see it closer to home.

Europe may only be the free dengue fever haven it was once considered to be for a little while longer. Generally speaking, dengue fever is non-existent in Europe. Any cases that have occurred …

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BMC Medical Research Methodology at the 35th Annual Conference of the International Society for Clinical Biostatistics (ISCB).


BMC Medical Research Methodology will be heading next week to Vienna for the 35th Annual Conference of the International Society for Clinical Biostatistics (ISCB).


The conference will focus on issues such as design and analysis of clinical trials, methods in biostatistics and development of clinical prediction models. The journal is sponsoring one Conference Award for Scientists from countries underdeveloped in clinical biostatistics.


The Executive Editor, Giulia Mangiameli, will be happy to meet researchers to discuss the state of the field and their possible involvement in the Editorial Board of the journal.


We are looking forward to seeing you in Vienna!

Developing a more tolerant tummy

A bushy-tailed woodrat. Picture credit Oregon Caves

Woodrats living in the deserts of the US have a pretty poor selection of foods on offer. Juniper bushes and cactuses used to make up the majority of their diet. While I do love a bit of juniper once it’s made into gin, Monty Python’s life of Brian showed us, if any proof were needed, that a diet of just juniper bushes isn’t much fun (Profanity warning at the end of that clip). And cactus? No thanks.

But scientists looking at the genetics of woodrats have found that as creosote bushes have colonized the deserts where the woodrats lived, the animals managed to develop a tolerance to eating them, despite the fact that the bushes …

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Highlights of the BMC-series: July 2014



Decline in HIV-1 resistant mutations • Beyond ENCODE? • As dead as the Dodo and twice as mysterious• Back pain beliefs • Circulating tumour cells: prognosis in metastatic breast cancer?

Infectious Diseases : Decline in HIV- 1 resistant mutations
Drug resistant strains of HIV-1 remain a major constraint on the long term control of HIV-1 infection. Analysis of HIV-1 polymerase mutations in treatment failing patients between 2003-2012, according to class of antiretroviral regimen used at failure, suggests a reduction in acquired drug resistance with time irrespective of the specific antiretroviral class in use. The marked decline in resistance could be due to updated prescription guidelines and frequent use of resistance testing to guarantee the most favourable antiretroviral treatment …

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BMC Psychology at APA 2014


 BMC Psychology is looking forward to next week as the journal heads to Washington D.C for    the American Psychological Association Annual Convention.

The APA convention is the largest gathering of psychologists and psychology students in the world, promising to showcase exciting developments at the leading edge of psychological research, with delegate numbers reaching 14 000.

Programs and sessions will cover issues such as health disparities, use of technology, violence, integrated health care, and clinical practice.

Following a successful launch in Feb 2013, BMC Psychology is one of the newer additions to the BMC series portfolio. It is gradually building momentum and on its way to be becoming one of the handful of established open access, open peer reviewed …

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American Diabetes Association 2014


Last month BMC Endocrine Disorders was in San Francisco to attend the 74th Scientific Sessions of the American Diabetes Association (ADA); one of the largest and most prestigious conferences in the field of endocrinology.

Extremely well organised, the conference was attended by over 17,000 clinicians and scientists from 121 countries across the globe. With such an international audience it was thoughtful of the organisers to create a ‘World Cup Lounge’ so that everyone was able to keep in touch with the action in Brazil.

A wide range of talks were presented at the conference covering clinical medicine as well as basic science. An early highlight came from researchers on the ORIGIN, ACCORD and VADT studies which examined the relationship …

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The new Impact Factors are coming….

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Now is the time of year when journal editors all over the world sit repeatedly clicking ‘refresh’ on their browsers. Up? Down? Staying the same? What will happen to their journal’s Impact Factor when the Journal Citation Report is published? I will be as guilty as everyone else, scouring the lists for my journals; celebrating those whose impact factors have increased, looking into the why for those who have gone down. Truth be told though, here on the subject-specific journals of the BMC series, our attitude to our Impact Factors might be a little different than other journals.

Although there is increasing discussion about the best way to measure the impact of journals and articles, the Impact Factors …

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The Dodo and the Spotted Green Pigeon; solving a 200 year old mystery

Spotted Green Pigeon from Bulletin of the Liverpool Museums by Joseph Smit (2)

The Dodo, that remarkable flightless bird, has become an icon of extinction. However it was far from the only unique island bird to become extinct in the era of European exploration in the Indian and Pacific Oceans.

Of the many species lost in those times, the Spotted Green Pigeon is one of the most mysterious. It is known to us today from just a single museum specimen. Over 200 years after it was first described we are still unsure of where this pigeon lived, its relations to other birds or even if it was actually a unique species.


However new research, published today in BMC Evolutionary Biology, uses DNA taken from this one remaining specimen to not only resolve these …

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