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November 20, 2018

THE WEEK

23 counties get adverse El nino flooding alert

The government has issued safety measures to help manage the impending El-Nino expected to bring heavy rains from this month.

“Kenyans are advised that 23 counties are likely to experience direct effects of increased surface water levels due to the El Nino rains,” said the statement from the interior ministry. The Kenya Meteorological Department said the short rains season start this week in most places.

The prospect of a record-breaking El Nino is worrying since the 1997 weather killed many people and left hundreds homeless. The rains start this week in most parts of the country.

 

Coast students develop stone cure for snakebites

Students from Coast Girls School have developed a black stone that neutralises effects of snakes, scorpion and insect bites. The black stone or viper stone, which is made from the thigh bone of a cow, is placed on a cut on the bitten area, soaking up the poison and reducing the fatality of the bite.

Traditionally, the stone was prepared using any animal bone that was cleaned, dried, baked and left to cool in open air, which re-oxidised it and reduced its absorptive ability. Previously, residents would consult local healers who charged them up to Sh2,000 for each snake bite treatment. The school project, under the Educating Girls in Science programme, was led by Aga Khan Academy in Mombasa, supported by Intel and the Aga Khan Foundation (USA).

 

Visit your elderly thrice a week, experts advise

Families should visit their older relatives three times a week to help prevent them from becoming depressed, experts say. The scientists, from the University of Michigan in the US, looked at 11,000 adults aged 50 or over, examining how often they were contacted in person, by telephone and by email or social media. They then looked at the risk of depression two years later.

Those who were visited three times a week had a 6.5 per cent chance of developing depression, compared to an 11.5 per cent risk in those who saw friends and family just once every few months. Frequent phone calls, written or email contact did nothing to alleviate the risk of depression. The study is published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.

 

DNA repair studies earn Nobel for Chemistry

The 2015 Nobel Prize for chemistry has been jointly awarded to three scientists for their “mechanistic studies of DNA repair,” the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences announced. Tomas Lindahl, Paul Modrich and Aziz Sancar won “for having mapped, at a molecular level, how cells repair damaged DNA and safeguard the genetic information.”

The organisation tweeted graphics explaining the scientists’ work. Lindahl, a Swedish scientist, showed that “DNA decays at a rate that ought to have made the development of life on Earth impossible,” the academy said.

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