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Outbreak of bubonic plague kills 40 in Madagascar

An outbreak of bubonic plague has killed 40 people in less than three months, the World Health Organization (WHO) has revealed.

It means the disease has killed more than a third of the 119 confirmed cases reported since the end of August.

And two of the cases reported have developed into pneumonic plague, where the bacteria reaches the lungs - considered one of the most deadly infectious diseases on the planet as it can kill people within 24 hours.

A total of 119 confirmed cases of the plague have been reported in Madagascar since the end of August Credit: Google Maps

Health experts have also warned there is a risk of “rapid spread” in the capital city Antananarivo. So far, two cases – including one death – have been reported, and with a high population density and weak healthcare system there is concern that the number of cases should shoot up dramatically.

The plague is a bacterial disease usually passed between rodents via fleas.

There are not currently any trade or travel restrictions in place.

Health chiefs declare end of Ebola in the Congo

The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared the end of the separate Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

It comes after nobody showed any symptoms for two incubation periods - a total of 42 days - since the last reported case.

A total of 49 people died out of 66 infection in the country since August.

In a statement, a WHO spokesman said the country was now considered free of Ebola transmission.

Read: WHO: Ebola death toll rises to 5,420

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One in 10 with breast cancer offered fertility treatment

A study has found only one in 10 women diagnosed with breast cancer are being offered the chance to have fertility treatment, despite the disease leaving them potentially unable to have children.

One in 10 women with breast cancer offer fertility treatment. Credit: PA

According to Breast Cancer Care, 88% of women under 45 were not referred to a fertility clinic to discuss the possibility of freezing eggs or embryos ahead of cancer treatment.

The charity said this is leaving an estimated 5,000 younger breast cancer patients across the UK missing out on fertility care, despite cancer treatment potentially leaving them unable to have children in future.

DoH: £50m invested in early cancer diagnosis

Department of Health officials have said that £50m has been invested in early cancer diagnosis in the wake of a investigation into GPS referring patients.

We have already invested #450 million in early diagnosis of cancer, and, as the Office for National Statistics says, survival rates are at record highs.

Direct GP access to diagnostic tests is one pathway that helps with this, but there has also been a 50% increase in GPs' use of the urgent suspected cancer referral pathway over the last four years.

GPs directly requested over a quarter of all tests that may have been used to diagnose cancer in June 2014 and we delivered a record 1.6 million diagnostic tests in July 2014, compared with 1.2 million in April 2010.

– Department of Health (DoH) spokesman

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GP's 'prevented' from directly referring cancer patients

An investigation has found that half of GPs are prevented from directly referring suspected bowel or brain cancer patients for scans.

Patients face a "postcode lottery" of services due to restrictions imposed by some clinical commissioning groups (CCGs), according to GP magazine, which carried out the study.

GP's 'prevented' from directly referring cancer patients. Credit: PA

Freedom of Information (FOI) responses from 182 CCGs, which organise the delivery of NHS services in England, found 49% barred GPs from directly accessing MRI scans for suspected brain cancer patients.

Meanwhile, 50% of CCGs said they did not commission direct access to flexible sigmoidoscopy tests in cases of suspected bowel cancer, the study found.

Judge allows surgeons to operate on boy who won't eat

A judge has given specialists the go-ahead to carry out exploratory surgery on a teenager who refuses to eat or drink and has lost a "worrying" amount of weight.

Mrs Justice Pauffley ruled that the 16-year-old boy, who has learning difficulties, did not have the mental capacity to make decisions about his medical treatment.

She gave surgeons, who fear he could die, permission to investigate in the ruling at the Court of Protection in London.

The judge said the boy and the hospital where he was being cared for could not be identified.

New drugs from labs 'as quickly and safely possible'

Officials said the review would examine how precision medicine and digital health technology could enable new products to be brought from the laboratory "as quickly and safely possible".

"This will transform the landscape of drug development from the 20th-century model to a world century model to a world in which the NHS becomes a partner in innovative testing, proving and adopting new drugs and devices in research studies with real patients," Mr Freeman told The Times.

"For too long NHS patients have seen drugs and innovations developed in the UK but not adopted here in our NHS.

"We are determined to unlock the power of our NHS to be a test-bed for the 21st-century medical innovations we all need, getting NHS patients faster access, reducing the cost of drug development and boosting our life science sector."

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