The BMJ Today: Freezing to death, childhood asthma, and TB screening

Here’s your Friday roundup:

Cold homes and winter deaths
old_person_cold• GPs should identify people living in cold homes and visit them once a year to assess their heating needs, says the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE).

The guidance recommends that anyone whose health and wellbeing are at risk because of a cold home should be assessed and referred to local agencies, such as the health and housing service. The guidance isn’t just aimed at GPs, but anyone who has contact with vulnerable groups including social care staff, safety services staff, and workers from charities and voluntary organisations.

Asthma in children
• This clinical review summarises what to do when you suspect asthma and how to confirm the diagnosis. The basic components of management are discussed, including detailed management plans for different severities of an acute asthma attack. The authors stress that any emergency visit to hospital and failure of annual asthma review are key prognostic factors, and all children should be reviewed at least every three months.

TB screening
• Tuberculosis X-rayOne of the risks of biological drugs is that they can re-activate latent tuberculosis. What should you do before prescribing a biological drug? First, exclude active tuberculosis by asking about symptoms and possible exposure to or history of tuberculosis, and with a chest radiograph.

Second, check for latent tuberculosis with the tuberculin skin test and/or an interferon γ release assay. If either test is positive, it is appropriate to treat with chemoprophylaxis while monitoring for treatment related side effects.

Germany and the G7

• g7_2014Global health is slipping down the international agenda because other sectors, such as agriculture, are being pushed upwards, say Yamey and colleagues. But they are hopeful that this trend may be reversed when Germany, chair of the G7 group of large advanced economies, hosts the G7 summit in June 2015.

This year the summit has listed its three priorities as neglected tropical diseases, pandemics, and antimicrobial resistance. Amid much scepticism about the relevance and clout of the G7, the summit has a lot to prove. But what are the challenges that stand in its way?

Giselle Jones is specialist reviews editor, The BMJ.