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Paris hospital halts stool study after being hit by poo deluge

A Paris hospital which made a public appeal for stool samples for a study on intestinal diseases said Friday it had suspended the project after being inundated by donors hoping for an easy 50 euros.

Paris hospital halts stool study after being hit by poo deluge
Photo: AFP
“We had to cancel the call for donors and halt the study because it had gotten out of control,” professor Harry Sokol, the gastroenterologist leading the study at the Saint-Antoine hospital, told AFP.
   
Originally donors were sought via posters at the hospital and at medical schools, offering compensation of 50 euros ($57) if accepted.
   
“Someone took a picture and it spread rapidly on the internet and social media, because the message had been altered: People thought it meant: Give us your stools, we'll give you 50 euros,” Sokol said.
 
The telephone hotline and email for potential donors was quickly overwhelmed, “and even after we cut off the number people were calling the hospital switchboard, some even showed up in person, and it's still going on,” he said.
 
In fact the rigorous selection progress for the study, on a potential treatment for intestinal inflammation, involved a series of blood and stool tests as well as an extensive interview on a donor's medical history.
   
Doctors worldwide are studying fecal transplants, which aim to treat a range of chronic gut diseases by introducing stool bacteria from a healthy person into affected patients to help replenish a normal bacterial balance.
   
Fecal transplantation — also known as bacteriotherapy — can help counter symptoms and infections caused by C. difficile colitis, harmful bacteria which can proliferate especially after antibiotic treatment kills off too many beneficial bacteria in the digestive tract. 
   
“It's a very serious, large-scale study, with a long waiting list of patients” hoping to participate, Sokol said, adding that many were “devastated” over the project's suspension.

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OFFBEAT

France’s mystery rooftop panther stolen from zoo

A black panther rescued from rooftops near the northern city of Lille last week has been stolen from the zoo where it was taken after capture, officials said.

France's mystery rooftop panther stolen from zoo
Photo: AFP/ Sapeurs Pompiers du Nord

The feline was seized overnight from the zoo in Maubeuge near the Belgian border, the city's mayor, Arnaud Decagny, told AFP on Tuesday.

“This animal was the only target,” Decagny said, adding that “considerable efforts” were made to force locks and avoid security systems.

Zoo personnel are worried about the young panther's health, “which is rather delicate because he lacks strength,” the mayor added, saying the animal was just a few months old and weighed between 25 and 30kg.

The panther after its capture. Photo League Protectrice des Animaux de la Nord de France/AFP

The panther was going to be transferred to a centre specialised in rehabilitating wild animals that had been domesticated.

Firefighters caught the cat last Wednesday as it roamed rooftops in Armentieres after escaping through the window of a private apartment believed to have been its home.

The panther's owner is thought to have escaped through the same window, for fear of being charged with illegally harbouring a wild animal.

Police have not located the fugitive owner, who could face charges of endangering the public, which is punishable by up to a year in prison and €15,000 in fines, Decagny said.

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