Tuesday, December 18, 2007
I don't know that anyone is checking this (seeing as how we're on vacation and all) but, like Thomas, I was really excited about something virus related and NO ONE was here to share my excitement. There's a commercial about a new cold medication and it starts with "Do you know what the #1 cause is of the common cold?" And I got so excited I practically jumped out of my seat and yelled "RHINOVIRUSES!!" and my parents looked at me like I was crazy. Anyways, the commercial has a great picture of a rhino and talks about how "the rhinovirus" is just ready and waiting to trample you down. The commercial then says the only way to deal with the common cold is to treat your symptoms... until now. I don't buy in to it, but I'm sure tons of people will. Just one of many examples of how this class will allow us to be informed consumers! Enjoy your breaks, stay healthy and see you in January!
Saturday, December 15, 2007
Bird flu hits Pakistan... that can't be good.
Nerdy as this is to do over the break, I just had to share the story (as no one here at home was as excited as I was)...
Thursday, December 13, 2007
More than 30 percent of the cases of dengue fever came from Jakarta, the Head of Health Service Special Capital District, Dr. Wibowo Sukijat, MPH, said on Thursday (Dec 6, 2007). This number is an increase compared to the previous year  when there were 24,932 cases with 39 deaths.
There were several factors in Jakarta that account for why this area had the highest numbers of dengue fever cases, including bad environment, the mobility of many inhabitants, the inhabitants's substantial population, as well as increased temperatures, so virus [transmission] has been increasingly raging.
The [dengue virus mosquito vector] control campaign has not yet given optimal results.
Wednesday, December 12, 2007
To find out more:
Tuesday, December 11, 2007
Out of the 27 confirmed cases of bird flu in China, 17 have been fatal. Uh oh.
Monday, December 10, 2007
"You can eat anything with four legs except the dinner table" -- Local expression
P.S. GOOD LUCK STUDYING!!!
But Dr. Anthony Fauci is a pretty cool guy. He is the head of the National Institute of Allergies and Infectious Diseases at the NIH and also an early AIDS research pioneer. I went to school with his daughters and he always came to our cross-country meets, too.
The link below will lead to you a transcript of the World AIDs Day Webcast, which you can also view on video. Basically, the panelists Dr. Parham (Health Resources and Services Administration), Dr. Kevin Fenton (CDC), Ms. Beverly Watts Davis (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration), and Dr. Fauci (NIAID/NIH) discuss the state of the domestic HIV/AIDS epidemic, prevention programs, testing programs, care, treatment and research.
NIH and their public service campaign for Hispanic Youth on the link between non-injection drugs and HIV
Hispanic youths represent 16% of the US teenage population, but are expected to grow by 25% in the next decade. The CDC reports that Hispanic/Latinos account for 18% of new HIV/AIDS diagnoses.
Read more about the campaign at http://www.nih.gov/news/pr/nov2007/nida-26.htm
You can download the program for free at http://www.midasmodels.org, where you can enter and store infectious disease data (like age, sex of infected individuals and onset of symptoms, close contacts, etc). The program uses this info to statistically determine the probability that people contracte the disease from each other, the average number of people an individual could infect, and the rate that the infection occurs.
Sunday, December 9, 2007
Scientists from the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston
(UTMB) have reported their discovery of the reason behind a
mysterious epidemic on the island of La Reunion in the Indian Ocean.
An outbreak in 2005 and 2006 resulted in the 1st deaths from a virus
called chikungunya, a mosquito borne virus that mutated and became lethal.
In all, 266 000 people were infected, and at least 260 deaths
resulted. Researchers proved the epidemic was caused by a single
mutation and the virus was carried by a mosquito not previously known
to be a carrier. The species, _Aedes albopictus_, also called the
Asian tiger mosquito, has been established in the U.S. for around 20
years and has recently started spreading to Europe.
The researchers say the mutation gives the new strain of virus an
evolutionary edge over its predecessor and was predominantly
transmitted versus the original strain. The new strain evolved when a
single amino acid chain changed, leading to the ability for the virus
to infect the new mosquito. One of the authors created the same
change in a strain collected in Africa in 1983, which then also
showed a greater ability to infect _Aedes albopictus_.
In its non-lethal form, chikungunya causes extreme arthritis-like
pain, sometimes lasting for months or years. Many tourists became
infected at La Reunion and carried that [La Reunion] strain home with
them. Although no epidemics broke out in Europe [with the La Reunion
strain], the possibility was there. Another strain of the virus
causing an ongoing epidemic in India has spread to humans in Italy
through the Asian tiger mosquito.
Saturday, December 8, 2007
The Jiangsu Provincial Health Bureau announced on the night of Sun 2
Dec 2007 that the Ministry of Health had confirmed a human case of
highly pathogenic avian influenza in Jiangsu, and that [the patient]
had died in hospital that day due to multiple organ failure.
In an exclusive interview with Health Times, Professor Yin Kaisheng,
attending physician for the fatal Nanjing avian influenza case,
Ministry of Health national public health emergency response
specialist, and official in charge of the Jiangsu Province Health
Bureau's Human Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza Prevention Medical
Treatment Team, stated that, for the moment, it is not possible for a
SARS-like super-spreader to emerge, transmitting avian influenza from
one person to the masses. Residents don't need to panic.
Yin Kaisheng revealed that during this patient's hospitalization
there was no way to confirm [he had] avian influenza. It was the
Jiangsu Center for Disease Control's laboratory that detected that
the infection was H5N1 type avian influenza virus. Moreover, the
patient always maintained that he had no way [to contract] this
infection, and had no history of contact with poultry. It is only
known that 20 days before becoming ill [he] had been bitten by a dog,
and 20 days later [he] developed fever after drinking a little alcohol.
However it is possible that dogs in their role as scavengers could
mechanically transmit bird flu virus by biting. The 20-day lapse
between bite and onset of illness in this case makes this route of
transmission of disease unlikely, and there would still have to
reservoir of infected wild birds or domestic poultry in the area.
Interesting! Those dogs in China ARE pretty nasty (you'll have to see them to believe them)
Check this out for the details:
Friday, December 7, 2007
6 hepatitis B cases and 6 hepatitis C cases have showed up among Dr. Finkelstein's patients, each of which has been linked back to Dr. Finkelstein's faulty needle technique. Previously Dr. F had been found to have infected at least one other patient by plunging needles into medicinal containers more than once...thereby contaminating the medicine.
Case and point: watch out for the parenteral spread of such infections, even in places where you least expect it.
They work at the "heads table" where, eww, compressed air was shoot into the skulls to eject brain matter. Aerosolized pig brains anyone?
Business travelers and health officials alike welcome the convenient way to get flu shots because people often forgo getting the vaccination due to time constraints and busy schedules.
Last year, Chicago's O'Hare International Airport offered 5,000 flu shots to passengers and employees from kiosks next to gates.
Read more about these innovative clinics at:
Get your flu shots!
Thursday, December 6, 2007
from one nation to another.
Around 91 people have been infected with this strain. In the aftermath of 2 health workers dieing today, Ugandan officials were candid on the challange facinf the country. "We are facing a crisis, health workers are scared and the morale is low, there is a very big shortage of nurses."
Uganda's health ministry has also deployed medics to the north-west to control outbreaks of cholera, meningitis and bubonic plague.
H5N1 bird flu has killed 200+ people since 2003. In 2007 there were 48 deaths due to the virus, down from 71 deaths in 2006.
Donors from across the wold have committed $400 million to fight against the chance of bird flu. The donations were made at the end of a international conference in New Delhi discussing the disease.
However the World Bank says that $1.2 billion will be needed over the next 2-3 years to help fight the virus in affected countries. Costs include developing a low-cost vaccine and compensating bird farmers who are forced to kill their flocks.
The cost of pandemic though is predicted to be as high as 2 trillion dollars. Experts urge prevention and preparation to avert these costs.
The World Bank has said that such a pandemic could cost up to two trillion dollars.
The Ministry of Health in China has reported a new case of human infection with the H5N1 avian influenza virus. The case was confirmed by the national laboratory on 2 December.
The 24-year old male from Jiangsu Province, developed symptoms on 24 November, was hospitalized on 27 November and died on 2 December. There is no initial indication to suggest he had contact with sick birds prior to becoming unwell. Close contacts have been placed under medical observation and all remain well.
Of the 26 cases confirmed to date in China, 17 have been fatal.
Also interesting, this vaccine has a "replicative vector, which means it is designed to kill HIV by replicating itself".
The article dates back to the beginning of November, however, PubMED is reporting on it now because there were errors in the original article. The actually story is as follows: H7N3 highly pathogenic notifiable avian influenza (HPNAI) was found in the Province of Saskatchewan. The virus is one of many subtypes of Influenza A, and interestingly did not have a close phylogenetic relationship to the HPNAI H7N3 subtype found in British Columbia in 2004. In order to control the outbreak, 3 and 10 km surveillance zones were extablished and all flocks in this area were tested. A control areas was established beyond this zone and all flocks in this control area were tested as well.
In addition, public health measures were enacted to prevent direct infection of exposed individuals. Secondary preventive measures were also put in place including the use of Tamiflu.
This article is super interesting and extremely relevant to all of the concepts we discussed in class last week. I highly recommend that you read it! Here's the link:
The 2007 District of Columbia HIV/AIDS Epidemiology Annual Report says that 12,400 - or 1 in 50 - are currently living with our least favorite retrovirus.
Some alarming stats:
- black residents account for 57 percent of the city’s population of 500,000 but represent 86% of HIV/AIDS cases
- Cases in Washington, DC account for 6% of all mother-to-child H.I.V. infections in the nation in the last five years; vertical transmission can be easily prevented
- The disease spread through heterosexual contact in more than 37% of the cases detected from 2001 to last year, in comparison with the 25% of cases attributable to men having sex with men.
- Starting in 2004, the number of new H.I.V. cases among men and women ages 40 to 49 outpaced every other age group in the city
- City health officials said unprotected sex was the most common way H.I.V. is spread, followed by intravenous drug use.
- but...Washington is the only city in the country that is barred by federal law from using local tax money to finance needle exchange programs - hmmm
Wednesday, December 5, 2007
Major airport cities are going to offer flu shots past the security check points.
It's because the virus is more stable and stays in the air longer when air is cold and dry.
"Influenza virus is more likely to be transmitted during winter on the way to the subway than in a warm room," said Peter Palese, a flu researcher who is professor and chairman of the microbiology department at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York and the lead author of the flu study
Intresting point...Flu season in northern latitudes is from November to March, the coldest months. In southern latitudes, it is from May until September. In the tropics, there is not much flu at all and no real flu season.
Read more here...http://www.iht.com/articles/2007/12/05/healthscience/05flu.php
effect of prescribing these drugs is not just neutral, but may lead toantibiotic resistance.
The team recommends morepalliative treatment such as ibuprofen. Speculated reasons for
the findings include that antibiotics are not able to reach the sinuses easilyand that the
infections may be more due to viruses than we acknowledge. Although this isn't about
viruses necessarily, I thought it was pertinent given cold season!
Dave (I give up...this isn't formatting correctly. sorry it got cut off)
Tuesday, December 4, 2007
African swine fever virus is in the Asfarviridae family. I wanted to post this article because I think it's interesting to learn about viruses outside of those the in the 24 families that infect humans. The virus is highly contagious and only causes disease in domestic and feral pigs. It is spread by direct contact with infected pigs or by feeding on infected meat. Humans are not affected. Read more about the outbreak here:
1. Don't open doors with your mouth. Normally when your hands are full the easiest way to open a door is to grip the handle with your mouth, but it's a good idea to start getting in the habit of avoiding this with viruses being so widespread.
2. Know where your blood comes from. Sure, we all need more blood, and with gas prices shooting through the roof we may not be able to be as choosey as we would like to be with regards to where it comes from. But think how much more money it will cost you when you have to spend a couple work days home sick. An extra buck or two for that blood doesn't seem so bad now does it?
3. Eat two different kinds of food a day. We all know the old adage starve a cold, overfeed a flu. We've found from personal experience though, that it is less about quantity and more about variety. This might seem to go against common sense, but give it a try. Instead of eating 5 bowls of Beef and Barely Soup tomorrow, try making the last bowl Clam Chowder. Your body will thank you, even though the clams won't!
4. Replace handshakes with saluting. The reason America wins wars is because our soldiers stay so healthy. Take this trick from the pros and switch to saluting. This is also a great way to help you figure out which people consider you to be a higher rank then them.
5. Don't go inside. Most winter time illness are caused by the increased amount of time people spend indoors. Buildings are the prime location for bacteria to start breeding. Its this reason that native Americans didn't get sick until Europeans came and started building houses. Hence the term "Cabin Fever."
These may take a little getting use to, but the results are a 100% guaranteed. If you do become ill following these steps, it is safe to assume that you are doing something wrong. Reread the list and try again.
Many of the 271 British citizens living on the volcanic island of Tristan da Cunha, in the south Atlantic, have developed severe breathing problems.
They need to ensure that their current medical supplies do not run out.
An international operation to provide help is being led by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.
BBC world affairs correspondent Mike Wooldridge said the islanders were being affected by what appears to be an outbreak of viral-inducted asthma, which causes severe breathing problems.
Tristan da Cunha's one resident doctor, a South African, has issued an appeal for medical supplies.
The South African Marine Rescue Co-ordination Centre was alerted first and informed British coastguards.
The volcanic island has no airstrip, making getting medicines there difficult.
However, merchant ships in the area are unlikely to have the necessary drugs on board and a coastguard spokesman said there were no British military vessels nearby at present.
Viruses have swept through the island before but Michael Swales, chairman of the Tristan da Cunha association, said he could not recall medicines becoming exhausted on previous occasions.
He said there was particular concern about the health of the elderly and the very young.
Resident Rosemary Glass told BBC Radio Cornwall that the island's tiny four-bed hospital was full to overflowing last week, but some patients had since gone home leaving three people in hospital.
"It makes people chesty and it's hard for them to breathe," Mrs Glass said of the illness mainly affecting the elderly and children.
Tristan da Cunha is situated 2,800 km west of Cape Town, South Africa, and is part of a small group of islands.
It was at one time on the main trading route between Europe and the Indian Ocean, but the small community living there is now extremely isolated.
The community of 275 people describe themselves as living in the world's most isolated settlement.
The island is famous for a mass evacuation to Southampton in the 1960s after a volcano erupted.
The main island is about 38 sq miles (98 sq km) and the currency is the British pound.
-Ahhh! Sounds like maybe a type of coronavrus? - Raquel
Monday, December 3, 2007
It probably tasted better, too.
Link to the article
Sunday, December 2, 2007
Read on at http://www.defra.gov.uk/animalh/diseases/notifiable/disease/ai/pdf/ai-prelim-epireport071129.pdf
and read about the Warsaw outbreak at http://www.alertnet.org/thenews/newsdesk/L0136861.htm
Interestingly, the strain causing the outbreak is unknown, and has different clinical presentation that typical Ebola; instead of causing massive hemorrhaging and causing people to die from shock, this strain is causing people to have high fevers and not bleed as much.
Check out the story here:
And here's my reference for the Japanese encephalitis story:
She developed a fever and a rash, 2 and 4 days after her return to Italy, while two other unvaccinated (again !) students on the trip also developed rashes on Sept 20 and Oct 1. Although the two siblings (who were not on the trip) of the Oct 1 rash case were vaccinated against measles on Oct 3, both developed fevers 7 days after vaccination, and rashes on Oct 11 and 12, 10 days after the onset of their sister's rash.
33 additional mealses cases were identified among adolescents and young adults living or attending schools in same city where the index case resides, while 8 cases were reported in nearby towns. Epidemiologhical studies conducted showed that the link was defined as contact with a measles case 7-18 days before the onset of rash. 96% of the cases were 12-21 years old, while 93% of the cases were unvaccinated against measles.
Given that there have been several reported cases of meales in the UK, it is likely that the index case was imported from the UK. Piemonte region health officials also reprt that the measles vaccination rates for the 1989-1992 birth cohort are low (70-85%), while a greater percentage of younger cohorts (90-92%) have been vaccinated.
Read more at http://www.eurosurveillance
Recall that mumps can cause fever, headache, and swollen glands around the jaw, but can sometimes (unfortunately) lead to more serious complications such as sterility, meningitis, and deafness. Thus, public health officials are working hard to put a stop to the spread of this viral infection.
Hypotheses to why such an outbreak occurred? Well, seing as how many of the cases are happening to college-aged students (age range typically 17-26) and how people in this age range received only one dose of mumps vaccine when they were children, it is thought that the immunity provided by the vaccine may have worn off. Thus, to help control the outbreak and prevent similar future outbreaks, the Canadian province is offering free mumps immunizations in two phases: first are the post-secondary students, and then everyone in the high risk 17-26 age group.
want more juicy details?
Saturday, December 1, 2007
Friday, November 30, 2007
"Measles deaths in Africa fell by 91 percent between 2000 and 2006, from an estimated 396,000 to 36,000, reaching the United Nations 2010 goal to cut measles deaths by 90 percent four years early. The spectacular gains achieved in Africa helped generate a strong decline in global measles deaths, which fell 68 percent worldwide -- from an estimated 757,000 to 242,000 -- during this period.The progress was announced today by the founding partners of the Measles Initiative: the American Red Cross, UNICEF, the United Nations Foundation, the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO). The data will be published in the November 30th editions of WHO's Weekly Epidemiological Record and CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report."This is a major public health success and a tribute to the commitment of countries in the African region," said Dr. Margaret Chan, WHO Director-General. "We need to sustain this success and intensify our efforts in other parts of the world, as there are still far too many lives lost to this disease."The significant decline in measles deaths in Africa was made possible by the firm commitment of national governments to fully implement the measles reduction strategy, which includes vaccinating all children against measles before their first birthday via routine health services and providing a second opportunity for measles vaccination through mass vaccination campaigns."
If you want to read more:
According to results from the National Health Interview Survey regarding the two most recent influenza seasons, approximately 84% of all influenza vaccinations were administered during September--November* (Figure). Among persons aged >65 years, the percentage of September--November vaccinations was even higher, at 92% (CDC, unpublished data, 2007).
Each year, on average, approximately 15--60 million persons in the United States are infected with influenza virus; an estimated 200,000 persons are hospitalized from influenza complications, and an estimated 36,000 persons die from those complications (1). Influenza vaccination is the best way to prevent influenza and potentially severe complications. CDC recommends that anyone who wants to reduce their risk for influenza infection should be vaccinated every influenza season. Annual vaccination is particularly important for the following groups (1).
- persons at high risk for influenza-related complications and severe disease, including:
--- children aged 6--59 months,
--- pregnant women,
--- persons aged >50 years,
--- persons of any age with certain chronic medical conditions; and
- persons who live with or care for persons at high risk, including:
--- household contacts and caregivers of persons in the above groups,
--- household contacts and caregivers of children aged <6 months (these children also are at high risk for influenza-related complications but are too young to receive influenza vaccination), and
--- health-care workers.
The report found that it is increasing at an epidemic rate among children, heterosexual men, women and the elderly. African Americans comprise a disproportionately large number- 86%- of those with AIDS.
Ineffective tracking and public health awareness (particularly in the case of children getting HIV at birth) were blamed for these high numbers.
For more information, Check out
Thursday, November 29, 2007
Analysis of samples taken from some of the victims show it is a previously unknown type of Ebola (according to the CDC).
Ugandan health officials have said the virus appears to be unusually mild
Wednesday, November 28, 2007
Remember the "tree-man"? Well, the Indonesian health minister has criticized an American scientist for taking tissue samples from the man & exporting them out of the Southeast Asian country. The minister, Siti Fadilah Supari, said that foreign drug companies could use the samples, taken from the man named Dede, to develop profitable pharmaceuticals without remuneration for Indonesia.
But Anthony Gaspari, the University of Maryland dermatologist who took blood and tissue samples from Dede, said his intentions were purely medical and not commercial
Dede, 35, suffers from a human papillomavirus (HPV) infection that has covered his body with abnormally aggressive growths.
Also, this same minister has also had issues with people exporting H151 out of the country.
Will it be enough? WHO officials estimate that $650M is needed by 2009, and eradicating polio will still cost an extra billion dollars. Additionally, sociopolitical factors may ultimately pose a larger obstacle than funding.
Tuesday, November 27, 2007
South Korean birds have shown signs of a flu outbreak officials confirmed on Friday, prompting the slaughter of 17,000 ducks. Fortunately, the flu found in the birds is H7 (not H5N1), which has never been shown to infect humans.
Earlier H5N1 outbreaks among birds in South Korea in Nov. 2006 to March 2007 lead to the slaughter of 2.8 million birds in that country.
Since 2003 across the world, hundred of millions of birds have been slaughtered and 206 people have died due to H5N1.
Though exceedingly rare, this type of transmission highlights a known weakness in the system for checking organ donors for infection: the most commonly used tests can fail to detect viral diseases if they are performed too early in the course of the infection; the incident may result in a complete overhaul of testing policies and procedures for organ transplantation.
Archive Number 20071126.3829
Published Date 26-NOV-2007
Subject PRO/AH> Foot & mouth disease - UK (England): poss. accident. release
FOOT & MOUTH DISEASE - UK (ENGLAND): POSSIBLE ACCIDENTAL RELEASE
A ProMED-mail post
ProMED-mail is a program of the
International Society for Infectious Diseases
[ProMED apologizes for the delay in posting this report - Ed.LM]
Date: 22 Nov 2007
U.K. Has 'Probable' Leak of Foot-and-Mouth Disease (Update3)
The U.K. experienced a "probable" new leak of the foot-and-mouth
disease virus at the same laboratory that was at the center of an
outbreak in August .
The incident occurred on 19 Nov 2007 at the Merial facility at the
Pirbright laboratory in Surrey, Environment Secretary Hilary Benn
said in an e-mailed statement. A malfunction was found in a valve on
a pipe leading from a centrifuge that's used to separate the live
virus from waste product, Benn said. Operations were immediately
stopped and the machine and pipes decontaminated.
"Merial judged that the valve had been leaking, allowing an
unintended probable release of live FMD virus into the contained
drainage system, which was then pumped to the final chemical
treatment facility without being heat-treated," Benn said. Merial's
license to produce vaccines using foot-and-mouth disease was
suspended. The live disease hasn't entered the environment, a
government spokeswoman said in a telephone interview.
The August  outbreak at the same laboratory site was probably
caused by faulty drainage at a research facility, the Health and
Safety Executive said on 7 Sep 2007.
It wasn't possible to identify which of the 2 units that share the
laboratory site, the government-run Institute for Animal Health or
Merial Animal Health Ltd., was responsible for that incident, the HSE
said. Leaking pipes at the site probably contained the virus, which
spread to 2 nearby farms after being brought to the surface by rains
and contaminating the vehicles of workers renovating the site.
"Merial Animal Health can confirm that on Monday, 19 Nov 2007, we
shut down our vaccine production center at Pirbright," Merial, which
manufactures veterinary pharmaceuticals and vaccines said in an
e-mailed statement. "The site's bio-security waste treatment
facilities handled the situation exactly as they are designed to do,"
the group said. "We expect to be operational again soon."
The then Chief Veterinary Officer Debby Reynolds said on 7 Sep 2007
that Britain was free of foot-and-mouth after the disease was first
confirmed on 3 Aug 2007. The outbreak prompted a cull of 576 animals
and cost the industry 10 million pounds ($20.6 million) a week.
The August outbreak led to a 10-kilometer (6-mile) protection and
surveillance zone being placed around the Pirbright site and
neighboring farms. The government took the precautions to prevent a
repeat of the 2001 outbreak when it failed to impose a transport ban
for days, allowing the disease to spread to 2,030 animals. That
prompted a cull of 10 million animals and cost the economy 10 billion
"It's extremely concerning that part of the system at Merial has
failed," the National Farmers' Union said in an e-mailed statement.
"Given what has happened this summer and the massive financial loss
still being felt by many farmers, we are naturally very sensitive
about foot-and-mouth disease."
Foot-and-mouth is an infectious disease affecting cloven-hoofed
animals, in particular cattle, sheep, pigs, goats and deer, the
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said on its Web
site. Since 3 Aug 2007 there have been 8 confirmed cases of
foot-and-mouth in Surrey and Windsor and Maidenhead, the government
"Another leak of foot-and-mouth virus at the government-licensed
Pirbright site will shock the farming community, the British science
community and the public," the opposition Conservatives' Shadow
Environment Secretary Peter Ainsworth said in an e-mailed statement.
Prime Minister Gordon Brown "spent the whole summer boasting of his
competence in handling the foot-and-mouth outbreak," said Ainsworth,
adding, "This Government's credibility is rapidly falling apart."
Merial is a private research venture of Merck & Co., a Whitehouse
Station, New Jersey-based drugmaker, and Paris-based Sanofi-Aventis
SA. The company employs about 5000 staff, and sales last year were
nearly $2.2 billion dollars, the company said on its Web site. The
vaccines produced at the Pirbright laboratory are for export purposes
only, a Merial spokesman said in a telephone interview.
Monday, November 26, 2007
Aids experts call for more tests
By Paul Kirby
EU reporter, BBC News
EU health commissioner Markos Kyprianou (courtesy European Commission)
Markos Kyprianou says HIV/Aids is the forgotten disease
More than 300 European health experts are calling for earlier HIV testing to tackle increasing infection rates.
They are attending a conference in Brussels, described as the first time patients, policy-makers and physicians have gathered in the same room.
One proposal being considered is for wider testing for people considered to be low-risk.
There were 86,912 new infections reported in the World Health Organization's European region in 2006.
Delegates at the conference agreed that the impact of late HIV diagnosis on individuals and healthcare was an urgent problem.
In his opening speech, EU Health Commissioner Markos Kyprianou said "we need to act".
He said attention on the issue had slipped from the top of the political agenda because of a new generation that had not been aware of high-profile Aids campaigns in the 1980s.
"We allowed it to become the forgotten disease," he said. "That's why, for the European Commission, the basic motto, the basic phrase for this disease is 'Remember Me'."
One of the co-chairs of the conference, Professor Jens Lundgren, said that around half of patients who contracted HIV entered treatment too late and the situation had not changed in the past decade.
There's a reluctance to go out and do widespread testing
Professor Jens Lundgren
Director, Copenhagen HIV Programme
Europe's HIV/Aids cases rise
"Many lives are being wasted because we, as health professionals, are unable to get people into care early enough to have saved them," he said. He is the director of the Copenhagen HIV Programme.
Prof Lundgren said that the problem of late diagnosis was becoming more and more significant across Europe. He said around 30-40% of patients had already developed Aids by the time they entered the health system and no country had been able to deal with the disease effectively.
"All Western European countries have a plan for cervical cancer or breast cancer but there's a reluctance to go out and do widespread testing of populations (for HIV)," he said.
Prof Lundgren said that the conference was calling for testing of at-risk groups including homosexuals and drug-users every five years. But, he said, there had to be other initiatives for categories classed as lower risk.
Where doctors found cases of illness linked to HIV, such as tuberculosis or, less obviously, skin and oral disease, they should recommend testing.
"The thinking is that much of the testing is voluntary and we believe the provider of care should be more active," he said.
One potential obstacle could be funding, although the organisers are adamant that treatment is far cheaper if patients are identified before the onset of Aids.
While governments in Western Europe are likely to welcome the proposals, the conference expects the reception in Eastern Europe to be lukewarm.
The global campaign to eradicate polio has been given a grant of $200m from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and Rotary International.
It comes as the World Health Organization (WHO) is calling for more donations to boost its drive to eradicate the disease altogether.
In the last 20 years, immunisation programmes have dramatically cut the number of new polio cases.
But it is still endemic in Nigeria, Pakistan, India and Afghanistan.
In the late 1980s, about 360,000 children a year were being paralysed by the disease.
Now that is down to just over 700 a year, but attempts to eradicate polio altogether have so far failed.
Earlier this year the WHO launched a fresh campaign calling for greater commitment from the developed world.
The WHO's director general, Dr Margaret Chan, said the donation is coming at a critical moment.
"The last pockets of this disease are the hardest and the most costly to reach," she told the BBC.
"This investment is also precisely the catalyst we need to mobilise additional resources. We can achieve a polio-free world if the rest of our financial partners stepped up to the challenge."
Polio is still endemic in four countries, including Afghanistan
In countries where the virus is still endemic, immunisation programmes have met a range of problems.
The communities where people are most affected tend to have poor health services. It can be difficult to reach the children and to keep track of them for repeat doses.
Parents do not always understand that the vaccine needs to be given more than once and may refuse it.
Sometimes there are cultural obstacles. If the people doing the vaccinations are young or inexperienced, for example, they might be refused.
If they are male, the women in conservative households may not let them in.
Sometimes false rumours that immunisation will harm children also puts people off.
But health workers insist that, with extra support, eradication is now within reach.
Saturday, November 24, 2007
Friday, November 23, 2007
The cause of this outbreak of lethal disease remains obscure. A viral
causation is still favored, but there is little supporting evidence. None
of the locally proposed diagnoses seem appropriate. The outcome of
laboratory investigation at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
in Atlanta is awaited.
Daily data is collected regarding changes in the environment (which is a common factor in infectious disease emergence). This data is then transferred to the CDC for one, where it is analyzed.
“The use of this technology is not only essential for the future of curbing the spread of infectious diseases,” explains John Haynes, public health program manager for the NASA Earth Science Applied Sciences Program. “NASA satellites are also a cost-effective method for operational agencies since they are already in orbit and in use by scientists to collect data about the Earth’s atmosphere.”
NASA also claims to be targeting malaria in particular, although I am personally somewhat skeptical of the necessity of remote sensor technology in tracking this parasite as its prevalence is already so high in much of the world and the environmental changes that foster increased malaria infection rates, such as deforestation are quite apparent on the ground level.
Source: American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene
or check out the article:
Normally, Rift Valley Fever is a fairly mild human disease with about a fatality rate of one percent; however in those infected who develop the hemorrhagic fever form, the fatality rate is significantly higher--around 50 percent, says the U.N. health agency.
Although Sudan was quick to alert the international community about the epidemic, the infection rate continues to grow.
Check out the article: www.physorg.com/news114964652
Wednesday, November 21, 2007
Check out more of the details:
So the UN has slashed the estimated number of people infected with HIV to 33 million. The original number of cases was 40 million and this number is as recent as 2007. Much of this decrease is attributed to the revised number of infections from India.The figures show there were 2.5m new cases in 2007, down from a peak in the late 1990s when there was over 3m new infections a year.
However because the majority of people who are infected with HIV don't know they are infected, there is fool-proof method to find out if the WHO figures are any more reliable than the previous estimation.
Check out the article here.
Tuesday, November 20, 2007
Have fun! Happy Turkey Day!
According to Margret Chan, director-general of the World Health Organisation, "The sharing of currently circulating viruses is the only way to monitor the emergence of drug-resistant strains". This effort to help countries prepare for a human influenza pandemic and share samples linked to the H5N1 bird flu virus is rooted in the thinking that sharing the viruses is the "foundation of risk assessment". Analysis and comparison of viruses expose first clues and are the warning signs that the virus may be evolving in a dangerous way.Both China and Indonesia have shared the samples of the virus from its cases this year. The H5N1 virus has killed 206 of 335 people infected since 2003 in 12 countries, according to the WHO. Experts fear the constantly mutating virus could change into a form easily transmitted from person to person and sweep the world in months. A pandemic could kill millions of people, shut down businesses and overwhelm health care systems. Sixteen companies are at various stages of licensing a vaccine against H5N1, the virus most experts suspect could spark a pandemic.
Sharing is caring!
But the really interesting part is that they used retroviruses to randomly insert genes into the cells' chromosomes. For more information,
We learned in Scott Smith's parasite's class about the disappearance of US honeybees, something called colony collapse disorder. One prevalent theory was that this was caused by a virus that Australian honeybees had brought over. Fortunately, genetic evidence shows that the Australian honeybees are not the culprit, which has made a number of Australian beekeepers very relieved.
Monday, November 19, 2007
Link to the article
The man presented no other concerning symptoms and was treated with intravenous acyclovir.
What I learned yesterday--keep your eyes open for cool viral infections!
There is a mutated form of adenovirus 14 out there that has killed at least 10 people and sent many more to hospitals. It is spread like a common cold, but is actually much more deadly. There have been cases in New York, Washington, Orgeon and Texas. The CDC has acknowledged it, but hasn't given any specific warnings to people as of yet. This will be interesting to follow.
Turkey and stuffing and mashed potatoes,
The mumps virus infects the salivary glands and is transmitted via a respiratory route. Complications can include meningitis, inflammation of the pancreas,transient or permanent hearing loss, and inflammation of the testicles or ovaries (ouch).
Read more about it:
Saturday, November 17, 2007
Friday, November 16, 2007
Check this out for more info
Even though victims succumb to some strange fever, it definitely isn't hemorrhagic. People who have died died not of bleeding but from diarrhea (severe dehydration). Symptoms were fever and abdominal pain.
As one Health Ministry official put it, "There are a lot of funny viruses in those mountains."
If that's not disconcerting enough, he said that cases are still continuing to pop up and the infection is definitely not yet contained.
Happy Thanksgiving! Learning about all these viruses makes me thankful we've only got Ad14 to worry about... for now.
Thursday, November 15, 2007
I know this is supposed to be a blog about viruses, but I think the spreadsheet can warrant a posting :).
I've set up a Google spreadsheet under the Humansandviruses account for all of us to input our winter class schedule. Instructions:
1. Go to http://docs.google.com and sign in with the humansandviruses account (like we do to post on this blog).
2. Open the (only) document entitled "Class Conflicts - Winter Qtr", and follow the instructions!
Quick note: If your class is already listed, change the tally to the right of the cell. If your class is at the same time as another class already listed, insert another row and add your class below the one listed. AAAnd... when you list a new class, change the tally to "1".
Shoot me an email at email@example.com if you have any questions.
Have a wonderful break!!
Researchers have recently determined that Hepatitis C does not need to leave its first cell to infect the next cell. Rather it can pass directly from one cell to another. This explains why the body's immune system is so ineffective against the virus, and does not bode well for drug development efforts. The University of Birmingham scientists also found that the co-receptor CD81 is not necessary for cell-to-cell transmission as previously thought, undermining current drug research in this area.
One should note that the virus is still transmitted by extracellular routes, but infection will not be stopped until this cell-to-cell route is hindered as well.
Wednesday, November 14, 2007
"He said that as well as being found in the woman's placenta, the virus was detected in the alimentary canal, brain, blood cells and respiratory tract of both victims. It was also found in the lungs and liver of the fetus."
It doesn't seem like they're too worried thought.
"'So far, no substantiated case of interhuman transmission has been observed,' Gu said. "It largely depends on how the virus further mutates."
Gregory Hartl, a spokesman for the World Health Organization, said the passing of the virus from mother to fetus was not really a case of human-to-human transmission as the two effectively function as a single body."
More details here:
Tuesday, November 13, 2007
The American Lung Association has launched a campaign called Faces of Influenza to "put a face on influenza in the United States" and encourage high risk groups to get vaccinated. The site aims to dispel common beliefs about the flu (such that it is just a cold) and feature profiles of individuals who are representative of populations that should get vaccinated.
Jennifer Garner is getting her daughter Violet vaccinated! Take the quiz to see if you are a Face of Influenza too!