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65 years, the percentage of September--November vaccinations was even higher, at 92% (CDC, unpublished data, 2007).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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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!
New Vaccine That Protects Monkeys against Avian Flu is Ready for Human Trials
ScienceDaily (Nov. 9, 2007) — Researchers from the National Institutes of Health and University of Maryland report that a new vaccine that protects monkeys against the avian influenza virus is now a candidate for clinical trial in humans.
In the study researchers developed a live vaccine incorporating the avian Newcastle disease virus (NDV), which expresses a common gene found in the H5N1 avian influenza virus, and tested it in African monkeys. The vaccine was administered both intranasally and through the respiratory tract in two doses with a 28-day interval in between.
Response after one dose showed low amounts of virus shedding indicating protection. Following two doses, high levels of neutralizing antibodies were present in all immunized monkeys. A substantial response to either dosage was noted in the respiratory tract indicating a likely reduction in transmission in the event of an outbreak.
"In this study, we have developed a vaccine candidate, NDV-HA, for immunization against H5N1 HPAIV and have tested it in a nonhuman primate model," say the researchers. "The vaccine was well tolerated and induced substantial local and systemic immune responses, demonstrating that NDV has potential as a live virus candidate vaccine against HPAIV."
Hundreds Sickened on Hawaiian Cruise
By MARK NIESSE
HONOLULU (AP) — A highly contagious virus that causes stomach flu sickened about 220 passengers aboard a Norwegian Cruise Lines ship that returned Monday to Honolulu after its weekly seven-day cruise around the islands, officials said.
Lab tests confirmed a norovirus — which causes nausea, vomiting and diarrhea — aboard the Pride of Hawaii, said Janice Okubo, spokeswoman for the Hawaii Department of Health.
"It's one of the common viruses we've been seeing on cruise lines," Okubo said. "Most of the time, people recover."
The Norwalk-like virus infected about 9 percent of the ship's 2,500 passengers, and no one was hospitalized, the cruise line said. Virus symptoms typically last a day.
Passengers who felt sick, as well as their cabinmates, were asked to remain in their rooms for 24 hours. Norwegian said it was giving those passengers a $200 on-ship credit.
Surfaces in the ship were cleaned to eliminate lingering viruses, it said.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is investigating, Okubo said.
Norwegian describes Pride of Hawaii as the largest and most expensive U.S.-flagged cruise ship ever built. It began service last year.
Norwegian was acquired in February 2000 by Star Cruises PLC of Malaysia, according to the cruise line's Web site.
West Timor is located in the East Nusa Tenggara province (Map link: www.fallingrain.com/world/ID/18/Kupang
However, in the past two weeks thousands of chickens have expired in Kupang, located in W. Timor. The East Nusa Tenggara
Husbandry Agency Unit head of the animal health, Maria Geong, said on Tuesday, November 6th (2007) that 7000 chickens had died in Kupang in the last 2 weeks. Local authorities are fearing avian influenza as the cause.
Source: The Jakarta Post, Wednesday, November 7th, 2007
The symptoms of this emerging virus were first recognized in 2003-2004 in Wielkopolska, a region of Poland and included leaf necrosis, severe stunting and malformation (apparently usual symptoms for a tomato virus). There was an association drawn between such affliction and greenhouse whiteflies (Trialeurodes vaporariorum).
In a recently published article, The first report of Tomato torrado
virus in Poland, by H. Pospieszny et al, the virus was identified and shown to be similar to the tomator necrotic dwarf virus (ToNDV) (California) and the newly identified tomato torrado virus (ToTV) (Spain). The association with the whitefly was also demonstrated as these flies were shown to vector the virus.
The American Phytopathological Society, Plant Disease 2007; Tue 13 Nov 2007
[Reference: H. Pospieszny et al: The first report of Tomato torrado virus in Poland. Plant Dis; 91(10): 1364; DOI: 10.1094/PDIS-91-10-1364A]
here's the USA Today link:
Unfortunately, 6,500 birds, mostly turkeys, are being slaughtered on an open-range bird farm in England, because H5N1 was detected amongst them. It sucks to be that bird-farmer-- they're just doing their best to satisfy increasing demand for open-range birds but as a result, it puts them into more contact with wild migratory birds that might be carrying flu.
In the words of Environment Secretary Hilary Benn (and must be said with a Brih-tish ahc-cent):
"What we're doing is working our darndest to make sure that it stays where it is."
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/7092988.stm <-- check it out here
-Honduras has spent approximately $2 million in cleaning operations such as fumigation intended to eliminate the breeding grounds for the Aedes aegyptis mosquitoes.
-For its part, the government has requested that its citizens eliminate standing water sources in and near their homes (such as tires, bottles, etc.) where the mosquito vector is able to reproduce and proliferate.
For more info, see: http://espanol.news.yahoo.com/s/ap/071106/salud/amc_med_honduras_dengue (this report is in Spanish; I've done my best to translate & summarize above)
-Equine influenza is a highly contagious respiratory disease that can be fatal to colts and severely weaken mature horses; transmission to humans has yet to be shown.
-Suspected equine influenza was discovered on October 26; on the 12th of November it was confirmed in Bugan Sum and Uyench Sum in Khovd Province (on the Chinese - Mongolia border)
-About 600 horses have been infected with the disease, which has prompted prevention agencies to quarantine the areas of the outbreak.
For more info on equine influenza: http://www.equiflunet.org.uk/
Monday, November 12, 2007
Scary stuff. French scientists at the Institute for Development Research claim they have found a new variant of Ebola-Zaire (the most lethal of the four known Ebola stains) which has a genome that varies by 2-3% from the previously identified ZEBOV: this suggests genetic recombination has occurred. They are calling the new strain ZEBOV-B and the original ZEBOV-A.
This is bad news. It's like a not-funny version of the scene from Outbreak where the picture of the virus rotates and they shout, "It's mutating!"
Life is definitely not ebola cherries,
Sunday, November 11, 2007
see full article at:
This piece provides a thorough look at the arguments of pro- and anti-vaccination advocates. It notes that mandatory vaccination is a unique area of American public policy- a law that citizens can choose not to follow.
So I'm posting twice because I just came across more news on the viral encephalitis that has been going around in northern India. The experts have now identified it as "viral encephalitis", which seems like simply a symptom and not an actual disease, considering that I wouldn't even be able to tell which family it is from, etc.
I think there is a strong need to identify it as something, as an unknown disease may be even scarier for people. The virus is very strange--it rapidly damages a patient's liver and brain and causes incredibly high secretions of enzymes. The infectious rate has not been curbed, and it is a major epidemic in the region.
Saturday, November 10, 2007
One promising vaccine, which is live, has been shown in monkeys to induce an effective systemic and local antibody response. The vaccine itself is avian Newcastle disease virus, which expresses a common gene found in H5N1. Hopefully, the antibodies to this vaccine will confer resistance to H5N1.
Friday, November 9, 2007
Check out the article at
Source: NPR Radio
Thought this was interesting considering Merck is the third largest drug producer in the US and we were just talk about who was responsible when things went wrong with drugs and vaccines on the market...
Read more about it:
Thursday, November 8, 2007
Here's an article about how to prevent getting sick and some tips to get over the symptoms and make you feel better when rhinovirus strikes. Some of it is common knowledge, but it's an important reminder!
Ever heard of a nasal lavage or nasal irrigation? I'm not going to lie, this does NOT look comfortable. But it might help you for next week's lecture, Prof. Siegel.
Nov 6, 2007 (CIDRAP News) – Health experts who investigated Europe's first chikungunya outbreak involving transmission by local mosquitoes recently reported that cases could occur again next spring unless vigorous mosquito surveillance and eradication measures are used to control the disease in Italy and prevent its spread to other parts of Europe.
In late August, Italy's health ministry confirmed an outbreak of chikungunya in the Emilia-Romagna region of northeastern Italy. About a week later, health authorities said the outbreak represented the disease's first foothold in Europe, according to Sep 6 report in Eurosurveillance Weekly.
Soon afterward, experts from the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO) traveled to Italy to assess the risk of chikungunya to the local population and the potential for its spread to other European countries. In late October the investigators posted their findings on the ECDC's Web site.
Chikungunya, spread by Aedes albopictus mosquitoes, usually causes fever, headache, fatigue, nausea, vomiting, muscle and joint pain, and a rash, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The disease is not life-threatening, but fatigue or joint pain can last for weeks to months. There is no vaccine or specific antiviral treatment for the illness, which is caused by an Alphavirus.
The United States has recorded some chikungunya cases among returning travelers but has not reported any transmission of the disease. Though two mosquito species that can spread the disease are found in the southeastern United States, CDC expert Dr. Ned Hayes has said the risk of indigenous transmission is probably low because lifestyle factors such as air conditioning and window screens protect people from heavy exposure to the mosquitoes.
As of Sep 21, Italian authorities had reported 292 suspected cases of chikungunya, of which 125 had been confirmed, according to the ECDC-WHO report. The outbreak started in late June when a local resident who had traveled to India fell ill with the disease. Soon afterward, the virus was believed to have spread among local A albopictus mosquitoes.
The outbreak was largely contained to two neighboring villages where the man and his cousin lived, but authorities reported that transmission through infected mosquitoes has occurred in at least three other towns.
Four factors helped the virus become established in Emilia-Romagna region, the investigators found:
* A albopictus populations were dense in the region, but surveillance had not yet noted their presence because it was so recent.
* Local vegetation was thick and many backyards had plant pots and watering containers that harbored mosquitoes.
* The virus was introduced by a visitor returning from an area where chikungunya is endemic.
* Human population density was sufficient for disease transmission.
Investigators said mosquito activity was expected to continue through October but could extend into November, depending on weather conditions.
Infected mosquitoes could reappear in the spring of 2008 when mosquito eggs hatch, the authors reported. Further, if the region has a mild winter, local mosquito activity could persist, causing sporadic cases that could maintain mosquito-to-human transmission cycles until spring, they added.
Careful surveillance and rapid mosquito-control measures will be the keys to preventing or limiting a recurrence of the disease in 2008, the report says. It notes data gaps on A albopictus populations in some areas of Europe where the vector could reside. A albopictus is found in several other European countries, including Albania, France, Belgium, Montenegro, Switzerland, Greece, Spain, Croatia, the Netherlands, Slovenia, Bosnia, Herzegovina, and possibly more, according to the Eurosurveillance Weekly report.
"The current epidemic is a unique opportunity for better understanding of risk factors and virus and vector dynamics, in order to allow for a correct preparedness on the European level to prevent or limit future outbreaks," the report states.
The investigators wrote that a better understanding of the climate, humidity, and light needed to support A albopictus populations is needed to help predict the geographic spread of chikungunya.
Why an increase in West NIle virus activity? Officials blame neglected swimming pools at foreclosed homes through California. Who knew that green algae in a pool can attract mosquitoes? Compared to 2006, there are at least 3 times as many abandoned pools (from foreclosures or neglect) throughout the state, as identified though aerial surveillance.
To prevent further cases of West Nile viruses, pools were treated to kill breeding mosquitoes. In August, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger set aside $10 million to control mosquito breeding in the state. These preventative measures are expected to decrease the incidence of West Nile virus in California.
To read more about West Nile virus, see today's (11/8) San Jose Mercury News Peninsula section or visit www.westnile.ca.gov
and...stay out of those algae-ridden swimming pools.
Cool beans... I mean berries.
Tuesday, November 6, 2007
Check this out...we were tlaking in class about the idea of screening for HIV and the only times it is missed in the blood supply (or people getting tested) is when the person give blood right after they have gotten it--before the viral load is high enough at that point.
Well, apparently in Yemen they are giving all blood three types of screenings the Elisa test, Western Blot, and PCR. Do you really think this is cost effective?
Check it out:
Posted by Stacie at 8:52 PM
1 in 3 American adults has high blood pressure, predisposing these individuals to stroke, heart disease, and kidney failure. Despite effective medicines, only 1 in 4 patients has their blood pressure consistently controlled due largely to poor drug regimen adherence. Preliminary results from the lab of Dr. Juerg Nussberger of University Hospital of the Canton of Vaud, Switzerland show promising treatment for hypertension in the form of a vaccine.
Angiotensisn II, a molecule in the blood, causes vessel contriction leading to high blood pressure. Current drugs prevent the synthesis of angiotensisn or keep it from binding to its receptors. The drug levels in the blood need to be kept at certain levels to work, requiring constant ingestion. The vaccine, made up of a non-infectious particle shaped like a virus and chemically-combined with angiotensin II, would replace the need for taking pills daily as the vaccine would induce the body to attack the virus and create antibodies to angiotensin II in the process. The body would thereby regulate angiotensin II on its own. This effect has been shown to last for months
The data currently presented, however, only considers results from 72 patients. And though results find the vaccine safe and effective, larger studies will be needed to confirm these results and lack of side effects.
Revolutionary Laser Technique Destroys Viruses And Bacteria Without Damaging Human Cells
The technique (which I don't claim to understand) uses Impulsive Stimulated Raman Scattering (ISRS) and causes lethal vibrations in the pathogen protein coat resulting in inactivation while leaving the host cell undamaged. The physicists aren't sure why the human host cells are left unscathed by the femtosecond laser, but they speculate that it's probably due to differences in protein composition.
So, even though these viruses don't infect humans, I thought this was a good example of how viruses are EVERYWHERE and touch every part of human lives, even our Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Merlot.
Intrigued? I was.
In order to get rid of old and unused medicines, new government guidelines advise mixing the meds with cat litter, preferably used cat litter. If no cat littler is available, old coffee grounds, dog poo, or sawdust would suffice.
Why all the fuss about proper disposal of meds? The US has seen an increase in prescription drug abuse. Research has cited that more than half the people that abuse drugs obtain them from friends or relatives. Clearing meds from your medicine cabinet can prevent risky usage of the drugs.
Previously, people were advised to flush unused medications down the toilet, but recent evidence of hormones in the environment has caused the FDA and the government to rethink this advice. Another program in the works to deal with leftover drugs includes drug "take-back" programs run by pharmacies or hazardous waste sites.
Bottom line: take care to dispose of your unused drugs.
Monday, November 5, 2007
There are 9 new cases of mumps in Nova Scotia this week, bringing the total number to 715 since the outbreak began last winter, according to he Department of Health Promotion and Protection on Friday Nov 2nd. Dr Shelly Sarwal, the province's medical officer of health, said last week that between 10 and 20 new cases have been reported each week since the outbreak started in February, with a jump since students went back to class.
Since schools reopened in September there have been 129 new cases in the province. The increase was not unexpected because a second round of vaccinations has yet to fully kick in, Dr Sarwal said. In July, the province announced Nova Scotia's post-secondary and Grade 12 students would be offered a second dose of mumps, measles and rubella vaccine.
The mumps can be spread through coughing, sneezing and exchanging of saliva through kissing or sharing drinks. Symptoms include aches, pains, fever and loss of appetite. In extreme cases, mumps can lead to meningitis, inflammation of the testicles or ovaries, hearing loss and, according to the Canadian Medical Association Journal, reduced male fertility.
Source: The Chronicle Herald Nova Scotia, November 3, 2007
lthough the specific epidemiology of the outbreak (including when and where the first cases occurred) is currently unknown, it is estimated that more than 125 people have been infected, of which over 60 have died. For Rift Valley fever virus, a species of the Bunyaviridae family, genus Phlebovirus, this fatality rate is unusually high. However, the WHO believes that it may be skewed by the under-reporting of mild infections.
“Rift Valley Fever kills 60 people in Sudan – WHO.”
Sunday, November 4, 2007
Professor Itzhaki, the lead researcher, suggests that the HPV may account for at least 50% of Alzheimer's cases.
Saturday, November 3, 2007
Check it out:
Although adenoviruses haven't been shown to cause cancer themselves, it was shown that the adenovirus protein E1A inhibits pRb by mimicry - it is similar to a normal protein in cells which is used to inhibit pRb naturally.
This research could be used to enlighten how viruses can contribute to cancers.
"Short Term Stress Experienced at the Time of Immunization Induces a Long-Lasting Increase in Immunological Memory" Dhabhar and Vaswanathan
The experiment was done on mice. Researchers acutely stressed the mouse by placing them in restraints for 2.5 hours - mimicking a "collapsed" tunnel which is stressful for burrowing rodents.
"One group was not immunized but was exposed to keyhole limpet hemocyanin (KLH) on the pinna for the first time in parallel with the recall phase of the following two groups (nonimmunized control). The second group of animals remained in their home cages before primary immunization as the nonstressed immunized controls and were reexposed to KLH on the pinnae 9 mo later, also under resting conditions. The third group was stressed before primary immunization and reexposed to KLH on the pinnae 9 mo later under resting conditions. This was the only group that was acutely stressed, and stress was administered only once for 2.5 h before primary immunization."
These results show that acute psychophysiological stress exerts adjuvant-like effects on the immune system. Animals acutely stressed before immunization showed increased numbers of activated-effector (CD62Llow and CD44hi) and Tcm-like (CD45RA–CD62L+) Th cells during the early phase of the primary immune response
The only stress manipulation that was performed in these experiments occurred 9 mo before the recall CMI response was measured. Interestingly, acutely stressed animals mounted a significantly larger recall response that was marked by a robust increase in macrophages and lymphocytes infiltrating the novel site of antigen reexposure.
I guess maybe we should stress out babies before vaccination. Although I'm pretty sure that if Bob were there, he'd stress out his babies enough trying to explain to them what a vaccination is, what types there are, and how they were discovered... etc.
Woohoo! <3 Immunology!
Friday, November 2, 2007
Hugs, kisses, and mononucleosis,
Recently, researchers from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine have shown that the growth of cancers linked to viruses can be reduced or even stopped. Using a process called radioimmunotheraphy, researchers tagged antibodies with radioisotopes which recognize viral antigens responsible for the proliferation of the cells. When the growth of tumor cells outstrips the blood supply, the viral antigens are released. The antibodies recognize these antigens and then release radiation which kills the virus as well as nearby tumor cells. The technique has been used successfully in mice infected with cervical cancer and liver cancer.
This holds great potential for cancer prevention and therapy.
See the article from Scientific American for more information
Thursday, November 1, 2007
It was interesting that Oprah brought on another doctor to talk about it--he pointed out in McCarthy's book that she said her child wasn't smiling like the other kids before he even had the shot, putting holes in her story. McCarthy does believe in vaccinations, but believes there should be a safer schedule for them.
Dr. Bob--is there absolutely no danger in giving vaccines at birth when nervous system is still developing?
link here: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/10/071030164855.htm
Within this research it was also identified that HIV probably arrived in the US earlier than previously believed. Michael Worobey, an assistant professor of ecology and evolutionary biology at The University of Arizona in Tucson and senior author of this research is quoted:
"Our results show that the strain of virus that spawned the U.S. AIDS epidemic probably arrived in or around 1969. That is earlier than a lot of people had imagined."
"Haiti was the stepping stone the virus took when it left central Africa and started its sweep around the world...Once the virus got to the U.S., then it just moved explosively around the world."
Interesting that there is still so much to find out about the epidemiology of a virus that is studied by so so many people today!
check it out:
WHO expects pandemic vaccine capacity to soar
Oct 23, 2007 (CIDRAP News) – The World Health Organization (WHO) today estimated that by 2010 the world may be equipped to make enough pandemic influenza vaccine to immunize 4.5 billion people—vastly more than in previous projections, though still well short of the world's population of 6.7 billion.
See story- http://www.cidrap.umn.edu/cidrap/content/influenza/panflu/news/oct2307who.html
PS is it ok that I added myself as a user?