Wednesday, November 19, 2008
Wednesday, September 3, 2008
Hope you are all having a good summer!
Thursday, August 7, 2008
Also, more info on "Sputnik" the virus that was found inside of it - apparently it causes mamavirus to "get sick", making misformed capsids, etc. Read here. So cool!
Wednesday, August 6, 2008
Tuesday, July 15, 2008
On Monday, July 14 (Bastille Day - guess the mosquito took its chance at liberty) in the Tulane Department of Tropical Medicine, my mentor, a post-doc and I were feeding A. aegypti mosquitoes Dengue-2 infected blood for an experiment looking at a peptide that has successfully blocked more than 99% infection in Vero cells. While attempting to transfer sedated mosquitoes into their appropriate containers (they had been knocked down in the freezer for 5 min), one feisty mosquito revived quickly and managed to escape. My mentor later found that he had been bitten!
Hopefully the virus had not yet disseminated to the salivary glands since we had just infected the mosquitoes.
The culprit was soon apprehended with a squirt of ethanol.
Hope your summers are all virus free! (I just got over pink eye) I missed you all this spring!
Tuesday, July 8, 2008
AND one of our rare Paramyxoviruses has taken the reigns in Australia. Find out about the Hendra virus reports here:
Hope you're all having a great summer!
Thursday, June 5, 2008
The World Health Assembly (WHA) recently approved a global strategy for managing intellectual property issues and made progress on a draft action plan that was presented by a World Health Organization (WHO) working group.
Intellectual property rights have become a hot-button issue in global health circles, spurred by Indonesia's decision in early 2007 to cease sharing its H5N1 avian influenza virus samples. The country's stance has raised the possibility that it and other countries affected by H5N1 influenza might claim legal ownership of flu virus samples. Samples are needed to track viruses' transmissibility and drug susceptibility and to develop vaccines.
The WHO's recent work on intellectual property issues is related to but separate from its efforts to broker a virus-sharing agreement.
The United States is one of the countries that have opposed or had reservations about some of the items in the working group's draft plan.
Aside from balancing innovation with health needs and greater access to treatments and diagnostic tools, the strategy lays out a framework to:
* Assess developing countries' health needs and identify research and development priorities
* Promote work on diseases that disproportionately affect developing countries, along with those that impact vulnerable populations in all countries
* Explore and implement, when appropriate, research and development incentives
* Boost research and development capacity in developing countries
* Improve, promote, and accelerate technology transfer
* Remove access barriers to medical commodities
* Secure research and development financing for developing countries
Wednesday, June 4, 2008
shoulders even though she wasn't that tall," said Ontario Health Minister George Smitherman.
Monday, June 2, 2008
A major report just released was conducted by the World Health Organization (WHO), UNAids and Unicef shows that " just 31% of people in need of treatment in low and middle-income countries had access to antiretroviral therapy (ART) in 2007". This leaves about 6.7 million people without access. It also reports that about 2.5 million worldwide are newly infected each year.
Source: eFluxMedia [Sunday, June 1st, 2008]
Vaccine info can be found at:
Happy to be in California!
Friday, May 30, 2008
Thursday, May 29, 2008
I've been reading about a recent outbreak of Hepatitis E virus in Kitgum, Uganda that is striking more and more victims. Initial reports quoted 314 cases and 11 deaths from the disease, but that number has recently been updated to 1797 cases and 35 deaths. The virus affects pregnant women much more than others, particularly women in their third trimester of pregnancy. Reports suggest that the virus has come across with refugees from Southern Sudan. The fecal-oral spread of the disease could easily be exacerbated by the crowding associated with refugee movement to the area. Here's the full link:
Tuesday, May 27, 2008
Click here to read the primary report
Click here to read the primary source
Click here to read the primary source!
Wednesday, May 21, 2008
Well, the USDA just changed that! As an effort to boost public confidence in US meats, the USDA has closed this loophole and banned the use of these "downer" cows in meat processing. Since the discovery of "Mad Cow," the USDA banned the use of downers, but allowed for the use of cattle that became disabled after their preslaughter inspection. Again, as we all know, the "incubation period" of BSE and all the prion diseases is 5-10 years, so even a cow that is just showing signs of this has likely been infected for a long time- a useless and very harmful loophole. Regardless, the use of downers came to the spotlight in January when the Humane Society released undercover tapes of a slaughterhouse in Chino, CA using all sorts of mechanisms to move disabled cows. This resulted in a public outcry and the largest US meat recall in history: over 143 million pounds of beef.
Full story at http://www.cidrap.umn.edu/cidrap/content/other/bse/news/may2108downers.html.
Tuesday, May 20, 2008
correy dekker's vaccine email:
Chicken Pox Outbreak Hits Central Coast Schools
More Than 90 Students Infected
The Chicken pox is hitting the Central Coast in a big way this month. Two local counties have been dealing with an outbreak of the virus. More than 90 children have been infected by the virus in four elementary schools. One school had to cancel class for a day in hopes that a day apart would help kids avoid the itchy illness.
Sixty-two cases have been reported in Santa Cruz County, with another 31 cases reported in San Benitor County. All 31 of the San Benito cases came from one school. Only 11 of those cases have been confirmed by county health officials. Southside school shut its doors Friday and gave students a long weekend, hoping that the time apart would allow the virus to run its course. Southside principal Eric Johnson said the virus has hit all grades equally, kindergarten through eighth grade.
"At this point, we're watching when they come in," Johnson said. "We're asking parents to keep them home if they show symptoms and go see their doctor."
The school has posted warnings outside to warn visitors of the potential health hazard and school officials have sent information packets home instructing parents on the symptoms of chicken pox and what to do if they think their child is infected. School officials also reminded families that the school will be offering booster vaccine shots on Wednesday.
As of July 2001, state law requires that all kindergarten and pre-school students have a dose of the Varicella vaccine before they can attend school. Health officials said that even though a child has received the vaccine, they can still become infected with a "breakthrough" chicken pox virus, which is milder but still contagious. The virus can be spread by nose and mouth through physical contact or through the air.
The Vaccine Page (KSBW.com)
Monday, May 19, 2008
Adults over the age of 60 are now being recommended to get the Merck and Co. Zostavax vaccine against shingles. The vaccine was approved by the FDA in 2006 and insurance companies are suspected to start covering the cost of the vaccine. According to the article, there are about a million cases of shingles in the US each year, half of which occur in people 60 and over and the vaccine has been shown to reduce the occurrence of the disease by about 50%. However the vaccine right now still costs about $150, so that is a current limitation given its recommendation for everyone over 60 in the US.
the article: www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/05/15/AR2008051502364.html
Thursday, May 15, 2008
Check it out!
Full story at http://www.cidrap.umn.edu/cidrap/content/bt/smallpox/news/may0808poxdrug.html
I reported on the outbreak of EV71 that started running rampant in China a few weeks ago. At the time, it didn't show any signs of slowing down, and cases were just beginning to be reported outside of the initial province in which the virus had killed 26 children and infected nearly 10,000.
Unfortunately, the disease has not slowed down. The enterovirus has migrated out of China, with thousands of cases being reported in Singapore and Mongolia. Just recently the first fatality from EV71 was reported in the capital of Beijing. Although admittedly the fatality rate is still very low, (36/ 20,000+) I'm just in awe of how fast this thing is traveling. There have been reports of it infecting adults as well as children, making this an even greater threat. I can't imagine what would happen were this to be sustained until the summer olympics. Let's hope China can get a handle on it long before then. Here's the most recent update.
Tuesday, May 13, 2008
the flash video is at the bottom of the screen (i could get it to play on safari, but not fire fox)
Saturday, May 10, 2008
Click here for more info
Thursday, May 8, 2008
My opinion on this article is mixed. On one hand, it's good to see that physician leaders are beginning to get some press on this incredibly hard triage decision that would be faced in a pandemic. The public needs to understand how hard this decision is, and perhaps be involved in the decision process, as they have been involved in making decisions about quarantine policies. However, lots more work needs to be done in this area of concern, and this article is somewhat lacking when it comes to the hard-core ethical arguments.
Would love to hear what you all think of this issue!
For more info, check out: http://www.turkishdailynews.com.tr/article.php?enewsid=103801
The WHO flu report document:
The man I thought was Bob:
Gardasil for Men Studies:
The scientists found that CMV mimics a human host cell protein to help hijack the cell's machinery. The viral protein UL57 mimics a human protein and functions as a regulator of a tumor suppressor gene. The viral protein modifies the tumor suppressor gene Rb to accelerate cell growth which is preferable for the virus's proliferation.
Check out the original article here.
yours in calici,
Wednesday, May 7, 2008
Sunday, May 4, 2008
Thursday, May 1, 2008
Also, measles have hit 70 cases in the US today: http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20080501/ap_on_he_me/cdc_measles;_ylt=AnqX9Vch.4c7fyBmGdCVRDnVJRIF
In Pima, Arizona there is currently an outbreak of measles confirmed in 16 people, and potentially affecting many more. It's the largest outbreak seen in the US this year. This is an update that reinforces a lot of the concepts we're talking about. The trend we're seeing of measles outbreaks across the US is the end result of many factors promoting re-emergence. For instance, there's waning immunity from the early vaccines or incomplete dosing of vaccines that theoretically gave lifelong immunity. The article suggests that many people who believe they are immune may in fact be at risk, particularly if they were vaccinated in the 1960's. Secondly, in this case we see the ease of foreign travel leading to the introduction of new diseases (or those that had not been seen in a long time). The "patient zero" for this outbreak was a Swiss woman on vacation, who then came into contact with others at the hospital when she subsequently developed pneumonia. Now there are 4th and 5th generation cases. Lastly, it brings to mind a lot of discussions we've had about "eradication" and what it would really take. If the US, a country with enormous resources and a very strong public health system, can't shake this disease completely, how are countries like Sierra Leone going to accomplish this? Anyway, here's the Pro-Med link for the article.
Wednesday, April 30, 2008
Tuesday, April 29, 2008
Wednesday, April 23, 2008
Apparently, boxer Clinton Woods was suffering from aseptic meningitis during his world title defeat to Antonio Tarver. After consulting Medline Plus (I'm a little rusty, okay?!), I remembered that nearly half of the cases of aseptic meningitis are due to coxsackie and echoviruses (both picornaviruses). Other possible viral causes listed include HIV acute retroviral syndrome, herpes viruses, mumps, and West Nile. Also, he should be tested for certain fungi and mycobacteria and it should be determined which meds he was recently taking, because these, too, can cause meningitis.
Tuesday, April 22, 2008
Deadly virus> ------------> Medical examinations have determined that 8 other Chinese sailors> have the deadly virus, but have not developed any illness. The cook,> aged 40, and a crewmember of the vessel, aged 38, died on 9 Apr 2008,> after suffering high fevers for hours. No medication was able to stop> the progression of the disease.>> Experts of the Forensic Medicine Institute of Public Prosecutions> [IML] have determined that the cause of death was an adenovirus that> has become extremely deadly.>> Adenoviruses are spread by physical contact or through the air and> are one of the causes of the common flu, but were not considered> fatal. At least, not so far.>> The virus that causes severe acute respiratory [syndrome], an> atypical pneumonia that first appeared in November 2002 in Guangdong> Province, China, has been ruled out.>> The head of the IML, Luis Bromley Coloma, indicated that "we are> facing an adenovirus that has mutated and become deadly, but it is> still unknown what caused the mutation and how fast it can spread",> which is why an Epidemiological Alert has been declared.>> The autopsy performed on the 2 victims hurled death, multiorgan edema> in the brain, lungs, heart, liver, pancreas, and kidneys, and> microhemorrhages in all organs. Toxicological, biological, and> pathological tests performed revealed the presence of the mutated> adenovirus.>> Now, health authorities are working to establish where and what> generated the mutation to find a cure or a way to contain it.>> "Chan An 168" is a squid and shrimp fishing vessel that sailed from> the port of Yautay, China, on 19 Aug 2007 with 23 people on board.> Since then they have not had contact with dry land. On 13 Dec 2007 it> delivered its catch to another boat and received 2 other crewmembers.> The same happened on 15 Mar 2008.>> On 9 Apr 2008, the port captaincy of Callao received a distress call> from the captain of the "Chan An". That morning 2 Chinese crewmembers> -- the cook and a fisherman -- had died. The only symptom was a high> fever lasting from 2-5 hours; none of the medicines on board helped.>> Unfortunately, the Navy and International Maritime Health personnel> boarded the Chinese ship to provide the care they needed, without> taking the precautions needed to avoid contagion, hence it has been> decided to quarantine them. The disease can manifest itself in 14> days to 3 months.>> Specialists from the IML, and epidemiologists from the Ministry of> Defense, the Navy, and the Ministry of Health, met yesterday 19 Apr> 2008] to assess the results of the biological and pathological> examinations in order to take the necessary preventive measures to> avoid spread of the virus.>> "The autopsies carried out indicate that the 2 Chinese crewmembers> died from pneumonia resulting from an adenovirus, a cause of the flu> that is not usually fatal. What happened in this case is that the> virus has mutated and become deadly, and we are on an epidemiological> alert,'' the head of the Institute of Forensic Medicine, Luis> Bromley, said yesterday [19 Apr 2008].>> The specialist added that this outbreak has 2 characteristics: the> victims are people with weakened immune systems, having been almost a> year at sea, isolated and living in subhuman conditions. The other> factor is still being studied -- still unknown are the cause that led> to the mutation and how to fight it.>> "The entire crew has been evaluated and it has been found that 8> crewmembers are infected with the mutated adenovirus and are under> observation; they can not be treated, because we do not know how to> fight this virus," stressed Bromley.>> It has been arranged for 30 Peruvian people who have been to the ship> to provide help and have come into contact with patients remain under> epidemiological surveillance, isolated, and without contact with> their families until the deadly disease has been ruled out. In these> cases ''security measures may sound extreme, but prevention is better> than later to have to bear the consequences if nothing was done,"> asserted emphatically the head of the Institute of Forensic Medicine.
"To tell how much a new strain differs from previous ones, researchers test how well its HA is inhibited by antibodies to known strains harvested from infected ferrets. If the antibodies bind well, the new virus is "antigenically close" to those earlier ones; if they don't, the new strain is more distant. These results are used to create complex tables with thousands of numbers, each describing the outcome of one binding assay; they are impenetrable to all but the most experienced researchers."
Now isn't that just what we were saying last week?
Click here to read it all for yourself
Monday, April 21, 2008
A team of scientists from Bolivian Health authorities, the US Navy, and the CDC Special Pathogens Branch has characterized a new Hemorrhagic Arenavirus that they are calling Chapare virus. Although similar in its clinical presentation to the other New World Arenaviruses such as Junin and Machupo, Chapare demonstrates different genetics than both of these two viruses. The disease seems to be found only in a remote part of the Andean foothills of Bolivia and may carry a fatality rate of 30% if untreated. It has been suggested that recent human migration to the area may have brought about increased contact with the assumed rodent carriers of the virus. Read the Pro-Med Post Below:
ARENAVIRUS HEMORRHAGIC FEVER - BOLIVIA: (CHAPARE), NEW ARENAVIRUS
A ProMED-mail post
ProMED-mail is a program of the
International Society for Infectious Diseases <http://www.isid.org>
Date: Thu 17 Apr 2008
Source: EurekAlert! Public News, PLoS [Public Library of Science] Pathogens report [edited] <http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2008-04/plos-sdn041508.php>
A team of Bolivian health authorities, US Navy health experts based
in Lima, Peru, and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
(CDC) has characterized "Chapare arenavirus," a previously
unrecognized arenavirus, discovered in serum samples from a patient
in rural Bolivia who eventually died of the infection. A full report
of the study is published 18 Apr  in the open-access journal
Named after the Chapare River in the eastern foothills of the Andes,
the new Chapare arenavirus produces clinical hemorrhagic symptoms
similar to those associated with other New World arenaviruses, such
as the Junin, Machupo, Guanarito, and Sabia viruses. Genetically,
however, Chapare is different from each.
Junin, Machupo, and Guanarito viruses have been associated with large
outbreaks of hemorrhagic fever. Initial symptoms often include fever,
malaise, muscle aches, nausea, vomiting, and anorexia, followed later
by hemorrhagic symptoms. Untreated, more severe neurologic and/or
hemorrhagic symptoms may develop, and death occurs in up to 30
In this study, the authors first tested for yellow fever and dengue
hemorrhagic fevers, but results were negative. Tests for Machupo and
other related viruses also were negative. Sequence analysis of
specific segments of the virus later confirmed it as a unique member
of the clade B New World arenaviruses.
Due to the remote nature of the region where the case occurred, only
a limited description of a possible cluster of cases in the area was
"Further surveillance and ecological investigations should clarify
the nature of the health threat posed by the Chapare virus, and give
us better information on the source of human infection," says CDC
virologist Tom Ksiazek of the Special Pathogens Branch.
"We need to learn more about this virus: how it is related to the
other arenaviruses, how it causes disease, where it lives in nature,"
says Ksiazek. "Together with our colleagues in Bolivia and Peru,
we're anticipating a more intensive investigation that improves our
understanding of the virus, the disease it causes, and its ecology."
[Byline: Craig Manning
Health Communications Specialist
Special Pathogens Branch
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention]
Delgado S, Erickson BR, Agudo R, Blair PJ, Vallejo E, et al. 2008:
Chapare Virus, a Newly Discovered Arenavirus Isolated from a Fatal
Hemorrhagic Fever Case in Bolivia. PLoS Pathog 4(4): e1000047.
doi:10.1371/journal.ppat.1000047 [available at
[PLoS Pathogens (<http://www.plospathogens.org/>) is an open-access
journal that focuses on pathogens and their interactions with hosts.
ProMED-mail Rapporteur A-Lan Banks
[One hopes that this interesting report of a new Bolivian arenavirus
that causes human hemorrhagic disease will prompt timely follow-up
studies on its pathogenesis, epidemiology, and its natural hosts
(presumably wild rodents). The relationship of Chapare virus to other
South American arenaviruses, and especially Machupo virus found in
lowland Bolivia, will be of considerable interest. The Chapare region
is ecologically varied, transitioning from higher elevation foothills
to lower tropical forest. Over the past 20 years, this region has
been the site of considerable human migration from the high plateau
(Altiplano) and inter-Andean valleys into the Chapare for
Almost 6 million people in Mali have been vaccinated against yellow fever in a landmark vaccination campaign this week. About 6 000 health-care providers and 2 000 volunteers were engaged to reach and vaccinate people at risk of contracting yellow fever across southern Mali.
You thought I was gone, but I'm not.
Thursday, April 17, 2008
Wednesday, April 16, 2008
Apparently, flu is endemic year-round in certain areas, not just winter. Wonder if that still fits with the UV theory for flu seasonality...
Tuesday, April 15, 2008
Apparently Japan has just announced its plan to vaccinate around 6,000 health care professionals with H5N1 stockpiled vaccines. Officials report that the purpose of this first large-scale vaccination is to test the efficacy and side effects of the vaccine. This represents a governmental policy change, as Japan has stockpiled 10 million doses of the vaccine and in the past only planned on using the vaccine in case of a break-out.
Check out the article here.
Of course, there's no telling if the vaccine would be at all effective considering that if an avian flu pandemic were to hit Japan, it's likely that the newly arisen strain of virus may not be protected for by the current H5N1 vaccine.
Monday, April 14, 2008
Wednesday, April 9, 2008
Hugs and kisses,
To read more click here
Monday, April 7, 2008
When should the government step in?
Wednesday, March 19, 2008
Monday, March 17, 2008
Sunday, March 16, 2008
According to the WHO (World Health Organization), a measles outbreak stuck hundreds of children over the past few weeks and hundreds of health workers have been recruited to the
Anbar province of Iraq to to vaccinate children against measles. This is in an effort to contain the outbreak.
The vaccination campaign was scheduled to last 10 days, beginning on Sunday, March 9th "Nearly 600 vaccinators are taking part in the house-to-house drive and they are determined to reach every child under age 5 who missed routine vaccinations," said WHO spokeswoman Fadela Chaib in a Geneva briefing.
Before this effort was put into place, measured at the end of 2007, it is estimated that only one in 4 infants in the Anbar province had received the vaccine for measles.
Really important work! Go WHO!!!
Source: Tue 11 Mar 2008, Reuters News
During this year so far, 14 animals have tested positive for rabies at the ADHS State Health Laboratory. Two of these tests have occurred in the last two weeks.
Scary stuff! Bottom line: don't stop your all-terrain vehicle for a break in the wilderness before survey for large rabid animals (or something like that)...
Source: 10 Mar 2008, KPHO.com
Source: Fri 14 Mar 2008, Fox5, myFox, Washington, DC [edited]
Saturday, March 15, 2008
Check it out: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/03/080311215658.htm
The research team recently found that marijuana use was associated with increased prevalence of head and neck cancer in individuals with HPV, but that tobacco and alcohol was not. They reported that people who smoked pot for > 5 yrs were 11x more likely to develop cancers that tested HPV-positive. At the same time, they also said that the association was stronger with increasing numbers of oral sex partners, so that could be a significant confounding factor.
If it is pot that's increasing the risk of developing H&N cancer, the research team suspects that cannibinoids may inhibit the immune system's ability to clear infection; if pot were an immunosuppressant, you would see an increased prevalence of lots of infections in pot smokers.
Read more about it here: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/03/080311165905.htm
Friday, March 14, 2008
The research suggests that although potent antiretroviral therapy can suppress HIV infection to almost undetectable levels, it cannot eradicate the virus.
Link to article
Thursday, March 13, 2008
Read more about it here
Belgian law requires polio vaccination, and there are no exceptions (not even for religious reasons) EXCEPT if parents can prove that their child will have a serious adverse reaction to the vaccine.
France is the only other country that mandates polio immunization by law. Another case of required vaccination is during the annual Muslim Hajj pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia, where pilgrims must show proof of vaccination if arriving from polio-endemic areas.
Read more here: Jail for Belgians Who Reject Polio Shot
Until then, here's more information on the Epidemic Intelligence Services (EIS).
EIS was started in 1951 (after the start of the Korean War) as an early warning system against biological warfare and epidemics. 2/3 of officers are medical doctors; the remaining officers may be MD-PhDs, Physicians Assistants, or researchers with a doctoral degree. Assignments last for 2 years and include on-the-job training by epidemiologists in the field (ie in the heart of an epidemic).
60% of the 180 current EIS officers (80 officers for each year) are women. Interesting how women are making their presence known in the scientific field!
There have been a number of H&V graduates that have gone on to be EIS training. Ask Bob for names and contacts. I'm sure they would be happy to talk to us!
Check out the EIS website at : www.cdc.gov/eis
Wednesday, March 12, 2008
Now for the real story on the evolution of influenza that doesn’t really tell us more than we already know, but influenza is the topic of the season after all…
Researchers from Penn State and the NIH have conducted an evolutionary analysis of influenza viruses sampled from 1918-2005 in the hopes of investigating the cause of seasonal epidemics in humans.
Researchers found that the 1947 and 1951 severe influenza epidemics were caused by genetic reassortment events (…rift!) between two human influenza viruses of the same H1N1 strain. Why these severe epidemics, where illness and mortality exceeds the standard epidemic level, occur is unknown. Major influenza pandemics (like 1918) are caused by reassortment between human and avian influenza viruses (…shift!).
Findings from the evolutionary analysis suggest that the evolution of seasonal influenza is “more complex than previously thought” (hurrah…), where multiple forms of the same strain circulate and reassort within the same population and thus rapidly generate novel viruses that can erupt in major epidemics.
Julia "Apparently I have tainted blood" Liebner
With pandemic flu afoot, people in the medical field are questioning the logistics of current vaccination plans. Even with a new flu vaccine available, many in the field do not believe that the world would handle a widespread flu epidemic, given the way and the time required to mass-produce vaccines.
The biggest drawbacks to vaccines is that they take too long to make, which would be problematic in the event of an outbreak. A new vaccine, supposedly based on flu virus DNA (I thought orthomyxoviruses were RNA…), is promised to be a faster way to fight the flu. A few genes can supposedly be extracted from the DNA of the flu virus and used to make a vaccine. Microscopic particles are then coated wit this vaccine and shot at the body as super-fast speeds (sounds almost as painful as an injection…) using a needle-“free” device.
Read more at http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/03/080310170640.htm
Tuesday, March 11, 2008
Nipah virus infection is characterized by an onset of influenza-like illness, generally with high fever, and can progress to encephalitis, coma, and death. The case fatality ratio of clinically apparent cases is approximately 50%. There are currently no drug therapies that effective treat Nipah virus infection, although ribavirin may have some efficacy. As a response to the deaths, local health and governmental authorities have begun a campaign to raise awareness about Nipah virus infection in the area. In the past, there have 7 more reported deaths as well as 10 serious cases due to Nipah virus infection in this region of Bangladesh.
Nipah virus is a member of the paramyxoviridae family, and is a zoonotic virus that was first isolated in 1999. It is thought to infect various species of fruit bats. Transmission to humans is proposed to be through exposure (either direct contact or contact with infected bodily fluids) to such infected animal reservoirs. Pigs and other domestic animals, such as dogs and cats, may also have the ability to be infected, and to transmit the virus to humans.
For more info on Nipah virus
Monday, March 10, 2008
Its interesting how the media can misguide their readers so easily! This is a follow-up story from my post last week on the TRIM 22 gene, which was isolated and has been shown to stop HIV from leaving individual cells. Unfortunately, it is going to take a long time for them to develop a drug that can actually do this in a number of people--they'll have to run clinical trials, etc. Considering all the time that this will take, it seems to me to be misleading to talk about the 'end of HIV/AIDS being near'.
The NYTimes description of infectious mono: Mononucleosis is an infection usually caused by the Epstein-Barr virus. It can produce flulike symptoms and extreme, lingering fatigue. Physicians often discourage those with mononucleosis from taking part in intense physical activity because of the risk of rupturing the spleen, which can become enlarged because of the infection.
Federer reports that "They weren’t sure I was over it, but now I’m creating antibodies, and this really shows you are over it". He is now focusing on Beijing this summer...
Some final words of wisdom from my favorite tennis player: "Through a career, a long career maybe as No. 1, you have to go through injuries and sicknesses.”
Clink here to read more
Sunday, March 9, 2008
A field doctor in Sierra Leon witnessed an interesting event; the villagers of Kroo Bay were rubbing a white paste over their bodies to provide protection against chickenpox. Apparently, this remedy (made from a mix of bean plant leaves, alcohol, and chalk) is effective treatment. However, I doubt a double blind study is possible to test this potential placebo effect...
-Rebecca "yes, two posts in one evening" Hebner
The scientists tested baby’s blood within five days of birth for the DNA or RNA of eight different viruses, including five strains of herpes. Virus exposure was associated especially highly with pre-eclampsia. Mothers of babies who tested positive for any virus were more than five times as likely to have had pre-eclampsia, and those whose babies tested positive for a herpes virus were almost six times as likely.
The study appears in the March issue of The British Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology.
Thursday, March 6, 2008
The lack of mutation means the virus remains hard for humans to catch. Worldwide, the virus has infected 368 people in 14 countries since 2003, killing 234 of them, or 64 percent. But it has killed millions of poultry.
Wednesday, March 5, 2008
Dr. Stephen Barr at the university of Alberta has been researching genetic response to interferons, especially in the context of HIV/AIDS. He found a gene a few years ago, TRIM22 that is activated by interferons, but they just learned that this drug will chemically react with gp120 to block the virus in cells to prevent further viruses from entering the body. This could be very useful in drug development! Since its genetic, it might have less side effect than other antiretrovirals.
"TRIM22 is one of hundreds of genes turned on by interferons, chemicals produced by our immune syst"em to combat viral infections.
“It’s been known for a long time that interferon treatment of cells can block HIV infection, but nobody really knew how or what the genes were that were involved,” Barr explained.
“We found that TRIM22 was turned on quite a bit in response to interferons [...], and our later studies showed that [it] actually blocked [HIV] by trapping the virus within cells so it can’t get out to infect other cells.”
Tuesday, March 4, 2008
Well, today, it was announced in local news that 3 MORE CLINICS owned by the same doctors who initiated this syringe-sharing practice as common policy were SHUT DOWN.
Everyone and their mom (literally) who got any sort of scope done at any of these clinics is being tested.
source: my mom
As we learned on Monday, "vowels in the bowels," meaning that Hep A and Hep E are both transmitted via the fecal-oral route. This route of transmission has important implications for sanitation practices...meaning that increased sanitation results in decreased incidence of disease. The Ugandan Ministry of Health has attributed the epidemic to extremely low latrine coverage, contamination of water at household levels, and poor hygiene practices. In an analysis of sanitary conditions carried out in Northern Uganda, it was found that an average of 112 people share one latrine...which is about 6 times above the limit of 20 people per facility. Also, since most communities lack latrines altogether, the people have taken to the practice of open air defecation. Also, there was no indication of communities using soap to wash their hands, even though it was being supplied to them (the water for handwashing was also found to have tons of e. coli).
Looks like international health advocates might focus on spreading awareness about Hep E in these areas experiencing Hep E epidemics.
Monday, March 3, 2008
Here's the article: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/23435961/
Sunday, March 2, 2008
The work, done in collaboration with the University of Pennsylvania, shows that when TRIM22 is activated in cells infected with HIV the virus can't assemble properly and leave the cell. Apparently interferon signaling is dysregulated in patients infected with HIV.... by activating TRIM22, the viral infection progression could potentially be halted.
Did the Canadians discover a "cure" for HIV/AIDS?
This could be exciting?!
Check out the news-story here.
Apparently more individuals are in critical condition. Hopefully this doesn't turn into a full-blown outbreak. Keep posted for more info on Nipah in Bangladesh.
Check out the news brief here.
It is important to highlight that the potential nosocomial infection allegations, if found to be true, stem from the unsafe administration of anesthetic and NOT the actual medical procedure of the scope. In depth investigations conducted in the clinic discovered that syringes, not needles, were being re-used to administer anesthetic to different patients. Apparently, the administration of anesthetic can really burn if injected directly. So, to ease the pain, a little bit of the patient's blood is taken up into the syringe so that the initial contents of the injection are not pure anesthetic, cutting down on the stinging. Now, we potentially have small amounts of people's blood products in syringes that are being passed along to the next room to be used on another patient. The needle is changed, but the syringe is not, the syringe is filled with fresh anesthetic, the next patient's blood is taken up into the syringe to ease the pain of injection, the anesthetic is administered...AND THE CYCLE CONTINUES. Thus, people's blood products were potentially being shared through the contaminated syringes.
The big scandal in town right now is that this clinic is part of a large, cheap HMO that has a reputation for cutting costs. The cost for replacing each syringe was estimated at a mere .57 cents...now, all that money saved on syringes (and more) will be spent in defense in court. Nurses and other healthcare staff that were aware of the potentially dangerous procedure are now coming forward, disclosing more information about how long this procedure has been in practice. Also bothersome is that there are two other clinics, under the same HMO that were using the same unsafe injection procedure. The practices of these two other clinics are currently being investigated.
Unfortunately, we have quite a few family friends who recently visited this clinic (during the high risk time period) and are very shaken up. They are all getting tested next week for HBV, HCV, and HIV. The worst part is a vast majority of the patients attending this clinic are patients over 50, going for their mandatory colonoscopy. By definition, this is a problem if the main demographic at risk is the elderly (not saying people in their 50s are "elderly" but you know what I mean). As we all know, the main problems with these diseases (especially HCV and HIV) is that they often have long periods of asymptomatic infection, making detection of nosocomial transmission cases exceedingly difficult.
Dryvax — produced by scraping virus off the skin of infected calves — is being replaced in federal vaccine stockpiles by a more modern product manufactured in laboratories.
Dryvax was unusually dangerous for a vaccine, blamed in recent years for triggering heart attacks and aDryvax was created in the late 1800s, by the company that became in some patients. . was a primary U.S. manufacturer of smallpox vaccine by the mid-1940s, and was the only company left making it by the early 1960s, said Dr. D.A. Henderson, a vaccine expert who played a key role in international .
Click here to read the article
Friday, February 29, 2008
That's what I thought when I read the tagline on a ScienceDaily article on using oil-based nasal nanoemulsion vaccines. They were first reported in 2003 to vaccinate against influenza, and it's since been tested for HIV and smallpox. They used gp120 to vaccinate against HIV and killed whole vaccinia virus for smallpox. In both, they "were able to promote an immune response." Apparently, for HIV, if mucosal immunity is induced, immunity is conferred for the genital mucosa as well. Crazy. Their HIV vaccine also induced cellular immunity and neutralized antibody to HIV virus isolates--
The smallpox vaccine with nanoemulsion-killed vaccinia would be safer than the current live-attenuated vaccine. This vaccine induced mucosal, antibody, and Th1 cellular immunity. \
Results from both smallpox and HIV vaccine were published this past moth in Clinical Vaccine Immunology and AIDS Research Human Retroviruses, respectively.
Thursday, February 28, 2008
There's recently been a Hep C outbreak from a Endoscopy center. Apparently, a sedative used was contaminated and 40000 people need to be tested! Go listen to CNN's impeccable Dr. Sanjay Gupta for more details: http://cosmos.bcst.yahoo.com/up/player/popup/?rn=3906861&cl=6691836&ch=4226723&src=news
Love and happiness,
I found this cool article about one of the first (the first?) worldwide public health study that looks at infectious disease outbreak regions. They studied past outbreaks and where they occurred from all over. We know that zoonotic jumps/recombinations are most likely to cause 'new' diseases, or epidemics. They found that the regions that had high population density, warm climate, and wildlife bio-diversity were the regions that were most vulnerable to new outbreaks of infectious disease. This makes India and China especially vulnerable countries!
Not surprisingly, they found that, "The study has indicated that disease surveillance resources are misallocated, with the best efforts limited to rich countries." (DUH!) I personally really appreciated this global study because its looking at the world as a whole--like maybe the rich countries actually have a real obligation to watch out for the poorer countries. 20 years ago (not that I knew anything back then) this would be been out of the question. Maybe we're all moving in a better direction?
Quoted from the study:
An international research team analysed 335 outbreaks of new infections over the past six decades and found that more than 60 per cent were zoonotic diseases, caused by microorganisms jumping from animals, mostly those in the wild, into humans.
These include HIV from chimpanzees, the deadly Ebola virus from fruit bats, the West Nile virus from common sparrows and avian influenza (H5N1 virus) from wild ducks.
“We found infectious diseases strongly linked to human population density, changes in population, rainfall, and wildlife bio-diversity,” said Kate Jones, a team member and research fellow at the Zoological Society of London. “These links allow us to predict where future outbreaks are most likely to occur,” Jones told The Telegraph.
This new vaccine, MVA85A, is being developed as a booster for BCG, and has been in testing on humans for six years now. It is currently being tested in South Africa on young children and adults with HIV. If successful here, it will go into a phase 3 trial next year. However, it still needs at least 8 more years of trials before it can be considered for a license.
Here's the link to the article! http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/7266559.stm
The official CDC recommendation will increase the number of government-subsidized shots supplied to families who cannot afford to pay and may result in more insurance companies covering payment for the shots.
The move to vaccinate schoolchildren is an effort to prevent spread from children to adults and elderly persons, of which about 35,000 die annually in the US from flu complications.
Check out the article on the front page of today's (2/28/08) San Jose Mercury News.
Wednesday, February 27, 2008
Scientists at USAMRIID have announced the creation of a promising combination vaccine for Ebola and Marburg which has been shown to be 100% efficacious in cynomolgous macaques. This breakthrough vaccine for filoviruses is composed of virus-like particles (VLPs) and is totally non-infectious in nature-- just like the Gardisal HPV vaccine! Monkeys treated with the VLP based vaccine were then challenged with lethal doses of virus and none developed signs of infection while all of the control animals succumbed to the agents of hemorrhagic fever.
VLPs are likely now to be the leading candidate for human filovirus vaccine development due to their high safety, efficacy, and immunogenicity. This is a truly exciting development and the primary researcher, Dr. Kelly Warfield, hopes that the vaccine will be in human trials in a matter of years.
Check out the news release here.
Check out a more scientifically rigorous description of the work here.
yours in filo-mania (!),
Tuesday, February 26, 2008
Carraguard, a gel substance made from seaweed, was being investigated as a possible microbicide for protection against HIV. Results of the trial, though, found that those that used the carraguard got HIV at the same rate as those that used the control gel. A number of explanations have arisen, including that the women in the experimental group didn't use the gel as much as they were supposed to. The experimental group did not have any serious complications from the gel, prompting investigation into carraguard as a base into which antivirals could be added in the future.
I hope this year's vaccine is a better match than last year's.
Monday, February 25, 2008
Click here for more info
In response to the outbreak, the Ministry of Health as well as local Municipal Administrations of Industry and commerce have recently implemented avian influenza prevention measures, including contact tracing. Despite these measures, however, a 30th case of avian influenza is suspected in a women from Guangdong province in southern China (which is where SARS originated).