Wednesday, April 30, 2008

NY Times Comments on Gardasil for Men

This is a bit outdated but my presentation for tomorrow refers to it so I figured I'd make the link public in case anyone was interested in reading it!

Click Here


Tick Alert! Crimean-Congo Hemorrhagic Fever in Russia

A Russian man died on the 27th of April of Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever, making it the second year in which fatal cases of CCHF have broken out in the southern districts of Russia. Nearly 30 other individuals have been identified as having had close contact with the victim, 3 of which have been hospitalized for observation. The other contacts are under close surveillance. Active surveillance for additional cases is being carried out by healthcare workers in the district. The Head of the Russian Trade and Sanitary Inspection Authority, believes that this year’s early tick activity signify a high probability of a more widespread CCHF outbreak in the region.


Tuesday, April 29, 2008

4 Kids die from measles vaccine

After receiving the measles vaccine this past Wed, 4 children from Tamil Nadu, India have died of brain hemorrhage due to anaphylactic shock. Two possible explanations for the deaths have been offered: 1) the people giving the vaccine mixed the vaccine with something other than saline; 2) vaccine contaminated by some pathogen after reconstitution. It is also possible that the vaccine company is not using safe vaccine production techniques and a team is being dispatched to investigate this. Oddly, these deaths all occurred from vaccine constituted from the same vial, but another 230 kids also inoculated with this vaccine did not suffer any consequences (except for boosted immunity!).,F2400_P1001_PUB_MAIL_ID:1000,72355


Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Boxer down and out due to aseptic meningitis

OK, so this one is pretty lame, but here goes:
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

Mutated fatal Adenovirus!!!!

A deadly new mutated adenovirus is about in the China seas. This promed email was forwarded to me by Luke Beckman:

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.



More on Influenza: From Linguistics to the WHO

So I think someone up there heard my cries last week in class - this article is really right on my target. It is 1) a super cool story of a man who was studying linguistics when he realized his ability to pinpoint subtle differences would be a great way to track influenza mutation - and then he got offered a job by the WHO to be a member of the elite committee who picks the vaccine strains semi-annually (the future of many of our classmates? We can only dream...) and 2) Talks in depth about the complicated nature of picking the next vaccine strains:

"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

New Hemorrhagic Arenavirus found!

Hey everyone, sorry I didn't get to see you at class last week! I'll post my make-up article soon. But first, big news!

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:



A ProMED-mail post


ProMED-mail is a program of the

International Society for Infectious Diseases <>

Date: Thu 17 Apr 2008

Source: EurekAlert! Public News, PLoS [Public Library of Science] Pathogens report [edited] <>

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 [2008] in the open-access journal

PLoS Pathogens.

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 (<>) is an open-access

journal that focuses on pathogens and their interactions with hosts.

- Mod.TY]


Communicated by:

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

agricultural development.

Jon Dyal

6 million vaccinated against yellow fever in Mali

A group of boys wearing vaccination campaign T-shirts.

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.

Full Arcticle


Thursday, April 17, 2008

Source-Sink Model for Influenza?

Scientists proposed yesterday through looking at the genetic maps of over 1000 strands of influenza A that the evolution of influenza follows a source-sink model - where the source of influenza A is located in the tropics and the sink the mutations spread out to is throughout the rest of the temperate regions.

Click here


Wednesday, April 16, 2008

NY Times Flu Surveillance

This is a cool little article about flu surveillance in Asia. It's not terribly informative, but interesting:

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

Japan plans first large-scale H5N1 vaccination program

Hey VIP! Thought all of you bird-flu enthusiasts would find this article from the BBC interesting...

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

Measles in Wisconsin

So this is not one of the most interesting posts ever, but there were two more cases of measles in Wisconsin, bringing the total to 4.  These cases represent the first infections in that state since 2005.  The rest of the article goes on to remind parents how important it is to get both doses of MMR.  However, even the requirement of the booster shot does not prevent all cases of measles; the two diagnosed on Wed were just below the age of their first vaccination.  I guess the question that this raises for me is whether this is an acceptable incidence of measles in the US and we should spend our money on other problems or whether we should continue such vigorous investigations.


Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Mumps vaccine failure?!

Apparently, MMRV may not be as long lasting as we all thought. A study found that in 2006, there was a significant increase in the incidence of US mumps, despite vaccination in over 90% of the cases! Is there a need to update vaccination schedules for another booster shot?

Hugs and kisses,


Bird Flu Transmission Evolution Scare

BBC announced that there was a scare yesterday that a case of bird flu was transferred from one human to another, when a 52 year old father assumed he had caught bird flu from his son. Genetic analysis by the Lancet falsifies these claims but the potential for the virus to mutate and allow for human to human transmission strongly exists. Interestingly enough, after the 52 year old man was treated with anti-virals and a plasma cell transfer from a person who had previously vaccinated against the virus - he surrived!

To read more click here


Monday, April 7, 2008

First Post of the Inquiry Project!

Hey all, just browsing for info on the Olympics protests around the world I found a link to an article revealing that Spain has had two death due to vCJD (hBSE) in the last 3 months.  The only other case Spain has had was in 2005.  Could this be the tip of an iceberg
When should the government step in?