The Six Scenarios:
It's weekly, funny, and free!
from Washington Post:
Measles outbreaks flourish in UK years after discredited research tied measles shot to autism
More than a decade ago, British parents refused to give measles shots to at least a million children because of now discredited research that linked the vaccine to autism. Now, health officials are scrambling to catch up and stop a growing epidemic of the contagious disease. This year, the U.K. has had more than 1,200 cases of measles, after a record number of nearly 2,000 cases last year. The country once recorded only several dozen cases every year. It now ranks second in Europe, behind only Romania.
from New Scientist:
Plague of locusts blankets Madagascar
A locust plague of epic size is devastating the island nation of Madagascar, threatening the lives of 13 million people already on the brink of famine. Billions of locusts are destroying crops and grazing lands across half the country. The UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) expects the plague to get worse, with two-thirds of the country likely to be affected by September.... "In Africa this is sometimes a cruel twist," says Jerome Buhl from the University of Sydney, Australia, who studies the swarming of locusts. "A good year for crops, with promises of unusually good harvests after bad years, also often means a potential locust outbreak which could devastate the entire harvest and make it end as a terrible year."
from AP, via ABC:
Scientist: Cassava Disease Spread at Alarming Rate
Scientists say a disease destroying entire crops of cassava has spread out of East Africa into the heart of the continent, is attacking plants as far south as Angola and now threatens to move west into Nigeria, the world's biggest producer of the potato-like root that helps feed 500 million Africans.... In Uganda, a new strain of the virus identified five years ago is destroying 45 percent of the national crop and up to 80 percent of harvests in some areas, according to a new survey, said Chris Omongo, an entomologist and cassava expert at Uganda's National Crops Resources Research Institute. "The new strain looks to us to be much more aggressive," Omongo said.
from New York Times:
Report on U.S. Meat Sounds Alarm on Resistant Bacteria
More than half of samples of ground turkey, pork chops and ground beef collected from supermarkets for testing by the federal government contained a bacteria resistant to antibiotics, according to a new report highlighting the findings. The data, collected in 2011 by the National Antimicrobial Resistance Monitoring System -- a joint program of the Food and Drug Administration, the Agriculture Department and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention -- show a sizable increase in the amount of meat contaminated with antibiotic-resistant forms of bacteria, known as superbugs, like salmonella, E. coli and campylobacter.... The Agriculture Department has confirmed that almost 80 percent of all antibiotics sold in the United States are used in animal agriculture, and public health authorities around the world increasingly are warning that antibiotic resistance is reaching alarming levels. "We don't have a problem with treating animals with antibiotics when they are sick," Ms. Undurraga said. "But just feeding them antibiotics to make them get bigger faster at a lower cost poses a real problem for public health."
Despite superbug crisis, progress in antibiotic development 'alarmingly elusive'
Despite the desperate need for new antibiotics to combat increasingly deadly resistant bacteria, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved only one new systemic antibiotic since the Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA) launched its 10 x '20 Initiative in 2010 -- and that drug was approved two and a half years ago. In a new report, published online today in Clinical Infectious Diseases, IDSA identified only seven new drugs in development for the treatment of infections caused by multidrug-resistant gram-negative bacilli (GNB) bacteria. GNB, which include the "nightmare bacteria" to which the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) alerted the public in its March 2013 Vital Signs report, represent the most pressing medical need. Importantly, there is no guarantee that any of the drugs currently in development to treat GNB will make it across the finish line to FDA approval and none of them will work against the most resistant bugs we're worried about today.
New wave of 'superbugs' poses dire threat, says chief medical officer
Antibiotic-resistant bacteria with the potential to cause untreatable infections pose "a catastrophic threat" to the population, England's chief medical officer warns in a report calling for urgent action worldwide. If tough measures are not taken to restrict the use of antibiotics and no new ones are discovered, said Dame Sally Davies, "we will find ourselves in a health system not dissimilar to the early 19th century at some point". While antibiotics are failing, new bacterial diseases are on the rise. Although the "superbugs" MRSA and C difficile have been reduced to low numbers in hospitals, there has been an alarming increase in other types of bacteria including new strains of E coli and Klebsiella, which causes pneumonia.
Mosquitoes ignore repellent Deet after first exposure
Researchers from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine say mosquitoes are first deterred by the substance, but then later ignore it.... The research was carried out on Aedes aegypti, a species of mosquito that spreads dengue and yellow fever.
TB Infection Rates Set to 'Turn Clock Back to 1930s'
During the 1930s, dedicated sanitaria and invasive surgery were commonly prescribed for those with the infection -- usually caused by Mycobacterium tuberculosis, which the editors describe as "the most successful human pathogen of all time."... The infection is developing increasing resistance around the world to the powerful drugs currently used to treat it.... "It shows every sign of weathering the storm and superb randomised controlled trials, to emerge in ever-increasingly drug-resistant forms, potentially turning the clock back to the 1930s," they say.
from Boston Globe:
New illness, transmitted by same tick that carries Lyme, is discovered in Northeast
Researchers have discovered a new human disease in the Northeast transmitted by the same common deer tick that can infect people with Lyme disease. The bacterial illness causes flu-like symptoms, the researchers from Tufts, Yale, and other institutions reported Wednesday, but they also described the case of an 80-year-old woman who became confused and withdrawn, lost weight, and developed hearing difficulty and a wobbly gait.
MRSA detected in milk samples in Britain
A strain of Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus was found in British milk, indicating the superbug is spreading in livestock, researchers say. Mark Holmes of the department of veterinary medicine at Cambridge University, who first identified MRSA in milk in 2011, said the latest finding of a different strain -- MRSA ST398 in seven samples of bulk milk from five British farms -- was a concern.
from American Society for Microbiology:
New Coronavirus Has Many Potential Hosts, Could Pass from Animals to Humans Repeatedly
The SARS epidemic of 2002-2003 was short-lived, but a novel type of human coronavirus that is alarming public health authorities can infect cells from humans and bats alike, a fact that could make the animals a continuing source of infection, according to a study to be published in in mBio, the online open-access journal of the American Society for Microbiology, on Dec. 11. The new coronavirus, called hCoV-EMC, is blamed for five deaths and several other cases of severe disease originating in countries in the Middle East. According to the new results, hCoV-EMC uses a different receptor in the human body than the SARS virus, and can infect cells from a wide range of bat species and pigs, indicating there may be little to keep the virus from passing from animals to humans over and over again.
from Los Angeles Times:
In Hawaii, a coral reef infection has biologists alarmed
...Since June, a mysterious milky growth has been spreading rapidly across the coral reefs in Hanalei and the surrounding bays of the north shore -- so rapidly that biologist Terry Lilley, who has been documenting the phenomenon, says it now affects 5 percent of all the coral in Hanalei Bay and up to 40 percent of the coral in nearby Anini Bay. Other areas are "just as bad, if not worse," he said. The growth, identified by scientists at the U.S. Geological Survey as both a cyanobacterial pathogen -- a bacteria that grows through photosynthesis -- and a fungus, is killing all the coral it strikes, and spreading at the rate of 1 to 3 inches a week on every coral it infects.
New coronavirus: May be 'bat bug'
Bats may be the source of a new Sars-like virus which killed a man in Saudi Arabia, according to an analysis of the coronavirus' genome. Two other people have been infected and one, who was flown to the UK for treatment in September, is still in intensive care. Experts, writing in the journal mBio, said the virus was closely related to other viruses in bats.
from Baltimore Sun:
'Superbug' found in US wastewater treatment plants
Hospitals aren't the only places where people can pick up a nasty "superbug." A University of Maryland-led team of researchers has found methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, or MRSA, at sewage treatment plants in the mid-Atlantic and the Midwest.... The study found MRSA in 83 percent of the raw sewage entering the plants, but the incidence declined as the sewage progressed through the treatment process. Only one plant still had the bacteria in its fully treated water, researchers found, and that facility did not regularly use chlorination to finish disinfecting its wastewater. MRSA is a well-known problem in hospitals, where patients have picked up potentially fatal bacterial infections that do not respond to antibiotic treatment. But since the late 1990s, it's also been showing up in otherwise healthy people outside of health-care facilities, prompting a search for sources in the wider community.
Insight: In vulnerable Greece, mosquitoes bite back
Just when it seems things couldn't get any worse for Greece, the exhausted and indebted country has a new threat to deal with: mosquito-borne diseases. Species of the blood-sucking insects that can carry exotic-sounding tropical infections like malaria, West Nile Virus, chikungunya and dengue fever are enjoying the extra bit of warmth climate change is bringing to parts of southern Europe. And with austerity budgets, a collapsing health system, political infighting and rising xenophobia all conspiring to allow pest and disease control measures here to slip through the net, the mosquitoes are biting back.
from E&E Publishing:
Avian malaria found spreading in local Alaska birds
A tropical plague is spreading among birds in America's northernmost state in part due to a changing climate, according to new research. Malaria, a scourge that haunts many parts of humanity, also afflicts our feathered friends. The avian version of the disease does not harm people, but it can serve as an analogue for future infection patterns in humans as the climate changes.
FOOD: Another strain of deadly wheat fungus in South Africa
As the world's supply of staple grains grows tight, scientists are learning about the discovery in South Africa of yet another deadly variant of Ug99 stem rust, a virulent fungal disease that can devastate wheat crops within weeks.... The fungus has begun mutating rapidly over the last few years, earning it the epithet "the polio of agriculture". The new mutations, or "races", of this disease have acquired the ability to defeat two of the most important stem-rust-resistant genes, which are widely used in the world's wheat breeding programmes.
from CBS News, via kbzk:
West Nile virus outbreak: How to protect yourself
Dallas planes took to the skies Friday to spray insecticides to combat the worst West Nile virus outbreak the United States has seen this year. Thus far, 10 people have been killed and at least 230 others have been sickened in the Dallas County area. Nearly half of all West Nile cases in the U.S. so far this year are in Texas, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. If the trend continues, 2012 will be the worst West Nile year in state history.... The good news is about 80 percent of people who are infected with the virus won't show any symptoms at all. Up to 20 percent, however, may develop a fever, headache, body aches, vomiting, swollen lymph glands or a skin rash.... But about one in 150 people will develop a severe illness, in which they may have a high fever, neck stiffness, convulsions, vision loss, paralysis, coma or other neurological effects that may be permanent.
Dallas mayor declares emergency over West Nile virus
The mayor of Dallas declared a state of emergency in the ninth largest U.S. city on Wednesday to combat the spread of West Nile virus infections, which have been more prevalent than usual in Texas and other states this year. There have been more cases of West Nile virus reported so far this year than any year since the disease was first detected in the United States in 1999, the Centers for Disease Control said on its website. Nearly half of the 693 human cases of the mosquito-borne West Nile virus infections reported this year to the CDC have been in Texas, along with 14 of the 26 deaths confirmed by the federal agency as of Tuesday.
Parasites may get nastier with climate swings: study
Parasites, which include tapeworms, the tiny organisms that cause malaria and funguses, may be more nimble at adapting to climatic shifts than the animals they live on since they are smaller and grow more quickly, scientists said.
from Scientific American:
Invasive Fungi Wreak Havoc on Species World-Wide
...Fungi have afflicted species as varied as amphibians, bats, arabica coffee, mangrove crabs, wheat, coral, bees, oak trees, sea turtles and even humans. (For instance, infectious meningitis is caused by a fungus.) ... Long thought to reproduce asexually through mitosis, where each offspring is the identical clone of its parent, scientists have discovered fungi can also reproduce sexually, via meiosis. By nimbly changing their reproductive strategy in response to new environmental conditions, fungi transfer genetic advantages from both parents--just like humans do--giving their offspring a better shot at survival. They also readily hybridize (interbreed between different species), outcross (selectively breed with individuals of different strains within a species) and recombine (exchange genetic material during cell division).
from Discover Magazine:
'Whooping cough' new-infection rates in WA: 13X last year
The plot is by week, so you can see the 2011 numbers slowly growing across the year; then this year's numbers suddenly taking a huge leap upward. They are reporting the new rate as 13 times larger than last year.... Why would this be? Well, it so happens that the antivaccination movement is quite strong in Washington state, and it also so happens that parents are choosing not to vaccinate their children in higher numbers there than the rest of the nation.
Bird flu has jumped to baby seals, scientists discover
A new virus that jumped from birds to mammals is responsible for the death of more than 160 seals off the New England coast last year, scientists announced Tuesday. The virus could theoretically pose a threat to human health, they said.... "When initial tests revealed an avian influenza virus, we asked the obvious question: How did this virus jump from birds to seals?" lead researcher Simon Anthony of Columbia University said. The virus developed the ability to attack mammalian respiratory tracts, scientists learned. It may also have developed enhanced virulence and transmission in mammals, they said, but they need to do more tests to be sure.
Bacteria outbreak in Northern Europe due to ocean warming, study says
Manmade climate change is the main driver behind the unexpected emergence of a group of bacteria in northern Europe which can cause gastroenteritis, new research by a group of international experts shows. The paper, published in the journal Nature Climate Change on Sunday, provided some of the first firm evidence that the warming patterns of the Baltic Sea have coincided with the emergence of Vibrio infections in northern Europe. Vibrios is a group of bacteria which usually grow in warm and tropical marine environments. The bacteria can cause various infections in humans, ranging from cholera to gastroenteritis-like symptoms from eating raw or undercooked shellfish or from exposure to seawater.
from MIami Herald:
Cholera reportedly kills 15, sickens hundreds in eastern Cuba
The first cholera outbreak in Cuba in a century has left at least 15 dead and sent hundreds to hospitals all but sealed off by security agents bent on keeping a lid on the news, according to reports Friday. "There are 1,000-plus cases" in the southeastern province of Granma, said Yoandris Montoya, who lives in Bayamo, the provincial capital ... Cuba's Public Health Ministry, which rarely makes public any information that could give the island a negative image, declared Tuesday it had "controlled" an outbreak of cholera that had killed three people and affected 50 others in Granma province. But unofficial reports from the region Friday indicated the disease was continuing to spread, with hundreds more suspected cases jamming hospitals in Manzanillo and Bayamo. Montoya said more cases were reported in nearby Niquero and Pilan.
Diseases from animals hit over two billion people a year
A global study mapping human diseases that come from animals like tuberculosis, AIDS, bird flu or Rift Valley fever has found that just 13 such diseases are responsible for 2.4 billion cases of human illness and 2.2 million deaths a year. The vast majority of infections and deaths from so-called zoonotic diseases are in poor or middle-income countries, but "hotspots" are also cropping up in the United States and Europe where diseases are newly infecting humans, becoming particularly virulent, or are developing drug resistance. And exploding global demand for livestock products means the problem is likely to get worse, researchers said.
WHO: Sexually-transmitted superbug could be major crisis
Australia, France, Japan, Norway, Sweden and the United Kingdom are among the countries reporting cases of gonorrhea that does not respond to cephalosporin antibiotics, which is the last treatment option against gonorrhea. These are developed countries with good health care systems, meaning countries less well off may be even more at risk for a crisis. "If the resistence is there, what we think is that we're sitting at a tip of an iceberg," Lusti-Narasimhan said. "For places in many other parts of the world where there are much less both human and financial resources, it's very difficult to know the extent of the data."
from E&E Publishing:
Exotic diseases from warmer climates gain foothold in the U.S.
Diseases once thought to be rare or exotic in the United States are gaining a presence and getting new attention from medical researchers who are probing how immigration, limited access to care and the impacts of climate change are influencing their spread. Illnesses like schistosomiasis, Chagas disease and dengue are endemic in warmer, wetter and poorer areas of the world, often closer to the equator. According to the World Health Organization, almost 1 billion people are afflicted with more than one tropical disease.
from New Scientist:
Chikungunya virus loves warm New York winters
Warmer New York winters have a sting in the tail. The mosquito that carries chikungunya, a virus that causes joint pain, but isn't fatal, is flocking to the city in increasing numbers. The virus, which originates in Africa, is carried by the Asian tiger mosquito (Aedes albopictus) and could become endemic in New York within a few years. Until now the bitter winters have kept mosquito numbers down, says Laura Harrington at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York. Harrington estimates there is one Asian tiger mosquito for every five New Yorkers. Once that ratio flips to five insects per person, her model suggests that someone arriving in New York carrying the virus would have a 38 per cent chance of passing it on to another person through mosquito bites. The disease could become entrenched in the city at that level of infection, Harrington told the Inside Cornell event in New York City last week.
from Chicago Tribune:
American livestock get extra dose of antibiotics from spent ethanol grain, report says
As the battle wages on over the safety of feeding antibiotics to livestock for growth promotion, a new report reveals yet another source of unregulated antibiotics in American animal feed--spent ethanol grain... When the Food and Drug Administration discovered the antibiotic residues in the grain in 2008, it started requiring ethanol/distiller grain producers to get approval for their presence as a food additive. But the IATP report claims that the antibiotic companies are skirting this rule by relying on their self affirmed GRAS status as approval enough. GRAS (generally recognized as safe) approval requires only that a company proves to itself that its product is safe. It can voluntarily report those findings to the FDA as well.
from Bloomberg News:
Drug-Defying Germs From India Speed Post-Antibiotic Era
...Poor hygiene has spread resistant germs into India's drains, sewers and drinking water, putting millions at risk of drug-defying infections. Antibiotic residues from drug manufacturing, livestock treatment and medical waste have entered water and sanitation systems, exacerbating the problem. As the superbacteria take up residence in hospitals, they're compromising patient care and tarnishing India's image as a medical tourism destination.
from ABC News:
USDA to Let Industry Self-Inspect Chicken
Chicken is the top-selling meat in the United States. The average American eats 84 pounds a year, more chicken than beef or pork. Sorry red meat, chicken is what's for dinner. And now the USDA is proposing a fundamental change in the way that poultry makes it to the American dinner table. As early as next week, the government will end debate on a cost-cutting, modernization proposal it hopes to fully implement by the end of the year. A plan that is setting off alarm bells among food science watchdogs because it turns over most of the chicken inspection duties to the companies that produce the birds for sale. The USDA hopes to save $85 million over three years by laying off 1,000 government inspectors and turning over their duties to company monitors who will staff the poultry processing lines in plants across the country.
Spectre of Untreatable Malaria: Emergence of Artemisinin-Resistance On Thai-Myanmar Border
Evidence that the most deadly species of malaria parasite, Plasmodium falciparum, is becoming resistant to the front line treatment for malaria on the border of Thailand and Myanmar was reported in The Lancet April 5. This increases concern that resistance could now spread to India and then Africa as resistance to other antimalarial drugs has done before. Eliminating malaria might then prove impossible.... Professor Francois Nosten, Director of the Shoklo Malaria Research Unit, said: "We have now seen the emergence of malaria resistant to our best drugs, and these resistant parasites are not confined to western Cambodia. This is very worrying indeed and suggests that we are in a race against time to control malaria in these regions before drug resistance worsens and develops and spreads further. The effect of that happening could be devastating. Malaria already kills hundreds of thousands of people a year -- if our drugs become ineffective, this figure will rise dramatically."
100,000 Egypt cattle hit by foot-and-mouth: vets
Nearly 100,000 head of cattle are believed to have been struck by foot-and-mouth disease in Egypt, where a major new outbreak is threatening the entire region, veterinary sources warned on Tuesday. Essam Abdel Shakur, the head of Egypt's central quarantine service, said 93,734 head of cattle are believed to have been hit by the disease since February, of which 9,022 had died. The highest rate of infection is in the Nile Delta region, he said, cited by the official MENA news agency. On Thursday, the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) warned that a major new foot-and-mouth outbreak in Egypt could threaten the whole of North Africa and the Middle East.
New foot and mouth disease strain hits Egypt -- FAO
A new strain of foot and mouth disease (FMD) has hit Egypt and threatens to spread throughout North Africa and the Middle East, jeopardising food security in the region, the United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) said on Thursday. There have been 40,222 suspected cases of the disease in Egypt and 4,658 animals, mostly calves, have already died, the FAO said in a statement citing official estimates. "Although foot-and-mouth disease has circulated in the country for some years, this is an entirely new introduction of a virus strain known as SAT2, and livestock have no immune protection against it," the Rome-based agency said. Vaccines are urgently needed as 6.3 million buffalo and cattle and 7.5 million sheep and goats are at risk in Egypt, the FAO said.
from London Independent:
Experts fear diseases 'impossible to treat'
Britain is facing a "massive" rise in antibiotic-resistant blood poisoning caused by the bacterium E.coli -- bringing closer the spectre of diseases that are impossible to treat. Experts say the growth of antibiotic resistance now poses as great a threat to global health as the emergence of new diseases such as Aids and pandemic flu. Professor Peter Hawkey, a clinical microbiologist and chair of the Government's antibiotic-resistance working group, said that antibiotic resistance had become medicine's equivalent of climate change.
from Medical News Today:
Gonorrhea Drug Resistance Alarming
Over the last three years, gonorrhea has become increasingly harder to treat with antibiotics, making it now a reality that perhaps we may be facing a gonorrhea strain for which no current medications would be effective, researchers from the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), and the University of North Carolina School of Medicine reported in NEJM (New England Journal of Medicine).... According to the CDC, the number of reported Gonococcal strains with cephalosporin resistance has increase dramatically over the last three years. An alarming proportion of gonorrhea cases today in the USA include isolates that are resistant to the most commonly prescribed cephalosporin - cefixime.... The problem with gonorrhea is that we have nothing to replace cephalosporins.
from Wired Science:
New Schmallenberg Animal Virus Takes Northern Europe by Surprise
The virus, provisionally named "Schmallenberg virus" after the German town from which the first positive samples came, was detected in November in dairy cows that had shown signs of infection with fever and a drastic reduction in milk production. Now it has also been detected in sheep and goats, and it has shown up at dozens of farms in neighboring Netherlands and in Belgium as well. According to the European Commission's Standing Committee on the Food Chain and Animal Health, cases have been detected on 20 farms in Germany, 52 in the Netherlands, and 14 in Belgium. Many more suspected cases are being investigated. "A lot of lambs are stillborn or have serious malformations, "Wim van der Poel of the Dutch Central Veterinary Institute in Lelystad says. "This is a serious threat to animal health in Europe." "We are taking this very, very seriously," adds Thomas Mettenleiter, head of the Friedrich-Loeffler-Institute (FLI), the German federal animal health lab located on the island of Riems. The virus appears to be transmitted by midges (Culicoides spp.), and infections likely occurred in summer and autumn of last year, but fetuses that were exposed to the virus in the womb are only now being born. The first cases of lambs with congenital malformations such as hydrancephaly -- where parts of the brain are replaced by sacs filled with fluid -- and scoliosis (a curved spine) appeared before Christmas. "Now, in some herds 20 percent to 50 percent of lambs show such malformations," Mettenleiter says. "And most of these animals are born dead."
from Discovery Channel:
Antibiotics Breed Drug-Resistant Bacteria in Pigs
After giving pigs a low-dose of antibiotics for just two weeks, researchers detected a drastic rise in the number of E. coli bacteria in the guts of the animals. And those bacteria showed a large jump in resistance to antibiotics. The particular strain of E. coli detected in the study was not pathogenic to pigs or humans. But the results add to concerns that regular use of antibiotics in farm animals could spread dangerous and drug-resistant varieties of bacteria throughout the environment and into our food and water... "This is an exciting study because it goes beyond what anyone else has done and looks at the whole ecology of the animal's intestinal tract," said microbiologist Stuart Levy, director of the Center for Adaptation Genetics and Drug Resistance at Tufts University in Boston. "It shows that a low-dose of antibiotic can have a broad effect on the flora of animals," he said...
New Animal Virus Takes Northern Europe by Surprise
Scientists in northern Europe are scrambling to learn more about a new virus that causes fetal malformations and stillbirths in cattle, sheep, and goats. For now, they don't have a clue about the virus's origins or why it's suddenly causing an outbreak; in order to speed up the process, they want to share the virus and protocols for detecting it with anyone interested in studying the disease or developing diagnostic tools and vaccines. The virus, provisionally named "Schmallenberg virus" after the German town from which the first positive samples came, was detected in November in dairy cows that had shown signs of infection with fever and a drastic reduction in milk production. Now it has also been detected in sheep and goats, and it has shown up at dozens of farms in neighboring Netherlands and in Belgium as well. According to the European Commission's Standing Committee on the Food Chain and Animal Health, cases have been detected on 20 farms in Germany, 52 in the Netherlands, and 14 in Belgium. Many more suspected cases are being investigated. "A lot of lambs are stillborn or have serious malformations," Wim van der Poel of the Dutch Central Veterinary Institute in Lelystad says. "This is a serious threat to animal health in Europe." "We are taking this very, very seriously," adds Thomas Mettenleiter, head of the Friedrich-Loeffler-Institute (FLI), the German federal animal health lab located on the island of Riems. The virus appears to be transmitted by midges (Culicoides spp.), and infections likely occurred in summer and autumn of last year, but fetuses that were exposed to the virus in the womb are only now being born. The first cases of lambs with congenital malformations such as hydrancephaly -- where parts of the brain are replaced by sacs filled with fluid -- and scoliosis (a curved spine) appeared before Christmas. "Now, in some herds 20 percent to 50 percent of lambs show such malformations," Mettenleiter says. "And most of these animals are born dead."
from Wired Science:
India Reports Completely Drug-Resistant TB
Over the past 48 hours, news has broken in India of the existence of at least 12 patients infected with tuberculosis that has become resistant to all the drugs used against the disease. Physicians in Mumbai are calling the strain TDR, for Totally Drug-Resistant. In other words, it is untreatable as far as they know.... "The cases we clinically isolate are just the tip of the iceberg." And as a followup, the Hindustan Times reported yesterday that most hospitals in the city -- by extension, most Indian cities -- don't have the facilities to identify the TDR strain, making it more likely that unrecognized cases can go on to infect others....
from International Business Times:
FDA Withdraws Longstanding Petition to Regulate Antibiotics in Livestock Feed
The U.S. Food and Drug and Administration announced only days before Christmas that it has decided to back off a 34-year attempt to regulate the use of antibiotics in livestock feed for animals intended for human consumption, despite mounting scientific evidence that has linked the practice to the development of potentially fatal antibiotic-resistant superbugs in humans. With no other notice aside from an obscure posting in the Federal Register on Dec. 22, the FDA declared it will now focus on encouraging "voluntary reform" within the industry instead of enforcing actual regulatory action, in addition to the "promotion of the judicious use of antimicrobials in the interest of public health."
from Los Angeles Times:
Swine flu strain resistant to Tamiflu is spreading more easily
The flu season is still young in the U.S. and the rest of the Northern Hemisphere, but Australia wrapped up its flu season months ago, and public health officials there have some disturbing news to report: The version of so-called swine flu that is resistant to the drug Tamiflu is spreading more easily in the land Down Under.
from Associated Press:
Research: Bedbugs can thrive despite inbreeding
Bedbugs aren't just sleeping with you. They're sleeping with each other. Researchers now say that the creepy bugs have a special genetic gift: withstanding incest. It turns out that unlike most creatures, bedbugs are able to inbreed with close relatives and still produce generally healthy offspring. That means that if just a few bedbugs survive in a building after treatment, they repopulate quickly.
Antibiotics in Swine Feed Encourage Microorganism Gene Exchange
A study to be published in the online journal mBioŽ on Nov. 29 shows that adding antibiotics to swine feed causes microorganisms in the guts of these animals to start sharing genes that could spread antibiotic resistance. Livestock farms use antibiotic drugs regularly, and not just for curing sick animals. Antimicrobial drugs are used as feed additives to boost animal growth, a profitable but controversial practice that is now banned in the European Union and under scrutiny here in the United States. Using antibiotics in animal feed saves farms money, but opponents argue the practice encourages antimicrobial resistance among bacteria that could well be consumed by humans.... Prophages underwent a significant increase in induction when exposed to antibiotics, indicating that medicating the animals led to increased movement of prophage genes among gut bacteria. "Induction of the prophages is showing us that antibiotics are stimulating gene transfer," says Allen. "This is significant because phages have previously been shown to carry bacterial fitness genes such as antibiotic resistance genes."
UN warns of staple crop virus 'epidemic'
UN scientists are warning that a virus attacking the cassava plant is nearing an epidemic in parts of Africa. Cassava is one of the world's most important crops providing up to a third of the calorie intake for many people. The food and agriculture organisation of the UN says the situation is urgent and are calling for an increase in funding for surveillance. None of the varieties of cassava being distributed to farmers in Africa appears to be resistant to the virus. Cassava is a global food source of particular importance in Africa as it does well on poor soils with low rainfall.... The scientists say the Cassava Brown Streak Disease (CBSD) is on the verge of becoming an epidemic. It first appeared in Uganda in 2006 but in the past few months has been found in Burundi and the Democratic Republic of Congo for the first time.
from PNAS, via New Scientist:
Frog-killer chytrid fungus was born in trade
The global amphibian trade spread the lethal chytrid fungus, which is decimating frogs around the planet, and it now looks like it may have created the disease in the first place. The team behind this finding are calling for an amphibian quarantine to help slow the disease's spread.... The best and simplest explanation is that 20th-century trade, which shipped amphibians all over the world, enabled the mating, says Farrer's supervisor Matthew Fisher. "We've got to restrict trade, or at least make sure that amphibians are not contaminated," says Fisher. One approach would be for countries to quarantine all imported amphibians and only allow them to stay if they are uninfected.
from New York Times:
Concerns Are Raised About Genetically Engineered Mosquitoes
These mosquitoes are genetically engineered to kill -- their own children. Researchers on Sunday reported initial signs of success from the first release into the environment of mosquitoes engineered to pass a lethal gene to their offspring, killing them before they reach adulthood. The results, and other work elsewhere, could herald an age in which genetically modified insects will be used to help control agricultural pests and insect-borne diseases like dengue fever and malaria.
from New York Times:
Infectious salmon anemia found in wild Pacific salmon
As word spread that infectious salmon anemia, a deadly virus that has devastated farmed fish in Chile, had been found for the first time in prized wild Pacific salmon, there remained much uncertainty about the finding and what its potential impact could be. So far it has been found in just two wild sockeye salmon in British Columbia and not in an active state. Nevertheless the reaction from fishermen has echoed that of some scientists: this is the last thing salmon need. "On top of everything else, that would just be murder here," said Mr. Tremain, aboard his 40-foot boat, Heidi, at Fishermen's Terminal here.... Richard Routledge, a professor from Simon Fraser University, speculated that the fish may have caught the disease from a nearby fish farm. Canadian officials, however, say the fish at the farm have not tested positive for the disease. That discrepancy has caused some scientists to privately question the validity of the government tests, in part because the same Canadian agency that regulates fish farming, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, also promotes it. The agency did not respond to a request for comment on Wednesday.
from Agence France-Press:
Dengue fever infects over 12,000 in Pakistan
Already cursed by floods and suicide bombings, Pakistan now faces a new menace from an unprecedented outbreak of the deadly tropical disease dengue fever. In less than a month, 126 people have died and more than 12,000 have been diagnosed with the virus, which has spread rapidly among both rich and poor in Pakistan's cultural capital Lahore. Dengue affects between 50 and 100 million people in the tropics and subtropics each year, resulting in fever, muscle and joint ache. But it can also be fatal, developing into haemorrhagic fever and shock syndrome, which is characterised by bleeding and a loss of blood pressure. Caused by four strains of virus spread by the mosquito Aedes aegypti, there is no vaccine -- which is why prevention methods focus on mosquito control.
from University of California - Los Angeles via ScienceDaily:
Scientists Find H1N1 Flu Virus Prevalent in Animals in Africa
UCLA life scientists and their colleagues have discovered the first evidence of the H1N1 virus in animals in Africa. In one village in northern Cameroon, a staggering 89 percent of the pigs studied had been exposed to the H1N1 virus, commonly known as the swine flu. "I was amazed that virtually every pig in this village was exposed," said Thomas B. Smith, director of UCLA's Center for Tropical Research and the senior author of the research. "Africa is ground zero for a new pandemic. Many people are in poor health there, and disease can spread very rapidly without authorities knowing about it."
from UCLA, via EurekAlert:
UCLA scientists find H1N1 flu virus prevalent in animals in Africa
UCLA life scientists and their colleagues have discovered the first evidence of the H1N1 virus in animals in Africa. In one village in northern Cameroon, a staggering 89 percent of the pigs studied had been exposed to the H1N1 virus, commonly known as the swine flu. "I was amazed that virtually every pig in this village was exposed," said Thomas B. Smith, director of UCLA's Center for Tropical Research and the senior author of the research. "Africa is ground zero for a new pandemic. Many people are in poor health there, and disease can spread very rapidly without authorities knowing about it." H1N1 triggered a human pandemic in the spring of 2009, infecting people in more than 200 countries. In the U.S., it led to an estimated 60 million illnesses, 270,000 hospitalizations and 12,500 deaths, according to the Centers for Disease Control. The virus, known scientifically as Influenza A (H1N1), is made up of genetic elements of swine, avian and human influenza viruses. The pigs in Cameroon, the researchers say, were infected by humans.
from London Independent:
Antibiotics losing the fight against deadly bacteria
Our last line of defence against bacterial infections is fast becoming weakened by a growing number of deadly strains that are resistant to even the strongest antibiotics, according to new figures given to The Independent on Sunday by the Health Protection Agency (HPA). The disturbing statistics reveal an explosion in cases of super-resistant strains of bacteria such as E.coli and Klebsiella pneumoniae, a cause of pneumonia and urinary tract infections, in less than five years.... Years of over-prescribing antibiotics, bought over the counter in some countries, and their intensive use in animals, enabling resistant bacteria to enter the food chain, are among the factors behind the global spread...In a statement issued during a WHO conference in Baku, Azerbaijan, last week, the organisation warned that doctors and scientists throughout Europe fear the "reckless use of antibiotics" risks a "return to a pre-antibiotic era where simple infections do not respond to treatment, and routine operations and interventions become life-threatening."
UN warns of bird flu resurgence
The United Nations has warned of a possible major resurgence of bird flu and said a mutant strain of the H5N1 virus was spreading in Asia and elsewhere. The UN's Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) on Monday urged increased surveillance and preparation for a potential outbreak of the virus, which it says has infected 565 people since it first appeared in 2003, killing 331 of them. The virus was eliminated from most of the 63 countries infected at its peak in 2006 after mass poultry culling, but since 2008 it has been expanding geographically in both poultry and wild birds, partly due to migration patterns, the FAO said.... He said the appearance of a variant strain of the virus in China and Vietnam was a concern, because it appeared to be able to sidestep the defences of existing vaccines.
from NorthWest Herald:
NW Illinois mosquito batch tests positive for West Nile
McHenry County Department of Health officials have confirmed that the West Nile virus is in the area. A trap of mosquitoes in Woodstock tested positive for the virus, the health department said in a news release. The last positive test for West Nile virus in McHenry County was last year. The health department has tested 103 mosquito pools this year, but previously none had tested positive, the department said. Twelve other counties in the state have reported positive mosquito batches and birds for West Nile.
from Wired Science:
Ringing the Warning Bell: Colistin-Resistant Klebsiella
In all the latest bad news about bacteria becoming highly resistant -- through carbapenem resistance, or the "Indian supergene" NDM-1 -- there has been one hopeful thread: All of the organisms have remained susceptible to one very old, little-used drug called colistin. That might be about to change. Which would be very, very bad news. Writing in a recent issue of Clinical Infectious Diseases, faculty from the University of Pittsburgh say they saw five patients last year with colistin-resistant Klebsiella pneumoniae, a Gram-negative bacterium that is a frequent cause of very serious hospital infections and that has already become resistant to multiple classes of drugs.... There are a couple of observations that can be teased out of these cases. The first is that these infections tend to happen to people who are already very sick: in need of a transplant; or having gotten a transplant, and on immune system-suppressing drugs; or with traumatic injury. They are people who would have been at risk for hospital-acquired infections. The second is how these unexpectedly resistant hospital infections complicate the course of an already-sick patient. The victims in this outbreak were in the hospital from six weeks, in the shortest course, to six months in the longest. The third is that some treatment is thankfully still possible. The organism -- which was identical in four of the patients and negligibly different in the fifth -- still responded to tigecycline, a relatively new drug. But in the table of susceptibility and resistance published in the journal, tigecycline was manifestly the only drug that still worked.
from Mother Jones:
What the USDA Doesn't Want You to Know about Antibiotics and Factory Farms
Here is a document the USDA doesn't want you to see. It's what the agency calls a "technical review" -- nothing more than a USDA-contracted researcher's simple, blunt summary of recent academic findings on the growing problem antibiotic-resistant infections and their link with factory animal farms. The topic is a serious one. A single antibiotic-resistant pathogen, MRSA -- just one of many now circulating among Americans -- now claims more lives each year than AIDS.... To understand the USDA's quashing of a report it had earlier commissioned, published, and praised, you first have to understand a key aspect of industrial-scale meat production. You see, keeping animals alive and growing fast under cramped, unsanitary conditions is tricky business....Altogether, the US meat industry uses 29 million pounds of antibiotics every year. To put that number in perspective, consider that we humans in the United States -- in all of our prescription fill-ups and hospital stays combined -- use just over 7 million pounds per year.
from ABC News:
Super Gonorrhea: Scientists Discover Antibiotic-Resistant STD
Scientists have discovered a new strain of gonorrhea-causing bacteria in Japan that is resistant to available treatments. Since the 1940s, the sexually transmitted disease known as "the clap" has been easily treated with antibiotics. But the new strain of Neisseria gonorrhoeae has genetically mutated to evade cephalosporins -- the only antibiotics still effective against the infection. "This is both an alarming and a predictable discovery," lead researcher Magnus Unemo, professor at the Swedish Reference Laboratory for Pathogenic Neisseria in Orebro, Sweden, said in a statement. "Since antibiotics became the standard treatment for gonorrhea in the 1940s, this bacterium has shown a remarkable capacity to develop resistance mechanisms to all drugs introduced to control it."
'Goat plague' threat to global food security and economy must be tackled, experts warn
"Goat plague," or peste des petits ruminants (PPR), is threatening global food security and poverty alleviation in the developing world, say leading veterinarians and animal health experts in this week's Veterinary Record.... It's important to control the infection because it spreads quickly through goat herds and sheep flocks, decimating their numbers, and taking a terrible financial toll on the farmers and families who depend on these animals for their livelihoods, say the authors. And it has also spread to wildlife species, many of which are endangered or threatened.... They go on to say that there has been a reluctance to tackle the issue because sheep and goats are considered to be of lesser economic value than cattle, and their shorter working lives mean that it would cost more to eradicate PPR. But they warn: "The ever advancing spread of PPR has made the economic impact of the disease, and consequently the benefits of its eradication, much greater. The imperative for coordinated action is therefore much stronger."
Farm Animal Disease to Increase With Climate Change, Scientists Say
Researchers looked at changes in the behaviour of bluetongue -- a viral disease of cattle and sheep -- from the 1960s to the present day, as well as what could happen to the transmission of the virus 40 years into the future. They found, for the first time, that an outbreak of a disease could be explained by changes to the climate.... The team examined the effect of past climate on the risk of the virus over the past 50 years to understand the specific triggers for disease outbreak over time and throughout geographical regions. This model was then driven forwards in time, using predictive climate models, to the year 2050, to show how the disease may react to future climate change. Using these future projections, researchers found that in northern Europe there could be a 17 percent increase in incidence of the bluetongue virus, compared to 7 percent in southern regions, where it is already much warmer.
from Scientific American:
New MRSA Strain Found In Dairy Cattle and Humans
A new form of drug-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) has been found in dairy cows and humans in the U.K. and Denmark, providing more evidence that animals could be passing this superbug on to people--not just the other way around. The new methicillin-resistant bacterial strain was found in tests of raw milk by a team looking for another infection among the herds. Pasteurization kills off the bacteria, making milk products--even from a cow infected with this antibiotic-resistant strain--safe for consumers, the researchers explain.
from Huffington Post:
NDM-1 Superbug Acquired In Canada
Canadian researchers have identified what appears to be the first domestically acquired case of an NDM-1 superbug. An 86-year-old Ontario man was found to be carrying bacteria resistant to most antibiotics because of NDM-1, or New Delhi metallo-1, an enzyme that alters the DNA of various types of bacteria. NDM-1 is endemic in India and Pakistan and has spread worldwide due to global travel. But the patient, who was admitted to hospital and then a rehabilitation centre after suffering a stroke last October, had not travelled outside southwestern Ontario for the last decade. None of the man's family members or other close contacts were carrying the superbug, nor had any been to parts of the world where NDM-1 is widespread.
Mystery Virus in South Korea Claims Second Victim
Health officials in South Korea reported that a second person has died after being infected with an unknown virus. According to news reports, eight patients from different parts of the country have been hospitalized in recent months with similar cold or flu-like symptoms, including cough and difficulty breathing. Seven of the eight had recently given birth or were expecting. The first victim to die was nine months pregnant; the second was also due to deliver before her death. Doctors were able to save both babies. The expectant women died of multiple organ failure triggered by severe scarring and thickening of the lung tissue.
Germany 'really worried' by E. coli outbreak
Germany's consumer minister expressed deep concern Wednesday at an outbreak of poisoning by dangerous bacteria believed to have killed three women and left hundreds ill. "This is really worrying," Ilse Aigner said on ARD public television. "We do not know what is the source (of the poisoning) and we cannot rule out there will be more cases." According to the Robert Koch Institute (RKI), Germany's national disease agency, more than 80 people have become seriously ill in the past two weeks after ingesting enterohaemorrhagic E. coli (EHEC). Across Germany, mostly in the north, there are hundreds of other suspected cases, including some 200 in the state of Schleswig-Holstein, 100 in Lower Saxony, and in Hamburg close to 50.... RKI head Burger on Tuesday called the recent number of recorded cases "scarily high". Normally in a year there are around 1,000 EHEC infections and some 60 cases of haemolytic uraemic syndrome (HUS), a life-threatening disease caused by EHEC infection. According to the World Health Organization, HUS is characterised by acute renal failure and blood problems, with a fatality rate of between three and five percent. It can also cause seizures, strokes and coma.
from Wired Science:
Lethal Hendra Virus Outbreaks May Be Caused by Man
By making flying-fox populations sedentary, stressed and fragmented, development might have also made them prone to viral spikes. Hendra's spread in people may be, in a sense, a man-made disaster. "We're now seeing more evidence that human-induced environmental changes may be driving this disease," said Raina Plowright, a disease ecologist at Pennsylvania State University. "That's something that's been proposed many times, but few people have been able to show a mechanism. Here's a mechanism."... "We've essentially created a situation in which flying foxes are more likely to undergo these massive epidemics that lead to spillover events," said disease ecologist Richard Ostfeld of the Cary Institute for Ecosystem Studies, who wasn't involved in the study. "In the flying foxes, it doesn't appear to cause terrible sickness. It may have co-evolved with them to be relatively benign. But all bets are off when the virus reaches a spillover host." Adding to the problem are the immediate physical stresses of habitat loss and weather extremes that have become normal in Australia. Just as stressed humans are more vulnerable to infection, so are flying foxes.
from Huffington Post:
Bedbugs With Drug-Resistant MRSA 'Superbug' Germ Found
Researchers are reporting an alarming combination: bedbugs carrying "superbug" germs. Canadian scientists detected drug-resistant MRSA bacteria in bedbugs from three hospital patients from a downtrodden Vancouver neighborhood. Bedbugs have not been known to spread disease, and there's no clear evidence that the five bedbugs found on the patients or their belongings had spread MRSA or a second less dangerous drug-resistant germ. However, bedbugs can cause itching that can lead to excessive scratching. That can cause breaks in the skin that make people more susceptible to these bacteria, noted Dr. Marc Romney, one of the study's authors. The study is small and very preliminary, "But it's an intriguing finding" that needs to be further researched, said Romney, medical microbiologist at St. Paul's Hospital in Vancouver.
Nationwide study finds 1 in 4 samples of US meat and poultry is contaminated with MRSAs
Drug-resistant strains of Staphylococcus aureus, a bacteria linked to a wide range of human diseases, are present in meat and poultry from U.S. grocery stores at unexpectedly high rates, according to a nationwide study by the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen). Nearly half of the meat and poultry samples -- 47 percent -- were contaminated with S. aureus, and more than half of those bacteria -- 52 percent -- were resistant to at least three classes of antibiotics, according to the study published today in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases. This is the first national assessment of antibiotic resistant S. aureus in the U.S. food supply. And, DNA testing suggests that the food animals themselves were the major source of contamination.
Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria in New Delhi Public Water Supply
Disease-causing bacteria carrying the new genetic resistance to antibiotics, NDM-1, have been discovered in New Delhi's drinking water supply. A Cardiff University-led team found new strains of resistant bacteria in the Indian capital, including species which cause cholera and dysentery. The findings are the first evidence of the environmental spread of NDM-1, which had previously only been found in hospitals. The scientists are calling for urgent action by health authorities worldwide to tackle the new strains and prevent their global spread.... While most patients with the bacteria have recently been hospitalised in India, some cases have occurred there without recent hospital treatment, prompting the team to test the wider environment. Samples were taken in New Delhi from public water taps and from waste seepage, such as water pools in the street. Resistant bacteria were found in 4 per cent of the water supplies and 30 per cent of the seepage sites. The researchers identified 11 new species of bacteria carrying the NDM-1 gene, including strains which cause cholera and dysentry. Antibiotics are used to reduce excretion of bacteria in cholera patients, and to reduce the duration and severity of dysentery. Worryingly, the identified Shigella isolate, which can carry dysentery, is resistant to all appropriate antibiotics.... The research team also believes that temperatures and monsoon flooding make New Delhi ideal for the spread of NDM-1.
from Scientific American:
Antibiotic Resistance Is Taking Out 'Last-Resort' Drugs Used to Combat Worrisome Category of Germs
There are so many news stories about antibiotic resistance these days that you may be tempted to ignore them all just to preserve your sanity. But there is a kind of hierarchy of danger when it comes to figuring out which stories are most deserving of your attention. Anytime you hear that a particular bacterium has become resistant to a "drug of last resort," that is bad. Drugs of last resort--such as vancomycin for Staphylococcus infections--are usually the last line of safe, dependable defense for certain kinds of infections. Drug companies can try to come up with new medications to replace the outpaced meds, but that takes time and does not bring in a lot of money, so we are fast running out of drugs of last resort.... As Maryn McKenna explains in "The Enemy Within," antibiotic resistance in the gram-negative bacteria is particularly worrisome because Gram-negative germs are more likely than Gram-positive ones to share the genes responsible for drug resistance across species. Her story is doubly alarming because it provides a detailed look at how resistance has developed in the U.S. against drugs of last resort (really bad) in Gram-negative bacteria (really, really bad). As if that were not bad enough, clinicians are now starting to see drug resistance in whole new categories of pathogens--such as fungi. Perhaps the worst news of all, however, is that even if antibiotics are used correctly, they may be contributing to the drug-resistance problem. Because even proper use of antibiotics creates an environment in which microbes with resistance genes are favored to survive.
from Scientific American:
The Enemy Within: A New Pattern of Antibiotic Resistance
A new pattern of resistance has emerged among a particularly challenging group of bacteria called the gram-negatives; it threatens to make many common infections untreatable.... The bacterial genes responsible confer resistance to the carbapenems, a group of so-called last-resort antibiotics. Two of the most important resistance genes are dubbed NDM-1 and KPC. Carbapenem resistance in gram-negative bacteria is especially worrisome because these germs are ubiquitous and share genes easily. Plus, no new drugs for these bugs are being developed. This confluence of factors means many people in hospitals and in the wider community could die of newly untreatable infections of the urinary tract, blood and other tissues.
from PNAS, via New Scientist:
Bird boom in wake of mad cow outbreak
Mad cow disease in Europe seems a world apart from the lives of sparrows in North American pastures. But populations of sparrows and other pasture birds boomed three years after outbreaks of the disease hit Europe, according to a new study by Joseph Nocera and Hannah Koslowsky of Trent University in Peterborough, Ontario, Canada.... To keep beef on consumers' tables, the affected countries import more meat, and many of those imports come from the US and Canada.... This in turn leaves more natural vegetation for grassland birds such as sparrows and meadowlarks, which respond with a population boom a year after that. There's nothing particularly surprising in any of this - every step in the causal link between BSE and the sparrows is exactly what one might have predicted. But by putting it all together and backing it up statistically, the pair provide an unusual and striking illustration of the way globalisation weaves the planet into a single fabric of cause and effect.
from The Vancouver Sun:
Alberta dairy cow tests positive for BSE
A dairy cow from Alberta has tested positive for mad cow disease, the first Canadian case in more than a year. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency confirmed the six-and-a-half year old cow, from an undisclosed location in the province, was discovered with bovine spongiform encephalopathy, or BSE, on Feb. 18. No part of the cow's carcass entered the human food or animal feed systems, the agency said, and the discovery should not affect exports of Canadian cattle or beef. It also said the age and location of the infected cow are consistent with previous cases detected in Canada. The agency would not release the details about the location or farm, citing privacy reasons.
Schools nervous over burial sites for culled animals
A tomb-like object was seen Friday afternoon behind Yangshin Elementary School at the village of Buncheon-ri in Yesan County, South Chungcheong Province. It turned out to be a burial site for livestock culled due to foot-and-mouth disease. Spotted around the burial site was fluid that appeared to be leachate from the site, measuring around 10 meters wide by 10 meters long. Gas emission pipes were erected atop the burial site, which was protruding and covered with vinyl. It was only about 70 meters from the school's fence. On the school grounds was a piped well for pumping underground water. Since tap water is not supplied to this school, underground water was used as drinking water. The underground water well and the burial site were only 150 meters apart.
Threat of urban epidemics looms
An unprecedented alliance of urban planners, doctors and scientists is needed to better prepare for "the looming threat of explosive urban epidemics" in an increasingly urbanised world, according to a review paper in The Lancet. The world's urban population will double by 2050 and most of this increase will be in developing countries, according to UN estimates. But how this will affect infectious diseases is poorly understood. Better research, surveillance, urban planning and policy are needed.... Millions of people live in slums with no access to clean water and regular rubbish disposal. They "build their own dwellings from flimsy, scrounged materials and with no concern for vector hygiene," the paper says. And high population density in cities means there is a "looming threat of explosive urban [disease] epidemics", including Ebola, chikungunya, yellow fever and dengue, according to the paper. "Urban epidemics can reach unprecedented scales and quickly become uncontrollable," especially in African cities where disease surveillance is weak.
Well, there's more stories than this -- but that was 75 of them! You may want to try the PANICloud for more specific topics!