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Poor Oversight Catches Up with High-Security Infectious Agent and Disease Labs

The Centers for Disease Control plans to take measures to better protect lab workers and the rest of us from dangerous biological samples

scientificamerican.com - by Dina Fine Maron - July 17, 2014

Twenty-one dead lab chickens piled up this spring at a government facility before its researchers could pinpoint why. The team had requested and received what was meant to be a relatively harmless strain of avian flu. Instead, the virus killed all the test birds during experiments.

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Health Dept. Confirms New Cases Of Mosquito-Borne Chikungunya Virus

submitted by Albert Gomez

miami.cbslocal.com - by Joan Murray - July 16, 2014

WEST PALM BEACH (CBSMiami/AP) — . . . State officials say the number of Florida travelers who contracted the mosquito-borne chikungunya virus since the beginning of the year has risen to 81.

Officials say all the patients documented in Florida contracted the virus while traveling in the Caribbean. . .

. . . Experts said it’s only a matter of time before someone develops Chikungunya in South Florida which is why they are alerting the public to let them know it exists.

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(CLICK HERE - CDC - CHIKUNGUNYA IN THE UNITED STATES)

(CLICK HERE - FLORIDA DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH - CHIKUNGUNYA)

(ALSO SEE RELATED ARTICLE HERE)

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Second U.S. Case of Deadly MERS Virus Found in Orlando

      

MERS, also known as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome, has made its way to the U.S. The second patient is in Orlando, Florida while the first reported case was in Indiana.

usatoday.com - Karen Weintraub and Doug Stanglin - May 13, 2014

Another patient has turned up at an American hospital with the lethal respiratory virus MERS, the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported today.

The agency would not identify the man but said he was a 44-year-old health care worker based in Saudi Arabia, which has been the center of the outbreak.

The man flew to the U.S. from Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, on May 1, to visit family in Orlando, traveling through London, Boston and Atlanta on the way.

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CDC Press Release - CDC announces second imported case of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) in the United States

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Chikungunya Virus Outbreak Likely in the U.S., Say Experts

submitted by John Carroll

As the chikungunya virus spreads through the Caribbean islands, travelers and even U.S. residents need to take precautions.

healthline.com - by Dana K. Cassell - May 7, 2014

Chikungunya (pronounced chik-en-gun-ye) is a viral disease transmitted to humans by the bites of infected Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus mosquitoes, which are found across the globe. .

. . . Originally believed to be a “tropical” disease, experts were surprised when an outbreak occurred in northeastern Italy in 2007. Now it has spread farther—to 14 Caribbean island countries since it was first detected on the island of St. Martin in December 2013.

Mosquitoes May Spread the Virus to the Southeastern U.S.

Because the Caribbean islands are close to the U.S., there is some concern that chikungunya will spread to the U.S., perhaps via Florida.

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CLICK HERE - CDC - Chikungunya in the Americas

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Home> U.S. Major Pension Funds Ask for Climate Change Study

abcnews.go.com - October 24th, 2013 - Kevin Begos

Some of the largest pension funds in the U.S. and the world are worried that major fossil fuel companies may not be as profitable in the future because of efforts to limit climate change, and they want details on how the firms will manage a long-term shift to cleaner energy sources.

In a statement released Thursday, leaders of 70 funds said they're asking 45 of the world's top oil, gas, coal and electric power companies to do detailed assessments of how efforts to control climate change could impact their businesses.

"Institutional investors must think over the long term, which means that we must take environmental risks into consideration when we make investments," New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli told The Associated Press in a statement.

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Malaria in United States Is at a 40-Year High

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Gut Bacteria May Exacerbate Depression

Scientific American, October 23,2013

The digestive tract and the brain are crucially linked, according to mounting evidence showing that diet and gut bacteria are able to influence our behavior, thoughts and mood. Now researchers have found evidence of bacterial translocation, or “leaky gut,” among people with depression.

Normally the digestive system is surrounded by an impermeable wall of cells. Certain behaviors and medical conditions can compromise this wall, allowing toxic substances and bacteria to enter the bloodstream... 

FULL ARTICLE HERE

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Extension of the Haiti Cholera Disaster to Mexico

Operational Biosurveillance - biosurveillance.typepad.com - October 1, 2013

Mexico is reporting upwards of 44 cases of cholera now with one fatality involving Hidalgo State and Mexico City.  The appearance of cholera in Mexico City is deeply concerning from the standpoint of the "tip of the iceberg": we only know of the recognized cases.  There are likely others out there.

 

A couple of points about this:

1. Totally expected to see expansion of the Nepalese cholera from Haiti to the DR, to Cuba, and now to Mexico. It is likely to include many other countries in that region before all is said and done.

2. It is likely to spread in Mexico in 'fits and starts' due to lack of indigenous immunity and will cause disruption.

3. It will likely spread along trade and migrant labor routes to the US and other countries doing business with Mexico.

4. Communities in the US may be caught unawareness due to basic expectation of border communities in Texas serving as "canaries in a coal mine" for the rest of the country. We propose the migrant labor routes penetrate deep into the US and far from these border communities.

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Smartphone attachment detects viruses and bacteria

theengineer.co.uk - The Engineer - September 18, 2013

Researchers at UCLA have developed a portable smartphone attachment that can be used to perform field testing to detect viruses and bacteria.

This cellphone-based imaging platform could be used for specific and sensitive detection of sub-wavelength objects, including bacteria and viruses and therefore could enable the practice of nanotechnology and biomedical testing in field settings and even in remote and resource-limited environments,’ Aydogan Ozcan, professor of electrical engineering and bioengineering at the UCLA Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science, said in a statement.

Using this device, which attaches directly to the camera module on a smartphone, Ozcan’s team was able to detect single human cytomegalovirus (HCMV) particles.

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Whooping Cough Vaccine Loses Effectiveness Faster Than Thought, Study Finds

huffingtonpost.com - by Mike Stobbe - September 12, 2012

NEW YORK — As the U.S. wrestles with its biggest whooping cough outbreak in decades, researchers appear to have zeroed in on the main cause: The safer vaccine that was introduced in the 1990s loses effectiveness much faster than previously thought.

A study published in Wednesday's New England Journal of Medicine found that the protective effect weakens dramatically soon after a youngster gets the last of the five recommended shots around age 6.

The protection rate falls from about 95 percent to 71 percent within five years, said researchers at the Kaiser Permanente Vaccine Research Center in Oakland, Calif.

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Study - NEJM - Waning Protection after Fifth Dose of Acellular Pertussis Vaccine in Children
http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMoa1200850?query=featured_home

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