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Highest Radiation Reading Since 3/11 Detected at Fukushima No. 1 Reactor

           

Based on image analysis, a two-meter hole has been found in the metal grate under a pressure vessel in reactor No. 2's containment vessels at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant. | TOKYO ELECTRIC POWER COMPANY HOLDINGS INC. / VIA KYODO

japantimes.co.jp - KYODO, STAFF REPORT

The radiation level in the containment vessel of reactor 2 at the crippled Fukushima No. 1 power plant has reached a maximum of 530 sieverts per hour, the highest since the triple core meltdown in March 2011, Tokyo Electric Power Co. Holdings Inc. said.

Tepco said on Thursday that the blazing radiation reading was taken near the entrance to the space just below the pressure vessel, which contains the reactor core.

The high figure indicates that some of the melted fuel that escaped the pressure vessel is nearby.

At 530 sieverts, a person could die from even brief exposure, highlighting the difficulties ahead as the government and Tepco grope their way toward dismantling all three reactors crippled by the March 2011 disaster.

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First Zika Infection in a Pregnant Texas Resident Who Did Not Travel Outside the State

dshs.texas.gov - January 25-31, 2017

Texas has identified the first instance of a laboratory-confirmed Zika infection in a pregnant Texas resident who did not travel outside the state. The woman, a resident of Bexar County, traveled to Brownsville in November, around the time six Brownsville residents acquired cases of Zika virus disease from mosquitoes there. She did not get sick and was tested for Zika during regular prenatal care. Because the infection was not transmitted in Bexar County, it does not represent an increased risk of Zika there.

The infection could have been transmitted by mosquitoes or through sexual contact with a partner who was infected. DSHS urges everyone, especially pregnant women, to continue to protect themselves from mosquito bites when visiting Brownsville and other parts of the state where mosquito activity continues throughout the winter months. Pregnant women should also protect themselves against sexual transmission from partners who travel to those areas by avoiding sexual contact or using condoms for the duration of the pregnancy.

CLICK HERE - First Zika Infection in a Pregnant Texas Resident Who Did Not Travel Outside the State

CLICK HERE - Texas DSHS - Zika in Texas

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Donors and Drug Makers Offer $500 Million to Control Global Epidemics

           

A child born with microcephaly caused by the Zika virus, during an evaluation at Fundação Altino Ventura in Recife, Brazil. A group of prominent donors announced Wednesday that they had raised almost $500 million for a new partnership to stop epidemics before they spiral out of control. Credit Adriana Zehbrauskas for The New York Times

nytimes.com - by DONALD G. McNEIL Jr. - January 18, 2017

Stung by the lack of vaccines to fight the West African Ebola epidemic, a group of prominent donors announced Wednesday that they had raised almost $500 million for a new partnership to stop epidemics before they spiral out of control.

The partnership, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations, will initially develop and stockpile vaccines against three known viral threats, and also push the development of technology to brew large amounts of vaccine quickly when new threats, like the Zika virus, arise.

With enough money and scientific progress, the strategy could bring a drastic change in the way the world tackles pandemics.

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DNA-Testing Smartphone Aims to Tackle Drugs Resistance

submitted by Alicia Juarrero

           

UCLA, STOCKHOLM UNIVERSITY AND UPPSALA UNIVERSITY

CLICK HERE - Nature Communications - Targeted DNA sequencing and in situ mutation analysis using mobile phone microscopy

bbc.com - by Leo Kelion - January 18, 2017

Scientists have built a DNA-analysing smartphone attachment that is a fraction of the cost of lab-based kit.

The creators of the phone-powered pathology microscope believe it could be mass produced for less than $500 (£406) a unit.

They say it could help doctors treat cancer, tuberculosis and other diseases more effectively than is sometimes possible in the developing world.

But a UK firm says it is developing a more advanced and cheaper alternative.

Details of the peer-reviewed project are published in the journal Nature Communications.

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A Woman Was Killed by a Superbug Resistant to All 26 American Antibiotics

           

The Klebsiella pneumoniae organism in a petri dish.  GARY CAMERON / REUTERS

CLICK HERE - STUDY - CDC - MMWR - Notes from the Field: Pan-Resistant New Delhi Metallo-Beta-Lactamase-Producing Klebsiella pneumoniae — Washoe County, Nevada, 2016

No Antibiotic In The U.S. Could Save This Woman. We Should All Be Worried.

This is one of the first cases of a pan-resistant infection in America.

huffingtonpost.com - by Anna Almendraia - January 13, 2017

The recent death of a woman in Reno, Nevada, from an infection resistant to every available kind of antibiotic in the U.S. highlights how serious the threat of antibiotic-resistant superbugs has become. 

Experts say that while cases of a bacteria resistant to all antibiotics are still extremely rare in the U.S., we should expect to see more in the future. 

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El Niño and Global Warming Blamed for Zika Spread

           

A female Aedes albopictus mosquito feeding on a human host. Credit: James Gathany CDC

CLICK HERE - STUDY - PNAS - Global risk model for vector-borne transmission of Zika virus reveals the role of El Niño 2015

scientificamerican.com - by Kavya Balaraman - December 21, 2016

Mosquito-borne diseases like Zika can be extremely sensitive to climatic changes

The combination of climate change and last year’s El Niño phenomenon likely created the perfect playground for the Zika virus to spread rapidly across South America, a new study finds.

Both the Zika virus and the mosquitoes that carry it have been present in different parts of the world for a while. But several factors, including specific climatic conditions, could have catapulted the disease to public health emergency status, according to researchers from the University of Liverpool.

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How Hospitals, Nursing Homes Keep Lethal ‘Superbug’ Outbreaks Secret

        

The deadly epidemic America is ignoring - The Uncounted - A REUTERS INVESTIGATION

reuters.com - by Deborah J. Nelson, David Rohde, Benjamin Lesser and Ryan McNeill - December 22, 2016

Across the U.S., vague rules give healthcare providers lots of leeway in deciding when, or even whether, to report unusual clusters of infections. And when they do alert officials, that information is usually kept from the public . . .

 . . . An examination of cases across the country reveals a system that protects the healthcare facilities where superbugs thrive, while leaving patients, their families and the broader public ignorant of potentially deadly threats.

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Birth Defects Among Fetuses and Infants of US Women With Evidence of Possible Zika Virus Infection During Pregnancy

jamanetwork.com - December 13, 2016 - doi:10.1001/jama.2016.19006

In this report based on preliminary data for pregnant women in the USZPR with laboratory evidence of possible Zika virus infection, 6% overall had a fetus or infant with evidence of a Zika-related birth defect, and among women with timing of possible Zika infection exclusively during the first trimester, 11% had a fetus or infant with a birth defect. The birth defects primarily involved included microcephaly with brain abnormalities, such as intracranial calcifications. Preliminary estimates from the USZPR were within the range of 1% to 13% risk of microcephaly following first-trimester maternal Zika virus infection modeled on the outbreak in Bahia, Brazil, lending support to the credibility of these estimates.

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Advanced Black Lung Cases Surge In Appalachia

Radiologist Brandon Crum and former coal miner Mackie Branham, 39, view an X-ray of Branham's diseased lung at Crum's black lung clinic in Coal Run Village, Ky. Howard Berkes/NPR

Image: Radiologist Brandon Crum and former coal miner Mackie Branham, 39, view an X-ray of Branham's diseased lung at Crum's black lung clinic in Coal Run Village, Ky. Howard Berkes/NPR

npr.org - December 15th 2016 -  Howard Berkes

Across Appalachia, coal miners are suffering from the most serious form of the deadly mining disease black lung in numbers more than 10 times what federal regulators report, an NPR investigation has found.

The government, through the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, reported 99 cases of "complicated" black lung, or progressive massive fibrosis, throughout the country the last five years.

But NPR obtained data from 11 black lung clinics in Virginia, West Virginia, Pennsylvania and Ohio, which reported a total of 962 cases so far this decade.

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A Year Later, Unfiltered Flint Tap Water Is Still Unsafe To Drink

The state says more than 600 pipes have been replaced in Flint, Mich., this year — but 30,000 suspect pipes remain. Bill Pugliano/Getty Images

Image: The state says more than 600 pipes have been replaced in Flint, Mich., this year — but 30,000 suspect pipes remain. Bill Pugliano/Getty Images

npr.org - December 14th 2016 - Steve Carmody

A year ago, Flint, Mich., Mayor Karen Weaver declared a state of emergency because of lead-contaminated drinking water, attracting national outrage and sympathy, and millions of gallons of donated water.

But a year later donations have slowed to a trickle, and little has changed — unfiltered water here is still unsafe to drink.

With frigid temperatures and flurries swirling around outside, the crowd inside Flint's downtown transit station ebbs and flows as buses come and go.

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