United States at Risk for Yellow Fever From Brazil Outbreak

Quote by Drs. Anthony S. Fauci and Catharine I. Paules. Credit: NIAID

CLICK HERE - NEJM - Yellow Fever — Once Again on the Radar Screen in the Americas

medscape.com - by Janis C. Kelly - March 8, 2017

Yellow fever could become the 5th mosquito-borne virus to hit the United States in recent years, according to experts from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) in Bethesda, Maryland.

An on-going outbreak in rural areas of Brazil has so far not involved human-to-human transmission through Aedes aegypti mosquitoes but has been spread via nonhuman forest-dwelling primates, write Infectious Disease Fellow Catharine I. Paules, MD, and NIAID Director Anthony S. Fauci, MD, in an article published online today in the New England Journal of Medicine.

However, the outbreak is near major urban areas, where yellow fever vaccine is not routinely given and might readily lead to urban human-to-human transmission.

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Genomics Reveal Surprises About Florida Zika Outbreak

medscape.com - Damian McNamara - March 4, 2017

CLICK HERE - bioRXiv - Multiple introductions of Zika virus into the United States revealed through genomic epidemiology

CLICK HERE - PUBLICATIONS - Kristian G Andersen - The Scripps Research Institute - Genomics, Evolution, Immunology, Infectious diseases

LA JOLLA, California — The Zika virus outbreak in the United States in 2016 was caused by multiple infected travelers arriving in South Florida, not by a single "patient zero," genomic research has revealed.

Reporting here at the 10th Future of Genomic Medicine Conference, Kristian Andersen, PhD, from Scripps Translational Science Institute in La Jolla, California, and his team identified four different "introductions" of the Zika virus during the outbreak using genomic sequencing by testing samples from 17 people.

Extrapolating this to the total number of infected people, "the number of introductions that caused the outbreak in Miami is quite substantial," maybe on the order of 30, he explained.

Genomic sequencing of the virus from mosquitos and patients also revealed that Caribbean travelers were the primary means of introduction.

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Forbidding Forecast For Lyme Disease In The Northeast

White-footed mice are efficient transmitters of Lyme disease in the Northeast. They infect up to 95 percent of the ticks that feed on them. But it's people who create the conditions for Lyme outbreaks by building homes in the animals' habitat. Stephen Reiss/for NPR

Image: White-footed mice are efficient transmitters of Lyme disease in the Northeast. They infect up to 95 percent of the ticks that feed on them. But it's people who create the conditions for Lyme outbreaks by building homes in the animals' habitat. Stephen Reiss/for NPR

npr.org - March 6th 2017 - Michaeleen Doucleff, Jane Greenhalgh

Last summer Felicia Keesing returned from a long trip and found that her home in upstate New York had been subjected to an invasion.

"There was evidence of mice everywhere. They had completely taken over," says Keesing, an ecologist at Bard College.

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How California Utilities Are Managing Excess Solar Power

news.morningstar.com - by Cassandra Sweet - March 4, 2017

California utilities including PG&E Corp., Edison International and Sempra Energy are testing new ways to network solar panels, battery storage, two-way communication devices and software to create "virtual power plants" that manage green power and feed it into the power grid as needed.

The Golden State is ramping up renewable energy as it pledges to be a bulwark against the Trump administration's pro-fossil fuel policies. But first, it has to figure out what to do with all the excess power it generates when the sun is shining and the wind is blowing.

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Birth Defects Rise Twentyfold in Mothers With Zika, C.D.C. Says

           

A new study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for the first time looked at how common severe birth defects were in children whose mothers had the Zika virus. Credit Ángel Franco/The New York Times

CLICK HERE - CDC - MMWR - Baseline Prevalence of Birth Defects Associated with Congenital Zika Virus Infection — Massachusetts, North Carolina, and Atlanta, Georgia, 2013–2014

nytimes.com - by DONALD G. McNEIL Jr. - March 2, 2017

American mothers infected with the Zika virus last year were 20 times as likely to give birth to babies with birth defects as mothers who gave birth two years before the epidemic, federal health officials said on Thursday.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention concluded last April that Zika infection caused severe birth defects, including the abnormally small heads of microcephaly, but it had not previously estimated how common such defects were.

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Zika May Be Spread by Up to 35 Species of Mosquitoes, Researchers Say

           

The Aedes aegypti species of mosquito, pictured here, is believed to be the most capable transmitter of Zika. But University of Georgia ecologists have created a predictive model that suggests up to 35 species of mosquitoes can spread the virus, according to a study published Tuesday in the journal, eLife. Miami-Dade was the only county in Florida to have designated active Zika transmission zones during an outbreak in 2016, according to state health officials.

CLICK HERE - STUDY - eLIFE - Data-driven identification of potential Zika virus vectors

miamiherald.com - by Daniel Chang - February 28, 2017

Zika may be spread by as many as 35 species of mosquitoes, including seven found in the United States, according to a forecasting model created by University of Georgia ecologists and published Tuesday in the journal eLife.

Most scientists, including those at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, believe Zika is primarily spread through the bite of an infected Aedes aegypti or Aedes albopictus species of mosquito, both of which are prevalent in Florida.

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The Murky Future of Nuclear Power in the United States

A view into Unit 4 at the Alvin W. Vogtle generating station in Georgia. The complex plans to use AP1000 reactors from Westinghouse. Credit via Georgia Power

Image: A view into Unit 4 at the Alvin W. Vogtle generating station in Georgia. The complex plans to use AP1000 reactors from Westinghouse. Credit via Georgia Power

nytimes.com - February 18th 2017 - Diane Cardwell

This was supposed to be America’s nuclear century.

The Three Mile Island meltdown was two generations ago. Since then, engineers had developed innovative designs to avoid the kinds of failures that devastated Fukushima in Japan. 

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Zika - Texas - Hidalgo County and City of McAllen Press Conference on Zika Case Investigation

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FarmBot Genesis - Humanity’s First Open-Source CNC Farming Machine

FarmBot Genesis is humanity's first open-source CNC farming machine designed for at-home automated food production.

CLICK HERE - FarmBot Genesis

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CDC Reports Pneumonia, Influenza Mortality Rate Hits Epidemic Threshold

CLICK HERE - CDC - FLUVIEW - Weekly U.S. Influenza Surveillance Report

CLICK HERE - CDC - Weekly US Map: Influenza Summary Update

CLICK HERE - CDC - Situation Update: Summary of Weekly FluView Report

CLICK HERE - CDC - Past Weekly Surveillance Reports

healio.com - February 10, 2017

The mortality rate for pneumonia and influenza in the United States was slightly above the epidemic threshold during the week ending Jan. 7, according to CDC’s FluView.

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NIH Workshop Identifies Complex Health Problems Among Zika-Affected Infants

           

Credit: NICHD/NIH

CLICK HERE - JAMA Pediatrics - Bridging Knowledge Gaps to Understand How Zika Virus Exposure and Infection Affect Child Development

nih.gov - scienmag.com - February 20, 2017

Children exposed to Zika virus in the womb may face complex health and developmental problems as they grow older, according to discussions at a National Institutes of Health workshop. A summary of the proceedings, authored by researchers from NIH's Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD), is available in the latest issue of JAMA Pediatrics.

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UTMB Scientists Uncover How Zika Virus Causes Microcephaly

           

utmb.edu - February 16, 2017

The findings are key to unraveling the mysteries of why the Zika virus causes birth defects

CLICK HERE - Stem Cell Reports - Differential Responses of Human Fetal Brain Neural Stem Cells to Zika Virus Infection

GALVESTON, Texas –A multidisciplinary team from The University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston has uncovered the mechanisms that the Zika virus uses to alter brain development. These findings are detailed in Stem Cell Reports . . .

. . . Since a normal brain develops from simple cells called stem cells that are able to develop into any one of various kinds of cells, the UTMB team deduced that microcephaly is most likely linked with abnormal function of these cells . . .

. . . The researchers established a method of investigating how Zika alters the production, survival and maturation of brain stem cells using cells donated from three human fetal brains. They focused on the impact of the Asian lineage Zika virus that was involved in the first outbreak in North America in late 2015.

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'The Wild West of Wind': Republicans Push Texas as Unlikely Green Energy Leader

           

Wind energy in Sweetwater, Texas. Photograph: Katie Hayes Luke for the Guardian

Climate change in the US: the dangers and the solutions

The most oil-rich and fracking-friendly of states has found itself with the improbable status of being a national leader in a wind energy boom

theguardian.com - by Tom Dart in Sweetwater, Texas, and Oliver Milman in New York - February 20, 2017

Living in New York and Washington, Greg Wortham heard all the grand talk about green energy from liberal politicians. Then he returned to the place where he grew up, a small town that embraced wind power so warmly that within a couple of years of the first turbine turning, it had some of the biggest farms on the planet.

Yet Wortham is not from California, Oregon or New England, but a deeply conservative sector of Texas on the edge of the Permian Basin, one of the most bountiful oil and gas patches in the world.

The welcome sign that greets motorists as they arrive in Sweetwater along Interstate 20, a three-hour drive west of Dallas, is not in the shape of an oil derrick or pumpjack, though: it’s a wind turbine blade bearing the town’s motto, “Life is sweet in Texas”.

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Bill Gates Warns Tens of Millions Could be Killed by Bio-Terrorism

           

Bio-terrorism could kill 30 million people in a year, says Bill Gates

Microsoft founder and philanthropist tells Munich security conference genetic engineering could be terrorist weapon

theguardian.com - Bill Gates / Ewen MacAskill - February 18, 2017

A chilling warning that tens of millions of people could be killed by bio-terrorism was delivered at the Munich security conference by the world’s richest man, Bill Gates

Gates, who has spent much of the last 20 years funding a global health campaign, said: “We ignore the link between health security and international security at our peril.”

Gates, the co-founder of Microsoft who has spent billions in a philanthropic drive to improve health worldwide, said: “The next epidemic could originate on the computer screen of a terrorist intent on using genetic engineering to create a synthetic version of the smallpox virus ... or a super contagious and deadly strain of the flu.”

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CLICK HERE - Munich Security Conference

 

 

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The Mission to Stop Ebola: Lessons for UN Crisis Response

CLICK HERE - International Peace Institute - The Mission to Stop Ebola: Lessons for UN Crisis Response (28 page .PDF report)

reliefweb.int - February 15, 2017
ADAM LUPEL AND MICHAEL SNYDER

Executive Summary

The Ebola epidemic of 2014–2016 was a fastmoving, multidimensional emergency that pre - sented unprecedented challenges for the multi - lateral system. In response to the outbreak, which was spreading exponentially in Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon established the UN’s first-ever emergency health mission, the UN Mission for Ebola Emergency Response (UNMEER). UNMEER was mandated by the UN General Assembly in September 2014 to scale up and coordinate the activities of the UN presence on the ground working to stop the outbreak, which eventually claimed over 11,000 lives.

This report asks: Was UNMEER needed? Was it properly structured? Did it deliver? And what broader lessons can be learned from the experience of UNMEER for UN crisis response?

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