Posts

March 31, 2015

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6:08 PM | The Ringworm Irradiators
Ringworm is one of the most common and widespread childhood maladies. Deceptive in its naming, ringworm is no parasite but rather a fairly mild, though atrociously itchy, fungal skin infection that affects 300 million people worldwide. An infection with the contagious Tinea capitis fungus is usually summarily dismissed by means of antifungal medications, but for decades prior to the discovery of such cures in the 1950s, infections with ringworm and other species of fungus were as intractable and
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4:28 PM | This Month in Blastocystis Research - MAR 2015
"Show me your gut bacteria and I'll tell you if you're infected with Entamoeba"One of my 'partners in crime', science reporter Jop de Vrieze, made me aware of a study just published now by Elise R Morton and colleagues. The study appeared in bioRxiv—The Preprint Server for Biology, operated by Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory. The study is totally in line with one of the research foci in our lab.The paper is called 'Variation in rural African gut microbiomes is strongly shaped by parasitism […]
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2:16 PM | JVI: Investigating Dromedary Immune Serum As MERS-CoV Treatment
Credit FAO # 9889     We’ve a study, published  in the Journal of Virology (JVI), that uses the mouse model to explore the possibility of using camel antibodies as a treatment option for MERS-Cov infection.   As we discussed last year in MERS-CoV: The Long Road To A Pharmacological Solution, with no coronavirus-specific therapy in our arsenal, treatment for infection has basically been supportive (e.g. fluids, vasopressors, ventilators and/or ECMO, […]
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12:46 PM | Saudi MOH: 1 MERS Case In Najran
  # 9888  
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11:23 AM | CDC Study: Lives Saved By the Flu Vaccine
  # 9887   Given this year’s poor performance, and resultant bad press, from the seasonal flu shot it is understandable that the CDC, and other public health entities, would want to `rehabilitate’ the flu vaccine’s recently maligned reputation.  Particularly since - even in a `bad-match’ year - the flu vaccine can save lives.   The flu shot – while far from perfect – has an excellent safety profile, and most years provides a […]
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9:49 AM | Indonesian MOH Statement On 2 Recent H5N1 Cases
# 9886     Four days ago, in Watching Indonesia: Media Reports Two H5N1 Cases In Tangerang, we saw unconfirmed media reports of two recent (fatal) H5N1 cases in Tangerang, very near the capital Jakarta.   Although these reports continued over the weekend, today the Indonesian MOH has finally posted a statement on their Sehat Negeriku (Healthy Mine Own Country) website.   Between 2006 and 2008, Indonesia was the undisputed leader in human H5N1 infections (122 […]
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2:32 AM | Listeriosis and Produce: What’s the Connection? (via The Abstract)
I’m collaborating with Matt Shipman, public information officer at NC State University and curator of The Abstract, on a set of food safety-related posts from other NCSU folks as we roll toward WHO’s World Health Day on April 7– which is focused this year on … Continue reading →
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12:37 AM | Safety don’t have much to do with it: Food safety audits are just what retailers wanted
I’m not Dr. Doug. Kids call me coach, others call me asshole, all fine by me. Dr. Bob and Dr. Dan exist, and probably many others in the misguided belief they are enhancing the public understanding of science, when it’s … Continue reading →
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12:22 AM | "Speaking of Microbiota" - Important ideas in gut microbiota research - Emeran Mayer of UCLA
Emeran Mayer (left) at the Experimental Biology 2015 session, "Gut Microbes and the Brain"When discussing research about components of the diet that affect the gut microbiota and possibly affect disease risk:"The message I get from this is we have to look at how we eat and what we eat, and take care of it. Not that people eat what they want to eat, and then put drugs on top of it."- Emeran Mayer, UCLAMayer said this in an interview at the 2014 Harvard Probiotics Symposium. Read more of this […]

March 30, 2015

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9:02 PM | Want to keep supermarket customers? Don’t sell moldy food
As traditional grocery stores continue to lose market share and wonks advise adding bars and a fishmonger, the New South Wales Food Authority (that’s in Australia) has a better tip: don’t sell out-of-date and moldy food. Several Coles, Woolworths and … Continue reading →
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8:38 PM | Campylobacter testing in NZ
The New Zealand Ministry of Primary Industries said since performance targets for Campylobacter were introduced in 2008, setting contamination limits for poultry processors, the number of notified cases of people infected with campylobacter had halved. There had also been a … Continue reading →
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7:50 PM | Salmonella in snakes
For humans, Salmonella is always bad news. The bacterial pathogen causes paratyphoid fever, gastroenteritis and typhoid. But for snakes, the bacteria aren’t always bad news. Certain species of Salmonella are a natural part of the snake microbial collective. However, the … Continue reading →
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7:40 PM | At least 542 sickened in Cambodia, mainly schoolchildren
Ingredients thought to have caused a mass outbreak of food poisoning on Saturday at a Siem Reap province event organised by the NGO World Vision were seized yesterday and sent to Phnom Penh to undergo tests. A crowd of more … Continue reading →
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7:32 PM | Listeria and botulism potential in fish forces closure of California seafood company
At the request of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, a judge has ordered L.A. Star Seafood Company Inc., located in Los Angeles, and its owners, Sima and Sam Goldring, to halt operations until they demonstrate to the FDA that … Continue reading →
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6:49 PM | Biolumination II: Meet the artists! Helen Beech
Introducing Helen Beech, one of the artists who took part in Biolumination II.
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6:35 PM | Painful, kind of hilarious, typesetting error in a #PLOSOne paper from my lab - should I try to get it fixed?
Saw this tweet: @phylogenomics Funny/interesting typesetting trainwreck in equation 4 of PLOS PhyEco paper. English letters were replaced by Greek!— Michael Hall (@mikehall_dal) March 30, 2015So I went and found the paper. Wu D, Jospin G, Eisen JA (2013) Systematic Identification of Gene Families for Use as “Markers” for Phylogenetic and Phylogeny-Driven Ecological Studies of Bacteria and Archaea and Their Major Subgroups. PLoS ONE 8(10): e77033. […]
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6:30 PM | The Single Best Predictor of How Many Heartbeats You Will Experience
The single easiest way to increase the number of heartbeats you can expect to experience in your life is to move. Geography is a far better predictor, even within the United States, of your longevity than is any other variable. Much of modern of medicine is focused on getting those of us in developed countries a few more heartbeats (several magazines have recently run articles about the possibility of living to two hundred). But, the truth is that far more beats can be gained for […]
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6:16 PM | Gnarly Trees
Branches of the live oak (Quercus virginiana) loop and twist their way toward openings in the forest canopy. Many branches sag down to the ground before stretching back up again. These low branches help the oak survive in the hurricane-prone regions of the southeastern US. Short, wide trees resist strong winds better than tall, thin ones. Those curvy branches helped the USS Constitution stay afloat during the War of 1812. Live oak limbs were frequently used in ship building due to their natural […]
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5:55 PM | A Quail Of A Tale
26 pounds of confiscated raw Quail Eggs – Credit U.S. Customs   # 9885 Every once in awhile we hear a story about someone attempting to bring potentially dangerous food items or even live animals into this, or other countries, packed in their luggage. Sometimes there are attempts to conceal these items, and other times they are declared only for their owners to discover they are prohibited, and must be destroyed. A few examples over the years: In 2010, two men were […]
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4:28 PM | OIE/FAO Notifications Of Bird Flu In Italy & Romania
A busy avian flu season for Europe (prior to Mar. 13th)  – Credit Defra     # 9884   On Friday, in Media Reports: Bird Flu Detected In Romania & Italy, we looked at two  reported bird flu outbreaks in Europe. The Romanian outbreak – reportedly H5N1 – came on the heels of a similar announcement earlier last week from neighboring Bulgaria.   The outbreak in Italy wasn’t immediately identified, but it follows earlier outbreaks […]
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4:03 PM | BacterioFiles 208 - Discovering Dietary Dwellers
This episode: Dr. Angela Zivkovic discusses the microbes present in our food! Download Episode (21.6 MB, 23.6 minutes)Show notes:Journal Paper Other interesting stories: Archaea seem to be producing vitamin B12 in oceans Tree microbiomes differ between species like animals' Some bacteria can help plants form root nodules better (paper) Biofilms can be useful materials for different things, like sticking to steel Electricity from microbe metabolism could power waste treatment Post questions […]
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1:40 PM | FAO: Egypt’s H5N1 Case Count Continues To Climb
    # 9883   Although the Egyptian MOH remains largely silent on their H5N1 outbreak, and the Egyptian media continues to publish numbers from some alternate reality (this report today cites only 13 deaths for the year), we’re able to keep some semblance of track via updates from the World Health Organization, releases from the FAO EMPRES website, and the hard work of Sharon Sanders who curates the Egypt - 2015 WHO/MoH/Provincial Health Depts H5N1 Confirmed Case List. […]
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12:12 PM | Saudi MOH: 2 New MERS Cases & Weekly MERS Statement
  # 9882 A subtle change (again) to the daily reporting comes with the combining of suspected or confirmed contacts in both  the community and healthcare setting.  Two weeks ago, suspected nosocomial contacts were abruptly dropped from the chart without explanation, but are now apparently lumped in with community exposures.     While the daily case graphic promises that `More information on the exposure history will be posted on the Weekly […]
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12:00 PM | The Attraction of Magnetotactic Bacteria
by Daniel P. Haeusser | Regular readers of Small Things Considered may recall our mention of the magnetotactic bacteria, organisms that can sense the Earth's magnetic field to orient themselves and distinguish up from down. The magnetotactic bacteria vary greatly in morphology, metabolism, and phylogeny, but they all share a little tool that permits the magnetic sensing underlying their coordinated movement (magnetotaxis).
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11:05 AM | WHO: Updated MERS-CoV Summary
Credit WHO EMRO MERS Summary   # 9881   Even though avian flu has captured much of our attention this winter, running a close second is the MERS coronavirus, which continues to plague inhabitants of the Arabian peninsula – particularly in central and Western Saudi Arabia.    Now nearly three years into this outbreak, we still have many unanswered questions regarding its source, and how it is spreading among humans. After seeing low levels of […]
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3:45 AM | Speaking of Microbiota: Important ideas in gut microbiota research - Mark Smith of OpenBiome
"There is an enthusiasm for projecting the success of [fecal microbiota transplation] in [C. difficile infection] onto other indications, but the mechanism is likely quite different and the efficacy is very unlikely to be as high."- Dr. Mark Smith, co-founder of OpenBiome stool bankSee the original article here.
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3:36 AM | Calling attention to meetings with skewed speaker gender ratios, even when it hurts, part 2
A few weeks ago I gave a talk at the Future of Genomic Medicine 2015 (aka #FOGM15) meeting.  The talk seemed to go over well.  I talked right after Martin Blaser in a session on "The Microbiome".  I posted my slides and then a video of my talk as well as notes from the meeting: see My microbiome talk at #FOGM15 - the perils (and fun I guess) of redoing one's talk at the last minute.  And I met some really interesting people at the meeting and enjoyed most of the talks I […]
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1:14 AM | Food Safety = Behavior, 30 Proven Techniques to Enhance Employee Compliance
My friend, Wal-Mart Frank, has written a follow-up to his 2008 book, Food Safety Culture. This is from the introduction: As a food safety professional, getting others to comply with what you are asking them to do is critical, but … Continue reading →
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12:18 AM | Mind, society, and behavior: Can banking inform food safety?
According to the World Bank, every policy relies on explicit or implicit assumptions about how people make choices. Those assumptions typically rest on an idealized model of how people think, rather than an understanding of how everyday thinking actually works. … Continue reading →

March 29, 2015

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11:30 PM | 250 paratroopers stricken with food poisoning in Israel
Some 250 members of the IDF Paratroopers 202nd Battalion came down with food poisoning after eating Friday night dinner at their base this past weekend. The soldiers are currently stationed on the Golan Heights, where they are taking part in … Continue reading →
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