October 30, 2014

10:44 PM | TWiM 90: Think globally, act locally
I usually don’t post TWiM episodes here, but #90 has a lot of virology. In this episode, recorded in La Jolla, CA at the annual meeting of the Southern California Branch of the American Society for Microbiology, I first speak with Laurene Mascola, Chief of Acute Communicable Diseases at the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health. Dr. […]
10:14 PM | My five daughters play hockey
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10:06 PM | Spooky Spider
I love Halloween. It’s the time of year when I can leave all the spider webs up around the front stoop and call them decorations. This harmless garden spider, the Black and Yellow Argiope (Argiope aurantia) is not long for the world. She’ll die soon as the nights grow colder. But I’ll keep an eye on her wee ones in the egg sac she left by the railing. In the spring the baby spiders will hatch out, spin a little silk parachute to catch the breeze and sail away to a new home! […]
9:16 PM | CDC Guidance: Considerations For Discharging Persons Under Investigation For Ebola
CDC Infographic: Is it flu, or Ebola?   # 9268   As has already been demonstrated, while a fair number of people may be initially suspected of having Ebola, few will actually end up being infected with the virus. The CDC has fielded calls on scores of `suspected’ Ebola cases from hospitals around the country – performed testing on dozens – and yet only small handful have tested positive for the virus.    Today the CDC has issued guidance on […]
5:16 PM | Rediscovering some critical terms of use in microbial discussions: #microbiomania and #microbophobia
Earlier this week I was trying to come up with a short term to use when referring to the "Overselling of the Microbiome" and related hype. And I came up with one I really really like: microbiomania. The term just captures the essence of hype about microbiomes to me I guess.So - of course - the first thing to do was to see if anyone else used this term.  And the number one thing I looked at was domain names.  Nope.  Microbiomania.Com and Microbiomania.Org are now mine.  And […]
4:02 PM | Fern Frozen in Time by Volcanic Flow Reveals Stunning Detail
It defies belief, but a 180 million year old fern fossil unearthed in Sweden is so exquisitely preserved that it is possible to see its cells dividing. So pristine is the fossil, reported scientists... -- Read more on
3:20 PM | Saudi MOH Announces 3 More MERS Cases
# 9267   Following yesterday’s announcement of 6 new MERS cases, today the Saudi MOH reports 3 new cases;  all of which are either suspected or confirmed to have been exposed in healthcare settings.  Additionally, 3 recent deaths are reported.   These three cases are reported from Tail, Riyadh and Al Jawf.  The Al Jawf case is reported to be a Healthcare worker.  
3:17 PM | Calling Ian Betteridge: Are grocery store conveyor belts a significant source of foodborne illness?
I’m sitting at the NoroCORE annual meeting and listening to Aron Hall and others talk about sources of noro illnesses. Stuff like ill food handlers and bare hand contact in full service restaurants rise to the top as risk factors … Continue reading →
2:42 PM | All The Ebola News Not Fit To Print
      # 9266   Earlier this week a `fake’ news story made the rounds of Twitter and Facebook, suggesting that students at an Elementary school in Olanthe, Kansas had been infected with the Ebola virus.   When I was first alerted to the story, I did a quick search, found the offending article, and quickly determined it was fake.   Unfortunately, the story did what it was intended to to – it went `viral’ – and […]
2:26 PM | Maybe something is lost in translation: 4-year-old’s death a misadventure
Kids dying from foodborne illness hits me like a punch in the gut. After following illnesses and outbreaks for 15 years I still take pause to think about my kids when I see a tragic story involving children. Outbreaks rarely … Continue reading →
11:49 AM | A science award that makes you laugh-then think
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5:13 AM | Pictures Considered #21. Southern Blot
by Christoph Weigel | "... These results, gained with a novel method for blotting (E. M. Southern, manuscript in preparation), have also led to the identification of the Bam Hl recognition sequence". It is rather unusual to find unpublished work referred to in the abstract of a paper, to put it mildly. But this was exactly what readers of the October issue...

October 29, 2014

10:46 PM | TWiM #90: Think globally, act locally
  Vincent meets up with Laurene and David at the Annual Meeting of the Southern California Branch of the American Society for Microbiology, where they discuss how the Los Angeles County Department of Health is preparing for an outbreak of Ebola virus infection, and Cepheid’s game-changing, modular PCR system for the diagnosis of infectious diseases.
9:59 PM | CEO of Soylent goes even further off the deep end - going after his microbiome
Well, this is pretty deranged: Soylent CEO Is Lifehacking Water By Pissing In the Sink.  Forget all the wackiness of Soylent and the idea of limiting water intake.  And just look at the part of this on the micro biomeFeces are almost entirely deceased gut bacteria and water. I massacred my gut bacteria the day before by consuming a DIY Soylent version with no fiber and taking 500mg of Rifaximin, an antibiotic with poor bioavailability, meaning it stays in your gut and kills […]
8:39 PM | WHO Ebola Roadmap Update #10 – October 29th
  # 9265   The WHO announced the big jump in numbers during a press conference earlier today, but the actual PDF document has just gone live, giving us more detail.   Today’s report adds more than 3,500 cases to the total last reported on Saturday, but that number represents a `catch-up’ of cases over many weeks, not a sudden jump in cases.   While the total number of cases has increased, the number of deaths has actually gone down, as some […]
8:29 PM | Microbial Diversity: sometimes you have it, sometimes you don’t
This past January I wanted to see what would happen to my gut flora if I adopted a hunter-gatherer diet for a week – eating the plants, animals and drinking the same water as the Hadza hunter-gatherers of east Africa that I was working with. Among other hypothesis I wanted to test, would immersing myself [...]The post Microbial Diversity: sometimes you have it, sometimes you don’t appeared first on Human Food Project.
6:28 PM | The Wild Types
The Wild Types is an interview show about scientists hosted by Ushma Neill and Richard White. Ushma interviewed me for episode #2. The show name doesn’t refer to the fact that all scientists are wild (some are; I am not) but the genetic term referring to the strain or organism that is compared with mutants. As […]
5:10 PM | This Month in Blastocystis Research (OCT 2014) - Trick or Treat Edition
Over the past 30 days I've hardly had any time to focus on Blastocystis. I've been busy preparing for and attending UEGWeek 2014, preparing abstracts for next year's ECCMID conference in Copenhagen, and I've also put a lot of effort into preparing proposals for this round of grant calls from the Danish Council for Independent Research.  Among other things, we are applying for money to develop DNA-probe based diagnostics, including a unique software, for use in the clinical microbiology lab […]

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4:07 PM | Happy National Cat Day!
Apparently, cat fanciers love celebrating their feline friends with official holidays. A few months ago we were celebrating World Cat Day (August 8, 2014). And now today, just in case you missed the memo, is National Cat Day! We thought we’d seize this opportunity to update you on our Cat Tracker project. To date, we’ve had 350 cat-owners sign up their kitties for our GPS tracking study, including owners in nearly every US state! We’re intensely recruiting cat-owners on Long […]
4:07 PM | Saudi MOH Announces 6 New MERS Cases
  # 9264   Yesterday the Saudi MOH telegraphed that they expected to see more MERS cases in the coming days (see Saudi MOH Expects More MERS Cases In Taif), and today we have the largest single-day tally jump since last May.    Taif continues to lead, with three new cases today including 1 healthcare worker.  Riyadh, reports 2 new cases, including a healthcare worker as well.  The sixth case comes from Hafar Al-Batin, a region that has not reported much […]
3:49 PM | Pentagon Announces 21 Day `Controlled Monitoring’ Of Personnel Returning From Ebola Affected Regions
# 9263   As the contentious debate over the quarantining travelers coming from Ebola affected regions continues to embroil public health authorities, politicians, and the public – the Pentagon today announced their intent to place all personnel returning from those same nations under `controlled monitoring’ .   While not well defined, `controlled monitoring’ has been described in various press reports as a `quarantine-like’ protocol.   […]
2:44 PM | EID Journal: Genome Sequence of Enterovirus D68 from St. Louis
# 9262     In late August we began to track an unusual late summer outbreak of Enterovirus D68, which was first reported in Illinois and Missouri, but which quickly spread across the nation (see Kansas City Outbreak Identified As HEV 68).   Although EV-D68 – one of the dozens of non-polio enteroviruses – had first been indentified 50 years ago, until the past few years it has only rarely been reported in North America.   In 2011 – in MMWR: […]
1:01 PM | Automated Droplet Generator Saves Time and Improves Data Quality
Bio-Rad Laboratories announced the launch of its Automated Droplet Generator (AutoDG™ Instrument) for digital PCR. Combined with the QX200™ Droplet Reader and a laptop computer with QuantaSoft™ Software, the QX200™ AutoDG™ Droplet Digital™ PCR System provides a worry-free, automated way to generate droplets for high-quality data. “With a quick setup, you’re able to walk away […]
10:49 AM | Chinese whistle-blowers to get 60% of food safety fines
The Greater Kaohsiung Council has amended municipal food safety rules to offer whistle-blowers 60 percent of the resulting fines levied on convicted companies — the highest cash reward offered in the nation. Councilors from across party lines unanimously approved the … Continue reading →
9:55 AM | 12 bizarre foods confiscated from U.S. borders
From, people try to sneak in the darndest foods when they’re entering the U.S. From Argentine vicuña patties to Zambian baobab fruit, officials confiscate enough food at the border to throw a months-long (and rather exotic) feast (learn more … Continue reading →
9:35 AM | People barfing everywhere: Dozens sick at NAACP annual gala
Public health officials are investigating a possible case of food poisoning that left more than 50 attendees at an NAACP gala with terrible vomiting and diarrhea. Twelve people were taken by ambulance to hospitals and treated for dehydration, officials said. … Continue reading →
1:40 AM | Norovirus grounds NZ plane while health authorities are consulted
In 2013, then four-year-old Jack yacked on a flight which led to a fascinating display of infection control by Delta Airlines involving plastic bags (to contain the potential pathogen) and coffee pods (to manage the smell). The flight crew let … Continue reading →
1:10 AM | Good ole’ timey science-off: what’s the best way to wash hands, do sanitizers have a role?
Science is about a world–view of a topic and providing the data to back up that view. Biology is especially messy. International handwashing day was October 15, but I was busy making a mess. In Australia, the feds have a … Continue reading →

October 28, 2014

9:18 PM | Raw sprouts with Salmonella strike again; UK wedding guests win compensation
Wedding guests have won tens of thousands of pounds worth of compensation after beansprouts served at a reception caused a deadly outbreak of food poisoning. Rene Kwartz, 82, died in hospital three weeks after contracting salmonella at a Jewish celebration … Continue reading →
7:52 PM | Z Natural Foods recalls Lightly Roasted Organic Carob Powder due to possible Salmonella health risk
We all experiment in university. For me it was six months of vegetarianism, and I replaced chocolate with carob powder, as I was cooking everything from scratch. Carob tastes like dust. Z Natural Foods of West Palm Beach, Florida is … Continue reading →
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