Posts

July 16, 2014

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6:44 PM | Fame versus Impact
Just a quick post, and kind of a somber one. Hopefully, it will have a bit of impact as the new academic year approaches, and get educators like myself thinking.Imagine a classroom of 100 freshmen students.  Some eager, some nervous, some world-weary and cynical, and some half-asleep.  In other words, a slice of the college age, university attending, population.Ask them if they know the name "Norman Borlaug."Then ask them if they know the name "Kim Kardashian."I think you can tell […]
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1:42 PM | Subcommittee Hearing On CDC Lab Incidents Today 10am EDT
BSL-4 Lab Worker - Photo Credit –USAMRIID     # 8838   Like just about everyone else with an interest in the recent lab biosafety lapses at the CDC and FDA, I’ll be tuned into the House House Energy and Commerce Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee hearing, which begins at 10am EDT.    The hearing will be broadcast from room 2123 of the Rayburn building and viewable at:   http://energycommerce.house.gov/studio/webcasts   […]
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1:05 PM | mBio: The Remarkable Evolution Of Cryptococcus Gatti
Credit CDC   # 8837     Although we normally think of viral or bacterial pathogens when we talk about infectious diseases, mycotic (fungal) diseases exert a heavy burden on human health as well.   A little over a year ago, in MMWR: Coccidioidomycosis Rising, we looked at dramatic increase in the number of Valley Fever infections over the past 13 years (1998-2011).   Coccidioidomycosisis – perhaps the best known fungal infection in North […]
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9:11 AM | Food safety culture? Walmart restaurant linked to Shigella outbreak ready to reopen
Salsarita’s Restaurant in the Walmart Home Office Café will reopen Wednesday following a Shigella outbreak that made hundreds sick. The email said Eurest, the third-party company in charge of managing the kitchen, will hire a quality assurance manager and will … Continue reading →
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7:18 AM | Who knew? Measles outbreak linked to Kansas eatery
Who gets measles from eating in a restaurant? Apparently people in Wichita (that’s in Kansas). “It is extremely contagious. If you have been exposed or think you have it, do not go to your doctor — call them. You can … Continue reading →
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7:13 AM | Herpes Virus in Neurons- does that benefit?
Greetings  It has been a long time since I posted some basic virology. There has been a question that I had been asked by a couple of people, and thought it would make a good blog post to answer it. Am sure you have heard of Herpes Virus. Chances are you are infected by at least 2 different Herpes virus and still carry the virus silently without any harm. There are more than 200 different types of herpes virus known, only a handful of the types represents one's which are associated with […]
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4:25 AM | We're FORC-ed!
So now we have no end of FORC jokes here, as we have launched our new ARC Industrial Tranformation Training Centre: The Food Omics Research Centre (FORC). The aim of our Centre, led by Professor Paul Haynes is to develop a molecular technology platform enabling the next revolution in the food industry. One of my PhD students, Hasinaka, is working within this Centre to investigate whether a sugar cane fibre-based dietary supplement can improve your digestive health through the changing the […]
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2:39 AM | Maggots in food among new prison complaints
When I was in prison, the food wasn’t so bad, most of the poop had been cooked out, and I still get a giggle from my daughters when I say, bacon and egg for breakfast, because that was our choice … Continue reading →
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2:18 AM | Ecuador investigating cases of mass food poisoning in Santa Rosa
The Ministry of Health took samples to investigate the causes that led to a weekend a mass poisoning in Santa Rosa, in the province of El Oro. Meanwhile, of the 405 intoxicated, 10 remain hospitalized with abdominal pain, fever and … Continue reading →
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2:06 AM | Restaurants in Jersey city went years without inspections
Probably sit down jobs. Food safety is serious business, which is why New Jersey, like other states, regulates retail food handling and mandates annual inspections of restaurants, cafeterias and stores that serve meals or sale prepackaged foods. But in this … Continue reading →
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1:54 AM | It was a private conversation: 26 sick after wedding in France
A wedding at Sedan has resulted in at least 26 guests sick with symptoms of food poisoning. A spokesperson said, “The government will take samples from tomorrow to determine what caused the poisoning. The party was private. Neither the castle … Continue reading →
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1:43 AM | Florette withdraws salmonella parsley from sale in France
French group Florette (ready to use salads and vegetables) announced on Sunday that they had to withdraw sachets of flat parsley and parsley-chives from sale due to a presence of salmonella.  The sachets were put on sale between the 4th-11th … Continue reading →
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1:38 AM | Sad: E. coli O157 confirmed in death of Mass. child
The Massachusetts Department of Public Health has confirmed the presence of E. coli in its investigation of the recent death of a child in Norfolk County. Melissa Kaye of Braintree says her son Joshua Kaye, 8, died July 7 after … Continue reading →
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12:28 AM | Biosecurity Failures Round-up
Like many of you, I’ve been watching and reading all the recent biosecurity lapses at our top labs with some dismay. This really isn’t something I normally would cover here on Contagions, but a comment from a reader reminded me that not everyone gets all the stories I’ve been tweeting (or retweeting) for the last […]

July 15, 2014

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6:36 PM | SciAm: Branswell On Lab Biosafety
      # 8836   I’ve been away from my desk for most of the day, but I wanted to recommend (very highly) the following Scientific American piece by Helen Branswell on the fallout from the recent laboratory incidents involving select agents at the CDC and FDA.     Bio-Unsafety Level 3: Could the Next Lab Accident Result in a Pandemic? So-called gain-of-function pathogen research will likely receive closer scrutiny after three U.S. biolab […]
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12:32 PM | Nature in NSF’s Backyard
2014 marks the 3rd consecutive year that a pair of black vultures (Coragyps atratus) have chosen the roof of the National Science Foundation to raise their family. NSF is an independent federal agency that promotes the progress of science by funding basic research across all fields of science and engineering research and education. [Editor's note: NSF has provided funding for a number of Your Wild Life projects through grants to our principal investigator, Rob Dunn, including School of Ants and […]
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10:29 AM | WHO Ebola Update – July 14th
@WHO & Partners Ebola Response In Guinea   # 8835   The World Health Organization has posted an updated Ebola surveillance report that finds the disease still spreading vigorously in Sierra Leone and Liberia, with 79 new cases reported over a 4 day span (July 8th-12th).  While the number of cases in Guinea remains lower, 6 new cases were reported there as well, a marked increase over the single case reported in the week previous. The number of cases is approaching […]
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10:18 AM | Reshuffling The NSABB & A New Biosecurity Working Group Emerges
BSL-4 Lab Worker - Photo Credit –USAMRIID     # 8834       Although Crof covered both of these stories during the overnight hours (see here & here), they are well worth repeating here.   The NSABB or National Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity is a 23-member review panel, first formed in 2005, who meet rather infrequently and at the behest of the NIH to review research projects with possible biosecurity concerns.   Their role, […]
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5:51 AM | These food workers have to work while sick – a risk to all of us
“Stay home if you’re sick.” That’s the message to food industry workers from the nation’s public health watchdog, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The problem is staying home isn’t an option for food industry workers — 70% of … Continue reading →
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2:48 AM | BacterioFiles 174 - Synthetic Cells Sense and Send Signals
This episode: Bacteria with engineered circuits and detect and keep a record of stuff in their environment, like in the gut! Download Episode (14.6 MB, 15.9 minutes)Show notes:News item/Journal Paper Other interesting stories: Bacteria turn lots of city waste into useful energy Antibiotics may sometimes be more harmful than helpful It's important to take care of gut bacteria Gut bacteria are important for immune system development Gut microbes may influence the development of type 1 […]
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1:58 AM | Visiting biosafety level-4 laboratories
Experiments with the most dangerous human viruses, such as Ebola virus and Lassa virus, are carried out in biosafety level 4 (BSL-4) laboratories. Since visiting the Northeast Infectious Diseases Laboratory BSL-4 and releasing the documentary video Threading the NEIDL, I was given the opportunity to tour three BSL-4 laboratories in the United States and Australia. […]
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1:39 AM | Food safety fairy tales: how industry, government and academia collaborate to fail
That was the title of the chat I had with the Canadian Institute for Public Health Inspectors in Newfoundland last night. I was in Brisbane. The slides are available at http://barfblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/powell.ciphi_.jul_.14.public.health-copy.ppt And the video is below and at http://youtu.be/deejYx8HQDo Comments … Continue reading →
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12:39 AM | Fancy food ain’t safe food, Brisbane edition: DM Jazz cafe fined $25,000 after diner finds cockroach in her risotto
I’ve walked by the DM Jazz café in Southbank, Brisbane, but never ate there. My lifestyle doesn’t demand that. The four-star rated restaurant was fined more than $25,000 after a customer found a live cockroach in her chicken and mushroom … Continue reading →

July 14, 2014

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8:54 PM | A cluster of E. coli O111 illnesses in MN investigated by health officials
Ricky Bobby’s favorite restaurant chain, Applebee’s, is connected to multiple E. coli O111 illnesses but according to health officials, the restaurant is not the sole source of the outbreak. The Minnesota Department of Health sent out a press release detailing … Continue reading →
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7:16 PM | The Transformation from Personalized to Precision Medicine
Precision medicine is an advancement of personalized medicine that focuses on the health of individuals. With the aid of molecular biology-based methods, the ideal treatment is found for the individual patient. A recent study in Vienna showed just how useful precision medicine can be. The type of therapy a cancer patient receives, largely depends on […]
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6:37 PM | Food Safety Talk 63: The Great One
Food Safety Talk, a bi-weekly podcast for food safety nerds, by food safety nerds. The podcast is hosted by Ben Chapman and barfblog contributor Don Schaffner, Extension Specialist in Food Science and Professor at Rutgers University. Every two weeks or … Continue reading →
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4:32 PM | WHO Clarifies Their Advice For Considering PrEP HIV Antivirals
Credit WHO   # 8833   On Friday the World Health Organization issued a news release entitled:   WHO: People most at risk of HIV are not getting the health services they need News release 11 July 2014 ¦ Geneva - Failure to provide adequate HIV services for key groups – men who have sex with men, people in prison, people who inject drugs, sex workers and transgender people – threatens global progress on the HIV response, warns WHO. These […]
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12:32 PM | WHO MERS Update – July 14th
  # 8831   Although we’ve gone 3 days without an announced case out of Saudi Arabia, between July 7th and July 10th KSA reported 7 new cases to the World Health Organization.     Notably at least three of the seven cases had direct contact with camels or camel products, and other farm animals.   With considerably more detail than we see in the daily updates, here is the latest GAR (Global Alert & Response) Update.   Middle East […]
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12:24 PM | Students Discover: The second week
Last Friday marked the end of the second week of the Students Discover externship for the 12 incredible Kenan Fellows partnered with four postdocs in the labs at the NC Museum of Natural Sciences. This past week continued to provide authentic scientific experiences for the teacher-scientists as they delved further into their research. Each group started on creating citizen science-focused lesson plans and even began testing them with museum visitors!   As an added bonus […]
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12:04 PM | Upcoming House Sub-Committee Hearing On Lab Safety
CDC Anthrax Timeline – Credit CDC # 8830   Even before Friday’s announcement by the CDC that one of their labs had accidentally shipped H5N1 contaminated virus samples to a USDA lab, the House Energy and Commerce Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee had scheduled a hearing on last month’s CDC Anthrax incident (see CDC Statement On Possible Lab Exposure To Anthrax).   Hearing Notice: Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations to Examine Anthrax […]
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