Posts

September 09, 2014

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5:00 AM | Gallery: The amazing ink-proof yeast capsule
Observed doctors and medical students as they learn about the workings of the clinical microbiology lab, I’m impressed by their love of the India ink test for cryptococcus. The way this test works is: Cryptococcus is a type of infectious yeast that looks a lot like Candida if you just do a gram stain. But […]
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4:26 AM | Sports training or food safety?
To coach little kids in (ice) hockey in Brisbane requires 16 hours training, which I have completed. To be a sports medic requires eight hours, with an annual five-hour update, which I did on Saturday. To provide food that could kill … Continue reading →
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4:06 AM | Tragic: Oregon girl contracts E. coli; family prepares to say goodbye
Her family describes her as a cute blonde hair firecracker. Sadly today they are preparing to say goodbye. Serena Profitt is just four years old. Her uncle Travis Harget told KXL after a day of fun with her family in Lincoln City … Continue reading →

September 08, 2014

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11:46 PM | Thousands sickened: Hepatitis A in berries in Europe
In May 2013, Germany reported cases of hepatitis A virus (HAV) genotype IA infection in persons with a travel history and Italy reported a national increase in the number of HAV cases and declared an outbreak. Confirmed cases (outbreak strain … Continue reading →
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11:39 PM | 14 now dead, 37 sick from Listeria in Denmark
Listeria found in rullepølser produced by the company Jørn A Rullepølser has now claimed its 14th victim.  Along with the death toll, the number of those infected nationwide continues to rise. Statens Serum Institut (SSI) reports that three more people … Continue reading →
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10:16 PM | NC State University Found to be the Most Diverse College Campus in North America
Several years ago, we started paying more attention in our lab to what was going on biologically near at hand. This transition would eventually lead us into backyards, then houses, then colons, but it stared with North Carolina State University’s campus. The campus is at what was once the western edge of the city of Raleigh, a city whose location was chosen by its originators as a function of its nearness to a bar. And yet despite this idiosyncratic origin, Raleigh has proven to be an […]
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9:09 PM | Sometimes It Takes a Death to Teach Me About the Depths of Others...
I just received some sad news, so here is a short post to express how I feel about it.  As the poem by Delmore Schwartz, "Calmly We Walk through This April's Day,"  goes:"Time is the fire in which we burn..."But it goes on to add:"Time is the school in which we learn...."While I was in graduate school, one of the professors I saw around the building was Dr. Robert Schimke. He liked to tease and carry on, and I admit I didn't know him all that well. I kept my head low much of the time, […]
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8:37 PM | Schaffner on hand sanitizers: they’re a good thing
Friend of the blog Don Schaffner of Rutgers University writes in this guest post: I’m willing to go on record as saying that alcohol-based hand sanitizer is a good thing. In fact, we have published research which shows that it … Continue reading →
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7:49 PM | Where are all the European Biologists Going?
All the recent talk about the brain drain in Spain, (the brains in Spain drain mainly via plane), has peeked my curiosity regarding the mobility of biologists across Europe. According to the official statistics, between the years 2003 and 2014, 18,408 Spanish professionals registered to have their qualifications recognized in other European countries while less […]
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6:54 PM | MMWR: Severe Respiratory Illness Associated With Enterovirus D68
Credit CDC     # 9056   As promised earlier during today’s CDC press briefing, the MMWR has published an early release detailing initial findings from their investigation of two EV-D68 outbreaks. As  Dr. Schuchat explained, the situation is evolving and dynamic, and we should have a better idea about the level of illness and spread in the comings days.    Severe Respiratory Illness Associated with Enterovirus D68 — Missouri and Illinois, […]
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6:30 PM | WHO: Liberia, Ebola Cases Increasing `Exponentially’
# 9055 On top of the news that a WHO doctor in Sierra Leone has contracted the virus , we’ve a somber assessment in today’s Situation Report from the World Health Organization , one that warns that `thousands’ of new cases are expected in Liberia alone over the next three weeks. Ebola situation in Liberia: non-conventional interventions needed Situation assessment - 8 September 2014 During the past weeks, a WHO team of emergency experts worked together […]
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6:19 PM | WHO Doctor Infected With Ebola, To Be Evacuated From Sierra Leone
Credit CDC PHIL   # 9054   We’ve a brief emailed statement from the World Health Organization announcing that one of their doctors has become infected with the Ebola virus, and will be evacuated shortly.   WHO doctor to be evacuated after testing positive for Ebola in Sierra Leone FREETOWN, Sierra Leone ¦ 8 September 2014 – A WHO doctor working in an Ebola treatment centre in Sierra Leone has tested positive for the disease. To ensure the […]
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6:08 PM | CDC Press Briefing On HEV-D68
Credit CDC – Non Polio-Enteroviruses     # 9053   The Human Enterovirus – Delta 68 outbreak which I’ve been writing about for the past 10 days (see Enterovirus D-68 (HEV-D68) Update) has continued to spread, and over the weekend led many newscasts. Today, the CDC held a press briefing on this emerging viral threat, featuring Assistant Surgeon General Dr. Anne Schuchat, (RADM, USPHS) and Director of CDC’s National Center for Immunizations and […]
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4:32 PM | CDC Guidance: Compliance with Select Agent Regulations For Labs Handling Specimens Containing Ebola Virus
  # 9052   `Select agents’ are those  pathogens that have been deemed to pose a significant biological hazard, and among those, Tier 1 select agents are considered `biological agents and toxins present the greatest risk of deliberate misuse with significant potential for mass casualties or devastating effect to the economy, critical infrastructure, or public confidence, and pose a severe threat to public health and safety:’ As you might have already […]
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4:00 PM | How To Visit the Deep Sea
For at least the last 15 years, I have dreamed of travelling to the deep sea. If you read this blog regularly or have ever watched a documentary about the deep sea, you understand why. As marine... -- Read more on ScientificAmerican.com
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2:00 PM | ICAAC Video: How Quickly A Virus Can Spread In A Building
  # 9051   The 54rd Interscience Conference on Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy (ICAAC) runs through September 9th in Washington D.C. , and this morning we’ve an absolutely fascinating video sponsored by the American Society for Microbiology showing just how quickly a single introduction of a virus into an office environment can spread to contaminate an entire building.   Of particular interest, this conversation explores how their results relate to […]
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1:59 PM | Nothing Gold Can Stay
The American goldfinch (Spinus tristis), like many animals, changes colors over the course of a year. In the summer, male goldfinches dress in bright gold with black patches on their wings and head – like an avian superhero. When winter comes, the goldfinch molts those bright feathers and assumes his mild-mannered alter ego again. Only a little patch of yellow on his throat remains. The female goldfinch (pictured) isn’t as flamboyant as her partner in the summer. But she’ll […]
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12:49 PM | Mapping The Zoonotic Range Of Ebola Virus In Africa
Mapping the zoonotic niche of Ebola virus disease in Africa   # 9050   In most cases, it is assumed the the index human infection in each of Africa’s Ebola outbreaks have come as the result of exposure to an infected animal, most commonly through the hunting, preparing, or consuming of bush meat.    Bats are believed to be the primary host of the four known African species of Ebola (plus Marburg), but other mammals may serve as intermediate hosts as well. […]
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11:40 AM | NPM14: In an Emergency, Who Are You Going To Call?
National Preparedness Month   # 9049   One of the ironies of our increasingly connected world is that many of our closest friends need not live anywhere near us.  Facebook, Twitter, email, and texting have allowed us to interact at a distance as never before.   And during a disaster, that can be both a problem, and a blessing.   The blessing is that since many disasters are local, if you are hit by a tornado, or an earthquake, or a flood . . . having […]
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11:27 AM | Tracing leafy green storage and display temperatures in schools
Ellen Thomas, PhD candidate in the Department of Food, Bioprocessing and Nutrition Sciences at North Carolina State University writes, In 2006, an E. coli O157:H7 outbreak associated with bagged spinach resulted in 205 illnesses and three deaths. Investigators cited many factors, including feral swine, that resulted … Continue reading →
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11:05 AM | Packed lunch Twitter chats with @iftmedia on Sept. 8 and 11, #SafeLunch
Labor Day has come and gone, summer vacation is over and the start of the school year is here. To celebrate, I’m participating in a Twitter chat, hosted by The Institute of Food Technologists (IFT) @iftmedia, about packed lunch safety. We’ve chosen … Continue reading →
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6:40 AM | Individual stamps on every egg to trace Salmonella are a rotten idea, say small Australian egg producers
We went with another family to our favorite fish shop for dinner last night after an outing in the park with our daughters. The restaurant owners know not to serve me the aioli which includes raw egg. We’ve had that … Continue reading →
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1:30 AM | Five Questions about Filoviruses
by Jamie Henzy | The virus family Filoviridae is home to Ebola virus, as well as several other viruses that can cause severe hemorrhagic fever in humans and other primates. Ebola virus is in the news because of the outbreak in Guinea that has spread to several neighboring African countries. The fatality rate of Ebola...

September 07, 2014

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6:41 PM | Maryland fair vendors rack up hundreds of food safety violations
More than 80 percent of the food vendors at last year’s Great Frederick Fair used unsafe food practices, according to inspections by the Frederick County Health Department. The department’s health inspectors recommended corrective actions for 56 of the 67 permitted … Continue reading →
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6:35 PM | Rodents rife in Wellington eateries
Wellington, NZ, is one of my favorite towns. But they’ve got some sanitation problems. Rodents and droppings are among cleaning failures found in more than 30 Wellington restaurants, eight of which were forced to close in the past year. The … Continue reading →
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6:27 PM | 60 sickened: lawsuit filed in E. coli outbreak on Minnesota reservation
A lawsuit has been filed over an E. coli outbreak on a Chippewa reservation in northeastern Minnesota. Bob Danielson, a member of the Fond du Lac Lake Superior Chippewa reservation near Cloquet, is suing Jim-N-Jo’s Northland Katering. It provided the … Continue reading →
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4:00 PM | Story behind the paper: Bonnie Baxter on "A tale of salt and gender" #STEMWomen #Halophiles
After posting A tale of salt and gender: participation of women in halophile research I sent the post to Bonnie Baxter, one of the authors of the article I discussed and I asked if she would be interested in writing a guest post about the "Story Behind the Paper" (for which I have a whole series).  I am so so pleased that she said yes.  I have followed Bonnie's work for many years but this is her first guest post here.  I hope there will be more.  She is a […]
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12:40 PM | Johns Hopkins Live Stream (Monday Sept 8th): Ebola & Ethics Panel
Credit CDC PHIL     # 9048     There are tremendous challenges ahead as the international community attempts to help affected nations bring their Ebola epidemic under control. Tomorrow, a panel of experts from Johns Hopkins will discuss the ethical issues surrounding this response, which will be live streamed over the internet.   Ebola & Ethics Panel at Johns Hopkins -- live stream Monday, September 8, 12:15 PM Ebola & Ethics Panel at […]
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11:54 AM | TWiV 301: Marine viruses and insect defense
On episode #301 of the science show This Week in Virology, Vincent travels to the International Congress of Virology in Montreal and speaks with Carla Saleh and Curtis Suttle about their work on RNA interference and antiviral defense in fruit flies, and viruses in the sea, the greatest biodiversity on Earth. You can find TWiV #301 at www.twiv.tv.
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10:26 AM | ICACC 2014 Videos: Antibiotic Stewardship, Peramivir Study & More
Antibiotic Stewardship: Saving Drugs, Saving Money   #9047   The 54rd Interscience Conference on Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy (ICAAC) runs through September 9th in Washington D.C. , and once again we’re fortunate to have videos of press conferences being webcast live and archived via MicrobeWorld’s Youtube channel.   On Saturday two videos were live streamed, and the schedule calls for 3 more today (Sunday) and four on Monday (Sept 8th).  […]
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