Posts

November 03, 2014

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9:05 AM | Naturopathy vs Science
Today Wellington’s Dominion Post newspaper ran a piece of (in my opinion..) misleading propaganda they passed of as a cartoon which can be summed up as naturopathy vs science. I assume it is in response to the bad press that homeopathy received last week after Green Party MP Steffan Browning signed a petition calling for [...]
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4:37 AM | On The Definition of Prokaryotes
by Nanne Nanninga | As will be argued below the present definition of a prokaryote is highly unsatisfactory. To give an example: a prokaryote is "a cell or organism lacking a nucleus and other membrane-enclose organelles, usually having its DNA in a single circular molecule". This seems a summary of the original definition of...
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4:23 AM | Crosspost from #microBEnet: More scary than Halloween: this month in germophobia microbophobia
Crossposting this from the microBEnet blog where I originally posted it 10/31/14:It seems that any time a holiday comes around in the US, the press starts to ramp up the writing of stories about evil microbes that are lurking all around us. And Halloween appears to be no exception. I am now planning on referring to this attitude as "microbophobia" rather than "germophobia" because to some "germ" implies pathogen and many of these stories fan the flames of fear about any kind of microbe not just […]

November 02, 2014

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8:39 PM | TWiV 309: Ebola email
On episode #309 of the science show This Week in Virology, the TWiVocytes answer questions about Ebola virus, including mode of transmission, quarantine, incubation period, immunity, and much more. You can find TWiV #309 at www.twiv.tv.
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8:15 PM | India slams notices on over 80 eateries in Kolhapur
The district Food and Drugs Administration (FDA) on Saturday issued ‘improvement’ notices to 85 eateries in the city and nearby areas for not complying with Food Safety Management regulations.  According to the Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006 and Rules … Continue reading →
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8:07 PM | Problems are opportunities: Cargill sees food scares boosting China’s grains appetite
Reuters reports that a slew of food safety scandals has stoked China’s hunger for higher quality products that would sustain consumption of protein-rich farm commodities even as its economy slows, a top executive of leading commodities trader Cargill Inc said. … Continue reading →
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5:23 PM | We’d all like to get to Mars. Let’s make sure we don’t get sick along the way.
While Hollywood loves to imagine humans encountering all manner of horrific monsters in the depths of space, the greatest threat to a long-term, manned space mission may not come with tentacles, or extra mouths, or an insatiable love for human flesh. It may, in fact,  be the invisible microbes that hitch a ride with us from Earth.…
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2:18 PM | A `Drift’ In A Sea Of Influenza Viruses
P&I Mortality Surveillance by Week & Year - CDC   # 9278   There is always a degree of folly attached to trying to predict the kind of flu season we will have ahead.  The variability in influenza severity can be easily demonstrated by the wide range in the CDC’s mortality estimates, as described in the  August 27, 2010 MMWR report entitled “Thompson MG et al. Updated Estimates of Mortality Associated with Seasonal Influenza through the […]
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1:07 PM | French MOH Statement On UN Employee Evacuated From Sierra Leone With Ebola
  # 9278   As of Friday’s WHO Ebola Response Situation Report:   A total of 523 health-care workers (HCWs) are known to have been infected with EVD up to the end of 29 October: 82 in Guinea; 299 in Liberia; 11 in Nigeria; 127 in Sierra Leone; one in Spain; and three in the United States of America (two were infected in the USA and one in Guinea). A total of 269 HCWs have died.   While a number of these infections are believed to have been acquired from […]
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11:30 AM | CDC Guidance: Ambulatory Care Evaluation Of Patients With Possible EVD (Ebola Virus Disease)
Credit CDC PHIL   # 9277   A week ago, in CDC Ebola Guidance: ER Protocols To Identify, Isolate & Inform, we looked at the recommended procedures for Emergency rooms to follow when evaluating patients for possible EVD (Ebola Virus Disease).  Included were an infographic, and a PDF file Algorithm – Identify, Isolate, Inform: Emergency Department Evaluation and Management of Patients with Possible Ebola Virus Disease[PDF - 975 KB].   Given the […]
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9:47 AM | Harry Styles explains roadside barfing
I don’t care about the music of Harry Styles or One Direction, but the pin-up has a novel explanation for barfing in California a couple of weeks ago:  “I’d been on a hike. I’d been on a very long hike. … Continue reading →
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9:29 AM | 39 sick: Norovirus suspected at Minnesota banquet
There were 39 suspected cases of people catching a foodborne illness after attending a YoungLife banquet on Oct. 12 at Willow Creek School, according to the Minnesota Department of Health. “Foodborne is year-round, although this is the time of year … Continue reading →
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2:09 AM | Greetings from Boston
I'm in Boston along with the Macquarie iGEM team attending the iGEM Giant Jamboree. iGEM is the International Genetically Engineered Machine competition where teams of undergraduate students from around the world showcase their synthetic biology research achievements. This year there are 245 teams with over 2500 participants attending the iGEM Giant Jamboree. In addition to the Macquarie University team, there are two other Australian teams from Melbourne University and Sydney University.The […]

November 01, 2014

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6:58 PM | Chagas in Virginia and Texas; and Using Dogs as Sentinels for Parasite Spread
Chagas disease or American Trypanosomiasis is a disease that makes me cringe. Not only because of the high potential it increases its endemic range in the next 20 years, but because of the vector that trasmits it.Health officials in Texas are becoming concerned about the rise of a "new to the region" blood sucking insect with a deadly bite known as the "kissing bug". Trust me, they are gross. Also, trust me that you don't want to know how big they are, or why they are called the kissing […]
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12:56 PM | EID Journal: Evaluating Border Entry Screening for Infectious Diseases in Humans
Thermal Scanner – Credit Wikipedia   For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong. - H. L. Mencken   # 9276   Over the years I’ve probably written about the futility of trying to prevent entry of infectious diseases into a country by airport or border screening at least a dozen times.   A few recent examples include:   Why Airport Screening Can’t Stop MERS, Ebola or Avian Flu MERS: The […]
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12:16 PM | WHO Ebola Update: Mali - Oct 31st
  # 9275   One week ago, in WHO Ebola Update – Mali Confirms 1st Ebola Case, we got the worrisome details of an Ebola infected child traveling to – and eventually dying in – the sixth African nation to be affected by the current epidemic; Mali.   Yesterday the World Health Organization updated the investigation, public health response, which so far has not turned up any additional cases.    The good news is, out of 85 known contacts, […]
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11:26 AM | An Emergency Fall Back Position
  # 9274   Tonight most of the country goes off Daylight Savings Time, giving many of us an extra hour this evening – and while I’d far prefer to spend that time sleeping - I’ll be using it instead to change the batteries in my smoke and carbon monoxide detectors as I set my clocks back an hour. It’s a little thing, I know.  But that is what preparedness is all about.  A bunch of little things that, when combined, provides huge […]
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11:09 AM | Taiwan GDP growth misses estimates after food safety concerns
Taiwan’s economy grew at a slower pace than expected last quarter as concern over food safety damped spending at restaurants. Gross domestic product rose 3.78 percent from a year earlier in the three months through September, according to the statistics … Continue reading →
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7:17 AM | Someone sued because they wanted raw sprouts on their Jimmy John’s sandwich? Maybe they work at Kansas State University
Lee Schafer of the Star Tribune wrote in mid-Oct (yes, I’m playing catch-up, taxes and hockey and pumpkins are a bitch) about an announcement of a proposed class-action settlement to readers who somehow suspect they got cheated out of some … Continue reading →
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6:53 AM | Judge denies dismissal in PrimusLabs cantaloupe cases
The Packer reports that a Colorado judge has refused to dismiss at least 24 cases filed against PrimusLabs by victims and their families related to the 2011 listeria outbreak involving cantaloupe from Jensen Farms. The judge also refused to dismiss … Continue reading →
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5:37 AM | 5 dead, 5 sick in Listeria outbreak: French labs confirm source as smoked pork in Macedonia
Two prominent French reference laboratories confirmed the source of Listeria outbreak here was the smoked pork product “Extra Mein” made by a Kumanovo-based company, Macedonian health minister said on Friday. The test results from Paris-based Louis Pasteur Institute and Anses … Continue reading →
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4:22 AM | The flawed and offensive logic of "Academic Science Isn’t Sexist" in the @nytimes
OK.  It is Halloween night and I am tired and need to get my kids to sleep.  But someone on Twitter just pointed me to an opinion piece just out in the New York Times: Academic Science Isn’t Sexist - NYTimes.com and after reading it I felt I had to write a quick post.The opinion piece is by Wendy M. Williams and Stephen J. Ceci and discusses work by them (and coauthors).  In particular they discuss findings in a massive report "Women in Academic Science: A […]
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3:36 AM | 3 confirmed E. coli O157 cases at Oregon Montessori school
Three cases of E. coli infection since September have prompted the Clackamas County Health Department to begin testing all children and staff at a West Linn Montessori program for the potentially deadly bacteria. In a Thursday letter to parents with children at Heart Centered Montessori, 2152 … Continue reading →

October 31, 2014

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10:29 PM | 1 dead, two others sick; Oasis Brands Inc. cheese recalls and investigation of human listeriosis cases
Several recalls of cheese and dairy products produced by Oasis Brands, Inc. due to possible Listeria monocytogenes contamination have been announced by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). On August 4, 2014, Oasis Brands, Inc. voluntarily recalled quesito casero … Continue reading →
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10:21 PM | At least three sick with E. coli O157 in Canada from unpasteurized apple cider
I confess. I experimented with something else while a university undergraduate: unpasteurized apple cider. The ex and I would go to the Guelph Farmer’s Market and stock up, including unpasteurized cider. After moving to Kitchener (that’s in Ontario, Canada), we … Continue reading →
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9:48 PM | Dark Pits of Disease: Mining’s History of Hookworm
Mining is low on the list of enviable occupations. The hazards one faces when plying one of humanity’s most ancient professions, burrowing deep into the earth to harvest its hidden treasures in the form of precious stones and metals, range from grungy to downright gruesome. The occupation is widely considered to be one of the […]The post Dark Pits of Disease: Mining’s History of Hookworm appeared first on Body Horrors.
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9:48 PM | Dark Pits of Disease: Mining’s History of Hookworm
Mining is low on the list of enviable occupations. The hazards one faces when plying one of humanity’s most ancient professions, burrowing deep into the earth to harvest its hidden treasures in the form of precious stones and metals, range from grungy to downright gruesome. The occupation is widely considered to be one of the […]The post Dark Pits of Disease: Mining’s History of Hookworm appeared first on Body Horrors.
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9:04 PM | The Return Of The CDC’s `How Ebola Spreads’ Infographic
Droplet Spread – Credit CDC   # 9273   Earlier today I mentioned that an infographic showing that Ebola can potentially spread over short distances via droplets had been temporarily pulled by the CDC, just 5 days after first releasing it (see Guidance Gone, But Not Forgotten).   Since this removal was causing such a stir online and in the media, I expressed hopes it would be reinstated soon.   Well, I very pleased to say that a slightly modified […]
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8:48 PM | Scary? Barfing pumpkins, hockey goalie masks and Aust tax deadlines
For whatever reason,  the Australian fiscal year goes from July 1 — June 30, with taxes required to be filed by Oct. 31. So while North Americans were contemplating costumes, I spent the day finishing my taxes. That’s scary. So … Continue reading →
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6:38 PM | WHO Ebola Response Situation Report – Oct 31st
# 9263   The numbers coming out of West Africa continue to bounce around, with the total number of cases actually down by nearly 200 over the report from October 29th, but the number of fatalities slightly higher. This drop in cases was attributed to some suspected cases in Guinea being ruled out.   Given the limits of surveillance and reporting in these three countries, there’s not a great deal of faith that the numbers we are getting truly represent the […]
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