Posts

August 19, 2014

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12:19 PM | BacterioFiles 179 - Functionless Phages Feel Fatiguing
This episode: Defective phages in bacterial genomes can still have burdensome effects! Why do the bacteria keep them around? Download Episode (10.4 MB, 11.3 minutes)Show notes:Journal Paper Other interesting stories: Microbes are essential and important for all life on the planet Modified virus could treat most dangerous brain cancers Microbes help inhibit worms that harm plants (paper) Trying to figure out what gut viruses people had in the 14th century (paper) Beewolves have close […]
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12:10 PM | WHO Ebola Assessment – Guinea & Nigeria
Credit CDC     # 8071     Although it is hard to find anything other than apocalyptic doom and gloom coming out of media reports on the Ebola outbreak in Western  Africa, the World Health Organization reports some encouraging signs – at least in Guinea and Nigeria – as outlined in the following statement mailed to journalists this morning.   Ebola assessment 19 August 2014 Ebola virus disease Situation in Nigeria […]
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11:41 AM | CMI: The Globalization Of Chikungunya
Chikungunya’s Spread in the Americas – Credit PAHO   # 8970   Up until 2005, Chikungunya was an obscure mosquito-borne disease that only sporadically caused outbreaks in Eastern and central Africa.  Then, in an unexpected plot twist , a mutation in the envelope protein gene (E1-A226V) of the virus allowed Aedes Albopictus or `Asian tiger’ mosquito to transmit the virus more efficiently (see A Single Mutation in Chikungunya Virus Affects Vector […]
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9:34 AM | WHO Ebola Update – August 19th
  # 8969   The World Health Organization has released a new Ebola update, this time adding cases reported between August 14th and August 16th.  Theses numbers are believed to only partially represent the situation on the ground in West Africa, as limited reporting and surveillance in many regions, and the public’s fear of reporting illness, likely influence the count.    Of note, after more than two weeks of seeing relatively low counts – […]
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8:05 AM | 1-in-8, just like the US; foodborne illness in Canada
The Canadians were busy today, when most of them are off at the cottage. The Public Health Agency of Canada has joined with the U.S. and now estimates that each year about 1 in 8 Canadians (4 million people) get … Continue reading →
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7:40 AM | Rumors poisonous, drinking cups safe: UAE Ministry flushes out social media lies
Rumors spread on social networking sites about drinking cups containing carcinogens have been dismissed on by the Ministry of Environment and Water as unfounded. “All locally-produced and imported materials used for packaging, wrapping, covering and preparing foods, and including plastics, … Continue reading →
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7:33 AM | It’s all about knowing your supplier (sic); Rancho Feeding Corp. in US charged with selling sick, unfit cattle
A federal grand jury has indicted Rancho Feeding Corp., the Petaluma, California, slaughterhouse at the center of a massive beef recall, for processing animals condemned by U.S. Department of Agriculture inspectors and processing others that were known to have eye … Continue reading →
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7:25 AM | More than Canada would admit: Denmark says ‘serious errors’ in handling of Listeria outbreak with 12 dead, another 12 sick
Denmark’s food safety watchdog made “serious mistakes” in its handling of a listeria outbreak linked to the death of 12 people, the country’s government has said. Food minister, Dan Jørgensen, has blasted the food authorities, Fødevarestyrelsen, over its handling of … Continue reading →
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7:19 AM | Goats killed by Listeria in Ohio, family says city water system to blame
A grandmother in Crooksville said two of her grandson’s prized goats were killed by Listeria and she blames the city’s water system for it. Kim Burkhart said her veterinarian told her the goats came down with the disease from contaminated … Continue reading →
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1:01 AM | Seattle restaurants may finally get restaurant grading system
It’s deeply weird or deeply hypocritical that Seattle, self-proclaimed home to many things food, doesn’t have a decent restaurant inspection disclosure system. “We’ve tried to make as much information available as possible,” says Becky Elias, Manager of Food Protection for … Continue reading →
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12:35 AM | Fail: eating grass-fed beef cannot help avoid E. coli infection
I’m getting to old for this shit – cow shit, that is. Lisa Egan writes in Nutritional Anarchy, whatever that  is the commercial meat industry’s practice of keeping cattle in feedlots and feeding them grain that is responsible for the … Continue reading →
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12:04 AM | 91 now sick from Norovirus suspected at UK pirate ship lake
A Norovirus outbreak saw a Devon holiday park temporarily close. Several holidaymakers fell ill with suspected norovirus in the last fortnight.  River Dart Country Park, in Ashburton, said that 91 cases of sickness and diarrhea had been reported by visitors to the outdoor activity … Continue reading →

August 18, 2014

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7:09 PM | Keeping lunch safe: back to school edition
With Jack starting kindergarten a couple of weeks ago (we have year-round school in Raleigh), our luxurious summer schedule came to an end. No biggie for me as I’m in the habit of a 5:30 am wake up (it’s quiet … Continue reading →
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7:01 PM | Single-Cell Western Blot
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6:13 PM | CDC Guidance: Donning & Removing PPEs
Surgical Facemask N-95 Respirator      # 8968   Although this information has been published as an update to the CDC’s Ebola Page, the techniques showing how to properly don and to remove PPEs illustrate critical infection control skills, and are valid regardless of the pathogen you are trying to avoid contact with.    Both graphics are part of a PDF File.   I’ll have a bit more after the the break.       […]
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4:55 PM | Iceland: Watching Bárðarbunga
Credit Icelandic Met Office   # 8967   Over the past 48 hours more than 1,000 (mostly small) earthquakes have been recorded very near Iceland’s largest active volcano and the Icelandic Met Office has raised the aviation alert status for Bárðarbunga  to Orange.   While an eruption is by no means certain, Bárðarbunga has an impressive geologic history, making this swarm worth keeping an eye on.     First the latest […]
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3:12 PM | AAAS - Blocking Access to the Scientific Literature Even When They Say It Is "Free"
Today, I wanted to show someone a PDF of a paper of mine that I co-authored in 1999.  The paper was, I think, kind of cool.  It reported the sequencing and analysis of the genome of Deinococcus radiodurans, an incredibly radiation resistant bacterium.  Alas, I did not have a copy on me, and the only electornic device I had with me was my phone.  The person I wanted to show the paper to had their computer, a device with a strange little red trackball and running some sort of […]
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1:55 PM | WHO Update – Travel & Transport In Relation To Ebola Outbreak
# 8966   Last week the World Health Organization –  after seeing a number of air carriers refusing to service African nations – began to push back against the idea that air travel to Ebola-affected countries presented a high risk of infection to passengers and crew (see WHO: Ebola Poses `Low-Risk’ To Air Travelers).   The WHO has also consistently argued against the need for, or effectiveness of, of border closings or travel restrictions to affected […]
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11:30 AM | WHO: Full Report Of Ethics Committee On Experimental Drugs For Ebola
# 8965   The extraordinary spread of Ebola in the West African nations of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone – and the spillover into the highly populated country of Nigeria – has led to numerous calls for the use of untested, experimental drugs on humans in the region.   We’ve already seen one drug – ZMapp – used on a handful of patients.   Last week the World Health Organization convened an ethics committee to consider the idea (see […]
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11:00 AM | A Tale of Two Strategies
by S. Marvin Friedman | Bacteria are for the most part gregarious organisms, living predominantly in dense communities consisting of multiple strains. In fact, the majority of infectious bacteria occur as multi-layered structures called biofilms, many of which are composed of multiple types of bacteria. As one can imagine, neighbor relations in such complex populations can be…
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9:18 AM | Bacteriophage behavioral ecology: How phages alter their host’s habits
Bacteriophages direct many aspects of bacterial behaviour. Continue reading →
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6:42 AM | Russia bans Australian kangaroo meat due to E. coli (or non-tariff trade barrier)
The kangaroo meat trade to Russia was initially suspended back in 2008, and then reopened in November 2012. The most recent ban was put in place in May this year, but Fiona Corke from the Australian Society for Kangaroos says … Continue reading →
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6:33 AM | Food additives on the rise as FDA scrutiny wanes
The explosion of new food additives coupled with an easing of oversight requirements is allowing manufacturers to avoid the scrutiny of the Food and Drug Administration, which is responsible for ensuring the safety of chemicals streaming into the food supply. … Continue reading →
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4:04 AM | Toxo imported meat might alter nation’s behavior, warns Iceland’s PM
Contrary to the claims of The Reykjavík Grapevin, toxoplasmosis is not a virus; it’s a parasite. But according to Iceland’s Prime Minister Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson, “Because this is such an interesting topic, maybe I will get one more minute to cover … Continue reading →
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3:55 AM | Wu Heng on throwing China’s food out the window
“I hope this book will make you feel that it’s time to throw unsafe food out the window.” So writes Wu Heng, the founder of Throw it Out the Window (www.zccw.info), a website staffed by volunteers that documents China’s rampant … Continue reading →

August 17, 2014

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10:16 PM | Where did Ebola come from? Rooting the un-rootable
As with other emerging viruses, the manner in which Ebolavirus outbreaks appear seemingly from nowhere merely adds to their terror. What is especially intriguing about the current outbreak in West Africa is that it's the wrong virus in the wrong place: as a strain of Zaire Ebolavirus, we would expect to see this virus in central Africa. The modern way to answer the 'where did it come from' question is to compare the genomic sequences of different viruses, and this was one of the first things […]

Dudas G & Rambaut A (2014). Phylogenetic Analysis of Guinea 2014 EBOV Ebolavirus Outbreak., PLoS currents, 6 PMID: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24860690

Citation
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7:24 PM | Don’t eat dog poop, and don’t run around with sharp objects in your ear
Oh, the Brits. Their science-based food safety agency won’t say, use a thermometer, but a local council tells kids not to eat dog poop. Upon seeing this image, you tell yourself that this park can’t possibly be warning kids not … Continue reading →
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4:00 PM | TWiV 298: MV-NIS de myelo
On episode #298 of the science show This Week in Virology, the TWiV gang answers follow-up questions about the Ebola virus outbreak in West Africa, then discuss treatment of  disseminated multiple myeloma with oncolytic measles virus. You can find TWiV #298 at www.twiv.tv.
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1:04 PM | Mackay On Ebola, Pigs, Primates and People
  Credit CDC PHIL     # 8964   Yesterday Dr. Ian Mackay et al. produced a terrific overview called Ebola virus may be spread by droplets, but not by an airborne route: what that means which I blogged about here.     Today Ian is back with another in-depth look at Ebola transmission, this time taking on the much-discussed laboratory experiments that some online pundits have claimed `proves’ airborne transmission.   Ian quite […]
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12:02 PM | UK: Updated Pandemic Response Plan & Exercise Cygnus
Credit ECDC – 125 years of  Pandemic  History   # 8963   Although it is not often front and center in the news, or in the daily threats messaging from most governments, an influenza pandemic is considered among the most likely high-impact global threats that we could face in the foreseeable future.    Earlier this year, in Influenza Pandemic As A National Security Threat,  we looked at a threats assessment by the Director Of National […]
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