Posts

September 19, 2014

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1:47 AM | What we are not afraid to say about Ebola virus
In a recent New York Times OpEd entitled What We’re Afraid to Say About Ebola, Michael Osterholm wonders whether Ebola virus could go airborne: You can now get Ebola only through direct contact with bodily fluids. If certain mutations occurred, it would mean that just breathing would put one at risk of contracting Ebola. Infections could spread […]
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12:28 AM | Jury won’t consider deaths in Georgia Salmonella trial
A jury weighing criminal charges Thursday against the owner of a Georgia peanut plant blamed for a nationwide salmonella outbreak five years ago will decide the case without hearing one fact — that nine people died after eating the company’s … Continue reading →

September 18, 2014

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11:47 PM | Shattered: UK FSA annual science report published
I saw the Rolling Stones in Buffalo in 1981. We stayed up all night, and drove from Guelph, crossing the border about 4:30 a.m. George Thorogood opened in the rain, and was awesome, followed by Journey, who sucked (hence the … Continue reading →
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6:56 PM | What the Heck is Circular RNA?
Our genetic information is stored in DNA, tiny strands of nucleic acid that contain instructions for the functioning of our bodies. To express this genetic data, our DNA is copied into RNA molecules, which then translate the instructions into proteins that perform tasks in our cells. Several years ago, scientists discovered a new type of […]
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6:52 PM | Buzz Kill
One of the joys of being the resident entomologist in my family and circle of friends is that I frequently receive “What’s this bug?” texts and emails. Recently, the texts came fast and furious with questions about a giant, strikingly marked wasp. I relished in replying to these queries as this species has a most fascinating biology, the stuff that would make good fodder for a horror movie. Meet the cicada killer wasp (Sphecius speciosus)! Cicada killers are large solitary, […]
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5:27 PM | Managing Your Adviser
The student/adviser dynamic can be one of the most rewarding or most fraught relationships in graduate school, and choosing the right mentor is one of the most important decisions you will make as a graduate student. A positive relationship with your adviser can help you reach your full potential as an academic researcher, while a […]
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5:27 PM | CDC: 18 States With Confirmed EV-D68
    # 9092   Over the past two days four more states have confirmed cases of EV-D68 – a respiratory virus that has recently begun to spread widely in the United States.  In yesterday’s update -  WHO GAR Notice On Enterovirus D68 – we also looked at confirmed and suspected cases in Alberta and British Columbia, Canada.   While only a small percentage of those infected are made ill enough to require hospitalization, this virus has sent […]
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1:45 PM | WHO Ebola Roadmap Update – Sept 18th
    # 9091 Although it has been two days since their last update, today’s Ebola roadmap appears to only add one day’s worth of data to the case count tally, with a jump of 372 cases between September 13th and 14th.   Deaths over the same period jumped by 167 cases.   The good news is that the situations in both Nigeria and Senegal appear to have stabilized, with no new cases reported in the month of September.  Several hundred contacts […]
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12:18 PM | CIDRAP Commentary: Health workers need optimal respiratory protection for Ebola
Credit CIDRAP   # 9090   Last night CIDRAP published what I suspect will become a highly controversial commentary, which urges a higher standard of PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) for Healthcare Workers (HCWs) dealing with suspected or confirmed Ebola cases.     In doing so, they also revive the `airborne’ transmission debate.   As things stand now, contact (gloves, gown) and droplet protection (surgical masks, eye protection) are […]
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11:55 AM | Clearwater restaurant shut down for violations
After a day in Clearwater Beach today at the International Citrus and Beverage Conference, I’m glad I ate lunch at the hotel instead of heading over to Lenny’s Restaurant on U.S. 19. According to ABC Action News Lenny’s has had some recent … Continue reading →
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11:00 AM | Welcome to Autumn
by Elio | This blog is in its eighth year, a fairly long life as blogs go. We continue to enjoy sharing with you the excitement of unexpected and unusual stories of the microbial world. Not all of it is the latest. You may have noticed if you visit this site with some frequency…
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8:45 AM | New York dirty delis and markets exposed
Sean Perkins stopped by his favorite Washington Heights market the other day at lunchtime. But some nasty news came along with his sandwich. Perkins learned that the market he frequents, Presbyterian Deli II has the dubious distinction of having the most … Continue reading →
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8:40 AM | Congrats Deepa!
Deepa Varkey is a PhD student in my group working on how marine cyanobacteria adapt to different temperatures. She has just won a prize for the best poster at the 9th European Workshop on the Molecular Biology of Cyanobacteria in the Netherlands. Great job Deepa!Deepa and her prize winning poster
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8:28 AM | Social media rules: owners of Chicken Cottage in UK fined after customer snaps rat in shop
A fast-food restaurant has been fined for a number of food hygiene failings after a customer took a picture of a rat on their premises. Arun District Council has successfully prosecuted Bethel Catering UK Ltd, for food safety offences found … Continue reading →
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8:14 AM | Reports of Listeria more than double in Hong Kong
The annual number of reports of a deadly disease resulting from foodborne bacteria have more than doubled from 2011 to last year as people eat more pre-packaged food, doctors at the Centre for Food Safety said on Wednesday.  A total … Continue reading →
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2:35 AM | East NY Village Pizzeria shut down for second time in just over a month
New York City has shut down a well-known pizza joint for the second time in just over a month after an inspection found evidence of mice, flies and other health violations. Nino’s Pizza, on the corner of Avenue A and … Continue reading →
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2:26 AM | Brisbane’s food hall of shame
Brisbane’s annual food hall of shame, released by City Hall on Wednesday, revealed the vast majority of the city’s worst food hygiene offenders had food preparation areas infested with rodents or pests last financial year. Just more than $710,000 in … Continue reading →
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1:24 AM | We’re in waste managment: Liechtenstein thieves steal 1.3 tonnes of Listeria cheese
Germany’s food inspection office is concerned bad cheese will be sold either directly or indirectly, posing a health risk to anyone who consumes it, ATS reported on Tuesday. The problem is the “Alp Sücka” cheese was found to be contaminated with … Continue reading →
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1:16 AM | Moscow court fines Burger King restaurant for food safety violations
The Moscow Arbitration Court at the request of Russia’s public health agency Rospotrebnadzor has fined Burger Rus LLC, operator and manager of Burger King restaurants in Russia, 100,000 rubles ($2,583) for the storage of unauthorized items in refrigerators alongside food, … Continue reading →

September 17, 2014

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10:20 PM | The Microbiome: Can We Please Consider the Human Body an Ecosystem Now?
It has long been thought the type and amount of microbes using the human body as a home shape the way we live and behave. The microbiome as it is known is shown to have a greater and greater impact in our daily lives. A new study published in Nature (paywall) provides evidence demonstrating the artificial […]The post The Microbiome: Can We Please Consider the Human Body an Ecosystem Now? appeared first on Just Science.
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9:46 PM | The Disney Story: Beauty and the Goodness Stereotype
In every day life we often make shortcuts when making decisions, especially when this comes to judging others. We often don’t even realise we are doing it, but we can’t help but use stereotypes to fill in the gaps about people.  One of the stereotypes…The post The Disney Story: Beauty and the Goodness Stereotype appeared first on Just Science.
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7:57 PM | What is collaboration?
My latest column for the Texas A&M Center for Food Safety: Me and Chapman have been working together and writing for 15 years. We ain’t the Beatles but we’ve had our moments. Lots of research, coaching girls’ hockey together, and … Continue reading →
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7:57 PM | Accurate and Reproducible RT-qPCR Gene Expression Analysis on Cell Culture Lysates
Analysis of gene expression in cell cultures is frequently limited by the number of samples that can be processed using traditional real-time PCR workflows. Here we evaluate Bio-Rad’s SingleShot™ SYBR® Green Kit, which eliminates the time-consuming cell harvesting and RNA isolation steps and permits use of crude cell lysates as input samples for cDNA synthesis. […]
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7:32 PM | Too many tragedies from foodborne pathogens
Stories in food safety matter. Folks aren’t compelled by the fancy facts and figures that all of us nerds have access to. It’s too easy to forget that food safety is about people that get sick. When I get bogged … Continue reading →
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7:22 PM | MSF: French Volunteer Infected With Ebola, Will Be Evacuated
  # 9089   Although MSF (Médecins Sans Frontières) has had hundreds of volunteers working in the Ebola Hot Zones for months, they have had an enviable safety record.  Up until today, no MSF volunteer has contracted the Ebola virus.  Sadly that exemplary record now falls, as we learn from the following translated press release from the MSF website.        Ebola: a French MSF volunteer infected in Liberia "September 17, […]
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6:21 PM | WHO GAR Notice On Enterovirus D68
    # 9088   Infectious diseases don’t observe political borders, and in this 21st century, can spread quickly around the globe.  The recent outbreak of EV-D68 which has been detected in at least a dozen US states has now apparently crossed into Canada (see Three B.C. enterovirus cases now confirmed, authorities say & Alberta Health Services confirms 18 cases of Enterovirus D68 ).     Respiratory cases in other Canadian cities are being […]
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5:31 PM | TWiM #87: Avogadro, archaeal fossils, and ICAAC
Vincent, Elio, and Michael explore the fossilization of archaeal lipids, and highlight the recent ICAAC in Washington, D.C.  
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4:29 PM | Saudi MOH Reports MERS Case In Taif
  # 9087   After taking most of July and August off, MERS is beginning to bubble up again in Saudi Arabia with a new case reported for the third day running, and the 6th case reported over the past 10 days.    This is also the second case reported from Taif – which is about 60 miles from Mecca – this week.   As usual, details on this case are scant, with no word as to the route of exposure.  With the start of the Hajj just over 2 weeks […]
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1:59 PM | Vietnam Reports Additional H5N6 Outbreaks In Poultry
Credit Wikipedia   # 9086   We continue to see reports out of both Vietnam (see Vietnam: More H5N6 Outbreaks In Poultry) and China (see China: H5N6 Outbreak In Heilongjiang Poultry) that the recently emerged H5N6 avian flu virus keeps popping up over a wide swath of Eastern Asia.    Previously low pathogenic versions of H5N6 have been reported around the world, including in the United States and Europe. But as we learned last Sunday (see Whole-Genome Sequence Of […]
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11:37 AM | `Mystery Diseases’ In Hard To Verify Places
    # 9085   A day scarcely goes by where the dedicated volunteers at FluTrackers, the Flu Wiki, or ProMed Mail don’t come across a media report of an `unidentified disease’ raging in some remote part of the world.  Often initial news reports are either highly speculative, or just downright wrong, and so I approach these stories with caution.   Fever is, by the way, the most common presenting symptom of an infection, and FUO (Fever of Undetermined […]
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