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Posts

April 22, 2014

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11:24 AM | MERS: Osterholm On NPR Shots & The Nightly CIDRAP Recap
  # 8510     With news of the MERS virus coming at us from multiple countries, and often in piecemeal fashion, it is easy to be overwhelmed trying to divine the signal from the noise.  I know by the end of the day, I’ve become punchy, and I suspect that feeling is shared by my fellow flublogians. Luckily we get a terrific recap of the day’s MERS developments via CIDRAP NEWS, which usually hits their site around 7pm EDT. At the end of the […]
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10:19 AM | Reminder: America's PrepareAthon! – April 30th
    # 8509   While our attentions have been understandably focused on the evolving MERS outbreak in the Middle East, I’d be remiss if I didn’t remind my readers that this year, Ready.gov & FEMA are introducing a new initiative to get communities and individuals to take concrete steps towards better preparedness.   The focus for this first PrepareAthon is on some of the more common disaster themes; Tornadoes, Wildfires, Floods, and Hurricanes. […]
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9:38 AM | Nosestretcher alert: Kansas State launches global campus
People will say anything with a straight face to keep their jobs, I guess. Cheerleader-in-chief Kirk Shultz gushed that Kansas State now has a 4th campus! The K-State Global Campus. Instead of embracing massive open on-line courses (MOOCs), Kansas State … Continue reading →
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8:01 AM | Referral: VDU Blog - Watching Zoonoses Evolve
The acceleration of MERS Cases – VDU Blog # 8508   I’m not quite sure how I missed it (I can only plead a recent lack of sleep & Arabic-twitter-reading induced psychosis) – but only now have I stumbled upon Saturday’s terrific guest blog by @influenza_bio on Dr. Ian Mackay’s VDU blog, that discusses the ever present threat posed by zoonotic diseases.   After providing a suitable background, and a quick overview of recent MERS […]
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2:02 AM | The Future of Discovery
In March 2014, Rob spoke at TEDxSantaCruz, explaining how much we don’t know about the species living on us, in us and around us – the life, large and small, inhabiting our belly buttons, our foreheads, our homes, our backyards. He shared the approach we’re taking at Your Wild Life (and in our new Students Discover education initiative) to harness the power of the public – via citizen science – to make real discoveries about these species with whom we share our […]

April 21, 2014

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9:13 PM | BacterioFiles Micro Edition 163 - Pseudomyrmex Sidekicks Stop Sprout Sickness
This episode: Ants teaming with bacteria help defend plants from bacterial pathogens! Download Episode (9.4 MB, 10.2 minutes)Show notes:News item/Journal Paper Other interesting stories: Virus modified to infect and destroy only cancer Compounds from ocean bacteria could inhibit pathogens without inducing resistance Dog-related microbes could affect the gut microbe in ways that protect against allergies (paper) Stomach bacteria are most peaceful in humans they've co-evolved with Bacteria […]
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8:28 PM | Saudi MOH Announces 17 More MERS Cases
    # 8507   Although the title of the update says `12’ cases, to that are added 5 `asymptomatic contacts’ who tested positive for the virus, giving us a total of 17.   Only one case is listed as a healthcare worker (45, in intensive care).  Two fatalities are cited, one of a previously announced case, and one from this new batch of cases.   Today’s cases come from Jeddah (7), Riyadh (6), Medina (4). and Tabuk (1).  Four […]
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7:00 PM | Who cheats and who eats? An evolutionary conundrum.
Say what you will about our other vices, human beings did not invent cheating. Microbes have been doing it for billions of years. You see, for microbes, cheating can sometimes be an evolutionary advantage. And this can cause it to get out of hand really quickly. Bacteria “cheat” by stealing each other’s lunch. They do it everywhere, all the time,…
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4:31 PM | Saudi Minister Of Health Replaced
Former Health Minister Dr. Abdullah Al-Rabiah   # 8506     Saudi Arabian Health Minister Dr. Abdullah Al-Rabiah – who up until a couple of days ago was issuing daily assurances that the MERS virus situation was `stable’ – has apparently been transferred from his post, and will be replaced – at least in the interim – by the Saudi Minister of Labor Adel Faqi.   The embattled MOH has been dealing not only with an expanding number of […]
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12:28 PM | Swimming with Viruses
You can find viruses everywhere: in the soil, in the clouds and in animals. According to scientists from the University of Oldenburg in Germany, there are also a ridiculous number of viruses buried at sea, in the sediments of the … Continue reading →
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12:03 PM | MERS, HCWs, And Infection Control
Credit CDC   # 8505     Although there is a good deal we don’t know about the current outbreaks of MERS-CoV in healthcare settings in both Jeddah, Saudi Arabia and in the UAE, one thing is glaringly obvious:    Healthcare workers are being infected at a disturbing rate.   Somewhere between 20%-25% of all known cases have reportedly been HCWS.   A fact that has apparently unnerved some medical staff, as over the past week […]
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12:57 AM | TWiV 281: The Salk legacy with Peter L. Salk
On episode #281 of the science show This Week in Virology, Vincent meets up with Peter L. Salk to talk about development of the first poliovaccine, eradication of poliomyelitis, and Jonas Salk’s 100th birth anniversary. You can find TWiV #281 at www.twiv.tv.
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12:16 AM | Some "Holiday" Themed Microbiology?
It's Easter Sunday as I write this quick post.  And don't worry:  I'm not going to discuss religious issues.  For many people (especially those of us with children), Easter is much more about high fructose corn syrup.  Right?  Sad but true.One type of scary yet oddly delicious sugary item for this holiday seasons are the infamous Peeps.  They become all the rage during this time of year, with their near total lack of nutritional value, in addition to colors and […]

April 20, 2014

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7:50 PM | Saudi MOH Statement On 13 New MERS Cases (3 Fatal)
      # 8505   Although the following update was telegraphed several hours ago in a press conference held by the Saudi MOH, we now have a line listing of the 13 new cases.    Three new fatalities are reported, 1 in Jeddah, 1 in Medina, and 1 in Riyadh.    Two healthcare workers are also listed as infected  (one in Jeddah, one in Riyadh) both are listed as stable. I case in Jeddah is listed as asymptomatic.     Record […]
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6:33 PM | Saudi Health Minister Announces 13 New MERS-CoV Cases
  Photo Credit Saudi MOH     # 8504   It’s been several hours since the Saudi Arabian Health Minister Abdullah Al-Rabiah announced during a televised press conference that the number of MERS detections in their country had risen to 244, but so far, there has been no update posted on the MOH website..    I’ll post another blog post with the MOH press release when it becomes available, but until then we have pretty extensive media report […]
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6:29 PM | MSOE SMART Team!
Recently, I was involved as a mentor with the Milwaukee School of Engineering (MSOE) Center of Biomolecular Modeling (CBM) Students Modeling A Research Topic (SMART) teams. Holy acronyms!2013-2014 SMART Team ShirtI wanted to take a short moment and not just brag about how amazing the experience was, but also to give credit to everyone involved, for making it so.I have been involved in a handful of high-school related science programs (LeadAmerica, INSPIRE) as well as a big brother for Big […]
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4:10 PM | WHO MERS-CoV Update – Greece
  # 8503   On Friday night we learned of the first imported case of MERS to Greece (see Greece: MOH On 1st Imported Case Of MERS-CoV).  Today the World Health Organization  has released a DON (Disease Outbreak News) update.   While we knew this patient had traveled from Jeddah – the scene of Saudi Arabia’s largest hospital-related MERS outbreak – today we learn this patient had repeated visits to a local hospital (visiting his wife) before […]
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1:14 PM | Obstacles To A MERS Vaccine
  # 8502 As generally a `pro-vaccine’ kind of guy, it pains me to admit that a vaccine solution to the MERS coronavirus is likely several years away – assuming one can be created at all.  Scientists have, after all, been working on a SARS vaccine for more than a decade and have yet to declare success.   But in the face of mounting criticism, and rising case counts, the Saudi Government has begun to actively promote the idea that a MERS vaccine could be […]
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11:02 AM | Egyptian MOH Statement On MERS Threat
  Photo Credit Wikipedia     # 8501   Nearly two months ago we saw a study (see EID Journal: MERS Coronaviruses in Dromedary Camels, Egypt) that found in Egyptian camels what had already been found in camels from other Middle Eastern nations; evidence of exposure to  and infection with the MERS coronavirus.     While just 4 (3.6%) of nasal swabs (out of 110 tested) were positive for the MERS-CoV virus (via RT-PCR testing) – suggesting […]
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9:54 AM | VDU Blog: Charting The Mounting MERS Outbreak
Credit Dr. Ian Mackay   # 8500   With the MERS coronavirus numbers changing literally by the hour (yesterday we saw 19 new cases announced, and media hints of several others), keeping track has become a full time job. Since I can’t even keep track of where I left my reading glasses, I’m thankful that this onerous task has been taken up by two of Flublogia’s more organized individuals.   Sharon Sanders on Flutrackers began keeping a detailed (and […]
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9:07 AM | Nosestretcher alert: sous vide safety in the home kitchen
Friend of the blog Don Schaffner of Rutgers University had some food safety concerns about a recent column broadcast by state-sponsored jazz radio station NPR about sous vide – or cooking under vacuum at a specific temperature. She (journalist T. … Continue reading →
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7:37 AM | Playing the numbers, Salmonella-at-Cuban-resort edition
When barfing endlessly, it’s of little comfort to know you represent only 1.5% of possible barfers. Yet that is the insensitive numbers game tour operators like Thomas Cook continue to play when they confirm 29 cases of “mild illness” reported … Continue reading →
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7:28 AM | Should swimming pools have restaurant-like grades for safety? Toronto thinks so
Operators of pools, spas, hot tubs and wading pools in Toronto could soon be required to post on-site inspection notices, letting the public know if any health and safety violations have taken place. In 2011, the Star revealed that pool … Continue reading →
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4:10 AM | Food safety in Lebanon: experts emphasize need for measures after scandals
Lebanon is in need of effective food safety measures in light of the series of food scandals that the country has witnessed, ministries and experts say. The Lebanese food industry is rife with serious issues, said AUB Professor Zeina Kassaify. … Continue reading →
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3:55 AM | Texas family bouncing back after two boys sickened by E. coli last year
In May 2013, public health buffoon Dr. Eric Wilke of the Brazos County Health Department in College Station, Texas, declared to a press conference that an E. coli O157 outbreak that landed two brothers in hospital was “a fluke” as … Continue reading →
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3:25 AM | Imported berry mix cake suspected to be the source of Hepatitis A in Norway
I’m still pissed I can’t figure out where my frozen berries are coming from. Sure, I live in a sub-tropical climate with an abundance of berries, but retailers with the frozen berries will go for the cheapest source. And frozen … Continue reading →
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3:12 AM | Vegas Firefly still doesn’t get food safety
In June 2013, Las Vegas’ Firefly Tapas Kitchen and Bar was linked to over 250 cases of salmonellosis. Investigators fingered cross-contaminated chorizo as the likely source. At the time of the outbreak owner Tabitha Simmons was quoted as saying, “It’s just … Continue reading →

April 19, 2014

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11:55 PM | Food terrorism poses eminent danger to US
Food terrorism poses an eminent danger to the United States, according to antiterrorism specialists. While the need for higher quantities of food is only increasing, the standards for food safety have been at a standstill or worse—nonexistent. The Voice of … Continue reading →
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11:47 PM | Canada’s chicken farmers ban injections that trigger resistance
Canadian chicken farmers are putting an end to controversial egg injections, which provided the world with a “textbook” example of the perils of mass medication. By injecting eggs at hatcheries with ceftiofur, a medically important antibiotic, the farmers triggered the rise … Continue reading →
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7:34 PM | #MicroTwJC 47: Total Synthesis of a "Functional" Designer Yeast Chromosome
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