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April 14, 2014

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12:49 PM | Saudi MOH Announces 5 New MERS Cases In Jeddah
  # 8473   The `lull’ in MERS reports out of Saudi Arabia didn’t last very long, as this morning they have announced 5 new cases in Jeddah, one of which has proved fatal. Once again, we are seeing mild or asymptomatic cases along side severe ones.  At least two of these cases are described as Health Care Workers.   Today’s announcement moves the number of cases in this Jeddah cluster to 27 cases, making it the largest known outbreak to […]
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12:36 PM | The Battle To Control Online MERS Messaging
    # 8471   While we’ve a (possibly brief) lull in new MERS reports out of the Middle East one of the fascinating sideshows to the past 72 hours has been watching the attempts to control the MERS message  in newspapers, on twitter, and in other social media outlets.   On Saturday, in MERS-CoV: The Twitter Of Their Discontent, I described what appeared to be orchestrated `shout downs’ of MERS rumors, where scores of twitter accounts would tweet […]
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11:00 AM | By Chance and Necessity: The Role of the Cytoskeleton in the Genesis of Eukaryotes
by Daniel P. Haeusser How did Eukaryotes Evolve from Prokaryotes? Figure 1. The mysterious root of the eukaryotic origin. Evolution of prokaryotes into eukaryotes undoubtedly involved mitochondrial acquisition, but the full details of the story are far from certain. Source. One of the most exciting and enduring obscurities of biology lies in the early stages of the evolution of “our”...
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10:53 AM | The Joy of Discovery
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10:04 AM | Homeopathy Awareness Week
April 10th-16th is World Homeopathy Awareness week, organised by the World Homeopathy Awareness Organisation. April 10th is the birthday of the originator of homeopathy, Samuel Hahnemann. In case you need reminding what homeopathy is, it is based on Hahnemann’s bizarre doctrine that substances which cause disease symptoms in healthy people will cure similar symptoms in [...]
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9:06 AM | Monday Micro – Bioluminescent bacteria photobooth
For those curious how our bioluminescent photo booth went at Auckland’s Museum of Transport and Technology (MOTAT) recently, the results are up on Flickr. As a quick reminder, the light being used to illuminate the subjects was being supplied by glowing bacteria growing on large petri dishes. We used a 6 second exposure to take [...]

April 13, 2014

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8:34 PM | NYC restaurant inspection and disclosure program sucks: expert?
Restaurant inspection and disclosure programs like the A, B, C system favored by New York City, has a lot of problems: but I wouldn’t want to be the politician who says, this public health data is too complicated for you, … Continue reading →
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4:02 PM | Hong Kong Detects Their 10th Imported H7N9 Case
H7N9 Awareness Campaign Summer 2013 - Photo credit Hong Kong’s CHP       # 8470           While our attentions are understandably focused these past few days on the MERS-CoV outbreaks in the Middle East,  the H7N9 virus continues to circulate in Eastern China, occasionally infecting humans.   Today, for the third time in the past 9 days, Hong Kong’s CHP is reporting an imported case – their 10th to date. […]
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2:47 PM | Dr. Mackay On HCWs & MERS Infection Rates
Credit Dr. Ian Mackay VDU BLog       # 8470   One of the `red flags’ we’ve looked for over the years with disease outbreaks like SARS and Avian Flu is the number of Health Care Workers (HCWs) that contract the illness.  While HCWs are far more apt to come in contact with infectious patients during an outbreak, they are also (presumably) following infection control protocols that should help to protect them.   I say `Presumably’ […]
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12:19 PM | TWiV 280: Post viral
On episode #280 of the science show This Week in Virology, the TWiVmeisters answer listener email about the NEIDL, negative results, patenting MERS-coronavirus, human papillomavirus transmission, canine distemper virus, and much, much more. You can find TWiV #280 at www.twiv.tv.
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11:04 AM | Referral: VDU Charts Rise In MERS Cases
Coronavirus – Credit CDC PHIL   # 8469   After a brief lull in cases reported in January and early February, the number of MERS cases being reported out of the Middle East over the past couple of months has begun to climb like a homesick angel.    Although the numbers have a tendency to change by the hour now, Dr. Ian Mackay has updated his tracking graph this morning, and provides some commentary.     MERS-CoV update: Case accumulation […]
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10:50 AM | Yemen Reports 1st MERS-CoV Case
# 8468   For several days Sharon Sanders of FluTrackers and I have been discussing vague and unsubstantiated reports (on twitter, and elsewhere) suggesting that there was a MERS case in Yemen, but until this morning they have been only rumors.    Today Reuters, and several other news agencies, are reporting that an aeronautical engineer from Sanaa has been infected with the virus, although very little else has been divulged. This report from Reuters. […]
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10:01 AM | Japan: Detection Of H5 Avian Flu At Poultry Farm
Credit Wikipedia   # 8467   It’s been three years since Japan has had to deal with an H5 avian flu outbreak in poultry or wild birds (see OIE reports 29/06/11 Final report 48089 & 25/06/11 Final report 48022), but that respite appears over as several birds at a poultry farm in Kumamoto Prefecture have tested positive for the avian virus.    The exact subtype has yet to be identified, but any form of H5 influenza is considered a serious threat to […]
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7:04 AM | Proper handwashing requires proper tools
The state government in New South Wales – that’s where Sydney is – has come out with a new push for handwashing as a cornerstone of food safety. I agree. But proper handwashing requires proper tools – vigorous water-flow, soap … Continue reading →
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6:15 AM | Tofu yum: liquid effluent, stagnant water and mice infestation found at illegal UK tofu factory
An illegal tofu factory in Erith has been busted by Bexley Council twice in a month after it was found to be infested with mice. Food safety officers first visited the business, Soy, in Hailey Road on March 18 following … Continue reading →
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5:57 AM | Is there a better name for cross-contamination: kitchen cutting boards remain a source of multidrug-resistant bacteria after use
After handling raw poultry, hands of food preparers and cutting boards remain a source of transmission for multi-drug resistant bacteria, such as E. coli that produce extended-spectrum beta-lactamases (ESBLs). The study of household and hospital kitchens was published in the … Continue reading →
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5:50 AM | Canadian restaurant inspections uncover repeated, major violations
Canada’s (self-proclaimed) biggest analysis of public health inspection reports from national chain restaurants reveals that almost one-in-four inspections has at least one major violation, a CBC Marketplace investigation has found. Major violations, such as improper food handling, inadequate handwashing and … Continue reading →
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5:14 AM | CFIA plays the 99 per cent numbers game
CFIA is getting into the 99 per cent game, usually reserved for hucksters on TV. 99.9 per cent sounds good, but that’s only a 3-log reduction. For food safety purposes, log-5 (99.999 per cent) to log-7 (99.99999 per cent) reductions … Continue reading →
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4:35 AM | Aberdeen’s typhoid outbreak remembered 50 years on
Sheena Blackhall was a 16-year-old schoolgirl when Aberdeen was brought to its knees by the largest typhoid outbreak in recent British history 50 years ago. More than 500 people of all ages had to be quarantined in hospital. The infection … Continue reading →
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4:15 AM | Farm management, hygiene, weather all affect E. coli rates in spinach
The likelihood that a crop of leafy greens will be contaminated by E. coli, an indicator of fecal contamination, before harvest is strongly influenced by both farm management and environmental factors, according to a study spotlighted on the cover of … Continue reading →
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12:14 AM | Letting Time Fly and Remembering...
I haven't blogged for a while, sad to say.  It has been a pretty challenging semester, with my 48 "wild" freshmen, teaching "The Unity of Life" (in other words, introductory cell and molecular biology) here at the University of Puget Sound. My students are smart and capable young women and men, and it's my job to get them thinking like biologists, and to become used to the work ethic and philosophy of science courses---and more specifically, prepare them for the kinds of future courses […]

April 12, 2014

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8:50 PM | 7.6M Quake Solomon Islands: No Pacific Wide Tsunami Expected
Credit USGS      # 8466   A shallow (10km) and fairly large (M7.6 – 7.8) earthquake has struck in the Solomon Islands.  While we are awaiting reports, here is a link and excerpts from the Tsunami bulletins being issued by the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center.     Note: This earthquake was originally reported as an 8.4, but has been downgraded. At this only local warnings have been issued. BASED ON ALL AVAILABLE DATA A DESTRUCTIVE […]
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6:43 PM | Saudi MOH Announces 4 More MERS-CoV Cases In Jeddah
# 8466   The MERS outbreak in Jeddah continues to expand with the announcement this afternoon of an additional four cases. Two (ages 58 & 71) are listed in stable condition, while two others (ages 26 & 39)  are reportedly asymptomatic.   Although the Jeddah cluster began more than two weeks ago, over the past 48 hours we’ve seen 10 new cases announced, bringing the total to over 20 cases.   Both asymptomatic cases and the 58 year-old in stable […]
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3:03 PM | Referral: VDU Blog - Professor Ali Mohamed Zaki On MERS-CoV
Coronavirus – Credit CDC PHIL     # 8465   During the summer of 2012 Egyptian virologist Dr Ali Mohamed Zaki, working at the Virology Laboratory of Dr Soliman Fakeeh Hospital in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia isolated a previously unknown coronavirus from a 60-year old male patient with pneumonia and acute renal failure.  That virus, we know today as MERS-CoV.   The story of his discovery, and eventual `reward’ (he was fired for going public with his […]
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11:47 AM | KSA: Public Health Messaging On MERS
  Credit KSA MOH   # 8464   In my last blog (see MERS-CoV: The Twitter Of Their Discontent) I wrote about some of the dubious medical advice being purveyed by Arabic newspapers and on Twitter for dealing with the MERS Coronavirus.  Luckily, more reasoned public health advice is being promoted as well. An example comes from a widely tweeted link to the following SAAID.net story.   8 important questions of Corona Dr. Mohammed Al-Filali Doctor in […]
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10:57 AM | MERS-CoV: The Twitter Of Their Discontent
  Looking down the rabbit hole     # 8463   Three days ago in MERS, The Twitterverse & MOH Damage Control, I wrote about the outpouring of concern, the proliferation of rumors, and growing criticisms of the Saudi government over the recent surge in MERS coronavirus cases reported in Saudi Arabia on the popular social media platform twitter.   While twitter traffic containing the word   كورونا (`SK’ or […]
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2:16 AM | Norovirus outbreak: why do bad things seem to happen at Chuck E Cheese?
Health officials say they’re seriously concerned about an outbreak of Norovirus linked to a well-known restaurant. Hundreds of people walk through the doors for birthday parties – but when Kelly Green left this Chuck E Cheese’s she was not celebrating. … Continue reading →
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2:09 AM | French court fines former owner, director of Marcel Baey for 2010-2011 Listeria cover-up
A French court condemned the former director of salmon smoker Marcel Baey on April 8 in relation to an investigation into unreported listeria occurrences and misleading marketing material at the company in 2010 and 2011, reported La Voix du Nord. … Continue reading →
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2:01 AM | European Hepatitis A-frozen berry update
More than 1,300 hepatitis A cases have been reported in eleven Member States since January 2013, with 240 confirmed cases related to the ongoing outbreak. Initially the outbreak was associated with people who had travelled to Italy. However seven Member … Continue reading →
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1:57 AM | Health fair attendees stricken with food poisoning
The Rio Grande County Public Health Department in Colorado is investigating an outbreak of food poisoning possibly linked to food that was served at the 9Health Fair in Monte Vista on Saturday, April 5. 9Health Fair says the food at … Continue reading →
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