Strange Sounds – December 8, 2017
Except that the really real Spanish Flu also jumped to humans from birds. For reference, the Spanish Flu pandemic of 1918 was the worst global disease outbreak since the Black Death, and easily one of the worst in history. It killed up to five percent of the world’s population, and the only reason it doesn’t occupy a lot of space in high school history books is because it got overshadowed by another disaster happening at the time: World War I. Leave it to humans to be self-absorbed when it comes to wiping out humans.
Since 2013, 1,364 people have come down with H7N9, and 40% of them have died, mainly from respiratory and organ failure. While we’re busy not caring about it, it’s getting better at spreading among humans. But even if this one doesn’t catch on, the next one will. Or the next one. The flu itself isn’t the big problem, it’s that we’re completely unprepared for another big pandemic.
For one thing, the world has a much higher population today than it did a century ago, which means that there are more of us packed more closely together, making us a flu version of an all-you-can-eat buffet. We also travel much more easily than we used to, which means that diseases have a much easier time getting around the world quickly. On top of that, the systems in place to prevent such tragedies have grown so complacent about the risks that, as evidenced by the Ebola situation, they’re slow to act.
Mac Slavo – November 28, 2017
The Medical Unit in London, Ontario, Canada had declared nine people have died from a bacterial infection outbreak. The outbreak, declared eighteen months ago, has been slowly getting worse.
The Middlesex-London Health Unit says more than 132 cases of infection have been reported since April 1, 2016. Of those cases, 22 percent required treatment in intensive care, 15 percent had Streptococcal Toxic Shock Syndrome and 15 percent had necrotizing fasciitis – also called “flesh-eating” disease.
The bacteria are spread by direct contact with nose and throat secretions from an infected person, or by direct contact with infected wounds or sores on the skin. While the infections can occur year-round, the health unit said Monday that the number of infections tends to increase during the winter.
Associate Medical Officer of Health Dr. Gayane Hovhannisyan said about half of the cases have been among injection drug users and/or people without access to stable housing. However, Hovhannisyan said the alert has been issued because the health unit is seeing an increase in infections among people who have no connection to the outbreak.
CBS Philadelphia – November 30, 2017
CBS Local — U.S. health officials are bracing for a devastating flu season this winter that many people won’t even be able to ward off with their annual flu shot.
The possibility of a “flu-pocalypse” is being talked about after record numbers of patients were diagnosed with influenza in Australia, whose flu season just ended. In a recent study published in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM), a group of infectious disease doctors say that Australia’s vaccination against the flu was only effective 10 percent of the time this year.
“What happened is, in the development of the vaccine, as we grow it in eggs, the virus itself mutated a bit, so that there was almost an accidental mismatch purely on the basis of the virus trying to adapt itself to growing in eggs,” Dr. Anthony Fauci told WTOP. “That’s what happened in Australia and it is likely that that’s what we’re going to see here.”
Mac Slavo – November 28, 2017
Scarlet fever cases are now at 50-year-high sparking concerns for researchers, as they are baffled as to how “Victorian-era” diseases are making a comeback. The disease has been on the rise since 2014, and researchers are failing to find the cause.
Scarlet fever hit its highest level in England for 50 years, with more than 17,000 cases reported in 2016 according to research in the Lancet. The infection is most common in children under the age of 10 and although highly contagious (being spread easily with a cough) is easily cured with a round of antibiotics. But that, in and of itself, raises concerns of the disease becoming resistant to antibiotics, creating a global pandemic.
Doctors are urging the public to be aware of symptoms, which include a rosy rash, and seek help from their doctor. Data for 2017 suggests the rate of infection may be falling, but experts remain cautious, saying it is “too early to tell.” Normally, first world nations have a better chance of handling an outbreak such as this, but England is on the verge of losing control over this scarlet fever outbreak.
Derrick Broze – November 27, 2017
In early November the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) approved the use of mosquitoes which have been genetically engineered to carry a common bacterium designed to kill mosquitoes that carry dangerous viruses. The news was reported in Nature, and later confirmed to Gizmodo by MosquitoMate, the company behind the GE mosquitoes, and the EPA. The EPA said they officially registered MosquitoMate’s Asian Tiger mosquito with a five-year license to sell their lab mosquitoes in 20 states across the nation.
On 3 November, the agency told biotechnology start-up MosquitoMate that it could release the bacterium Wolbachia pipientis into the environment as a tool against the Asian tiger mosquito (Aedes albopictus). Lab-reared mosquitoes will deliver the bacterium to wild mosquito populations.
The decision — which the EPA has not formally announced — allows the company, which is based in Lexington, Kentucky, to release the bacteria-infected mosquitoes in 20 US states and Washington DC.
The goal is to have MosquitoMate release the Wolbachia-infected A. albopictus male mosquitoes into the wild to mate with wild females in the hopes that the fertilized eggs do not hatch due to faulty paternal chromosomes. As with all mosquitoes, the laboratory grown male mosquitoes do not bite. MosquitoMate believes that over time the infected males will help shrink the population of A. albopictus mosquitoes.
Rachel O’Donoghue – November 26, 2017
THE PLAGUE outbreak that has gripped Madagascar must be brought under control amid fears of a fourth pandemic, a top scientist has warned.
Epidemiology expert Professor Allen Cheng said it is crucial to stop the spread amid claims the disease has reached “crisis point” with over five months to go until the end of plague season.
The medieval disease has swept through Madagascar, infecting thousands of people and killing hundreds in the worst outbreak of the Black Death in 50 years.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) described the outbreak as “uncharacteristic” and drastic measures have been put in place to stop it spreading.
This has included closing schools and sending supplies and medical officials to affected regions.
Maria Ramirez – November 24, 2017
CIUDAD GUAYANA, Venezuela (Reuters) – On a recent morning in Venezuela’s southern jungle state of Bolivar, Amanda Santamaria, her two sons, one daughter-in-law, and a granddaughter lined up in front of a shabby community health center in the hope of receiving treatment for malaria.
All five of them are afflicted by the mosquito-borne disease, which is rapidly spreading through Venezuela as an economic meltdown strips the country of medicine and doctors.
“We don’t know if this is a curse, but the entire area is awash in malaria,” said Santamaria, 56, suffering her second bout of the illness in the last three months and relying on palliative herbal teas because she has not found regular drugs.
The family was waiting with some 500 others under the scorching sun in the hope of receiving treatment.
Unsanitary conditions in Bolivar are thought to have led to a recent flare-up in malaria, a life-threatening disease that had been largely brought under control in Venezuela in the 1990s.
TruNews – November 20, 2017
This past summer, an outbreak of a treatable, but deadly, disease appeared in San Diego, and despite the best efforts of public health officials, it’s spiraling out of control.
In the early 1970s, reported cases of Hepatitis A numbered nearly 10,000 a year, but after the U.S. began pushing vaccination efforts, particularly among those most at risk—intravenous drug users, the homeless, and homosexual men—that number fell to just a handful each year. As of this writing, however, there have been nearly 550 cases and 20 deaths reported in San Diego alone since June.
The last time San Diego saw such high numbers was in the 1990s, most of which were symptomless cases involving children in families with poor hygiene. Eric McDonald, the medical director for San Diego County Public Health Services’ epidemiology program, told WIRED magazine the epidemiology has changed substantially this year:
“We have had only one pediatric case, somebody who had not gotten an immunization. All of our other cases are over 25 years old, and the average age is 44.”
Alex Thomas – November 18, 2017
Patients in Madagascar who are currently suffering from the plague have “escaped” multiple hospitals in the area over fears of needles and hospital treatment as a whole, according to a shocking report in The Sun newspaper.
Security guards with at least one hospital have been tasked with forcefully keeping black death patients in the hospital as well as following the strict safety procedures set up in an attempt to quell the outbreak.
The Sun reported:
Officials at the hospital say the main reason why patients run away is that they are scared of needles and don’t have much experience of hospitals.
Jean Benoit Manhes, the deputy representative of Unicef, told the Irish Times: “Some escaped because they’re afraid of needles. People here are not used to the hospital.
“The problem of plague is not just a medical response. You can have hospitals but if people don’t come it isn’t enough.”
Mac Slavo – November 14, 2017
The death toll in Madagascar due to the plague has jumped for the first time since health officials claimed the infection was in the beginning stages of control. With the new uptick in those who died, the fear that the disease will spread to the United Kingdom has been confirmed as “100 percent likely.”
The plague death toll has now shown signs that it’s picking up speed again. Official figures reveal 165 people have now lost their lives in Madagascar’s “worst outbreak in 50 years.” Recent data shows a 15 percent jump in fatalities over just three days, coupled with scientists concerned that the black death has reached a “crisis” point. Ten other African countries have also been placed on high alert, warning that an outbreak could occur at any time.
At least 2,034 people have been infected down by a more lethal form of the black death so far in the country, which lies off the coast of Africa, according to WHO statistics. Some experts fear the disease (which is so deadly because it is airborne) could mutate and become untreatable during this year’s outbreak – which is expected to blight Madagascar until April. Others worry the plague will go beyond mainland Africa and eventually reach the US, Europe, and Britain.