Tag Archives | Epidemic

CDC Warns ‘We Will Soon Be in a Post-Antibiotic Era’

antibiotic-resistantFor all our technology, will we end up going back to the Dark Ages? Wired Science writes:

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has just published a first-of-its-kind assessment of the threat from antibiotic-resistant organisms, outlining urgent steps that need to be taken.

The agency’s conservative assessment of the problem:

Each year, in the U.S., 2,049,442 illnesses caused by bacteria and fungi that are resistant to at least some classes of antibiotics; Each year, out of those illnesses, 23,000 deaths.

“If we are not careful, we will soon be in a post-antibiotic era,” Dr. Tom Frieden, the CDC’s director, said in a media briefing. “And for some patients and for some microbes, we are already there.”

Out of that matrix, their top three “urgent” threats:

Carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae or CRE, a set of ICU germs that are resistant to almost all antibiotics: 600 deaths per year; Antibiotic-resistant gonorrhea, which currently responds to only one drug: 246,000 infections per year; Clostridium difficile, 14,000 deaths.

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Flesh-Eating Fungus Unexpectedly Killed Five People After Missouri Tornado, Scientists Warn

How society could crumble: chaos sown by flesh-eating fungus attacks in the aftermath of global warming-induced extreme weather. Via EurekAlert!:

A fast growing, flesh-eating fungus killed 5 people following a massive tornado that devastated Joplin, Mo., according to two new studies based on genomic sequencing by the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen) and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Health officials should be aware of infections caused by the fungus Apophysomyces, according to the studies, which tracked 13 people infected by the pathogen during the tornado [which] plowed through Joplin on May 22, 2011, initially killing 160 and injuring more than 1,000.

The common fungus — which lives in soil, wood or water — usually has no effect on people. But once it is introduced deep into the body through a blunt trauma puncture wound, it can grow quickly if the proper medical response is not immediate, the studies said.

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Study Pinpoints JFK, LAX, Hawaii Airports As Disease-Spread Hot Spots

In today’s globally interconnected world, terrifying illnesses from across the sea are just a flight away. These are the airports connecting us to them, via Scientific American:

A new study finds that [JFK and LAX], along with Honolulu International Airport, are the most likely to facilitate the spread of a major pandemic.

Researchers at M.I.T. used real traveler patterns, geographical information and airport waiting times to predict what U.S. airports are most likely to spread an epidemic from its origin.

The surprise is that the key airports are not necessarily the largest or busiest. Previous research had focused on how easily pandemics can spread globally via air travel once they were in late stages. In those cases, the largest and best-connected airports are indeed the deadliest hubs. But the new work shows that in the first 10 days of an epidemic, other travel centers might be the spreading hot spots.

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Warmer Weather May Lead to Uptick in Rabies Cases

Wired.com is calling it the “summer of hate”: An increase in rabies cases may (or may not) be linked to the heatwave enveloping much of the nation:

…health officials also point to 2012’s particularly mild winter. Higher-than-average temperatures likely led common rabies vectors like raccoons and skunks, normally dormant during the cold months, to become more active — which would thereby increase the opportunity for contact between infected and uninfected animals, both within and among species.

Double-check your zombie apocalypse survival kit and read more at wired.com

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Florida Accused Of Keeping Tuberculosis Outbreak Secret

All signs point to Florida being the most likely ground zero for a future zombie apocalypse. The Palm Beach Post reports:

The CDC officer had a serious warning for Florida health officials in April: A tuberculosis outbreak in Jacksonville was one of the worst his group had investigated in 20 years.

As health officials in Tallahassee turned their focus to restructuring, Dr. Robert Luo’s 25-page report describing Jacksonville’s outbreak — and the measures needed to contain it – went unseen by key decision makers around the state.

That report had been penned on April 5, exactly nine days after Florida Gov. Rick Scott signed the bill that shrank the Department of Health and required the closure of the A.G. Holley State Hospital in Lantana, where tough tuberculosis cases have been treated for more than 60 years.

Had they seen the letter, decision makers would have learned that 3,000 people in the past two years may have had close contact with contagious people at Jacksonville’s homeless shelters, an outpatient mental health clinic and area jails.

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Mystery Kidney Disease Epidemic in Central America

Central AmericaKate Sheehy reports for PRI’s The World:

In the western lowlands of Nicaragua, in a region of vast sugarcane fields, sits the tiny community of La Isla.The small houses are a patchwork of concrete and wood. Pieces of cloth serve as doors.

Maudiel Martinez emerges from his house to greet me. He’s pale, and his cheekbones protrude from his face. He hunches over like an old man — but he is only 19-years-old.

“The way this sickness is — you see me now, but in a month I could be gone. It can take you down all of a sudden,” he says. Maudiel’s kidneys are failing. They do not perform the essential function of filtering waste from his body. He’s being poisoned from the inside. When he got ill two years ago, he was already familiar with this disease and how it might end. “I thought about my father and grandfather,” he says.

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Mass Fainting Epidemics Strike Cambodian Factories

110824_5A subtle form of protest? A mysterious ailment? Workers keep spontaneously fainting en masse at Cambodian clothing factories (where, if you were wondering, they are paid 30 cents an hour to sew clothing for global brands). The Phnom Penh Post reports:

Another mass fainting incident struck a garment factory yesterday, this time in the provincial capital of Kampong Chhnang where more than 100 workers at M&V factory collapsed, company and union representatives said yesterday. Staff began falling to the factory floor at about 9:00am. A factory supplying sportswear giant Puma was hit by fainting twice this year: at the end of last month and in April.

“We don’t know why they fainted.” Company representative Un Chhan Teak said there was no connection between the mass fainting and working conditions, and that the fainting was a result of shock. After one or two women collapsed, the others panicked and followed suit, he explained.

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UN Asks The World To Put An End To AIDS By 2020

AIDSUNWith numerous research groups inching closer to a cure for AIDS, the United Nations asks that leaders throughout the world end the pandemic by 2020. While one of the largest problems in the spread of AIDS is the lack of knowledge about the disease and access to treatment in certain areas, there is also a lack of funding to facilities that are on a progressive path towards a cure, but are stopped because of finances. The Christian Post reports:

World leaders must do everything in their power to end the AIDS pandemic by 2020, the U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has said at the U.N. Summit on AIDS in New York.

“Today, we gather to end AIDS,” Ban said as the United Nations General Assembly opened on Wednesday.

The three-day summit is being held as the world marks the 30th anniversary since HIV was first discovered. Ban told delegates gathered from across the world that AIDS must end: “That is our goal – zero new infections, zero stigma and zero AIDS-related deaths.”

Ban urged: “If we are to relegate AIDS to the history books we must be bold.

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Morgellons: A Hidden Epidemic Or Mass Hysteria?

morgellons_picsIs Morgellons disease from out of this world or all in our heads? Will Storr from the Guardian writes:

It all started in August 2007, on a family holiday in New England. Paul had been watching Harry Potter And The Order Of The Phoenix with his wife and two sons, and he had started to itch. His legs, his arms, his torso – it was everywhere. It must be fleas in the seat, he decided.

But the 55-year-old IT executive from Birmingham has been itching ever since, and the mystery of what is wrong with him has only deepened. When Paul rubbed his fingertips over the pimples that dotted his skin, he felt spines. Weird, alien things, like splinters. Then, in 2008, his wife was soothing his back with surgical spirit when the cotton swab she was using gathered a curious blue-black haze from his skin. Paul went out, bought a £40 microscope and examined the cotton.

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