Tag Archives | plague

World’s Largest Cicada Brood Begins Hatching In U.S. South

cicadasIf the world is going to end this coming weekend, this seems about right. USA Today notes:

Here comes the Brood. An enormous brood of cicadas that covers parts of 16 states is beginning to wake from its 13-year slumber underground.

The inch-long insects have been reported hatching in South Carolina, Georgia, Mississippi, North Carolina and Arkansas. They will appear farther north as soil temperatures reach 64 degrees.

“There are billions of them in the trees,” Greta Beekhuis says, speaking by phone from Pittsboro, N.C. The sound of the cicadas is clearly audible over the line. “When I drove from my house to the grocery store, I ran over thousands of them. They’re everywhere. The air is just thick with them.”

Scientists call these cicadas the Great Southern Brood or Brood XIX. It is the world’s largest “periodical” brood, one that surfaces after years.

Cicadas aren’t dangerous, and are non-toxic and even edible, says Kritsky, a biology professor at the College of Mount St.

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The Plague Returns!

Man with bubonic plague.

Man with bubonic plague.

I thought that the plague had been eradicated in the Old World of Europe centuries ago. Shows how much I know – it’s back, in New Mexico of all places. Phillip Caulfield reports for the Daily News:

A 58-year-old man in New Mexico was recently treated for bubonic plague, the first case of the disease formerly known as “Black Death” to surface in 2011.

Health officials in Santa Fe said the unidentified man spent a week in the hospital after suffering high fever, intense pain in his stomach and groin and swollen lymph nodes.

He was treated and released, but officials would not say when.

The results of blood tests released Thursday confirmed the man had bubonic plague, officials said.

Doctors said the man was most likely bitten by a flea carrying the plague bacteria, the most common method of transmission to humans.

Rat-borne fleas can carry the bacterium, and humans can also catch the disease from contact with infected rodents or animals.

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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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Will Nanotechnology Save Us From Drug-Resistant Bacteria?

staphThe future: injecting tiny nanoparticles into our bodies to fight the superbugs against which our immune systems are powerless. How could that ever go wrong? Via Technology Review:

Researchers at IBM are designing nanoparticles that kill bacteria by poking holes in them. The scientists hope that the microbes are less likely to develop resistance to this type of drug, which means it could be used to combat the emerging problem of antibiotic resistance.

IBM’s labs aren’t equipped for biological tests, so the researchers collaborated with Yi Yan Yang at the Singapore Institute of Bioengineering and Nanotechnology to test the nanoparticles. They found that the nanoparticles could burst open and kill gram-positive bacteria, a large class of microbes that includes drug-resistant staph. The nanoparticles also killed fungi.

The IBM researchers believe the drug could be injected intravenously to treat people with life-threatening infections. Or it could be made into a gel that could be applied to wounds to treat or prevent infection.

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Losing The War Against Drug-Resistant Superbugs

NEWS-US-ANTIBIOTICSWe’ve all heard warnings that overuse of antibiotics would breed drug-resistant superbugs, but the day of reckoning seems to be approaching faster than anyone anticipated, and science is at a loss for what to do. The pharmaceutical industry is proving to be little help, having abandoned the field of medicines that cure things for the golden revenue flow of drugs that individuals consume chronically until death (e.g. antidepressants and cholesterol-controlling medicine). Are we headed for a future of human helplessness against bacterial plagues, as in the Middle Ages? Via News Daily:

Welcome to a world where the drugs don’t work. For decades scientists have managed to develop new medicines to stay at least one step ahead of an ever-mutating enemy.

Now, though, we may be running out of road. MRSA alone is estimated to kill around 19,000 people every year in the United States — far more than HIV and AIDS — and a similar number in Europe.

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Latest Mass Animal Death: Crickets

millions-of-crickets-dying-in-zoospet-stores-arou-31727-1294845607-2I’m not sure how many signs of the apocalypse we’ve now experienced this season, but it’s a high tally. In the latest disturbing mass wildlife die-off, MSNBC reports that a paralyzing virus is killing crickets by the million:

A virus has killed millions of crickets raised to feed pet reptiles and those kept in zoos. The cricket paralysis virus has disrupted supplies to pet shops across North America as a handful of operators have seen millions of their insects killed.

Some operations have gone bankrupt and others have closed indefinitely until they can rid their facilities of the virus.

Cricket farms started in the 1940s as a source of fish bait, but the bulk of sales now are to pet supply companies, reptile owners and zoos, although people also eat some. Most U.S. farms are in the South, but suppliers from Pennsylvania to California also raise crickets.

The virus had swept through European cricket farms in 2002.

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U.S. To Drop Drug-Filled Mice On Guam To Kill Snakes

treesnakeThe government is fighting the out-of-control scourge of brown tree snakes in Guam’s jungles by showering the island with drug-filled mouse carcasses. The rain of dead mice mostly like fulfills some biblical prophesies as well. National Geographic reports:

Dead mice packed with drugs were recently airdropped into Guam’s dense jungle canopy—part of a new effort to kill an invasive species of snake on the U.S. Pacific island territory.

In the U.S. government-funded project, tablets of concentrated acetaminophen, the active ingredient in Tylenol, are placed in dead thumb-size mice, which are then used as bait for brown tree snakes.

Only about 80 milligrams of acetaminophen—equal to a child’s dose of Tylenol—are needed to kill an adult brown tree snake. Once ingested via a dead mouse, it typically takes about 60 hours for the drug to kill a snake.

Inadvertently introduced to Guam (map) from the Solomon Islands after World War II, brown tree snakes are responsible for the extinction or severe reduction of several of the island’s native species.

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Ukraine: Influenza or Pneumonic Plague? The Situation is Getting Worse and Worse

Is this for real? From KavkazCenter.com:

Ukrainian News Agency “Fraza” reported that, according to informed sources, “it has been confirmed 100 % Pneumonic Plague in Ukraine”.

The Agency asserts that “the head physician of the medical institutions has sent out an informal disposal – not to sow panic, to refute the information about the plague, and to speak only of swine influenza”.

It is also required to distribute masks at health facilities with 8 levels of protection and anti-plague protection costumes. There is also an informal order not to allow any visitors to see the patients.

According to the “Fraza” agency, “today in Ukraine pneumonic plague is going in parallel with swine flu. The plague has killed over 60 people, and about 14 from the flu.

Meanwhile, the press service of the Ministry of Health of Ukraine reported that there is only one death from “California” virus A/N1N1 in Ukraine.

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