Tag Archives | viruses

Unraveling The Stuxnet Virus

From Patrick Clair a year ago, a quick and excellent look at the troubling Stuxnet virus. It has since been confirmed that the United States and Israel were behind its use against Iran's nuclear facilities. The question is now, what have we unleashed?
An infographic dissecting the nature and ramifications of Stuxnet, the first weapon made entirely out of code. This was produced for Australian TV program HungryBeat.  
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Beware of the Superspreaders

"Typhoid" Mary Mallon

Modern day Typhoid Marys are on the loose! Carrie Arnold describes the dangers for Slate:

If germs hung a recruiting sign for their hosts, it would probably be a version of the World War I poster of Uncle Sam pointing: We want YOU to help us reproduce. All hosts were equally eligible for service, infectious-disease researchers thought. Assuming the recruits weren’t immune due to a prior infection or vaccination, anyone should have roughly the same potential to spread a disease’s pathogens. But then came severe acute respiratory syndrome, or SARS.

This pandemic started as just another strange pneumonia from southern China, but in 2003 it turned into a global outbreak that infected 8,098 people and killed 774. Key to the disease’s spread, researchers found, was a small but crucial portion of the population that became known as “superspreaders,” people who transmitted the infection to a much greater than expected number of new hosts.

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Don’t Panic Yet, But Ebola Could Go Airborne

Picture: Dr. Lyle Conrad/CDC (PD)

Via ScienceNews:

The Ebola virus can spread through the air from pigs to macaques, a new study suggests.

Transmission of the virus — which causes an often fatal hemorrhagic fever in people and primates — was thought to require direct contact with body fluids from an infected animal or person. But in the new study, published online November 15 in Scientific Reports, piglets infected with Ebola passed the virus to macaques housed in the same room even though the animals never touched.

“The evidence that the virus got from a pig to a monkey through a respiratory route is good,” says Glenn Marsh, a molecular virologist at the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization’s Animal Health Laboratory in Geelong, Australia. Marsh was not involved in the new study but has investigated Ebola and other viruses in pigs.

Although pigs transmitted Ebola in the laboratory, there is still no evidence that anyone has been sickened from contact with infected pigs in Africa, where the virus occurs naturally, or that the virus passes through the air under normal conditions, says study coauthor Gary Kobinger, an infectious disease researcher at the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg, Canada.

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UK Man Diagnosed with “Congo Fever” Dies

Picture: CDC (PD)

A 38-year old British man who was diagnosed with Crimean-Congo Viral Hemorrhagic Fever, commonly referred to as Congo Fever, has died after being transported to the Gartnavel General Hospital in Glasgow. He was admitted to the hospital’s Brownlee unit, which specializes in infectious diseases,

National Health Services has identified four passengers who were possibly seated near the man during the flight. Of the four people contacted, two will be monitored on a daily basis and the other two are considered not to be in need of further observation. Any airline, airport or NHS staff who came in contact with the man will also be monitored.

CCVHF is zoonotic, meaning it is a disease most commonly found in animals but capable of being transmitted to humans. Since CCVHF is not airborne, infection can only be caused by direct contact with infected blood or body fluid, making human-to-human infection extremely rare.There is no safe vaccine for the virus, and mortality rate among those infected ranges from 10 to 40%.… Read the rest

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Ebola Outbreak in Uganda

Photo Credit: Thomas W. Geisbert, Boston University School of Medicine

Via the BBC:

Public health officials in Uganda are battling an outbreak of the deadly Ebola Virus. There have been 14 confirmed deaths at the time of this writing:

Officials say most are linked to one family, who may have contracted the virus while attending a funeral.

Another suspected infection, at Kampala’s Mulago hospital, is also being investigated by doctors, says the BBC’s Catherine Byaruhanga in the capital.

Ebola is one of the world’s most virulent diseases. A form of hemorrhagic fever,  Ebola can incubate for up to three weeks before symptoms emerge, which begin with fever, rashes and head and body aches followed by bloody vomit and almost always death.  There’s no cure, and 90 percent of those infected die within two weeks of the onset of symptoms.

While an international outbreak is always a possibility in the age of global travel, most Ebola outbreaks end very quickly.… Read the rest

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