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Unprecedented plagues hit oranges and bananas

oranges
© unknown
What is causing all of these plagues to hit our food supply? Have you heard of citrus greening disease? Probably not, but it has already gotten so bad that it is being projected that Florida's orange harvest will be the smallest in 30 years. Have you heard of TR4? Probably not, but it has become such a nightmare that some analysts believe that it could eventually wipe out the entire global supply of the type of bananas that Americans eat. In addition, another major plague is killing millions of our pigs, and a crippling drought that never seems to end is absolutely devastating agricultural production in the state of California. Are we just having bad luck, or is there something else to all of this?

Citrus greening disease has been a steadily growing problem that has reached epidemic levels this year. Because of this disease, the U.S. Department of Agriculture is projecting that orange production in the U.S. this year will be down 18 percent compared to last year. Here is more on this horrible plague from Yahoo News...
A citrus disease spread by a tiny insect has devastated Florida's orange crop, which is expected to be the worst in nearly 30 years, and sent juice prices soaring on New York markets.

The culprit? The gnat-sized Asian citrus psyllid, which is infecting citrus trees across the Sunshine State with huanglongbing, or citrus greening disease, which causes fruit to taste bitter and fall from trees too soon.

"It feels we are losing the fight," said Ellis Hunt, the head of a family-run citrus farm spread over about 5,000 acres (2,000 hectares) in the central Florida town of Lake Wales.
2 + 2 = 4

Study: antibiotic-resistant MRSA 'Superbug' found in US homes

© Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images
Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) is a bacteria that is resistant to many of the strongest antibiotics, and although recent prevalence has been limited to hospitals and nursing homes, a new study of 161 New York City residents who contracted the MRSA infections finds that the these people’s homes were “major reservoirs” for the bacteria strains.
An anti-biotic resistant "superbug" that has long affected hospitals and other health care locations around the world has now found a new "reservoir" location: inside U.S. homes.

Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) is a bacteria that is resistant to many of the strongest antibiotics, and although recent prevalence has been limited to hospitals and nursing homes, a new study of 161 New York City residents who contracted the MRSA infections finds that the these people's homes were "major reservoirs" for the bacteria strains, HealthDay reports.
Whistle

Scientists identify a new variant of Ebola virus in Guinea

ebola lab
© Inserm / Guénet François
This image shows Jean Mérieux-Inserm BSL-4 Laboratory, Lyon
In an article which appeared in The New England journal of Medicine on 16 April, researchers from Inserm (Jean Mérieux-Inserm BSL-4 Laboratory, Lyon) and the Institut Pasteur have published their initial findings on the characteristics of the Ebola virus discovered in Guinea. Initial virological investigations enabled them to identify Zaire ebolavirus as the pathogen responsible for this epidemic.

Performed in less than a month, sequencing of the complete genome and subsequent phylogenetic analysis show that the virus present in Guinea forms a clade (variant) that is distinct from strains previously identified in the Democratic Republic of Congo and in Gabon. Epidemiological investigations also linked the laboratory confirmed cases with the initial deaths recorded during the December 2013 outbreak.

Ebola virus is a lethal, highly contagious virus for which there is presently no treatment. The symptoms are somewhat non-specific, and include fever, severe diarrhoea and vomiting. Between 30 and 90% of those infected with this organism die as a result.

On 2 April 2014, the World Health Organisation (WHO), in a communiqué published by the UN, reported that it had recorded 5 new cases of Ebola fever in Guinea. Since January, the total number of suspected and confirmed cases of Ebola fever in the present outbreak in Guinea is 127, with 83 deaths, according to WHO, which states that 35 cases were confirmed by laboratory testing.
Health

Greece confirms first MERS coronavirus case

© Reuters / Stefan Wermuth
Greece's first confirmed Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) patient is reportedly in critical condition, according to doctors. Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia's health minister has been sacked without explanation as the country's death toll climbs to 81.

The 69-year-old Greek patient contracted the deadly MERS coronavirus in Saudi Arabia, where he is a permanent resident. The man returned from Saudi Arabia to Greece on April 17. The Greek Health Ministry confirmed to AP that it was there he fell sick.

Saudi Arabia has suffered the most fatalities from MERS so far and has been the site of most recorded cases. Upon the man's return to Greece, he started running a high fever and tested positive for MERS.
Health

Battling Ebola in West Africa


Samaritan's Purse is sling loading ebola isolation ward kits from Gueckedou, Guinea, to Foya, Liberia, for set-up of the isolation ward.
Samaritan's Purse works with the Liberian government to prevent the spread of the deadly Ebola virus

Two nurses in Liberia are among the 135 people who have died from the virulent Ebola virus that is sweeping across West Africa. The nurses worked at Foya Boma Hospital, near the border of Guinea, where the outbreak originated before spreading to Liberia.

Ebola is one of the deadliest viruses in the world, killing up to 90 percent of those infected. There is no cure or vaccine. The only way to stop it is to keep it from spreading.

Samaritan's Purse is partnering with Liberia's Ministry of Health to contain the outbreak. We are conducting public education and awareness campaigns in Lofa, River Gee, Gbarpulu, and Nimba counties and in Monrovia, the capital city and location of our field office.

So far, we have reached more than 140,000 people in 445 communities with Ebola awareness and prevention messaging. Hygiene items, including buckets, cups, and soap, have also been distributed.
Health

West African Ebola outbreak caused by new strain of disease

An Ebola outbreak blamed for 135 deaths in West Africa in the past month was not imported from Central Africa but caused by a new strain of the disease, a study in a U.S. medical journal said, raising the specter of further regional epidemics.
ebola virus mikroskopaufnahme
© dpa
The spread of Ebola from a remote corner of Guinea to the capital and into neighboring Liberia, the first deadly outbreak reported in West Africa, has caused panic across a region struggling with weak healthcare systems and porous borders.

Ebola is endemic to Democratic Republic of Congo, Uganda, South Sudan and Gabon, and scientists initially believed that Central Africa's Zaire strain of the virus was responsible for the outbreak.

Using analysis of blood samples from infected patients, however, researchers determined that while the Guinean form of the Ebola virus (EBOV) showed a 97 percent similarity to the Zaire strain, the disease was not introduced from Central Africa.

"This study demonstrates the emergence of a new EBOV strain in Guinea," wrote the group of more than 30 doctors and scientists, who published their preliminary findings on the website of the New England Journal of Medicine.

There is no vaccine or cure for Ebola - a hemorrhagic fever with a fatality rate of up to 90 percent that causes symptoms ranging from flu-like pains to internal and external bleeding caused by kidney and liver failure. Its suspected origin is forest bats and it can be transmitted between humans by touching victims or through bodily fluids.

"It is possible that EBOV has circulated undetected in this region for some time. The emergence of the virus in Guinea highlights the risk of EBOV outbreaks in the whole West African subregion," the report continued.

Comment: Don't forget to check:

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Attention

Deadly MERS virus spikes in Saudi Arabia; 20 new cases reported

© Reuters/Faisal Al Nasser
Saudi Health Minister Abdullah al-Rabia speaks during a news conference in Riyadh, April 20, 2014.
Saudi Arabia confirmed 20 new cases of the deadly Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) virus on Saturday and Sunday, meaning that 49 new cases have been registered in the span of only six days. Further cases were announced in the United Arab Emirates.

MERS is a SARS-like disease which kills approximately one-third of people that become infected. There is currently no cure for it. It was first discovered in Saudi Arabia two years ago and has so far infected 244 people. Seventy-six of those have died, according to the country's Health Ministry.

However, Health Minister Abdullah al-Rabia told reporters on Sunday that there has not yet been any scientific justification for further cautionary measures such as the implementation of travel restrictions.
Ambulance

Saudi Arabia reports increase in deadly MERS virus cases

Saudi health workers
© FAYEZ NURELDINE/AFP/Getty Images
Saudi medical staff leave the emergency department at a hospital in the center of the Saudi capital Riyadh on April 8, 2014. The health ministry reported four more MERS cases in Jeddah, two of them among health workers, prompting authorities to close the emergency department at the city's King Fahd Hospital
Saudi Arabia has confirmed seven new cases of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), adding up to 36 infections in five days, a sudden increase of a disease that kills about a third of the people infected and has no cure.

MERS, a SARS-like novel coronavirus that emerged in Saudi Arabia two years ago, has infected 231 people in the kingdom, of whom 76 have died, the Health Ministry said on its website.

Meanwhile, another cluster of cases has been detected in the United Arab Emirates, and a Malaysian who was recently in the Gulf has been confirmed as infected, his country said.

MERS has no vaccine or anti-viral treatment, but international and Saudi health authorities say the disease, which originated in camels, does not transmit easily between people and may simply die out.
Health

New MRSA superbug discovered in Brazil

superbug
© Wikimedia Commons
An international research team led by Cesar A. Arias, M.D., Ph.D., at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth) has identified a new superbug that caused a bloodstream infection in a Brazilian patient. The report appeared in the April 17 issue of The New England Journal of Medicine.

The new superbug is part of a class of highly-resistant bacteria known as methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus or MRSA, which is a major cause of hospital and community-associated infections. The superbug has also acquired high levels of resistance to vancomycin, the most common and least expensive antibiotic used to treat severe MRSA infections worldwide.

Most worrisome is that genomic analyses indicated that this novel vancomycin-resistant MRSA superbug belongs to a genetic lineage that is commonly found outside hospitals (designated community-associated MRSA), said Arias, the report's senior author and an associate professor of medicine, microbiology and molecular genetics at the UTHealth Medical School.
Health

Twenty in Middle East infected with MERS corona virus; spread to Southeast Asia

© Press TV
The Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV) seen under an electron microscope.
Deadly disease spreads to Southeast Asia via infected passenger flew from Saudi Arabia, and there are fears it could be a SARS-like event

A recent spate of infections from a frequently deadly Middle East virus is raising new worries about efforts to contain the illness, with infectious disease experts urging greater vigilance in combatting its spread.

More than 20 people, many of them health-care workers, have been reported infected with the Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus in two distinct clusters - one in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates - likely involving human-to-human transmission since early last week.

The disease, originally identified in 2012 in the Middle East, has also for the first time spread to the Far East, which grappled with an outbreak of the related SARS virus last decade.

"The last two weeks have put us into uncharted territory," said Michael Osterholm, an infectious disease expert at the University of Minnesota.

Comment:
U.S. says deadly MERS (coronavirus) could affect national security
More MERS-CoV (coronavirus) deaths reported as clusters are profiled

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