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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

Syringe

Faulty logic: We should worry about measles outbreaks 'seeded' by unvaccinated people because of an outbreak caused by a vaccinated person

Measles vaccine
© John Woudstra
According to a recent report in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases, a measles outbreak in New York City in 2011 started with a fully-vaccinated individual. The first person infected was a young woman who had previously received two doses of the measles vaccine. She transmitted the infection to four other people, all of whom "had either two doses of measles-containing vaccine or a past positive measles IgG antibody."

Of the five people infected in the outbreak, three had records showing that they had received all recommended doses of the measles vaccine. The other two "showed signs of previous measles exposure that should have conferred immunity," according to an article in the magazine Science.

The authors of the Clinical Infectious Diseases report concluded that "[t]his outbreak underscores the need for thorough epidemiologic and laboratory investigation of suspected measles cases regardless of vaccination status."
Beaker

French scientists lose over 2,000 vials of SARS virus samples

scientist
© French scientists said they have misplaced some deadly SARS virus
A routine inventory at the prestigious French research body Institut Pasteur in Paris revealed it has lost some 2,300 tubes containing samples of the potentially deadly SARS virus.

France's distinguished Institut Pasteur, which was among the first to isolate HIV in the 1980s, admitted on Monday that it has lost some 2,349 vials containing samples of the deadly SARS virus.

During a recent inventory researchers realized the vials were unaccounted for and so called in France's drug and health safety agency "l'Agence nationale de sécurité du médicament et des produits de santé" to help with the search, according to a statement from Institut Pasteur.

The drug and health safety people spent four days, from April 4th-12th, doing an 'in depth' investigation at the unnamed lab in question and came up empty handed as well.
Bug

Deadly yellow fever mosquito resurfaces in California

© CBS
Yellow Fever Mosquito, or aedes egypti
A deadly mosquito that hasn't been widely seen in the Bay Area since the 1970s has been detected in San Mateo County.

It's called Aedes aegypti and it was found in January at the Holy Cross cemetery in Menlo Park.

It's the mosquito that spreads yellow fever, chicken fever, the dengue fever and other diseases. Officials call it "one of the worst most effective vectors of disease around the world."

The mosquito is tiny and its bite is hardly noticeable. Unlike other mosquitoes, it bites during the day.
Arrow Up

The benefits of having a fever

fever kid
© unknown
Most of our society lives with the idea that health is a state of "feeling good," and "not being sick or diseased." We fear contact with bacteria, virus, and other microorganisms. We use anti-bacterial soap, sprays, pills, potions, & lotions. We are constantly "gearing up," for the next big flu pandemic, etc.

In traditional cultures, fevers were always well respected and understood. Most people knew that the fever would build up and then break, much like a wave rolling into shore. Now, our society tries to suppress the fever immediately using antipyretics, or substances that lower temperature.

These antipyretics include acetaminophen and ibuprofen. These quickly lower the temperature but they also silence the body and hinder the development of the immune system. This allows the invading organisms to survive and contribute to the formation of chronic disease.
Health

Germs from coughs and sneezes travel further than previously thought

sneeze
© unknown
When you are sick, practicing social distancing techniques not only protects you from the crowds, it protects the crowds from you. If one actually falls ill, the best thing to do from a public health standpoint is not brave it through the illness to get to work, but self-quarantine at home to prevent the spread of the virus. You may not realize it, but that multiphase turbulent buoyant cloud you're about to expel in a sneeze of cough have associated gas clouds that keep their potentially infectious droplets aloft over much greater distances than previously realized, say MIT researchers.

"When you cough or sneeze, you see the droplets, or feel them if someone sneezes on you," says John Bush, a professor of applied mathematics at MIT, and co-author of a new paper on the subject. "But you don't see the cloud, the invisible gas phase. The influence of this gas cloud is to extend the range of the individual droplets, particularly the small ones."

Coughs

Researchers have illuminated the flows of coughs with powerful lasers and fancy photo techniques through the use of powerful computers to model this flow of thousands of tiny particles. They've used heated manikins and cough machines in rooms filled with tiny droplets of olive oil or theatrical smoke to track how air moves, where breath goes, and how exposed we are to someone else's cough.
Question

Mystery illness strikes scores of French pupils

Mystery illness
© Jean-Philippe Ksiazek/AFP
A mystery illness has struck hundreds of pupils at a French school.
Hundreds of French school children have fallen victim to a mystery sickness that has spread like wildfire through their school. All classes have been suspended and baffled health authorities have advised the school to close, while they try to determine the cause of the outbreak.

Since January at least 227 pupils at their school in south-western France have reported headaches, dizziness, vertigo and trouble breathing, but health authorities, despite carrying out multiple tests, are no closer to determining the cause.

Earlier this week regional health authorities in Aquitaine recommended "as a measure of precaution" closing part of the College Jean-Moulin in Artix, French magazine L'Express reported.

The school apparently remains open for the moment, but all classes have been suspended.

So far the most promising lead was the series of renovations completed at the secondary (junior high) school over the winter holidays. It was shortly after classes resumed in January that pupils began reporting symptoms.

The head of the Aquitaine regional health authority told L'Express they were baffled by the outbreak of sickness.
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