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Mon, 26 Jun 2017
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Plagues


Biohazard

London Underground steps up cleaning to fight superbugs plaguing the tube

© Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images
Tube network to fight grime with industrial vacuum cleaners and magnetic wands after discovery of threatening bacteria
Industrial vacuum cleaners and magnetic wands will be used in a bid to rid the tube network of eight of the most dangerous superbugs.

Cleaning of the London Underground will be stepped up each night over the summer to remove metal particles, dust, oil and grease from about 50 stations and five tunnels.

An investigation published last month by London Metropolitan University and taxi insurers Staveley Head found 121 types of bacteria and mould on public transport in the capital.

Eight of the most threatening bacteria to human health were discovered on the tube, with the Victoria line deemed the dirtiest route.

Magnify

Ebola virus leaves unique scar inside survivor's eyes

© lmstockwork/Shutterstock
In some Ebola survivors, the virus leaves a unique scar at the back of the eye that can be seen long after they are cured of the disease, according to a new study.

Researchers analyzed information from 82 Ebola survivors in Sierra Leone and 105 people who lived in the area but never had Ebola. All participants took a vision test and had the back of their eyes examined with an ophthalmoscope. Among Ebola survivors, more than a year had passed, on average, between the time they were cured of the disease and the time of the eye exam.

When asked to read letters on an eye chart, the Ebola survivors tended to perform just as well as those who'd never had the disease, meaning their infection didn't seem affect their vision.

But about 15 percent of Ebola survivors had a unique scar on their retina — the light-sensitive tissue at the back of the eye. The people who had never contracted Ebola did not have this particular type of scar, the study found.

Bad Guys

OxFam: Yemen cholera cases pass 100,000, killing one person almost every hour

© AFP

Comment: These abominable living conditions are a direct result of Saudi Arabia's genocide against the Yemini people - with U.S. support.


The number of suspected cases of cholera resulting from a severe outbreak in Yemen has passed 100,000, the World Health Organization says.

A total of 798 deaths associated with the disease have been recorded in 19 out of 22 provinces since 27 April.

The charity Oxfam said the epidemic was killing one person almost every hour.

Yemen's health, water and sanitation systems are collapsing after two years of war between government forces and the rebel Houthi movement.

Cholera is an acute diarrhoeal infection caused by ingestion of food or water contaminated with the bacterium Vibrio cholera.

Ambulance

Man dies after tattoo becomes infected with flesh-eating bacteria from Gulf of Mexico

A 31-year-old man died after he went swimming in the Gulf of Mexico and his tattoo became infected with flesh-eating bacteria that live in ocean water, according to a new report.

The man had recently gotten a tattoo on his right calf. Despite the common advice to avoid swimming for a few weeks after getting a new tattoo, the man went for a swim in the ocean just five days after he received the tattoo, according to the report, published May 27 in the journal BMJ Case Reports.

A few days later, he developed a fever and chills, and his skin became red over his tattoo and on other parts of his legs. Soon after the man arrived at the hospital, the red, painful lesions on his legs turned purple, and he developed large blisters filled with fluid.

Beaker

Scientists investigate pigs in connection with Congo's new Ebola outbreak

It might all just be a big coincidence. But scientists and public health officials are investigating whether pigs are somehow involved in the Ebola outbreak now underway in a remote region of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). If so, it would add a new—but not totally unexpected—chapter to the virus's turbulent history.

Scientists' interest stems from two data points. An epidemiological investigation has indicated that the first person to fall sick was a hunter who had come into contact with a wild boar carcass. And 84 pigs have recently died in eight villages in Nambwa, the epicenter of the current outbreak, according to a report issued yesterday by the DRC's Ministry of Health. Researchers have taken samples from those animals, according to the report, which says a "protocol for investigation of unusual deaths reported in pigs is under development."

"I'm doubtful that the pigs actually carry Ebola, but we have to test them," says epidemiologist Fabian Leendertz of the Robert Koch Institute in Berlin, who has been consulted by the Institute of National Biomedical Research in Kinshasa about the potential link. Indeed, pigs in the DRC frequently die from other pathogens; the country often has outbreaks of African swine fever, which has a very high mortality rate. "Ebola is not even the prime suspect," says Anne Rimoin, an epidemiologist from the University of California, Los Angeles, who has worked in the DRC for 15 years and is there now.

Health

WHO declares new Ebola epidemic after three people die in Democratic Republic of Congo

© Reuters
A Doctors Without Borders health worker stands in an Ebola virus treatment centre in Conakry, Guinea.
A new Ebola epidemic has been declared in the Democratic Republic of Congo after the deaths of three people thought to be linked to the virus.

The country's health ministry confirmed one person has tested positive for the virus.

The World Health Organisation confirmed that the DR Congo had informed them of a lab-confirmed case of the disease.

The case was confirmed from tests on nine people who came down with a hemorrhagic fever in Bas-Uele province in the northeast of the country on or after April 22, the statement said.

Bug

Médecins Sans Frontières: Nigeria fighting worst meningitis C outbreak since 2008

© Fabrice Caterini/INEDIZ/MSF
Zahardien Musa, a meningitis patient from Sokoto, Nigeria.
Thousands of men, women, and children in northern Nigeria have been affected by a meningitis C outbreak, reportedly the largest to hit the country in the past nine years. Almost six months after the first cases were recorded in Zamfara State, Nigeria's Ministry of Health (MoH) is still struggling to fight this epidemic in seven states of the country.

Médecins Sans Frontières has supported the health authorities with surveillance and case management in the most-affected areas since February, when the outbreak was officially declared. However, the slow reaction of the country and a global shortage of vaccines have hampered the response.

On 15 April MSF set up a 200-bed treatment centre in Sokoto Town, followed by a 20-bed facility in Anka, Zamfara. In these locations, MSF's Nigeria Emergency Response Unit (NERU) works intensively to provide free, high-quality medical care and reduce mortality rates as much as possible.

These teams treat challenging cases in a difficult environment. "A few days ago a nine-year-old boy was brought in unconsciousness and with severe meningitis," recalls Caroline Riefthuis, an MSF nurse in Sokoto. "He received treatment for five days and recovered, but unfortunately we found out that he had become deaf and blind— complications of severe meningitis."

Comment: Considering how ineffective and dangerous vaccines are, what the MSF is doing (probably out of ignorance) is criminal: See:


Bandaid

Top health officials to simulate response to potential global disease outbreak

© AP/Branden Camp
Top health officials from the 20 leading and emerging economies are planning to simulate their response to a possible global disease outbreak.

A memo on the May 19-20 summit in Berlin states the meeting will include a four-hour "tabletop exercise" involving ministers and representatives from international organizations.

The Associated Press obtained a copy of the memo on Tuesday.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel is scheduled to open the summit. She has emphasized the importance of responding quickly and efficiently to sudden global health crises such as a deadly pandemic.

Among those taking part in the summit are Margaret Chan, the head of the World Health Organization. The WHO has been criticized in the past for failures in its response to the 2009 flu pandemic and the Ebola outbreak four years later.

Health

Ebola ruled out as 'strange disease' hits southeastern Liberia; 11 dead

© gnnliberia.com
Liberia Health Minister Bernice Dahn
The outbreak of what medical authorities considered as 'Strange Disease' in Greenville, southeastern Liberia, Sinoe County, has reportedly taken the lives of eleven person and several being placed on critical list has reportedly crept in the populated City of Monrovia with one been pronounced dead by health authorities in Monrovia on Friday evening, and several quarantined in an undisclosed location.

According to health authorities in Monrovia those infected with the "strange" disease showed symptoms of severe stomach pain, vomiting, diarrhoea, fever and headaches, Liberia's chief medical officer, Francis Kateh, said on national radio.

Initial tests showed that the disease was not Ebola, said Dr. Francis Kateh, the Chief Medical Officer of Liberia during an interview with reporters in Monrovia recently.

Liberia, as well as neighbouring Guinea and Sierra Leone, were the three countries most affected by an outbreak of Ebola, which killed more than 11 000 people between December 2013 and mid-2016.

Arrow Down

The 'March to Silence' - Shots fired at building housing leading climate skeptic scientists

© Image via Google Maps Street View
National Space Science and Technology Center (NSSTC) building.
A total of seven shots were fired into our National Space Science and Technology Center (NSSTC) building here at UAH over the weekend.

All bullets hit the 4th floor, which is where John Christy's office is (my office is in another part of the building).

Given that this was Earth Day weekend, with a March for Science passing right past our building on Saturday afternoon, I think this is more than coincidence. When some people cannot argue facts, they resort to violence to get their way. It doesn't matter that we don't "deny global warming"; the fact we disagree with its seriousness and the level of human involvement in warming is enough to send some radicals into a tizzy.

Our street is fairly quiet, so I doubt the shots were fired during Saturday's march here. It was probably late night Saturday or Sunday for the shooter to have a chance of being unnoticed.

Maybe the "March For Science" should have been called the "March To Silence".

Campus and city police say they believe the shots were fired from a passing car, based upon the angle of entry into one of the offices. Shell casings were recovered outside. The closest distance a passing car would have been is 70 yards away.

This is a developing story. I have no other details.