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Thu, 21 Feb 2019
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Plagues

Sun

Severe drought affecting 40% of Inner Mongolia, China - Plague of rats take over 4 million hectares

Mongolian township.
© Reuters
File photo of a Mongolian township.
Persistent drought in the remote northwestern Chinese region of Inner Mongolia has caused a rat plague now affecting more than 4 million hectares of grassland, an area the size of the Netherlands, the official Xinhua news agency said.

Rodents are a common problem throughout Inner Mongolia's huge and sprawling prairies, and adapt relatively well to dry weather.

Comment: This follows extremely harsh winters in Inner Mongolia which have resulted in mass deaths of cattle. And we're seeing similar erratic patterns all over the planet so, while the overall trend is towards global cooling, there's also an increase in droughts, wildfires, heatwaves, and violent storms bringing increased wave heights, microbursts, deadly hail and epic flooding: Also check out SOTT radio's: Behind the Headlines: Earth changes in an electric universe: Is climate change really man-made? as well as SOTTs' monthly documentary: SOTT Earth Changes Summary - May 2018: Extreme Weather, Planetary Upheaval, Meteor Fireballs


Microscope 2

Giant viruses invent genes found no where else on Earth

Pandoravirus quercus virus
© IGS-CNRS/AMU
Pandoravirus quercus, as viewed through an electron microscope. The scale bar equals 100 nanometers.
Giant viruses may invent genes and proteins found nowhere else on Earth, new research suggests.

As their name implies, giant viruses are big - as big as bacteria, and more than twice the size of typical viruses, scientists have previously reported. Giant viruses have more complex genomes than some simple microbial organisms, and many of their genes code for proteins found only in giant viruses, according to past studies.

These so-called orphan genes puzzled scientists, but a new study may suggest where they come from. In three new species of Pandoraviruses - a family of giant viruses described in 2013 - these genes originated in the viruses themselves. The giant viruses were like factories, churning out novel genes and proteins - though the origin and purpose of this prolific gene creation is still a mystery, the study authors wrote.

Even before the discovery of giant viruses, viruses occupied a questionable position on the tree of life: They contain much of the cellular material found in living organisms, including DNA or RNA, but they lack cell structure and cannot replicate outside a host - two key criteria for defining life.

Comet 2

Deadly Nipah virus has no cure, little is known about its transmission, and it has re-emerged in India

nipah virus
At least nine people in southern India have died in cases linked to an outbreak of the rare and extremely deadly Nipah virus, according to a report by the BBC.

Nipah is considered a newly emerging deadly virus - scientists only found out that it could jump from bats to other species, including humans, within the past 20 years.

The disease is currently incurable and can be transmitted from person to person. It has killed between 40 percent and 75 percent of infected people in most outbreaks.

Comment: There seems to be an increase in the spread of infectious diseases so one would do well to look to past plagues for clues: For more on the outbreak of plagues and planetary upheaval, check out SOTT radio's: Behind the Headlines: Who was Jesus? Examining the evidence that Christ may in fact have been Caesar!


Health

Three tourists confirmed as first global cases of 'super gonorrhoea' after unprotected sex in Asia

Gonorrhoea
© PA
Three tourists are the first global cases of a new strain of 'super-gonorrhoea' which is resistant to antibiotics, a new report has warned.

Two Australians and the British man picked up the sexually-transmitted disease (STD) while having unprotected sex in south-east Asia.

The Brit's case came to light earlier this year, when Public Health England confirmed he had been infected, before later revealing he had been successfully treated.

The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) report, published this month, confirmed that two more tourists, both from Australia, picked up the infection.

Comment: See also: A 'very smart bug': Thanks to misuse of antibiotics, gonorrhea is becoming untreatable


Attention

Australia flesh-eating ulcer 'epidemic' a mystery, say doctors

Buruli ulcer
© DANIEL O'BRIEN
Victoria has seen a spike in recent cases of the Buruli ulcer
Doctors in Australia have called for urgent research into why a flesh-eating ulcer has become a "worsening epidemic" in the state of Victoria.

Local cases of Buruli ulcer, a skin disease most commonly found in Africa, have surged by 400% in the last four years, experts say.

Infections have also become more severe and spread to new areas.

Doctors do not know how to prevent the disease, which is caused by bacteria that breaks down tissue.

WARNING: Graphic image below

A record 275 new infections were recorded the state last year, marking a 51% increase on 2016.

Infectious diseases expert Dr Daniel O'Brien said cases of the Buruli ulcer, or Mycobacterium ulcerans disease, had become "frighteningly more common and also more severe" in the region.

It was unclear why the ulcer, typically found in tropical areas, had emerged in the temperate climate of Victoria, he said.

Microscope 1

Scientists warn plague 'hiding in plain sight'

Great Plague of London
© Getty Images
Eighteenth Century engraving showing a death cart unloading bodies into a mass grave during the Great Plague of London
The bacteria that cause plague, or the Black Death, could be lying dormant in common soil and water sources, posing a serious public health risk, scientists have warned.

The finding, published in the journal Emerging Infectious Diseases, could explain why plague suddenly re-emerges without warning in countries such as Madagascar and even the United States.

In the middle ages the Black Death swept through Europe, killing an estimated 75 to 200 million people. It is no longer a global threat but the new research may explain its occasional outbreaks across the world.

David Markman, from Colorado State University who led the study, said that plague is endemic in many different parts of the world and its origins are still not well understood.

Comment: See also: New Light on the Black Death: The Viral and Cosmic Connection


Health

Flu season in the US causing supply shortages with some areas seeing double the patients

England Britain flu cold

Statistics from Public Health England show a 2.5 fold rise in cases in the last two weeks
The flu has hit so hard and heavy this year, some doctors are running out of supplies.

"I have heard from private practices that they are running short on the rapid flu tests," says Allegheny General Hospital Emergency Medicine physician Dr. Tom Campbell. "I think they could make some decision on who it was most important to get the test on, who was most at risk, and use the same number they might have left."

Restocking these 10-minute tests isn't so easy.

"We went to purchase more because of the use we've had this year, and they're not available," says Dr. James DeAngelo, of Allergy and Clinical Immunology Associates.

Comment: Flu season is proving to be particularly brutal this year:


Info

DNA analysis finds food poisoning bacteria caused Mexican epidemic

Europeans storming Mexico painting
© Prisma/UIG via Getty Images
A 16th Century engraving depicting Europeans storming Mexico. Pathogens not shown.
It is well known that when Europeans arrived in the New World they brought with them appalling diseases to which the indigenous population, having never been exposed to them before, were particularly susceptible. Very large numbers died of from illnesses including smallpox, measles, mumps and influenza.

These acknowledged killers, however, were comparatively late arrivals in Europe's brutal colonisation.

In Mexico, at least, another disease laid waste to the locals, starting in 1545, very soon after the invaders landed. And with the next disease came a new word, growing out of the local tongue: cocoliztli, meaning pestilence, or epidemic.

Between 1545 and 1550, a disease roared through the indigenous Mexican population, killing an estimated 800,000. And while there is plenty of evidence to support the fact that the epidemic took place, until now there has been precious little to identify the pathogenic culprit.

Researchers led by Ashlid Vagene of the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History in Jena, Germany, have now unmasked the killer. To do so they extracted biological material from between the teeth of 24 corpses interred in a cocoliztli cemetery in the town of Teposcolula-Yucundaa in the Oaxaca region of Mexico.

Biohazard

Death toll in Madagascar plague hits 195

street cleaner
© Getty
Some experts fear the bacteria that causes the illness could become resistant to antibiotics.
The death toll from plague in Madagascar has risen to 195 as experts warn the outbreak of the disease has reached crisis point.

A total of 2,267 people have now been infected by the illness since the outbreak began in August, according to the World Health Organisation - a jump of three per cent in recent days.

Experts fear the bacteria that cause the plague could become resistant to antibiotics as a result of doctors over-subscribing medication in a bid to control the spread of the illness - potentially creating a strain of plague that is far more difficult to treat.

The outbreak is thought to be the worst in 50 years and scientists fear it could spread to mainland Africa and beyond.

The current spread of the disease is unusual in that most of those affected have had the pneumonic form of plague, which affects the lungs and can kill within 24 hours. It can be transmitted through the air via coughing and sneezing and so spreads easily.

Comment: Plague outbreak plunges Madagascar into a state of emergency


Info

An update: Sunspots a la Cyclic Catastrophism

Sunspot Cycles
© NAOJ/Nagoya University/JAXA
Fig. 1 Fifty years of constant Sun observation.
This post is a response to "Variation of the Solar Microwave Spectrum in the Last Half Century", Masumi Shimojo et al. Astrophysical Journal, Volume 848, Number 1.

The abstract states:
"... we found that the microwave spectra at the solar minima of Cycles 20-24 agree with each other. These results show that the average atmospheric structure above the upper chromosphere in the quiet-Sun has not varied for half a century, and suggest that the energy input for atmospheric heating from the sub-photosphere to the corona have not changed in the quiet-Sun despite significantly differing strengths of magnetic activity in the last five solar cycles."
See Figure 1 above.